I have written a separate review about Halong Bay in general but this is to provide those of you who have decided to take the trip which boat to choose.
We stayed on a one night trip note an overnight cruise which is less than 24 hours in total.
Check in - A bit busy but after a short wait you are transported via a small boat to your main boat.
Cabins - We had a luxury cabin which was well appointed shower was great with door access to the outside deck. The boat had a around 26 passengers so it doesn't feel crowded at all. The only negative was the location of our cabin next to the bar area several of the guests stayed up quite late and got quite rowdy so this detracted form the trip slightly.
Food - You have a 5 course lunch after you have had time to check in and freshen up. This was a very good standard of food at lunch good flavours. Dinner is served in the evening and is buffet style, not as good as the lunch but overall was fine, lots of deep fried food similar to a chinese type buffet you have in the UK. Breakfast is fine again what you would expect. There is also a happy hour in the evening which they only mention about 5 or 6 times!
Service - The staff are friendly and welcoming and overall very good. There is an early morning Tai Chi class on the upper deck which is a nice touch but I think all the boats provide this?
Sites - As described in my review of Halong bay there are lots of boats which seem to take the same routes, so the sites are crowded. The highlight was probably seeing the floating village although the pollution in the water detracts.
Overall the boat and staff provide an enjoyable experience but Halong bay and I would say you get what you pay for so wouldn't recommend going cheap and cheerful! Halong bay has been massively impacted by tourism, so consider this before expecting an unspoilt natural wilderness.
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