Last weekend, we had the privilege of attending the wedding of a special someone in the family. The backdrop was the gorgeous limestone karsts and isles of Ha Long Bay, aboard the luxury junk, Bhaya Classic III. The flawless organization of the weekend-long celebrations could not have been more perfect – thank you D & J, for being such wonderful hosts.
The magnificent Ha Long Bay has been recognized by UNESCO as a Natural World Heritage Site since 1994 and is undoubtedly Vietnam’s most famous natural wonder. With pristine deserted beaches, grottoes, caves and over 3,000 limestone islets and pinnacles thrusting skyward from the emerald waters, The Bay of the Descending Dragon is a breathtaking marvel well worth the journey for anyone seeking a special and memorable experience. The journey from Hanoi to Ha Long bay takes approximately 4 hours by bus (170km). Alternatively, there is a helicopter option which has a flight time of 1 hour but departs only on Saturdays from Gia Lam Airport in Hanoi.
The Bhaya Vessels were conceptualized in 2005 by two young French architects who wanted to build a luxury vessel in the style of the ancient imperial Vietnamese junk whose blueprints were first discovered and restored by an 80-year-old Master Shipbuilder Nguyen Van Hoa. In a span of four years, Bhaya Cruises now has 3 showpiece Bhaya Classic vessels and 2 Bhaya Legend charter Vessels on offer.
Our cruise vessel, The Bhaya Classic III, was fully chartered for the entire wedding party, and featured 18 luxury cabins and two royal suites. Our deluxe cabins were well appointed with traditional Vietnamese hardwoods creating a natural, luxuriant warmth and were fully equipped with an ensuite bathroom and shower and even a balcony.
We boarded our cruise vessel at around noon on Saturday and after welcome drinks and a warm reception and safety briefing by the General Manager of the vessel, we set sail on the tranquil waters of Ha Long bay amidst the beauty and wonder of the idyllic surrounds. We were treated to a delicious lunch buffet spread, comprising steamed crabs, mussels, more phở and a refreshing medley of salads. The rest of the early afternoon was spent relaxing on the sun deck, with others choosing to get in-room massages or heading out onto the pristine waters in kayaks.
As the sun began to set, we gathered on the sun deck to witness the Holy Matrimony of the lovely couple. Such a romantic setting for a beautiful wedding it was!
Shortly after the couple’s vows were sealed, we had cocktails on the deck before taking our seats in the dining hall for a sumptuous 4-course dinner. Food was fabulous and we were especially impressed that the kitchen got our order of tenderloin steak done ‘rare’ spot on.
After an evening of touching speeches, terrific company and amazing food and wine, it was time to head back up to the deck for the lighting of the paper lanterns, on which guests had written their well-wishes for the couple earlier on. Watching each lantern being lit meticulously, set afloat and finally drifting care-freely into the starry sky was both breathtaking and meaningful.
…then the lights went off and the music came on for a night of celebration and partying – in true mambo night fashion.
The following morning, we had good intentions to arise at the break of dawn (i.e. 6:15am) for a morning session of Tai Chi with the boat’s own Tai Chi master. Unfortunately, after a nightlong of partying (and super comfy bed), the snooze button was the easier option. We did wake up in time for the 8am excursion to Sung Sot cave, aptly named “surprise cave”. Over a hundred and thirty steps later, we made it into the impressive and large cave, filled with stalactites and stalagmites and many other formations taking the shapes of flora, animals and mythical creatures.
We then returned to the Bhaya Classic III for a Sunday brunch spread as it began its journey homebound. By 11am, we arrived back at the jetty and boarded the bus for our return trip to Hanoi.
We highly recommend a trip to Ha Long Bay aboard Bhaya Cruises. The hospitality and service we received, in addition to the uber luxurious cabins, fantastic onboard amenities and well organized excursions, are a lifetime’s memories we can affirm.Bhaya Cruises – Hanoi Sales Office 52 Hang Trong Street, Hanoi (Directly across from Maison d’Hanoi Hotel) | +84 (4) 3944 6777 https://www.bhayacruises.com/