How We Became Models on a Vietnamese Cruise Ship

Nick and I moved to Vietnam earlier this year and immediately joined every Facebook expat group we could find in the hopes of making some new friends. As much as we’ve loved hanging out just the two of us 24 hours/day, 7 days/week for the past 3 years… it was time.

So I was scrolling through my females-only Vietnam expat group appropriately titled “fexpats” and a post caught my eye. A woman was looking for a model couple to pose for a new cruise ship in Lan Ha Bay in northern Vietnam. In exchange for our time, we would be provided with free onboard accommodation, food and beverages, and adventures in the bay. The only requirements for the job were “above 30 years old” and “positive”.

It didn’t involve making new friends but it DID involve free food and drinks which is right up my alley. So I sent the Heritage Line an email with some of my most “positive” looking photos and after a morning coffee meeting, we got word that the job was ours!

Enjoying the Pool on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam

As it turns out, modeling is much more difficult than I originally anticipated. I’m not used to having to brush my hair every day, apply “subtle” makeup, pick out coordinating outfits, wake up for sunrise, and maintain good posture while making sure my belly is sucked in tight. Plus Nick ran out of jokes pretty quickly so smiling and pretend laughing with each other got harder and harder by the hour.

But as it turns out, the amazing photographers managed to make us look relatively decent and not nearly as awkward as we felt. Check out a few of our favorite shots from the thousands of photos that were taken over those 7 days at sea on the Ylang cruise ship. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links so if you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we might earn a small commission (but don’t worry, it’s no extra cost to you). This helps us keep this site running and we are deeply grateful for your support!


The Wandering Wheatleys Become Vietnam’s Next Top Models

Enjoying Coffee on Deck on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam

The Ylang Cruise Ship

We ended up spending 7 days and 6 nights onboard the luxurious Ylang by Heritage Line. While we spent most of our days fake smiling at each other for photos, we were able to enjoy some of the amenities.

The ship has a spacious restaurant and bar where you can get snacks and drinks anytime and where the beautiful multi-course meals are served daily. The pool and lounge chairs on the top deck were perfect for afternoon sunbathing. And the library was stocked with books and games to keep us entertained.

I was particularly disappointed to learn that massage photoshoots don’t involve any actual massaging but luckily Heritage Line added a few spa treatments to our model agreements. Otherwise, I would’ve had to con Nick into massaging my feet which never seems to go over very well.

Getting a Massage at the Spa on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam
Getting a Massage at the Spa on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam

Our Master Suite

Our suite onboard the Ylang cruise ship was incredible! It might have been even bigger than our apartment in Saigon. We had a large sitting area, a huge bathroom complete with a clawfoot tub, and a bedroom with the most comfortable king-sized bed. Plus we had our own private balcony with a jacuzzi tub!

We actually felt like big-shot professional models getting to stay in such luxurious accommodations!

Sunset and champagne on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam
Champagne on our Patio on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam


Meals and Drinks on Board

Cocktails at the Bar on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam

We got to enjoy 3 delicious meals onboard every day where no one took photos of us so we could stuff our faces with food and spill all over ourselves if we wanted.

But when it came to shooting food, it was another story altogether. We had a “romantic sunset dinner” at 6:00am on our private patio and breakfast shoots that took so long all of the food and coffee got too cold to enjoy. We’d look longingly at the food and yummy cocktails but not actually indulge for fear of ruining the presentation.

At least we managed to appear to be totally enjoying our romantic dates on the ship!

Cocktails on Deck on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam
Cocktails at the Bar on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam
Breakfast on Deck on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam

Daily Activities

Kayaking Excursion on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam

We spent a lot of time shooting photos around the cruise ship and lounging in the pool, and we also got to enjoy a few other activities around Lan Ha Bay. We biked around the villages, kayaked beneath the limestone cliffs, and found a little secluded beach.

It is remarkable that these photos turned out as good as they did, considering that we are unbelievably uncoordinated at both biking and kayaking.

Biking Excursion on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam
Biking Excursion on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam
Kayaking Excursion on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam


The Award For the Worst Pose Goes To…

Me, pretending like I have any clue how to do Tai Chi.

Tai Chi on Deck on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam

The Photographers

The amazing photographers for the photoshoot were Simon Toffanello and Bunsak But. Both are living in Cambodia and work with clients all over SE Asia. They were masters at their craft – setting up the perfect angle, getting the lighting just right, and making sure Nick and I didn’t feel like complete idiots.

You can check out more of Simon’s work here: https://www.simontoffanello.com/


Visit Halong Bay or Lan Ha Bay

Kayaking Excursion on the Ylang Cruise Ship Through Heritage Cruise Lines in Lan Ha Bay Vietnam

Want to plan your own trip to Halong Bay or the neighboring less touristy Lan Ha Bay during your trip to Vietnam? We’ve written comprehensive guides to both – enjoy!

Thanks for checking out our modeling shots around Lan Ha Bay! If you need to middle-aged, relatively unfit, and generic-looking models for your next project, you know who to call!


Planning a trip to Vietnam? Check out our favorite travel guides and resources!

Got questions or comments? Let us know below...