Bhaya Cruises offers a fleet of new vessels with a direct link to Vietnamese imperial history. A true traveler of his time, the Vietnamese Emperor Khai Dinh (1885-1925) defied the custom of taking thousands of courtiers on a royal trip. In 1917 he took just twelve of his most trusted advisers on a very exceptional trip to Halong Bay. His vessel was one of the most wonderful wooden junks to have sailed the waters of Halong Bay. Inspired by the romantic landscape of the limestone karst islands rising out of the emerald-green waters, Khai Dinh commissioned a poem in praise of the Bay’s beauty to be carved on the cliff of Dau Go Cave.
The tale of the Emperor's trip and the opulent vessel he chose circulated quickly among the ship builders of the region. Each succeeding generation of shipbuilders dreamed of duplicating Khai Dinh’s wonderful vessel, yet nearly 100 years passed before an 80-year-old master shipbuilder, Nguyen Van Hoa, turned the dream into reality.
Master Hoa was born into a highly respected family of ship builders in Quang Ninh Province. From early childhood, his father had filled his mind with stories of this magical Imperial vessel that none could replicate. At the same time, under the expert tutelage of his father, Hoa developed into one of the most gifted marine architects of his generation. Night after sleepless night, he studied ancient drawings and scripts describing Vietnamese wooden vessels and junks. During the day he devised blueprints for all types of vessels that could sail across all sorts of ocean waters.
Still, Hoa’s life seemed incomplete. He was always searching for that dream vessel – the one that would set his work apart from those of the other shipbuilders of his time. One day, among thousands of ancient sketches and drawings, he discovered a fragment of the lost blueprint for Khai Dinh’s matchless vessel. Working slowly and carefully, he managed to restore the drawing to its original state. At last, the incomparable vessel that had transported Khai Dinh and his courtiers lived again on paper. Now, all that was left was to find the support to build the vessel and transform the dream of a lifetime into reality.
In January of 2005, a chance meeting took place in Halong between Antoine Bertrand, a gifted young French architect from Montpellier, his colleague, Anne Drousie, who wanted to build a luxury boat in the style of the ancient Vietnamese junks, and Master Hoa. At last, more than 80 years after Khai Dinh had set sail, all of the ingredients were in place to finally recreate this magnificent vessel.
Fiercely determined, the French architects and Vietnamese master shipbuilder toiled for two long years in the heat of the shipyard. Finally, in July 2007, the first Bhaya Classic was launched – a perfect blend of the experience and talent of the master shipbuilder's craft and the youthful creativity of the Frenchman and his friend.
The embodiment of an ancient Halong dream, the Bhaya vessels are a flawless combination of traditional Vietnamese aesthetic delicacy and western luxury and comfort. Sailing in the midst of the wonder and natural beauty that distinguishes Halong Bay, the Bhaya vessels play a considerable role in the embellishment and protection of this glorious World Heritage Site!