launched its maiden voyage on Nov. 15 of the first luxury ship to sail tourist-heavy Halong Bay in Vietnam, a UNESCO World Heritage site. As the largest and most luxurious vessel on this routing, it offers 46 elegant cabins (including a handful of suites with furnished balconies) with hardwood floors, leather headboards with bedside power outlets, and marble-laden bathrooms. This is a first for this region and is expected to draw an increasing number of American and Chinese tourists in the coming year.
Typically, these cruises sail for either one or two nights meaning entertainment begins immediately. A strong focus is on dining and excursions (which can vary frequently and quickly based upon weather conditions).
Once on board, the premium experience begins with a lively buffet lunch featuring a wide range of international cuisine. Those with dietary preferences are well catered for with advance notice. Ships sail midday so that guests can enjoy an afternoon excursion to one of many spots around Halong Bay including popular caves, beaches, and floating fishing villages. Other entertainment options include cooking classes that take place daily (ever made your own Vietnamese rolls?) and night squid fishing classes with special evening flash lights.
Dinnertime is the cruise line’s chance to shine with an impressive showcase of fresh seafood and grilled meats delivered from an all-inclusive, a la carte menu. For this size of ship, the caliber of meals that emerge from its kitchen is incredible and is perhaps one of the only options that will most suit Western travelers.
The evening piano bar offers live jazz performances by international audiences. President Cruises is the only one to offer this level of international-quality entertainment. The ship has five floors and is the largest and most modern in the marketplace.
Kaia Spa on the bottom deck delivers an array of massage and beauty treatments via six individual treatment rooms. Guests should book early as spaces fill up quickly given the limited sailing time. Various sun decks supply ample space to enjoy the rays in seasonal weather or relax in the bubbling whirlpool. Most unique is the glass-lined walkway at the very stern of the ship that places guests above the lapping waves below them. It is a Titanic movie-worthy moment for sure.
The Presidential Suite is the largest cabin sailing on Halong Bay with its own private dining and living areas plus a furnished terrace at the front of the ship.
President Cruise bookings extend beyond the actual sailing to include luxury transfers from Hanoi, which is easier than ever thanks to the new highway that connects the city in about two hours. Another unique feature is that the cruise line is the first to cater to handicapped travelers thanks to an elevator system aboard.
For travelers looking for a luxurious experience in the Halong Bay market, this new player is sure to impress. American travelers are sure to appreciate its full-service amenities.