From the time we were picked up from our hotel to the time we arrived back, everything went smoothly.The staff on the Garden Bay cruise were friendly, helpful and jovial and the food was great. The accommodation was very comfortable and we had no trouble getting a good night's sleep.....I would definitely recommend this cruise
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Ha Long Bay is not to be missed......it is tranquil and unique,serene and beautiful.The crew of Marguerite Junk were friendly,professional,and attentive to every need....and the food....excellent.I spent two days and one night there,and it was the highlight of my entire trip.I would recommend this to any one considering a trip to Viet Nam
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We were lucky enough to have Hop as our tour guide for the 3 days. He was absolutely fantastic and made the trip what it was.
The boat was great and all the staff were friendly. You have to do the 2 nights as the second day is absolutely amazing and you miss out on experiencing the real Halong Bay if you only stay 1 night.
First, there are three Marguerite Junks now. We were on Marguerite 2.
Because we werent staying in the old quarter, we cabbed in to the office for pickup the morning of the cruise. We were a half hour early, and the office was closed and behind locked steel doors and invisible to us and the cab driver. After a near panic attack for a half hour, we noticed a bus pull up to the far end of the street (the NE end) and voila, we hooked up.
The bus ride is long, with a brief stop at the half way point. Try to sit in front. If you sit over the axle, prepare to be bounced ....big time. The bridge approaches are bone-jarring. Pretty interesting scenery along the way, though. Our guide, Thang, was great and had a lot of information about Vietnam.
As of this year, all the boats from the province were mandated to be painted white. It probably improves the safety quite a lot, but they change in appearance is definitely not for the better. Most of the boats look pretty tatty already and in need of a new paint job. Note to regulating commision......the new rule sucks.
The food is plentiful, and all in all, pretty good. I read a review somewhere about someone complaining that there was too much cilantro (coriander) in the food. In Vietnam.
Some of the food was delicious;crab farci, spring rolls, green papaya salad, and a whole lot of stuff that i had no idea what it was. I ate it all, it was great. Some was just OK.
The liquor prices were Ok as well , two bucks for a beer. The wine was pricier (all over VN in fact) and the local wine was petty dreadful. But a bottle of Chilean ran 32 bucks. What the hell, it's a cruise.
You are served family style ....up to eight at a table. It was nice chatting with our fellow travellers. I think they fill up the boats by , well, race. We were a bunch of tourists from France, Australia, Switzerland, and the US. Many other boats were packed solely with asians. Since we booked on line, i don't know how this works, but it ensured that we could all more or less communicate with each other.
We did a lot of kayaking on the tour, which I hadn't expected. It was pretty darn cold, but the scenery was awesome. Temps about 10-16c (Jan 2013). The morning wakeup call is a bit too early for me, way too early for my wife. Breakfast came out at 0730.
The rooms, well, they look like the rooms in the pictures. Except 10 years aged. The cabins are a bit smaller as well, so if you can leave stuff at the hotel in Hanoi or somewhere, that is good. However, the heat more or less works ( we has to tap our remote and stand with one foot on the ground, etc) but when it does, it is quite toasty in the room. The bathroom is good, hot water and shower fine.
I heard that the Marguertite 2 is better than the 1, not quite as nice as the 3 , but you really don't know what boat you will placed on. The Marguerite 2 used to be called the "elizabeth," according to the name over the wheelhouse, painted over. It was by no means a luxury type cruise, but my wife and I (ages 52-51) thought it was a great time.
The food on day 2 for a two night-three day cruise is not as good as day one, but OK.
Most people take the one night cruise, but with the long drive I recommend the longer one. There are more expensive cruises for the bay that are probably a but nicer, but for us this one was real good.
By the way, the bay is amazing.
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We researched long and hard to pick who to book with for our Halong Bay Cruise and I'm happy to say it most definitely paid off. The Marguerite Junk was everything we hoped for and more. We had a wonderful guide, Hop, who took such fantastic care of us, as did the all the other staff on the boat. He was knowledgeable, friendly and just so helpful - we honestly couldn't have asked for better treatment from him. The boat was great and our room was beautiful, and very clean. There was hot water with good water pressure, air-conditioning and a fridge in the room, and the bed was super comfortable. The food was great ( a lot of seafood but when in Rome...) and everything seemed so thought out and well planned. We had a great mix of cruising, sightseeing and kayaking through the absolutely spectactular scenery.
Honestly, if you're thinking about doing a Halong Bay Cruise, I cannot recommend these guys highly enough. They did everything they said they would and this cruise exceeded our expectations. Oh, and make sure you do 2 nights 3 days - you'll want the extra time to experience the beauty that is Halong Bay.
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