Tour Review: Ambassador Cruise Halong Bay Cruise in Viet Nam

First class service, dining, and staterooms elevate this Halong Bay cruise company above its competitors.

view of Ambassador Cruise ship on Halong Bay in Vietnam, with upper decks visible
(Photo: Kyle McCarthy)

I joined an Ambassador Cruise Halong Bay tour to explore the remarkable karst formations eroded over millennia by the rising and receding emerald waters. The warm, calm Halong Bay off the Gulf of Tonkin is northern Vietnam’s best-known scenic attraction. It became famous after earning a UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1992 for its unusual geologic formations. Travelers from around the world now explore this vast bay hidden among mist-shrouded mountains on day or overnight excursions. 

EXPERT GUIDANCE: 15 Best Companies for Guided Tours

Ambassador Cruise Halong Bay tours operates two sleek, five-star cruise vessels plying Halong Bay on one, two or three-day itineraries. Larger than many competitors, Ambassador I and Ambassador II provide an upscale experience with a variety of amenities families will appreciate. There’s no need to worry about seasickness on these very stable ships. Guests with disabilities have an elevator to access the three decks. And the fun glass bridge jutting 20 feet over the water is the perfect selfie location for a di Caprio “Titanic” moment. 

Things to Know About the Ambassador Cruise Halong Bay Tour

view of small boat on Halong Bay from the vantage point of Ambassador Cruise ship
Spending a night or two on the cruise ship gave me the chance to experience Halong Bay in its quieter moments (Photo: Kyle McCarthy)
  • Ambassador Cruise makes Halong Bay excursions of any length easy by providing comfortable minibus transport from your Hanoi hotel directly to the company’s offices in Ha Long. They may have last-minute day trip or overnight options available to fit your travel schedule.
  • Day cruise rates include a guided exploration of the bay, buffet lunch, onboard insurance, tax and service charges, sightseeing fees, and afternoon tea on the sundeck. Overnight cruises feature an early morning coffee and pastry bar, hearty breakfast and lunch buffets. Elegant dinners of gourmet seafood, and Asian and Continental cuisine are served a la carte. Excursions by tender, admission fees, and onboard activities are all included.
  • The 105 guests on my Ambassador Cruise I overnight trip ranged from infants to grandparents, and while onboard I noticed many multigenerational families. About a third of the guests were couples and honeymooners. The gregarious crowd was mostly from Singapore, Australia, India, and Europe. 
  • The numerous karst formations and limestone pillars jutting from the bay are a visual feast and very photogenic. I’d recommend packing extra batteries and SD cards for photos.
  • The Ambassador Cruise Halong Bay itineraries include a stop at some of the hidden grottoes and illuminated caves. After seeing so many verdant islets, discovering the majestic Sun Sat Cave was a big surprise. 

Important Details to Know About Ambassador Cruise Halong Bay Cruises

Although the water is generally very calm, weather does impact the cruise experience on Halong Bay. Vietnam’s hot rainy season runs May to October, but the sporadic daily rain is heaviest in the south, so it has less impact on Halong Bay in the north. The dry season, which stretches from November to April, is usually more pleasant, but there is still sometimes rain. Temperatures can cool down to the 60s Fahrenheit, so I’d recommend packing a light jacket. And keep in mind that inclement weather at any time of year may force the ship to skip certain shore excursions. 

FLEXIBLE ITINERARIES: 4 Great Tour Companies with Independent Tours

Having been on this cruise, I should warn you that travelers are often dismayed by the floating garbage that’s worst when heavy rains flush trash from fishing villages and the hundreds of ships on the water into Halong Bay. Single use plastics are prohibited within the park but remain a constant challenge. Conservation signage aboard the ship and touring this beautiful park are a constant reminder of how fragile our planet is.

Routes Notes 

Day-trippers sail by several hidden caves and the fishermen’s huts in the Cua Van Floating Village. You have the option to disembark at Titov Island (Ti Top in Vietnamese) to climb up to a small temple for stunning bay views. Families may prefer to relax, swim, or play games at the sand beach next to the pier. 

Overnight cruises call on the floating Tung Sau Pearl Farm, where you can learn how pearls are raised, buy jewelry, or take two-person kayaks out on the bay. The following day, explore the hidden Sun Sat Cave on Bo Hon Island before breakfast. Tenders have a life jacket at every seat. Chilled washcloths and ginger tea with lemongrass greet passengers as they reboard the ship.

Activities Onboard Ship

Nighttime squid fishing aboard the Ambassador Cruise on Halong Bay
Nighttime squid fishing is an evening activity on multi-day Halong Bay cruises (Photo: Kyle McCarthy)

A daily schedule of events and shore excursions can be found in each cabin. Depending on the length of your cruise, there will be one or two daily excursions. It was nice having some different options each day to choose from.

Many passengers prefer to just sightsee while taking afternoon tea on the two large sundecks with very comfortable couches and daybeds. Others choose to soak in the large jacuzzi and look out over the passing karst obelisks. 

ALL-DAY COMFORT: How to Choose the Best Walking Shoes for Travel

At sunset, Happy Hour is celebrated with half price beverages and music on the top deck. On my sailing, I noticed that many passengers opted for the fine dining option onboard, because this cruise line is known for its cuisine. After supper, there’s live music at the indoor piano bar.

Onboard activities may include a Vietnamese cuisine cooking class, Tai Chi lessons, and squid fishing after dark from the stern. And here’s a tip: You can ask the Cruise Director to arrange access to the bridge—it’s a real treat for passengers of all ages to see this cruise ship’s electronics lining the control room.


view of Ambassador Cruise Halong Bay seafood lunch from above
The lunchtime seafood buffet focuses on local specialties (Photo: Kyle McCarthy)

Ambassador is the company that notably debuted in 2018 with a Halong Bay dinner cruise prepared by Michelin chef John Burton-Race. The company’s continued attention to gastronomy promises delicious, healthy and varied cuisine—all included in rates. The friendly staff ask about and respect allergies, religious restrictions, and vegetarian food preferences. 

Early morning, coffee, tea, and pastries are available in the Piano Lounge. Later, a lavish breakfast buffet features Western and Asian foods, ranging from congee rice porridge to steamed buns, omelets, and fresh pastries. 

The luncheon seafood buffet may include crispy prawn, grilled oysters, squid salad, and green mussels in the Vietnamese style, plus more continental fare. The a la carte dinner of Asian-influenced European fare is a bit more formal. Couples, for example, may request the romantic, elegantly upholstered booths. High quality wine, cocktails, and beverages are available for a fee.

State Room Accommodations

Cabin classes range in size from deluxe to suites, but all are comfortable and come with floor-to-ceiling picture windows and balconies. Thoughtful touches include an in-room coffee and tea setup, bathrobes, slippers, a workspace, bottled water, and toiletries. Each cabin also has a flatscreen TV.

Cruise Ratings

Ambassador Cruise Halong Bay Cruises are highly rated. Tripadvisor gives the Ambassador Cruise Halong Bay tour 5/5 stars and rates them #1 of 242 Halong Bay activities. gives the company an 8.7 out of 10 rating. Expedia users give Ambassador Cruises a 10 out of 10.

Best for/Worst for 

Ambassador Cruise Halong Bay Cruises’ excellent service and attention to detail make them feel luxurious. I’d recommend staying at least one night to get the full experience. Passengers with disabilities can access the entire ship because it has elevators, but may have trouble with the tenders and shore excursions. Young children will need constant supervision on the expansive decks. School-age children and older will get the most from the scenery and active adventures in nature. 

Price and Booking

Ambassador Day Cruise II is priced from US$92 per person. The Ambassador Halong Bay Cruise I starts at US$326 for two adults overnight in a double room with children’s rates from $80 depending on age. Two-night cruises begin at US$432. There are a variety of Ambassador Cruise packages available, some including a Hanoi hotel room for one pre- or post-cruise night, onboard spa treatments, or a heli-flightseeing tour at sea.

Book Ambassador Halong Bay Cruises departures on Viator,, Tripadvisor, Expedia, or on For questions, email the company at or call +84 1900 3045 from within Vietnam.

More from TourScoop:

Kyle McCarthy is the co-founder of Family Travel Forum. She is also the author of a dozen Frommer’s guidebooks, and contributes to US News, CNN, and other publications.