1. Overnight junk (vessel) or hotel?
When you travel you can stay in hotel anywhere, anytime and that is just so normal. If you want to have a unique travel experience in Halong Bay it worth spending a night aboard of an overnight vessel amongst thousands of islands and islets. Though the recently tragedy incident happened to an overnight vessel I still vote for it. The question now is how to minimize the risk.
2. How to choose a reliable overnight vessel?
Stick to popular names like Indochina Sails, Huong Hai Junk, Bai Tho Junk, Hai Long Junk,… there are many boat fleets recommended or not recommended on Trip Advisor by travelers. We all know that the big brand is likely a guarantee for the quality. In this case, it is so true. A wooden vessel of a big fleet after some year in operation would be sold to smaller fleet who is targeting at cheap services. These old wooden vessels are not reliable especially in bad weather.
When you book overnight vessel ask your travel consultant or reservation license of the vessel for doing its business. That can tell a lot how reliable your overnight vessel is.
3. What else a popular big vessel fleet can offer?
Their crew are better trained and more discipline. They concentrate on what they do better than crew of a small and unorganized fleet. The vessels are well maintained and safety equipments aboard are better equipped. There are many more things about quality and safety that a small and cheap fleet can not offer traveler since they just target at cheap services.
4. Already aboard, what you should concern?
There should be a hummer in your cabin which can be used to break the glass window in case of emergency. The hummer should be hang right on either sides of the window and you have locate it so you can have it when you need (hope not). If you do not find the hummer you should ask for one from the crew or you make something yourself for that purpose.
There should also be life-vest in your cabin. You have to be sure that you have them ready in case.
Scan the whole vessel for emergency escape way, fire extinguisher,… that would be useful in case of emergency.