It is not easy to plan a trip on a Halong Bay cruise with children.
When it comes to traveling with young kids, so many questions pop up that you might just want to give up and just stay home to avoid the hell of travel planning and researching.
This blog post will provide you with 3 major factors to take into account and help you with the planning, or at least make it a little easier.
Visiting Halong Bay is worth it, we promise!
Safety: The Highest Priority when Traveling on a Halong Bay Cruise with Kids
Yes, that’s right.
Do not think of anything else.
Not what room to stay in, which foods to eat, or which cave to visit, before making sure all the safety standards are met.
Although all (good quality) Halong Bay cruises provide safety equipment such as life jackets for their guests, sometimes they don’t carry them in small sizes for children.
It’s a good idea to inquire about this in advance, and if you want to be extra cautious, you can always bring your own.
The Halong Bay government is also publishing many policies to drastically improve the quality, as well as safety standards of all the cruises operating in Halong Bay.
However, the age old phrase “you get what you pay for” comes into play here. Neither I nor the Halong Bay government can verify the safety standards of the cheaper, low quality cruises. Caveat Emptor: let the buyer beware.
Best way to go?
Book a decent cruise with good reviews on Tripadvisor. I suggest Pelican Cruise, as it was founded by a former Navy officer. Safety should be prioritised over booking costs when it comes to your Halong Bay cruise with kids.
One more tiny thing:
Always keep your eyes on your children, and make sure they do not climb on the handrail, or on the railing of the boat. This is a problem that a lot of children try to get away with, and it can lead to some dramatic scares.
Comfort: a must for an overnight journey
Before getting on the boat, there is a ride from Hanoi to Halong which takes about 3.5 hours.
You might want to let the cruise line know that they should pick you up first so that your children can grab a comfortable seat. Happy kids are easier travelers.
Here’s a tip for the way back:
Also ask the driver to drop you off first to avoid heavy traffic in Hanoi.
And keep in mind:
In the middle of the ride, you will have a break and a visit to a souvenir shop, so it shouldn’t be a stressful ride at all.
Booking Rooms on a Halong Bay Cruise with Kids
After making sure about the safety, it is time to book your room.
If you’re traveling with a large family, including you and your partner, your parents and your kids, I would suggest you to take a private boat.
Although a private boat is quite small, the entire cruise is yours to enjoy. You won’t have to worry that your infant crying might disturb other people, and on a private boat, you and your children can stay in different cabins to allow them and yourself to have some private time.
However, if you are afraid that a private boat is too small and there is not enough space for your kids to play, you can book a double cabin or a twin cabin with a connecting door.
Here’s why that’s such a great option:
All cruises recommended on Travel Enzine offer cabins for families which can hold up to 4 people. Twin cabin with a connecting door offers more privacy, so that’s the best option in most cases.
If you are still confused, here is a complete guide showing you how to book a suitable family cruise.
Eating on the Cruise with Your Kids
Food also can affect your children’s comfort level.
If all members of your family can eat seafood, there is nothing to worry about. If your kids have an allergy or a dislike of certain foods, you may want to ask the cruise manager to prepare another menu for them.
The cruise will be happy to do that for your child, no complaints. Just notify them when you fill out the booking form.
Entertainment: All kids want to play
The big boats with sun decks are wonderful for kids, as they have enough spaces to play and explore.
How Long Should we Spend on the Halong Bay Cruise with Our Kids?
I would recommend a 3-day itinerary, because some 3-day 2-night cruises offer 1 night on the cruise ship and other night on Cat Ba Island, meaning that your kids have space to play.
That’s not even the best part:
On Cat Ba Island, you can take your children shopping, hiking, biking or even rock climbing. No chance that they will get bored just staying on a quiet and relaxing boat!
Besides that night on the island, what else can you expect?
You’ll have plenty of time to do a lot more exciting activities. You can visit more caves, have more time to kayak and swim and visit floating villages. You’ll even have the chance to try out some night time squid fishing under the supervision of the expert locals- what a fun experience for your kids!
But what are experts suggesting?
Ashley from “Hither & Thither”, a dedicated travel blogger and mom of Hudson and Skyler, aged 5 and 2, honestly said to me:
“I’m afraid I haven’t actually taken an overnight boat or cruise with the kids, so I’m not the best resource for this particular issue. That said, I’d probably say something about safety. I would ask if the railings are child-safe so that I can sight-see with a relative degree of comfort (versus holding one’s hand the entire time)”
Sharon from “Where’s Sharon”, a happy Mom with 3 children and a family travel blogger providing inspiring and useful blog posts said:
“When planning an overnight cruise with young kids there are a few things I consider. First and foremost is safety. I would not go on a boat where I was scared they could fall off. Second consideration is whether there are enough beds and space so that we are comfortable. Third is if the cruise is appropriate for young kids.”
I must agree with her because there are some cruises allowing their guests to party or sing karaoke all night long. Therefore, you should ask clearly if the cruise is family-friendly.
Shobha from “Just Go Places”, also a family travel blogger and a happy mom with a twin, told me:
“I would consider safety and comfort as the most important feature in any overnight cruise with children. As a mother, it goes without saying that safety is paramount. Moreover, if the children are comfortable, they are happy. Happy children make my life easier. In terms of entertainment, children will think the whole cruise experience is fascinating. Sleeping on a boat is a novel concept for many children.”
Katie from “LaJollaMom”, who loves mother-daughter trips, has a different thought:
“I would say entertainment. I would make sure that there were enough age-appropriate activities to keep her engaged and interested in the stops on the cruise. These activities also help her meet kids of a similar age which can be helpful for finding new friends to play with as she is an only child. Even though I haven’t yet traveled with my daughter on a cruise, but if I did I would make sure it was a river cruise on a reputable line with family-specific itineraries like Uniworld or Tauck. I would love to take her on a Christmas markets cruise in Europe.”
Paige from “All over the map travel”, also raised many valuable questions about safety on a Halong Bay cruise with kids:
“If you are traveling on a bay cruise with very young children, the very first concern has to be safety. Are there life jackets in child sizes? Are there railings and restraints to keep little wanderers from wandering overboard? If you are confident that the boat is safe, the next thing to look for is comfort. Will you have a comfortable place to sit for the duration of the trip? Will your children have things to do on board or will you have to entertain them? Is there a place for a child to nap in comfort? If you can feel confident that your children will be safe and entertained, then you can enjoy the trip yourself.”
And last but not least, Erin from “Travel with Bender”, a loud and proud Sanguine personality and a family travel expert, shared her thoughts:
“I am eager to see whether my door has a good lock so that the children can’t escape if they are awake before I am. Having kid-safe areas, like a place to eat without rails, an enclosed space, is always a plus, so that I don’t have to be on constant watch. But the most important factor in keeping children safe on board a cruise are the staff. Knowledgeable staff who know what to do in an emergency, who are kind and watchful of children and who genuinely like to interact with kids make a cruise that much safer.”
No matter what, safety is always the first things to consider when traveling on a Halong Bay cruise with kids, but a helping hand from the staff will also make the world of difference.
Are you planning a Halong Bay cruise with your kids? Get in touch with us for further advice, ideas, and bookings.