The tour was good but what made the experience great was having an amazing tour guide join the tour. If you are on a Garden bay cruise of halong bay.. Kien is your go to guy! Exuberant personality with fantastic information to share about the culture, general vietnamese life and encouraged all members of the tour to get to know one another. Highly recommend this experience because of this man!
When we first saw the ship we were happy but not overly hopeful of what to expect. We had upgraded to a room with a balcony and when we entered we were really pleased. The room was lovely and regardless of the fact that the air conditioning did not work for our entire trip which was quite unbearably hot, we still had a great time.
The ship schedule is busy leading you to think that there's no time for relaxation but this is not the case at all. We chatted to everyone on the boat, made friends and enjoyed a bbq dinner on the sundeck in the evening followed by a night of drinking and laughs and a spot of what was meant to be squid finishing but we're sure was more likely just dangling a line on a stick in the water. Great fun though.
Kayaking was brilliant and wonderfully surreal as our guide Binh sang as we floating gently on the bay making it an idyllic experience. We had a chance to swim following this before returning to the boat for a shower and happy hour cocktails. We stayed up quite late drinking and chatting and although this meant the staff also had to stay up they were nothing but pleasant and helpful. Others on the boat at the same time chose other activities which they too enjoyed and some stayed on the boat to relax so you were free to make choices that suit your preferences.
The food provided was very tasty and our bar bill was much cheaper than expected. Many people have said the drink is very dear on-board but really a couple of quid for a beer is cheaper than you'd get anywhere back home and much more refreshing in the midday heat to enjoy.
We would absolutely recommend Garden Bay 2 and will look to book again if we return to Halong Bay
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- in the leaflet they promise free massage and wine (later they claim this is for lucky lottery winners)
- ship Green bay 1 is pretty banged up (much worse than on the pictures)
- some creepy crawlers onboard
- they will always "forget" to consider the happy hour beverage prices.
- great cruise path (only saw 10 other ships)
- no karaoke
- very calm and professional personell
- great food
If you have a chance, do pay the 10$ for the private balcony room (larger and brighter room).
Might make sense to book through hotel instead online. We paid 260$ for two (room with balcony) through The Light hotel in Halong city one day before the cruise. Prices on booking.com were 300$+ for the same room.
The outside of the Margueite 2 is not much to look at but the room have a dark stained finish which has a nice charm to it. Our room was able to accommodate 3 single beds. Bathroom was efficient with toilet sink and shower stall. The meals were good and had a nice variety. Staff were attentive and offered a food class on how to make spring rolls. You had a choice of kayaking or being in a row boat rowed by a Vietnamese lady. Definitely enjoyed kayaking for about 45 mins. Back at the boat, swimming is available off the boat. The next morning tai chi is available, then a visit to huge cavern on one of the island. Later there is vegetable carving to be watched, lunch, then off the boat. This is not a high end accommodation . I have no complaints. This was included in my trip to Vietnam.
Halong Bay Cruise on a traditional Junk is a must do experience, we decided to do a two day/one night cruise, which was a perfect amount of time.
Our room: had a window with a great view of the bay the bathroom was small but adequate, unfortunately for us the bed was as hard as nails.
The banana lounges on the roof allowed us to relax and view the (incredible) islands of Halong bay. The cruise had activities such as kayaking, a cave tour, squid fishing, swimming, cooking class and vegetable sculpting all which were good fun. The kayaking was one of our highlights and a wonderful way to see the bay up close. The food was a hit and miss some dishes were excellent others average. The guide was friendly but the other staff seem to be there just to do their job.
Overall the experience was good.