Many travel companies in Vietnam offer Halong bay tours from Hanoi, there are hundreds of cruisers in Halong bay ranging from cheap to luxury, visitors can take 2 or 3 day tours, the itineraries of all cruises are pretty similar, the trip will take you to the area of Halong or Bai Tu Long bay, visiting a mountain cave and a floating village, spend some time swimming or kayaking, watching sunset and stay the night on board…Within the frame of this entry I would like to give a list of 6 best budget cruises in Halong bay that I have been on, the list may be arguable as it is my own opinion, most of these boats offer prices under 100 usd/person for 2 day cruise by the time I made the survey however please double check again with the cruise as prices could have changed in the meantime.
1 – Dugong Sail cruise, good value for money
A mid range cruise with basic facilities such as air condition, en suite bathrooms, Dugong is my first choice for a trip to Halong bay with tight budget, although the boat was several years old and a bit run down the cabins are nicely designed and furnitured for an overnight stay, this cruise has a family cabin at the back of the boat with 2 large windows and an open balcony where you can relax over a drink and watch the sunset. Food on board is pretty good with Vietnamese seafood buffet, staff are very friendly and helpful despite their English is hard to understand.
2 – Poseidon cruise, clean and cozy
Poseidon is a small cruiser with only 8 passenger rooms however the boat has a unique design of ancient Greek warships, the cabins are not very big however comfortable and clean, each cabin has a window facing the ocean, please choose a room on upper deck for a nice view of the bay from your window. The boat was built only a few years ago and is very well maintained and facilities look quite new. Service is very good with friendly crew and food is a mix of Vietnamese – western. Good feedbacks for the guides.
3 – Albatross cruise, good feedback for the crew
A good choice for backpackers to enjoy and trip to Halong bay at low cost. The vessel is a bit worn out, the outside appearance is not very attractive but but cabins are clean and well attended. For the price you pay this boat offer a good value. The captain and crew is very friendly, food is plenty however not really tasty and you share with other group members, there is not much to do at night on board except the karaoke. If you are traveling Halong bay on a tight budget I would recommend it.
4 – Cristina cruise
From outside, Cristina cruise looks weathered and a bit old however once on board you will find it pleasantly different. There rooms are large and in very good condition, all cabins are equiped with air conditioner and heater, upper deck had a pleasant sun bathing area, what I don’t like on this boat and most other cruisers is price of drinks are just double of on shore price. Make sure to bring water! The itinerary is quite rigid and specific, but it seems like it has to be so that everything can be fit into the program, vegetarian food is available and a version of all meat dishes will be created for you
5 – Party cruise, a quiet party
The vessel is quite nice with pretty rooms however the bathroom is covered with only a curtain without door, pay a little more for a room on second floor if you can so that you will be far from the noisy generator. The food is served in variety however little in quantities and you may find it not very pleasant so share the small dishesh with the others. What I don’t like is the activities on boat at night, almost nothing and boring, Maybe for families with babies is okay but for young and mid-age people..boring! A good idea could be doing cruises targeted only in a type of people: only families only singles. One of the highlights of party cruise was the excellent service of the local guide on boat who provides concise information on culture, history and the Halong Bay experience
6 – Black Pearl junk cruise, you get what you pay for
One of the cheapest cruises in Halong bay, choose Black Pearl if you want to keep your budget to a miminum. The boat itself is ok and my advice is to stay away from the room close to the engine as it is very noisy and you will be awaken up at 5 o’clock in the morning. Food on board is alright but nothing special and a lot of fried stuff, dessert is humble, the crew is very friendly and work hard to get the best to satisfy customer for the food. Dont expect the too much from it and you will be fine.