Travelers looking to experience Vietnam by ship have, until now, been limited to two choices: Visit the country’s interior on an intimate voyage along the Mekong River, or cruise along the country’s coastline onboard a larger, less-personable vessel.
At Zegrahm, we’ve always seen the world a little differently. In fact, our very first cruise over 25 years ago was along Vietnam’s dramatic coastline; and we’re doing it again! Our upcoming Vietnam: Culture & Cuisine tour is aboard the 65-guest Coral Discoverer. With her fleet of Zodiacs, glass-bottom boat, relaxing sun deck with Jacuzzi, and all-outside cabins, this recently refurbished beauty is the perfect scout to lead our thousand-mile-long coastal odyssey between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Going small provides a distinctive perspective on must-see attractions such as mystical Halong Bay. While most larger ships spend a day cruising past its surreal limestone outcroppings, we’re able to go ashore and trek through bio-diverse Cat Ba National Park, visit the Cua Van floating village—the area’s largest—and spelunk through massive Tien Ong Cave.
Our focus on Vietnamese cuisine allows guests to see the UNESCO-designated royal city of Hue from behind a traditional fishing net—and then cook their catch during a private cooking class. In Da Nang, a top chef leads us through the colorful central market before a hands-on workshop at a local cooking school.
Cruising Vietnam’s coast aboard the Coral Discoverer also provides us the ability to explore seldom-visited sites such as the massive sand dunes at Van Phong Bay and Vinh Moc, the infamous demilitarized zone at the 17th parallel that separated North and South Vietnam for two decades. Making your way through labyrinthine tunnels used by the Viet Cong offers a contrasting viewpoint on the Vietnam War. You also will gain access to Qui Nhon, the oft-overlooked capital of Binh Dinh Province, where members of local hill tribes perform their distinctive form of martial arts that has been declared an “intangible treasure” by UNESCO.