Ha Long Bay – Cruise on Paradise Peak – Day 1

So Ha Long Bay was one of the top things I wanted to see in Vietnam.  I booked a one night cruise in a premium suite which is on the upper deck, at the front of the boat.

Their van picked us up in the morning and we made the 2.5 hour drive to Ha Long Bay.  As we approached Ha Long, I could see the limestone formations in the distance from the highway and I started to get excited.

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Limestones of Ha Long in the distance

Check in was a breeze.  You then wait about 1 hour to board.  I met the cruise manager who would coordinate everything on board (and join the cruise).  I was excited to learn that there were only a total of 8 suites on board, and we had half of them.  The other four were booked by couples.  I enjoyed the smaller number of suites as I felt that it made the service better (crew to guest ratio was high) and I was able to interact with, and meet, all guests.

Here are some shots of the premium suite:

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I have zero negative feedback about the room.  Here is a shot of the restaurant on the terrace deck where a lot of socializing with other guests takes place.

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As the cruise gets underway, you see the giant limestone structures from a distance, and then, you are surrounded by them.  The combination of the beauty of the water and limestone is indescribable.

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For lunch they served an eight course Vietnamese menu.  Everything was delicious.

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The alcohol and other drinks were unlimited.  There was sparkling, white and red wine.  Spirits were also available.  You could also order more premium alcohol for cash, but it was not necessary as I felt the free menu was extensive enough.

You can also order room service which is included.  We took advantage of this and had tea time in the room.

The first excursion involved a trip to a pearl farm or kayak.  I skipped these activities.  The second excursion was a trip to the Sung Sot cave which is awesome to see.

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At the cave, you can also hike up and get a nice view of Ha Long Bay.  By this point it was night, and it was nice to see the ships all lit up.

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A word about the ships.  Yes, Ha Long Bay is a very popular tourist spot in Vietnam, and there are a lot of ships.  However, I did not feel that they took away from the beauty of the place.  The Bay is large enough that you can take pics with and without ships.  The ships, to me, add a bit of character anyway.

When we got back to the boat there was a cooking and drinking lesson in the restaurant.  This was fun, and as expected, the drinking lesson resulted in enhanced socializing and conversation.

For the cooking part, we made spring rolls with the chef.

Everything was already prepped.

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For the “drinking lesson”, we took shots of Vietnamese rice wine.  Lots of fun.

After this, it was time to change for dinner.  You are given a set of Vietnamese emperor outfits and requested to wear them at dinner.

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Dinner was good; an A La Carte Menu.  I had the oysters, pumpkin soup and prawns with spaghetti.

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After dinner, I had a massage which was the perfect way to end the evening.  They also offered squid fishing.

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