My partner and I booked the two night, three day option based on my previous experience where I felt that a one night cruise was too rushed and the experience was over just as you started to enjoy it. A two night cruise was definitely the right choice.
About the trip…
With Athena, your memorable experience starts in Hanoi with the luxury transfer that you are welcomed onto. On arrival in Halong Bay, you are ushered into a private lounge and served chilled apple juice before being transferred to the cruise boat. After a quick orientation session you are left to check in and enjoy your cabin at leisure. A buffet lunch is spectacularly presented and delights any pallet. A tour of a floating village follows lunch.
On the first evening you enjoy a cooking class on the deck and time relaxing and taking in the splendid view of this World Wonder. *Happy hour for drinks from 17h30 to 18h30 – buy one get one free.
On the second morning we slept in and enjoyed breakfast at 07h45. (They first get the formalities over for the folk on the one night cruise and transferred them off the boat before we were served breakfast.)
After breakfast we were transferred to the day boat and set sail for Lan Ha Bay – this is less of a tourist spot, so you get to enjoy the unspoilt beauty with few tourists. We “kayaked” to a small beach and spent the morning swimming amongst the limestone giants. Lunch was served back on the Athena Elegance Day Boat… What a delightful spoil of giant prawns, chicken, morning glory, tomatoe soup, fresh fruit and tea. *Beers and soft drinks are also served at a cost.
Day three, up early for Tai Chi on deck, breakfast, check out, and explore “Thien Canh Son” or “Amazing Cave” before having an early lunch as the boat make its way back to the harbour for transfer back to Hanoi.
To sum up, we enjoyed a luxury stay and jam-packed agenda with the Athena Elegance Cruise and I would recommend this cruise if you are wanting some R&R and time out. Staff are super friendly, the Athena Elegance lives up to its name.
*Some tips :
1. This is not a party cruise, so no disco or karaoke after dinner and no jumping off the side of the boat for a swim. You’re here to relax, and they even offer a spa service to this point.
2. I couldn’t find information about the cost of drinks, so I’m attaching sample photos of the drinks menu and prices.
3. Considering point 2 above, buy plenty of large waters, soft drinks and alcohol in Hanoi. The room does have a bar fridge – which switches off when the room key/ card is removed – seems counterintuitive.
4. In attaching the itinerary for the 3 day 2 night cruise, but things can change depending on factors like weather.