Ha Long Bay Tragedy

This was a really sad news yesterday. 12 passengers of the 27 on board were killed when the boat sank in Ha Long Bay at 5 am on February 18.  It carried a lot of foreigners.  And preliminary investigation shows that there was a leak in the engine room.  Although the boat was equipped with lifesaving devices, the passengers were asleep around this time and was unaware of the disaster.  Read the full story here.

An accident also happened on March 2, 2010 when a tourist boat caught fire in the middle of the night.  For the full news, read here.

Ha Long Bay is a World Heritage Site and is a popular tourist destination in Vietnam.  And is one of the places in Vietnam that I’m very excited to visit.  I do hope those who are involved in Ha Long Bay cruises put in extra safety measures.  The last two accidents both happened before daybreak and maybe putting extra people on night duty would be a good idea.  And of course, the boats should really be checked for sea-worthiness.  Now, I’m having second thoughts whether it’s a good idea to ride the junk ship when we do get to visit Ha Long Bay.

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15 Responses to Ha Long Bay Tragedy

  1. Jenn Manigao says:

    This is so sad. I was planning to visit Halong Bay next year.

  2. Lyra says:

    Hi Jen! Yup kami rin. Maybe we’ll still do but play it by ear first.

  3. Ree says:

    scary no? i visited halong bay back in 2004, and it reminded me of coron (without the market boats going by). beautiful!

  4. Jay says:

    Tourists are often share the blame for accidents as they want the ‘whole works’ for ‘cheap’. As we all know little is immune in VietNam to rising prices. A bottom line price on a reliable ship goes for $125 for 2-days/1-night ex-Ha Noi.

    The VN government does little in ensuring safety, until an accident occurs, then there is a lot of activity that lasts a few months then things return to normal.

    Ha Long Bay is more sea than bay, a name which implies shelter. There is a major freight route right through HLB for ships carrying coal to the electrical generating stations in Ha Long City (the northern part) and Hai Phong.

    Some ‘cruise’ ships are little better than fishing boats making money on the side, Some turn off the electricity at 23.00H – meaning the ship, and alarm equipment, is dead – as is the crew.

    Other cheap cruises put PAX up for the night in Cat Ba in cheap hotels but at least they don’t sink although the rats might keep you awake. Cat Ba has only had electricity for a few years.

    Two cruise lines that are reliable to my personal knowledge are the Emeraude with around 50-cabins on board and the ships sailed (and owned by) Tropical Sails which have metal hulls, about 15-cabins on each ship, female cabin crew (better than unclean drunken sailors found on cheap cruises), safety equipment galore and a fine safety record. Both companies have their own offices in the Old Quarter in Ha Noi. Use Google to locate them.

    You cannot sign on for a cruise at HLB, except with a few of the dregs, and the dishonest travel agents IN Ha Noi are essentially ‘code sharing’ – you never know what the rest of the PAX will be like.

    Don’t be cheap – travel safe!

  5. Lyra says:

    Thanks Jay for sharing this information. As visitors in Vietnam, we are not knowledgeable on the “shortcuts” businesses do to make profit.

    I don’ t think also that this tragedy is exclusive to Vietnam alone as the Philippines had its own share — may be even more. A tragedy such as this is highlighted because it was foreigners who got hurt. But the thing is, life should be valued regardless of nationality.

    And I really do hope that safety measures will be strictly implemented hereon forward.

    Will check on those two cruises you recommended. Thank you very much!

  6. Maarten says:

    he peoples.

    I can recommand ocean tours in Hanoi. They are in the lonely planet and specialised in Halong Bay tours. You pay a bit more but have a good servive. And they put maximum 16 tourists on a boat.

  7. Lyra says:

    Thanls Maarten for the recommendation. Will definitely check that out!

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