Recently, I had the opportunity to spend one month traveling around Vietnam. I started in the South and then traveled towards the North of Vietnam to fulfill one of my dreams and finally cross it off of my bucket list: Visiting Halong Bay. I got to escape the hustle and bustle of Hanoi to see my dream spot, the best way possibly, via a Halong Bay cruise. It was an overnight luxury experience (2 days, 1 night) aboard a luxury cruiser named Ancora Cruises.
In this post, I will share with you my full experience cruising along Halong Bay, on a 2 day/1 night adventure: The highlights, the amenities, the food, the itinerary, and I’m including why I think it’s an experience worthy of your consideration to see this World Wonder of Nature, Halong Bay, at least once in your lifetime!
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Halong Bay Facts
- 2 Halong Bay trip from Hanoi
- 3 Now, check out my experience aboard a Halong Bay 2 day, 1 Night Cruise with Ancora Cruises (A Full Review)
- 4 Halong Bay Cruise Itinerary – Ancora 2 day, 1 night Cruise
- 5 Bet that you are now wondering how much is the Halong Bay 2 days, 1 night cruise cost approximately?
Halong Bay Facts
Halong Bay is a natural wonder and a UNESCO World heritage Site in Northeast Vietnam with over 1600 impressive towering limestone islands topped with thick jungle vegetation and stunning emerald waters. The whole region is well-liked for scuba diving, rock climbing and hiking, particularly in mountainous Cát Bà National Park.
Halong Bay trip from Hanoi
My Halong Bay trip from Hanoi started one early morning when I was pick up from my hotel. While not every Ancora Halong Bay luxury cruise package includes the cost of the transfer from Hanoi, Ancora Cruises can easily help you to book a transfer, or you can book it through your hotel or online. It took approximate 3 hours to get to the Ancora Cruises lounge on Hon Gai Pier in Halong Bay, where you have to check-in with a valid passport. It’s there that the cruiser is docked and departs from.
On the way to the Halong Bay from Hanoi, we only made one stop for use of the restroom, pick up snacks and/or shop ’til you drop. It was sort of a pearl factory where they explain the process of the cultured pearl (natural pearl) of Halong Bay, how to identify the quality and, of course, there’s a store where you can buy jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, etc., made with different quality pearls (from AAA quality down). TIP: In comparison with the prices in USA and other western countries, you can find amazing jewelry at a fraction of the cost.
While I appreciated the stop, I couldn’t wait to get to the pier so that we could be on our way!
Now, check out my experience aboard a Halong Bay 2 day, 1 Night Cruise with Ancora Cruises (A Full Review)
After departing the dock, the adventure began with an amazing welcoming experience prepared by the Cruise manager and team.
Welcome Aboard Experience
As I was walking aboard the Ancora, the staff welcomed me warmly then directed me upstairs, towards the main dining area, to have lunch. As I walked up the stairs, I was showered with red rose petals immediately followed by a refreshing welcome drink on the landing. What a wonderful start to the cruise! After this, we sat wherever we wanted and the Cruise Manager gave us a briefing on safety and welcomed us aboard the cruise. Then, it was finally time to enjoy a buffet lunch. After lunch, we had a small amount of time to go to the room, freshen up and change, to then head out to one of the first activities, a visit to Surprise cave (more about a little further below).
Important TIP: Do not be late. It’s important to be on time for the activities, especially since they tend to leave exactly at the time as indicated on the itinerary.
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The Amenities aboard Ancora Halong Bay Cruise
Halong Bay Luxury Cruise Cabin – What are the room accommodations like?
The accommodations are essentially luxurious cabins, with private balconies, and fully furnished bathrooms. There are different kind of accommodations and, luckily, I had one of their bigger corner suites. The suite was huge with a couch, a very nice bathtub with a view, two-way air-conditioning, along with an outside lounging balcony area where I was able to, privately, enjoy the views of Halong Bay. I must say that nothing prepares you for seeing those views for the first time; they leave you speechless, and it even felt a little surreal to finally see one of the world wonders of nature in person.
The Wi-fi on board
The Wi-fi on board was free of charge but definitely not very strong. However, do take into consideration that we were in the middle of the Ocean. At least upstairs in the main dining room area it was better although, at times, a little slow. But in the suites, the Wi-fi is virtually non-existent. But honestly, with those views, it was easy to disconnect from the world, especially for only a 2 day cruise.
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Was a 2 day/1 night cruise in Halong Bay really enough time?
In my personal opinion, no it wasn’t. I would have stayed at least one more night so, maybe consider a 3 day option, if you can spare the days for it. This cruise was already towards the end of my visa, so I didn’t have as much time left before leaving Vietnam to travel towards Cambodia. I would say, with more time, you could really enjoy additional activities, relax more, and truly soak up the views, while disconnecting for a bit.
The dining options
- In terms of the dining options, there was variety offered on their buffet. The menu was a fusion of fresh Vietnamese ingredients prepared by their professional chef. It all looked very hygienic (something I tend to look for) and tasted very good. They had Vietnamese, Seafood and International options. If you have any special food preferences, allergies or dietary requirements, you must let the Ancora staff know at least a week prior to your cruise date.
Note: For those that regularly take luxury cruises in Western countries, and expect someone to be cooking in front of you, this is not the case here. All of the meals were always served buffet style. But you still get plenty to choose from to fulfill your needs. At least I did, and I love to eat!
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I’m happy to report that there is a traditional spa aboard Ancora Luxury Cruise but you must book an appointment and know that this is not included in the cruise package so, it’s an extra charge.
Halong Bay Cruise Itinerary – Ancora 2 day, 1 night Cruise
DAY 1: HANOI – HA LONG BAY
After lunch, mentioned above, here are some of the things we did:
- The boat cruised towards the southeast of Halong Bay, passing Fighting- Cock and Finger Islet.
- We went on an excursion to explore Surprise Cave, one of the biggest caves in Ha Long Bay with beautiful stalactites.
It was nice to walk around the cave, but it was quite touristic.
- The highlight was the view when you come out of the cave. It is a perfect spot for panoramic pictures of Halong Bay.
- After this, we went to visit Luon Cave area and people got to choose between a bamboo boat ride or kayaking. I chose the bamboo boat. It was a beautiful and peaceful ride, passing wonderful rock formations, and we got to see lots of monkeys from the boat. This was one of my favorite excursion experiences!
- After the boat ride, we returned to the cruise just in time to enjoy one of the most spectacular sunsets along the way. It was super iconic
- Once back on the cruise ship, you get a little free time to either return to your room, sunbathe on the sundeck, or just relax.
- After this free time, there was a Traditional Vietnamese cooking and fruit carving demonstration on the sundeck. It was quite entertaining and ended up being a lot of fun due to the healthy competition that developed between guests competing for the title of the best fresh spring roll. We had tons of fun. There were drink prizes too.
- After all of the activities, everyone was hungry, so it was definitely time for dinner. At dinner, I got to meet some other people on the cruise that were New Yorkers like me, along with people from Taiwan, and Korea, among other places. It was good to connect with others. What a great and fun group!
- After dinner, some people called it a night while others stayed for a nightcap or joined the Ancora cruise staff for squid fishing, followed by fun night activities and games. It was so much fun competing against the other passengers, even when playing ring toss. For those of you that are not familiar with the ring toss game, we were tossing the rings and they needed to land over the mouth and neck of one of the bottles. Unfortunately, I did not win any prize, but I had a blast just by participating.
Good night! Time to rest overnight on board Ancora Cruises.
DAY 2 : HALONG BAY – HANOI
- The day started with an optional Tai chi class on the sundeck
- There was a light breakfast before leaving for the next excursion.
- This time we visited Titov Island and we were given the choice of swimming or hiking to a viewpoint on Titov Island. Most people chose to walk to the viewpoint since the water was cold. No surprise since, in January the north of Vietnam is cooler than other months.
- After returning aboard from Titov Island, Brunch was served in the restaurant while the boat started heading back to the harbour. It was almost time to say goodbye to Halong Bay. Honestly, I wish I had at least another 24 hours.
- By 11:00 am we were already disembarking at Hon Gai Pier.
Note: This was the Halong Bay cruise itinerary that I personally experienced, but sometimes the schedules and/or activities can vary or be canceled due to weather. Fortunately enough, I had sunny and clear weather. Thank you, mother nature!
Bet that you are now wondering how much is the Halong Bay 2 days, 1 night cruise cost approximately?
The prices start from $250 and up. It depends on the time of year that you visit, the package that you choose, the type of suite and the amount of people. You can get a quote by contacting Ancora Cruises or by visiting their website.
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What is included with the Halong Bay Ancora 2 day, 1 night cruises initial cost?
- Two-days, one night at Ancora Cruises – Halong Bay
- One night in your selected cabin type
- Lunch, Dinner, Light Breakfast, Brunch
- Complimentary tea, coffee and 1 bottle of water per passenger in every cabin.
- Sightseeing fees
- Bamboo boat ride
- Onboard insurance and service charges.
What is excluded from this Halong Bay cruise cost?
All airfares, transfers, hotels and visa arrangements to/from the cruise.
- Additional beverages.
- Spa and any other personal expenses.
- All services not clearly mentioned.
Overall, Halong Bay was one of the highlights of my adventures traveling around Vietnam. Regardless of being a site quite popular among tourists, it is like any of the Wonders of the World (for example, visiting The Taj Mahal), something that you must experience at least once in your life. It definitely won’t disappoint.
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