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About Suskies

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  1. When I researched Ha Long Bay, the reviews really encouraged an overnight excursion--that's apparently how you really see the truly amazing parts of the bay. If you look up Dau Go Island on Google Maps, you'll see that you're only touching the tip of the Hal Long Bay iceberg, so to speak. I'm not familiar with the 6-hour tour, but I don't think you'd see a whole lot more really new and different with it. Remember that you'll get quite a view as the boat pulls into Ha Long Bay--they really should bill it as scenic cruising. So my vote would be for the shorter tour but, again, I'm not familiar with the longer one.
  2. Guiarm, the ship takes care of everything, unless you're planning some big land excursion on your own. I'm compulsive about this kind of thing and triple-checked before I left. Just bring a couple of paper copies of your passports--you'll turn one in when you board.
  3. 1. We were on the March 2, 2019, Millie--its second post-Revolution cruise. 2. Yes, that was exactly the difference according to our conversation with a fellow passenger. We loved our tour (Hanoi Past & Present) and recommend it. 3. I'm afraid that I deleted the e-mails I sent to Halong Bay cruise operators. I found them by going to Trip Advisor, searching for Halong Bay boat tours, picking the ones that had high ratings AND large numbers of reviews, then checking their websites to see if they listed half-day tours as an option (most don't--they only do full-day and/or overnight tours).(Yes, that was a lot of work.) I e-mailed about six to see if they offered a half-day tour leaving at 1 PM or later (our ship docked at noon). About 3 replied that they didn't offer that; I never heard back from the others. Thank you for your kind words! CC was an invaluable resource to us, so it was nice to have an opportunity to pay it forward. The report was also a nice journal for us to record our memories. We saw and did so much that, even with photos, we'd forget a lot of it otherwise. You'll have a fantastic trip.
  4. We did the two-day tour described on their home page: BT1 and TT2. We did only half of TT2 (the railway market and floating market) because we had to start driving back to the port at noon. Even though they say they customize their tours, when we asked for adjustments, they pushed back on our requests, so we ended up doing the tours exactly as described. And we were very happy with what we saw and did. The van was very modern and comfortable. The air conditioning was always on full force when it picked us up. Regarding restaurants, I'd suggest you ask about this when you contact the tour company. Explain exactly what ingredients can't be included and see what they say about taking you to a restaurant that can prepare food without those ingredients. I can't remember exactly what was on the menus of the two Thai restaurants she took us to, but overall we were struck by how simply much of the food in these ports was prepared. Pork "barbecue," for example, is simply roasted pork. Hainanese chicken, which is everywhere in Singapore, is simply poached or roasted chicken in a broth flavored with ginger and star anise and served with plain rice. We were also pleasantly surprised by how many menus were in English. So I think you'll do okay.
  5. We had the same question when we planned our March 2, 2019, Millennium cruise, and like you most people recommended Ha Long Bay. We had an overnight stop and did a half-day Ha Long Bay boat tour and full-day Hanoi shore excursion (Celebrity's Hanoi Past & Present). You can read my review of the cruise here: and see some photos of Hanoi and Ha Long Bay here: We LOVED Hanoi--that and Hoi An are the two places we'd go back to if we could to spend more time. The Hanoi Old Quarter was absolutely fascinating. If you like to shop, shopping is excellent--I bought a lovely lacquered tray for US$17. But I would book a tour--Hanoi doesn't yet have a good transportation infrastructure, and the sights are spread out, so it would be hard to do on your own (though we saw Western tourists doing just that). There's a new highway from Ha Long to Hanoi that cuts the bus ride down to a bit over 2 hours each way, depending on traffic. With a pit stop halfway, the ride was closer to 2 1/2 hours each way...but it used to be much longer. Let me know if I can answer any questions.
  6. We just completed a 2-week Southeast Asia cruise on the Celebrity Millennium from Singapore to Hong Kong, with stops in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue/Danang/Hoi An, and Hanoi/Ha Long Bay. There's not much info available on some of these ports, and posts on this CC Asia board were invaluable in helping us figure out what to do. I posted a detailed report on our cruise on the Celebrity board as a way to pay it forward. Thanks to everyone else here who helped make this an incredible trip for us.
  7. None of the ports were tender ports. I would guess the Halong Bay pier is new. The pier is about a half-mile long, and I think they run a shuttle to the end of it. I heard another passenger asking about the mall, and they were told to take a taxi--too far to walk. You can see the cable car from the ship, but again I'd plan on taking a taxi. I don't know for certain if Halong Bay taxis take US currency, but we read that Vietnamese are happy to take it because it's more stable than Vietnamese dong, although the exchange rate isn't as good as at an ATM. We used American dollars to pay for some snacks and souvenirs. Halong Bay has become quite a beach town. Our Hanoi guide told us it's only 2 hours from the China border, so it gets a lot of Chinese tourists. If we'd had more time, I think it would have been a fun place to walk around. It looked very clean and prosperous.
  8. Duh, I knew I forgot one port: Ho Chi Minh City! Our main memory is motor scooters everywhere--even on the sidewalks!--all honking their horns.
  9. Last stop: Hong Kong! The first shot is our view of the skyline from our room at the Intercontinental during the Symphony of Lights light show. The second is the old railway clock tower near the Star Ferry Terminal on Kowloon. The last two are the Temple Street Night Market.
  10. Next stop: Hanoi! These are all from the Old Quarter, which we thought was absolutely fascinating--could have spent a whole day wandering around there. Hanoi and Hoi An were our two favorite ports of the cruise.
  11. Next stop: Ha Long Bay! The first shot is the view from our balcony as the ship arrived. The second shot is during our boat tour, and the last is a shot of the Millie as we returned.
  12. Next stop: Hoi An! The first shot is fishing boats on the rive--notice the eyes. The second is the Japanese bridge, the third is a wall on the edge of Old Town, and the fourth is one of the temples.
  13. The first image is the Maeklong Railway Market, with the vendors re-erecting their awnings after the train has passed through. The second image is from Damnern Saduak Floating Market. Both of these are about an hour west of Bangkok.
  14. Another shot of our view of the river, and the musician on our Loy Nava dinner cruise, with Wat Arun in the background.
  15. Next stop, Bangkok! This is a view of the river from our room at the Shangri-La.
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