30th November, 2017
When we began planning this 12 month adventure, we promised ourselves and the kids that no matter where we were in the world – birthdays and special occasions would be celebrated in a unique, unforgettable way.
Last week, our Lily turned 11. Before we left Australia, I had arranged this little Halong Bay getaway. 2 days on Halong Bay. Overnight, on board the Hera Cruise. I knew it would be pretty special, but I didn’t expect it to completely blow my expectations out of the water!
We woke the birthday girl early, showered her in surprise birthday gifts and treats, packed our bags and waited for our transfer bus to collect us from our Airbnb in Hanoi.
It was an easy 3 hour drive to Halong Bay, stopping mid way for a pit stop.
(Lily had no idea what was planned and you’ll be able to see her reaction on the video below the moment we told her she’d be staying on the boat – priceless!!)
From the moment we stepped on board, we felt at home. It was so, so beautiful and unlike anything we’d ever experienced. I’ve never been interested in cruising. In staying overnight on a boat. Far, far away from land….
BUT, this was so much better than I’d imaged. Most of the time, we could hardly tell we were actually moving. The boat gently cruised along. It was really peaceful.
After we were shown to our rooms, we headed up to the top floor – level 3, the dining room, for a 5 course lunch (YES, 5 course!!)
At about 17ºC outside, we were all rugged up, and felt completely underdressed…(where’s a ball gown when you need one?!)
Now, I have been known to be a little bit picky with what I will and will not eat. I don’t eat eggs, nor seafood. The Hera staff were so accommodating and the talented Chef cooked me the most delicious lunch.
Even the kids got through their 5 courses and didn’t break a glass…!
After lunch, it was excursion time. Kayaking through the Luon Cave. I was so pumped for this! It was boys VS girls and Lily assured me she knew what she was doing. Thankfully we did not capsize…though we came mighty close a few times! Crazy girl.
Back to the boat to freshen up before happy hour (yessss) and a cooking demonstration, before another 5 course meal.
Lily was completely spoilt with a beautifully hand carved watermelon, birthday cake and mocktail, as well as the staff singing her a gorgeous Happy Birthday song by candle light. Very special indeed!
After dinner we tried our hand at squid fishing with bamboo rods off the back of the boat. We didn’t catch any squid, but we did see a sea snake swim on by.
We woke early the next morning and headed to the top deck for Tai Chi. It was pretty fresh at 6am, but such a lovely way to start the day.
At 7am we had a light breakfast of cereals, fruit and toast before heading off to Sung Sot Caves to explore. WOW!! Definitely worth the 700+ steps to reach the top of the lookout.
Exploring caves is hungry work! Good thing we had a huge buffet brunch to come back to! Delicious Vietnamese cuisine with all the trimmings. My favourite – the pork rice pancake.
It was then time to pack the bags and for the boat to cruise back to the dock.
An amazing time had with wonderful staff who we connected with instantly. We only knew them for a short time, but will miss them a lot.
Lily had the most special birthday and will remember it for many years to come!
If you haven’t been to Halong Bay, add it to your bucket list. It is so incredibly beautiful and a must see.
We’ve set the bar high. It’s Andrew’s birthday next – I had best get planning that now!!!
Check out our little YouTube video here – so much fun!
You can find out more about the Hera Cruise Boat here..x