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Third Party Halong Bay Cruise Websites

Los Angeles...
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Third Party Halong Bay Cruise Websites

Hi, I am looking for a Halong Cruise for February and the more I look, the more confused I am. Strangely, it seems like third party websites are CHEAPER, sometimes up to $100! I don't understand how that happens and whether it's ok to book through these sites. In particular, this site seems to have great deals: http://www.halongbaytours.com/ Has anyone booked through them?

HongKong
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1. Re: Third Party Halong Bay Cruise Websites

Hi, I was just as confused as you are. But worry not, because you have plentiful options to book when you arrive in Hanoi, if you stay in the Old Quarter, there are tons of agents booking office for Halong Bay tour, Sapa tours, etc. and most important, it's a BUYERS' MARKET.. Don't be worried about seats sold out, it's scare tactic by the agents. Do bargain, but don't do it mercilessly. Vietnamese are nice people, let them earn a little bit extra!

I was there last week and saw so many cruise boat half empty. I booked a day before the tour from my hotel tours desk (I think this is the best option). Read my JBR and you'll understand.

The whole cruise industry of Halong Bay works together like a cartel in a network of ship owners, cruise operator, booking agents,hotel tour desks etc. So if an agent (or third party, if you like) receives a booking for a 5-star luxury cruise, he will put you in one of those luxury ships, not necessary the one ship you thought you will be sailing in. And if you book a budget cruise, they will assign you to one of the many budget ships and so on.

You're almost guaranteed to get a ticket. I mean, do you think those agent people will tell you "sorry, we're fully booked, try next door"? NO! they will always say they have rooms, they will take your deposit first, and when you leave, they will phone around all their cruise ships friends to look for a room for you.

Another thing, if you start with USD200 (4-star) and drive a hard bargain to lower it down to say USD120, don't be too happy; when you board the ship, it could be a 3 star affair!

Think about it, isn't this logic?

Edited: 05 December 2013, 06:01
Nova Scotia
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2. Re: Third Party Halong Bay Cruise Websites

Does this advice (waiting until we are there) apply to the high end two night cruises?

Hanoi, Vietnam
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3. Re: Third Party Halong Bay Cruise Websites

From now through early Feb (aka high season) the more popular boats could be full if you want a specific one. I like to use a tried and true travel agent who will not scam you and will tell you the truth.

Nova Scotia
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4. Re: Third Party Halong Bay Cruise Websites

That is very helpful. It is early to book for next year, but it may be a good idea to book ahead with an agent.

Llanbrynmair...
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5. Re: Third Party Halong Bay Cruise Websites

maryann, you have to be very careful when choosing an agent as there are a lot of dishonest sharks out there.

For example bait and switch tactics are not unknown, so beware of any agent whose internet rate is $100 lower than the standard rate as you are likely to end up on a completely different and much inferior boat.

If in doubt, ask your hotel for cruise quotes. Hanoi hotel managers are obsessed with their hotels' reviews on Trip Advisor and will not risk a bad review caused by the mishandling of a cruise booking.

Nova Scotia
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6. Re: Third Party Halong Bay Cruise Websites

Thanks for the advice. I have a couple leads on agents from people with experience. I'll check out any agent carefully.

Llanbrynmair...
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7. Re: Third Party Halong Bay Cruise Websites

"I'll check out any agent carefully."

Yes do that, and also ignore any local agent who approaches you via a private message as he/she is bound to be third-rate - reputable agents would never stoop to such means.

Good luck with your search, and have a great time in Vietnam!

HongKong
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8. Re: Third Party Halong Bay Cruise Websites

maryann, I totally agree with CB about hotels (large and small) being obsessed by guests' comments on tripadvisor, they may not be begging you to put in a good word for them but I did hear my hotelier say "if we don't give you a good deal, you will write something bad about us in tripadvisor" or something to that effect.

If you go for the high end cruise, you still can do so when you arrive in Hanoi, check with your hotel people where the cruise ship's office is and go there directly to book a room, and tell them you want to be in that particular ship. If they honestly tell you that day is full, ask for the next day, or the next (if you have several days in Hanoi),

If you book online, take a short time to visit the agent or the cruise ship's office to confirm the exact ship you'll be in.

Enjoy! We did and looking forward to visit Vietnam again!

Edited: 08 December 2013, 02:12
9. Re: Third Party Halong Bay Cruise Websites

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Llanbrynmair...
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10. Re: Third Party Halong Bay Cruise Websites

With respect Flower S, how on earth can anyone trust a Hanoi travel agent (Blue Dragon Tours/Halong Bay Tours) who pretends to live in Kentucky? Such an old trick, and one that always fails.

I rest my case Thanhophelia and Maryann.