This is a difficult review to post. I have such positive memories of Ha Long Bay, but I can't judge the tour by the splendor that it progressed through.
We were picked up at our hotel in a very nice bus. The guide, Qua (sp?) was personable and spoke English well. The bus rolled along and stopped at the mandatory tourist trap for a bathroom stop halfway to Ha Long City. We made it to Ha Long Harbor and trundled onto the boat. There was only 8 of us, which was pleasant, as we assumed we would have the run of the ship.
Lunch was fantastic and they provided plenty of food. In line with most of the cruises, beverages and water are not included. You will get stinkeye if you bring your own bottle of water to the table. The surroundings are incredible. Ha Long Bay is beautiful.
The Poseidon boat is one of the nicer boats out there. The cabins are gorgeous, and the boat itself is well maintained, which cannot be said of the competition.
We were taken off the boat to be herded through a cave tour with hundreds of other tourists. The talking points are standardized and you will be ushered along even if you are taking pictures. Following that, we got to kayak but where we were promised 1 hour, we ended up getting 30 minutes. This was something that we were really looking forward to and were bummed that we didn't get to spend the full time.
Following that, we were told we would get to go swimming. As we were on a ship, that seemed like an easy proposition. Instead we were taken to a tiny beach with hundreds of tourists and locals fighting over a tiny plot of sand. Half of our group looked at the beach and asked to just stay on the boat. We were told that was impossible, and we had to go to the crappy beach instead of staying on the great boat. We ended up going to the beach and spending 90 minutes there while the guide played football on the beach. After this, we got to go back to the Poseidon boat.
The next scheduled activity was making springrolls. This was scheduled right at sunset, so once again, most of the group didn't want to take part. Hmmm, make springrolls or watch the sunset over Ha Long Bay? We informed the guide that we weren't making springrolls. 5 times. He kept insisting that we make them, and we kept refusing. What should have been a relaxing, magnificent occasion was instead a fight to enjoy the ship and the scenery.
After sunset we had dinner and the meal was superb again. The choices of entertainment were squid fishing (a meaningless and trite expenditure of time, although I did nearly catch a crab) and karaoke, which the staff commandeered. One of the guests actually went to the lounge and told them to shut it down, as they were going to sleep.
The following day, staff began knocking on our door at 6:30am. We told them that we were skipping breakfast so we could sleep a little longer as the A/C was turned off at 3am. This was apparently not acceptable, as the crew knocked on our door and yelled into the cabin every 3 minutes for the next hour. We did not have to be ready until 7:30am but couldn't get a minute's peace. Now here's where things get weird.
We booked our entire tour with Poseidon Sail. We were kicked off the boat at 7:30am in the morning and transferred to another boat, which was not nearly as nice. We were heading to Cat Ba Island, and all told, we had to transfer between 4 boats to get there. 4 boats. Which declined in quality and amenities with each transfer. We never saw our group again. We never saw our guide again. We ended up being shoved exactly where we didn't want to be when we booked a "luxury" service: on a broken down bus filled with 20 somethings with questionable hygiene. This was not our group and definitely not what we had paid a premium for. At Cat Ba national park, the bus was left with the door open and the bus unattended for nearly two hours with our bags sitting in the doorway.
Poseidon Sail advertises itself as a luxury option to the standard Ha Long Bay tour. What we got was great when we were actually on the ship and allowed to enjoy Ha Long Bay. But the vast majority of the trip was a massive bait and switch operation. We were on the ship that we booked for a grand total of 15 hours when we booked a 3 day tour. After the end of our tour, we had been on far too many mediocre boats, far too many broken down buses with no/little A/C for the luxury price that was paid.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.