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US cruise operator brings wealthy tourists to Vietnam, pledges $5mn to upgrade seaport

Friday, June 19, 2015, 11:49 GMT+7

U.S. cruise ship operator Royal Caribbean International (RCI) brought not only thousands of affluent tourists but also a commitment to upgrade infrastructure at a seaport in central Vietnam, as it arrived in a coastal province on Wednesday.

The company’s Quantum of the Seas, carrying more than 6,000 tourists and crew members, docked at the Tan Cang Cai Mep ODA seaport in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province for the holidaymakers to explore the coastal locality and nearby Ho Chi Minh City.

The visitors, coming from 59 countries, mostly the U.S., Australia and Singapore, were serviced by Saigontourist, one of Vietnam’s leading tour organizers.

This is the first time the luxury cruise ship, designed as a floating five-star hotel capable of serving 4,905 passengers and 1,500 cabin members, has visited the Southeast Asian country.

RCI and Vietnam’s Shipping Building Industry Corporation (SBIC) signed an investment deal the same day in a conference room on board the Quantum of the Seas.

Under the deal, the U.S. cruise line operator will invest US$5 million in upgrading the infrastructure of the SBIC-operated Chan May seaport in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.

The upgrade is intended to enable Chan May to receive giant RCI cruise ships, which are more than 360m long and capable of carrying 4,000 to 5,000 passengers.

The Quantum of the Seas left Vietnam later the same day and headed for Hong Kong to continue her itinerary.

Saigontourist is the official authorized dealership of RCI in Vietnam.

“The maiden visit of the Quantum of the Seas proves that Vietnam is totally capable of welcoming luxury and giant cruises,” Saigontourist general director Vo Anh Tai was quoted by The Saigon Times Online as saying.

Tai said it is necessary to upgrade the infrastructure at seaports across Vietnam to be able to welcome cruise ships, as the global cruise travel market is rapidly expanding.

Saigontourist has connected RCI with the operators of Vietnamese seaports in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Thua Thien-Hue, the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, and the southern province of Kien Giang to discuss investment cooperation.

The Ho Chi Minh City-based tour organizer welcomed more than 33 international tourism ships, serving more than 122,500 tourists, in the first five months of this year.

Its customers include famous cruise line operators such as the Costa Crociere S.p.A, Star Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, and RCI.

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