Cruising Halong Bay is easily the best way to access the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage site. You can explore “off the beaten path” islands, islets and caves, and wonder at the karst landscape as it appears before you as a surreal window into an ancient world. If you are new to cruising, you may be apprehensive about what to expect. Paradise Cruises’ top tips for first time cruisers will save you time and ensure your trip to Halong Bay is a wonderful experience that creates lasting, lifelong memories.
1. Define your budget
There is literally a cruise for every budget. The type of cruise you choose depends on the amount you are prepared to spend. You can spend an afternoon cruising around Halong on a day trip from Hanoi where your exposure to Halong will be limited, or you can opt for a two or three day cruise that allows you to really experience the essence of Halong Bay. And if you travel in off-peak season, cruising Halong Bay will be significantly cheaper.
2. Research your itinerary
Before even thinking about booking your cruise, it pays to research your itinerary. Do you want an active cruise that includes outdoor activities like swimming, fishing or diving? Or do you want to have a more relaxed, chilled cruise? Is exploring mysterious cave systems your thing? Or are you more fascinated with visiting fishing villages and meeting the locals? Are you interested in the more popular tourist spots, or do deserted islands and islets have more appeal? Or do you just want to spend a day or so being pampered? There are many options — it really is up to you.
3. Choose the type of cruise
Once you have defined your budget and researched your itinerary, it’s time to book your cruise. If you cruise Halong Bay with Paradise Cruises, you’ll have the option of choosing a day trip, a one night or two night cruise, or even a charter. And rest assured, there’s a Paradise ship and itinerary to suit almost every budget and itinerary.
4. Check the weather forecast
The weather in Halong Bay is quite mild — there are approximately seven hours of sunshine per day — but the area can be prone to overcast days, accompanied by misty rain. Don’t let this stop you cruising, though. Even on overcast days, Halong is magical and beautiful: you can experience the ancient eeriness of the karst landscape in a way that isn’t possible in good weather. Make sure you pack a light rainproof jacket… and sunscreen, just in case.
5. Advise dietary requirements
Halong cruises are known for being a foodie’s paradise, but you may have dietary requirements that need to be catered for. You could be a vegan, vegetarian or gluten intolerant, or you may have food allergies, for example, peanuts or shellfish that are dangerous or life threatening. Simply advise your cruise manager of your requirements when you embark, and your special dietary requests will be taken care of.
6. Bring any medication with you
If you require medication of any type, including epi-pens for anaphylactic shock or insulin for diabetes, make sure you bring your medication with you on your cruise. As an extra precaution, you could advise the ship’s doctor of any medical conditions you have that may need treatment. And while the waters of Halong Bay are relatively calm, if you are prone to sea sickness, ginger tea will help settle your stomach.
7. Safeguard your valuables
Most cruise lines won’t accept responsibility for lost or stolen items, so ensure you keep your valuables (cash, credit cards, passport, cameras and jewellery) either on your person, or locked away in the safe in your cabin. Keep an eye on your handbags and wallets when you are onshore, especially in crowded areas like transfer areas, or during excursions.