On 1 January 2017, a scheduled public ferry carrying passengers from Cat Ba Island to Hai Phong Harbor, Vietnam made contact with a bridge pylon. The accident resulted in damage to the ferry’s bow, and several seats inside the passenger compartment became dislodged.
77 Vietnam Backpacker Hostels customers en route from the Original Castaways Island Halong Bay back to Hanoi were among the passengers. Fortunately, no one aboard the ferry reported serious injuries, and no passengers were hospitalized.
Shortly after the accident occurred, the public ferry continued to a nearby dock where passengers transferred onto another boat. Here, all passengers were accounted for, and all were returned safely to Hanoi.
We are extremely grateful that no one was seriously injured. Nevertheless, we take this incident very seriously, and we have requested that the ferry operator and local police undertake a thorough investigation into how it occurred. Further information on the current status of the investigation is provided further below.
Vietnam Backpacker Hostels is committed to delivering the best backpacker experiences in Vietnam; and our customers and the quality of their experience is very important to us.
With that in mind, and to make sure our customers have the best Castaways Island experience possible, we have provided partial refunds to all customers who were on board the public ferry at the time of the incident.
We also thank our customers for their patience and understanding over the last few days during the early stages of our investigation.
Soon following the incident, Vietnam Backpacker Hostels demanded a full account of what occurred from the public ferry operator. Local police are investigating the incident and we have been counseled that such inquiries are typically completed within 60 days.
Vietnam Backpacker Hostels are actively assisting the authorities with this investigation by collecting witness statements and photographs of the incident.
The ferry company and local authorities have confirmed that passenger numbers were at or below rated capacity and that sufficient life jackets were on board the ferry. We have however requested specific information regarding:
● The possibility of pilot error
● The condition of life jackets aboard the public ferry and specifically whether life jackets might have been difficult to access or improperly sized.
We understand some of our customers were disappointed in our level of communication at the time of the incident and upon their arrival in Hanoi. We acknowledge our communication could have been better and we are keeping our customers updated as more information comes to hand.
The safety of our customers is important to us
Vietnam Backpacker Hostels has numerous measures in place to ensure the safety and comfort of our customers travelling to Original Castaways Island Halong Bay. For example, we insist our buses travel on a tollway to avoid the dangerous and less expensive roads commonly used for tourist transport to and from Hai Phong. The public ferry operator which we use for journeys from Cat Ba Island to Hai Phong Harbor has a record of safe operation and compliance with local safety standards.
We have safety procedures for all aspects of the Original Castaways Island, Halong Bay both in English and Vietnamese, and we take measures to ensure our staff and customers comply.
Our existing safety measures, as well as our relationship with the public ferry company involved, will of course be thoroughly reviewed in light of this incident.
Customer Service Protocols Being Updated
We understand some customers were disappointed in our service and communication at the time of the incident and upon arrival in Hanoi. We are committed to improving communications and customer service protocols in light of this incident to ensure we would be better prepared in the future.
Once again, we recognize that this has been a difficult time for everyone involved and we thank our customers for their continued patience as we work with the ferry operator and relevant authorities to reach an official account of events.
Vietnam Backpacker Hostels