Halong Ginger vs. Dragon's Pearl

Mar 27th, 2007, 10:04 AM
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Halong Ginger vs. Dragon's Pearl

About to book the junk for our side-trip to Halong Bay.

Have basically narrowed it down between the Halong Ginger and the Dragon's Pearl. I was gravitating towards the former, as the Ginger seemed just a little nicer and a bit smaller (hoping to avoid as much of the "touristy" crowd as possible--even though I know it's fairly impossible in Halong.)

Just got a response from the folks at the Ginger and my jaw just about hit the floor: $725-825 per room for a 1 night cruise!!! What are they smoking?

Does anyone have any experience with the Halong Ginger? Does that price sound right? The Dragon, in comparison, is only about $95/night and that inculdes transport (which the Ginger does not) but, in comparison, the Dragon's Pearl seems a bit more touristy. I just can't quantify such a gaping difference in price.

Any recommendations/suggestions? Would like to have a unique experience, but at that price, I'm not so sure.
filmwill is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 10:44 AM
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Hi filmwill,

I can't speak from experience about either of the 2 boats you mentioned, but did you check these out?



You're right that those prices are whack for Vietnam. Maybe the quote was for a private charter or something, because the prices for the Ginger on other websites are much more reasonable:


cruisinred is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 11:22 AM
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Filmwill, that price is ridiculously high, even for Stateside standard! Take cruisinred's advice, check out Handspan. We didn't use them since I thought they were a bit pricey so $725-825 per room per night is outrageous!
paigeTN is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 11:26 AM
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Yes, that price is simply silly. I've not heard of the Ginger, but there have been some excellent reviews of Dragon's Pearl on this site. Do a search and see where people booked. Always, it's much less expensive to book in-country. The local booking agencies cited by cruisinred should be able to help you.

And it's true that you never know what they may have understood - they may have thought they were booking the whole boat for your party or something.
Kathie is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 12:34 PM
Join Date: May 2006
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We went on the Halong Ginger in Nov.. It was $175.00 including a private transfer. Kayaks were extra. We thought that was a little high. I would get another quote. The junk was beautiful. It is quite new and extremly well apointed. The public areas are beautiful and the state rooms are large with wonderful views and every amenity you could want. We got the best nights sleep in in probably all of Vietnam.The bathrooms are done in marble and quite nice.

The size of 9 state rooms was perfect. The food was amazing, but a little too much time spent eating.

We saw the Emeraude and it looks like a Mississippi river boat also a little too large for my tastes.

I would definitely get another quote-- there is no way they can charge that much.
sallyho is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 01:05 PM
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The Ginger has 2 deluxe and 8 superior cabins. So, figure 20 people max.

The Dragon's Pearl has 14 twin and 4 double bedded cabins. Max of 32 to 36.

When I took the DP last November there were perhaps 12 or 14 pax on board.

You are not going to avoid the touristy crowd in either case. They are both tourist boats. Different tourist crowds, perhaps. My cruise consisted mainly of middle-aged English-speaking westerners. Other boats had different clientele, e.g. one had a few small groups of young Vietnamese tourists.

The Ginger looks like it is the typical Halong cruise boat, but finished very well. There is a photo of the bathroom in a cabin at one of the above links. It shows a sink in a nice cabinet. My entire bathroom in the double room on the DP was not much bigger than that. It was just a little closet, where you bump into the sink and the toilet while taking a shower. Okay, maybe a better description is that it was a large shower with a toilet and sink in it! Perfectly functional and adequate, but in now way luxurious.

When we had dinner on the DP we did it in three or four groups and shared the dishes. On the last lunch we all sat together as some people had left for kayaking. I enjoyed this very much

One of the photos of the Ginger shows a couple of tables with tablecloths. Note that they are two-person tables, so you might expect a bit more intimacy/privacy on the Ginger.

The twin-bedded cabin in the Ginger photo looks nice. Not much larger than my DP cabin but it looks a bit nicer.

It was $97 plus a $25 single supplement on the DP, or $122 total. Would be $345 to go solo on the Ginger. It is a no brainer, imo. If you really want a nice room then you could stay the next night at the Sofitel Metropole for the difference.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 01:32 PM
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So much fantastic advice--thanks to all!

Sally, do you mind me asking how you booked the Ginger? I've already looked at some of the tour sites cruisinred suggested and I already see a gaping price differential. Wondering if you booked directly with Cruise Halong (the official operator) or not.

I'm starting to feel, as Kathie said, they somehow misinterpreted my original request.
filmwill is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 05:20 PM
Join Date: May 2006
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We booked through Ann tours, but do not know if they have the best rates if you are only doing one excursion with them. I would email several agencies.

The dinning is set up with seperate tables, yet we met some wonderful people on board and did eat with them.

Our room had a king bed and seemed much more spacious than the picture on the web site. -- Large windows with a great outlook. remote air conditioning and great bathroom amenities.

Whatever boat you decide on the kayak option was a wonderful way to get away from the crowds. Our guide took us to places where larger boats could not go the scenery was stunning. We decided to skip some of the excursions in order to kayak and everyone said we did not miss much. We saw the Dragon Pearl several times and it looked nice.

The boats all tend to go to the same places. And if the price difference is huge it may not make that much difference. I just requested a Junk that was clean, stable and Kayaks-- and that was the boat they booked us on

sallyho is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 06:16 PM
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Mystery (somewhat) solved: Cruise Halong wrote back to confirm that they misquoted the price. They were quoting me the price for a 2 night stay.

Their going rate is $208/person/night.

Here's my next question: that rate does not include transfers to and from the boat. Some of the sites that were posted here earlier (i.e, Halong Bay Cruises) do include the transfers for about the same price. Is it terribly rude of me to ask Cruise Halong if they can match the price? I always prefer to book directly with the vendor and not 3rd partiens (especially since I've heard nothing about Halong Bay Cruises--the 3rd party vendor.)

I realize it'd probably be even cheaper if we wait to get to Hanoi to book, but we know the dates we want to go and I would hate to get there only to find the night we want to spend on the junk already booked, as that'd kind of throw a huge wrench into our itinerary.

filmwill is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 06:28 PM
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In Viet Nam, everything is nogotiable. Absolutely ask them to throw in the transfers (and anything else you can think of at that price!).
Kathie is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 07:35 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Hi Filmwill,
Why don't you choose the Emeraude cruise. This is one of the most deluxe junks in Halong Bay.
greenvietnam is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 07:57 PM
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It would not be rude at all to ask about transfers. In fact, at the halongbaycruises link, above, the $215 pppn rate includes "private A.C comfortable transfers with driver, gasoline from your hotel Hanoi to Halong bay (Ginger cruise wharf) and return".

I take that to mean that it would be you and your companion in a car with no-one else - a private transfer. Not the 12 or 16 pax minibus that I rode (half empty) from Handspan for the DP cruise.

DEFINITELY book in advance.

When I mentioned that the twin room photo on the Ginger looked like my double (actually was two beds now that I think of it) I meant exactly that. The room was not much bigger than that what you see in that photo. I think that if you pay more then you will get more, but not sure if it is worth that difference, not to me anyway (then again, I didn't have to share that little room or bathroom with anyone).

Are the prices REALLY lower in Hanoi? Do you know anyone who got the Dragon's Pearl cruise from Handspan for significantly less than the $97 rate posted on their website? Maybe you can get a cruise on the DP for less, but the Handspan tour included a delightful guide who I only had to share with two other guys.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 08:56 PM
Join Date: May 2006
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I would definitly book in advance. We arrived the day after apec and all the nice boats were booked. And I think it is a waste of time going around to agencies to save a couple of bucks. Also tell them that you have heard of lower prices including transfers and try to get the price down.

Also check on the kayak option. The waters are so calm and we went through some amazing caves and kayaked in some very remote bays. It was so peaceful and a highlight of our trip. If that makes the trip too $$$$ then go on the dragon Pearl.

Also we had a great group of people mostly from the US and UK. We ended up meeting up with them in Hue, Hoi An, the delta and Cambodia. it was fun sharing stories. And we are still incontact with a couple of them.

We went out to dinner with some clients of my husbands after our return. He was reading the Economist on board and saw our name on the mailing the label (small world) They had not known we were in Vientam. They loved the Junk and could not get over how nice the bathrooms were.

If you choose the Ginger I would definitly haggel with the Co.

sallyho is offline  
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