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Sail Date: May 2013
Our 5 night cruise down the Yangtze River on the Viking Emerald was a core highlight of the 12 day Viking Imperial Jewels of China tour. Suffice to say that the cruise exceeded all of our expectations, as did the entire tour overall. The ... Read More
Our 5 night cruise down the Yangtze River on the Viking Emerald was a core highlight of the 12 day Viking Imperial Jewels of China tour. Suffice to say that the cruise exceeded all of our expectations, as did the entire tour overall. The Viking service was fantastic, led by our tour guide, Paul Liang, who set a very high standard for the rest of the Viking staff to follow. On board the ship, we were delighted by the exceptional service and cheerful friendliness of the entire crew. The food was of course very good, with many opportunities to sample the local cuisine. Cabins were a generous size, with balconies standard for all. Morning Tai Chi lessons on the sun deck with Master Tom every morning were a special treat for us early birds. The spectacular scenery of the Three Gorges region, with a particularly enjoyable excursion up the Lesser Three Gorges of the Daning River, proved to be a memorable backdrop for a great many enthusiastic photographers. As well, our close encounters with the local population, especially during our visit to a Viking sponsored elementary school, gave us all a new appreciation for the hospitality and openness of the Chinese people. Our program director, Daniel, did an excellent job of providing both informative and often humorous presentations on the history and culture of the region. Overall, easily 5 stars plus, with a strong recommendation to anyone who has not yet had the pleasure of visiting this great and ancient country to try the Viking Emerald and the Imperial Jewels of China. In one word, stupendous! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
This trip was a 50th anniversary gift to ourselves and our second Viking River Cruise. We knew from our prior one not to expect the ocean cruising experience of imitation Vegas shows, dress up night, bingo, dancing and spas. We came to see ... Read More
This trip was a 50th anniversary gift to ourselves and our second Viking River Cruise. We knew from our prior one not to expect the ocean cruising experience of imitation Vegas shows, dress up night, bingo, dancing and spas. We came to see and experience as much of China as we could see in 2 weeks. There are some highly detailed reports here, so I will just provide a summary. The passengers are divided into smaller groups with your own guide for the whole trip and there are local guides at each stop. They were all wonderful, with interesting, humorous commentary and surprisingly open comments about what China is like for its citizens now. We thought the hotels (2 Westins and a Ritz Carlton in Shanghai) were more modern and fancy than we expected. You hit all the highpoints: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Terra Cotta Army, pandas galore, the Three Gorges Dam and scenic cruising in the Three Gorges region. We thought the ship was comfortable if not luxurious, the food very good and the staff friendly and helpful. The fellow passengers were well traveled, informed and interesting. Everything, including transfers to and from the airport, moving from hotel to ship, etc. was super organized. We went in the spring and had nice weather which is probably better than trying this trip in the summer. As for the negatives, there is a lot of walking, stair climbing and keeping up with the group. It's probably not a great idea if you're not physically fit, although a woman in her 80s did fine with wheelchair assist at times. At times the trip felt a little like the TV show the Amazing Race and could probably use some more downtime. We also got pretty tired of Chinese cooking, but, of course, we were in China.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
We have just returned from the Apr. 4th Imperial Jewels in China. Wow. Before any other comments count - had hotels, food, sites all been awful, one element would have made it memorable anyway. Jin. He was our tour escort. He ... Read More
We have just returned from the Apr. 4th Imperial Jewels in China. Wow. Before any other comments count - had hotels, food, sites all been awful, one element would have made it memorable anyway. Jin. He was our tour escort. He endeared himself to us all. He not only had us laughing so often, always had our backs and filled our needs, seamlessly orchestrated all trip elements, but ALSO gave a 4 credit graduate course in the politics, history and economic development of China. Amazing. I actually feel truly sad each time I see his big full-faced squinting eyed smile in my mind's eye, when I realize I'll probably never see him again. He was the trip. Once beyond that, the highlights included a fabulous Ritz Carton in Beijing. Chef Nathan Brown made everyone so at ease and welcome with his constant presence in the lobby and dining room. The food and rooms were simply exceptional - along with the service of the restaurant wait staff. Top notch. The breakfasts and one buffet dinner were more than 5 star! Total treat. Also the trip sites (Wow, thanks Viking for the amazing 11 of 12 days of blue clear skies - we lucked out!!) were just as amazing as one might expect of China. The Great Wall, the Forbidden City - all the nationals visiting during grave sweeping - and being so sweet toward 'foreigners' - amazing. The Sacred Walk - OK, something minor after lunch. We didn't have a great Summer Palace tour - cold, crowded, and we didn't see a lot of it, not sure why. Then, the rickshaw, home visit, tea ceremony - all fantastic, especially with Jin's support. The 3 inter China flights were all on time and very nice, all airports clean and well run. Lunch boxes were always adequate, the Ritz one terrific, the next 2 OK, but good effort and decent. The Hilton in Xi'an was nice, totally comfortable. The Tang Dynasty Show was a winner, food and entertainment. The Warriors don't need our plaudits. Amazing, and local guide, Yale, was terrific. The time on the Emerald was perfect, beginning to end. The staff is above anything I can think of to say - every wait staff, room attendant - everyone was so sweet and there to make us happy. wow. The food was terrific. The ship is lovely, our cabin, 430, very nice. We loved the gorges, locks, learning to play Mahjong with Jin, carving vegetables, eating 1,000 yr old eggs Winking smile emoticon. The on-board tailor staff is incredible. Table service with Stan was incredible also. Also Debbie in the 5th deck lounge. It was all white glove service. The Chef is a keeper. Keep him. The school visit was my highlight - as a teacher I was delighted. Good for you for your sponsorship. Wonderful for me and my students to interact through postcards I brought and pictures I took away. Wuhan bells - beyond amazing. Shanghai Ritz is very nice, just more impersonal, with high service fees in their lounge, etc. Chef Brown in Beijing told us Stephen at Shanghai did a top - notch job - we'd say Chef Brown doesn't realize he and the Beijing RC is a cut above. The Acrobatic show, with Chinese family style dinner before were both just great! The few downsides were the jade factory and silk rug factory. The Jade factory had a really nice lunch. But prices are high for shopping - a too-rare chance on the trip. The silk rug factory was a major disappointment for us - we were so looking forward to the silk factory with the silk-pulling and shopping. It's a shame it was switched out from when we booked till we went, for the carpet site. The Mongolian BBQ is OK, but not worth loosing the silk factory. There are not enough chances to shop without being in a 'factory'. The one hour allotted at the end in Shanghai by the Gardens is NOT enough. We actually found the same objects at the airport upon leaving CHEAPER than the factory places we were taken to for 'lunches'. Ah, the BIG downside - Peking Duck dinner. I haven't read one review on Cruise Critic, or talked to one friend who's taken the trip from back to 2007 who's enjoyed the dinner. You can't mass produce Peking Duck. Why not offer suggestions and help in making local reservations for those who'd like them. The Opera separated and with some subtitles appears to be doing better. Also, the dinner for those who didn't go to Peking Duck was also 'yuk'. How about group Hot Pot? Heck, your Pecking Duck price per person is higher than Da Dong - and they provide a half duck for every 2 persons. Some of your guests got only one pancake with a slim slice of duck. Totally a bad choice. Luckily, we'd read enough on Cruise Critic to avoid that. We'd also read enough to learn about Black Sesame Kitchen in Beijing, which we visited for dinner on our own our first night in China. A full review of our night there is posted on Tripadvisor.com One thing that did surprise us and MANY - was the statement on website, etc. that wine and beer were available on all lunches and dinners, - only to find out it was ONLY on the ship. Come on, honest up. Wine is only available free on the ship. Your site is misleading on this issue, and many were unhappy with that. Over all - beginning to end - it was a trip of a lifetime. Well constructed, well executed. Thank you! Our only worry is we've done Viking's best - now what? Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
My wife and I have been a number or cruises but this was the first River Cruise.We traveled from JFK to Japan, a long 14 flight and then had a 2 hour layover in Japan until our 3 hour flight to Shanghai. A lot of time on board a plane and ... Read More
My wife and I have been a number or cruises but this was the first River Cruise.We traveled from JFK to Japan, a long 14 flight and then had a 2 hour layover in Japan until our 3 hour flight to Shanghai. A lot of time on board a plane and even with the economy comfort seats on Delta it was hard to get some good sleep. When we arrived in China a representative from Viking was there and waiting to escort us to our hotel. We stayed in the Ritz Carlton and the hotel was lovely, the rooms were clean and spacious.The transfer to the ship was smooth and easy and Viking took care of transporting the luggage from the hotel to our suite on the ship. The procedures for moving our luggage from hotel to ship, ship to hotel and to the airport were handled in easy and professional manner at all times by Viking.The Viking Emerald was a small but well laid out boat, our rooms were nice with a small balcony. The restaurants on board had a wide variety of food to meet every passengers needs and the service was very attentive. The excursions in every port were interesting and Viking provided local guides for some of the excursions. These guides added a depth of knowledge that also had a personal touch. The ability of the guides to speak in near perfect English was amazing. Our tour guide "Jimmy" (they all get to pick their own English name), was with us from start to finish. He also provided a lot of history as well as an insight into the life of an average Chinese family.Viking and it's employees did a wonderful job from start to finish and I would not hesitate to take another cruise with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
My husband and I went on our first river cruise with Viking this past April. We selected the Imperials Jewels of China as this trip seemed to offer an array of the high points in China for a first time visit. The flight from LA was very ... Read More
My husband and I went on our first river cruise with Viking this past April. We selected the Imperials Jewels of China as this trip seemed to offer an array of the high points in China for a first time visit. The flight from LA was very moderately priced so we upgraded for an extra $99 per person each way for super economy. This gave us an extra 5-6inches of space which was truly appreciated on an11-12 hour flight to China and back. Our tour included a full extra day in Bejing at the Ritz Carlton due to our flight schedule. This gave us time to visit the Bejing Zoo and see the two Panda exhibits. Also began to meet some of the other Viking guests before the formal part of the land tour began. Our stay at the Ritz was a first and probably only experience for us at this level of hotel and it was amazing. We were in a very safe and clean area of the financial/business district and could go out and take walks around the city whenever we desired. Viking divided the 250 of us into five groups of approximately 38-40 people. Although we stayed with those people the entire trip we had plenty of time to mix with all the others on board the ship. The itinerary was literally over the top and Viking is highly organized and skilled in moving 250 guests around, always on time. Our leader, Jenna, shared many personal and poignant stories of her life in China coming from a one child family. We all loved her and she made the entire experience a real success. I would highly recommend this particular River Cruise and land tour to anyone who wants to see the jewels of China. All the tours from the river cruise were included and we had to pay very little out of pocket for extra. The visit to Xian was noteworthy in that theViking guests got in to see the Terra-cotta Warriors a full hour before the museum was open to the public. Be sure to pick the right time to visit China and many of the cities are called "furnace cities" during the summer and can be freezing during the winter. April was a great month and we only had one 1/2 day of rain. Great value for the money on this one! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
We are experienced travelers and cruisers and we had never taken an escorted vacation before the Viking Emerald Imperials Jewels of China. However China presented challenges that we did not feel qualified to meet, so we signed up with ... Read More
We are experienced travelers and cruisers and we had never taken an escorted vacation before the Viking Emerald Imperials Jewels of China. However China presented challenges that we did not feel qualified to meet, so we signed up with Viking. We found the vacation more than met our expectations and we were satisfied in every way. We decided to take the Shanghai to Beijing route rather than the reverse because we wanted to begin the trip in Hong Kong (on our own) in order to deal with the jet lag before the main part of the trip and because my husband had been the Hong Kong on business before (albeit a long time ago). We discovered later that there was an additional benefit because this version of the trip allows one to visit the zoo in Chongking and see the pandas where the Beijing-Shanghai does not. Hotels: This trip includes hotels before and after the Yangtze cruise, in Shanghai and Beijing, and a hotel in X'ian where you see the Terracotta warriors. Our hotels included the Shangri-La Pudong and the Hilton in X'ian and the Regent in Beijing and we thought they were all very luxurious and beautiful and probably far beyond what we would normally be able to book for ourselves. We particularly loved the Shangri-La and would recommend asking Viking for it if possible. Ship Info: We booked an entry-level cabin at the Category F level. It had a sliding door that opened to a French (i.e., non-existent) balcony. In size it was exactly the same as all the other balconies and we would recommend getting one of these if you can. There are some larger cabins but frankly you are not in them very often and unlike cruises, you are probably not going to either eat or watch television in your cabin. We thought the cabin was well-appointed and comfortable and while not as luxurious as some cabins we have had on ocean cruises, it was much more comfortable than what we expected on a river cruise in China. We also were very pleasantly surprised with the activities, shops and food aboard the Emerald. They had quite a few lectures on local sites, history (with surprisingly open discussions of current events, including Tiananmen Square), culture (including tea and painting demonstrations) and other interesting information. They also managed to present several little evening shows that featured ethic costumes and the like that we thought were well done particularly given the limited space and the fact that they were using personnel that performed various other functions on the ship. All the staff were courteous and friendly and certainly the folks manning the desk, the bars, and the dinner tables were comfortable using English. We thought the small number of shops on board were fine and well balanced - there was a shop featuring a tailor who made, with the help of a very hard working staff, silk jackets and other clothes made to your specifications and finished before the end of the cruise, a painter who I really loved - I would have purchased everything in his shop but settled on two items that I framed upon our return (in Michael's-nothing fancy) and they are a wonderful souvenir of our trip, a jewelry store, a store specializing in tea where they demonstrated the tea ceremony frequently. There was also a library where there were tables to play games (there was a Chinese Mahjonng demonstration during the cruise). In short, it is different from an ocean cruise but I was pleased and surprised at the extent and variety of activities especially given our limited time on board and their limited space. We were also pleasantly surprised by the food. I thought we would be given nothing but Chinese food and that I would get tired of it quickly. Instead I found that the food was mostly Western and mostly well-prepared. At the hotels, there was generally a big breakfast buffet with a big selection of food. On the ship, there was really no assigned seating except for one or two groups that travelled together from Scotland or wherever and it was nice to meet new people frequently. Once we made a few friends with like interests, we tended to see them out and sit with them. But it was all very low key and friendly. Our servers often became familiar with our personal likes, such as ice-tea with lemon, and were very friendly. Most of the food we had off the ship at banquets and other places was uneven - the lunches were generally better than the special dinners which tended to be very touristy. Some of them, like the Mongolian stir fry and buffet in X'ian and one of the lunches in Beijing were very good. The lunch in the airport in X'ian was surprisingly good. Excursions: We thought all of the excursions were well done and our tour escort Matthew was wonderful (ask Viking for him if you can although we also thought the other tour escort were also good). You are assigned a specific tour escort who is yours from the beginning to the end of the trip. Occasionally, at specific ports/sites, a second guide will also accompany your group and take over delivering the tour for that particular day or site. It was all very well done- they dole out an audiovox guide (about the size of a small tape recorder) that you wear around your neck with headphones like an IPod and these allow your guide to talk to you without raising his/her voice. It also permits you to wander somewhat away from the group, which if you are a photo nut like me, is very welcome. Although groups are only 35 people, it is nice to be able to wonder to nearby display cases without worrying about a crowd getting in the picture. The tour escorts are responsible for all the logistics. They get you to and from the buses, and in and out of your hotels and to and from the airport. They did a phenomenal job which made the various transfers painless. If you are used to an ocean cruise where you pack once for the duration, it is a little different to have to leave a hotel in Shanghai, a cruise cabin, a hotel in X'ian and a hotel in Beijing. But they collect your bags at night and they deal with delivery and check-in at the airport and delivery to your rooms at the next location. It was amazing to see how smoothly this was accomplished. The only issue came at the port of Chongking, where we disembarked and there was a long causeway followed by a stairway where we were expected to manage our carryon items ourselves (we still had them because we needed to dress, etc. in the morning even though our suitcases had already been collected). There were certainly some passengers who found this transfer a little more difficult than expected and we commented on that to Viking even though it wasn't a big problem for us. They may arrange for some sort of porters in the future to help. In sum, we would definitely recommend this trip and thought it was a very good value for the price. Certainly there are more expensive tours but we can't imagine what they could have done better. Lessons learned- a few comments on things I was wondering about before the trip: Money: we found that most large purchases in most gift shops can be done with a credit card. If you need local Chinese currency, the best place to get it is in the ATMs around your hotel. In fact, we found that most hotels, and the ship, will not change Dollars (or other foreign currency) to local currency. But they will change local currency into the smaller denominations you will need if you want to make some small purchases from the local markets or street vendors that you will meet. If you are getting a transfer through Viking to your hotel, you probably won't need local currency before you get there although you can get some in advance at a bank in a major US city like New York. Internet: We brought my Kindle Fire and were able to access the internet in our hotels and on the ship. We were surprised that we were able to send and receive messages through our Yahoo account and most news from the outside world was not blocked. Medical: We brought a regular drug store of stomach medications in case of illness but thankfully we did not need it at any time. They provided bottled water which we used and we drank bottled beverages or beer at meals off the ship. The food on the ship presented no adverse health problems - we ate salad and fresh vegetables without fear and with no after effects. Luggage: We were concerned about the size of our carryons, which are standard domestic rollerboards but somewhat larger than the 20" that they advised we needed. At no time, in any internal flight, did anyone look or comment on our carryons (or our other luggage). You do have to comply with their requirements on not carrying open liquor bottles - one couple that packed a partial bottle of vodka had their luggage held up by the authorities until they removed it- but otherwise there was never a problem with that. Peking Opera: We were leery of this additional evening excursion because we knew that Chinese opera can be dissonant and difficult to follow. However they selected several pieces that were beautiful and sometimes very funny- there were translations in English to help you follow and the costumes were so amazing that our pictures here because some of the best of the trip. We would definitely recommend going on this excursion and the Tang Dynasty evening (where the food was mediocre) which also had beautiful costumes and music. How many times are you going to be able to experience this? Pre/Post Cruise: For what it is worth, we stayed in the Sheraton in HongKong precruise and the Westin Beijing after the cruise for a few days on each end. We had been told that the Viking folks would be booked in the Westin so we anticipated that we could stay on at the same place but they changed it to the Regent at the last minute and we did not want to pay more for the Regent particularly as we had Starwoods points to use for the Westin so we transferred by taxi at the end. I think the extra time in HongKong was good for the reasons mentioned before and the extra time in Beijing (we obtained a local guide) allowed us to see the hutong neighborhoods, the museum and a few temples we did not see with the Viking tour and eat in local restaurants with our guide. But if you don't have time to do that, you will not have missed anything significant. We wished there was a second day in X'ian, as the ancient capital of China there is a lot to see there beyond the Terracotta Warriors, and we have so advised Viking.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
In April my husband and I did our first river cruise in China with Viking. It was a fabulous experience with virtually seamless transitions from city to city with a lovely 5 night river cruise on the Yangtze. It couldn't have been ... Read More
In April my husband and I did our first river cruise in China with Viking. It was a fabulous experience with virtually seamless transitions from city to city with a lovely 5 night river cruise on the Yangtze. It couldn't have been easier to see the highlights of Beijing, Xian, Shanghai and a beautiful and interesting part of the Yangtze from Chongqing to Wuhan. From the moment we were met at the airport in Beijing until we checked in at Shanghai for our flight home, Viking made our trip memorable, comfortable, informative and smooth. Our luggage was routinely picked up from our room and miraculously transported to our destination by Viking. We did not have to stand on line to check-in at the airports or handle our luggage during our stay in China. The hotels were all exceptional, the food very good to outstanding, the itinerary fabulous. All of the highlights on our bucket list were included with sufficient time to enjoy each site. We had plenty of time to walk on the Great Wall, visit the major sites in Beijing, explore the Shanghai waterfront and were able to visit the Terra Cotta Warrior museum before it opened for the day allowing us great photos and a great view of the warriors at each exhibit. During our trip we celebrated our anniversary and our escort sent champagne, flowers and chocolate covered strawberries to our room. We were surprised and delighted by this extra personal touch. We were so impressed with the trip that we booked another Viking River Cruise right after arriving back home.  I would highly recommend the Imperial Jewels of China to anyone who wants a well-planned, guided tour of China's highlights in a limited amount of time with a lovely 5 night river cruise on the Yangtze. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
My husband and I fulfilled his lifelong dream of touring China in booking and going on the VRC cruise Imperial Jewels of China in March 2013. First off let me state that the ultimate success of our trip is largely (if not completely) due ... Read More
My husband and I fulfilled his lifelong dream of touring China in booking and going on the VRC cruise Imperial Jewels of China in March 2013. First off let me state that the ultimate success of our trip is largely (if not completely) due to the professionalism, intelligence, and humor of our tour escort Jimmy Liu. He could easily work for a multinational corporation and almost everyone in our group could easily imagine hiring him as an employee. Despite never having visited a country where English is spoken his command of the language, the vernacular, and his understanding of the comparisons between our represented English speaking countries' and his lovely China was impressive! His goal was to present China to us and let us make our own decisions about the country of which he is so proud--a fellow member of Jimmy folk said that Jimmy is 100% communist and 100% capitalist--in other words so neutral that he let us form our own informed opinions--thanks Jimmy! We began in Beijing and took a private tour of the Temple of Heaven, Beihai Park and other Beijing venues not covered by VRC--this is highly NOT recommended by VRC as they want you to rest if you are on the forced overnight--but we were not sorry we did this--this might have been our only opportunity to visit Beijing (but hopefully not) and we didn't want to miss a thing--although we did bow out of the last thing on our private guide's agenda--the Lama Temple sadly--(we got to our hotel the Ritz Carlton Financial Street at 1 a.m.!). The evening meal was on us so I made a reservation (a month in advance) at the Black Sesame Kitchen in the Black Sesame hutong and would strongly recommend this as an amusing way of spending an evening in Beijing--incredible food and intelligent conversation. Our first tour with Viking was Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City with a buffet lunch at the Nikko Hotel. If you don't believe the information VRC provides you about the level of fitness necessary to successfully navigate this trip this is where the blank hits the fan. We had a lovely elderly couple with us (although our first encounter with them did not indicate this). They were from Florida, with mobility issues, dressed in sandals with no socks on an extremely, extremely chilly Beijing March day. Jimmy gently suggested to them that our 3 mile journey from one end of Tienanmen Square to the other end of the Forbidden City was going to be too much for them and they finally relented and hired wheel chairs with a pusher. I am in my early 60's and in EXTREMELY fit condition (I work out with a personal trainer and she would tell you I'm in good shape for a 40 something) and this was a very intensely physical visit. DO NOT go on this trip unless you are in good shape or are willing to forgo trips that require this or are willing to hire help if necessary!!!!! We soon realized that this couple was unfailingly cheerful and willing to do whatever was necessary to not ruin this trip for the rest of us and we all went out of our way to make things easier for them and they did the same for us. The second part of the day included a mile walk out and back through the summer palace--again a lot of walking and a lot of cold--it would be HOT in later spring or summer. We truly enjoyed our trip to THE wall and found that the lunch served at the Jade Factory was one of the best meals in China while the alternate dinner (we didn't attend the duck dinner) was the worst. Our favorite visit in Beijing was the rickshaw ride through the hutong near the bell tower (I was feeling really hesitant about using a rickshaw until Jimmy told us that the drivers were people who had been laid off from other employment and this is how they now supported their families). We visited the home of an ex-government employee whose niece lives with her and who (the niece) is an artist who paints inside bottles with a one-hair brush. The owner also had a white poodle whose ears had been dyed yellow--really adorable--this was her "baby." The opera was very good--if you are open to another culture's standards--they were extremely amusing although the first opera was a tad long. The star of this first opera is very, very funny. We saw him again while flipping through channels in Shanghai--he must be a star. Our visit to Beijing was made even more fabulous by the incredible hospitality of the Ritz Carlton Financial Street--particularly Nathan Brown and his staff in the restaurant. Every morning there was a scrumptious buffet with pastries such as I have tasted only in France--and Nathan brought the pastry chef out so that I could give him my compliments! I was trying to find the shopping mall in the basement of the complex--not easy--and Nathan actually walked me out of the hotel and directly to the grocery store I was trying to find--over and beyond any necessity of service! He was very complimentary of the service we would receive in shanghai at the Portman Ritz Carlton and while it was efficient it was nowhere near as personal as the service we received in Beijing--thanks Chef Nathan! I enjoyed talking food to him (I am a self-confessed foodie) and exchanging information about travels and family. The transfer from Beijing to Xi'an was efficient (just be prepared to be patted down by security--everyone is). The domestic terminal in Beijing is clean and comfortable and our plane was modern and although the overhead bins were somewhat smaller than our usual standard they adequately held everyone's carry-on luggage. We were met with an incredible tour guide in Xi'an (can't remember name) who was funny and had a great knowledge of the city and the warriors. We absolutely loved the Tang Dynasty Show (and I had been quite resistant to this show) and of course the warriors--you have to see to believe! While we were grouping up to board buses again for the airport we noticed that the sky had gotten yellow--sand storm--we transferred to Xi'an airport and had lunch at an airport restaurant--pretty good--then boarded flight only to sit on the runway for quite some time while the storm blew around us--we could barely see the plane next to us--again overheads adequate--plane clean and comfortable. Once off the ground quick flight to Chongqing and quick ride through the city--unlike earlier arrivals who sat in heavy, heavy traffic. I was actually the very last passenger to board--Jimmy's group always seemed to be the "sweeper" group making sure all was okay. We found out that the storm was generally over most of the north of China and had blown the roof off the international terminal at Beijing airport! Our luggage did not get there as early as we did but thanks to CC we had packed an extra set of clothes in our carry-on luggage and were able to take a quick shower and change before dinner--much moaning in our group of those who were not as well prepared as us. As many have said the land cruise and the ship are like two different trips--we immediately relaxed attending briefings for life on board and our daily excursions--much shorter and less intense than our days in Beijing. We loved our visit of the Pagoda, the trip to the dam (and were lucky to be there on a day of pretty high visibility), the trip on the smaller boats through the Lesser Three Gorges, and our trip through the locks--we were the only passenger ship allowed through downstream as they were repairing the locks--Viking came through for us!! No buses!!! Our school trip was heart warming and touching and a highlight for those who attended (many people in our group opted out of this one and it was disheartening to see the disappointed looks on the faces of the children who did not get to share their seat with a "big nose"). The captain had to put the pedal to the medal to make it to Wuhan on schedule (a gentleman had a medical emergency--nothing to do with the ship or China and had to be med-evaced to the hospital during the night) but we made it on time and to one of the highlights of the trip--the Hubei Provincial Museum with its bells and ancient artifacts (oh and the passenger was fine and met us in Wuhan). We then headed to the Wuhan airport and our last intraChina flight. This was the least convenient of all of our flights for many of the passengers--boarding was rather chaotic--very, very small overheads-there was no room for my husband's carry-on bag--luckily one of the attendants found a space--lots of moaning and groaning. Then we arrived in Shanghai. Dinner on our own on VRC's tab in the R-C Portman--very good but kind of lonely after all the tables for 8 on the river--we quickly made plans to have breakfast with some good friends we had made. Enjoyed our day of touring in Shanghai--especially YuYuan Gardens and market, the Bund (not enough time spent there), visit to the rug factory--very expensive but good Mongolian barbecue lunch. I felt the trip to the Shanghai Museum would have been better with some guidance--we were left on our own with vague instructions to start at the top and work our way down--I personally found that the exhibits on the lower floors were more interesting and since I really knew little about any of it some guided instruction would have been helpful. Our last night we had the second worst meal in China before we went to the acrobats show--a lazy Susan dinner with no explanation of what we were being served and our guide--wonderful Jimmy--running back and forth between our tables to be sure we were getting what we should be and that we understood what was being served. The acrobat show was incredible. And then it was over...one thing I forgot to mention was that I had issues at the hotel in Beijing with employees using the club lounge above us as a break room and waking me at 1 a.m. every night and our Jimmy intervened for me (after indifferent response by the front desk when I finally figured out where the noise was coming from--and also a very drunk neighbor on our floor running up and down the hall for at least an hour while the hotel employees sent up to deal with him cowered in a service closet across the hall from us) and we were upgraded to a suite on the 40th floor of the R-C Portman--VRC takes care of its passengers!!!! :) It took me a month to get used to having to do ANYTHING for myself once I got home--I was so used to a standard of service that it was difficult to come back to reality. This was our first cruise f any kind and I understand that VRC is the one to beat in China--I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see a lot of China in a minimal amount of time--we figure we traveled at least 2217 miles in 12 days. By the way, I started by saying that this was my husband's lifelong dream--in the course of our trip it became MY lifelong dream too! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2013
In early January, 2013, my wife and I and another couple our age [all recently retired] boarded the AmaWaterways river boat, the AmaLotus, for a 7-night cruise of the Ton Le River south of Siem Reap onto the Mekong River at Phnom Penh and ... Read More
In early January, 2013, my wife and I and another couple our age [all recently retired] boarded the AmaWaterways river boat, the AmaLotus, for a 7-night cruise of the Ton Le River south of Siem Reap onto the Mekong River at Phnom Penh and down the Mekong to Saigon. In a word, this river cruise was "Outstanding." To us, it definitely deserved a Trip Advisor rating of 5 Stars. Factors we took into account in this rating included: itinerary, excursions, guides, on-board presentations, stateroom, shipboard life, logistics, food, and service. The itinerary is just about all that we could ask. Our trip started from Siem Reap in the Angkor Kingdom. Unfortunately, we were there in the dry season, so we needed to board the AmaLotus further downstream than we had hoped--but that was not a surprise, as we were fully informed of this possibility in all the pre-trip literature. Besides, the bus trip from Siem Reap was down National Route 6, a truly fascinating trip in its own right, and that's not taking into account the historical significance of National Route 6 as a major thoroughfare of the Khmer Rouge as they charged down from the north in 1975, and as they retreated back to the north in 1979 with the Vietnamese invasion [knowledge of Cambodia's history the last 70 years provides greater insight from one's experiences on this cruise]. After boarding at the Prek Kdam Bridge, we then went back north on the river a bit. I sat in my stateroom with the sliding door open, watching the river and river life go by. It was awesome. We had not been on the boat two hours and I was already thrilled with the voyage. On the shore were homes built on stilts, cattle coming to the water to drink or be bathed, people bathing in the river, villages, cities, and an abundance of life. On the river were countless long, narrow, wooden fishing boats with fisherman setting and hauling in their nets, ferries scooting from one side of the river to the other with crowded decks, and the occasional barge. Watching life on the river and its shores was the very reason that we booked a cruise on the Mekong in the first place. And each day for the rest of the cruise down the Ton Le River into the Mekong River [at Phnom Penh] and all the way to Saigon on the Mekong brought new and different sights. If I'd never left the boat for an excursion, I would have been pleased with the views from the deck. But we did leave the boat for excursions, and they were excellent. We visited villages, floating villages, several markets on shore [all incredibly exotic], several floating markets, fish farms, silk weavers in a small village [well they had silk products and looms, but I suspect the looms had not operated in years], a small plant that produced sleeping mats [it really was interesting], temples [too many temples], and a small plant that made Vietnamese sweets. Perhaps best of all, Phnom Penh. Not only was the city beautiful in many parts--especially the walkway on the river front--but from there we visited Choeung Ek [a killing field] and what is now called the Genocide Museum, but was the Tuel Sleng prison, often called S21, run by Comrade Duch [pronounced doik]. There was endless variety in the excursions, we were not rushed through the sites we were visiting, and the guides for each local area were well informed and thorough in their coverage. In addition to the many excursions, there were three or four excellent presentations by local guides on cultural and historical aspects of Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as an excellent video presentation about Pol Pot. This Mekong River Cruise made every attempt to help its guests be informed about the nations we were visiting. There were numerous guides on the cruise and excursions, and though it became a bit difficult to remember their names, they were all terrific. Our guides were well informed, spoke excellent English, and tried very much to make our excursions entertaining and meaningful. Our stateroom, a basic stateroom and not an upgrade, was wonderful. The king bed was comfortable, the small balcony was inviting, but it was usually too hot to use. The external wall of our stateroom was fully windowed, and the view it provided of the river and shore made just hanging in the room and watching the river go by very inviting. The bathroom was large and nicely done. The stateroom was air conditioned, which was much appreciated--this is, after all, Cambodia and southern Vietnam. This was an excellent stateroom and we were most pleased with it. My wife and I also enjoyed the size of the group on a river cruise. We have taken several ocean cruises on large vessels [e.g., Princess, Celebrity], and though we much enjoyed all of them, there is something very comfortable and easy about a river cruise with only 98 passengers, plus it was easy to become friendly with many. The table for four that we and our travel companions used the first two days expanded to a table of six the third day and a table of eight the remainder of the trip--and stayed at eight only because that was the largest table size. Breakfast and lunch were buffets, except the main course was served for lunch. Dinner was served in its entirety, and selections were made from a menu. All food was excellent, and the selections were more than satisfactory. I am a big eater, but not very picky; but also at our table was a light eater, who was very picky. He and I were both extremely pleased with our options and with the food. Further, the wine flowed freely at lunch and dinner, and the house wines were very good. The food options were eclectic, from grilled steak to Pho to lasagna. I never heard anyone complain about the food or the wine; in fact, any comments heard were complimentary! And the service; phenomenal, just phenomenal. The logistics of the AmaWaterways Mekong River Cruise were excellent. Disembarking for excursions, boarding busses or other means of transportation--an ox cart one time, a bicycle rickshaw another time--and re-boarding the ship were done with aplomb and without a hitch. There were no surprises in the logistics, attesting to the good planning by AmaWaterways and the excellent follow-through by the tour leaders, guides, and ship personnel. Without hesitation my wife and I would take another AmaWaterways river cruise. We were delighted with our cruise, enchanted by the itinerary, and mightily impressed by the accommodations, food and service.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
If you re interested in a combination land cruise in Vietnam and Cambodia along with Halong Bay Junk cruise and 7 day river cruise on MeKong,this was a great option. Hanoi is starting point and all hotels were 5 star here and in Seim Reip ... Read More
If you re interested in a combination land cruise in Vietnam and Cambodia along with Halong Bay Junk cruise and 7 day river cruise on MeKong,this was a great option. Hanoi is starting point and all hotels were 5 star here and in Seim Reip and HoChiMinh city.Bus used in each town very nice with great tour guides,drivers,etc. Halong Bay junk was only mediocre with small cabin,poor lighting,and so so food The cool,cloudy weather didnt help,but still glad we went and area was beautiful. Flight to Seim Reip short and Cambodia visa could be taken care of before hand with cruise manager($20 ea.plus passport photo).We did get our own Vietnam visa ahead of time. Tours to Anghor Wat and other temples can be a challange to those not in good physical condition,,very hot,lots of climbing,uneven ground and loads of tourists.Wonderful to see and explore but was tired after am tours and took pm tours off to rest by pool.Do take tuk tuk to town and explore.We ate in 2 good restaurants recommended by our guides(do ask). Loved visiting the small towns along river banks and seeing the friendly kids and kind adults who tolerated us wandering thru their villages.Do bring some small gifts for kids(not money). We took small boats to floating villages,toured market areas,visited pagodas,monastery.Most days had both am and pm tours,so you are kept very busy. Amalotus is a great ship,fantastic crew,nice rooms,good food.We parked next to the Pandaw(Viking ship) and ours was much newer with outside balconies.I wish they had screens on balcony door to keep open at nite(but unable to now due to bugs coming in). The ship had 4 major groups onboard and they tended to stick together for both tours and dinner.This can be a little difficult if your group isn t cohesive.It was difficult to mingle since others spoke different languages(with different guides and sometimes different meeting places for lectures,etc).This was very different from other river cruises I ve been on.For me,a little to structured. HoChiMInh city and Pnem Penh were both great to visit and very crowded too.Hard to wander around due to traffic,especially the motorbikes.We took taxis or tuk tuks. I would recommend AMA for Vietnam and Cambodia,but do a lot of online research,look at videos,read reviews,etc.This would not be my choice for first cruise,appeals more to the well traveled cruiser not overwhelmed with visitng a 3rd world country. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2012
I had to book on Amalotus at the last minute, due to Pandaw cancelling the cruise I was booked on. After reading the reviews posted on Cruise Critic, I boarded the ship with very poor expectations. I was however very pleasantly surprised ... Read More
I had to book on Amalotus at the last minute, due to Pandaw cancelling the cruise I was booked on. After reading the reviews posted on Cruise Critic, I boarded the ship with very poor expectations. I was however very pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the cruise immensely. The ship was wel maintained,, clean, with attractive furnishings and above all, excellent crew and good food. I found it very difficult to understand some of the comments in other reviews. The standard of English spoken by the crew was very good as was their understanding of the pax English . Nothing was ever too much trouble for them and the assistance rendered on shore excursions was excellent. The cruise manager and the hotel manager were very much on the ball and did an excellent job. The food choice was always wide and varied and of excellent quality. The "Action Station" where Asian food was cooked as you watched was a great hit with the Pax. The display, as you entered the restaurant, of the main course dishes for that meal made choosing much easier and is a great innovation. The shore excursions were very well organised and of great interest and the guides well experienced and well informed. The Cambodian guides, in particular, were excellent. Most pax on my cruise were AMA pax. I would have some reservations about cruising on this ship when there are large groups of APT pax as the standards on board are set by APT. Overall the Amalotus is to be highly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
I do not have enough good things to say about our recent trip to China. Run by Viking River Cruises, it included 8 days on land and a 6 day cruise on the Yangtze. Everything went like clockwork, including three intra-country flights. ... Read More
I do not have enough good things to say about our recent trip to China. Run by Viking River Cruises, it included 8 days on land and a 6 day cruise on the Yangtze. Everything went like clockwork, including three intra-country flights. Everything was included, so there were no decisions to make about how much to spend on land excursions. Everyone on the ship does the same thing at the same time, making things run even more smoothly than on a large cruise ship. There were two optional experiences: The Peking Opera in Beijing and a Tang Dynasty show in Xi'an. Both included dinner. We did both and felt they were very worthwhile. During the land portion, the hotels were uniformly excellent. Two Ritz Carltons (real luxury) and a Westin. Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth. With only 250 passengers, there is not the cattle drive of a much larger ship. Our Chinese guide was fantastic. He was with us from our check-in in Beijing through the land portions, on the river to our departure in Shanghai. Even after 15 years in the business, he remains very enthusiastic. He was knowledgeable, courteous, very attentive and spoke excellent English. One member of our group had a food allergy and he frequently put together a special meal for her. Often at dinners off the ship, rather than sit and eat, he was seen running around making sure everything went well. He loves his country and conveys that at all times. In addition, there were often local guides for excursions along the way. The trip was fast-paced much of the time, but there is no way to see so much of such a huge country without keeping things moving. Still, there were frequent opportunities to shop or explore museums for an hour or more. On board the ship, there were lectures or presentations every day about Chinese history, politics, culture and more. I noticed that, unlike larger ships where they are selling something every minute, the sales pressure on this ship was minimal. Compared to a regular cruise ship, everything is reduced in size. There was a small gym and a few shops. On the other hand, it is easy to get anywhere in a few minutes with only 6 decks and room for 250 guests. Our stateroom was fairly good sized, comfortable and everything worked well. Housekeeping did an excellent job. Entertainment on the ship is limited by its size. The same people who wait on your table dance in the show and model ethnic costumes. This is not a way to go if you like big production numbers. Still the entertainment was of acceptable quality. The food and restaurant service were very good. In fact, service throughout the ship was excellent. Ports: The only cities I had even heard of before the trip were Beijing and Shanghai. The former is full of fascinating history and architecture (Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace). The latter is a cosmopolitan financial center with gleaming new buildings on one side of the Bund and 19th Century European colonial architecture on the other. We, also, enjoyed the Shanghai Acrobats. Pretty incredible. Other ports: Xi'an is a city of 9 million with terrible pollution, but the Terra Cotta Warriors have to be seen to be believed. We were in and out of Chongqing in a short while, but sailing from there at night was thrilling. Shiboazhi has a Pagoda saved from the rising Yangtze. We got to hike up 100+ steps to the top. In Qutong we took a ferry into the beautiful Lesser Three Gorges. The next day we went through the five locks at the Three Gorges Dam (everyone was up on deck for hours.) The Dam itself is sort of an anticlimax. It is hard actually to see it because of the persistent mist on the river. In Jingzhou we visited a school-it was OK. In Wuhan we visited the museum and the highlight was a wonderful performance of ancient chimes. Finally, I think the value was excellent. We paid about $4,500 per person, including round-trip airfare from home for the entire 12 days, with everything except tips, included. I highly recommend Viking's Imperial Jewels of China. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
This was our 6th river cruise and first cruise with Viking. We chose this cruise because we've done all the rivers in Europe and the chance to see the Great Wall and Terra Cotta Warriors was exciting. Definitely go in the fall! ... Read More
This was our 6th river cruise and first cruise with Viking. We chose this cruise because we've done all the rivers in Europe and the chance to see the Great Wall and Terra Cotta Warriors was exciting. Definitely go in the fall! First thing I should mention is that you will find few "western" style toilets. I had read the previous reviews and knew to take paper with us..but no one had mentioned that even in the tourist locations, you would be required to squat over a "moat". The name of the game is "hole or bowl?". And it was usually a hole unless you chose to wait in a long line for that one western toilet. I won't go back to China unless they use some of their money to improve the bathroom facilities in all of their public buildings. They continue to build thousands of new skyscrapers and luxurious hotels yet can't improve the toilets, even with all the thousands of new western tourists! It's not only disgusting, it's unhealthy. Most of us river cruisers are 50 and older and some are not physically capable of squatting down low. Yes, we may not be as healthy and agile as the Chinese, but that's no excuse for their bathroom facilities. I don't want to review day by day. I'd rather just mention a few things that I think are important for you to know if you take this cruise. From Beijing to Shanghai, be prepared for some strenuous and hectic days. If you aren't accustomed to long walks, start exercising. The first day in Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City, be prepared to walk about 3 miles. As others have written, there are uneven surfaces and many steps. The internal flights were handled superbly by Viking. We simply boarded the bus to the airport and they handled all the luggage, boarding passes etc....it was an easy process but those days were hectic and precious time was spent flying instead of sightseeing. We didn't realize how fast paced those first days would be. It was rush, rush, rush until we were able to board the Emerald. Everyone we spoke with had the same sentiments...they were all exhausted and just wanted to relax. As far as the ship...in fairness, the boats in China do not compare to the river boats in Europe. The emerald is advertised as being only 2 years old. Personally, I think it's older than that and just rehabed. For all I know it could be the older "Century". The rooms are standard size but appear to be dated. The closets are very shallow and there is little storage for hanging clothing. The beds are HARD..not simply firm but hard! The first night was miserable and a fellow passenger suggested I let the front desk know, which I did. I usually don't like to complain but I had no choice. Housekeeping came immediately and added more comforters under the sheets. It helped just slightly and I woke up with a backache each night. I'm used to a firm memory foam mattress, but as I said, this wasn't firm, it was hard. I used to take a cheap foam topper in a space saver bag which helped but I assumed this "newer ship" would have a foam mattress..wrong! The bathroom was also dated, and there was mold and crud around the bottom of the shower stall. Yes, there is alot of wear and tear in these rooms, but the quality did not compare with the three companies we've used in Europe. You had to step over thresholds in the hallways and in the entrance to your room. You could feel slopes and rises in areas under the carpeting in some places. Again, I've heard Viking's European longboats are beautiful so it may just be a "China" problem. The food...again I could only compare it to the other cruises we have done. It was not as good. Breakfast was typical and good..eggs to order etc and bacon, sausage, hash browns, cereals, yogurts...yadda yadda, there was something for everyone. Lunch buffet however, I felt was lacking. Salad bar was decent with fresh butter lettuces, deli meats, a small variety of cheeses, breads, a daily soup which tasted the same but just a different color, a choice of three entrees that had to be ordered at the table. There were no other types of salads, such as pasta salads, tuna or chicken salads, vegetable salads. If there were, they were Asian style/flavored. In the 5 previous cruises, at dinner I ordered the "always available" chicken/steak just once. On this trip, I ordered a chicken breast or steak four nights. It seemed as though we had more Chinese food than western, but hey, we were in China. Service was good, staff was good and had a sense of urgency which is always appreciated. I was impressed that they remembered our names, even without name tags. Hard working kids. The amount of building going on in every city in China is unbelievable. I stopped taking pictures. You have to see it in person. Our mouths were wide open as our buses drove through Beijing, Chongqing and Xian. It's like a futuristic scene from a science fiction movie.Skyscraper after skyscraper..thousands in rows, cranes all over building tops...Unbelievable! and the landscaping!!! everywhere! lush and green. All along the streets in all the cities, there are trees and parks and beautiful landscaping. Amazing. I forgot to mention that the hotels were excellent! all 5 star. The breakfast buffets in all were above average. The Westin in Shanghai was luxurious with huge rooms. Location to shopping in Yu Garden was excellent. I did not realize that the jewelry is all 24K in the jewelry stores and is good value. Bought a wedding band to replace mine lost years ago. We struggled when packing for this trip due to the strict weight limits on the Chinese internal flights. When I mentioned to our guide that I did not want to buy things because of the limit, he assured me that those limits were for individual passengers, not for Viking passengers. I wish I had known that before we left. However, I can understand why Viking doesn't advertise that fact. Needless to say, we were then able to stock up on all sorts of junk and souvenirs. The day before we left the boat for Shanghai, I noticed a passenger trying on a silk robe on the 4th floor where clothing is sold. I commented on it and she said she just had it made and was making sure it fit. I had no idea there was a tailor on board. I asked if it was possible to have one made and they obliged in about 5 hours. It was a cream on cream pattern and beautiful. Cost was 220.00 US, which I thought was reasonable, considering. I know that a similar item in a high end dept. store in the states would be at least twice that amount, if not more. Nope, I wouldn't be able to find one in Marshalls or TJMaxx! So I splurged for once. Take more than one adaptor if you are taking a phone and Ipad/netbook. No plug in the ship's bathroom for the hair dryer. You'll have to sit at the desk mirror or on the bed to dry your hair. I've always had an outlet in the bathroom for a dryer on all previous river cruises so again, is this a China thing or is it what I suspect, an older boat? Be prepared to eat Chinese everywhere other than on the boat. Tables for 8, large glass lazy susans, family style which is nice. Beer and sodas included but I asked for water at one lunch and had to pay 5 yuan! I was craving a burger and managed to get my husband into a McDonald's. My mistake was ordering the chicken sandwich instead of the burger. Wasn't a breast..was a thigh with the skin. Yuch. But the fries were great! I took enough knit tops so that I did not have to use the ship's laundry. Another passenger was complaining about the cost of two pounds of wash and fold. They do not have dry cleaning so if you use the laundry, make sure they hang to dry or you may get something back that will no longer fit! One more hint...when a group of us were standing in line in the bathroom at the airport in Beijing, young Chinese girls walked right past us and jumped into a stall when the door opened. They have no respect for lines..I elbowed the young woman when she came out of the stall which I had been waiting for...so be prepared..stand your ground ladies and don't let them cut in front of you..anywhere, in any line! Have specific questions? texastart@aol.com In ending, I will say we had the most articulate, educated, considerate guide of all the 6 river cruises! Aihua was fantastic! He herded us like little sheep, kept close watch on all of us and it did not go unnoticed. He was a wealth of information and his personal stories were very touching. Without Aihua, the trip would not have been nearly as enjoyable. We were fortunate to have him as our guide. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2012
We just returned from the Viking Imperial Cruise with the Guilin/ Hong Kong extension. There are many other reviews that will give you an idea of what to expect so I will try to fill in with our experience. I think everyone in our ... Read More
We just returned from the Viking Imperial Cruise with the Guilin/ Hong Kong extension. There are many other reviews that will give you an idea of what to expect so I will try to fill in with our experience. I think everyone in our "group" was humbled by how big China is and how much development has, and is, taking place. It is impossible to explain to anyone or capture in photographs what is occurring there. If you have ever been to Africa and seen the Serengeti and how open and expansive it is and tried to tell someone what it feels like...China is just the opposite! All the airports are new, and large, and quite a ways from downtown and as you drive in to each there are high rise apartments and office buildings as far as you can see. (Sometimes that's not too far as the air pollution or "mist" as they call it can be bad.) There are several things to consider when you decide to go. First is the time of year. The weather can be very hot and humid in the summer and along with the possibility of air pollution can make some outdoor tours more difficult. There are lots of tourists at the more popular sites. Most are Chinese that are seeing these things for the first time, along with tour groups like you will be a part of. The hotels all are great, the buses are all air conditioned and have ample bottled water, but when you get off the bus at Tiananmen Square or the Great Wall and it is 98 degrees, humid, etc. it can take its toll and it affects your photos. The second decision is the direction. Starting in Beijing puts the more strenuous portion of the trip first followed by five days onboard to relax a little. The difficult portions of the remainder of the trip are the logistics of moving from one city to another. Viking has it down perfect but it still requires getting aboard the bus, usually 45 minute to one hour ride. Getting inside early enough (two hours)to get boarding passes, security checks, etc. 60 -90 min plane ride, checking to confirm everyone's' luggage arrived then another 45 min ride into your new city, registering, you get the picture. Viking handles all this for you. One thing we noticed were other tour groups we passed at airports having to check and retrieve and load their own luggage on the bus. Viking handles all the luggage from outside your hotel room door to inside your next location. They only have you confirm that your bags have all arrived intact, with no damage before you leave the airport. The third decision is to evaluate your ability to handle the above. There are lots of uneven steps, ramps, cobblestone walkways etc. in China. The airports are huge, and there is lots of walking! Beijing is a big city (100miles X 110 miles) lots of traffic. We had planned to go for Peking Duck on our own and skip the opera. We made reservations before we left the States, but the night we tried to go we wited over 45 min outside the Westin in the cab line and only two cabs drove up! The traffic is so bad the local cabs don't want to be tied up in traffic during rush hour. We missed our dinner. The hotel booked us for the following night at the same place (DaDong) but our bus was stuck in traffic and we got home too late to get back in a cab so we flicked it in. We got into Xian very late because our arrival coincided with the China-Japan-Taiwan flap over the islands and some of the Chinese were protesting and blocking traffic. The traffic in China is terrible to say the least. It is a real thrill to ride in the front of the bus at least once to experience what goes on. They do have traffic laws but our guide said "they are only a suggestion"! Terra Cotta Warriors are impressive. Viking got our group in before it even opened so we had the entire place to ourselves for about 45 minutes, After two hotel stays, the ship was a welcome chance to unpack for five days. We found the rooms to be great. The bar and dining staff could not be better or more efficient. They are all young, college graduates, most with degrees in hotel management/ tourism. There is a drink package that is something to consider. It is a one time charge and allows you to have a cocktail or beer anytime you want and they have a better selection of wines they pour for you at lunch and dinner. We didn't sign up before the cruise, but we met some people in the lounge and they had penciled out that it made sense. I don't know if I broke even but I didn't have to keep track. There is an Internet Cafe onboard, but I never used it. I brought my Ipad and phone and the WiFi worked fine. Before we left, I went to AT&T and paid $5.99 for a one month International Calling Plan, and purchased 250 MB of data for $28.99. There is a free App called VIBER that allows you to make free phone calls, text, or send photos similar to Skype. The difference is you don't have to have it on to send or receive so it is just like a regular phone. You need to sign up before you leave, and tell anyone you want to possibly contact to also download the app (work, children, grandkids etc.) or it won't work. It was my wife's birthday while we were onboard, and in the middle of one of the Gorges, her grandkids got to wish her happy birthday. Facetime also worked early morning when the ships bandwidth wasn't all tied up. Most phone chargers, camera battery chargers, etc work in the ships outlets without a converter. The plugs are very tight as a type of "childproof" protection. As far as Viking Cruise I can't say enough about how well organized they are! They cradle you from the first arrival to your departure and all points in between. The guides are well informed, funny, and willing to discuss some pretty controversial subjects. We had Francis as our guide from Beijing to Hong Kong and I don't think anyone could do a better job. However, everyone we talked to loved their guide also so I'm pretty sure Viking is very selective. Our Cruise Director onboard, Jin, was hilarious and very knowledgeable not only about China, but World history and China's part in it both past and future. They have a big experiment going on with their financial situation, the "one child" policy, and no one is really sure how it is going to turn out. China was not on the top of our "bucket list" but after a friend described this same trip he took last year, we decided we should do it while we can. China is rapidly changing and I'm sure people that were early visitors would not recognize or particularly like the vast expansion that is occurring. The Three Gorges Dam was built to provide 10% of China's power for the future but with the growth they are having it is having less and less impact. The one thing it is doing is allowing China to move manufacturing from the coastal areas, where labor and the cost of living is getting more expensive, to the more inland areas where labor is cheap still and large container ships can now reach to transport goods for export. Way too long a report, I'm trying to keep myself awake and get back in the right time zone since we just returned yesterday. In summary, we never saw a boat on the river that we wished we were on or a tour group that we wanted to trade places with. We could have never seen as many places in the period of time we were with Viking. You can probably go cheaper but I don't think you can do better than Viking!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
After talking with a friend who had taken the same cruise one year ago, my wife and I decided to move China up on our list of places to visit. We just returned from the Viking Imperial Cruise with the Guilin/ Hong Kong extension. There ... Read More
After talking with a friend who had taken the same cruise one year ago, my wife and I decided to move China up on our list of places to visit. We just returned from the Viking Imperial Cruise with the Guilin/ Hong Kong extension. There are many other reviews that will give you an idea of what to expect so I will try to fill in with our experience. I think everyone in our "group" was humbled by how big China is and how much development has, and is, taking place. It is impossible to explain to anyone or capture in photographs what is occurring there. If you have ever been to Africa and seen the Serengeti and how open and expansive it is and tried to tell someone what it feels like...China is just the opposite! All the airports are new, and large, and quite a ways from downtown and as you drive in to each there are high rise apartments and office buildings as far as you can see. (Sometimes that's not too far as the air pollution or "mist" as they call it can be bad.) There are several things to consider when you decide to go. First is the time of year. The weather can be very hot and humid in the summer and along with the possibility of air pollution can make some outdoor tours more difficult. There are lots of tourists at the more popular sites. Most are Chinese that are seeing these things for the first time, along with tour groups like you will be a part of. The hotels all are great, the buses are all air conditioned and have ample bottled water, but when you get off the bus at Tiananmen Square or the Great Wall and it is 98 degrees, humid, etc. it can take its toll and it affects your photos. The second decision is the direction. Starting in Beijing puts the more strenuous portion of the trip first followed by five days onboard to relax a little. The difficult portions of the remainder of the trip are the logistics of moving from one city to another. Viking has it down perfect but it still requires getting aboard the bus, usually 45 minute to one hour ride. Getting inside early enough (two hours)to get boarding passes, security checks, etc. 60 -90 min plane ride, checking to confirm everyone's' luggage arrived then another 45 min ride into your new city, registering, you get the picture. Viking handles all this for you. One thing we noticed were other tour groups we passed at airports having to check and retrieve and load their own luggage on the bus. Viking handles all the luggage from outside your hotel room door to inside your next location. They only have you confirm that your bags have all arrived intact, with no damage before you leave the airport. The third decision is to evaluate your ability to handle the above. There are lots of uneven steps, ramps, cobblestone walkways etc. in China. The airports are huge, and there is lots of walking! Beijing is a big city (100miles X 110 miles) lots of traffic. We had planned to go for Peking Duck on our own and skip the opera. We made reservations before we left the States, but the night we tried to go we waited over 45 min outside the Westin in the cab line and only two cabs drove up! The traffic is so bad the local cabs don't want to be tied up in traffic during rush hour. We missed our dinner. The hotel booked us for the following night at the same place (DaDong) but our bus was stuck in traffic and we got home too late to get back in a cab so we flicked it in. We got into Xian very late because our arrival coincided with the China-Japan-Taiwan flap over the islands and some of the Chinese were protesting and blocking traffic. The traffic in China is terrible to say the least. It is a real thrill to ride in the front of the bus at least once to experience what goes on. They do have traffic laws but our guide said "they are only a suggestion"! Terra Cotta Warriors are impressive. Viking got our group in before it even opened so we had the entire place to ourselves for about 45 minutes, After two hotel stays, the ship was a welcome chance to unpack for five days. We found the rooms to be great. The bar and dining staff could not be better or more efficient. They are all young, college graduates, most with degrees in hotel management/ tourism. There is a drink package that is something to consider. It is a one time charge and allows you to have a cocktail or beer anytime you want and they have a better selection of wines they pour for you at lunch and dinner. We didn't sign up before the cruise, but we met some people in the lounge and they had penciled out that it made sense. I don't know if I broke even but I didn't have to keep track. There is an Internet Cafe onboard, but I never used it. I brought my I Pad and phone and the Wi-Fi worked fine. Before we left, I went to AT&T and paid $5.99 for a one month International Calling Plan, and purchased 250 MB of data for $28.99. There is a free App called VIBER that allows you to make free phone calls, text, or send photos similar to Skype. The difference is you don't have to have it on to send or receive so it is just like a regular phone. You need to sign up before you leave, and tell anyone you want to possibly contact to also download the app (work, children, grandkids etc.) or it won't work. It was my wife's birthday while we were onboard, and in the middle of one of the Gorges, her grandkids got to wish her happy birthday. Facetime also worked early morning when the ships bandwidth wasn't all tied up. Most phone chargers, camera battery chargers, etc work in the ships outlets without a converter. The plugs are very tight as a type of "childproof" protection. As far as Viking Cruise I can't say enough about how well organized they are! They cradle you from the first arrival to your departure and all points in between. The guides are well informed, funny, and willing to discuss some pretty controversial subjects. We had Francis as our guide from Beijing to Hong Kong and I don't think anyone could do a better job. However, everyone we talked to loved their guide also so I'm pretty sure Viking is very selective. Our Cruise Director onboard, Jin, was hilarious and very knowledgeable not only about China, but World history and China's part in it both past and future. They have a big experiment going on with their financial situation, the "one child" policy, and no one is really sure how it is going to turn out. China was not on the top of our "bucket list" but after a friend described this same trip he took last year, we decided we should do it while we can. China is rapidly changing and I'm sure people that were early visitors would not recognize or particularly like the vast expansion that is occurring. The Three Gorges Dam was built to provide 10% of China's power for the future but with the growth they are having it is having less and less impact. The one thing it is doing is allowing China to move manufacturing from the coastal areas, where labor and the cost of living is getting more expensive, to the more inland areas where labor is cheap still and large container ships can now reach to transport goods for export. Way too long a report, In summary, we never saw a boat on the river that we wished we were on or a tour group that we wanted to trade places with. We could have never seen as many places in the period of time we were with Viking. You can probably go cheaper but I don't think you can do better than Viking! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
The cruise began in Shanghai, moved to the Viking Emerald in Wuhan, disembarking in Chongqing and then Beijing. We took the Hong Kong extension via Guilin and ending in Hong Kong. We took four Chinese flights and stayed in five five-star ... Read More
The cruise began in Shanghai, moved to the Viking Emerald in Wuhan, disembarking in Chongqing and then Beijing. We took the Hong Kong extension via Guilin and ending in Hong Kong. We took four Chinese flights and stayed in five five-star hotels. The flights were excellent without exception, the planes clean and the crews attentive. Snacks were served on every flight even the short ones. The Viking Emerald accomodations were also five star. "Larry" our guide for the Chinese portion spoke excellent English, was very familiar with Chinese history and politics and didn't hesitate to answer almost all our questions. He had all our bags in the right place at the right time and went out of his way to get us early entry to the Terra Cotta Army and the Chongqing panda exhibit. His personality and experience made this trip a huge success. Meals in the hotels were served buffet style with a variety of food from Chinese to American. If you didn't like Chinese food this was the time to fill up on eggs and pancakes etc. Restaurant meals were served family style from a Lazy Susan in the center of the table and often consisted of as many as 15 or more different Chinese dishes and soups. We like Chinese food so were pleased with the quality and variety although we were happy to taste Western dishes at the end of the trip. The longest walk on the trip was through Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, approximately three miles. However wheel chairs are available for a fee as they were in most other places. The guide book indicated a long stairway to view the Three Gorges Dam but that has now been supplemented with several escalators. No steps to climb here. Most places provided access to western style toilets, sometimes side-by-side with eastern style. Some facilities were clean but others very dirty. We'd recommend bringing a small supply of toilet papter with you and, for emergencies practice using eastern style toilets, especially for the women. Tipping for the sixteen day trip ran about $500 with tips expected for the Viking crew, the escorts, each bus driver and the local guide at each location. We brought lots of $1 dollar bills, used credit cards for the ship tips and paid cash to the escorts. They're happy to receive their tips in Chinese, Hong Kong or American currency. On our way to Hong Kong we stopped at Guilin which I thought would be a disappointment. How wrong I was as it was one of the highlights of the trip. We were treated to a river cruise which included a buffet lunch through some of the most beautiful scenery I can remember and that was followed by a trip to Hong Kong where there was too much to do in just two full days. We paid an extra $50 each to fly non-stop on Delta from Detroit. Although the flight was close to 14 hours in the usual cramped airline seats (we were in the cattle cars) it went quickly and we actually arrived an hour early. Coming home we also flew Delta but changed planes in Tokyo. Others on this cruise did not fly direct and had trouble with missed connections and lost baggage. The food on the flight was plentiful, the crew attentive and each seat was equipped with a small video screen so we could watch a wide variety of movies. Hats off to Viking and Delta for a wonderful, well organized trip. I was glad we started in Shanghai because it led up to the top things on my list, the Terra Cotta Army, the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square towards the end instead of at the beginning. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
Talk about a "bucket list" trip!. Start in Beijing with all of its history and majesty. On to Xi'an for a visit with the Terracotta army. Then to Tibet (did you ever in your life think you'd get to Tibet?) Walk the ... Read More
Talk about a "bucket list" trip!. Start in Beijing with all of its history and majesty. On to Xi'an for a visit with the Terracotta army. Then to Tibet (did you ever in your life think you'd get to Tibet?) Walk the path of the Dalai Lamas. On to Chongqing to cruise the Yangste. Visit the 3 Gorges Dam, and a school for children. Finish in Wuhan and amazing Shanghai. Our tourguide, Richard, became our friend and was a wonderful ambassador for his country. His love of his hometown, Beijing, is obvious. He had to take care of some very difficult passengers, and did so with tact and amazing stamina. Local guides were friendly and helpful. The hotels alone (Fairmonts in Beijing and Shanghai, Hilton in Xi'an, and the AMAZING St. Regis in Lhasa, were worth the price of the trip themselves! We usually travel with Seabourn or Silversea, but Viking bent over backwards to make this one of the best vacations we have ever taken. Great value considering all of the air flights, hotels, food, and guided excursions. GO ON THIS CRUISE! You will remember it forever! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
China is an amazing country to visit.Viking has organized this trip to allow a comprehensive view of major cities in China as well as cruising the Yangtze River.The trip started in Beijing with an extra day which we spent on an extra tour ... Read More
China is an amazing country to visit.Viking has organized this trip to allow a comprehensive view of major cities in China as well as cruising the Yangtze River.The trip started in Beijing with an extra day which we spent on an extra tour to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall.This section is not busy allowing great photographic opportunities.By starting at Beijing you get to see the Hutongs as well as the major Beijing sites.The optional Peking Duck and Opera, although not a high point of the tour, is a must to experience the Chinese culture.All internal flights were well handled in terms of luggage transfer and minimal wait times.The optional Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show is well worth the price. The Viking Emerald although new this year appears worn.Perhaps the high humidity on the Yangtze takes its toll.Both food and room service were excellent.Lectures were interesting. The music in the evenings was well done.Both shows that the crew did were well done.The scenery was awesome.The Three Gorges Dam was a marvel. I enjoyed the school visit the most! Our hotel was within walking distance of the Bund in Shanghai-an extra bonus.We also did the Hong Kong extension. The Li river near Guilin is so different to the Yangtze that this alone is a good reason to do the extension. The morning market in Guilin was also different than anything we had experienced earlier.Hong Kong is a shoppers paradise.There are many things to do and see within walking distance of the hotel. We wanted to see and experience as much of China as we could and opted to do two additional tours.These were Grayline tours. The was Highlights of the Night and the other was Lantau 360 Island Explorer. Food was a concern before we took the cruise.All breakfasts were Buffet and included traditional American fare.Lunch and dinner were about half Chinese and half American. The quality was excellent and there was a wide variety of dishes presented. All hotels were 5*at least.An exceptional tour overall. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
Just returned from the 12 day land tour/river cruise Imperial Jewels of China with Viking River cruises! What a wonderful, wonderful trip! Flew into Shanghai and the Viking reps met us at the airport - we were lucky enough to stay at ... Read More
Just returned from the 12 day land tour/river cruise Imperial Jewels of China with Viking River cruises! What a wonderful, wonderful trip! Flew into Shanghai and the Viking reps met us at the airport - we were lucky enough to stay at the Shangri-La in downtown Shanghai - an incredible hotel! The Garden tour was lovely and the acrobat show was fantastic! The next day, we flew out to Wuhan for tours and to board the Emerald. This was the only snafu of the trip - and it had nothing to do with Viking. Our flight, after we had already boarded the plane, was cancelled due to a "bird strike". Hard to believe as it was sitting on the ground... In any case, our guide, Jamie, moved heaven and earth to get us on another flight - unfortunately at another airport, which ate up most of the day - so by the time we got to the ship in Wuhan, it was 7:30 at night, way past the tours of the museum and the bronze bells. The last group did not get in until after 10PM - so we embarked late and also missed the shore excursion to the Viking school the next day. But they brought the children onto the ship instead - which still gave us an opportunity to meet and interact with them. The next days were fantastic - the ship is absolutely gorgeous, our cabin was spaceous and very comfortable - we were on deck 2, same level as the restaraunt. The tours to the dam, going through the locks and the pagoda were all terrific. Sailing the river was very enjoyable. There is a tai-chi master who holds a half hour class every morning on the back deck, weather permitting - doing tai-chi out in the open air while sailing through the absolutely spectacular scenery of the gorges is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. The on-board lectures are very good. I have read some criticism of the food on board - don't know why, I enjoyed all of it. Yes, some things were better than others, but there were plenty of choices and if you did not like something, they would happily bring you another choice. Our dining room attendants greeted us by name every meal and seemed genuinely happy to see us, even greeting us when they saw us about the ship and on shore. Regretfully departing the ship in Chongqing, we were very lucky to see several pandas including an adorable baby at the zoo. Then we flew into Xi'an and the next morning saw the incredible terra cotta warriors. A last flight into Beijing - the great wall is fantastic, as are the other excursions we went on. We stayed in the Regent Beijing, another lavish fantastic hotel. Our guide, Jamie, really made the trip for us - she was fun, entertaining, very knowledgable and really brought China and the culture alive for us. All of the Viking staff, on board the Emerald or on land, were great - they can't do enough for you and really want to make your vacation memorable. This was a wonderful trip and we can't wait for our next Viking tour/cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
. This ship is one year old. It has been having some growing pains in both the food and the experiences, but it is certainly an amazing experience now. The changes in the staff and food are 6 Star all the way. The rooms are very spacious ... Read More
. This ship is one year old. It has been having some growing pains in both the food and the experiences, but it is certainly an amazing experience now. The changes in the staff and food are 6 Star all the way. The rooms are very spacious for a river cruise. There are three floors NO elevators. There is a large flat screen tv in the room but there is NO reception at all. So there are no television shows of any kind. The is a DVD library with supposedly over 100 titles (multiple languages), but if your clients need noise, or like to watch something before they go to sleep, they may want to bring their own DVDs. Also, there is a clock in the room, it is not digital, so if your clients like to know the time in the middle of the night they should big their own clock. The beds are queen-king size, and. Very comfortable. There are different pillow types. The first night in the hotel manager explained how to get hot water, let the sink and showe run for 3-4 minutes, and then it was hot. It worked and no problems. The air condiitoning works very well, no problems there. There are two chairs and a desk --ample closet space. When you speak to reservations they tell you there Is no Internet service in the ship. That is not true. They have three computers and in the lounge there is Internet access but the reception is so sporadic and if more than ten people are on everything shuts down. When you are going dowthe river there are long stretches with no Internet service. Forewarn your clients. The food was excellent. As of one month ago they have brought on a new hotel manager , new dining room manager and most importantly a new head chef. The 2nd chef is Asian and does all of the local cuisine. The changes and improvements he has made have been amazing. He was very open to suggestions, and was immediate on implementing changes throughout the week. Every morning was buffet, champagne always. there is an egg station, and if you want poached eggs, or something that is not out. Just ask very willing to accommodate. Every morning they had a traditional Eastern options, the best being soup, there was a broth, different noodles and different proteins, and vegetables. By the end if the week, the line to get soup was longer than the line to get eggs.:) The spices and peppers were all in little dishes so you could spice it as you wish. Always fish fruit, salmon and and homemade breads and pastries. Lunch was a combinations of buffet/action station and menu ordering. , you told the waiter your entree and soup. The soup was always one cold and one hot (sometimes creamed and sometimes broth) There was always a display table when you came in, and it showed the entrees that were available. You could modify any of the entrees as you wish. The buffet at lunch was different salads some regional, some traditional. Always something different to taste. Dinner was strictly ala carte. There was always an option at lunch for pasta, hamburger or chicken breast, at dinner a steak, salmon, or chicken breast. There was a vegetarian option always. The excursions. Before you left, the tour director always made sure to remind everyone to take the umbrellas and raincoats and bottles of water always provided. On a European river cruise the choice of options is a title more varied and there are different styles - active, moderate, or slow movers. Not so in Asia . The excursions here are all the same, and you are divided into 4 groups. No difference they are all dng the same thing, it is just more manageable groups. All of the excursions are physically demanding. Mostly tendering to small boats, other than Phom Pen, there are no docks, so when we arrived at a village, to walk, we exited the small boat to a dirt path, or through the weeds and grass along shore. There were also very nice buses taking us for tour off the river to different monasteries. We were there right at the beginning of the rainy season and purpose of this cruise is seeing life along the river. It is very poor, very basic, we saw the markets, the homes, the "factories". A lot of walking on uneven terrain. We also saw floating villages, floating markets, again, you had to be able to tender. The was one guest inboard, who had injured her foot the 2nd day- even before boarding the ship. She was not able to do any weight-bearing on her ankle, and I cannot believe how unbelievable the ship was, She had both crutches and a wheelchair, and whenever she had to go from one level to the next. There were 2 sailors assigned to her that basket carried here up and down, she never missed an excursion, there was a guide and sailor who went with, helped her on and off, pushed the wheel chair all through Cambodia and Vietnam. They and the ship were incredible accommodating to her needs, that being said I would seriously not recommend this to anyone who has physical limitations. The tour guides changed from Cambodia to Vietnam and they were all wonderful. They all spoke English , but you needed concentration to follow the stories and history. They tried so hard to help you understand their culture and history, so after a week, your listening got pretty good. On a Europe river cruise, where you are in a different city, there is regional entertainment every night. This is not possible in Asia , the only time we had local entertainment was in Phonm penn. there was a children's dance troupe doing traditional cambodian dances. In summary, this was an amazing experience and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in seeing Vietnam and Cambodia and soft adventure. The pre and post trips offered are a wonderful way to see the interior of the country. River cruising is wonderful, so glad I had the opportunity to go!   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
Our 17 day trip to China included Shanghai to Beijing offering. It is a trip not to be missed... the boat was fine for river cruising, meals were excellent and lots of variety. Being in August, the river was low so I personally found it ... Read More
Our 17 day trip to China included Shanghai to Beijing offering. It is a trip not to be missed... the boat was fine for river cruising, meals were excellent and lots of variety. Being in August, the river was low so I personally found it difficult to get from the boat to the buses for excursions (too much climbing stairs) but once on board the bus, totally enjoyed all the scenery and the planned day. For the days that we were on land (2 days in Shanghai, Overnight in Xian and 3 nights in Beijing), the hotels were first rate, clean and extremely beautifully decorated with excellent window views. Of special mention was the Crown Plaza in Xian. The only negative I found was a bit of disappointment at disembarkment in Chongqing where helpers were gouging the tourists for assisting them up the many steps from the ship to the buses. Also, the lack of 'personal' time to do shopping - each excursion takes you to 'the government shop' where one may not find the special gifts they would like to bring home. Travel on tour buses and China airways within our trip was clean and comfortable. Finally, a special mention for our tour guide (Mother Hen). This job was very well executed by Mr. Joshua Wu from Beijing. He took great care of us and we will never forget all the great stories he told us over the 17 days we spent together. We made many new friends from all over the world and still keep in touch with some, trading our everyday life stories through e-mails and pictures. Thank you, Viking! Where can you take me this year? I'm ready to go again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
Our Viking cruise On teh Viking Emerald in China was the best trip we have been on. The sites, tours, food and beverage service were all above expectations!The ship itself was new and lovley, clean, shiny, beautifully decorated and well ... Read More
Our Viking cruise On teh Viking Emerald in China was the best trip we have been on. The sites, tours, food and beverage service were all above expectations!The ship itself was new and lovley, clean, shiny, beautifully decorated and well laid out. The cabins were good-very clean, nicely decorated, and comfortable. The room and veranda were comfy and the bath was fine for our needs. I am picky about linens and ours were first rate. Our tour guide (or our loyal and benevolent caretaker) was absolutely the BEST! James told us facts, stories and legends. He took great pains to make sure we saw everything we wanted and understood what we saw. He gave us shopping tips and advice as well as eating tips and advice! James made a huge contribution to our enjoyment of the trip. He was with us on land, river and in the air. The Viking company is so well respected in China that when we were tied up in traffic and late for the plane, James called ahead and they held the plane for us and expedited us through security. WOW! When do you remember having that done for you! We were also first to go in the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit so we had a better view than later visitors. We got the autograph of the last surviving farmer who discovered the warriors. The bar manager, Lois, was wonderful! She really took care of us-we were traveling with 2 friends and made a connection with another couple and made a lively table of 6. We were treated like royalty! We could not have been happier with our cruise! One thing I really like is that all ground excursions are included in the price-with maybe one or two minor dinners/performances. This makes it easy to project your expenses! We have already planned another one for next year with Viking to Transylvania! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
We just came back from Viking's 12 day tour of China. First, I need to say that we are not generally "cruisers" or tour folks as we like to explore on our own and are pretty active i.e., hiking, etc. However, we booked ... Read More
We just came back from Viking's 12 day tour of China. First, I need to say that we are not generally "cruisers" or tour folks as we like to explore on our own and are pretty active i.e., hiking, etc. However, we booked because we wanted to go to China with the least amount of stress and wanted everything taken care of. All I can say is that Viking did and excellent job of hadling every detail for us. All we had to do was show up at the specific time and place they told us each day. The cruise itself was on a gorgeous new boat and the food was very good (and we are amateur foodies). The cruise was 5 days and was a bit boring for us the first 2 days. WE'd rather have spent more time exploring ports and seeing local sites up river. However, there were 156 passengers and 200 or so staff so we were very well taken care of. The passengers are broken up into groups of about 25, each with its own tour guide and stays with you for the entire 12 days, sea and land. Our tour guide, Bill, was great and the other passengers felt the same about theirs. Viking is a luxury type tour and is priced that way so we had fairly high expectations which were actually exceeded. Touring China is 12 days is a challenge and we were pretty much exhausted by the end. Each day is packed and there is very little time to do things on your own. On the entire trip I think we only had 1/2 day on our own and maybe an evening or two. My one criticism is that, strangely enough, the cruise could have been cut shorter to allow more time to explore the ports. Seeing the 7 Gorges dam, the terracotta soldiers and the Great Wall was incredible. It's a shame that "Old China" is quickly disappearing. Unless you get out into the countryside, where most tours don't go, you won't see much of what you see in the movies. This was a great way to get a little taste of China and Viking did a great job. Wish we had more time. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
We have just returned from the Viking Cruise/land tour Imperials Jewels of China. This trip covered 3 days in Beijing , 1.5 days in Xian, 5 day cruise on Yangtze River and 1.5 days in Shanghai. Included was 5 star hotel accommodation in ... Read More
We have just returned from the Viking Cruise/land tour Imperials Jewels of China. This trip covered 3 days in Beijing , 1.5 days in Xian, 5 day cruise on Yangtze River and 1.5 days in Shanghai. Included was 5 star hotel accommodation in the 3 cities listed,3 internal flights and a verandah stateroom on the Viking Emerald. The passengers, 160 in all, were divided into 4 groups of 40 each with a dedicated tour escort for the whole journey. This was not a relaxed cruise/land tour and was full-on, especially on the days when visiting the tourist sights in Beijing, Xian and Shanghai. There was a significant amount of walking in high temperatures and dealing with large crowds at the various sites. It was highly organised and always on the go, leaving very little or no free time on the land days. Apart from breakfast, dining was at local restaurants under the "lazy Susan " format with the food choice being very limited and sub standard at times. On the days of the internal flights it was quite time consuming though the organisation covering the check in and luggage handling and transfers to hotel was well organised, leaving us with no concerns. The Viking Emerald is a reasonably new ship and had all the modern conveniences to make the cruise very comfortable and relaxing. The meals were of a reasonable standard with a choice of either Chinese or Western. There was no entertainment apart from 2 revue type shows put on by the crew. Unfortunately the river cruise schedule had to be changed due to the Yangtze river being in flood and we were unable to sail through the Three Gorges and pass through the lochs which would have been a major attraction for us. However Viking made alternative arrangements to sail up the river to the Three Gorges Dam from Wuhan and return, giving us 4 days cruising and an extra day in Wuhan. Our tour escort was very good and knowledgeable on the key factors covering the places we visited, which was very helpful in helping us attain an understanding of the Chinese culture and lifestyle. The local guides were also of a high standard. One disappointing aspect of this trip was that once you were allocated to your group you were expected to stay with it, and the opportunity to mix with the other passengers was non existent because of the structure that was in place to move everybody around China during the trip. Whilst we understood this, we felt that on the cruise there could have been some relaxation in the group situation so that we could utilise the open dining policy that Viking offers. This was not the case and we were all directed to dine within our groups, and thereby the opportunity to meet and mix with the other passengers did not eventuate. To sum up this trip, it was more an adventure than a holiday in that it provided us with a fully organised insight into China. We understood such organisation was necessary as trying to cover the major tourist attractions on our own, would have been very demanding. Given the short time at our disposal, however, we have to say that Viking proved to be excellent tour operators and their superb organisation enabled us to cover a large amount of China in a very short time. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
This was our first experience with a river cruise and with Viking, and we were very nicely impressed. The itinerary had us spending more time on land than on the ship, but it enabled us to see several highlights of China (the Forbidden ... Read More
This was our first experience with a river cruise and with Viking, and we were very nicely impressed. The itinerary had us spending more time on land than on the ship, but it enabled us to see several highlights of China (the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the terra cotta warriors) quickly and efficiently; and the experiences were memorable. Land accommodations were wonderful, food was very good, and we really enjoyed and appreciated our small group's tour guide (Shanshan Wei). The company handled changes and transfers between locations very nicely. We especially appreciated the fact that the excursions were all included as part of the cost of the trip. Flooding on the Yangtse River meant that we had to board and depart the boat at unexpected places, and we were impressed that Viking was able to make adjustments in our schedule and arrange for transportation to keep us on our journey. We started in Beijing and ended up in Shanghai, and we strongly recommend that itinerary. (The reverse trip is also available from Viking.) It was really nice to have most of the walking and land travels at the beginning of the trip, and then the time on the ship was more relaxing. It was also nice to begin with some of the earlier historic sites and end the trip in the modern city of Shanghai. The entire experience was very special, and we look forward to planning another adventure with Viking. Read Less

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