A cruise on a luxury boat makes all the difference when experiencing the surreal beauty of Halong Bay, as Chief Editor Jan Yong discovers.
The surreal natural beauty of Halong Bay can only be truly appreciated if you are in a suitably beautiful vessel gliding into the sunset among the hundreds of islets in the bay. So, that’s how we ended up boarding one of the best, if not the best, cruise ship in the UNESCO World Heritage site.
Paradise Elegance truly lives up to its name as the boat manages to transport us into a heavenly experience in elegant fashion across the peaceful and at times misty body of water. Not only does it look and feel like a 5-star hotel inside, from the outside, it even looks like a hotel built in the shape of a cruise ship which they dutifully release into the tranquil waters of Halong Bay.
But the best is yet to come. The views are stunning whether from the expansive top deck or from my double bed cabin on the second deck. Such spectacular views were out there all the time like a continuously playing video casting a spell on us. No electric switches were needed – beauty was right there surrounding us every time we look out whether during the day or night.
The plush furnishings with its wooden gilded panelling and balcony with views immediately put us in a holiday mood as the boat floats along the busy bay. At any one time, there are some 600 boats out there but ours stood out – a paragon of luxury, a boat which most wished they were on.
GLIMPSES OF PARADISE
Indeed, we had glimpsed paradise as we were whisked by speedboat to several attractions around the bay including mystical caves, beaches and a hill with stunning vistas of the bay. We also had a go at kayaking, swimming and squid fishing.
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Dinner at the Le Marin Restaurant was a lavish affair – everyone was dressed impeccably, the food was delicious, the service faultless and the ambiance reminiscent of fine dining at a 5-star hotel. Later, we relaxed at Le Piano Bar which was exquisite with the very accomplished pianist playing songs that put us in a romantic mood.
The next day saw us saying goodbye to everyone including the very warm and efficient staff. In the span of one night and two days, within the intimate confines of the ship, we had encountered warmth, humour, fun, luxury, beauty and love – a totally immersive experience that makes us want to return again and again.