Sustainable Cruising in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
2 Day Cruise in Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises - Review
Travelling is all about experiences, and one experience we couldn’t miss on our trip through Vietnam was a cruise through the beautifully scenic Ha Long Bay.
Ha Long Bay is a unique natural wonder which has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Encompassing over a thousand small limestone islands alongside hidden caves, beautiful beaches and thick jungle growth.
As with many popular tourist destination, there is a real risk of over tourism which could damage the local area and the delicate eco-system due to the sheer number of visitors. Bearing this in mind choose to explore Ha Long Bay with a 2 day, 1 night cruise with Bhaya Cruises for their commitment to sustainable travel.
*** READER DISCOUNT CODE BELOW! ***
Bhaya Cruises share a vision of responsible business and are actively aiming to protect the environment and support local communities. Bhaya Cruises is an active partner of IUCN in ‘The Fight for a Healthy Ocean’ campaign and Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project. In 2017 only they launched four sustainability projects including ‘Save the Langur’ and ‘Bhaya Green’.
Bhaya Cruises offers a variety of cruises, with the 2 day cruise suited to travellers who want to explore the natural wonders of Ha Long bay and spend a substantial amount of time on the boat too.
Transfers to Ha Long Bay can be arranged by Bhaya Cruises from Hanoi, and as the port isn’t close to the city, this can take up to a couple of hours and include a few steps.
On the morning of the first day of our cruise, Bhaya Cruises arranged a luxury car to pick us up from our hotel from Hanoi. We were picked up at 9am and the car stops to pick up other guests too.
The journey to Ha Long Bay from central Hanoi takes about 2 hours and the car stops off at a service station mid-way through the ride to give travellers a break. Here you can use the facilities, pick up Vietnamese supplies at the mini superstore, or try some freshly made banh mi and Vietnamese iced coffee from the street food stalls.
When we arrived at the port, our bags were taken and we met with Felix, cruise host. We then waited with our badges in a comfortable communal waiting area with others going on cruises that day.
The boats leave around 12pm so there was about a 30min wait until our badge number was called and we were escorted to the boat. From the moment we met the boat staff they were all extremely friendly and welcoming and we knew we were going to have an enjoyable few days!
We first headed to our room where our bags were waiting for us and then joined the welcome briefing and lunch on the top deck restaurant with Captain Jack.
At the welcome briefing we were introduced to all the staff on the boat and the itinerary was explained to us. Captain Jack also went through a safety briefing and we were left to mingle with other guests over buffet lunch.
Our cruise took place on the Bhaya Classic, which is a boutique wooden boat designed to maintain the traditional look and feel of Vietnamese ships.
There are between 15-20 beautifully designed cabin on the boat and so each cruise has approximately 30 passengers. This is a good number for a ship this size as the boat doesn’t feel crowded.
The boat is made up of an upper outdoor deck with sunbeds and gorgeous 360 panoramic views of Ha Long Bay. There is also a large restaurant, spa area, communal toilets and reception area as well as a small shop for gifts and souvenirs.
The Bhaya Classic offers Deluxe cabins and Terrace Suites. We stayed in the Terrace Suite which is the largest room on the boat and has a spacious private balcony with sun beds.
We were really impressed with our room as it was equipped and furnished to the same standard as a luxury hotel room. The decor and attention to detail in the room was exquisite and it really wasn’t lacking in anything. The air-conditioning was particularly good and managed to cool the large space very quickly.
Shower and Bath
Our room had a large en suite bathroom with shower and bath facilities. Toiletries were provided and more can be requested from reception, but for sustainability reasons they limit those left in the room.
Tea making facilities and mini bar
There is a fridge in the room with soft drinks and water bottles. Although we never really needed these as we were kept well feed during the cruise.
Bed and sleep quality
We had a large King Size bed in our cabin which was extremely comfortable, which was more than we expected! The boat stops in the middle of Ha Long Bay at night, allowing you to go at and gaze at the star sand surreal landscape in the middle of the night .
It is also very quiet, and the boat doesn’t rock so you are likely to get a good night’s sleep. However be prepared for an early start as there are activities that take place early the next morning.
Breakfast and meals
When we arrived on board on day 1 we were greeted with a buffet lunch which included a wide variety of dishes such as soups, noodles, rice and fresh fruit, as well as cakes and puddings for dessert.
Our dinner on the first night for a sit-down 3 course meal with a choice for the main course which included a fish or beef dish, we had chosen this during our lunch. The food was delicious and well presented - I was surprised that they could serve food of this quality on a boat with a small kitchen! Drinks are determined by the package you buy when you book your cabin and we had opted for the inclusive drinks package, so we enjoyed wine and a few refreshing cocktails with our meal.
The next morning there was an early light breakfast buffet made up of tea, coffee and pastries which we enjoyed before our excursion. When we returned we had a brunch buffet which was a wider selection of breakfast dishes including eggs, potatoes, salads and desserts too.
Guests are seated at the same table for all meals which is a nice way to get to know you’re fellow travellers as you’ll be next to them at every meal.
At no point during the trip were we hungry so Bhaya has thought about the meals it serves and the timing of them too in order that their guests are comfortable. They also cater for allergies and dietary requirements so be sure to make this known at time of booking.
Top Tip: It can get quite hot in the restaurant so even though you are indoors, don’t wear heavy clothing, especially if you get motion sick easily as the heat won’t help!
An exciting part of a cruise on Ha Long Bay is getting off the boat and exploring the islands!
On the first day of our trip we visited Trinh Nu Cave which Bhaya Cruises is the only cruise operator allowed to visit. We were offered the option to either kayak or take a mini-boat to the island and then we guided through the caverns, past ancient stalagmites and stalactites to a beautiful beach. We could then swim in the glorious jade waters or just relax on the sandy beach before making our way back.
Once we returned back onto the boat there were various activities on board including fruit carving demonstration, ‘Masterchef’ cooking competition and even squid fishing after dinner. My husband managed to catch 2 squid which were then served to us for breakfast the next day!
On the second morning there was Tai Chi class on the upper deck for those who could get up early enough (not us). Then after a light breakfast we boarded the mini boat and headed to Tien Ong cave, one of the biggest in Ha Long Bay.
This was a stunning sight to see, as after climbing up to the entrance, you then descend down into the cave with is over 1,000 meter square. The well paved path in the cave leads you past pools, enormous stalagmites and stalactites and even stone structures dating back to 10000-2000 BC. I really enjoyed exploring the cave and although it is a long walk with plenty of steps, it is definitely worth it.
Service and Hospitality
A highlight of my cruise on Ha Long Bay with Bhaya was the hospitality and friendliness of the staff. Our host Felix maintained a high level of enthusiasm and energy throughout the two days and was great to talk to in order to find out more about the area. Our Captain Jack was professional, funny and always on hand to help.
At the end of the cruise we were introduced to all the staff again and got the opportunity to say thank you to them which was a nice touch.
Value for Money
Bhaya Cruises offers a luxury and quality experience throughout your cruise. Everything from the food to the service and even the comfort of the transfers to and from the hotel was to a high level and well thought out. As a result a Bhaya cruises is well worth the money.
Visiting Ha Long Bay is an experience that cannot be missed on a trip to Northern Vietnam, and it was one of my favourite experiences in Vietnam.
I’m so please we chose to travel with Bhaya cruise as they took care of our every need. I would highly recommend Bhaya cruises and would certainly go back again! In fact, here’s a 20% discount code for your booking!
Enter code on first step of booking process: HERFAVFOOD
Amount discount: 20% off cabin price with flexible rate option
Applicable for Halong cruise packages:
Valid booking period & traveling period: June 3rd, 2019 to Dec 20th, 2020 (excluding Dec 21st - Dec 31st, 2019).
Special thanks to the team at Bhaya Cruises for a wonderful experience!
Book your cruise in Ha Long Bay with Bhaya Cruises on their website.
Phone: (+84) 24 3944 6777
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