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Review: Heritage Line Ginger Cruise in Lan Ha Bay

We recently had the pleasure of cruising through Lan Ha Bay with Heritage Line’s Ginger ship. Overall, the cruise was a refreshing escape from our busy lives with impressive scenery, a cozy atmosphere, and good service. No surprise it is regarded as one of the best cruises in Lan Ha Bay and Ha Long Bay areas. Here is our detailed review of the Heritage Line Ginger cruise.

a collage of scenery captured from a Lan Ha Bay cruise on Heritage Line's Ginger ship.

About Lan Ha Bay

Lan Ha Bay, under the jurisdiction of Hai Phong City, offers a remarkable landscape of limestone karst islands over emerald waters. The scenery is similar to its renowned neighbor, Ha Long Bay. The bay’s smaller size and fewer visitors make it an ideal destination for a more intimate experience. Hai Phong City is currently working with the government to ask UNESCO to extend the heritage title to include Lan Ha Bay area.

Update September 17th, 2023: UNESCO has extended the heritage title to include both Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba archipelago. Lan Ha Bay is part of Cat Ba archipelago.

Panoramic views of Lan Ha Bay.

You can find more detailed information about the bay, the best time to visit and other travel tips in my Lan Ha Bay guide. My family is from Hai Phong, and it was our first time visiting the bay on an overnight cruise in July 2023. We all think an overnight cruise in Lan Ha Bay is the best way to view it, and the experience is far superior to day tours.

We chose Heritage Line’s Ginger cruise ship since it was highly praised as the best cruise in Lan Ha Bay by a relative and a friend who both work in tourism in Vietnam. Heritage Line is a company known for its luxury cruises in Southeast Asia. Ginger is one of their vessels cruising in the scenic Lan Ha Bay. You can check the reviews of Heritage Line on TripAdvisor.

Arrival Process

Our family of 8, with 6 adults and 2 kids, started the trip from Hai Phong. After a 50-minute ride from Hai Phong to Tuan Chau via the highways, we arrived at Heritage Line’s small departure lounge at around 11:30 am. The setting resembled more of a kiosk than a lounge, but the staff did their best to make us comfortable by offering welcome drinks and towels.

After waiting until 11:55 due to a delay in obtaining clearance from the port authority, we boarded a small high-speed boat for a 15-minute ride to the Ginger ship. This transfer was necessary due to a regulatory conflict between Quang Ninh and Hai Phong that prevents cruise ships from departing directly from Tuan Chau Port to Lan Ha Bay.

high-speed boats at Tuan Chau dock.
High speed boats used to transfer guests to the cruise ship
Ginger by Heritage Line cruise ship on Lan Ha Bay water.
Ginger cruise ship

Upon boarding the Ginger, we were greeted warmly with towels and refreshments from crew members. The interior decor of the ship exuded a charming Indochine vibe. Our family and another family of four from England were briefed on safety information in the main dining room on the third floor. After that, the staff led us to our cabins.

Lounge area on Ginger cruise ship.
Lounge area
Bedroom corridor on Ginger Lan Ha Bay Cruise.
Corridor leading to guest cabins


The Ginger boasts three types of suites – Signature Suites, Junior Suites, and Regent Suites. Our family reserved two Signature Suites and one Junior Suite, all of which have private balconies and 37 square meters of indoor space decorated in Indochine style.

Bedroom in Junior suite on Ginger Lan Ha Bay cruise.
Bedroom in Junior Suite
Bedroom of Signature Suites on Heritage Line Ginger cruise ship.
Bedroom in Signature Suite

While the suites have similar amenities, they have different color palettes and are located on different decks. Junior Suites are on the main deck, while Signature Suites are located on the upper deck, offering slightly more elevated and better views from the balconies. Additionally, being on the upper deck, Signature Suites have more convenient access to key amenities, such as the dining room and sun deck. Regardless of the suite type, all rooms were clean with ample space for both guests and their luggage, making for a comfortable and pleasant stay.

Our family, along with the other family, made up the guest list, occupying only 5 out of the 12 available cabins. As a result, we got to enjoy a quiet, intimate and exclusive atmosphere onboard.

Living area in guest cabin on Ginger cruise ship.
Lounge area in guest cabin
view of Lan Ha Bay from a private balcony on Ginger cruise.
View from the private balcony of our Junior Suite


We gathered in the main dining room on the third floor at 1 pm for lunch. The room was flooded with lights and its large glass windows provided a nearly 360-degree view of the bay. As the ship sailed toward Lan Ha Bay, we enjoyed a multi-course Vietnamese meal with a splendid view.

Dining room on Heritage Line Ginger cruise ship

Although the chicken herbal soup was delicious, the other dishes were just satisfactory. The portions were very generous though, and everyone was full at the end of the meal. The staff was very attentive and catered well to our needs, even offering free french fries to our young niece and nephew.

a bowl of chicken herbal soup served at lunch on Ginger Lan Ha Bay cruise.
Chicken herbal soup
a basket of Ha Long squid cakes served at lunch on Ginger Lan Ha Bay cruise.
Ha Long squid cakes (chả mực Hạ Long)

After lunch, Tung, the tour leader of the cruise, explained to us the afternoon activities as well as dinner arrangements. Each of us was given an a la carte menu to choose what we would like for dinner.

Afternoon Activities

After lunch, we spent 30 minutes on the sun deck relaxing and absorbing the views. Then we gathered again at 3 pm to visit Viet Hai Village on Cat Ba Island.

Scenery in Lan Ha Bay.

We were transferred to the small speed boat to go to the island. My last trip to Cat Ba Island was years ago when I was still in high school, and at that time I only visited the opposite side of the island. To this day, there are still no roads connecting Viet Hai Village to that other side of the island. People must use boats or ferries for transportation.

On the island, guests could choose to ride a bicycle or sit in an electric vehicle. The main roads for sightseeing in the village were constructed quite well, providing a smooth ride on the electric vehicle. My dad, who had been previously involved in some public infrastructure projects on the island, noted how much better the roads were now compared to not too long ago.

These roads were also suitable for cycling, and while there were some uphill parts, they were not overly challenging. My niece, who was 11 years old, loved her bicycle ride on the island.

group of people cycling in Viet Hai village on Cat Ba island.
Cycling in Viet Hai Village on Cat Ba Island

We visited a local house that retained old Vietnamese village-style construction and learned about some traditional objects often found in old Vietnamese rural houses. Those may be interesting to foreign visitors.

As for me, the lush scenery of this part of Cat Ba Island was quite a delight. This enjoyable trip allowed us to appreciate Vietnamese rural life and the beauty of Cat Ba a little more.

View in Viet Hai Village Cat Ba Island
View on Cat Ba Island

Leaving Viet Hai and the island, we stopped by a floating aquaculture site dedicated to breeding, studying and preserving grouper. We got to see some really huge groupers.

Dinner and Evening Activities

Back on the ship, the absence of internet encouraged us to unwind, relax, and talk to each other while watching Lan Ha Bay at dusk. Other cruise ships also moored in the same area for the night.

Lan Ha Bay when dusk falls.

Later, we engaged in the Vietnamese fried spring roll cooking class offered at 6:30 pm. With only two families onboard, the ambiance was very cozy and intimate.

The tour leader showed everyone how he prepared the spring roll filling, and then participants used the filling to make the rolls. My niece and nephew were eager to participate in the activity since they loved all types of spring rolls. Then the staff fried the rolls and plated them before handing out to every guest. The rolls were piping hot and delicious.

the instructor preparing spring roll filling in the cooking class.
rolling spring roll in the cooking class.

Dinner was served at 7:30 pm, a bit late for older folks like my parents, and the kids as well. Same as lunch, the seafood soup was the standout dish of the meal and the dessert was the weakest part. Food portion was also very generous.

a bowl of seafood soup at dinner on Ginger Lan Ha Bay cruise.
Seafood soup
a bowl of pomelo salad with shrimp for dinner on the cruise.
Pomelo salad with shrimp

Overall, the food was okay, but not very memorable. To be fair, we are a little picky about food, especially when it comes to Vietnamese food. I just thought it would be better if the cruise showed off more regional cuisines from Quang Ninh and Hai Phong areas, instead of offering dishes not native to Vietnam such as steak and salmon.

a plate with rice and assorted seafood including salmon and shrimp.
Main dish with rice and seafood

After dinner, the staff arranged for night squid fishing, which proved to be just a fun activity for the kids rather than a successful catch. We once tried squid fishing at night at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay in Nha Trang, and we already knew how difficult it was to catch one.

Night Time

After a fun day full of activities and experiences, we eagerly returned to our cabin to prepare for a restful night’s sleep. Unfortunately, a neighboring boat was hosting loud entertainment that seemed to go on endlessly into the night.

By 10 pm, we went to see our tour leader, Tung. He quickly moved us to a cabin on the opposite side of the ship, which was quieter. He said there was no need to transfer our belongings, so the transition was super quick and seamless. We were able to sleep well in the quiet room with the comfortable bedding.

We were lucky that the cruise was not operating at full capacity, which allowed us to switch rooms to avoid the noise. I hope they will have noise regulations in the bay. Until then, we will avoid cruises with loud entertainment on the deck that disturbs the tranquil ambiance of the bay. We will also bring earplugs next time just in case.

Morning Activities

Sun deck on Ginger cruise ship.
Sun deck on Ginger cruise ship

The first activity in the morning was a Tai Chi lesson on the sun deck which we skipped since it was too early for us. We woke up to a serene scenery from the balcony and then had a light breakfast with bread and coffee.

After that, Long went kayaking with some other family members and the tour leader. He said the water was very calm, and they could get closer to the limestones while kayaking. Moreover, the weather was nice, and since it was early, there were no other kayakers around them, making the experience even more special. They also saw some fishermen and oyster farms.

a kayak in Lan Ha Bay.

Some of us remained onboard and enjoyed the view. It was actually quite mesmerizing. I was skeptical about the cruise at first because we had visited Ha Long Bay a few times since I was small but never liked it much. It felt much different on an overnight cruise with far more impressive views, cozier atmosphere and better service.

limestone islands in Lan Ha Bay.
Limestone karst islands over water in Lan Ha Bay.

Brunch and Departure

At 9:30 am, we had a small brunch buffet with offerings like pho, cooked-to-order eggs, bacon, sausage, fried rice, noodles, cereals, and fruits. I wouldn’t say it was great, but there were sufficient choices for both kids and adults.

a bowl of chicken pho noodle soup on Ginger Lan Ha Bay cruise.

We disembarked Ginger at 10:40 am, and were transferred to the small boat and reached the welcome kiosk at 11 am. Everyone in the family had a great time, and we all felt like this was an experience we would gladly repeat.


This Lan Ha Bay cruise on Heritage Line’s Ginger ship exceeded my expectations with stunning views, an intimate atmosphere, and attentive service. It deserves the praise as one of the best luxury cruises in Lan Ha Bay and Ha Long Bay areas. All staff could speak English, and the tour leader was pretty fluent in English.

We enjoyed the scenery and most of the activities although one night still felt a little rushed. Next time, we will definitely try their 2-night itinerary which is held on Ylang ship.

In general, we totally recommend Heritage Line’s Lan Ha Bay cruises, especially if you are looking for a romantic getaway in Vietnam. Here are some additional travel tips:

  • The cruise has lower rates from May to September (you can check their rates and departures here). Our cruise was in July, and it was hot and humid but not unbearable. However, during the low season, if not enough rooms are booked, they may cancel the cruise.
  • On the second day of the cruise, a tip box was set up in the dining room, which was quite convenient as it allowed us to show our appreciation for the hardworking servers, chefs, and other crew members without wondering who to tip. In addition, we also tipped the tour leader separately, as he had been exceptionally helpful throughout the entire trip.
  • We didn’t have internet connection for most of the time on the cruise even though there was wifi on board. Our phones still had signals to make calls, but LTE and wifi didn’t work. Therefore, you may want to bring a book, an e-reader, or some board games (such as Sushi Go!, Uno, Azul). Here’s my list of what to pack for a cruise in Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay.

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