December 2016 / words and photos by Kevin
In November, Katie turned 30. I know… she’s old now. Gross. Just kidding 🙂 She’s like a fine wine, only better with age.
And this month (in 5 days to be precise) I will turn 31. Even older. Even grosser. The unfortunate thing is that I still feel like I’m 25, and still act like I’m 18. I’d like to grow up, but it’s just not happening. 30’s the new 20 I guess. Or perhaps 31 is the new 25 which is the new 18.
I don’t really have a point with any of this nonsense. Except that age really has never mattered to me, beyond a number of how many rotations around the sun I’ve made.
And of course, it’s a great arbitrary excuse to celebrate.
So for our 30th-ish birthdays, Katie and I took a luxury cruise (…a kind gift from Katie’s mother…) through Vietnam’s famed Halong Bay. It was beautiful. And breathtaking. And stunning. And everything else lovely. If you’ve ever been to Halong Bay, you know what I’m talking about. (Unless you were on one of those party cruises, in which case you were probably blackout the whole time and unfortunately can’t remember much…)
Enough words, I’ll let the photos below do the talking…
PRACTICAL INFO //
We cruised Halong Bay with Orchid Cruises. We would highly recommend them if you are looking for a more secluded luxury experience. They have permits to sail in areas of Halong Bay that very few other boats can, so you will rarely see other ships. Everyone’s biggest complaint with Halong Bay is the amount of tourism. But with Orchid Cruises you won’t have this problem.
The standard rooms on the boat are incredible. When we went (December 2016) the boat was only about a month old. It’s so well designed. It’s modern and clean. The staff was beyond professional. The gentleman in charge of the staff, named Bak (pictured above) was such a boss. He did everything from Tai Chi classes at sunrise to leading the staff in Christmas caroling during dinner. He made everyone smile.
We opted for the 3-day / 2-night cruise and were glad for it. There is a 2-day / 1-night option but it would have felt rushed for us. We made some friends who could only stay 1-night and they were pretty bummed to have to leave so early. It’s worth spending the extra time in Halong Bay… it’s so relaxing, and the landscape never ceases to be breathtaking.
Another bonus for Orchid Cruises… they will pick you at your hotel in Hanoi and deliver you to the dock which is only 2 hrs away. Most other cruises leave from a different dock that is a 4 hour drive from Hanoi.
This cruise probably isn’t for everyone since it’s more expensive (we were lucky that Katie’s mom helped us out as a birthday gift… thanks Mary) but if you are looking for a splurge on your trip, I’d highly recommend spending it on this. All in, the cruise was about $620 USD (not including drinks at the bar… but we brought some wine on board to save $$$) Compared to what luxury of this level would cost back in the States, it’s practically a steal 🙂 But seriously, Halong Bay is such a special place but can really be made to suck on the wrong boat.
So consider Orchid Cruise for your next Halong Bay Cruise Experience! <—— I sound like a fucking commercial here, they aren’t actually paying me to say any of this, although Katie and I did try to get them to give us a discount cause of our sweet travel blog, to which they said no. Womp womp.