Saturday 15 January 2011

Emeraude Classic Cruises Adds Soft Adventure in Halong Bay

Emeraude Classic Cruises is introducing a three-day/two-night soft adventure itinerary in Vietnam’s Halong Bay. The Emeraude's new soft adventure options run from rock-climbing to butterfly trekking on Cat Ba Island. In between, there’s middle ground in kayaking.

"Halong Bay is so much more compelling when it's not a passive experience," said Kurt Walter, group general manager of Apple Tree Group Hospitality. "Yes, it’s one of the most magnificent seascapes you've ever seen, but when you get out into it, with a paddle in your hands, or your hands on the grit of these limestone karsts, then you've just gained a whole new dimension of experience."

The new program is managed by Slo Pony Adventures, a Vietnam-based travel company run by Onslo Carrington and Erik Ferjentsik, two American-trained outdoor enthusiasts. Participants can book the soft adventure of their choice independently, or as part of a group effort.

For rock climbers, Slo Pony is cultivating 20 different venues around the bay, including the Polish Pillar, a karst that exemplifies the bay's limestone formations. Most climbing for beginners and intermediates takes place at Moody's Beach, where a two-faced crag is laced with easy-to-moderate routes. On Cat Ba Island, Slo Pony leads trekkers through Butterfly Valley in the National Park. Here the experience is less predictable but serendipitous with waterfalls, exotic wildlife and views. On the bay itself, Slo Pony's kayak guides steer Emeraude passengers to deserted beaches and in and out of myriad lagoons.

Halong Bay assumed a prominent spot on the world stage in 1994 after UNESCO inscribed its 1,600 islands and islets on the World Heritage List. As one of 28 finalists in the New7Wonders of Nature, the bay itself is now in the running for a spot as one of the select seven. At present, Halong Bay ranks fifth in the voting for this designation. Launched in 2003, the Emeraude is a near-replica of the stern wheeler that plied these same waters between 1906 and its wreck in 1937. The modern vessel accommodates 74 passengers in 12 superior cabins, 22 deluxe cabins and three suites.

Emeraude Classic Cruises is owned and operated by The Apple Tree Group, a French-owned, Ho Chi Minh City-based company with interests in tourism and hospitality, real estate and construction and import and distribution all over Southeast Asia. Its hospitality properties also include La Residence Hotel & Spa in Hue and the Press Club in Hanoi, as well as the Kamu Lodge on the Mekong River near Luang Prabang, the Villa Maly, a boutique hotel in Luang Prabang and the Nava Mekong, a dinner cruise on the Mekong.

For more information, call 011 84 4 3 934 0888, email or visit

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