To pay homage to the traditional wooden junk synonymous with UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay, Paradise Cruises will debut Paradise Sails on January 1, a culturally-enriching cruise on a classic wooden junk (albeit with sails).
A highlight of Paradise Sails’ one-night and two-night itineraries is a royal “Bao Dai” dinner experience, during which guests dress like kings and queens in iconic ao dai, a traditional silk tunic worn over trousers, and indulge Vietnamese favourites such as traditional deep fried Halong crab spring roll, grilled Vietnamese marinated chicken in lime leaves, and grilled local fish in banana leaf.
In addition to an interactive Vietnamese cooking demonstration and sunrise tai chi on the sun deck, other highlights include hiking to the peak of Titov island, that affords spectacular vistas of Halong Bay and its towering limestone karsts, as well as walking through Sung Sot, the bay's largest cave.
Paradise Cruises’ General Manager Edgar C. Cayanan said Paradise Cruises’ inaugural fleet of four Paradise Luxury 17-cabin vessels would be rebranded Paradise Sails from January 1. “We’ve come a long way since our very first boat, a Paradise Luxury vessel, set sail in 2008, yet as the adage goes, all good things must come to an end,” Mr Cayanan said. “With that said, we are lifting this product to the next level by going back to our Vietnamese roots as we reinvigorate the dining experience to apply sails to the vessels.”
Each vessel in the Paradise Sails line is 41.5 meters long, has four decks and is loaded with restorative amenities, including Le Parfum Spa offering an array of massages, facials, scrubs and wraps, as well as a bar.
The rebranding follows a renovation of the fleet that gave it a fresh look and feel, with new wooden floors, ceilings, curtains, carpet and beds installed in each boat’s 17 cabins. Most furnishings are handmade, including the Oriental-style tables and chairs that adorn the gourmet dining rooms. The largest room categories are the 23-square-meter Terrace Suites and Paradise Suites. The standout feature in the former is a private terrace with lounge chairs, while highlights of the latter include a mini-bar and LCD TV.
The Bao Dai dinner is named for the last ruler of the Nguyen Dynasty, who was also the last emperor of Vietnam. Born Vinh Thuy in 1913, he became emperor on the death of his father in 1925 and assumed the name Bao Dai, meaning "preservation of grandeur".
In addition to the Paradise Sails line, Paradise Cruises operates sleek and modern Paradise Elegance steel vessels and the top-of-the-line wooden junk Paradise Peak, designed to hold up to 16 passengers, with a personal butler dedicated to each cabin. With more than 2,000 limestone karsts rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, Halong Bay makes for a mystical landscape. It is located two hours by car from Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city. Every experience with Paradise Cruises includes premium shuttle service between Hanoi and Halong Bay.