The tales of woe all began with, “Be careful about booking with this cruise ship. Let me tell you what happened to us!” After hearing a few not-so-good stories about cruise ships and Galaxy Cruises we were nervous about booking a trip to the beautiful Ha Long Bay (also Halong Bay). What if we accidentally book a horrible boat? We were considering our options when the hotel we were staying at in Hanoi, the Skyline Hotel, came up trumps with an excellent deal for us on a first class boat.
What if we accidentally book a horrible boat?
Our small group set out from Hanoi and arrived four hours later to see the magnificent Ha Long Bay where the water vacillates between a sea green when shallow and a deep blue. We looked in awe around sun drenched dense tropical foliage apparent on all of the mountains and large rock formations that jut out of the water.
Our boat, from Galaxy Cruises, had hotel-like facilities on board. Fortunately, we met our fellow travellers and immediately clicked with two couples on vacation from Oz (Australia). After a huge feast for lunch we went by launch to one of the almost 2000 islands in the bay where we were treated to an hour of kayaking through caves and around several more islands.
One in particular was home to Golden monkeys which we watch playing in the trees. The same lagoon is breeding area to hundreds of thousands of jellyfish of many shapes, colours and sizes. When the jellyfish grow large enough the high tides take them out to sea. The trip back finished off with a sweet swim off the deck of the launch in the warm Ha Long Bay waters. Back on board later and another sumptuous meal complete with (just a few!) Hanoi beers rounded off a very memorable day.
The next morning, Tai Chi was arranged for 6.30 am but unfortunately a sizeable thunderstorm arrived during the night so this along with squid fishing had to be postponed. After the storm passed we headed out on the launch once again – this time to Sung Sot Caves. Climbing up to reach the caves gives the most beautiful panoramic views of Ha Long Bay and the vast Limestone Caves are truly spectacular. Back on board, we were filled once again with a first class huge array of beautiful Vietnamese food before setting off back to Hanoi.