Setting the Night Alight with Brazilian Jazz Duo

President Cruises, Halong Bay’s grandest vessel, will be hosting a Michelin star event like no other, with multi Michelin star chef John Burton-Race raising the standard of Halong Bay dining.

Following this glamorous dining experience will be an unforgettable night of jazz with Brazilian duo Gustavo and Mariana in the Piano Lounge. The talented pair will conjure dreams of a 1920s New York café with their selection of bossa nova, salsa and funk.

As a perfect palate cleanser to the evening’s feast of high-end dining, the jazz duo will move between an electric atmosphere and soothing beats in the luxurious Piano Lounge.

Running through jazz standards that stretch throughout the 20th century, Gustavo and Mariana will throw in licks of bossa nova, Brazilian samba, and funk. That doesn’t mean that they’ll shy away from more up-tempo rhythms though. Should the occasion call for it, Gustavo and Mariana are also armed with R&B and pop songs, with vocals in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

Gustavo, a well-established pianist and composer, was born in a small town in São Paulo, Brazil. At age 18, with jazz rhythms running through his veins, Gustavo attended MPB Jazz and Piano, studying under André Marques, Hermeto Pascoal’s pianist.

Gustavo’s debut album, Novos Horizontes Apontam, was nominated for the 2017 Latin GRAMMY Awards, while his second album, Um Respiro, released in 2018, had the honor of including singers Filó Machado and Tatiana Parra.

Lead singer Marianna Mattos never fails to bring charm and charisma to the stage. A natural performer, Marianna began singing in highly regarded establishments all over Rio de Janeiro from the age of 17, and performed as band leader vocalist on Viking Ocean Cruises in 2018. Marianna’s voice is unique and passionate, and establishes an atmosphere rivaling that of any great jazz singer.

Following John’s own performance in the kitchen, Gustavo and Mariana will be found in the President’s chic Piano Lounge from 21:30 – 23:30. Make sure you see the night off with a cocktail in hand and the sound of jazz emanating from the boat – it’s sure to be an experience par excellence.

Cabins, which start at $2500, are selling fast. Get in touch to confirm your spot. 

>> Set an admirable night in the charming melody with Brazilian Jazz Duo

Changing Tides in Halong Bay: Wooden Junks and the Future

The interest in this World Heritage Site is nothing new; people have been coming to view the great limestone karsts of Halong Bay for centuries.

This has been, in part, due to its unique location and an important trading post for spice trade between China, Japan, and Thailand. The bay gradually became a center for cultural and commercial exchanges between these countries and ancient Vietnam.

The establishment of the Van Don port dates as far back as the reign of Ly Ang Tong in 1149. These days the Cai Lang commercial port remains a lasting relic of Halong’s ancient past.

Chinese and Vietnamese tourists have been flocking to Halong Bay for centuries due to its spiritual connections. Pilgrimages became popular as people looked for soul purification and peace of mind. This is, in part due to Halong being the birthplace of Truc Lam Zen, a Vietnamese school of Buddhism created by King Tran Nhan Tong in the 13th century.

Halong Bay later became a symbol of the famous Chinese and Vietnamese junks, the traditional boat of Southeast Asia. The creation of the junks dates back to 3000BC.

You can see Halong Bay’s appeal in several films that have scenes shot in the area. Blockbusters like Kong: Skull Island (2017), Pan (2015) and James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) all contained scenes shot in Halong Bay, most of which couldn’t resist employing a junk for a scene.

IndoChine (1992) is another great example of this, with scenes set in Halong Bay demonstrating the cultural significance of junks during the French Colonial period.

While the history of wooden junks is rich, it’s time for a new phase of water transport in Halong Bay. It will be sad to see these beautiful ships leave, but environmental and safety factors have made replacement steel ships a necessity.

Safety is an important factor when it comes to cruises and sadly wooden boats are at risk from fires and sinking. Two junks experienced major fires in 2017, while the sinking of previous wooden boats has led to worrying numbers of fatalities.

Deterioration of the boats within the harsh environment of Halong Bay has made it necessary to retire all wooden hull cruises after 15 years. In comparison, steel boats are given 25 years until they have to be removed from the bay.

The environmental impact on the UNESCO World Heritage Site is another obvious factor.

Deterioration of wooden boats, as outlined by their lifespan, is huge, and this can have significant negative impact when compared with their steel counterparts. Additionally, the dubious source of the wood provided for these boats may impact on deforestation in Asia.

The People’s Committee of Quang Ninh is trying to reduce the number of wooden hull cruises. Currently, there are around 534 cruise ships in the bay, 81% of which are wooden. It is predicted that, by 2020, there will still be 400. But by 2030 they’ll be gone.

As the largest cruise liner and the market leader in Halong Bay cruises, President Cruises is proud to invest only in safe, steel boats that have minimal impact on the environment.

>> Check out the best Halong Bay overnight cruise

Halong Bay in Spring

There is not a bad time to visit Halong Bay as each season has its own charm, from the atmospheric fog of winter to the bright blue skies of summer. But like much of northern Vietnam, weather in Halong Bay is unpredictable. Here we give you the best guide possible for spring but note that seasonal shifts and freak weather might blow the information a little off-course.

Spring is a tricky season in Halong Bay. It starts off chilly and wet, but it heats up quickly as the days roll on and we head toward summer. Winter is over by the end of February and Halong Bay hits summer in May, so spring usually falls in between: March and April. Below are answers to the three questions we get asked the most, with some advice on what to pack.

Is Halong Bay Cold?

Generally speaking, spring is not cold in Halong Bay. Although the winter chill can sometimes linger from February, temperatures have usually risen to a comfortable 17-22 degrees Celsius. However, note that the sea winds and high humidity levels can make Halong Bay feel colder than it is. 20 degrees may be t-shirt weather at home, but in Halong Bay you’ll need a light jacket. By April, Halong Bay has heated up to a warm 20-25 degrees. This means that this is generally a good time of year for activities, like visiting atmospheric caves and climbing to the tops of mountains. And remember that on President Cruises, we have an outdoor Jacuzzi to warm you up on those cooler evenings.

Is Halong Bay Humid? 

Yes, Halong Bay is humid in March and April. Humidity always makes you more susceptible to the temperature: 15 degrees can feel like 5 degrees and 30 degrees can feel like 40 degrees. Spring is a humid season, which means that you need to check the temperature and pack accordingly. Make sure you have warmer clothes available for early spring and cool, breathable clothing for late spring. All the President Cruises cabins have temperature control, so if you need to cool down, warm up, or escape the humidity at any point during the cruise, simply retire to your cabin and enjoy the views with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Is Halong Bay wet?

This is a tricky one to answer as precipitation levels in March and April are generally low: just 50mm of rainfall for each month. To put this into perspective, August, which is Halong Bay’s wettest month, has over 250mm of rainfall – five times as much! But that doesn’t mean that spring is dry. Halong Bay is wet with light drizzle for half of March and over a third of April, so you need to make sure that you bring light waterproof clothing. Although the capacious sundecks aboard President Cruises might not be desirable places to unwind when it’s wet, all the private balconies are sheltered, making them the perfect places to sit back and enjoy the scenery in spite of the drizzle.

>>  Follow the weather in Halong Bay in Spring 

New Airport to Open in Halong Bay

Travel to Halong Bay has become a far simpler process of late. With investments from government and private businesses in the local area, the brand new $350 million Van Don airport will open up just 50km away from Halong Bay. Couple this with the new expressway running from Hanoi to Halong Bay, cutting the drive time from four hours to two, visiting this world heritage site has never been easier.

Built to connect Quang Ninh with other domestic provinces and overseas destinations, Vietnam’s newest airport will receive its first flight on December 25. While it’s predicted that Van Don will receive 500,000 passengers in its first year, it is said that it has a capacity for 2.5 million people a year in its first phase. This number stretches to 5 million people in later phases.

Travel for anyone journeying from central or southern Vietnam couldn’t be simpler. Flights are planned from tourism hotspots Hue, Danang, Dalat, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, and Phu Quoc. Further destinations include Chu Lai, Tuy Hoa, and Buon Ma Thuot.

While you might expect this to be a small, domestic airport, the design of Van Don could not be more different. By attracting high levels of investment, Van Don has been created with state-of-the-art facilities and standards that make it one of the most advanced airports in Vietnam to date.

It has a runway stretching 3.6km, which means it can facilitate the landing of some of the world’s most advanced aircrafts, such as Boeing 787, Airbus A350, A320 and A32. The capacity to accommodate such large aircrafts makes Van Don equal to major international airports like Ho Chi Minh City and Noi Bai in Hanoi.

The first flight will arrive in Van Don from Ho Chi Minh City on December 25. This regular flight will be with national carrier Vietnam Airlines and will continue to operate on a daily basis, departing from Ho Chi Minh City at 2:00pm and returning at 4:45pm, with an estimated flight time of two hours and five minutes.

— Check out the new airport in Halong —

New Highway Cuts Hanoi to Halong Bay Transfers in Half

In a landmark bid to aid faster transfers for tourists and commuters, the newly built Halong – Hai Phong Expressway has just opened, cutting the drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay from four hours to two. Anyone traveling from Hanoi to Halong will now have a speedier and shorter drive, rather than the previous 180km.

This new $556 million road has a bounty of benefits for tourists wishing to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay. A shorter drive means that tourists leaving from Hanoi can enjoy more time spent in Hanoi before departing, or more time relaxing in Halong Bay.

The design of this new highway not only means tourists travel at greater speed, but it will also provide a more comfortable and quieter journey. In addition, a trip along the longest sea bridge in Southeast Asia and a short rest stop will mean added levels of comfort and enjoyment for passengers.

When asked how she felt about the new highway, Lisa, a holidaymaker from Berkshire, England claimed that the experience was a significant improvement to her previous trip to Halong Bay

“I came a few years back and used the old roads,” Lisa Hertz comments. “While we did have a private car with a driver, it was still a long, tiring experience. The new highway has turned it into a pleasant trip though, with a nice little break in-between.”

“We’ll be flying out from Hanoi tomorrow, so we’ll be leaving in the morning. I’m not worried about the journey at all, it should be fine.”

This road doesn’t just help the tourist industry though. John Moka, a resident Hanoi expat, says: “I regularly travel from Hanoi to Ha Long for work. The trip used to take four hours, which is half a working day.”

“When you travel by bus it can be crowded, hot, and impossible to get work done. This would essentially mean half of my day was lost to travel. Now, with the breezy two-hour journey, it feels like nothing more than a commute.”

The newly constructed Van Don Airport compliments this newly built expressway, one of Vietnam’s other recent tourist conveniences that links Halong Bay with the rest of the world.

While this brand-new international airport doesn’t currently have international flights scheduled, that is all set to change in 2019.

>> Check out the new airport in Halong 

A Taste of John Burton-Race’s Michelin Event Menu



John Burton-Race has revealed his bold new menu, hand-crafted especially for President Cruises’ Michelin event. John’s menu will prove to be the perfect match to world-class sommelier Stephanie Voy’s wine list. Together, Sephanie, Maison Castel’s Wine Ambassador, and multi-Michelin star chef John, have fashioned a menu to the highest standard, sure to make for one unmissable night.

John will be stepping aboard the floating hotel in January to premier this new Michelin standard menu. John, whose decorated career began underneath his mentor Raymond Blanc, has been awarded multiple Michelin stars and was the star of Channel 4’s hit television series French Leave. This world standard chef will be training President Cruises’ highly skilled team to create his menu, joining the ranks of high-end restaurants.

The delectable menu launches with an amuse-bouche, which has been crafted from salmon, marinated in juniper berries, black pepper and citrus zest, alongside a delicate balance of salmon jelly, soy, cucumber, wasabi mayonnaise, fennel flower, and oscietra caviar. Stephanie has selected a Maison Castel to join this unbeatable introduction to the evening.

Following the amuse-bouche is an exquisite starter befitting Halong Bay’s own grandeur. Tuna and scallop carpaccio take the starring role in this magnificent dish, with yuzu sorbet, salted peanuts, and lime dressing orchestrating a unique and unforgettable taste. A Chateau Cavalier from Cuvee Marafrance, Cote de Provence will be bought aboard the ship as a perfect pairing.

A succulent fillet of turbot, resting gently in a chive butter sauce awaits you following your starter. The turbot is dressed with asparagus and wild mushrooms, and served with turned new potatoes. Atop the fish will be a tasting of caviar. Stephanie has paired this dish with Chateau Ferrande Blanc, a Graves wine from 2015. This medium bodied white has a vibrant creaminess in the mid palate and finish.

John’s main course for this Michelin event sets a new standard for cuisine in Halong Bay. A fillet of the finest beef resides with a red wine jus, set to sweetheart cabbage, crispy shallots, capers and crispy sourdough croutons, along with a small pouring of olive butter. A Chateau Montlabert is the finest wine to drink with the main course. The St Emillion Grand Cru wine is a deep, vibrant red, with a dense palate and fruity notes.

The pre-dessert is an intricate yet bold palate cleanser consisting of a coconut crumb, heated until caramelized, and topped with a papaya sorbet and lime syrup. This gentle dish will leave you fulfilled yet dying to see what comes next.

The final dish to arrive on this lavish evening will be a decadent base of chocolate nut ganache, along with a zesty poached pear, with a dusting of icing sugar and, set to the side, the soft touch of a pear sabayon. As if to mark the end of one event and the beginning of the next, a champagne defined by its subtle and delicate bouquet, with the aroma of yellow peaches and dried apricots from Taittinger Nocturne will come alongside the dessert.


>> Check out the best Halong Bay overnight cruise 


Beefsteak Arrives in Halong Bay

At President Cruises, we revel in providing the finest in high-end cuisine, from complex Vietnamese dishes to indulgent meals from the West. We’ve ensured our latest menu, created by multi Michelin star chef John Burton-Race, has the most succulent beefsteak dish in the bay.

Our brand-new menu shows off a delectable array of the finest Michelin star cuisine, from the first taste of our marinated Salmon amus-bouche, with salmon jelly, soy, cucumber, wasabi mayonnaise, fennel flower and oscietra caviara to the final bight of the chocolate nut ganache and poached pear with pear sabayon.

At the centre of this bold new menu is the revolutionary new fillet of beef, with sweetheart cabbage, crispy shallots, capers, sourdough croutons, olive butter and beef marrow jus. This brand-new beefsteak is an example of the exceptional standard that President Cruises has brought to Vietnam and Halong Bay.

John has brought his unrivaled skills in French cuisine aboard President Cruises for this indulgent meal. John’s connection to beefsteak and French cuisine dates back to his time working under Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, where French cuisine was the focus. John was soon promoted to sous chef and later found himself at the helm of Raymond’s newly-opened Le Petit Blanc in Oxford. His time there earned him his first Michelin star.

In 2002, a short time spent in France rekindled John’s passion for sourcing quality produce, with premium beef in particular. Channel 4 documented this period in John’s culinary adventure for French Leave and made John a household name for more than his Michelin star cooking.

John decided in this period that, if he didn’t like the meat, he would change the cut or the animal. At President Cruises, we like to keep our menu fresh, which means fresh ingredients and a fresh, up-to-date menu.

Like John, we’re not afraid to change our menu, which is why our recipes will evolve with the seasons, but we’ll always make sure we keep a succulent beef steak dish lined up for you whenever you visit – always with that John Burton-Race touch.

>> Check out the best Halong Bay overnight cruise

A Michelin Star Journey in Halong Bay

Halong Bay’s foremost elegant cruise proudly invites you to the most glamorous night in the bay. Reimagining luxury in Halong Bay, celebrity chef John Burton-Race, who holds multiple Michelin stars, will be joining President Cruises for one night of black tie pageantry. This magical evening will take place on 5 & 6 January, 2019.

The first celebrity chef ever to grace Halong Bay’s waters, John has a highly decorated career, which began beneath his mentor, Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. The pair’s relationship blossomed, and John later went on to take over Raymond Blanc’s kitchen, earning him his first Michelin star.

John’s career now ranks among the most distinguished in world-class dining, having opened a total of three restaurants that have been awarded Michelin stars. John gained further international attention as the star of Channel 4’s hit television show French Leave.

John will step aboard Halong Bay’s boldest vessel to launch his brand new menu, created especially for President Cruises. Alongside him will be world-class sommelier Stephanie Voy, Maison Castel’s Wine Ambassador. John and Stephanie will prove to be the perfect pairing for the evening’s leisurely voyage through Halong Bay.

The handcrafted menu will leave every desire satisfied, ensuring an indulgent range of Michelin-standard food from John and exquisitely prepared Vietnamese food from President Cruise’s own outstanding chefs.

>> Check out the best Halong Bay overnight cruise