PHOTOS: BHAYA GROUP
FOLLOWING AN INTENSIVE TWO-MONTH renovation programme, Halong Bay cruise operator Bhaya Group has revealed an impressive new upscale design for its two luxury level vessels, collectively known as The Au Co. The complete redesign of the ships’ combined 64 cabins is complemented by a host of revamped onboard facilities, including an inviting new reception area, indulgent spa, stylish restaurant, cocktail bar, a classic library and a private onboard cinema for guests. The elegant boats are fully equipped to take travellers on continuous three-day, two-night cruises encompassing activities such as mountain biking on Cat Ba Island and luxury dinners in Virgin Cave. Previously, The Au Co was able to visit the more remote parts of Halong Bay for one-day excursions. “Every year the twin ships undergo refurbishment that lasts at least a month, but after four years in operation, we were looking to offer our passengers something different – an onboard experience that captures both traditional Vietnamese and modern luxury styles,” says Bhaya Group Managing Director Ly Thuy Huynh Nhu. Along with a scheduled annual maintenance for all onboard safety equipment to ensure the highest safety standards, the latest upgrades focus on exclusive relaxation and entertainment for passengers. Special touches include the addition of a second bar on the sun deck and the remodelling of the Jacuzzi areas. Prior to the refurbishments, French balconies and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors were signature features of the vessels, and these extravagant colonial touches remain. The luxurious aspect of the passenger cabins is accentuated further with the addition of plush new curtains and fine, multiple-thread count bed linen. Beyond aesthetics, complete passenger comfort is a major priority to the redesign of the boats, with key adjustments made such as relocating the exhaust pipe from the top to the rear of the vessel to minimise engine noise. Along with all the physical enhancements, guests will also be immersed in Vietnamese culture while on board The Au Co, with morning Tai Chi sessions, traditional dance performances in the evening and an emphasis on traditional Vietnamese cuisine.
“This year, for the first time, we have put the focus of the renovation on completely re-inventing the cruise experience for our guests,” adds Ly Thuy Huynh Nhu. “The boats will further strengthen Bhaya Cruises as the leading luxury provider on the waters of Halong Bay.”