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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: June 2013
I will try to stay on matters relevant to prospective travellers and not to dwell on incidentals. A few specifics that may set a framework: we travelled from June 20-July 5, 2013, from Shanghai to Beijing with extension to Guilin and Hong ... Read More
I will try to stay on matters relevant to prospective travellers and not to dwell on incidentals. A few specifics that may set a framework: we travelled from June 20-July 5, 2013, from Shanghai to Beijing with extension to Guilin and Hong Kong; Im 68, overweight, but long ago athletic, and my wife is 57, not athletic, but generally fit. I wont try to cover everything but will focus on pros and cons, each in chronological order. PROS - Vikings organization from airport(s) to hotel(s) to boat. Worriless. - The Tour Escort system, which always give you a bilingual person to rely on and learn from. (Ours was Gao, and he was a mensch.) - The extremely high quality of all hotels. - The Shanghai Museum. Limited but a great way to fill the 75-minute slot available. Ceramics/porcelain the highlight for me, followed by painting; wife favored the bronzes. As much archaeology as art, but learning about Chinese history through artifacts became a valued layer of our trip. - The boat in general (the Viking Emerald). Service excellent, food good, and lecturer (Daniel Peng) informative and witty. Laundry was fast and fairly priced. - The staterooms. Ours was high-end (Deck 5) since we booked late (April) and it was the one that happened to open up, but I believe even the least expensive are good and all have picture windows and balconies (dont expect to use the latter much in the heat and humidity) as well as good bathrooms and showers. Storage a bit short for hanging sweaty clothes. - Fellow passengers. Generally open, good-spirited sorts. We travelled by ourselves but never lacked for good meal companions, although we did find ourselves averting our glances from people whose life stories we already knew and scanning for tables with people who looked interesting. - Casual dress. Shorts the norm. In the heat and humidity, its a relief never to have to dress up. - The Hubei Provinical Museum in Wuhan. We arrived in late afternoon, in a hurry to get to the boat, and only had time for a quick concert on replicas of musical instruments recently unearthed from the tomb of Yi (the king of the Zeng Sate in the Warring States Period (476 BC - 221 BC), then a quick tour of rooms with original chimes and other artifacts, but exhibit was impressive and musicians were skillful. - The scenery after the Three Gorges Dam. Youre in the mountains now. - Smaller boat ride through the lesser Three Gorges. This stretch (and especially the later trip on the Li River in Guilin) reminded me of one of my favorite travel experiences ever, sailing through a fjord in Norway. - Shibaozhai Pagoda on the Yangtze. Very scenic. I cramped a calf on walk to it and didnt climb Pagoda, but wife tells me it was great, and it looked great from outside. - Chongquin Zoo. We saw seven pandas, which our cheerful local guide Romy told us was exceptional. - Terra Cotta Army Museum in Xian. Words cannot describe. Truly one of the wonders of the world, along with, on succeeding days - Great Wall in the Badaling Hills outside Beijing, and - The Forbidden City. These last three sights epitomized the best feature of our trip: being transported into a different world and culture and history. The adjoining Tienamin Square didnt do much for us. Mainly a big, empty space with a strong sense of Mao. - Foot massage in Guilin (were now on the extension and our escort is Jimmy, who was also very good). Another extremely likable, cheerful local guide, Lisa, arranged this. All but a few of us signed up and none regretted it. - Li River Cruise from Quilin to Yangshuo Village. The dimpled, sandstone mountains were spectacular. - Spectacular cityscape from Victoria Peak over Hong Kong and downtown Kowloon. - The 8:00 to 8:18 PM light show from the highrises on the bay was also delightful, and we were lucky enough to catch it on a clear day from a terrific 29th floor restaurant, Aqua (not on tour itinerary). Before I turn to cons, I should note that weather makes a huge difference, and we lucked into good weather in Hong Kong, on the Li River, in the Lesser Three Gorges, and on several other days. Heat, humidity, and smog are givens for most of the trip, at least in summer, but we were able to see nearly everything clearly (or through a scenic mist) and never felt a need to don our masks. CONS - lunch and dinner at local Chinese restaurants in Shanghai. Truly mediocre (and I love Chinese food back home in Los Angeles). I feared that this would become the norm, but the rest of the local restaurant stops were better. - Acrobatic show after dinner in Shanghai. I kept nodding off, and I dont think it was all the fault of the jet lag. The acrobatic routines were, well, routine, and the music was mind-numbing. A far cry from Cirque de Soleil. - Endless bleak landscapes of pre-fab looking highrises, most of which didnt seem occupied (whos doing the planning here?). Downtown Shanghai and Beijing are spectacular, but we came away from busrides through other areas grateful we didnt live there. - The Three Gorges Dam. We used to apply a standard with our sons (now grown and not on this trip), If we wouldnt do it at home, why do it here? and weve never gone to the Hoover Dam. Then, for the Three Gorges, you add in the heat, humidity, and fog/smog that makes it unlikely youll see much. Guide joke, They say there are two kinds of days here, foggy and very foggy. - The Viking School in Yueyang. The children are adorable and the cause is probably worthy, but its painful to think of the kids being required to perform for the Westerners (ours had come in on a Sunday, just for us). Also, this morning excursion is the only event of the day. I cynically pictured Viking Executives sitting around brainstorming, What can we throw in for people in the long, dull stage of the cruise before the mountains? I know, lets help fund a school! - The scenery before you get to the Three Gorges. All bleak and flat. Look, theres a sandpile! - The walk to the Shibaozhai Pagoda. Although the Pagoda is at water level a short distance from the boat, they routed us to it through a steep, two-block climb through a gauntlet of hawkers then a similar descent. This was when I tweaked my calf. - The stop at the jewelry store on the Hong Kong tour was endless. Id felt mildly peeved at the shopping opportunities at a silk rug and embroidery outlet in Shanghai, but I was fuming by the time they let the captive audience out of the jewelry store. True, Im not a shopper, but they could have told us, Youve got half an hour, and shoppers and non could have been satisfied. As it was they kept us for over an hour until the last person stopped showing any interest in the over-priced baubles. A few general impressions. We had a great time. We wanted to escape our routines, and China and Viking certainly provided that, and in as much comfort as it would be reasonable to expect. The five internal flights in China got to be complicated and tiresome, but Viking handled them smoothly, and I accept that they were necessary for us to get as rounded a tour as did. Well definitely be looking through our Viking catalogue for future river cruises, but well also be checking other companies. Cruisecritic provided a helpful resource for this trip (amazing how you can sort out a consensus through the few people who loved everything and the few people who hated everything), and we expect to use it more broadly.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
Our total trip, land + river, was 12 days. A viking representative met us at the airport in Shanghai and from that point on we were superbly cared for until a Viking rep dropped us at the airport in Beijing. The attention to detail, the ... Read More
Our total trip, land + river, was 12 days. A viking representative met us at the airport in Shanghai and from that point on we were superbly cared for until a Viking rep dropped us at the airport in Beijing. The attention to detail, the very personal care, the knowledge of our guide, the friendships we made - all exceptional. Quality 5 Star hotels, no cuing in lines for tourist sites, spectacular World Heritage tours. The Viking ship, Emerald, was good - not great....it's a little tired and could use some updating, but again the service of the Viking employees was exceptional. Breakfast and lunch buffet were excellent, but chef could use a course in preparation of western cuisine. When local fare was prepared, it was wonderful, but the kitchen struggled a bit with anything out of their traditional comfort zone (Chilean Sea Bass cooked till dry as wood chips) And cookies! How difficult would it be to offer a simple Toll House Chocolate Chip instead of dried compressed sawdust. But if those are the only two things that weren't up to par they were more than compensated for by the overall excellence of our experience. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
My son (25) and I (58) took the July 9, 2013 Shanghai-Beijing "Imperial Jewels of China" 12-day tour, which included 5 nights on the Yangtze River going upriver. It was a trip of a lifetime. As an American, the cultural ... Read More
My son (25) and I (58) took the July 9, 2013 Shanghai-Beijing "Imperial Jewels of China" 12-day tour, which included 5 nights on the Yangtze River going upriver. It was a trip of a lifetime. As an American, the cultural differences between China and Northeast US where we live cannot be overstated. China, for the most part, is still a third-world country in many aspects. It's clear that this country only opened itself to the world in recent decades. The Chinese culture has a very strong history which is still unchanged by other cultures due to their centuries of self-seclusion. Celebrated in music, in theatre, in daily living, every day on this trip introduced my son and I to new outlooks, new foods, new scenery, new ideas and traditions, and new friends. We were able to see the truly amazing natural sites like the historic Yangtze River/extensive and awe-inspiring gorges and Chongqing's giant pandas, plus ancient and extraordinary man-made artifacts such as a buried enormous set of Chinese Bells, jade, Oriental rugs and rug-making, the Terra-Cotta Warriors, the Great Wall, the new largest-in-the-world (Three Gorges) Dam/5-lock system, which changed the face of that part of the world with the rising river water it produced, Shanghai's cosmopolitan modern city and Beijing's historic Tiananman Square and the Forbidden City. And more. The ship was lovely, the food was great, if sometimes experimental (the Chinese really do eat everything), and there were artisans onboard who could create you Chinese clothing made-to-order, beautiful Chinese paintings and painted articles, tea sets and Chinese tea culture, Chinese dancing and traditional costumes of various dynasties. You could also receive an introduction to Tai Chi or receive Chinese massage, pedicure or other delights. Daytrips were mostly covered financially as part of the tour price with only 3 charged extras, all of which we experienced, including two dinner-theatre events (Tang Dynasty and Peking Opera), and a traditional Peking Duck dinner. The boat is small, only accommodating some 240, which split into groups of approximately 30, each led by a Chinese tour guide, which traveled on individual buses for the land portions of the tour. Although ship cabins are always challenging in size if one doesn't have a huge budget, I found the shower to be larger than expected and the bathroom fairly spacious. The interior 270-sq-ft space was nicely fitted, with unanticipated added "comes-with-the-room" features like an umbrella and robe. Loved the veranda as well. In a very hot climate as the Yangtze river areas were, it was a pleasure to be able to sit in a private space to enjoy the view, or to, as we did, rig up a clothes-line system (we brought clothes line and pins) so we had a place to dry laundry, which we washed by hand on-board several times. This was allowed since it's a very common thing in China to hang your laundry; almost no one uses a clothes dryer anywhere, there. Definitely a good decision on the part of Viking to allow everyone to have a veranda. I was dismayed, on the next-to-last day of the tour when we were at the Great Wall, when I inadvertently took a wrong turn when trying to return to our meeting place and found myself far, far away from where I was supposed to be. Although I missed getting back to my meeting place in time and my bus returned without me on the 50-minute ride back to Beijing, this extremely frightening experience (I had no Chinese language and the people where I found myself had little to no English skills) cost me a taxi-ride back to where I was supposed to get to, where I found out for the first time I had been "stranded" by my bus at the Great Wall, Viking River Tours already had anticipated such innocent mistakes as mine, and because I was wearing a name tag with a Chinese character on it telling the Chinese who I was with and therefore where I was supposed to meet, and because that same name tag had the phone number of my bus's Chinese (Viking) travel guide, I was rescued by Viking. In fact, the company even paid for my second taxi...the 50-minute one back to Beijing to the luncheon spot where the rest of my group had gone ahead of me. So, two things about that....they rescued me and took care of/paid for my rescue....and they didn't hold everyone else up while my rescue was happening. Although I was terrified at the time, I was actually under good care (which no one could share because of the language barrier) and was safe all the while, due to Viking's efficiency and management of their tour spots. Because of this rescue and the Viking's overseeing my well-being, my son and I have decided to go on the Viking Oceans 15-day "Viking Homelands" tour on their new 2015 Ocean cruiser, the Viking Star. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
We have just returned from the Viking Emerald - China's Cultural Delights August 2013 First and foremost, think twice before traveling to China in August. The temperatures were near 100 with 100% humidity daily. The trip has a lot of ... Read More
We have just returned from the Viking Emerald - China's Cultural Delights August 2013 First and foremost, think twice before traveling to China in August. The temperatures were near 100 with 100% humidity daily. The trip has a lot of walking and stairs - the temperature makes the excursions more difficult to handle. Consider your level of fitness, if stairs leave you out of breath or walking more than 1 mile is not going to happen, consider a different trip. You will also encounter lots of pollution. The Viking staff goes out of their way to be helpful and does a good job of taking care of you during your stay, however the trip does leave a lot to be desired. If you are paying more than their  price deal you are paying too much. The ship is warm and damp - with temperatures regulated globally rather than per cabin. The dampness = a musty odor. Floors are uneven and the carpet needs to be re stretched. The cabins are a good size and comfortable. During your river cruise there is a daily excursion, but the majority of the day/night is spent cruising the river. You will have a 3-4 hr excursion which generally includes a 30 min to 1 hour bus ride to your destination. Viking takes you on an extreme number of shopping experiences - rugs, silk, porcelain, jade all served with a mediocre Chinese lunch. You will be taken through a factory and shown the process, with every tour ending in a shop where you can purchase something. If you are not a shopper, beware  of your excursions are shopping experiences. The on board food is plentiful - but quality and taste are not always great. The land portion of the trip is fast paced, the hotels nice, the food plentiful - but not gourmet. You will spend less than 24 hours in most locations and only see a quick highlight of the locations you are visiting. Meals are served on lazy Susan - drinks are usually a warm water, soda or beer - no wine is offered on land. You are encouraged to tip daily for guides and bus drivers- I would suggest you take $100 American Dollars for these tips. Additionally you can charge the on board tips, but if you want to ensure that the tips are going to those you truly appreciated, tip them directly. What you will see and experience is a wonderful culture with people who are genuinely happy and optimistic about their country and their opportunities for a better future. You will interact with local children and their grandparents who greet you at every port. You will see China's richest treasures in Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an and at several stops along the Yangtze. You will sail through beautiful gorges and past mega industrial sites. You will leave with an overview and appreciation for China.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
Just returned from Viking Imperial Jewels of China cruise. We booked our own air with Delta. A Viking local tour guide met us at the airport in Shanghai and the transfer to the Ritz Carlton was flawless. At the hotel we met our guide Jane ... Read More
Just returned from Viking Imperial Jewels of China cruise. We booked our own air with Delta. A Viking local tour guide met us at the airport in Shanghai and the transfer to the Ritz Carlton was flawless. At the hotel we met our guide Jane who was with us for the entire trip. I cannot say enough about her. I called her our security blanket. She managed to get us on early domestic flights which resulted in 3 on time flights. China's domestic airlines are notoriously delayed. We also arrived at all of the crowded venues (pandas, terracotta warriors and Great Wall) ahead of the crowds. We booked the extra nights in Shanghai and were glad we did. Gave us an opportunity to get over jetlag and to see more of this remarkable city. We flew to Wuhan where we boarded the Viking Emerald which was built in 2010 not 2011 for Century cruises. It is chartered by Viking. Chinese shipbuilding is not up to Western standards. The air conditioning cooled all of the rooms, but did not dehumidify which is important. The climate along the Yangtse is subtropical with lots of heat and humidity. The interior decoration of the ship was very attractive. Carpet in some areas is wearing thin. Fall is the best time to cruise. Shipboard staff were excellent and well trained in customer service. Food was good, not great. Pretty much what we expected based on previous Viking cruises in Europe. I would suggest cruisers get the extra alcohol package unless they enjoy the really cheap free wine provided free with meals. This also includes soft drinks used at non meal times. I realize this is a casual cruise, but gym shorts and tee shirts at dinner was too casual for our group of ten. The scenery in the 3 Gorges is spectacular, but be aware this is a humid foggy area with an overlay of the air pollution seen throughout China. Visiblility was only fair except for one day when it was a little better. The river is very busy with commercial traffic. Many river boats carrying raw materials for the massive construction boom we saw everywhere we went along with coal for the many power plants located along the river. The children at the school sponsored by Viking were delightful. We could barely see the 3 Gorges dam because of limited visibility. The Lesser 3 Gorges tour on a smaller boat is very good. We saw the pandas in Chongquing as they were waking up. They are wonderful. The terracotta warriors in Xian are spectacular. The highlight of Bejing was the trip to the Great Wall. We had time to walk as much of the wall as we wanted. Again, visibility was fair at best. During the trip, we toured a silk factory and jade factory, Very interesting, but mainly intended to entice us to purchase their wares. Thankfully, no hard sell. Overall, the trip met our expectations. One peeve was that at all non-ship meals the drink choice was beer, water or soda. Several in our group would have preferred a glass of wine which was either not available or at extra cost. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
First of all, this was not my choice of trips, it was my mom's. She wanted to go for a long time and since she treats me so well and lets me choose destinations a lot of the time I knew that I had to do it for her. I have a hard time ... Read More
First of all, this was not my choice of trips, it was my mom's. She wanted to go for a long time and since she treats me so well and lets me choose destinations a lot of the time I knew that I had to do it for her. I have a hard time with being in a country when I cant speak the language and I am a very very very picky eater so China checked off those two boxes for me right off the bat. I had decided I could always get rice so that would be what I would do if I had to...and I brought a bunch of meal bars with me. I have to say that I never ate any of those bars I brought with me....and this trip is in my top 2, actually its in a class all by itself in the number one spot. I was very pleasantly surprised and very very very impressed with Viking. From the time I collected my luggage from baggage claim upon arrival in Shanghai to the moment I checked in my luggage when leaving from Beijing I was completely taken care of. I felt comfortable and safe and free to enjoy myself. I never actually handled my luggage (other than carry on) during that trip except for arriving and departure from the country. The food on the Viking Emerald is the best I have ever had...ever. They make their own yogurt everyday.....6 different flavors...everyday!! To die for! The ice cream and sorbet was also homemade and so so good!! Great choices for meals and breakfast was killer. I loved going to the same table for every meal and getting to know the staff. Lucy, Amy and Andrew rock!!! There is an anytime menu available that I ordered from twice. I also loved the on board shops!!! Hand carved personalized stamps, tailored clothing, jewelery, tea (and instruction), painting and souveners (I loved the girl in the shop, Cherry), all very nice quality and good prices. The room was perfect, great size, loved the shower! Loved the shows put on by the staff and the lectures and narrations. The 12 days were balanced very well time wise. We had only a couple of days that were hectic, but only because we chose to do the optional excursions, and even then we had a few hours of down time on those days. The on board ship days we had excursions each day and the rest of the time on the ship, it was so relaxing. We saw and did so many amazing things that it was hard to wrap your mind around everything we saw and did, the photos bring it all back each and every time I look through them. I really enjoyed the Acrobatic Show (included excursion), the Bells Performance (included excursion), the Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show (optional excursion) and the Peking Opera (optional excursion). My favorite stops were the Lesser Three Gorges excursion, the Pagoda Visit, seeing the Giant Panda bears, the Terra Cotta Army visit and the Great Wall. Usually you have just a few highlights....I have many more from this trip. I loved The Regent Beijing the best of the hotels, they were all 5 star but this one was much more in my opinion. The best part of this trip was the Tour Escort and the group tho. We had a group of 31 and our Tour Escort was Terry. Terry managed to create a family of us and he was always there for anything we needed. His relaxed attitude and his love of his country shined right through and was very comforting and fun. He shared the right balance of personal information about life in China as a child and as an adult and history of the country. He held our attention with interesting facts and stories and was so natural. We had some great local guides as well but no one could compete with Terry. Of the 31 people in our group we became close with 10 of them, not bad for a group of 31! By the end of the trip Terry was able to peg us pretty closely as to what type of person we were. I hope that Viking realizes what a gem they have in Terry. As for the very very very picky eater, I did well, there were only 2 meals out of 36 that I had a tough time with and ate mostly rice. The lazy Susan meals were fun, and Terry did tell us each time what each dish was. My mom was the taster, she tasted first and gave her impression. We all had great time at the table discussing the foods. It did'nt take long for any of them to figure out that I was the picky one, lol! So in closing I will share the one negative I had about the trip and that was the Intra China flights. There were problems with delays and gate changes and even being bussed out to the field to board a plane. These are not things we typically experience in the US but it happened on all 3 flights and it didnt appear to be out of the ordinary for China. This in no way reflects upon Viking. And I am aware that the flights are necessary to be able to see that much of the country in 12 days at a pretty relaxed pace (which was so welcome). Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
This was a wonderful trip. We were treated as VIP's throughout the tour. It is a hybrid cruise and tour. Because of language barriers the guides have to work harder and they did a great job assisting every person. Don't expect as ... Read More
This was a wonderful trip. We were treated as VIP's throughout the tour. It is a hybrid cruise and tour. Because of language barriers the guides have to work harder and they did a great job assisting every person. Don't expect as much free time just wandering around but every minute is a wonderful memory. Our guides went above and beyond. Jenna Chen, our tour escort, was wonderful, funny, intelligent and super helpful. We asked her to make reservations at NOBU in Beijing and she totally took care of it. She arranged taxis and helped us with every request. All the guides helped informing the group about everything we were going to experience. They were always patient with our group (even when some of the people talked through everything they said and they had to tell them over and over)...the longest delay our group experienced was one hour in the Xian airport...the trip was always on time All the Hotels were five star. The ship was wonderful...The crew accommodated every request. They were friendly and helpful...They anticipated every need. If you wanted chili paste with your food they remembered and had it waiting for you. Jamie, our program director, was informative and had a wonderful sense of humor. It was her first cruise as program director but it seemed she had been doing it forever. Ben was fun and made the cruise more fun. Lois and Nora put up with our nonsense with good humor. Bella and Maggie waited on us hand and foot... We had a Junior Suite which was conveniently located to everything. It was still extremely quite. We were not able to book a Suite so this was a great compromise. It gave us some extra room. With size of our bags that was great. We didn't spend much time in our room because we were always on the viewing deck, lounge or dining. But, the cabin was extremely nice. Beds were comfortable. Bathrooms were a little dated but functional (It is China)...Baths took care of all my requirements. Veranda was wonderful. Super nice experience...Cabin was always clean and tidy....Super wonderful cabin.....CLEAN, Great Veranda and Bed.... We made lifelong friends on this tour. The river cruise was something you just can't experience in China any other way. The beauty of the trip just can't be described. The Viking River Cruise arranged for us to be the only quests at the Wuhan Museum for a Concert of the Bronze Bells. We traveled to China during the National Holiday but spent the Holiday on the cruise down the Yangtze...So we missed most of the crowds...But, the crew was still aware of the issue and arrange things to avoid as much of the crowds as they could. Definitely would advise to take the Shanghai to Beijing trip gives you a chance to relax and adjust to the time change. The crew and guides made this trip so special...The facilities were wonderful...I would definitely travel with Viking again. I would recommend this trip to anyone...Don't hesitate to take this trip but remember it isn't Europe...There aren't always Western Toilets (but the guides warn you where to use them) The Peking Duck was super....Loved the Tang Dynasty Show. It was beautiful (food was yuck but worth the it)...I can't say enough about how great the food on the ship was.. Loved every excursion. The Great Wall was awesome. Because we went during the National Holiday there were flowers everywhere. I will say nothing I have said above does this trip justice. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
We just returned home from a 17 day trip to China starting in Shanghai and ending in Beijing. We had a 6 day cruise along the Yangtze River and an incredible 3 day excursion to Lhasa in Tibet. The entire trip was fascinating. We are ... Read More
We just returned home from a 17 day trip to China starting in Shanghai and ending in Beijing. We had a 6 day cruise along the Yangtze River and an incredible 3 day excursion to Lhasa in Tibet. The entire trip was fascinating. We are seasoned travelers and usually rent a car and tour through countries on our own. We knew this was not possible in China if we wanted to see as much as we could during our time there. Plus the maneuvering from flights, river cruise and historical sights was a massive task. Our amazing tour guide Jessie made it look easy but it would not have been possible as an American tourist. Just working our way through 4 Chinese domestic flights was overwheming with the language barriers. We both agree that Viking was very smart in hiring the best tour guides which stay with you during your entire trip from start to finish. Jessie was always diligent in her attention to details. She would tweek our schedule slightly to work us around obstacles which came up in our tours because of the Chinese government. If she saw that we were moving faster or slower than the schedule had allowed she would call ahead and change our tickets for the next event accordingly. She was friendly and helpful but more than that she was incredibly knowledgeable about the country. We learned so much from her oratory about her family experiences, the changes in China and her personal daily life. It was like she understood that if you were traveling in China we must be very interested in its culture and its people. Tibet was certainly not an easy part of our trip but again Jessie knew just how to plan the three days to allow for some altitude sickness which can range from a slight headache to dizziness and nausea. Because of her attention to this we never missed one event and Tibet was one of our favorite places. We always felt safe and well cared for during our entire time in China because Jessie was thorough in her planning and her attention to our needs as travelers in her country. Our China trip was an amazing experience, of course there were some minor mishaps just as you would have on any travels but the people that Viking hires to deal with such things did their jobs and we were never inconvenienced by the changes or problems that arose. We would definitely use Viking Cruises again to travel in other parts of the world and we would highly recommend them to our friends. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Subject: Viking Cruise, China Nov 1-18, 2013 – Tour Guide-Arnold Zheng We experienced 18 amazing days in China! My sister-in-law and I decided to take a Viking Cruise to China. I love travel and have been on over 25 cruises with various ... Read More
Subject: Viking Cruise, China Nov 1-18, 2013 – Tour Guide-Arnold Zheng We experienced 18 amazing days in China! My sister-in-law and I decided to take a Viking Cruise to China. I love travel and have been on over 25 cruises with various cruise lines in the states and in Europe, so I was anxious to try a river cruise. Growing up in St Louis, on the Mississippi River, I was interested in travelling down the Yangtze River. I had absolutely no idea that this trip would be the very best I had ever experienced in all my travels. It was a trip of a lifetime! In retrospect, the credit for such a fantastic experience should go to Arnold, our amazing guide. Arnold set the tone for tours and his professionalism, sense of humor, incredible knowledge of history and love of his country and family, and his genuine kindness and concern for all of us, made this an exceptional time in China. His English is superb, and his openness and willingness to share stories and his knowledge gave us all a new perspective of Chinese culture. Arnold is certainly a premier tour guide and a genuinely wonderful person who cares about the people who are touring with him. He went above and beyond to ensure that everyone’s needs were met. There wasn’t a situation that he couldn’t handle and did so with kindness and professionalism. Every tour, hotel arrangements, schedule was handled perfectly. Arnold always prepared us for what we would see and do, and he gave us the comfort level in travel that is rarely experienced. Everything was so well planned; and we were very well taken care of during our stay. He showed ultimate respect for all of us, and I have the highest respect for Arnold and his professionalism. It isn’t easy to be away from family for extended periods of time, but it is evident he loves his family and is devoted to them and to his career. Arnold has a great perspective on life; and he is a wonderful ambassador for not only Viking Cruise Lines, but his country, China. The people on the boat were very well travelled. While we docked in some "interesting" places with lots of stairs and ramps that were definitely not the Caribbean docks and ports, everyone seemed to just go with the flow and experience the culture. Stairs were many with few hand rails, but we were always well prepared for the day by our tour guide. Food on the boat was very good and yogurt superb! Chinese local restaurants were very nice, if you like Chinese food. The Peking Duck was wonderful! Optional tours were definitely worth the time and money. Tours were filled with outstanding local guides and a wealth of information. Always plenty of time to shop or take pictures. We left with wonderful memories, great pictures, new friends, and we will definitely book another Viking Cruise in 2014. Hopefully we will experience more “Arnolds” in other countries. It was one fantastic trip!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2014
This cruise-land tour combination is a great way to see quickly the well-known highlights of the huge country of China. Viking River Cruises takes care of all the details and we just had to enjoy the trip. We were met at the airport and ... Read More
This cruise-land tour combination is a great way to see quickly the well-known highlights of the huge country of China. Viking River Cruises takes care of all the details and we just had to enjoy the trip. We were met at the airport and quickly taken to our hotel. There our guide, Johana, met us and started taking care of us. She was excellent! The land tour part of this trip involved 3 intra-China flights. I had been a little apprehensive about that. Johanna handled all the check-in details, all we had to do was go thru security and customs once she took us to the airports. the cruise part of the trip is on the Viking Emerald, a very comfortable ship with every cabin having a private balcony. Spacious for a river cruise. Flat screen TV with the basic news channels and movies. Balcony had room for 2 chairs and gave great perspective of Three Gorges. We were on the same deck as the dining room which was very convenient. Dining Room was very noisy, but the service was excellent and the food good. The weather thru the Three Gorges was misty and rainy. The fog held us up one night so we were almost 12 hours late going thru the ship locks. The staff worked most of the night to secure an alternate excursion for us so we did not feel as though we had missed a thing. The Great Wall is a hard climb, once again Johanna was helpful and honest, giving everyone options. The mornings at the Terracotta Soldiers in Xi'an and at Tiananmen Square-Forbidden City involved hours of walking and were worth every step. For anyone who wants to hit the high spots of China from panda bears to the world largest dam, this is the trip to take. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
Recently returned from an excellently organised trip with a very comprehensive itinerary. April would appear to be a good month to visit this vast country.No smog encountered anywhere.Some rain on the Yangtse but pleasant weather in Xian ... Read More
Recently returned from an excellently organised trip with a very comprehensive itinerary. April would appear to be a good month to visit this vast country.No smog encountered anywhere.Some rain on the Yangtse but pleasant weather in Xian and Beijing. Dealing with the river cruise part first. This was five nights .The cabins on board Emerald are very spacious . The staff in all departments were outstanding.The food was exceptional on board . The dining room in the evening did tend to be noisy.The organisation of on-shore excursions was very good. The land part of the tour involved several internal flights which did make it somewhat tiring.However, the tour escort handled the logistics of this with true professionalism and was a great ambassador for his country. The hotels we stayed in were all four star or above and were all worthy of their rating.The land itinerary contained some nice touches . The acrobatic show in Shanghai was amazing. The rickshaw trip in Beijing was fun. The historical sites tended to be exhausting but overall things were well-paced. I have only one criticism and that was the lunch/evening dining arrangements which were Party Susan affairs. This meant that sometimes the demand and supply were somewhat unmatched and they were also not terribly relaxed dining experiences. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
My husband and I travelled to China on Viking’s Imperial Jewels of China tour in May. Our trip was from Shanghai to Beijing. This was our first time traveling with Viking River Cruise. We had a wonderful guide named Patrick who stayed ... Read More
My husband and I travelled to China on Viking’s Imperial Jewels of China tour in May. Our trip was from Shanghai to Beijing. This was our first time traveling with Viking River Cruise. We had a wonderful guide named Patrick who stayed with us for the entire trip. He met us at Shanghai Airport. (Most guides/crews in China have Western names because it’s easier for foreigners to pronounce.) Patrick has excellent command of English and he is very witty. After collecting more passengers, we were off to start our China adventure! GETTING THERE: We paid extra to customize our air travel with Viking. It was much better deal than anything I could’ve done on my own. The fee also includes three domestic flights, each flight lasting about 1.5-hr. We found the Chinese domestic airports and planes to be very modern, clean, and much larger than we expected. We also did not have any problems with our luggage weight, including our carry-on bags (which we each carried two). Patrick took care of all the logistics. It was great not having to worry about anything! Our fellow passengers were all sophisticated travelers; many were in China for the first time (like us). This trip consisted of land tours as well as the Yangtze River tours. Viking separated the passengers into smaller groups; each had their own guide. The hotels we stayed were all luxurious accommodations. The rooms were very spacious and comfortable and came with nice amenities. The complimentary buffet breakfast at each hotel was varied, fresh, and delicious. It was a great way to start each day! As far as lunch and dinner were concerned, the food wasn’t very memorable but it was plentiful. No one left the table hungry. All the meals were served in a lazy Suzy style, with each table seating eight people. Interestingly enough, my favorite meal was a lunch box we got at Shanghai Airport. It contained two different sandwiches and a delicious cheesecake. The worst food I had was a yellow-colored soup in a Shanghai restaurant. It was supposed to be mushroom soup, but tasted very nasty. From the amount of untouched soups in the other tables, everyone seems to share the same sentiment. This trip involves A LOT of walking and climbing! If you have mobility issue, you may want to think twice before booking this trip. China is not yet handicapped-friendly. The domestic airports (as well as their sightseeing places) have limited wheelchairs available. Also, since the guide cannot leave anyone behind, if someone has problems walking, it will slow down the entire group. Each stop had an English speaking guide and a bus that was clean and comfortable (but no bathroom). We were taken to a number of places that was clearly geared to sell (i.e. silk rug workshop, jade factory, tea outlet, etc, etc), but there were no hard selling and it was interesting to hear their history. The air quality in China was surprisingly good while we were there. I bought masks from home but never had to use it. CURRENCY: You can exchange your money at the hotel. You should take advantage of this service since no exchange will take place onboard the ship. GRATUITIES: USD tipping is as follows and it’s per person, per day: $2 – local guide $1 – bus driver (If you sightsee at two different cities, then two sets of tipping are required.) $10 – to the tour guide $15 – onboard the ship (to be shared by staff & crew) $1 – to the bellboy per each luggage CULTURAL SHOCK: The use of bathroom is quite different here. The traditional Asian toilet is the squatting kind. Most places where Viking took us had Western style toilets. You can tell which kind is behind the door by the picture posted outside. Always carry tissues with you because most of the time, the tissue dispenser is located OUTSIDE the bathroom. (The etiquette here is to take tissues from the dispenser BEFORE entering the stall.) I always stuffed my pockets full of tissues before leaving the hotel. SHANGHAI – walked in Bund (beautiful city scenes!), visited Shanghai Museum (amazing collections!), and saw the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe show (breathtaking performances!) We also visited the Yu Garden, which was a large compound surrounded by many shops (including Starbucks.) WUHAN – we flew here from Shanghai and visited the fascinating Hubei Provincial Museum. We heard the ancient music played using the replica instruments from those found buried with the Marquis of Yi (dd 433 BC). It was a short concert (15 min) but mesmerizing – especially the sound of bronze bells and stone chimes. The museum next door contained many relics from the ancient Chu culture – including the REAL bronze bells unearthed from the tomb. This compound was actually already closed, but kept opened just for the Viking passengers. We embarked on Viking Emerald from this city. VIKING EMERALD – this ship felt dated and the stateroom was small, especially the bathroom and balcony, but it was adequate. The bed was very comfortable and the room was kept clean. The TV had limited channels. The dining room must be near the engine room because it was very loud. It was hard to carry conversation even to someone sitting right next to you. The service was excellent and the food was much better than we expected. The house wine was surprisingly good! (It was from Chile.) We didn’t’ stay onboard all the time while cruising through the Yangtze River but got off the boat to take tours at the Three Gorges Dam, to the Lesser Three Gorges where we got on another boat (there’s limited outdoor seating on top), and walked to the Shibaozhai Temple which was an uphill walk. (You can see the temple in the distance from the ship.) The climb to the top of the temple wasn’t difficult, but it was very crowded. VIKING SPONSORED SCHOOLS: Viking sponsors several local schools and one of them performed for us. The children, of course, were all very, very, cute and they danced very well, but there’s something jarring about seeing children in full makeup and wearing rhinestone costumes that was bit disturbing to us. If they had dressed in their regular clothes, I’m sure the show would’ve been just as good. Nonetheless, we all enjoyed their performances! (You can bring gifts for the children and the monetary donations are greatly appreciated.) We were onboard the ship for five days and checked out on the sixth day at 5:30 AM. It was bit hard to have to wake up so early in the morning, but we knew we had plane to catch. CHONGGING – we disembarked here. We didn’t have a chance to sightsee this city, as we were delayed due to the weather and the low tide. This port was very interesting. Most ports were easy to get off and on. Not this one. The reason is because the lengthy walkway from the ship to the shore was on TOP of the water that is lined with metal platforms! It wobbles as you walked. If you are able-bodied, this causes no problem (in fact, it was a lot of fun!) But if you are disabled, you will need assistance. Porters are available for hire and you’ll need to hire several, as they use wooden stick with one person on each side of the pole and a chair (where you sit) in the middle. A third person will carry your personal belongings. It was quite a sight! XI’AN – we flew here from Chongging. Visiting Terra Cotta Warriors, of course, was the highlight of this city, and it did not disappoint. This compounds is very big, but there are wheelchairs & pushers available for hire. Afternoon was free to explore on your own, or you can attend the optional Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show, or just have a regular dinner at a local restaurant. BEIJING – climbing the Great Wall (very challenging), visiting the Ming Tomb (easy walking), and visiting Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City (throng of people!) involved, not surprisingly, a lot of walking again. We took a group picture in front of the Great Wall and bought their souvenir book (100RMB) with the picture inside. Viking also arranged for everyone to experience the rickshaw ride in Beijing’s Hutong area and visited a house there. The hostess was gracious and informative. While the ride was free, a tipping of 10RMB@ was expected at the end for the cycle driver. This was our last stop. Viking River Cruise did a wonderful job with the itinerary, given the limited time we had. It was very well organized and covered many attractions. We would travel with them again.   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
We traveled on Viking River Cruise's Imperial Jewels of China trip in May/June 2014. We chose Viking because of their total package, and because China would be difficult to navigate by ourselves. I'll start with the negative, ... Read More
We traveled on Viking River Cruise's Imperial Jewels of China trip in May/June 2014. We chose Viking because of their total package, and because China would be difficult to navigate by ourselves. I'll start with the negative, but there were many more positives. The negative was that our group of 24 who traveled and ate most meals together included 8 people who were not able to physically keep up with the rest of the group for various reasons. One individual brought a walker and friend to help her, but even that was not adequate for most of the excursions. During our two week time, two people fell, and two went home before the trip ended. Though Viking "warns" travelers about the rigorous nature of the trip, it's really up to the traveler to decide. The Chinese tour guides are not equipped to accommodate large numbers of handicapped/mobility-challenged individuals. Our guide spent many days scurrying to find wheelchairs for this often demanding group. Viking needs to have the flexibility to move these folks into a group of their own the first or second day (in situations like ours); otherwise, it negatively impacts the rest of the tour group. We missed a trip to the Chongqing Zoo (which has natural habitats rather than a traditional zoo) and the famous Dumpling restaurant in the Muslim District in Xian. So please, if you fall into this category and are considering a trip to China, consider the other travelers before booking a trip. On the positive, we enjoyed our time in the major Chinese cities - Shanghai, Xian and Beijing - more than our time on the cruise. The hotels were 5 star - we stayed at the Shanghai Ritz Carlton, the Xian Hilton and the Regent in Beijing. All were well-located and accommodated to our needs. Traveling from Shanghai to Beijing is beneficial because there is time to get over jet lag at the beginning of the trip, and touring the Yuyuan Gardens, the silk factory and the Shanghai Museum can be done at a relaxing pace. The leg from Xian to Beijing is the most interesting and requires the most walking and traveling. The Chinese airlines were all professional, clean and organized, in our experience, and Viking coordinated our flights well. Xian was one of the highlights of the trip, and Viking wisely made it a two-day stop. Beijing was wonderful during our visit - the weather, the people and our time at Tiananmen Square/Forbidden City - walked 5 miles as well as our 2-hour hike up the south side of the Great Wall of China at Badaling. Shopping at the Pearl Market was a great time with many deals. Give yourself a full afternoon for that. Regarding the cruise, the staff on the ship could not have been nicer or more accommodating. It is not as luxurious as some cruises we have done, but we enjoyed the small group (180 people total), and we made friends with many people. This was nice to do at the beginning of the trip so we could spend time together for the remainder of the trip. Most thought that 3 days on the Yangtze would have been enough, but since Viking is a cruise company, that seems unlikely. The Three Gorges Dam and the Lesser Gorges are definitely worth seeing, but much of the coastline as you head east is industrialized. You will learn so much about China and its culture, and we recommend it! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
We travelled on the Viking Imperial Jewels tour/river cruise at the end of July. We havecruised frequently on ocean cruises and are also independent travellers so this was a unique situation for us. Most of my angst was travelling with a ... Read More
We travelled on the Viking Imperial Jewels tour/river cruise at the end of July. We havecruised frequently on ocean cruises and are also independent travellers so this was a unique situation for us. Most of my angst was travelling with a difficult group. Viking is an outstanding company that we will travel with in the future. For those wanting to see China at a more than comfortable level this is a great trip. Eight groups of 34 make up the entire group travelling on the river. You are put into one of those groups and assigned a tour escort for the whole trip. We were blessed with a great group, mostly teachers due to the time of the year. Our tour escort, Iowa, was outstanding. He provided free and open opinions about China, including first hand information about him in Tianemenan Square in 1989. He was organized and professional. The hotels that are used are 5-6 star quality. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton. Portman in Shanghai, the Hilton in Xi'an and the Regent in Beijing. Outstanding in every way! This is NOT a shopping tour although there are chances to spend money, mostly at Viking approved places. Jade, silk embroidery, silk carpets and Xi'an souvenirs are some of the stops. You have to spend your free time going out to the markets as Viking does not encourage this. There is a tailor aboard the ship if you want a custom silk jacket made, as well as a pearl store and Chinese artist. Each day of the cruise provides for a shore excursion, included in the price. We toured the Three Gorges Dam, toured the Lesser Three Gorges by small boat and climbed the Shaobazhai Temple. There is not a lot to do on the ship so be prepared to relax and read. There is no promenade deck to walk around. We travelled in the summer so there was very, very hot and humid weather. All the daily talks were very informative. The food was very good and plentiful - the best thing is the homemade yogurt served in small jars. Delicious. The staff works extremely hard, especially Lois, the bar manager. The premium bar package at 150.00 is great value, especially if you like trying other wines and enjoy drinks other than beer and wine. House wine and beer and no extra charge however the only choice is Chardonnay. That sold me on the package. Don't expect Wifi, it doesn't exist. There are 6 computers, slow but always available. Wifi is available at Ll hotel free of charge. This is a VERY good trip and an excellent way to see China. I would highly recommend it.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
As with most of our fellow passengers, this was our first visit to China. The trip comprised three land centres punctuated by a five day cruise on the Yangtze. The selected hotels in Shanghai, Xian and Beijing were all of a very high ... Read More
As with most of our fellow passengers, this was our first visit to China. The trip comprised three land centres punctuated by a five day cruise on the Yangtze. The selected hotels in Shanghai, Xian and Beijing were all of a very high quality. Our trip started in Shanghai and ended in Beijing. This to us seemed the best option as it offered the only opportunity to see the pandas. Most of those we spoke to agreed that, with the benefit of hindsight, this was indeed the preferred option as, leaving the Terracotta Army, Forbidden City and Great Wall until the end of the trip diminished any possible feeling of anti-climax. We were fortunate to have an excellent guide, Johanna, who gave us comprehensive background to life in China and an interesting perspective on the changes wrought over the past century. It must be pointed out that we believed we had struck lucky with Johanna but those in other groups were equally enthusiastic about their guides. The specialist city guides too were all of a high quality. The visits were well chosen and informative although those of us staying away from downtown Shanghai would have liked more time on the Bund rather than a cursory drive through. Enrichment activities were organised in several centres, some include, some optional. We enjoyed the evening entertainment in Shanghai and the playing of the ancient instruments in Wuhan. We skipped the circus and duck dinner in Beijing both of which received mixed reviews. We did opt for the afternoon trip to the Summer palace in Beijing and were well rewarded. The transition from land to sea was smoothly handled. Embarkation was swift and welcoming. Services on the Emerald were excellent, a nice touch being that by the end of the first evening the dining room and bar staff had learned our names. The food was uniformly fine with several options for each course in the evening and some interesting choices at lunchtimes for those who were feeling adventurous. We purchased the drinks package which for $150 per head allowed more choice of wine/beer as well as extra drinks outside of mealtimes. Those who did not do so pronounced the complimentary beer and wines perfectly acceptable. The sit as you please dining arrangement allowed us to converse with other guests with whom we would not otherwise have met. The passengers seemed to be split 50-50 in terms of Brits and Americans and we enjoyed some pleasant evenings. Having cruised with Americans in the past we were happy not to meet any who whinged about their taxes and/or tried to convince us that Obama was not an American and should never have been allowed to take his place in the White House. These were truly a different breed! Dining in the cities was usually in the 'Lazy Susan' style allowing the opportunity to sample a number of different dishes. This we enjoyed. Excursions from the boat were well chosen. These included a transfer to smaller boats to sail the Lesser Three Gorges and a visit to the spectacular Shibaozhai pagoda. Entertainment on the boat was limited but the crew put on a couple of shows to showcase their talents. In truth, there was not a lot to do by day except to sit and enjoy the scenery but several informative lectures were provided by the Cruise Director, Paul. Everyone with whom we spoke expressed surprise at the modernisation of China and the speed of progress. Many cities unknown in the west have populations of millions. The memories of vast urban developments, the rush to embrace all things western, and the hugely entertaining interpretation of traffic laws will live long. China is a rapidly changing country with a fascinating past. A visit is enormously rewarding and Viking River Cruises' Imperial Jewels trip offers a value for money introduction to China. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Pictures, films, books, and magazines fall short of capturing China in it's beauty, frenzy, contradictions, and growth to modernization. The Viking cruise did a fantastic job in showing as much as possible in a short period of time. ... Read More
Pictures, films, books, and magazines fall short of capturing China in it's beauty, frenzy, contradictions, and growth to modernization. The Viking cruise did a fantastic job in showing as much as possible in a short period of time. Everything was well planned, well timed, and executed. The tour escort Jenna was exceptional. The ship was very comfortable with good food, cabins, lectures, activities, and staff. The pace was good for older travelers wherein we saw a lot but were not hurried from place to place. We had time to rest with some leisure time on board. We took the extension to Guilin and Hong Kong which was well worth it. All the hotels were 5 star by western standards. The buses were comfortable and modern. We could not have covered as much ground on our own in such a huge country especially not knowing the language. Vikings airport service was efficient and much appreciated. They handled all our ticketing and bags from the moment we booked, arrived in Shanghai until we left the country with no slip ups. This is a first class operation. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We are not easily impressed having been disappointed on many occasions, but this is one time where the trip actually lived up to its hype. While travel in China is not without its drawbacks, we felt that Viking did an excellent job of ... Read More
We are not easily impressed having been disappointed on many occasions, but this is one time where the trip actually lived up to its hype. While travel in China is not without its drawbacks, we felt that Viking did an excellent job of delivering the highlights of China within a reasonable time frame and at a reasonable cost. We like the corporate culture, and were amazed by our tour guide, Bonnie, and the staff onboard the Viking Emerald. I felt that the people Viking employed were very concerned about the welfare and comfort of the participants and very determined to give us personal insights that you would not have gotten had you tried to attempt a trip of this complexity on your own. We had no problem with food safety and were given unlimited bottled water everywhere we went. We only spent 5 days of the cruise tour on the ship, but we found it to be a pleasant experience. There was a pride in doing a superior job that we have not seen in a very long time. I think the Viking corporate culture breeds this type of employee and they should be commended for their excellence. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Roof of the World was a trip of a lifetime! My husband and I thoroughly recommend it for both the cultural and historical aspects. We chose this excursion because it included visiting different areas of China and Llhasa, Tibet. Our group ... Read More
Roof of the World was a trip of a lifetime! My husband and I thoroughly recommend it for both the cultural and historical aspects. We chose this excursion because it included visiting different areas of China and Llhasa, Tibet. Our group of 38 people were housed and traveled separately from other Viking groups (except on the river cruise) because we were the only group going to Tibet. Viking assigns a guide who remains with you throughout this trip. Our guide, Francis, is a Bejing native, and was by far the best guide we've ever had in our many travel experiences. He has 10+ years of travel industry experience and is able to share his personal experiences of the past 30-years of change within his country. Our time aboard the Emerald on the Yangtze River was marvelous. Cruising on this river we could enjoy a variety of local and business traffic, the farmers and fishers in their daily activities, the amazing Three Gorges and the minor gorges, Three Gorges Dam, and large and small cities along the route. Our cabin was compact but thoroughly comfortable. Closet space was a premium, but suitcases fit under the bed so you can store unnecessary clothing. (Note: this cruise is a relaxed environment/dressy casual atmosphere, so formal clothing is not needed here nor on land. Comfort is key!) The Emerald staff are helpful, friendly, and courteous. If they can't understand your question, they find someone who will help you. Of particular note are Lois (lounge), Paul (activities), and the head of the dining room (sorry, but I forgot his name!). With my food allergy, everyone was able to help me avoid problems. We were amazed at how rapidly staff remembered our names and room numbers! If you like to visit the lounge and like wine, we encourage you to sign up for the Premium package! Ordering from the menu or visiting the daily buffet gives a variety of food options. The port and shore excursions included local guides with detailed knowledge of history, traditions, and daily activities. We enjoyed walking through towns, museums, and temples to see and hear the local activities. The Vox speaker system is a perfect in these situations! The visit to a local Tibetan home was an excellent experience. The Viking School children visiting us onboard was wonderful. We were extremely lucky with beautifully clear weather on most days of our trip. The Great Wall was spectacular with fall foliage and blue skies. We know this isn't always the case, and breathing can be difficult for those with asthma or related health issues. Tibet's elevation makes moving and breathing difficult, but the people, places, and food makes it very worth drinking lots of water, resting, avoiding alcohol, and, if necessary, using oxygen. Embarkation, disembarkation, airport check-in, and baggage handling are very efficient. We enjoyed having someone else handling all this for us. A carryon bag and small "daypack" are essential in addition your checked bag. Be prepared for staying in luxury hotels, eating a variety of foods, and non-western toilets. Take this trip and be adaptable. Viking's trip to China and Tibet is excellent! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
This was our first experience with Viking and although the cruise part of the tour and pre cruise trip was only 5 days, the entire trip was 15 days for us. There were lots of logistics for them to handle and we felt they did an excellent ... Read More
This was our first experience with Viking and although the cruise part of the tour and pre cruise trip was only 5 days, the entire trip was 15 days for us. There were lots of logistics for them to handle and we felt they did an excellent job. In fact we have signed up for a 30+ day Baltic/ Norwegian/Iceland extravaganza on their new ocean ships for 2016. We feared that 5 star in China might not mean 5 star, but really I think it is pretty accurate, but this is not a cruise for the person looking to go to the spa, dress up, drink exotic cocktails, see glitzy shows, dance and gamble the night away. This is for the hard core travel addict who is there to see the country, expand their horizons and come home with a new appreciation for a different culture, but wants comfort and safety. The tour guides and staff took their jobs very seriously and gave us wonderful personal insights into their country. We have cruised on many different cruise lines, but Viking seems to have matched our interests better than the others. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
What a wonderful trip, this being my second time with Viking in China. This is a different ship that the last time, but just as nice and comfortable with the greatest room steward I have ever had on any size ship. The selection and ... Read More
What a wonderful trip, this being my second time with Viking in China. This is a different ship that the last time, but just as nice and comfortable with the greatest room steward I have ever had on any size ship. The selection and variety of food, the quality of the free wines and beers on the ship was everything anyone could want. Service also was efficient and fast, with young men and women who were more than happy to being their jobs. The highlight of the ships entertainment was put on the ships own crew, what a great job, their young man doing all the arrangements has a great future ahead of him. Tours were of the best to be offered in China, with excellent local guides, our group leader was also on his toes at all times and we covered everything we needed to see without feeling rushed. The land portion was at 5 star hotels, great clean comfortable rooms excellent meals and service. It was amazing to see how much China has changed in the ten years since I had been there last. For those who would love to see China I can highly recommend Viking with any of the other trips that they offer. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
Our first cruise on a Viking ship was all that was promised and more! Our Chinese Guide Bob spoke excellent English as he explained the Chinese culture both in today's world and many centuries in the past. As we traveled Bob took ... Read More
Our first cruise on a Viking ship was all that was promised and more! Our Chinese Guide Bob spoke excellent English as he explained the Chinese culture both in today's world and many centuries in the past. As we traveled Bob took care of all of our luggage. All we had to do was pack our bags, they would be picked up at a designated time and we would find them in our room at the next destination. On the shore excursions we visited all of the sights promised but along with that the bus rides afforded us the opportunity to see the neighborhoods, the buildings, the atmosphere of the Chinese people. So many wonderful sights. We always had a second guide from the area who graciously answered all of our questions. We learned so much about the Chinese culture from guides who thoroughly knew their subject and had pride and love for their country The ship was no beauty from the outside. But once you entered the doors you would never know it. The interior was sparkling clean the rooms were spacious and beautiful. The staff was very friendly and helpful. By the second day many of the staff knew me by name. The food onboard offered many choices. It was fun to select from some of the Chinese delicacies. Yet steak and chicken choices were always available. Be sure to try the homemade yoghurt that is offered with breakfast. I usually am not a fan of yoghurt I tried a different flavor each morning and loved them all. They come in a cute little jar too. As to the entertainment on board I can't say I was really I impressed. I did enjoy the cooking shows but the nighttime entertainment left a lot to be desired. We were part of a tour group of about 30 people with Bob as our guide. This made it very easy to meet people and everyone was very friendly. There was always somebody we recognized that we could join in one of the sitting areas or at dinner. We became special friend with 3 other couples who we are still in contact with. We loved our trip to China with Viking. I would and have recommended it to everyone. The Viking style of travel has spoiled me. My husband and I have booked a second trip this November on the Romantic Danube trip. Looking forward to seeing the Christmas markets and another great Viking experience. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
Overall, I would give our trip a 98%. It was full of wonderful sites and great guides (Special thanks to our guide, Jamie. She was excellent in every way and we felt lucky to have her for the whole trip). We sampled a lot of China in ... Read More
Overall, I would give our trip a 98%. It was full of wonderful sites and great guides (Special thanks to our guide, Jamie. She was excellent in every way and we felt lucky to have her for the whole trip). We sampled a lot of China in two weeks. The ship and every hotel we stayed at were very comfortable. This tour does call for some strenuous walking at times, and you won't have as many amenities as, say, a Crystal ocean-going ship (my only other cruise experience). But, if you want a taste of China, it is great. THE PROS: so many, I won't put them all in. Shanghai for 3 days. Highly recommended to recover from the flight and sample the city. The Bund is a great site to see, and easily walkable from our hotel. The trip to the silk factory is a 2-hour bus ride, but to us it was interesting because we were seeing China. The cruise. Our cabin was very comfortable, and the staff was super-friendly, fast, and helpful in all ways. The food was on the whole good--a large selection, lots of Western options. On board entertainment was by regular crew members. Not as professional as some cruises but very enjoyable. One of our personal highlights was a visit from a grade-school class who performed a 45" song-and-dance program. Totally charming. The river was very interesting. You do cruise through a lot of industrial areas, but we enjoyed seeing the "real" China. Three-Gorges Dam is magnificent. Other land highlights: Xian. The hotel (Hilton) is great, and you can walk around the walled city very easily and safely. The Terra Cotta warriors are as impressive as you would imagine. Beijing: bring your walking shoes and a sun hat. The Forbidden City is being limited to 800,000 visitors a day (that's right, 800,000) so you can imagine the crowds. Hong Kong--yes, do the extension. It's China but not China. The cons: These are very minor compared to the pros. 1. It's Hot and rainy at times. Bring a big hat and/or parasol. I also found my US rainjacket was way too hot in China. I purchased a $1 poncho and it worked fine. 2. Be prepared for a lot of walking and a lot of bus-riding. 3. Many of the land-dinners are just okay. We were glad to have 2 dinners free in Hong Kong to pick our own places. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
We visited wonderful places - in awe factor order - Forbidden City, Great Wall, Terra Cotta Soldiers, Yangtze River Gorges, school visit, Zoo/Pandas, numerous historical/cultural sites sprinkled throughout our journey. Was not impressed ... Read More
We visited wonderful places - in awe factor order - Forbidden City, Great Wall, Terra Cotta Soldiers, Yangtze River Gorges, school visit, Zoo/Pandas, numerous historical/cultural sites sprinkled throughout our journey. Was not impressed with Hu Tong visit (much construction work which appeared mostly unkempt and junky) and a demonstration of hacky sac type game nearby. Our guide, Matt, was excellent - always in tune with our group and looking out for our welfare. I am an adventurous eater and the food was excellent everywhere we went. Viking Emerald is an older ship so it was not as well appointed as others but accommodations were satisfactory none the less. The ship's crew were friendly, courteous and professional always. The Chinese people appeared friendly and always smiled. We learned to say "Hello" in Chinese and that always brought a smile and a wave and occasionally a picture with "the American visitors" especially from the kids who were just adorable. We would not hesitate to book future Viking vacations in any country offered. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
The trip was great. The hotels were all very nice. It was nice to be in the same small group with the same tour guide the entire trip. I enjoyed all the shore excursions. The food and wine on the ship was outstanding. Since we had 7 ... Read More
The trip was great. The hotels were all very nice. It was nice to be in the same small group with the same tour guide the entire trip. I enjoyed all the shore excursions. The food and wine on the ship was outstanding. Since we had 7 airline flights I liked that the guides took care of our checked in baggage. Everyone was very nice and helpful. My only complaint was two out of our three in country flights were delayed. We missed a couple excursions because of the delays. Read Less
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