We stayed on the Valentine Premium boat - part of the Indochina Sails fleet - on 30th July 2017. We did the 2 day / 1 night cruise and it was absolutely wonderful. We were lucky enough to stay on the Valentine Premium boat which only has two cabins - perfect for our family of five (children aged 8, 10, 12).
The cabins are beautifully appointed and a very good size (compared to some of the bigger boats), each with its own en-suite bathroom room with jacuzzi bath. The baths have massive widows overlooking the bay which our children loved! Our guide was so lovely and very informative. We had the whole boat to ourselves which really made the trip to Halong Bay that extra special. We had considered going on one of the larger boats, but feel we made the right choice by going for a smaller boat with the ages of our children - we had privacy and they could make a lot of noise and not bother anyone!
Halong Bay is busy, but that does not detract from the beauty of the area. On our first afternoon we sailed to Titov Island which was extremely busy! We could swim there but the beach is very small and crowded and the sea is not as nice to swim in as it is other areas in Vietnam (there are loads of jelly fish!). However the short climb to the top of Titov island is fun and the views from the top are great. Perhaps it is less busy in the morning. On the second morning we got up early and went to Surprise Cave around 8am. This is really worth a visit, but do see if you can go early before the crowds descend on the cave. The cave is astonishing and being there with so few people made it all the more magical. Our guide from our boat went with us and she was very informative.
The food on the boat was generally very good and all the staff were extremely polite and helpful. The cocktails weren't too expensive and there was a happy hour which made them good value. The wine was reasonably priced for Asia. Even though it was not squid fishing season the children had a go at fishing at night time and we all had a lovely massage on board which was much needed after the long journey from London via Hanoi plus the 4 hour car transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay.
We were also very lucky with the weather - it is meant to be hot and rainy at that time of year in the north but we had glorious hazy sunshine for the whole trip and no rain.
I would highly recommend Indochina Sails based on our experience. They went out of their way to make our stay special and comfortable, and truly memorable.