Halong Emeraude Classic Cruises

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Halong Emeraude Classic Cruises

Included

  • Welcome Drink
  • Cruise Itinerary and Program
  • Shuttle bus Hanoi – Halong – Hanoi (within Hanoi Old Quarter).
  • Entrance and Sightseeing Fees
  • In-house English-speaking Tour Guide
  • Luxury Vietnamese and International Lunch and Dinner (Set Menu)
  • Vietnamese and International Breakfast

Excluded

  • Airfares Transfers.
  • Visa Arrangements
  • Massage Services (please see massage menu in cabin)
  • Kayaking
  • Beverages, Tips and Personal Expenses
  • All other services not clearly mentioned above
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  • Halong Emeraude Classic Cruises
  • Halong Emeraude Classic Cruises
  • Halong Emeraude Classic Cruises
  • Halong Emeraude Classic Cruises
  • Halong Emeraude Classic Cruises
  • Halong Emeraude Classic Cruises
  • Halong Emeraude Classic Cruises
  • Halong Emeraude Classic Cruises

Stepping onto the Emeraude is as transporting as time travel. And the vessel's history is as captivating as a fine old yarn.

The Postcard

In 1999, a young French entrepreneur Eric Merlin was rummaging in the St. Ouen flea market in Paris, looking - as was his habit - for anything old with links to Vietnam and Indochina. On this day, he found three postcards, dated 1916, 1917 and 1919. Two pictured paddle steamers in Halong Bay.  A third showed a steamer at port in nearby Haiphong. A magnifying glass revealed the name of one of the vessels, the "Emeraude".

For some time, the cards lay in Eric's desk in Paris. From time to time, he took them out and showed them to friends.  He dreamed of finding the old vessels.  Later, as those prospects dimmed, a new dream took sail. He'd rebuild one of the old paddle steamers. The vision was far more than mere homage.  He planned to launch the boat on Halong Bay. The realisation would conjure, not just a much missed means of transport, but a lost era of glamour, romance and discovery.

Despite excellent connections and an impressive track record at a successful Vietnam-based travel company, Exotissimo, he found himself unable to attract investors.  No matter. In January 2003, with postcards as the only guide, he commissioned boat builders to bring back the Emeraude.

The Search

While the boat took shape in a shipyard, Eric began a quest for more information. The search spanned continents and featured a number of false trails.  Briefly, he believed the boats had sailed between England and France as mail boats, a theory promoted by information on an Australian stamp club website. The British Maritime Museum dispelled that story. 

Meanwhile counterparts in Paris came up with another picture that matched his paddle steamer postcards, and Eric pressed on. When he learned that many of Indochina's historical documents ended up in an archive in Aix en Provence in the South of France, he hired a school teacher to carry on the search.

Soon, the information was coming in thick and fast.  The Emeraude was part of a fleet managed by the barge and towing company SACRIC (Société Anonyme de Chalandage et Temorquage de l'Indo-Chine).  Its owner was a Monsieur Paul Roque. Instinctively, Eric knew the Roque family was his best bet for information.

Working from Vietnam he found a French Telephone Directory containing 1,220 Roques.  He drafted a letter to send to every one of them. He told them of his flea market find and enclosed a photocopy of the postcards. He outlined the information found to date and asked, 'Are you the Roques we're looking for?'

His staff in Vietnam helped put the letters in envelopes and address them all with stickers.  He then carried the 10kg box back to France and stamped them in a small sleepy village where he was staying on holiday.  The tiny post office had never seen so much mail.

And then the calls came.  Maddeningly, the first twenty or so were of no help at all.  They'd called to say yes, Roque was their name, what a lovely story. But they weren't the Roques he was looking for. 

One couple said they'd recently visited Vietnam on holiday if that helped.  It didn't.

And then the call he was waiting for finally came.

"Look no further," the voice said.  "I am the grandson of Paul Roque."

Excited, Eric travelled to Paris as soon as he could.

And there, right in the middle of the sizeable Roque family apartment, was a large antique model of The Emeraude. Eric could hardly believe it.

That wasn't all. Among the many mementoes of a bygone colonial era was the original china from the boats. Silverware too. There was even a 100-year-old staff uniform.

The Roque Brothers

Paul Roque, who launched the Emeraude, was the second generation of his family in Indochina. Initially, there had been three adventuring brothers - Victor, Xavier and Henry - who embarked from Bordeaux in 1858. 

After a stop in Manila, they moved onto Hong Kong where they established themselves as suppliers to the French Army.  When the troops of Admiral Rigault de Genouilly took Saigon, they followed in 1860. Against this historic backdrop their empire grew. Sugar, opium, timber, public works, steamships. The list was long. 

Now rich and famous, they were targeted by Chinese pirates.  In 1890, the notorious Luu Ky and his men kidnapped and tortured two of the brothers. Paying the ransom meant selling off many of their assets and Victor, by this time 61, left for home near-bankrupt and in poor health.

Henry assumed control but was soon joined by Paul, son of Xavier. They scaled their business back to concentrate on the North and, in particular, Haiphong and Halong Bay.

There they had the idea to build a small fleet of five "paddle wheeler" ships that would double as cargo and cruise vessels. They'd be called - the Rubis, the Perle, the Saphir, the Onyx and the Emeraude.

Though down on their luck, the Roques invested heavily in the boats. They came to the conclusion, as Eric did almost a century later, that there was a market for a little luxury on Halong Bay. 

So they ensured the boats had electric lights.  They installed ventilation and refrigeration. They included darkrooms for the many photographers who were inspired by the scenery.  And the Emeraude set sail.

Paul Roque returned to Paris in 1921, the last of his family to leave Asia after more than six decades.  The Emeraude steamed on. Years later, on the evening of March 16, 1937, as the Emeraude was returning to Haiphong, it collided with a submerged rock.  The collision ripped a large hole in the shell of the vessel and it quickly sank.

Incredibly, according to the police report, all those aboard were saved. However, the Emeraude was never recovered. Following their defeat at the decisive battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the French finally left Vietnam and SACRIC folded.  Paul Roque died in 1966. The French colonial era was over, and the Emeraude was at the bottom of the sea. 

Renaissance

Eric's Emeraude was built locally in Haiphong to international standards but very much in keeping with the original design. In December 2003, the namesake of the glorious old vessel set sail. While the original was split between cargo and cruisers the new Emeraude is exclusively a leisure vessel.  The paddle wheel at the back echoes the design of the original but isn't used for propulsion. Instead it opens up to provide a swimming deck for passengers.

From its launch and for most of the next ten years, the Emeruade cruised the bay under the able hand of a French captain who’d been guiding vessels on Vietnamese waters since the early 1970s. But all things must change, and the French captain gave way, in 2012, to the able hands of a captain who grew up on Halong Bay, Nguyen Van Quan.

Likewise, Eric Merlin’s story with the Emeraude came to a sort of close in 2014 when Openasia assumed ownership of the vessel. But the experience of cruising Halong Bay is not likely to change much, at least not on the Emeraude.

Day 1:

12:00 - 12:15pm: Register/Check-in at Emeraude Café (Halong Bay)

12:15 - 12:30pm: Embarkation

12:30 - 12:35pm: Captain Raises Anchor

12:35 - 14:30pm: Cruising Halong Bay

12:45 - 14:00pm: Vietnamese Buffet Lunch

14:00 - 15:00pm: Free & Easy

15:00 - 16:00pm: Guided Shore Excursion to Sung Sot Grotto 

16:00 - 16:30pm: Crepe Station on Sundeck and cruising to Pearl farm

16:30 - 17:30pm: Kayaking* or Swimming at Pearl farm

18:00 - 18:30pm: Vietnamese Fresh Spring Roll Cooking Class(Sundeck)

18:30 - 19:00pm: Complimentary Canapes on Sundeck

19:00 - 21:00pm: European dinner buffet served (Dress Code: Smart)

21:00 - 22:00pm: Bills Settlement (Optional)

20:00 - 22:00pm: Squid Fishing (Seasonal)

20:30 - 23:00pm: Silver Screen "Indochine"

Day 2:

06:00 - 07:00am: Coffee, Tea, Cookies and Muffins Served on the Sundeck (Complimentary)

06:30 - 07:00am: Learn ancient art of Tai Chi on Sundeck

07:00 - 08:00am: (Summer Program) Swimming and Kayaking at Ho Dong Tien Area

07:00 - 07:30am: (Winter Program) Cruise to Luon Cave

07:30 - 08:00am: (Winter Program) Bamboo Boat Ride inside Luon Cave

08:30 - 10:00am: Energizing Full Breakfast Served

08:00 - 10:30am: Cruising Bai Tu Long Bay through Ba Hai and Hang Ma Islands

08:00 - 09:00am:Leave Luggage Outside of Cabins

10:30 - 11:00am: Disembarkation

11:00 - 11:15am: Drop Off Point – Emeraude Café

 

Note:

Single Supplement Surcharge:

- 90 USD for 2 Days 1 Night Itinerary.

- 180 USD for 3 Days 2 Night Itinerary

- Surcharge USD/ Person for check-in on Lunar new year, Christmas’s Eve, New year’s Eve.

- Times of activities may vary slightly. Itinerary and Program subject to change when necessary or in bad weather conditions

- Advanced reservation is required with full passenger details, including Full Name, Date of Birth, Nationality, Passport Number, Visa Expiry Date etc.

- A valid passport is required upon check-in onboard.

- What to bring: Swimsuit, sun glasses, insect repellent.

- Special requests on food (diet or vegetarian) please inform us before departure.

Day 1:

12:00 12:15pm: Register/Check-in at Emeraude Café 

12:15 12:30pm Embarkation

12:30 12:35pm: Captain Raises Anchor

12:35 14:30pm:  Cruising Halong Bay

12:45 14:00pm:  Vietnamese Buffet Lunch

14:00 15:00pm:  Free & Easy

15:00 16:00pm:  Guided Shore Excursion to Sung Sot Grotto

16:00  16:30pm:  Crepe Station on Sundeck and Cruising to Pearl farm

16:30 17:30pm:  Kayaking* or Swimming at Pearl farm

18:00 18:30pm: Vietnamese Fresh Spring Roll Cooking Class (Sundeck) 

18:30 19:00pm:  Complimentary Canapes on the Sundeck 

19:00 21:00pm:  European Dinner Buffet Served (Dress Code: Smart) 

21:00 22:00pm:  Bills Settlement (Optional) 

20:00 22:00pm: Squid Fishing (Seasonal) 

20:30 23:00pm:  Silver Screen "INDOCHINE”

Day 2:

06:00 07:00am: Coffee, Tea, Cookies and Muffins Served on the Sundeck (Complimentary) 

06:30 07:00am: Learn ancient art of Tai Chi on Sundeck 

07:15 07:45am: Meet Asia Outdoors' guide at breakfast 

07:30 09:15am: Transfer to traditional junk (minimum 6 persons and above) and cruise through 

Lan Ha Bay 

07:45 09:15am: Transfer to speed boat (maximum 5 persons and below) and cruise through Lan 

Ha Bay 

09:15 09:45am: Transfer to traditional junk at Ben Beo Harbor on Cat Ba Island 

10:00 12:15pm: Discover arches, rock formations and secluded beaches via kayak 

12:30 13:15pm: Enjoy freshly prepared traditional Vietnamese lunch and transfer to the 

secluded Moody's Beach afterwards

13:15 16:00pm: Rock Climbing on Moody Beach 

15:00 17:00pm: Transfer to traditional junk and cruise through Lan Ha Bay to rejoin the 

Emeraude (minimum 6 persons and above) 

16:00 16:45pm: Transfer to speed boat and cruise through Lan Ha Bay to rejoin the Emeraude 

(maximum 5 persons and below) 

17:00 18:00pm: Kayaking or Swimming at Pearl farm 

18:00 18:30pm: Vietnamese Fresh Spring Roll Cooking Class (Sundeck) 

18:30 19:00pm:  Complimentary Canapes on the Sundeck

19:00 21:00pm:  European Dinner Buffet Served (Dress Code: Smart) 

21:00 22:00pm:  Bills Settlement (Optional) 

20:00 22:00pm: Squid Fishing (Seasonal) 

20:30 23:00pm:  Silver Screen "INDOCHINE”

Day 3:

06:00 07:30am: Coffee, Tea, Cookies and Muffins Served on the Sundeck (Complimentary) 

06:30 07:00am:  Learn ancient art of Tai Chi on Sundeck 

07:00 08:00am:  (Summer Program) Swimming and Kayaking* at Ho Dong Tien Area 

07:00 07:30am:  (Winter Program) Cruise to Luon Cave 

07:30 08:00am:  (Winter Program) Bamboo Boat Ride inside Luon Cave 

08:30 10:00am: Energizing Full Breakfast Served 

08:00 10:30am: Cruising Bai Tu Long Bay through Ba Hai and Hang Ma Islands 

08:00 09:00am:  Leave Luggage Outside of Cabins 

09:30 10:00am: Check-Out 

10:30 11:00am:  Disembarkation 

11:00 11:15am:  Drop Off Point – Emeraude Café

 

Note:

Single Supplement Surcharge:

- 90 USD for 2 Days 1 Night Itinerary.

- 180 USD for 3 Days 2 Night Itinerary

- Surcharge USD/ Person for check-in on Lunar new year, Christmas’s Eve, New year’s Eve.

- Times of activities may vary slightly. Itinerary and Program subject to change when necessary or in bad weather conditions

- Advanced reservation is required with full passenger details, including Full Name, Date of Birth, Nationality, Passport Number, Visa Expiry Date etc.

- A valid passport is required upon check-in onboard.

- What to bring: Swimsuit, sun glasses, insect repellent.

- Special requests on food (diet or vegetarian) please inform us before departure.

 

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