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Columbus Cruises and Halong Bay

  • Rohan

    Joined Travelfish
    16th June, 2009
    Posts: 63

    I have read a lot of good things about Columbus Cruises for a Halong Bay cruise on this site. They have 3 boats. The Santa Maria is much pricier than the other 2, but the Pinta Gold is only a bit more than the Pinta Cruise.

    Does anyone know the difference between the Pinta Cruise and the Pinta Gold?

    #1 Posted: 17/6/2009 - 18:11

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  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Rohan

    The Pinta goes for only 2 days (1 night) and has good food.

    The Pinta Gold goes for either 2 days (1 night) or 3 days and 2 nights (same journey, but). The food is better.

    If you can afford, the 3 day is great. The boat travels back to Halong City harbour each day. While it makes the trip, you get to go off on excursions on another boat. My wife & I did a 3 day and went for lunch in a secluded bay on the mid (2nd) day, and we just has the BEST time.

    Go check out our blog on this:

    www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/brucemoon/

    It's the Vietnam - Cambodia one.

    Cheers

    #2 Posted: 18/6/2009 - 06:50

  • Rohan

    Joined Travelfish
    16th June, 2009
    Posts: 63

    Bruce

    Thanks for the blog link. Sounds like a great trip. From what you say, I assume that it was the Pinta Gold? However, the website says they both have the 3 day option. I think they are just different boats.

    Not sure who deals with this, but there seems to be a problem with the "posted from within Vietnam" bit. I think it is a great idea, but it is on my first post and I am posting from Sydney.

    #3 Posted: 18/6/2009 - 07:24

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    rohan

    My understanding of the 'posted in Vietnam' thingy is that Travelfish get heaps of spam from touts in Vietnam posing as newbies, etc. Apparently, the 'posted in Vietnam' is a signal to those contributing here to think twice when considering to reply. In other words, it helps by not giving air to the shonky's.

    Cheers

    #4 Posted: 18/6/2009 - 07:38

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Rohan

    Sorry, I was to add another paragraph and I hit the wrong button.. Oh well!!

    I agree with you that posting from Sydney ought not get the red flag. I've alerted SomTam to look at this, hopefully, he'll provide us with an explanation as to how you are already in Vietnam :) (I'll be interested as I'd like to be there too.

    Cheers

    #5 Posted: 18/6/2009 - 07:51

  • somtam2000

    admin
    Click here to learn more about somtam2000
    Joined Travelfish
    21st January, 2004
    Location Indonesia
    Posts: 7046
    Total reviews: 24
    Places visited:
    At least 113

    The flag was a false +ve and that IP range has been removed from the list we check against. Apols for the mistake - the list obviously isn't perfect.

    #6 Posted: 18/6/2009 - 09:02

  • rebeccafarr-
    ent

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd May, 2009
    Posts: 37

    Hi Moon, thanks a lot for your useful suggestions and the link. We're heading out to Halong Bay in a couple of days. So excited!

    Cheers

    #7 Posted: 24/6/2009 - 11:19

  • muzza

    Joined Travelfish
    30th June, 2009
    Posts: 13

    rohan
    Thanks to Bruce and his blog I have booked the 3 day Pinta Gold cruise, be aware that if booking from Aus and paying deposit it will go from Aus banks to a US bank who will extact $25us for the transaction.
    Not a biggy just have to cover the diff on arrival.
    This cruise looks so much better than the old converted fishing boats that plyed these waters on my last visit in the early 90s. A bit pricey but what the h.

    #8 Posted: 30/6/2009 - 14:12

  • rebeccafarr-
    ent

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd May, 2009
    Posts: 37

    Thank you for your info. We wired the deposit through Western Union and got Columbus' notification of receipt 2 days later. No extraction at all.

    Rebecca

    #9 Posted: 1/7/2009 - 09:49

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Muzza

    As Somtam has indicated in th 'Money' section, banks in general, and Australian banks in particular, appear to be adept in finding ways to 'hit' you for all sorts of charges.

    The devious find ways to avoid the fees, but sometimes I wonder whether the effort to find the ways is 'costlier' in time than the impact of the fees.

    Cheers

    #10 Posted: 1/7/2009 - 12:18

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  • rebeccafarr-
    ent

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd May, 2009
    Posts: 37

    Hi all,

    My husband and I just came back from Vietnam and want to share with you all when it's still fresh in mind.

    We were booked one night aboard the Pinta Gold for the day after we arrived in Hanoi and enjoyed it to the bits. The boat was well kept and very clean. We got a room on the first deck (205 I think) which was big enough and we managed fine with 2 full backpacks.

    The seafood was excellent, tastefully presented and plentiful. The service staff were friendly, well groomed and couldn't be better.

    We will post our review soon.

    Many thanks again for all recommendations/suggestions we were given while planning out trip.

    Rebecca

    #11 Posted: 5/8/2009 - 11:11

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Thanks Rebecca

    All those contributing here feel better when recommendations succeed.

    How was the weather?

    Cheers

    #12 Posted: 5/8/2009 - 12:57

  • rebeccafarr-
    ent

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd May, 2009
    Posts: 37

    Hi Moon,

    The sun shone all the way from Hanoi to Halong bay and during the time when we were there. Bloody hot indeed.

    Rebecca

    #13 Posted: 6/8/2009 - 09:37

  • CoCo09

    Joined Travelfish
    16th September, 2009
    Posts: 13

    Hi

    Sounds promising so Rebecca, I will probably book this trip for the 3 days/2 nights. I will book it over there in Hanoi, is there anywhere in particular i should book this trip? or should i book it from my hotel/hostel i stay in there.

    Also is it only seafood they serve on the boat?

    Thanks
    Co.

    #14 Posted: 16/9/2009 - 23:16

  • rebeccafarr-
    ent

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd May, 2009
    Posts: 37

    Hi,

    We'd booked the trip before we went so as to have more time while we were there and honestly we didn't like wandering around and possibly getting nowhere.

    We filled in the online booking form at http://www.columbuscruise.com and came to their office in Hanoi at 36 Hang Bac street to pay the balance of the tour cost.

    Best of luck

    Rebecca

    #15 Posted: 18/9/2009 - 13:38

  • CoCo09

    Joined Travelfish
    16th September, 2009
    Posts: 13

    Hi Rebecca,

    Can I ask, did you agree a price with them before you went over to Vietnam? On their site it says it will cost $229 to book over there or $209 to prebook. A little bit more than what i thought it was going to be, but from all the reports it is one of the best to choose.

    Thanks
    Co.

    #16 Posted: 21/9/2009 - 21:36

  • CoCo09

    Joined Travelfish
    16th September, 2009
    Posts: 13

    Hi again..

    I have another question, I have read that people have brought their own drink on board theis cruise. Is this correct?

    If so did the crew not mind people drinking their own beer at dinner etc?

    Cheers

    #17 Posted: 23/9/2009 - 02:32

  • rebeccafarr-
    ent

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd May, 2009
    Posts: 37

    Cocoo,

    Sure, we'd negotiated the price before we decided to confirm and deposit for a place on the boat. Paid 99$ each for one night. From what I knew, those who booked for 2 nights paid 209$. Perhaps the price of 229$ applies to one other program.

    Regarding drinks, my hubby brought a bottle of wine aboard the boat and they charged no corkage at all.

    Cheers

    Rebecca

    #18 Posted: 23/9/2009 - 12:04

  • CoCo09

    Joined Travelfish
    16th September, 2009
    Posts: 13

    Hi Rebecca,

    I am in the process of boooking the cruise and read above you said you got confirmation 2 days later after transferring the money through Western Union. I presume this was email confirmation ye? I think this is the way I will pay the deposit.

    Thanks

    #19 Posted: 24/9/2009 - 15:16

  • rebeccafarr-
    ent

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd May, 2009
    Posts: 37

    Cocoo,

    Yes, I got their confirmation by email just a couple days after I'd sent the money. Honestly, I found it to be much safer than doing a bank transfer or filling out some forms they sent.

    Rebecca

    #20 Posted: 25/9/2009 - 16:13

  • sanpedro

    Joined Travelfish
    29th September, 2009
    Posts: 10

    I have paid a deposit to Columbus Cruise for 1 night on pinta gold via Western Union. Did other people get a confirmation email on paying the deposit and how long did it take?

    #21 Posted: 1/11/2009 - 04:54

  • Rohan

    Joined Travelfish
    16th June, 2009
    Posts: 63

    I am also waiting for some form of confirmation after paying Columbus Cruises a deposit via Western Union. I have sent them another email asking for confirmation, but still heard nothing.

    Has anyone else had any experience of this? Did it present a problem down the track?

    #22 Posted: 1/11/2009 - 06:42

  • CoCo09

    Joined Travelfish
    16th September, 2009
    Posts: 13

    Hey,

    Ye this is normal, for some reason they are very slow about confirming your deposit. It will come though so dont worry.

    #23 Posted: 2/11/2009 - 15:52

  • Rohan

    Joined Travelfish
    16th June, 2009
    Posts: 63

    After not receiving a response from the sales email address, I sent an email to the info address on the website. I have now received my confirmation. The email talks about a problem with their email - don't know what to make of that, but I am now confirmed.

    #24 Posted: 2/11/2009 - 16:00

  • tomasmerzig-
    er

    Joined Travelfish
    17th November, 2009
    Posts: 1

    well, columbus travel got some troubles, they need to fix their issues then it causes late reply:

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g293924-d1097405-r48021759-Halong_Bay-Hanoi.html
    http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g293924-d1097405-r49226952-Halong_Bay-Hanoi.html
    http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g293924-d1520520-r49222650-Columbus_Cruise_Company-Hanoi.html

    Hope it help

    #25 Posted: 17/11/2009 - 01:20

  • sanpedro

    Joined Travelfish
    29th September, 2009
    Posts: 10

    Just to follow up on my previous post Columbus did end up replying after a few email requests.

    #26 Posted: 18/11/2009 - 17:26

  • xquisitecor-
    pse

    Joined Travelfish
    17th October, 2009
    Posts: 14

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    please do read trip advisor and do a search here before u choose columbus as we had problems with them - would not book with them again. Our entire tour group never got on the pinta gold and columbus hav had to refund us some money.

    #27 Posted: 23/11/2009 - 18:50

  • xquisitecor-
    pse

    Joined Travelfish
    17th October, 2009
    Posts: 14

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    please do read trip advisor and do a search here before u choose columbus as we had problems with them - would not book with them again. Our entire tour group never got on the pinta gold and columbus hav had to refund us some money.

    #28 Posted: 23/11/2009 - 18:51

  • saso

    Joined Travelfish
    6th October, 2009
    Posts: 10

    hey,

    me and my girlfriend took the tour with columbus travel - it was a 2d/1n tour for $95 each.

    we decided for this company based on the good reviews they got here and on other forums. we had a good time, but the tour itself was quite "average" - nothing to rave about.

    we were onboard pinta cruiser. the cabins were ok. we didn't like that the bed inside a cabin was not a double bed but were 2 single beds put together. the other problem was that the toilet was really stinking - not a big problem since we spend most of the outside, but was not so nice going to sleep in the night in our "smelly" cabin.

    the guide didn't really speak english very good - he spoke basic english only.

    the boat itself didn't seem to be in a good shape at all - the floor on the upper deck was really quite damaged with pieces of wood lying around. it definitely didn't look like on the pictures on their web site or in the brochure that they use in their office.

    the food was quite tasty and nice. the drinks were expensive - $5 for a small glass of wine is really too much in my opinion.

    nevertheless we had a good time - the scenery was really amazing. we visited a cave, did cayaking and swimming. the highlight of the trip was just lying on the top floor on the boat at looking at the stars and the bay in complete tranquility...

    there were some people that actually booked (a night before!) a 3d/2n tour on pinta gold for $220 each but they were transferred on our boat and nobody really knew or explained to them what was going on. there seemed to be a problem with the other boat, so they were taken to a hotel on cat ba for an overnight stay (originally they should spend the night on the boat). they were promised some refund but i don't know how that situation was solved at the end...

    to sum up our experince: we had a good time but i think columbus travel is overrated... there are a lot of travel agents in hanoi offering cheaper tours and judging to what i saw at the port in halong city the boats are quite simular to each other... the pinta isn't really well maintained. my opinion is that there's no need to book in advance, i recommend simply coming to hanoi and booking a tour from your hotel/guesthouse.

    #29 Posted: 5/12/2009 - 22:17

  • smash

    Joined Travelfish
    21st June, 2009
    Posts: 162

    bugger. i've got a deposit on a booking for March... hope they get their acts together!

    #30 Posted: 7/12/2009 - 06:41

  • silversnapp-
    er

    Joined Travelfish
    5th December, 2009
    Posts: 24

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    We're visiting Hanoi and wanted to cruise in Halong Bay. We heard about this place from friends, who have tried the Pinta Gold and said they were extremely satisfied with the service. We're about to book with this boat but after reading your posts we'll consider other options.

    #31 Posted: 7/12/2009 - 09:18

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2083
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Pinta Gold are absolutely fine (in spite of recent problems). Refer to my post in this forum somewhere about 2 days ago. (Do a search on 'Halong Bay'. They're pricey, but I thought it was very good for a 'luxury' type option.

    (Can't comment about Pinta, of course. I am referring to Pinta Gold)

    #32 Posted: 7/12/2009 - 17:29

  • silversnapp-
    er

    Joined Travelfish
    5th December, 2009
    Posts: 24

    We took your advise as well as our friends' recommendation so we're booked with Columbus.

    #33 Posted: 8/12/2009 - 08:39

  • wangben77

    Joined Travelfish
    8th December, 2009
    Posts: 1

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    We were in the first day in Hanoi . Before that, I saw a review on the Columbus wrote by Sato that " i think Columbus has been over and the tour guide do not speak English very good, so I was very nervous. But from the first minute arrived to the airport, our anxious feeling has disappeared, instead I felt completely assured of their services. Our guide, Mr. Hai is very professional and warm, we were taken to the hotel for a rest and we had a great night market walking in the old Quater. The atmosphere there was noisy, crowded people but fun.My family has kids, so I thought it would be very inconvenient, but our guide helped me to care kids, I feel great likee home.Acient Hanoi streets are really strange with houses there closed together, some high some low. The flows of motorbikes were running bustle, Ha noi is really messy, but it is a lovely mess. Also, weather in Hanoi today is very cool, only between 20-26 degrees C, my family completely comfortable to travel in this time. I will write a review soon after coming back Hanoi.Wait for me, ok.
    Cheers,
    Ben

    #34 Posted: 8/12/2009 - 16:20

  • bristol

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd December, 2009
    Posts: 13

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    I am now thinking about choosing Pinta Gold 3 days 2 nites on January 4 for the good recent reviews...http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/vietnam/500_some-real-questions-about-halong-bay
    http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/vietnam/8822_bye-vietnam--thanks-
    Any views???

    #35 Posted: 28/12/2009 - 10:27

  • silversnapp-
    er

    Joined Travelfish
    5th December, 2009
    Posts: 24

    Bristol, go with it. We've just got there and never regret it.

    #36 Posted: 30/12/2009 - 11:09

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