HALONG BAY, Vietnam (19 Nov. 2012) — The Emeraude’s annual rite of passage through northern Vietnam’s dry-docks concluded recently and the cruising vessel emerged with more deluxe bathrooms and completely refreshed cabins.
The new bathrooms feature rain shower heads, new sinks, repositioned toilets and an aesthetic makeover that trades in the old school nautical feel for softer mosaics. New wallpaper adorns the cabin walls; new mattresses cover the bedsteads; and new linens drape the mattresses.
“Usually in dry-dock, we’re working behind the scenes, on things like bow thrusters and navigation technology,” said Kurt Walter, group general manager of Apple Tree Group Hospitality. “No one ever sees that. But this, everyone will see and see a difference.”
Most years, the Emeraude spends three-to-four weeks in dry-dock. This year, the vessel whiled five weeks in a Halong Bay shipyard as shipbuilders cut sheet metal, rerouted piping and moved doorways.
At relaunch, 14 of the vessel’s 22 deluxe cabins sported the new look. The other cabins will be made over as Emeraude Classic Cruises steers toward its 10th season on Halong Bay, beginning next month.
The boat was launched in late 2003 after a storied genesis that was recently detailed in a podcast with the boat’s owner, Eric Merlin. For years, the white, steel-hulled vessel cruised the bay like a great white beacon amid a sea of traditional wooden-hulled, red-ribbed sails.
But a recent decree by the Halong Bay tourist authorities called for all tourist boats in the bay to be painted white, ending the Emeraude’s monopoly on the color.
In addition to the refurbished bathrooms, the Emeraude’s tenure in dry-dock resulted in a number of behind-the-scenes moves:
• Nearly three-quarters of the vessel’s piping has been replaced, including fresh water, chiller and sewage lines.
• 16-square meters of 7mm steel plates have been replaced on the hull.
• The propellor shaft was removed and realigned.
• The hull was refitted with dozens of sacrificial anodes as a hedge against corrosion.