With President Cruises, the Ship is the Destination

 

While voyaging through the limestone karsts of this ancient seascape, it’s important to take some time to relax and allow yourself to drift through the waters. At President Cruises, we believe the best way to enjoy this magnificent World Heritage Site is on the ship, and that’s why we supply the largest amount of on-board entertainment of any vessel in the bay. Here’s five reasons why we believe cruising is the best part of the journey.

  • Marvel at the ever-changing scenery

On a President Cruises journey, each cabin comes with the perfect place to enjoy the tranquil scenery as it passes by: Your own private balcony or terrace. It is hard to imagine the vastness of Halong Bay, but as this ship powers through the waters, you’ll be able to see the dramatic cliffs and micro-rainforests sitting on these small islands. You may even spot some wildlife. The magic is in the changes: Each second you cruise the view is different from the last.

  • Avoid the crowds

It is easy to see why Halong Bay is one of Vietnam’s top attractions. It’s a stunning destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that draws people from all over the world. This can, however, mean that all of those hidden gems that Halong Bay possesses aren’t so hidden anymore. Fortunately, when you step aboard President Cruises, the world of tourism is far removed. As the largest cruise ship to ever venture through Halong Bay’s waters, you’ll be able to marvel at this otherworldly destination while sitting high above the crowds.

  • Time to relax

When it comes to a holiday of pampered luxury, there is no better destination than Halong Bay, and there’s no better way to experience it than with President Cruises. Be it lounging on one of our two expansive sundecks, cocktail in hand, or experiencing one of our lavish spa treatments, well-deserved pampering is never too far away. We’ve harnessed the relaxation power of Kaia spa aboard every trip. This esteemed Vietnamese wellness group offers a world-class range of treatments in the ship’s six-room spa.

  • Make the most of the ship

When you climb aboard President Cruises, the number of places to relax don’t stop at your own private balcony or terrace. While this may be the most secluded way of enjoying the sweeping vistas as they pass by the ship, there are plenty of opportunities to find hidden corners. Why not take a leisurely dip in an on-board Jacuzzi while gliding through the bay? Alternatively, take some time to recline on one of our expansive sundecks and watch the sunset, cocktail in hand.

  • The finest in Vietnam dining

We understand that food is an important part of travel. That’s why we’ve worked with Michelin star chef John Burton-Race to curate the only Michelin star menu in the bay. You can enjoy a succulent beefsteak in our glamorous restaurant or chic piano bar, or try the finest in traditional Vietnamese cuisine instead. Cuisine in Vietnam doesn’t get much better than this.

>> Check out the best Halong Bay overnight cruise

 

President Cruises’ Signature Roast Duck

We decided that for the most indulgent on-board dining experience, we would split our menu between lavish western cuisine and innovative Vietnamese dishes. For our delectable menus we drafted Michelin Star Chef John Burton-Race to handcraft the finest in Michelin standard delicacies, including the most succulent beefsteak in the bay.

For our innovative Vietnamese dishes, John worked with our world-class chefs to shape recipes that have been passed down generations into fantastic modern creations. This has made for a delicious and unique result: authentic Vietnamese cuisine with a modern twist.

To highlight just how special this menu is, we want to give you a peek at one of our finest dishes: roast duck breast with corn syrup, confit tart, coriander, and ginger. For this dish, we’ve blended together an East Asian staple – roast duck – with traditional Vietnamese herbs and spices.

You won’t go far in Vietnam without coming across coriander and ginger. Coriander has been used within our cuisine since the beginning. You’ll find it used generously in street food like pho, as well as packed into banh mis throughout the country. Whilst ginger is a popular addition to many meals, it is also considered a cure-all for any ailment, creating a hearty and healthy addition to any meal.

As the centre of our Vietnamese menu, we thought duck would be the most fitting choice for this sumptuous dining experience. Duck has a prominent history throughout Vietnam and East Asia. Dating back all the way to the Ming Dynasty, around 600 years ago, Peking Duck slowly made its way out of Beijing to the rest of East Asia, eventually landing in Saigon before spreading to the rest of the country.

While the dish has royal roots as a delicacy enjoyed amongst emperors and other members of the ruling classes in Beijing, these days, roast duck is a popular takeout item and is prominent on any menu during a special occasion, like weddings, holidays, family gatherings, and death anniversaries.

We feel that, due to its reputation as a food for celebration, roast duck would be the perfect fit as the figurehead of our grand Vietnamese menu. There is no better cause for a celebration than being on a President Cruise.

>> Check out the best Halong Bay overnight cruise 

How is the Weather in Halong Bay in April?

April comes sandwiched between the moderate temperatures of March, which are just escaping the winter chill, and the start of the summer heat in May. Along with an average of eight hours of sunlight a day, which is the highest amount in Halong Bay through the year. All of this makes a decidedly good time to visit Halong Bay, with great opportunities to enjoy the beach, discover the islands, or take in the outdoor activities.

Temperature 

April has a few extra degrees on March, with average temperatures of 23 degrees Celsius. This is an ideal temperature for many, and a good time to enjoy the bay before May, where temperatures climb up to an average of 28 degrees. While highs in April have the ability to reach 28 degrees, the lows only make their way down to 21, making the normal temperature very comfortable and enjoyable.

Rainfall

As the temperatures begin to rise, so does the rainfall, with 57mm over an average of 13 days. That number is still fairly dry compared to the summer, where highs can reach 265mm over an average of 16 days. Like March, however, April can experience those long drizzles, where a small amount of rain stretches for long periods, unlike the sudden but brief showers in the summer months.

Sea temperature

If the idea of long periods of rain deters from sunbathing on Halong Bay’s white sandy beaches, you may find the temperature of the sea in the bay a little more alluring. In April, average sea temperatures reach 29 degrees Celsius, which is the highest in the year, along with December, January, February and March. This makes for a very comfortable and relaxing swimming experience.

Overall, the weather in April makes for one of the most comfortable times of year to come to the bay and while this can mean a higher number of tourists, you will have to consider the pros and cons. Fortunately, if you book a cruise with President Cruises, you’ll be far removed from the hustle and bustle of the tourist industry, with our expansive sundecks and on board activities.

>> Follow the weather in Halong Bay in April 

How is the Weather in Halong Bay in March?

March in Halong Bay signifies the end of the cold winter months and the beginning of spring: Temperatures rise, as does rainfall and humidity. The good thing about the weather in March is the higher average temperature. This does, unfortunately have some negative side effects like the longer rainy spells indicative of the warmer months. While this does give the bay an almost prehistoric glamor, it can dampen the adventurous spirit.

Temperature

Halong Bay begins to thaw in March, ushering in warmer weather. Expect average temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius, with highs of 23 and lows of 18. This is a delightful time of year to spend outdoors, exploring the caves or simply lounging around, providing you can avoid the light showers.

Sunlight

As Vietnam is so close to the equator, sunrise and sunset don’t tend to deviate significantly, with seven to eight hours of sunlight a day throughout the year. March is on the higher end of this scale, with an average of around 8 hours of sunlight a day.

Humidity

With March’s mix of higher temperatures and increased levels of rainfall, humidity levels are inevitably higher than the winter months, with around 75% humidity. This is still lower than the average, however, which is 90% humidity for monsoon season.

Rainfall

Looking at how much rain falls through March can be misleading. While the average rainfall through the entire month is 53mm over around 13 days, it is more consistent than that of the summer months. This means that, while there is less rain, it continues for a longer period, making it less desirable to pursue outdoor activities.

Overall March is a good month to visit. The humidity is low, making activities less tiresome, and the light rains can turn this ancient seascape into a surreal and awe-inspiring picture. Some might find, however, that the consistent rainfall leads something to be desired.

>> Follow the weather in Halong Bay in March 

Big Cruise Liners and Hon Gai Port

2018 saw some major developments in Halong Bay’s infrastructure.

The new expressway, which links Hanoi to Halong Bay, cuts the drive time from four hours to just two. The brand new Van Don International Airport, which received its first flight in December 2018, is set to be the closest to Halong Bay.

Now, the new Hon Gai International Passenger Terminal, which received its first cruise liner on November 28, 2018, has received its first cruise ship, bringing 2,000 visitors and almost 1,000 staff members to the bay.

Construction began on this new port just one year ago, in November 2017, and has cost a total of $47.4 million. This massive investment into Halong Bay’s infrastructure helps to link this UNESCO World Heritage Site to the rest of the world, with the best possible facilities available for visitors.

This new port was designed to receive two cruise ships at any one time, each with the capacity of holding 8,460 passengers and crew members. The port itself provides a five-star, three-storey terminal, which covers 7,600 square meters, and a harbor able to accommodate 250 smaller tourist boats.

Ten international cruise liners were welcomed to the port before the end of 2018, adding to Halong Bay’s 12 million tourists expected in 2018. Given that the General Statistics Office stated that tourism delivered to Vietnam by ship was down 2.3 percent over the first 10 months of 2018, this port offered a welcome boost.

>> Check out the best Halong Bay overnight cruise

Getting to Halong Bay from the Airports: Hanoi, Hai Phong, and Quang Ninh

While reaching Halong Bay may have previously been a tiresome venture, new investments from the government and private companies have made the journey considerably faster and easier. You can now access Halong Bay by three airports: make sure you choose the one that is best for you.

Hanoi (Noi Bai International Airport) to Halong Bay

Thanks to the recent government investment into the Hanoi to Halong Bay highway, drives to and from these locations have been cut from four hours to two – usually with a short stop in-between – making Halong Bay an accessible location from the moment you land in Vietnam.

There are many international airlines flying into Noi Bai and direct flights are available. Travelers coming from a growing number of European cities can hop on a Vietnam Airlines flight direct. Flights from the US may take a little longer and usually average around 20 hours with a stop in-between.

Though there are plenty of options available when it comes to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay, some of them are best avoided. The adventurers of the world might be excited by the idea of train travel, but it’s very crowded and takes five hours to get there. While a public buses are cheap, they don’t provide a comfortable journey, leaving you stuck in a hot and overcrowded bus for hours on end.

Consider hiring a minibus or car with a driver to take you there. To ensure the best service, book through President Cruises to get a private four or seven-seat car. Our drivers can pick you up and drop you off at the airport.

Alternatively, President Cruises operates a fleet of private shuttle transfers daily between Hanoi and Halong Bay. We’ve got a 16-seat shuttle and a 29-seat shuttle, both equipped with on board WiFi, USB chargers, air-conditioning and complimentary bottles of water. This is, without a doubt, the most luxurious way to reach Halong Bay.

Our shuttle transfers leave Hanoi at 8:45am in the Old Quarter and will pick you up, though guests staying outside of the area can head to the central pick-up location at Hanoi Tower. The returning shuttle transfer leaves Halong Bay at 12:15 and drops guests to their hotels back in the Hanoi Old Quarter or at the central drop-off point in Hanoi Tower.

While our limousine service does not go to Noi Bai airport, we do have a service that does – the seaplane. As a part of our special package, we offer the seaplane transfer, which departs from Hanoi airport twice a day. The seaplane can carry up to 8 people with luggage.

 Halong City (Van Don Airport) to Halong Bay

Thanks to the arrival of the Van Don international airport, built by private investors, and the Ha Long to Van Don expressway, travelers are a mere hour from Halong Bay once they land.

Even though the airport has just opened up, there is no list of international flights arriving in Van Don just yet. However, the airport was created for that very purpose, with great stretches of tarmac available for massive international airplanes and state-of-the-art facilities.

Starting at the end of December 2018, flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Van Don will run daily at 2:00pm and 4:45pm for the return. The airport will open a far greater number of domestic and international flights in the future, so be sure to keep an eye out for developing news if you wish to fly into Halong Bay’s closest airport.

Hai Phong (Cat Bi Airport) to Halong Bay

 While Cat Bi airport is an international airport, it mostly sees domestic flights from Ho Chi Minh City and Danang. Daily flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Cat Bi depart at 7:00 11:15, 12:50 and 16:55, while flights from Danang are less consistent.

Unlike Hanoi, the travel options from Cat Bi are few and your best bet would be to get a private transfer, which, if booked online, will cost around $60 and take around two hours.

Where are the Largest Cabins in Halong Bay?

President Cruises, Halong Bay’s newest and largest cruise ship has arrived to boldly glide through the bay’s waters. The President is not only the newest and most glamorous floating hotel in the bay, it also offers the largest cabins of any cruise ship.

The choice of five luxury cabin types await you aboard the President, each one demonstrating the sheer opulence of this sumptuous ship, ranging from a generous 30sqm to an expansive 90sqm.

Each cabin comes with a private balcony or terrace and broad floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing for a majestic view of the tranquil scenery. All rooms are adorned with complimentary tones; parquet wooden flooring and a walk-in closet. They’re also transferable between double and twin.

The 18 Ambassador Balcony cabins and 23 Premier Balcony cabins are 30sqm and come supplied with every modern indulgence you might desire. They also enjoy a private balcony for a more personal view of this picturesque seascape.

The two Cabinet Suites and two Treasury Suites provide ample room to unwind in their respective 35sqm and 38sqm. With an indulgent bathtub to relax and unwind in, you can float by the limestone karsts in a deep sense of serenity.

The President Suite boasts the highest point of opulence in the bay, measuring a total of 90sqm with additional space for the capacious private terrace. Sitting at the front of the ship, the President Suite leads the way through Halong Bay’s waters, with the private terrace allowing for the finest view from any cruise ship.

The President Suite is the penthouse on the sea, with a private open-air Jacuzzi, private bar and dining area, and floor-to-celling windows that promise an incomparable Halong Bay experience.

If you’re looking for privacy but you don’t want to sacrifice comfort, President Cruises is the first choice for any sophisticated world traveler.

>> Check out the most luxurious cabins in Halong Bay 

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