“Cruise through Vietnam’s most famous bay, where floating villages huddle at the foot of mountains that rise from the sea”
Halong Ginger is a small junk (38mx8m), but despite its size, the cabins offer everything you need: a great night’s sleep and a surprisingly sophisticated bathroom. They are fairly simply decorated - shiny wood floors and bamboo panelling are the order of the day - and if few pictures hang on the walls, it’s simply because windows frame huge views of sea and rock. Excellent mattresses are covered in crisp white linen, sparkling granite shower rooms come with robes and potions. Two Deluxe Rooms are available; they are slightly bigger than the others and come with rain showers. There are blinds to drop if the sun’s too bright, but make sure you wake to the world outside - it’s a great way to meet the day.
Halong Jasmine is slightly bigger (55mx11m) with 24 cabins and the interiors are more sophisticated and luxurious - think 1930s Indochine style. The shiny wood floors and pressed bamboo panelling is still present, but there are additional comforts - private balconies with curved chairs; spa baths that overlook the ocean and bath tubs. You can choose from 3 categories: Premium (fairly standard); Deluxe (with private balcony) or the decadent Suites (with private balcony and Jacuzzi).
You certainly don’t starve on Halong Cruises. You embark for lunch and the junk cruises through the islands while you eat. Course after course comes to your table: Vietnamese chicken soup, fresh spring rolls, Halong Bay squid, grilled prawns with lemongrass, chilli chicken, stir-fried beef, steamed rice topped with sesame, then tropical fruits and yoghurt. Dinners are equally indulgent: pumpkin soup, mango salad, char-grilled beef skewers, prawn cocktail, lamb masala with coconut rice, then chocolate cake. In the mornings, you may rise early for a trip to some caves; coffee and patisseries are served before the trip, then, when you return, a buffet brunch is served as you sail onwards. You’ll find cereal and yoghurt, rolls and toast, freshly-sliced fruit and freshly-squeezed juices, then a hot buffet for Vietnamese noodles or bacon and eggs. Both junks have lovely indoor and outdoor dining areas.