It was just a 2 day, 1 night cruise aboard Paradise Luxury. Thrilled after a 4 hour drive from Hanoi, it was such a treat to cruise Halong Bay — its many limestone rock formations, floating fishing villages, caves, the food and activities on board! Yes, it rained. But that didn’t take away a single minute of our enjoyment of this adventure. We were the lucky ones. A day earlier, the cruise was recalled after only 2 hours of sailing because of inclement weather.
There were just a few of us onboard. The crew, the Cruise Manager (Lance) and butler (Gwen?) of Paradise Luxury 4 were all so friendly and accommodating. Food porn on board too. The works! All that plus a jacuzzi in the room? Rooms were spacious, so unlike the small, cramped cabins we got used to on big cruise ships. Though it rained, the waters were so calm. Cruising along Halong Bay viewing its 1,969 karst formations was sheer delight. We thought we’d never grow tired staring out of our wide cabin windows or feeling the breeze and enjoying the views on deck. How could we have missed this in many of our travel itineraries?
But the real treat lies in the beauty of this UNESCO Heritage Site, truly a top natural wonder of the world. The smooth ride over the placid waters of Halong Bay was so soothing to nerves frayed by the motorcycle and bicycle scene of Hanoi. This is the exact opposite of one’s feelings while crossing the streets of Hanoi. There were many other cruise boats, along with the smaller fishing boats from nearby floating villages along the bay, but this is one “traffic” that is far from chaotic. In fact, the many sailboats and luxury yachts dotting the 1,969 limestone rock islands added to the charm.
We slept like a log after a scrumptious dinner on board. The activities included short rides on tenders to view some caves, kayaking (if weather permits, but not on this ride), culinary and barista lessons, tai-chi first hour in the morning. For an overnighter, that is more than enough. Plus of course all the eating. The last activity is NOT to be missed. We had such savoury Vietnamese appetizers of crab cakes, shrimps, spring rolls and papaya salad. The menu listed scallop bisque, lamb, king prawns, salmon, and a chicken dish. We were prepared to choose one main entreé but was surprised we had ALL of it instead. And such generous helpings too.
The barista and culinary lessons were held in the dining hall. The tai-chi too, because the sundeck was wet from all the rain. The heavens wept while we slept, and just as we were sailing back to shore. The only thing is dining is intermittently interrupted as we passed the karst formations viewed from the glass windows and doors spilling out to balconies. How can you not help taking a photo? Lovely day. Soothing nights. We even passed one rock formation with a cave all lighted up for a private candlelit dinner!
After this experience, you know what I have in mind? Gathering my family and a few close friends to set sail on this luxury boat all to ourselves! That should be fun. There are smaller, 3 cabin boats if you like. But I am thinking along the lines of 8 cabins or so for a big family and a few couple friends. How about that?