I agree with Pocket1, we got back from our cruise last week and was going to post my review and in the meantime I'm surprised at how this thread has taken a bit of turn. At no time were we pressured to put in this review but we had a fantastic time and felt that Xuan was a very genuine person. Very upfront, nothing in my correspondence with him before and on the day ever felt "dodgy" or like a scam. This is not the first independent tour we have done and there are always risks which you must consider before booking an independent tour. We felt very comfortable with Xuan. I'm sure there are other tour operators that are just as good and it depends on your experience. We had just the two of us and could customise our tour to suit, if we paid more for that then that is our problem and prerogative.
As for paying a deposit upfront I can't see any reason why this would be a problem. Xuan was upfront about this and also his refund policy - which we had no issues with.
Anyway here is my review.
We have returned home after our 19-day cruise from Sydney to Hong Kong. On our stop in Vietnam I had organised a day trip with Xuan based on his good reviews on this forum. Well I have to say he did not disappoint. We had a fantastic day with Xuan showing us around. It was just myself and DH so he met is outside the port gates (private tour operators as not allowed into the port) and was easy to spot, with a driver and a late model air-conditioned car before we headed off to Saigon. We then had a great day seeing places you don’t also get to see on the big bus ship tours. We then left the city with plenty of time to get back to the port.
Xuan is a lovely young man with a passion to show his country to travellers, he was very easy to deal with – all over email - and discussed what we wanted to do with his recommendations. I booked this tour well in advance as he does book up quickly. If you have one day in Vietnam then I would definitely recommend using Xuan. If you are worried about getting back to the ship on time due to Saigon being 90 minutes away, I would say don’t worry as Xuan was very conscious of the time and we where back by about 4.15 for a 5.30 all aboard. I can’t pick one highlight as the whole day was fantastic. Xuan also took lots of photos and videos during the day which he then sent through to our phones. The trishaw ride was also a highlight just to experience the traffic!!!