We decided to book the Valentine boat owned by Indochina Sails.
We chose the Valentine since the pictures of the boat, rooms, and common areas looked stunning. At least they did in the pictures. We were told that some boats the look nice in the pictures are very old but they use the pictures from when they first sailed. We also liked that this boat only had 5 cabins for a maximum of 10 people when some alternatives had as many as 25 cabins and 50 people.
One other positive was that the boat supposedly would be away from other boats when it was time to sleep and that it had it’s own private dock away from the hoards. When we first boarded the boat I was in awe. The boat was just as promised and only a couple of months new. We took a small boat to reach the Valentine and I thought it was a little bizarre that no one else was on this boat. It turns out that Stacy and I were the only guests on the entire boat (there was also a travel agent inspecting the boat).
As a result they gave us the Presidents suite which we were told was the biggest cabin in all of Halong bay. It was huge with a Jacuzzi tub and separate marble bathroom and rain shower. The walls were made of thatched bamboo and dark wood that glistened in the sun. The ceiling was almost high enough for a second floor! The top deck had 6 gorgeous teak loungers that we had to ourselves. Soon after we arrived on the boat the ship began to sail and we sat down to our 5 course lunch. I only wish I knew it was 5 courses so I could have paced myself. Delicious soup, papaya salad that looked too good to eat, perfect lemongrass shrimp, thai chicken, and dessert were some of the items. After lunch we visited an island that had several steps leading up to a sweeping view of Halong Bay. After snapping too many pictures we were soon back on the boat sailing some more and then off to a secluded bay for a little kayaking.
Nearly the entire time sailing we only saw the 3 other boats the company owned (Ginger, Jasmine, Indochina) but at this bay it was just our boat. It was so great to be the only guests, they completely worked around our schedule and asked us what we wanted to do of all the options. Kayaking was a highlight of the trip. No one else around and the water so still that it looks like glass. The reflection of the rock formations and trees looked nearly identical whether looking at them straight on or it’s reflection in the water.
Back on the boat for some relaxation and then we had dinner. Another
meal with too many courses, this time we joined the travel agent
(Simon) and an employee of the company. Later after dinner we took the
small speed boat to the Indochina sails to listen to
some live traditional Vietnamese music and eat squid that was caught
just 15 minutes before we arrived. May have been the best I have ever
tasted. When we got back on our boat, I grabbed a fishing pole and
tried my best at catching some squid.
This is more fun than normal fishing because you can see the squid in the bright light that was shining on the water and once you see the squid close to the lure you pull up to catch it. I caught one but surprisingly it was during one of the only times I wasn’t actually trying to catch one. It was nearly 12:30P when I went back to the cabin to sleep. I didn’t want to go to bed since I knew that I would wake up with the main part of the trip already over. Plus, I wanted to make it to the 6:30A kayaking adventure.