The limestone karst-studded seascapes in the northern reaches of the Gulf of Tonkin have long been known for providing uplift through their beauty. And now visitors can embrace fresh visual splendour on the relatively uncharted waters of Lan Ha Bay, just south of Halong Bay, onboard Ambassador Signature, a new 39-berth vessel that made its maiden voyage in July.
The new one-night voyage features myriad alluring calling cards. There’s the destination for a kick-off. Lan Ha Bay’s 300-or-so karst islands and limestone outcrops are every bit as beautiful as Halong Bay. Although it retains all the majesty of its superstar neighbour, Lan Ha Bay sees a fraction of the traffic. The two seascapes are virtually interchangeable, but the lack of tourist boats gives Lan Ha Bay a more isolated appeal.
Featuring a splendid blend of Asian-Vietnamese design with French colonial accents, the ship launched on 21 July. The vessel is distinguished by an interior design that fuses high luxury with contemporary elements. And this marriage is to the fore in designer cabins in four different categories. These are Ambassador Balcony, Executive Ambassador Balcony, Ambassador Balcony Suite, and the Captain’s View Ambassador Suite. All cabins come with a private balcony and spacious bathroom. And the latter two categories, the highest on the vessel, have private terraces where guests can kick back and savour the incredible scenery in total seclusion. Cabins range from 28-35 sqm.
Elsewhere there’s a spa, a plush piano lounge, and an expansive sundeck; the largest of any cruise vessel on Lan Ha Bay. The surrounding natural beauty, best appreciated via the 360-degree views of the bay from the sundeck, is never anything less than stunning. An onboard spa encompasses a broad range of massage and other treatments. The piano lounge is the place to wind down after dinner, with live musical entertainment, fine wines and creative cocktails putting added swing into the sailing.
Ambassador Signature’s emphasis on fine cuisine, meanwhile, is sure to capture the imagination of gourmands. Galienne’s multi-course extravaganzas are one among many tantalising aspects of voyages on the new Ambassador Signature vessel. A strong focus on gastronomy is showcased via sumptuous evening menus curated by Michelin-starred chef David Gallienne. Divine dining is complemented by the melodies of a resident band who enhance the evening ambience. Normandy-born chef Gallienne, who trained at the Michelin-starred Manoir du Lys, earned his star at his Giverny restaurant Le Jardin des Plumes. He earned further recognition by winning season 11 of the TV show Top Chef. For dinners on Ambassador Signature, Gallienne has supervised menus that utilise premium ingredients and fuse Asian and French flavours and cooking techniques.
Ambassador Cruise was recently named a World TOP Heritage Gourmet Award winner by the International Business Federation in recognition of the cuisine on its Ambassador II vessel. And the culinary offerings on Ambassador Signature are destined to garner wider attention.
Enticing optional excursions, meanwhile, include a visit to Viet Hai, a traditional floating fishing village, and a tour through Light and Dark Cave by bamboo boat or kayak. The cave features impressive stalactites and leads to a peaceful lake surrounded by towering limestone cliffs.