Cruising Halong Bay is the perfect way to relax after spending time in Hanoi, Vietnam’s frenetic capital city. Find out what it’s like to take a two-day cruise on the Emeraude, Halong Bay’s only luxury paddle steamer.
We were tired after eating our way through hectic Hanoi over a three-week period. Let’s face it, it takes a lot of energy to navigate Vietnam’s capital city, much less make videos and do all the other work that happens behind the scenes at 2foodtrippers. So, we decided to go to take a break from foodtripping to cruise Halong Bay for two days.
Less than a four-hour drive from Hanoi, Halong Bay is a beautiful oasis in Northeast Vietnam with thousands of grassy limestone islands jutting out of miles of turquoise colored water. A UNESCO site since 1994, Halong Bay is far from a hidden gem. Dozens of junk boats tour the bay at any given time, creating a traffic jam and detracting from the natural beauty of the bay with its seemingly endless karst formations. That’s why we chose the luxury Emeraude Classic Cruises for our Halong Bay excursion.
Cruising Halong Bay on the Emeraude
For us, the Emeraude was the perfect way to experience Halong Bay. Chief Purser Anne Hadang puts a high value on customer service, and the entire experience is first class from the welcome drinks to the disembarkment less than 24 hours later. Unlike most guests, we opted for two days on the Emeraude, which we highly recommend. One day seems a bit rushed to relax and also enjoy the boat’s activities. With two days, we were able to chill for solid blocks of time and also do some fun activities like visit the Sung Sot Grotto (also known as the Surprise Cave), eat French pancakes from the crepe station, learn how to make Vietnamese spring rolls and watch the movie Indochine. It sounds like we did a lot, but we actually skipped some activities since we were having so much fun doing nothing.
For us, the main draw of cruising Halong Bay was the beauty of the mythical area that translates to Descending Dragon Bay. However, we were pleased with the experience we had on the historic boat, which was designed to replicate an early 20th century paddle steamer originally operated by Paul Roque, a second generation Frenchman in Indochina. While cruising Halong Bay, we slept in the comfortable, aptly named, Paul Roque Suite. With five windows offering endlessly stunning views and a private deck area, it’s no wonder that U.S. Senator John McCain and Anthony Bourdain also chose to sleep in the same suite.
But what about the food?
We didn’t have high expectations for the food during our two-day sojourn. To our pleasant surprise, the food on the Emeraude is not only plentiful but also good. With a mixture of Vietnamese classics (like pho) and Western favorites (like spaghetti bolognese), we ate well – perhaps a little too well, as can happen with buffets. We especially enjoyed the large Halong Bay steamed prawns and the variety of tropical fruit.
Tasting Tip: Drinks are extra on the Emeraude. Be sure to take advantage of the two-for-one happy hour if you plan to drink during the cruise.
Watch our video to see what it’s like to cruise Halong Bay on the Emeraude.
Cruising Halong Bay Video
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