Ha Long Bay is one of those places that you just have to visit at least once in your life time. I’ve wanted to visit myself for so long, so when I started planning a trip around Asia I just had to organise some time to visit Ha Long.
I headed to Hanoi where I could join Emeraude Cruises for a 1 night, 2 day cruise of Ha Long Bay. I was collected early the next morning from my hotel and we took off on the 4 hour journey down to Ha Long Bay. The transfer bus was great, extremely clean and luxurious and with reclining seats I was comfortably asleep for pretty much the entire journey.
As we arrived around 11am we were taken to the arrival hall where our luggage was taken and checked in. We boarded the boat around 12 and we were welcomed with cocktails to start off our journey.
Check in was easy and fast. We were designated our rooms before boarding and when we arrived at our cabin our cases were sat outside waiting for us. Staff were placed around the ship making sure you found your cabin easily.
Emeraude have really put thought into your ship. With a classic french design, rooms are smaller than average because they’ve concentrated on the outdoor space and sundecks. Every room comes with chairs and tables located directly outside your door meaning you can sit back with a drink and watch as you pass through the stunning heritage site. I spent all my spare time sitting outside my room.
The sundeck is large and inviting and includes several sun beds for you to sit back and catch the sun. If you want a little more privacy, on the lower decks you’ll also find 1 or 2 sun beds along the side of the ship meaning you and your partner can relax just the two of you.
As stated the rooms aren’t overly large, however they’re the perfect size for one night. I stayed in a Deluxe Cabin which are located on the Upper Deck. Each room comes with a work desk, luggage rack and mosaic style bathroom/wet room. The rooms feature a large window looking out onto the bay. The room was filled with a selection of amenities you’d need for a short stay.
The food onboard
Lunch comes included as part of the cruise, and is usually a buffet lunch. However on the day I was cruising, as the cruise wasn’t at capacity they had changed to a set menu with waiter service. To me I much preferred it this way. Lunch was a 6 course menu with each course tasting better than the last.
Your time on the boat wont be wasted as Emeraude make sure that you have plenty to do during your time on board.
Day 1 ;
Pearl Farm and Kayaking – One of the first stops on the cruise is to visit Ha Long Pearl. This stop allows you to learn how pearls are created and takes you through a tour of the process. Afterwards you can take a look around the shop to see the completed pearls. When you’ve finished checking out the pearls you can go kayaking around the bay (optional at an extra cost).
Cave Exploring – This was one of my favourite stops during the cruise. Sung Sot Cave is commonly known as surprise cave, and once you step inside you’ll soon discover why. Inside you’ll discover a huge and breathtaking cave that is swept by natural light shining down through the cracks in the cave walls. As you leave the cave (and you’ve climbed the 100s of steps) you’ll get an incredible view above Ha Long Bay as you look down across the thousands of islands and the hundreds of boats filling the area. This is the absolute perfect spot to get those Instagram shots.
Squid Fishing (seasonal) – During season the ship also offers squid fishing activities from the back of the boat. During my time on the cruise nothing was caught but it was fun to take part.
Late Night Movie – When the sun sets and you’ve had your dinner (and enjoyed a few drinks during the ships Happy Hour) head to the sundeck for an evening movie. During my time onboard they were playing ‘Kong, Skull Island’ The film was partially filmed in Ha Long Bay so it was especially interesting to see the movie after having just sailed through a similar area to what we were seeing on screen.
Day 2 ;
Tai Chi Lesson – Early morning risers can take part in a Tai Chi lesson. Unfortunately I completely forgot about it so missed out on the lesson so can’t personally comment on it. However I spoke to other guests on board who stated they had a great time during the Tai Chi lesson.
Morning hike and beach swimming. TiTov Island – Another great stop happens early the next morning when you can hike to the top of an island and get another incredible view across Ha Long. The ‘hike’ is actually completely paved with foot paths so can be completed by most. The views are exceptional however due to the humidity by the time you’ve descended to the bottom again you’ll be incredibly hot and sweaty which means it is the ideal time for you to hit the beach and relax in the water.
My overall experience on the cruise was fantastic. The views from the decks are absolutely out of this world and the fact you can lay in bed open your blinds and watch as you cruise through the bay was just extraordinary. The service was first class and the staff do everything they can for you.
I have seen people complain that drinks are expensive onboard, however I found them to be competitive to what you’d except to pay on any cruise ship in the area. The ship also has Happy Hour on an evening, buy 2 drinks get 1 free. However they allow you to hold your drinks, meaning we bought 3 drinks at Happy Hour had 1 as we bought them, had the second during evening dinner and the 3rd during the movie.
I would 100% recommend this cruise to anybody visiting Hanoi and wanting to see Ha Long Bay. This was one of my favourite moments during my trip through Asia so far, and watching the sunset while anchored in the middle of Ha Long was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
Thank you Emeraude Classic Cruises for hosting my stay on board.
As always, opinions are entirely my own.