Ha Long Bay - cruise company and number of nights

We are doing the Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand tour in January (25) 2019. We plan to do a pre-tour excursion to Ha Long Bay. I have read on this forum and other travel sites that both Ginger Cruise Line (Violet or Jasmine ships) and Paradise (Elegance or Luxury) are excellent options. The Tauck tour that includes Laos does a one night Ha Long Bay tour using the Paradise Elegance - which is a new 31 cabin steel boat. The Paradise Luxury is a 15-cabin wooden boat. The Ginger Cruise Line boats are smaller wood junks. Can anyone comment about their experiences with these companies and these boats? We might be inclined to use the Paradise Elegance only because Tauck chose it for one of their tours. However, it does seems like it could be good to go on a smaller wood boat for a more authentic experience.

We are also still considering whether to do the 2D/1N or 3D/2N (with use of smaller day boat on second day) options. Any comments? Thanks.

Comments

  • We did the 2 night 3 day cruise on the Jasmine, Ginger line, and loved it! I HIGHLY recommend both! It was a highlight of the trip. I have written extensively about the experience in many past posts so will not repeat myself on this post. If you look back through the archives, I am sure you will find my posts. I believe another poster has or will be going on the Violet (maybe Fernando?) and might write about that ship. It is the smallest ship in the Ginger fleet, and from what I heard from another passenger on the Jasmine, quite exclusive. I suspect Tauck uses the Paradise as it meets their standards and is large enough to accommodate a full tour ( I think the Jasmine only has 24 cabins). It is a unique and incredible experience. The longer trip allows you to off-load onto a day boat and explore more secluded parts of the site. If you don’t find the previous posts, come back to the forum and I will expand my post.
    Joyce
  • I would also consider one of the Orchid cruises. They do various lengths as do the others. They depart from a different area which allows for about a 1.5 hour drive each way rather than a 4 hour drive each way. I took this one last year and thought it was very nice.
  • We went on the Paradise Peak. It had 8 guest rooms, but only 4 couples. We went for one night, but that was sufficient for us. Lots to do, and I am uncertain what more 2 nights gain you; however, in some cases people have said that it wasn't too different from the first night.

    I will say that the 2D1N is a bit of a misnomer. You get a full day and night aboard, not 2 days.

    The Paradise Peak was beautiful. The food was outstanding. The service was over the top good. There was an onboard masseuse that definitely got the kinks out after a long flight. A butler was assigned to each couple for service at meals and to get drinks, etc.

    The four hour (3.5 on the way back) drive is rather tedious; but the Bay more than makes up for it.

    We were there in January and it was never really warm, nor was the sun out much. I understand that is common in HaLong Bay. The temperatures were in the 50's F. most of the time and when the sun came out it was slightly warmer.
  • We went on the Paradise Peak. It had 8 guest rooms, but only 4 couples. We went for one night, but that was sufficient for us. Lots to do, and I am uncertain what more 2 nights gain you; however, in some cases people have said that it wasn't too different from the first night.

    I will say that the 2D1N is a bit of a misnomer. You get a full day and night aboard, not 2 days.

    The Paradise Peak was beautiful. The food was outstanding. The service was over the top good. There was an onboard masseuse that definitely got the kinks out after a long flight. A butler was assigned to each couple for service at meals and to get drinks, etc.

    The four hour (3.5 on the way back) drive is rather tedious; but the Bay more than makes up for it.

    We were there in January and it was never really warm, nor was the sun out much. I understand that is common in HaLong Bay. The temperatures were in the 50's F. most of the time and when the sun came out it was slightly warmer.
  • You can chose: Garden Bay Cruise or Orchid Cruise. I think 3 days 2 nights is better.
    You can read these article to consider:
    Garden Bay Cruise 2 days/1 nights
    Orchid Cruise 3 Days 2 Nights
  • I must have missed the last few postings on this thread, but since Dean has quite a bit of time before his trip, I want to respond to gtcamper’s comment about the length of time of this trip. As I said, we did the 3-day/2-night trip and were very pleased that we did. The first day did not take us too far into the bay. We had lunch and then traveled to a floating fishing village where we transferred to small boats paddled by locals for a close-up tour of the village. While it was pouring rain, we were buoyed by our guide/paddler who periodically broke into song! Great fun...we then explored some cave which was okay. On the second day those of us doing the 2-night trip ( we were the only ones from the Jasmine) off loaded to a small dayboat where we were joined by 4 people from the Ginger ship (none from the Violet....let’s you know most people are doing a one night trip). The others had some activities ( cooking class, etc) on the boat while it returned to the harbor to pick up the next bunch at noon.
    Meanwhile, on the day boat we had a beautiful breakfast prepared by a chef and served by our guide as we traveled to a deeper part of the bay in Cat Ba Park. The scenery was stunningly beautiful and quite different from the part of the bay we had seen. The boats here were smaller and it was an entirely different experience. We then docked and got bikes to travel the 6 KM to a small village. You did not have to do the bike to enjoy the area... we got back to the dayboat and went to a sheltered part of the park and then kayaked...you could kayak under bridges formed by the rocks, etc. had the weather been nicer, we would have gone swimming from some of the lovely beaches. We then got back on the dayboat where a lovely lunch was prepared for us as we returned to the larger boats. Meanwhile, a new crowd was on the boat participating in the activities we had done the previous day. And, I was very impressed that on the second night they prepared a different dinner for us as they were serving the same dinner we had the previous night. All in all, we had a terrific experience and were so pleased with the second day’s activities. If biking and kayaking is not your thing, the scenery alone is enough to consider the extra time. It is a long trip from Hanoi and a long way to go for just a day trip. Our trip there was so interesting as it was the New Year weekend and there were many vacant lots filled with flowers for sale and there were so many people traveling, some with kumquat trees on their scooters, etc. it was quite an interesting orientation to Vietnam.
  • If you have time, you can do 3D2N tour in Halong Bay. If NOT, 1 night in Halong Bay is still fine.
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