Steering toward a more personalised cruise experience, the first of Life Resorts’ fleet of 22 heritage junks took to the waters of Halong Bay on overnight trips.
After a month of introductory single-night cruises during the resort’s soft opening, Life Heritage Resort Halong Bay plans to make multiple-night voyages available in time for its grand opening November 4.
During the grand opening celebrations, a group of top travel and tour operators, government officials and local media will dine at the marina, and then experience the Life Resorts fleet during a Halong Bay cruise the following day.
Each 13-meter heritage junk is up to date with the most modern maritime safety and emergency features. Every boat maintains direct contact with on-shore emergency services 24 hours a day, and is manned by a dedicated, three-person crew.
The floating, four-star resort also runs six and four-hour day cruises, as well as wedding photo cruises for couples. Day cruises depart at 11am, while overnight cruises sail at noon and return at 10am the following day.
Whether cruising by the hour or the day, passenger preference guides the itinerary aboard the upscale vessels. Upon departure, guests are given the freedom to set their own course by selecting from a ‘menu’ of attractions in the bay.
“With Life, guests custom-design their trip, choosing where they want to go,” said Chris Duffy, group general director of Life Resorts. “Your crew lets you do what you wish, when you wish, for the most bespoke experience on the bay.”
Day cruises begin with a leisurely check in at Life Resorts’ private land-based hub at Tuan Chau Island. Crews consist of a captain, engineer and cruise host, who acts as butler to the passengers.
Inside, each junk boasts a fully-furnished 32-square-metre cabin featuring local Vietnamese touches, carved hardwood detailing and wide panoramic windows opening onto the limestone karst formations of Halong Bay. Each vessel is 15 metres in length with a 4.5 metre beam and powered by a WEICHAI engine with maximum speed of 10 knots.
Duffy said that besides offering first-rate amenities on a historic Vietnamese craft, it is the customisable aspect of the cruises, set against a backdrop of one of the most stunning locations on the planet, which makes the Life cruise a once in a lifetime experience.
“We don’t ‘rush’ guests around. Some may opt to visit the famous caves or beaches, but if the guests want to avoid the tourist crowd, we sail past and away,” said Duffy. “And when guests wish to be alone, the whole boat is theirs to do so.”
Life Resorts owns and operates three resorts in Vietnam and manages another.
On Vietnam’s central coast, the 94-room Life Heritage Resort Hoi An evokes the colonial splendor of a bygone era on a quiet stretch of the Thu Bon River within walking distance of the trading port’s world-famous Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the south-central coast, the 63-room Life Wellness Resort Quy Nhon is dedicated to the tenets of wellness, from yoga and tai chi to an ample range of spa treatments and anti-stress and detox programs.
Four hours from Ho Ch Minh City, Life manages the 84-room Blue Ocean Resort at Mui Ne, featuring a 153-meter beach, a 26-meter swimming pool and lush tropical grounds.