Hanoi - Vietnam has denied two cruise ships permission to dock due to fears of coronavirus infections on board, Vietnamese state media and a cruise operator reported on Friday.
One of the ships was now heading towards Thailand, where it would be allowed to dock, a Thai official said.
Authorities in Vietnam’s Quang Ninh province - home to the UNESCO world heritage site Ha Long Bay - barred passengers on the German-owned AIDAvita cruise ship to disembark on Thursday, the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) said.
“The vessel has docked in the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, which have all reported coronavirus cases,” VNA said.
“Not allowing AIDAvita’s passengers to disembark is just a temporary solution to prevent the intrusion of diseases,” VNA cited a local official as saying.
Germany’s AIDA Cruises, the owner of the AIDAvita, did not respond to requests for comment. AIDA Cruises is a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Corp (CCL.N).
The cruise liner left the Philippines port of Coron on Feb. 10 bound for Vietnam across the South China Sea, according to data on the Marine Traffic ship tracking website.
It had been scheduled to visit Ha Long Bay on Saturday then proceed to the Vietnamese ports of Da Nang, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City from Feb. 16-20, according to CruiseMapper website.
As of Friday evening, the AIDAvita was 176 km (109 miles) south of the Thai capital Bangkok, according to Marine Traffic.
It will dock at Laem Chabang on Friday night and health officials will board it on Saturday morning to examine passengers before allowing them to disembark, a Thai Marine Department spokeswoman said.