Just one of those easy cruises worth doing for the views. All inclusive but the beverages. Not even water other than the two small bottles was included and exspensive.
Nora G USA
The food and service on board was terrific. The boat is old but I understand they are retiring it and the new one will be in service soon. I am not convinced that the overnight is better than a morning tour, I did both. On the morning tour we saw the same cave, there was more activity in the bay and we stopped to visit the fishing village. On the overnight they cruised by the fishing village without stopping and the two additional activities were not interesting to me. Kayaking in a polluted waterway, climbing up an island in the rain when there would be no view. Unless you are confident you will have a sunny day, I think the morning tour is a better value. Be prepared that it looks prettier in pictures because the pollution isn't on display in the shots. The transportation from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay and back was in a good minivan but there was no guide and the driver didn't speak English, so there was much confusion about what was going on. Also, they piled in their staff who were going to check out the new junk and that made it crowded. This staff spoke English and was minimally helpful in explaining what was going on to us.
Elise T Australia
4 hours in an unsafe mini van to get there from Hanoi (broken seat back rest and no seat belt) with a driver whose manner of driving I would consider unsafe. I was quite frightened. We were herded around like cattle, not told what was going on. A lot of waiting at the dock (over an hour). "Guide" with very minimal English. Communication was extremely difficult, frustrating and time consuming. No information given to us at all as to where we were, where we were going or what we were looking at. We got yelled at if we took to long to do something. We were never given time to get our things together (eg water bottles, jackets and medications) before being forced off the main junk and onto another boat to go caving. Guide refused to let us fish or kayak even though our itineraries said that those things were part of the cruise. Eventually relented about the kayaking, if we paid US$30 extra! We didn't. Drinks on board very over priced (US$30 for bottles of wine). Nothing to eat for a vegetarian. VERY disappointed and would not recommend at all.
Mark W Australia
We've done several Buffalo Tours and this was not one of their best. The driver didnt communicate with us the entire 3 hour trip except to tell us we had 20 minutes at the halfway stop. Upon arrival at Halong we were met by our guide who escorted us onto Buffalo's 'Jewel of The Bay'. We gathered in the dining area to be given our cabin key. We were told to meet back in the dining room for lunch. We advised that we didnt eat seafood but this information hadnt been passed on. We were told the chef would try to cater to us as the food was pre-purchased. After lunch we were taken on a hike to the caves, then went kayaking through a cave which was great. After a swim, we were left alone until dinner. The chef did a great job of trying to cook non-seafood dishes. However, the food was barely restaurant quality. Drinks on board were expensive in comparison to cost of alcohol in Vietnam. Staff record drinks on a chit system, we suggest you keep an eye on this as we discovered additional entries made which we hadnt consumed. The quide didnt speak English well and didn't offer much information regarding Halong Bay. After dinner again we were left alone. No entertainment, music or information was provided. No ambiance. The cabin was uncomfortable. Our aircon needed to be fixed. People in other cabins complained their aircon cut out during the night and they got a shock when they turned on their lights. The 2nd day we had a storm so we couldnt go on a hike or to the beach. Instead of a "wet weather plan" the trip was just cut short and were returned to the dock. For the price of this tour we were very disappointed.
PETER H Australia
It was an interesting experience. My wife and I were concerned with the pollution in the bay. The Jewel of the Bay Junk was very good and the food fantastic. We were lucky to meet some lovely people on the Junk as well. The walks that were conducted were good. The drive to the bay could have lent itself to a few explanations of the sites on the way, instead of nothing, which was not the case when my wife did the Malacca straights with Viator. Also, getting onto the junk is organized chaos. On the bus ride back, we were cramped into the back of a mini bus and sat on top of the wheels, which was painful. I am glad we have made the effort to see Halong Bay, however the other experiences that await exploring in Vietnam are equally good and considerably less in price.
Susan E USA
The boat was a bit run down. They did not put up the sails which were not needed for movement, but were part of the feel of the trip.
Amanda W United Kingdom
Hmmm...so easy for this to be the most amazing trip, yet so royally messed up by the tour company. The actual boat was great, with much nicer cabins than I had expected and especially good food. The staff were helpful, but only when they had to be. And here is the problem. Once they had done their duty (e.g. served dinner), they disappeared into their private quarters. So if you wanted a drink, you had to go and rouse someone and it felt very awkward, particularly if you wanted a hot drink that they then had to make. They also did not conduct any kind of 'tour' - we were told nothing at all about Halong Bay, or the boats etc. When you get to the caves, the guide just gave us the ticket and pointed the way. When we were in there, there were loads of other groups with their guide explaining and pointing out interesting things. It got worse too - they started making repairs to the boat doors whilst we were sat there enjoying the tranquillity (literally, man turned up with a drill and just set to work next to us), and then they tried to charge us for all of the drinks we had had. This included tea and coffee - eventually they relented as I still had our booking form which clearly stated 'free tea and coffee throughout', but even then they tried to argue that this only meant 'free at breakfast'. And drinks were expensive - a good 3 times more than you'd pay on land. Also be warned that this is not 2 days - on the 2nd day, you get served lunch at 10.30am and then you're off before 12. Do this trip - but with a different company.