As a first timer out of the country and a first time cruiser, I got pretty excited about this Halong Bay cruise. According to all resources I’ve read, it’s a unanimous observation that you get what you pay for. So instead of booking a cheap cruise, I decided to level up from a third class to an average junk and didn’t bother shelling out more than $250 as my share for a 3d/2n in a twin suite cabin.
However, there’s an option to book the same cruise overnight. So what’s the difference between an overnight stay and a 3d/2n cruise aside from the length of stay and price? And does a longer stay really fair better than a short one?
Please be informed that even if you book a 3d/2n cruise, you will still be joining others who booked an overnight stay only. This was quite a surprise for me when I learned that all of the guests inside the junk were only staying for a night except for the three of us. Therefore, all of us shared the same itinerary for the first day. Also note that this may not apply to all cruise companies. I booked with Glory Cruise, a mid ranged junk.
For an overnight stay
First day activities:
- Cabin check in
- Visit to Surprise Cave
- Visit and swimming (optional) to Hang Sung Sot
- Cooking demo
- Dinner (7 course meal)
Second day activities:
- Breakfast (I mean really awesome breakfast)
- Sightseeing and feeding monkeys via tender (kayaking optional)
- Early lunch
- Pack up and check out
For a 3d/2n stay
The first and third days are the same as abovementioned. (second day being the third day for 3d/2n)
- Transfer to a day boat
- Sailing farther about an hour
- Visit to the floating village
- Visit to the pearl farm/store
- Transfer to main ship
- Free time… free time… actually a very long free time
Our second day (for me) was pretty much boring. Sailing farther from shore took a lot of time and made me feel sleepy. We were only four in that ship. Visit to the pearl farm was quick and I honestly didn’t understand what the guy was saying even if he spoke English. Visit to the floating village was quite interesting but it didn’t suffice the lack of activity later that day. Kayaking was awesome though.
Going back to the question, as a young and active backpacker, I’d say that doing an overnight cruise is enough to see and admire this UNESCO Heritage Site. Activities you’ll do outside the ship will be squeezed into two days and there will be no lull period. Plus, you won’t have to shell out that much for an overnight stay and will have more time to explore Hanoi or nearby tourist destinations.
However, if you are one of those who would like to relax totally, don’t mind being in the cabin sleeping almost all day and could shell out a few hundred bucks, then doing a 3d/2n cruise is for you.