Oh, how we wanted to take a cruise on Ha Long Bay! We studied websites, avidly read recommendations, and considered prices before we dipped into out travel “slush fund” and booked a package deal through Hotel Serene in Hanoi.
After four wonderful nights at the Hotel Serene, we packed a very small bag to carry on our overnight cruise and left our suitcases with the hotel for safekeeping. The Indochina Junk van arrived 30 minutes early, and we raced to get ready and pay our hotel bill. As we left the hotel, the tour person called back to the receptionist, “We’ll be back tomorrow.”
The tender puttered 18 of us out to the junk, Dragon’s Pearl I, our “home” for the night. We were shown to our cabin –perfect.
The ship engines started up. Now, we were cruising into Ha Long Bay, when our tour guide, “Joe,” welcomed us graciously to the Dragon’s Pearl I. We sat at tables on the foredeck looking out to the bay. He stood at the bow, looking back at us.
He explained the itinerary for our 3-day cruise. WHAT! We looked at each other, restraining an impulse to panic. We were supposed to be on an overnight trip! How did we get on the wrong boat? We only packed for one night. What about the cost? What do we do now? Breathe deeply. Think.
We said nothing. We looked out at the beautiful Bay and the karst rock formations. We composed ourselves. Well, nothing could be changed now.
However the mix-up happened, all would be revealed when the trip was over (when we could check our reservation packed away in our suitcase back at the hotel). Until then, we smiled at the thought of an extra day and night on the lovely Dragon’s Pearl I; we just decided to have a really wonderful time!
FAST FORWARD TWO DAYS LATER: As soon as we arrived back in Hanoi after our stellar cruise, we opened our computer. A confirmation email for the cruise would reveal who made the mistake. The good news: we HAD paid for the 2-night cruise, and it was correctly recorded on our itinerary. The bad news: every once in a while we lose track of an arrangement.
With so many arrangements made over the course of our 22-month trip (9 months in the U.S. and 14 months around-the-world) slip ups will happen. This one worked out well!