I get cabin fever. I’m definitely not one of the 28.5 million passengers who expected to take an ocean cruise this year for their holiday. There’s obvious mass appeal for this style of travelling for many good reasons, but my preferred cruising experience doesn’t include huge ships and fighting for a deckchair. What I would, and did, prefer is boutique cruising on Halong Bay.
I first experienced this more personalised style of boutique cruising on a tour of Vietnam on Halong Bay. This UNESCO site is located in the Gulf of Tonkin, 170km east of Hanoi. What appealed to me was the ability to access the epicentre of remarkable, wild and cultural locations on luxury vessels. All at affordable prices! There were only 17 cabins on board, so there was no queueing and no hustle for a deck chair – just a chilled ambience.
Halong Bay in Vietnam is the place perfect for an overnight cruise.
Paradise Cruise has an amazing fleet, Ranging from sleek, modern steel boats to traditional wooden junks for premium experiences and fabulous service.
The classic junk with chic, modern styling and traditional Vietnamese details has a world-class day spa, an unlimited a la carte menu, free flow of selected drinks and extremely slick service.
There’s no need for onboard entertainment when there’s a visual program, right outside the window, of pure paradise. Halong Bay is a beautiful natural wonder in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border. Towering limestone islands topped with rainforests pierce through the magical clear emerald waters. It’s charming that these islands are named for their shapes, including Stone Dog and Teapot islets.
There are 1,600 limestone islands and islets covering more than 1,500 sq km.
As you drift through this pristine region, you understand why it’s a hot movie location. The bay is the backdrop for films including Pan, Life starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Kong: Skull Island; and its rumoured the Bond movie starring Pierce Brosnan, Tomorrow Never Dies, featured Halong Bay despite authorities forbidding filming.
At Ti Top Island, you can cool off with a dip in the crystal-like waters. Climb 400 steps to the island’s summit for magnificent bay views. After cruising past smooth inlets, experience the community’s main trade at the Tung Sau Pearl Farm. Watch and learn the entire process of making pearls and expensive jewellery. From the first step of growing and eventually harvesting these precious stones.
Following a sumptuous feast on Vietnamese cuisine, join the local Cua Van floating village on rowing bamboo crafts. As the largest fishing village in Halong Bay, Cua Van has a population of 733 in 176 households. Cua Van is regarded as the wealthiest village in Halong Bay.
After a restful night moored near a towering karst, I rose early to start the day with some Tai Chi on the deck as the sun made an appearance. Serenity!
Feeling relaxed and surrounded by nature’s wonders, maybe I am a cruise convert? Or perhaps the trip up to Halong Bay was the perfect refuge from what can be a hectic and overwhelming country. I make it my mission to seek out more cruises of this style – perhaps a Pandaw cruise on the Mekong will be next on my list?
Explore Halong Bay overnight on all of our Vietnam groups tours or one of our Tailor-Made Holidays for independent travellers. Experience the boutique service with Paradise Cruise on one of our Deluxe Collection adventures.
With thanks to Michelle Grima from Australia PR