Viola Cruise
Viola Cruise
4.5
Boat Tours
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About
Viola Cruise is AST Travels Latest 4 Star Cruise to enter the Luxury Halong Bay Cruise Market. Pair with over 10 years experience ,Viola Cruise will be offering our customer pioneering concepts that will turn their moments into unforgettable memories
Hanoi, Vietnam

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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.


4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles659 reviews
Excellent
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Very good
104
Average
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Poor
11
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AlexsandreL
9 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020 • Couples
We did a 2 days 1 night on the Viola Cruise January 5th and 6th 2020 in Halong Bay. We had a wonderful experience with our tour guide Lucky Hoi. He was really knowledgeable, caring of his guests and most of all really funny! He made the cruise really enjoyable and we recommend it to anybody. All the staff on the boat was really kind and offered a great service. And the meals were big and delicious!
Written January 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Bill K
12 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2017 • Friends
There are few places like Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. The trip from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay with Viola Cruises was a wonderful overnight escape from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. The location is an absolute "must see" and is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Upon researching many ways to experience Ha Long Bay, the overnight cruise option with Viola just makes sense if you are wanting to stay in Hanoi and do more on your trip than just visit Ha Long Bay. It packs a lot of punch into an affordable and efficient experience with no chance of ever getting bored. They also offer a 2 night cruise that you may wish to purchase depending on your itinerary and available time.

The icing on the cake for this cruise was a very friendly and personable tour guide with a great sense of humor, who introduced himself as "Lucky." "Lucky" Hoi speaks perfect English, makes you feel comfortable, and is very attentive to everyone's personal needs. He is also really good at remembering people's names and ensuring everyone is accounted for and safe during the excursions away from the boat. If you have a lot of experience with tours in foreign countries, you know how important it is to have a good tour guide. You've likely been on a "tour from hell" where you were unable to communicate well with the tour guide, or they were not attentive to your needs. It ruins the trip. On the other hand, in the case with Viola Cruise, having Lucky as a tour guide gives you an incredible and unforgettable experience. I've had great luck with tour guides and tours in Vietnam, so the odds are in your favor, but Lucky takes it a notch above and is a major asset to AST Travels and deserves every penny he earns and much more besides!

Here are some details on the actual cruise and how the experience played out:

The first treat was the pickup at our hotel. The significance of this was the fact that we were staying at the Pullman, which is a little further from the other hotel pickup locations, which are in the Old Quarter. We could've taken a taxi or Uber to the Old Quarter if we had to, but they offered to go out of their way to pick us up and get situated ahead of time. Lucky greeted us right away, got our information, and we were soon on our way to Ha Long Bay after picking up the rest of the overnight cruise-goers in Hanoi.

Halfway through, we stopped for a 30 minute rest break, as communicated by Lucky ahead of time. The WCs were very clean and welcoming, and we were able to take a look at a store with large sculptures, jewelry, paintings, and snacks/drinks for sale. It's a good opportunity to stretch your legs and take a break since it's a 3.5 hour bus ride. In a recent review, someone indicated that the rest stops on the bus were undisclosed. Perhaps that individual was not paying attention, because Lucky clearly indicated that we would take a 30 minute rest stop halfway through the trip.

Once we arrived, we took a small boat to the Viola ship and we were greeted by the friendly crew. We had a brief meeting in the dining room and we were all handed our keys so we could get checked in. If you travel a lot, you'll appreciate this because one of the first things you want to do when you get to a new location is get your bags in a room and get a bit organized, especially after 4 hours of traveling and getting routed to the ship via the transport vessel. They got us into the rooms quickly and gave us a decent amount of time to get situated before lunch. We were welcomed with a glass of wine at the top deck after getting unpacked a little and that experience segued into lunch.

We upgraded a bit and chose the luxury cabin because of the balcony. It was only $10 more a person and well worth it. We had a room on the second deck and it was nice to be able to open the door and feel the breeze of the bay at night without having to leave the room.

We had a fantastic lunch with a well stocked buffet and we were able to visit with and meet other travelers on the ship. If you are used to traveling on large cruise lines and feel there are way too many people, inattentive staff, and crowded buffets with huge lines, you'll LOVE the Viola cruise because it is just the opposite. We only had around 25-30 people on the ship and it was very easy to grab more food and we had about 5 people to each large table. The wait staff was very attentive with drink orders and would start a tab for you and reconcile at the end of the trip. This prevents you from having to worry about paying for drinks with US dollars, Dong, or credit cards while trying to enjoy your meal.

During the trip, Lucky communicated with us either in person or over the ship's intercom system. He repeated the schedule a number of times and the Viola staff left brochures in the staterooms with exact schedules. The activities ran per schedule and we had time to get checked in to our rooms, grab clothing and belongings we needed (cameras, etc.) Lucky was very good at letting us know what to do with belongings on the excursions away from the boat, what to wear, etc. If you carry around camera equipment like I do, you'll appreciate the detailed plans, especially when water is involved.

Put some swimwear on ahead of time if you plan to kayak or swim at the beach and grab a small bag to put other belongings in. The first part of the journey is Vung Vieng where we took a bamboo boat out to a Pearl Farm and was able to soak in more breathtaking views of Ha Long Bay. You bring your belongings with you on this boat and you are safe to take photos on this sturdy boat. When you reach the turnaround point on the bamboo boat, you see a cavern tunnel opening that would appear to send you out to a larger part of the sea, due to the large boats sitting at the other end of the cavern tunnel. We toured the Pearl Farm after returning from the bamboo boat and learned how pearls are harvested from oysters.

The second stage of the excursion was Ban Chan beach. If you brought some extra belongings, Lucky and staff will stay with the bags and keep a watchful eye on them while you enjoy kayaking, volleyball, sunbathing, or swimming. It was January in Northern Vietnam, but we were lucky with the weather being in the high 70's (about 23 C.) It was still great weather for kayaking and a little wading in the water, but if you really want to be a beach bum in Ha Long Bay, come by a little later in the year.

We were welcomed back to the ship with a nice sunset party where we were able to relax and take pictures of the amazing sunset. The weather was great and the sky was clear. Grab drinks from the bar at this point if you would like. Drink prices are around $2 US for beer/sodas/bottled water which is very reasonable. Sure, it isn't as cheap as the Circle K or street food restaurants in Hanoi, but they are the most affordable drinks on any ship I've ever been on.

For dinner, we had this HUGE 8 course Imperial feast. The food just kept on coming. Make sure to pace yourself throughout this wonderful culinary experience since you will be given a large variety of food and don't want to fill up before you try all of the great dishes. After dinner, we were given the rest of the evening to do as we chose, but the ship offered squid fishing, board games, and drinks. If you are really set on catching squid, January is probably not a good time for you to go out to Ha Long Bay since it is a slower season for catching squid, but it was fun to give it a try anyway. Grab a pole with some bait on it and shake it up and down in the water slowly to attract squid. Have someone else with a fishing net on standby to scoop up a squid when it swims to the bait. The squid doesn't get "hooked" like traditional fishing, hence the fishing net. If you are determined enough, you may be able to catch a few!

It was a very relaxing night in the room with a comfortable bed and large windows to look out at the night sky, and small local boats anchoring overnight at Cong Dong. It was extremely quiet and peaceful, and the ship remained anchored overnight, preventing any disturbances or noise while sleeping. We woke up early to catch the sunrise since we were told it would hit at around 6am and we were encouraged to wake up and check it out. It was cloudy in the morning, so there wasn't much of a sunrise but that is obviously not Viola's fault and every other major ship anchors overnight at Cong Dong and was a great overnight location.

We had a great breakfast and then went out to Thien Canh Son cave, which ended up being a fairly large cave. It's easy to get around and it's well lit with a lot of picture taking opportunities. There are a lot of steps to get to the cave entrance, so if you have any health issues, you may want to pass on the cave. Lucky and Viola Cruise staff were very good at mentioning that ahead of time so no one was surprised by that. At the top of the stairs, before entering the cave, there are some fantastic views of the bay area and I took one of my favorite photos up there.

At 9:30, we started checking out of our rooms and were treated to a vegetable carving demonstration by Lucky and the head chef up in the main dining room. They created flowers and other designs from carved vegetables and the table was set up with various spring roll ingredients. After the demonstration, we all tried our hand at rolling Vietnamese spring rolls using rice paper and the ingredients on the table. This was very sanitary since the ingredients were covered with plastic until needed and everyone put on poly gloves when handling the plates of ingredients. Any normal cruise would've considered this "lunch" but this was just an appetizer since another great meal was on the agenda. We had a traditional Vietnamese "family style" meal with a large assortment of food delivered to each table on a tray. It was a great farewall meal as we prepared to dock back at Hon Gai wharf. We were able to hang out on the top deck, take photos, and admire the approaching city.

The bus ride back was basically the same as the way there. Stop at the rest stop again, stretch your legs, use the WC, buy snacks or souvenirs, and head back to the Old Quarter. This was definitely a 5 star trip and if you are looking for the best way to experience Ha Long Bay, you can't go wrong with Viola Cruise Lines. The price is right, the service is excellent, and I couldn't imagine how you could get anything better, even with a higher priced cruise. Our tour guide Lucky was the glue that held everything together and made it a very enjoyable, relaxing, and stress-free experience!
Written January 10, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Laurence W
Hong Kong, China8 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2014 • Couples
We were one of the first guests of this new cruise ship on a 2 day 1 night Halong Bay Excursion. It's a bit smaller than some of the 5 star cruise ships with around 15 total cabins or so. I booked the honeymoon suite for my wife and I which included an ensuite washroom and a private balcony. The room/washroom was clean and pretty standard, it included fresh fruit and a bottle of local vietnamese red wine which I happily enjoyed because it was free, my wife was not so sold on the taste.

Pros: Clean room, very good tour guide (Phong) who tries as best he can to make jokes and to explain the cultural significance of the area/food/things in general, some free alcohol included, cooking class was interesting, there is a speaker you can plug into on the upper deck with a disco light ball on the upper deck (good if you're with a group of friends, bad if you're sleeping on the 1st floor immediately below the upper deck - although since everything starts early, the music died down by 10pm as everyone was pretty exhausted). Food presentation was excellent and servers were friendly and accommodating.

Cons: Food taste was adequate, but nothing special. You have to pay for all of your beverages (although they aren't very expensive, about 1-2 USD for beer and 3-4USD for a cocktail). Not enough free water was provided in the rooms. No conditioner was available in the rooms either which is probably a bigger problem for girls than guys. Toilet paper is two ply, but was pretty rough (close to sandpaper toilet paper, but not quite there yet).

*As we were one of the first guests on this cruise ship, the owner of AST Travel which owns the Viola Cruise ship was present to make sure everything went smoothly. Overall, there were less operational hiccups than I expected from a new cruise ship and all of the CONS listed above were given as feedback to the owner of the AST travel in a feedback form. At the tail end of the 4 hour bus ride from Halong Bay back to Hanoi, she came and talked to us for a few minutes and promised the issues mentioned above would be resolved.

Overall: Good experience, would recommend to risk averse friends as a safe 4 star option that won't wow you, but also won't let you down. Halong Bay itself is amazing, so you're only on the cruise ship half the time.
Written October 7, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DAVID K
22 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2017 • Friends
Just returned from wonderful cruise on Halong Bay with Viola Cruise Lines. The Viola bus picked us up at our hotel as planned. We made one stop on the way at a clean rest stop with just enough time to stretch our legs and check out the shops. The Viola boat was very nice with a few modern upgrades but still retaining the older Asian charm. The views and serenity of Halong Bay is very unique. You have to see it to believe it. Photos and videos do not do it justice. As for our guide "Lucky" Hoi Chu, I can't say enough good things about him. I am a 64 year old man with some knee issues and Lucky was very thoughtful and accommodating from the first step on the bus until the end of the trip. The food was great starting with a quality lunch buffet and later the dinner where the delicious courses kept coming and coming. I have been on many trips to Asia and have sailed on a few cruises and I'm familiar with 5* treatment. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone. Especially if you are lucky enough to get Lucky as a tour guide.
Written January 7, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mgeorgy
London, UK63 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2014 • Couples
My wife and just did the 2night 3 day cruise. The boat itself is great, the rooms are very comfortable with great hot showers. As mentioned before the logistical side of things run like clockwork.

We had two guides Hao and My, they were both very attentive although Hao had a high school camp leader style. Basically you are rushed from one part of the schedule to the next and met with a very confused look when you want to sit out anything.

The food on the boat was talked up a lot on the way to the boat and during the cruise. Unfortunately it did not meet the standard of the hype or even close. There is a vast quantity provided but all of medium quality. This was surprising when we had just had spectacular street food at a cost of next to nothing the day before. The food had style of cheap china town msg filled meal. If they went back to basics and provided less but did it well the result would be much better.

All in all we did enjoy our time on the boat, the bay is beautiful and worth a visit. The staff are very kind and helpful. The kayaking excursion on the second day to the night and day cave and the fairy cave were our highlights.
Written December 6, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

N_IrelandMarmalade
N. Ireland109 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2014 • Couples
Our whole trip was spoiled by the fact that there was no control over the 'entertainment' on the sun deck which went on until 3.30 am - this comprised of very loud music and karaoke - it was just impossible to sleep - we managed two hours before breakfast. We accept the fact that there may be loud music and a lot of drinking but there has to be a limit as the day starts very early on board. Midnight would be surely late enough - the guide did tell us that the bar would be open for as long as it was required - the next morning quite few of the revellers slept in over breakfast and the trip to the caves - they got more than two hours sleep.
Apart from that we had a lovely cabin with a great en-suite with view from two sides over the fantastic bay. The staff were very attentive and charming - the food was good and beautifully presented. The side trips were a bit commercialised but we thoroughly enjoyed them - even kayaking for the first time ever and loved it.
This could have been a really special trip but unfortunately our memories have been clouded.
Written November 16, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Nik M
7 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2017 • Friends
We were on Viola cruise for a two day, one night tour in Halong Bay with a group of five people and all really enjoyed the trip. The rooms are very spacious and the ship has a nice sun deck to hang out. All the activities were great and our tour guide Victor made sure we had a blast! He was also very knowledgeable and answered all our questions. The food was delicious and the cooking class a lot of fun. Transport from our Hanoi Hotel were also included and were on time. Highly recommend this trip! Enjoy Vietnam!
Written January 11, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Brookemneumann
3 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2016 • Family
We never got to go on our cruise. We did the 2+ hour bus ride to Halong Bay only to be told it was cancelled. We were then left, stranded at the cruise port to find a hotel for the next 2 nights with our 2 young children. We were promised transportation back to Hanoi, which didn't happen either. To get reimbursed, we had to go to a previous hotel where they would only give USD (almost $700!) instead of crediting our card back and fought us on giving our money back for a birthday cake and flowers that we never got. Very poor customer service.
Written September 5, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Belinda M
Edinburgh, UK18 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2014 • Couples
My partner and I booked the 2 day one night trip to Ha Long Bay with Viola Cruises. Ha Long Bay itself is beautiful and this was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Vietnam. The cruise ship itself is brand new and therefore very clean and modern. Rooms were a decent size and the bed was one of the comfiest bed's we have had in a while since we have been traveling around SE Asia for 6 weeks now. Food was good and the service was also excellent. We enjoyed the kayaking around Ha Long Bay and also the visit to the Surprising Caves. Our tour guide was Tho and she was very knowledgeable. The bus that takes you to and from Ha Long Bay is also very comfortable and has good air con. The only minor letdown was the so-called squid fishing which was a stick with a hook on the end and no bate therefore unlikely that anybody would catch anything. All in all we had a good time and would recommend Viola Cruises to anyone looking to do a trip around Ha Long Bay.
Written October 12, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ChunkysoupSF
San Francisco, CA56 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2017 • Couples
We were lucky to have Lucky as our host and tour guide. From hotel pick up to drop off has been a stress free and a wonderful experience! Viola cruise company is a class above the others. We had a great tour guide , accommodation was clean and roomy, food was plentiful and tasty, fun activities, and most of all ..... beautiful Halong Bay!!! Lucky really made this Halong Bay a wonderful experience! Not to be missed when visit Hanoi.
Written February 20, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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