Little late here, but we went to Halong Bay and the world needs to know!
Tyler and Nick met us in Vietnam which, after being gone for 4 months at this point, was the best thing to ever happen (not dramatic or exaggerated). We got to show them the best pho (Bat Dan St.), take them to get 25 cent beers on the side of the road (every street), and lead them to our favorite hangout spot on An Bang beach (Soul Kitchen).
We also did a 3-day tour of Halong Bay with Imperial Cruises. We booked it the day before when we were drunk and wandering around Hanoi's Old Quarter, because that's always a good idea. It turned out that it WAS a good idea because Halong Bay is a beauty, but if I were to do it again I would probably go straight to Cat Ba island without a tour group and do a day trip to Halong Bay. It's nice being on a tour because you don't have to think or plan anything yourself, but it also means you're eating the same meal 16 times in a row and stuck on a pretty desolate little area of Cat Ba in bungalows on night 2. Around 7:30 it got really dark and there's not really anything to do so we were like "why WOULDN'T we go pile in one bungalow and watch a documentary about scientology on the laptop right now?"
As for the cruise boat, we got insanely lucky with some clear, sunny days. Tyler got weirdly excited that it came with a disco ball and fake grass on the upper deck. It's the prettiest place on earth in the Bay (that's what we call it now, the Bay, because it sounds cool). It doesn't even look real. At times we would be cruising along talking amongst ourselves and then we would look around and realize where we were: HEAVEN.
^ Tour guide Alex, just being a boss. Alex would wear a button-up and slacks during the day when it's a million degrees and put on his party clothes at night time. He was very smooth with the ladays. He also loves shotgunning beers, which he learned from a group of Americans on a previous tour (obviously).