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Lux Cruises: Vietnam’s First Boutique Cruise Line Named World’s Best by World Cruise Awards

Lux Cruises: Vietnam’s First Boutique Cruise Line Named World’s Best by World Cruise Awards

Vietnam’s first boutique cruise line, part of the Lux Cruises group, draws inspiration from the maritime legacy of Bạch Thái Bưởi, the king of Vietnamese shipping. Named Heritage Bình Chuẩn, the cruise line was launched in 2019, 100 years after the original Bình Chuẩn steamship, with the motto “Bring heritage alive.” After five years of operation, the Heritage Bình Chuẩn has been honored with the title of World’s Best Boutique Cruise Line 2024 by the World Cruise Awards, the Oscars of the travel and cruise industry.

Reviving Heritage with the Name Bình Chuẩn

Bình Chuẩn, a name symbolizing equality and development, has been associated with the Vietnamese spirit for three centuries. In the 19th century, reformer Đặng Huy Trứ founded the Bình Chuẩn Trading Company to promote economic and commercial development, combining Western techniques with national values. In the 20th century, Bạch Thái Bưởi launched the Bình Chuẩn steamship, the largest in Vietnam at the time, embodying entrepreneurial spirit and national independence. A century later, the Heritage Bình Chuẩn cruise ship continues this legacy, reviving the spirit and precious heritage of Vietnam in modern tourism.

The Heritage Bình Chuẩn offers a distinctive style that brings the past to life, especially celebrating Vietnam’s history, heritage, culture, art, and cuisine from the early 20th century. It is also the first cruise ship in Vietnam to feature unique Indochine architecture on its journeys to explore Cát Bà Island and Hạ Long Bay.

The most special aspect of the cruise is the feeling of reliving memories. The Heritage Bình Chuẩn was created with inspiration from the legendary Bình Chuẩn steamship of entrepreneur Bạch Thái Bưởi – Vietnam’s largest ship in September 1919, entirely designed, built, and successfully operated by Vietnamese people from Hải Phòng to Sài Gòn on September 17, 1920.

Phạm Hà, Chairman of Lux Cruises Group (the owner of the cruise), proudly shared, “We named the cruise ship Heritage Bình Chuẩn, after the illustrious ship of ‘king of ships‘ Bạch Thái Bưởi. We hope that when Vietnamese people see the name, it will evoke a proud historical memory of the first ‘made in Vietnam’ ship in our history. For tourists, the cruise will impress with rich cultural images and the Vietnamese spirit.”

Elevating Heritage

Guests can relive early 20th-century memories on the cruise. Interestingly, the name Bình Chuẩn was given to the cruise ship by Bạch Quế Hương, a descendant of Bạch Thái Bưởi. She named it while following Phạm Hà’s passionate journey to emulate Bạch Thái Bưởi, promoting entrepreneurial spirit and honoring Vietnamese values.

The Heritage Bình Chuẩn cruise ship, inspired by Bạch Thái Bưởi’s story, was launched exactly 100 years after the original Bình Chuẩn ship (1919-2019). With permission from the Bạch family, Phạm Hà created Vietnam’s largest bronze statue to honor Bạch Thái Bưởi (1874-1932), placed prominently on the Heritage Bình Chuẩn cruise. The importance of integrity in business is also emphasized by Phạm Hà to create impressive tourism products for Vietnam.

Heritage Bình Chuẩn carries the mission: “A ship that brings heritage alive, allowing guests to explore and dream about natural heritage,” as historian Dương Trung Quốc described.

The cozy space of the Heritage Bình Chuẩn cruise is filled with historical and cultural heritage stories from photographs, paintings, architecture, musical instruments, and cuisine reflecting Northern Vietnam’s culture combined with European service styles to elevate Vietnamese dishes. These elements ensure that both domestic and international guests will remember the Bình Chuẩn cruise for its unique and distinct culture, as noted by historian Dương Trung Quốc.

Bạch Thái Bưởi (1874 – 1932) was a famous entrepreneur who inspired generations of Vietnamese in the early 20th century. Born into a poor family, he rose to become one of the four wealthiest individuals in Vietnam. He was a patriotic businessman advocating for “Vietnamese people using Vietnamese goods” and “Vietnamese people traveling on Vietnamese ships.

Bạch Thái Bưởi always used nationalism as a guiding principle for his business, helping the poor and aspiring to “awaken the national spirit” following Phan Chu Trinh’s philosophy. He also created a dictionary and a newspaper for Vietnamese people as part of the Đông Du movement. In the early 20th-century commercial competition, Bạch Thái Bưởi defeated French and Chinese capitalists, making significant national progress with the spirit of “Vietnamese helping Vietnamese” and “Vietnamese traveling on Vietnamese ships.” He owned three ships named (Dragon)
Phi Long, Phoenix (Phi Phượng), and Fai Tsi Long (Bái Tử Long) and expanded his fleet to 30 vessels, operating 17 routes, transporting 1.5 million passengers and over 150,000 tons of cargo annually, greatly benefiting the Vietnamese people of that era.

Heritage Bình Chuẩn is a cultural touchpoint of culinary, musical, architectural, fashion, and artistic heritage. It is the first boutique-style cruise to bring national essence, with fine dining at Le Tonkin highlighting Northern cuisine. Guests connect with culture by wearing áo dài for dinner in candlelight, appropriate lighting, and traditional music. Using chopsticks made from Cát Bà forest wood, each dish tells a story with local ingredients.

Phở, a world-renowned dish, rich in French-Vietnamese influence, is introduced on the cruise by Nam Định native Bùi Thị Nhàn, who shares her unique recipe with Heritage Bình Chuẩn. In the morning, guests practice Vovinam, a traditional Vietnamese martial art, which many practice for health and to maintain tradition. Each room provides traditional martial arts attire, allowing guests to connect with heritage.

Every corner tells a story. Each of the 100 original paintings by artist Phạm Lực depicts heritage through imagery. Every vintage postcard on the cruise opens a window to the people, landscapes, traditions, costumes, and lifestyle of the 1930s, connecting us to the past and valuing heritage. Each heritage traveler is encouraged to explore, dream, learn, appreciate, honor, and enjoy. Lux Cruises has revived and narrated cultural heritage on the Heritage Bình Chuẩn for guests to discover the new world natural heritage of the Cát Bà Archipelago and Hạ Long Bay.

Dr. Phạm Hà, chairman of Lux Cruises, stated, “I am very proud to receive the tourism industry’s Oscar nomination for Lux Cruises, coinciding with our 10th anniversary and five years of reviving Vietnamese heritage with Heritage Bình Chuẩn, continuing the legacy and dream of made-in-Vietnam cruises reaching the global stage. Artistic cruises – where aesthetics meet shipbuilding technology and architectural science. We are confident in developing tourist ships and cruises on Vietnam’s most beautiful rivers and bays. In 2025, we will launch a new 300-seat cruise in the seas of Nha Trang, Phú Quốc, and the Sài Gòn River, Lan Hạ Bay. Lux Cruises’ greatest mission is to conquer the rivers and coastal areas of Vietnam, bringing domestic and international travellers to explore Vietnam’s rich heritage.”

“Inspired by the legacy of the Vietnamese King of Cruise Ships, Bạch Thái Bưởi, in the early 20th century, our vision for 2045 is to possess a fleet of 30 yachts and cruises. Our goal is to launch expeditions in the Gulf of Tonkin and broaden our presence between Hanoi Capital and Halong Bay, along the Red River and its tributaries, along Vietnam’s coastline, on the Mekong River, and into other Asian countries”.

Although there is no strict definition of a boutique cruise, they share several common features. Here are the top ten features of Lux Cruises’ boutique cruises: Size, Personality, Design, Character, Culture, Service, Cuisine, Customers, Sense of Place, and Authenticity and Uniqueness of Experience. The World Cruise Awards has nominated Heritage Bình Chuẩn as the world’s best boutique cruise for the 2024 season. Vote for Lux Cruises and the Heritage Bình Chuẩn at:

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