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Has anyone been on the SIGNATURE cruise on Halong Bay?

Australia
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Has anyone been on the SIGNATURE cruise on Halong Bay?

Came across this cruise and the photos look lovely but I have not seen any review on it. Am looking for a 3d2n cruise - any advice appreciated, thanks.

Hanoi, Vietnam
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21. Re: Has anyone been on the SIGNATURE cruise on Halong Bay?

This is not actually a new boat but they renovated it. However, their cabins are very beautiful

Australia
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22. Re: Has anyone been on the SIGNATURE cruise on Halong Bay?

Hi everyone, just thought you may like to know, we went on the Indochina Sails in the end and it was a most lovely cruise. Ms Cham of halongsapatours.com did us a great deal with double upgrades for cabin and it was like a junk, yet had a bathtub! You hardly spend time in your cabin as there is a common area where we gathered n exchange thoughts and views. The people on board were mainly from western countries.

The reason I am writing is that I spied Signature next to us where we were anchored. I think all the luxury cruises were anchored around the same area. Indochina Sails were the first group into the Surprise cave making it nice esp when taking photos. We were the only boat having Tai Chi too. The lunch is unforgettable!!

Dublin
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23. Re: Has anyone been on the SIGNATURE cruise on Halong Bay?

Again, if anyone else has actually BEEN on the cruise yet, would be great if they could put a quick review here? Thanks a lot

London, United...
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24. Re: Has anyone been on the SIGNATURE cruise on Halong Bay?

We have been on this cruise a couple of weeks ago and unfortunately were quite disappointed.

The positives:

The ship is very new so the room was great (we got senior delux), a lot of space, very clean and comfortable with jacuzzi bath which was great.

The negatives:

The breakfast was quite standard and included leftovers from the previous day. The dinners were presented very well but felt more like an experiment. The first night every dish had a lot of black pepper and the second night everything had a lot of sugar (the soup, the salad and the sauce for the mains). The most disappointing part was the day trip on a smaller boat. The boat had terrible facilities, the lunch was boiled cabbage and plain rice with one shrimp per person and we were encouraged to buy more fresh seafood from a passing fisherman boat at a price of $20 per kilo, although lunch was included in a rather expensive package.

So overall the cruise did not live up to the 5star experience that we paid for

Melbourne, Australia
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25. Re: Has anyone been on the SIGNATURE cruise on Halong Bay?

We stayed here as well in mid December.

The cruise ship has the WOW factor when you first board. The rooms are huge. The bathroom toilet is one of those Japanese ones with heated seats. The Jacuzzi/shower was "wow" to begin but when you actually try to shower or use it, it is not very practical. The tub is so small so if you are above 175cm I would think it would be hard to use. The shower is a handheld one in the same tub. Very weak pressure and hard to use.

The feedback by Orestinka is correct. The dayboat is a 2 star boat. The food was average. Of course my feedback is based purely on what you pay. You pay more, you expect more.

It would be so much better on the 2nd day if guests were given options on what to do, then the guests choose what they would like to do. The only options seem to be kayak or swimming or cruising on the day boats.

Los Angeles...
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26. Re: Has anyone been on the SIGNATURE cruise on Halong Bay?

Oh goodness, these reviews making me want to rebook elsewhere! We are set for signature in February but now want to swap. Our hotel says indochina booked, but we can go with bhaya, pelican, or vspirit. Recs?

Melbourne, Australia
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27. Re: Has anyone been on the SIGNATURE cruise on Halong Bay?

Signature is better than Bhaya, pelican or vspirit for sure.

Don't get me wrong the boat has excellent furnishings. And compared to those you mentioned I am nearly 100% sure Signature is better.

But the thing with these 5-star cruises is you have that exclusivity. You sit on your own table, go to your own rooms, and there are less guests (maximum 16) on that boat so you have more time to yourself. If you are after this then Signature is good. If you want to sit on the same tables as other guests and chit chat then go with the lower star boats. Just different experiences.

In my opinion all the cruises go to the same places. So there isn't much difference really. If you are only staying for 1 night then you won't spend much time on the actual boat anyway... ie - maybe 6pm to 9am the next day. If you stay 2 nights then the 2nd day you will be on a 2-star boat but you do kayaking and swimming... but the water is very salty (from the limestones) and pretty cold in Dec... should be warmer in Feb though.

Halong bay is definitely worth the trip, but there's really not much there except for limestone formations, kayaking and a visit to surprise cave... other countries caves are way better but worth a visit anyway.

Stick with Signature if you are comparing against those other boats. But really not too much difference considering how much time you stay there.

And my review and others review are purely based on Cost versus Expectations. If the cruise was a lot less then everyone would be giving glowing reviews. But when you pay more you expect more.

One last thing the dinner is a set menu if the number of guests is under 12. We were still a bit hungry afterwards... not starving but could have done with more food considering how much you pay.

Melbourne, Australia
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28. Re: Has anyone been on the SIGNATURE cruise on Halong Bay?

Oh, and all the boats do pretty much the same thing.

That is;

Tai chi in the mornings (if the guests can be bothered waking up)... no guests could be bothered waking up on Signature at 630am for this.

Cooking demo or Fruit carving demo in the evening. They alternate. Fruit carving the chef makes a pattern from the fruit and you watch... kinda boring... cooking demo they make a spring roll (not the fried one) and then you do it as well then eat. After dinner its either squid fishing or watching a movie. From all the reviews I read its the same thing on all other boats except some have karaoke.

I think they could be less frugal on the food. It comes back to you pay more you expect more. They should serve up 3 - 4 prawns per guests versus just 1 for example. And I would have liked more seafood considering I was in halong bay. It seemed to be a mix of both seafood and meat dishes. Just my own opinion on that one.

I think what makes a good cruise is the guests you are with. If you get a whole bunch of guests around your own age group and are carefree and relaxed and joking then it'll be a good experience. If you get a whole bunch who don't want to socialize then it can become a bit stale and boring.

One thing I forgot to mention is we were on the middle floor (sleeping quarters are either middle or bottom). Middle is the best as you get your own private balcony. It's nice to wake up looking at the limestone formations in the mornings.

Happy hour (buy 1 get 1) is between 6pm and 7pm. Dinner is at 7pm. The staff were pretty accommodating and allowed me to order at 645pm for example and drink one there then the other they bring out at dinner with my meal when I requested. The staff are very good. They are young but give it 110% and are trying their best to please. Have a chat with them and whatever you need they'll try their best.

Again the reviews are based on costs versus expectations.

Johannesburg, South...
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29. Re: Has anyone been on the SIGNATURE cruise on Halong Bay?

Hi Kay (Melbourne)

Have you been on this cruise yet? I'd like to hear yr opinion - certainly looks good frm the photos.

Alexandra

Melbourne, Australia
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30. Re: Has anyone been on the SIGNATURE cruise on Halong Bay?

We went on Signature cruise in late December 2013. Let me start with the positives:

Halong Bay is a stunning place to visit with beautiful limestone and caves. The boat is new, clean and modern as seen on their website. As the maximum capacity on the boat is 24, there are plenty of spaces to move around and lots of privacy.

The staff are very friendly polite,accommodating and you are expected to wear a safety jacket everywhere you go, so safety was well regarded.

Now for the negatives: The food was most disappointing out of this trip. The cruise tried hard to cater for western cuisine when they should just have stuck to fresh vietnamese food to give western traveller a real taste of Vietnam. Given how cheap food is in Vietnam, I was disappointed to see how 'stingy' they were with the food in terms of quality and quantity. Even after 4 courses, you will not be full as each course were served in miniature bite size proportions. Also, don't expect too much seafood- you'll be lucky to get one prawn, 2 pippis and 1 calamari ring with your main course. There is no room service so you can't even buy any additional food.

I'm not alone with these comments about the food as other passengers also felt the same.

Being vietnamese myself, I was particularly surprised to see how the ' head chef' could not even cook proper vietnamese food let alone attempted western cuisines.

The shower hose in the jacuzzi rapidly changes from cold to boiling hot and you could easily burn yourself. The day trip boat was old, dirty and again lunch was of poor quality.

On our last day, we were rushed to get off the boat but ended up waiting an hour for our pick up ride back to Hanoi.

Being a new cruise company, they tried very hard but still lots of issues to consider (ie food quality, wait time for passengers prior to boarding the boat, tea/coffee facilities in the room).

For the price that we'd paid for the cruise, we had expected a lot more from signature cruise.