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Sail Date: August 2019
Thirteen nights, 7 land, 6 cruising. A little background. My husband and I have cruised on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Oceania but never on a river cruise. We did do Galapagos but I don't count that as a river cruise. China was on ... Read More
Thirteen nights, 7 land, 6 cruising. A little background. My husband and I have cruised on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Oceania but never on a river cruise. We did do Galapagos but I don't count that as a river cruise. China was on our bucket list. I was a little hesitant because I am hearing impaired. I can hear but conversation is tough in a noisy environment. Also, I can't use the earpiece/transmitter apparatus because it just sounds garbled. So I knew I had to rely on my husband to fill me in on what was being said. Now that you know that, you realize why my review may be a little skewed. We flew in a day early to try and adjust a little to the 12 hour time difference from the U.S. east coast to China time. Not easy. You can read my hotel reviews on tripadvisor. They were all 5 star hotels and each had its pluses and minuses. Please be forewarned. There is lots of walking. There are lots of stairs and ramps. If you have any mobility problems, I don't think this is for you. On the actual day 1, which is supposed to be arrival day, you check into your hotel. You are given information as to what you will do the next day and what time. The majority of the time, excursions started early, 7:30 or 8am. There were 3 groups staying at our hotel and 3 groups at another. There were also 2 groups who did Tibet and we did not see them until we boarded the ship. Our group had 34 people and everyone was very friendly. Our tour escort, Anthony, was terrific. I wish I could have understood everything he was saying but my husband filled me in on a lot of it. The remaining 2 days in Beijing were busy, Tianamen Square, Forbidden City, Great Wall, and more. You can read the itinerary on the Viking site. The tour bus was comfortable and the air conditioning worked well because it was hot outside. One big problem, kids were not in school yet so every site in Beijing was ridiculously crowded with locals pushing and shoving. Many women had umbrellas to shield the sun and they carried them low so you had to watch out to make sure you didn't get stuck in the eye. Had we known this about the kids, we would have gone a week or two later. After Beijing, we flew to Xian. Checked bags are put outside of your door the night before or early the morning of the flight and you don't see them again until they're in your hotel room or in your cabin. Carry on bags are put in the belly of the bus. We had 3 intra-China flights, Beijing to Xian, Xian to Chongqing, Wuhan to Shanghai. You will be patted down, just accept it. The first two flights I did not sit with my husband but no problem. The last flight we had to leave the hotel at 6am to catch an 8:20am flight (which was delayed). People were not happy about that. No one looked forward to spending time in the airports for the 1 1/2 hour flights. For two of the flights, there was no jetway. Everyone lines up at the gate to get on a bus to take you to the plane. Then, lugging your carry on, you climb the many steps to board the plane. The same thing happened on our trip home from Shanghai and we were on a big Delta 777. In Xian, we all marveled at the Terra Cotta Warriors. But, again, very crowded and hot. One more surprise, the toilets. Many toilets in restaurants, shops, and malls, are squat toilets. Nowhere to sit. At the airport, the stalls are marked as to which type of toilet is inside. From Xian, we flew to Chongqing to board our ship. Stairs, ramp, but once inside, it was really nice. There are 2 elevators but we only used them once. We were led to our cabin on deck 3 and it was fine. Actually better than expected. Comfy bed, Blackout drapes that actually closed all the way. Small bathroom but plenty of vanity and shelf space. Plenty of closet and storage space. Small balcony with 2 chairs. And it was quiet. The service was outstanding. Everyone smiled and made sure that you were happy. The food, buffet for breakfast and lunch, menu for dinner could rival some of the best restaurants. Please note that all of the tables are round tables for 8 people. You are always eating with others. I thought, with my hearing problem, that would bother me but it didn't. We met and talked with so many people from all over the world and made many new friends. Excursions every morning and then, usually, cruising in the afternoon. There were talks about ports or China life. I didn't attend so there were many times I was bored. Some shows in the evening put on by the staff and they were fun. After 6 nights, we flew to Shanghai. Since our flight was delayed and it was raining when we arrived, Anthony decided we should just go to the hotel. We were all very happy. Busy last day. Then, the next morning, we boarded our bus to airport. We were exhausted and we're now trying to get our internal time clock back to Eastern time. So, to summarize: Be prepared for the time difference. Think about when you want to go. Check school schedules and big events. If you have mobility issues, think twice about this trip. Make sure you're up for it because you will miss a lot if you can't climb the stairs or the ramps. In the bathrooms, look for the signs on the stalls as to what time of toilet is inside. Understand that you will always be eating at a table of 8. If you still decide to go, you will be rewarded. There is so much to see and everyone is there to make sure you are happy. The tour escorts are the best. The food and accommodations are top notch. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the school kids. They are charming and they all looked forward to meeting us. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was the trip of a lifetime for us. Viking staff made all of the difference in the success of this trip. We began in Beijing. We flew on United from Tampa via Washington Dulles. IAD to PEK was a whopping 14+ hours. Customs ... Read More
This was the trip of a lifetime for us. Viking staff made all of the difference in the success of this trip. We began in Beijing. We flew on United from Tampa via Washington Dulles. IAD to PEK was a whopping 14+ hours. Customs clearance in Beijing was fairly painless. We were met by Viking guide Peter, who would be our guide for the next two days. We were taken to the Kerry hotel, where we spend 5 nights. Lovely hotel with small but well equipped room. The hotel has an outstanding health club and indoor pool. Their restaurants are all quite good. Kerry's Kitchen serves buffet for B,L & D. Nice array of Chinese and Western fare. Kerry's Pantry was sort of a take-out restaurant with some seating. Great salads, sandwiches and desserts. Centro is a 24 hour bar and restaurant. The bar was a good hiding place....with an excellent cheeseburger, btw!! We bought the Beijing extension, which gave us a tour of the Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace. Weather was a bit cool - 40's to 50's, but nice and sunny. We had our first lunch at a very large Chinese restaurant. It was pretty good. We had the second day free. We stayed close to the hotel, shopping in the two astonishing adjacent malls. Our actual tour then began. Our guide for the remainder of the journey was Roy. He made the trip for us. Expertly knowledgable and responded to every request and problem. We toured the Great Wall in perfect weather - 50's and piercing bright sun. Roy brought us to a location on the Wall which had almost no other people! Fabulous vantage points and lots of time to shoot photos and just marvel at this wonder of the world. The next day was Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Again perfect weather and great commentary from Roy. Next day we flew to Xi'an. Great flight on China Eastern Airlines. Comfortable seating and on-time flight. Getting through security in all of the Chinese airports is arduous....Full pat downs every time. We stayed at the Wyndham South. This was one of the nicest hotels we've stayed in. It is adjacent to a wonderful ourdoor mall with an engaging walk down to a pogoda. The Terra Cotta Warriors exceeded our expectations. Too much to try to describe here. Next, we flew to Chongqing on Hainan Airlines. It's the largest city in the world. We believed it when we rode through it. It was late in the day, so the building lights were coming on. Breathtaking! It was the first day of a holiday, so traffic was at a standstill. We finally got to the ship's boarding area at around 9pm. We had to descend a large, dangerous set of stairs which had no railing. Points off for Viking on this. We had a suite, # 508. It, along with every other aspect of the ship was just average. The ship is only 8 years old, but is quite worn. The service on the ship was excellent. The food was hit or miss. Everything needed salt, and I normally never salt my food. We had bought the Silver Spirits drink package and found that to be a waste, as we drank mostly the free-flow wine in the restaurant. The noise level in the restaurant was very high, probably due in part to the low ceiings on the ship. Very small fitness room with 2 treadmills, 2 bikes and 2 ellipticals....nothing else. The 6 day cruise was the most scenic cruise we've ever taken. Again, too much to try to describe here. Next, we flew on China Eastern to Shanghai. Exciting drive through this metropolis to the Westin Bund Center. Great hotel with good restaurants. Strange room setup, trying to be funky modern, but was rather dysfunctional. We toured the Yu Gardens and the Shanghai Museum. I'm not a museum person, but this one really appealed to me. It was very spacious and easy to get around.....and it was overwhelming! Finally we flew home on United, connecting in Chicago.....with less than two hours to clear customs and get to our connecting flight. Folks, don't let anyone do this to you. You need a minimum of 4 hours to do this. We barely made it, using the Mobile Passport app. In all, we highly recommend this trip, even though the actual ship is less than Viking's standards. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
My wife and I chose Viking - and, specifically, their "Imperial Jewels of China" itinerary, for our first trip to China. Overall, we are glad we did so. Though it was not without concerns and drawbacks. To be clear, the ... Read More
My wife and I chose Viking - and, specifically, their "Imperial Jewels of China" itinerary, for our first trip to China. Overall, we are glad we did so. Though it was not without concerns and drawbacks. To be clear, the experience of visiting China for more than two weeks was fabulous. We have been fortunate to travel well. This was probably our most interesting, brain-stimulating adventure. The scope of change and the pace and magnitude of development are astounding. As are the many inherent contradictions. While both my wife and I wrote extensively about our travels and observations, let me limit this to our Viking experience. Much of this review will focus on the shortcomings and concerns. But let me be clear that our experience was very positive in many, many respects. We were perhaps more adventurous than many in our group; but not adventurous enough to tackle two weeks in so foreign a place as China entirely on our own. Viking provided the opportunity and the structure for us to have this experience. A few notes on the positive side of the ledger. - Our guide, Kobe, was first-rate in so many ways. Others in our group who have been on more guided trips remarked that he was the best guide they had had - anywhere. He was knowledgeable, personable, able to relate to many unique and different people, focused on the details when he had to be, and someone whom it was always a pleasure to be around. - Viking gets very high marks for meticulous and detailed organization. There were roughly 200 people (almost all Americans, Canadians or Brits) on this journey, divided into eight groups of about 25 people each. This is no small undertaking and everything seemed to work seamlessly from our perspective. - The hotels at which we stayed in Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai were all first-rate in all respects. - Through no fault of Viking, we had missed our day in Wuhan (called "the Chicago of the Orient") due to heavy fog on the Yangtze which forced all river traffic to hold in place for nearly 18 hours. Viking unexpectedly decided to make it up to everyone a day later by chartering a boat for a nighttime cruise of the Huangpu River through Shanghai. Seeing the Bund at night from the water was a real treat. Booking this for 200 people was a class move on Viking's part. I could go on with positives and compliments. But let me turn to the downsides which I hope will be more instructive for Viking. - Only six days of this 15-day trip involved the Yangtze cruise. Yet nearly all of the communications from Viking following our booking focused exclusively on the cruise. There was virtually no mention of the equally or more interesting land portion of the itinerary before and after. So much so that my wife and I checked into our Beijing hotel without really knowing where to meet or whom to contact. Viking would be advised to treat this as a unified, 15-day expedition instead of putting virtually all of the emphasis on the river piece. - We decided to fly into Beijing one day early to have 24 hours to explore on our own (as well as to sleep off a bit of jet lag). For this privilege, Viking charged us a $200 "deviation fee" ($100 per person). Yet Viking provided absolutely no services related to this "deviation". In fact, we had to book our own transport from the airport to the hotel at a price of roughly another $100. When I inquired of Viking's main office as to the rationale for the deviation charge, they really had no answer. - Of most annoyance to us and many others in our group, on four separate occasions Viking paired a buffet lunch (usually very average and nondescript) with some kind of factory showroom tour and controlled shopping opportunity. These were respectively for jade, tea, silk and terra cotta figurines. Clearly, this is a case of Viking getting reduced-cost or free lunches in return for bringing a captive audience to a showroom. From talking with others, Viking is apparently renown for this practice in many locales. That doesn't make it right or advisable or anything that I and others liked. - It would have been nice to have at least one or two unscheduled evenings and the chance to find dinner on our own. Especially in Beijing which is famous for its cuisine. On the whole, the food on this trip was decent and certainly plentiful but undistinguished. - The ship (the Emerald) was quite adequate, but past its prime and not up to Viking standards elsewhere. The dining room is ill-placed on the second level instead of up top with a view. The ceiling in the dining room is quite low which makes it very noisy and hot (with somewhat variable air conditioning). Our cabin was fine, but nothing more than that. Corridors are narrow and floors are somewhat uneven. There is really only one outside deck. A number of nooks and crannies which could make for nice sitting areas are instead given over to onboard merchants selling the usual Chinese fare at vastly inflated prices. I understand that much of this is a function of Viking being required to use Chinese ships. And that a new ship is under construction. Nonetheless... - I am familiar with the usual tipping procedure on cruises whether with Viking or other lines. But the process here was needlessly confusing. We try to be generous tippers, but the number that they added to our onboard bill was exorbitant. Also, there was an ambiguity as to whether this sum also included our guide for the full 15 days. We opted to reduce what we did for the ship's crew and to deal separately and privately with our excellent guide. - Lastly, this is a tricky one, but it needs to be said that our group (and seemingly each group) included people of widely varying physical abilities. Three of the 25 people in our group used wheelchairs or walkers. In no way am I suggesting that folks with such disabilities shouldn't be included in such trips. In fact, I admire their courage and tenacity in continuing such adventurous travel. (And I come with three joint replacements of my own.) But Viking should be more transparent with prospective guests as to the limitations this will cause for others. Why not attempt some selective grouping so that those who are more fit and adventurous can undertake and explore a bit more? That's more than enough. Again, let me make clear that the positive far outweighed the negative with respect to Viking and this trip. Despite the number of words I gave to each in this review. But there are plenty of each. Final word of advice: If you haven't been to China, go. Whether with Viking or some other group or on your own. It is a fascinating place and much of the future is taking shape there. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
Mekong river cruise, Dec 2018. We chose this cruise because we know and trust Viking, and had not seen much of Asia (this was my wife’s first trip to Asia). This cruise certainly met our expectations: The food was great, the staff ... Read More
Mekong river cruise, Dec 2018. We chose this cruise because we know and trust Viking, and had not seen much of Asia (this was my wife’s first trip to Asia). This cruise certainly met our expectations: The food was great, the staff was friendly, and the ship’s cleanliness was impeccable. We had ground tours before and after the river cruise which were fantastic. A suggestion about the pre-tour: Stick some tissue in your pocket when you leave your hotel. A number of the rest stops do not provide toilet paper. Speaking of the hotels, they are indeed the best in town. The Reverie in Saigon is by far the best hotel we have ever stayed in. Our guide for the pre-tour survived the Cambodian holocaust and told us at length of the horrors of trying to survive under Pol Pot. We visited one of the killing fields, which is not for the faint of heart, since there is a large reliquary filled with skulls. Our guide stressed that if we don’t remember, these things will happen again. We missed the first day because of passport problems. The Viking staff smoothly found us very late at the Hanoi airport and joined us up with the tour. There were a couple of negatives about the river cruise. The shower had a serious ‘flush shock’ problem. If anyone on the same deck flushed, the shower temperature would jump. If someone in the cabin behind ours flushed, the water became dangerously hot. Unfortunately this is a design problem, and it would take a complete re-fit to fix. The second issue happened at dinner when the staff served KFC... Khmer Fried Critters. The plate of crickets and grasshoppers did not bother me at all, my wife has eaten them before and I might try them sometime. However, when a platter of fried tarantulas was placed in front of me, an arachnophobe, without any warning, it was too much. I grabbed my wine and bolted. The staff could have showed some sensitivity in this case. Overall, this was a wonderful experience, and I recommend it to any adventurous traveler. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
NO COMMENTS ON VESSEL (OR CABINS) BECAUSE THIS WAS HER LAST VIKING CRUISE. A BRAND NEW SHIP IN 2019!!! Our 2-week Imperial Jewels odyssey, Shanghai to Bejing, celebrated our 50th anniversary. It was extremely well-organized by very ... Read More
NO COMMENTS ON VESSEL (OR CABINS) BECAUSE THIS WAS HER LAST VIKING CRUISE. A BRAND NEW SHIP IN 2019!!! Our 2-week Imperial Jewels odyssey, Shanghai to Bejing, celebrated our 50th anniversary. It was extremely well-organized by very competent staff. Airfare booked thru Viking provided direct flights on American Airlines & included all transfer of ourselves & bags. Welcoming Viking escorts met us, took us to our hotels on the first of many tour bus rides & handled check-in. We met our excellent, personable & continually informative Viking escort, Roy Liu, & our "family" of 35 fellow travelers. All 3 cities featured elegant 4-5 star hotels like Ritz-Carlton. We sailed from Wuhan after 2 nights. The tour includes 3 internal flights on Chinese airlines via vast modern airports. Plentiful daily sightseeing utilizes travel days to see things en route. It is a VERY strenuous tour including countless stairs & uneven pavement. (Few wheelchair service opportunities.) Our only excursion-free "day of rest" was the first on the river. Fascinating, constant learning opportunities introduced the culture, history, landmarks, etc.plus activities like daily Tai Chi exercise class. The hard-working, totally service-oriented Chinese crew provided night time entertainment with colorful costumes & folk dancing. No formal nights or casino. Nice bars with live music duo. No smoking. The ship's elegant dining room had 8-person tables; no assigned seats. Breakfast & lunch had both buffet & menu service. Western-style foods are plentiful on board & at hotels, but don't go if you dislike Chinese cuisine. Restaurant meals on excursions usually many dishes family-style on a "lazy Susan." LOVED the food's variety, flavors, & freshness but missed ice cubes! Viking constantly supplied necessary bottled water. (Even used for brushing teeth!) Free-flow "house" wine, beer, soft drinks at meals. ON SHIP: Wi-fi free but seldom available due to geography. OFF SHIP: Wi-fi free at hotels but no Google, Facebook, etc. Need alternative apps. ALWAYS carry toilet paper; ladies, brief wait for western-style public toilets. Highlights too numerous to list included the expected like Terra Cotta warriors & Great Wall & unexpected like a Chinese elementary school & the exotic Goddess stream gorge. This trip does NOT go to the panda breeding center. We adored these charmers at their Chonqing Zoo enclosures. Glad we went south-to-north as Beijing was the peak experience! November chilly but bearable up north, still warm & humid in the south. (October has millions of Chinese traveling for biggest national holidays.) Viking doesn't waste time at overpriced "factory" businesses but took us to a few quality establishments selling silk embroidery, bronzes, jade, etc. The few small shops on board had higher prices than on land & didn't bargain. Most popular was a tailor creating custom-made silk garments that were bargains compared to US prices. Order early! Added-cost excursions: Only 3, We did the Tang Dynasty Dinner/Show at Xian & the Kung Fu Theatre in Beijing. Both FABULOUS theatrical productions with music,dance, thrills, astonishing special effects worthy of Las Vegas. Incredible value! SO GLAD we experienced this journey to an endlessly surprising, dynamic destination! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We have always wanted to visit China to see the difference in cities, culture and landscapes! This Cruise/Land Tour trip was the perfect way to do that. In the two weeks that we were there we saw 6 megacities, flew three domestic flights ... Read More
We have always wanted to visit China to see the difference in cities, culture and landscapes! This Cruise/Land Tour trip was the perfect way to do that. In the two weeks that we were there we saw 6 megacities, flew three domestic flights within China along with experiencing their airlines and airports, in addition to the 7 night, 6 day cruise on the Yangtze river! -Embarkation went smoothly except for a minor glitch of delayed luggage due to customs holding up one bus temporarily. This is not the fault of the cruise staff and we still left on time. Disembarking was a breeze as was transferring to and from the many airports and hotels. Never had to deal directly with our luggage until the time came to check baggage for our return flight home from Beijing! -The hotel accommodations were unbelievably top notch! All were 5*+ and we felt that the Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai and the Wyndham in Xian were the nicest rooms we've ever stayed in! -The food on board the ship and in all the restaurants was phenomenal. So many opportunities to try new and unusual dishes that we'd never heard of or had before. The only "problem" was there was always too much! -Service aboard the ship was excellent from the cabin attendant to our wonderful waitress Alice and waiter in the dining room. Many are multitalented and also provide the passengers with evening entertainment shows! Any requests of staff were handled efficiently and with a smile. -A variety of onboard activities were offered, from experiencing a tea ceremony explanation, having a silk garment made to talks by the tour director and explanations by local experts on the history, culture and sites as we made our way on Yangtze for six days. -The shore excursions and land tours were equally eye opening, everything I expected and so much more! Visiting a 2nd grade classroom in an elementary school was one of many opportunities to interact one on one with the people. The tours did require some physical activity and walking. Climbing 12 floors to the top of a temple, watching the giant pandas in the Chongquin Zoo, exploring the Three Gorges dam and Terra Cotta warriors in Xian. The Three Gorges on the Yangtze were amazing with a chance to see up close one the most beautiful gorges from a Sampan! Walking on the Great Wall may have been the highlight however. There were just so many sites and experiences in this trip! We have been to many places in the world but we both agree that this is probably the most memorable trip we've taken! -The advantages of having a tour director with our group the whole two weeks was unbelievable. Our tour director Roy for our group of 36 people was Amazing. He did everything and I mean everything! He handled every little detail so that we could just enjoy ourselves. He made the difference between a good trip and an unbelievably excellent trip and he should be commended many times over. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
First of all I apologize for the lateness of this review as I've been busy with life since getting back. We went on the Viking Emerald Yangtze River cruise because a.) we wanted to see the real China, and b.) our daughter was ... Read More
First of all I apologize for the lateness of this review as I've been busy with life since getting back. We went on the Viking Emerald Yangtze River cruise because a.) we wanted to see the real China, and b.) our daughter was studying abroad in Shanghai and we decided to tack on a few days at the end of the cruise to visit her. It was our first Viking cruise, and if it was indicative of how Viking operates I am looking forward to being a repeat customer. Our journey started in Beijing. It took use four hours to get through the multiple lines, two artificial intelligence photos, one misplaced bag and countless immigration officials at the Beijing airport. We were sure that the Viking official who was to pick us up would have left by the time we made it through the gantlet. I was preparing to get a cab to our hotel. But no, Leo, who would serve as our guide throughout the trip, was waiting at the end of the maze for us. That got everything off to the right foot. It really is more of a tour than a cruise. You are split up into groups of about three dozen, and you stay in that group the duration of the trip with the same tour guide. You also start to make friends with a variety of people you did not know before. Leo was fantastic. The poor guy was herding cats the whole trip, and it started five minutes into our first tour at Tiananmen Square, where one person made a wrong turn almost immediately as we got off the bus. But Leo was patient, and eventually he was reunited with the group. China is a strenuous tour. But not impossible. There's a lot of walking, Viking did arrange a wheelchair for one person in our group, and even though China is not an accessible-friendly country, he did manage quite well with the aid of a Viking associate. Basically our tour started with land tours in Beijing, Xi'an, and Chongqing. That took about five days. In Chongqing we boarded the Emerald and traveled down the Yangtze for about six days. Then from Wuhan we flew to Shanghai to complete the tour. Viking offers the same tour in the opposite direction. In addition to the tourist sites, we got to see how regular people live, meeting an artist in her home in one of the poorest sections of Beijing, and visiting a primary school that is sponsored by Viking. The food was spectacular. We had Peking Duck in Beijing, and a variety of food throughout the trip both o the ship and in restaurants. I don't drink so I can't attest to the wine and beer, but I heard no complaints. The ship was great. The public rooms and our guest room were well-maintained and clean. The staff was friendly and always available to help. If China is something on the bucket list, I would highly recommend Viking. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Interested in going to Vietnam and Cambodia to experience the culture, history, people and the food. While I knew it would be hot, I was not prepared for the humidity. The humidity permeated everything, even the air conditioned rooms. ... Read More
Interested in going to Vietnam and Cambodia to experience the culture, history, people and the food. While I knew it would be hot, I was not prepared for the humidity. The humidity permeated everything, even the air conditioned rooms. We chose Viking because we have cruised with them 6 previous times This was a combination land and river cruise. All of the hotels were Outstanding! The ship was a disappointment. The crew, food, and service was excellent but the ship was too small. Dining was cramped and our cabin was the largest on the ship but small compared to other Viking river boats. Our tour director, Tony, who was with us the entire trip was the best we have ever had. He made the trip! He I would recommend the trip because of the destinations and shore excursions ( especially Hanoi, Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh, Saigon). However, I would not do it again unlike other trips (Egypt, China, Russia etc) that I would do again. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
This was a wonderful journey, part land tour and part cruise with a company, Viking, that we've come to trust and enjoy. We started in Hanoi, a group of 54 people. We were divided into two groups with each of us having an escort for ... Read More
This was a wonderful journey, part land tour and part cruise with a company, Viking, that we've come to trust and enjoy. We started in Hanoi, a group of 54 people. We were divided into two groups with each of us having an escort for the complete journey. Our escort was from Saigon (the other from Hanoi) and I very much appreciated his frankness and being able to fill in the gaps when talking about the history of Viet Nam and Cambodia. To start, the hotels Viking uses are 5+ star accommodations, from old classic hotel in Hanoi, to a resort in Siem Reap Cambodia, to modern resort in Ha Long Bay, to ultra modern high rise hotel in Saigon. The excursions in Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Siem Reap (Ankor Wat) was very well organized and very educational. We did the elephant ride among the temples in Siem Reap on our own and would recommend it. The air flight from Hanoi to Siem Reap was on a new Airbus A321; airport terminals were nice and modern. We had a 3.5 hour bus ride from Siem Reap to the Mekong river port to pick up the Viking Mekong riverboat. It is much shorter than their riverboats in Europe, but there are only 26 staterooms on the boat anyway, so it's much more intimate. The first thing that impresses you is the mahogany wood trim and finish all over the boat. The staterooms are slightly smaller that European boats, but all had a queen/king size bed. Each stateroom opens onto an exterior passageway large enough for a couple of chairs and small table to sit and enjoy the river sights. The food was typical Viking, excellent, with many local and standard choices every day. The riverboat only travels during the day (anchor in the river at night except in Phnom Penh where it's tied up, so you're always able to see river sights everyday. We got to our excursions on the river via large sampans which was exciting. Our escorts presented several lectures on the life and history of Viet Nam/Cambodia which were very well done. Viking had a couple of local groups come aboard for entertainment after dinner which was well presented. The bus ride at the end of the river portion into Saigon took us to the Cu Chi tunnels first which was very educational. We had two nights in Saigon at The Reverie, a wildly luxurious hotel, that was included in the basic Viking journey. We wish we had stayed longer. The whole journey including the embarkation and debarkation were effortless; Viking takes care of it all. I strongly recommend this trip and arriving in your departure city (either Hanoi or Saigon) a couple of days early to adjust to time differentials. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
The staff was very service oriented and professional. Opportunity to learn a lot of cultural information about China history, way of life. Fun and interesting people, plus fun shows by the staff. Like the beer and wine at meals at no ... Read More
The staff was very service oriented and professional. Opportunity to learn a lot of cultural information about China history, way of life. Fun and interesting people, plus fun shows by the staff. Like the beer and wine at meals at no additional cost. Smooth ride up a river than in the ocean. Tour guides where informative and English speaking was very good. Will go on another river cruise sometime in the future. Hotel accommodations prior and after cruise were excellent. Air fairs could have been more direct for us living In Seattle than fly to Dallas and then to China and returning to Dallas before proceeding to Seattle. When others in our groups flight did go to Seattle. Weather was great for this trip and our concerns for smog did not develop in the big cities. We had clear beautiful days. Tour buses where great and lots of water was handed out to those who needed it. Great variety of excursion tours to learn culture and opportunities to shop and taste different foods. We would recommend this tour to anybody interested in China. Like that no motorized chairs where able to use this cruise like some ocean cruises. You had to be able to walk so tours were not slowed up. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Never been there, wonderful experience. It was a great experience,guide was wonderful. Would do trip again, if the world wasn’t so big. Looking forward to our next adventure. Met wonderfully people. Really enjoyed traveling with them. ... Read More
Never been there, wonderful experience. It was a great experience,guide was wonderful. Would do trip again, if the world wasn’t so big. Looking forward to our next adventure. Met wonderfully people. Really enjoyed traveling with them. Hotels were excellent. Next time we would be a little bit more aggressive. Money exchange was a bit confusing, use credit cards. Tours were great enjoyed everyday, looking forward to our next trip. Staff was great everything was wonderful. Foods were a experience, difficult to make choices although they tried to give us choices. Beer and wine on board was great, no complaints. We really recommend this trip it was more than we expected. China is a great country, but we really needed more time there. Only complaint was boarding our ship, which was horrible. They really needed a better boarding ramp. Everyone was upset the way we boarded. The ship was great once we were aboard. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Great itinerary to see China (Beijing/Great Wall; Xian/Terra Cotta Warriors; Yangtze River/3 Gorges Dam & sights) and land portion of tour with excellent guides and 5 star hotels was really outstanding. However, the Viking Ship Emerald ... Read More
Great itinerary to see China (Beijing/Great Wall; Xian/Terra Cotta Warriors; Yangtze River/3 Gorges Dam & sights) and land portion of tour with excellent guides and 5 star hotels was really outstanding. However, the Viking Ship Emerald (actually a Chinese ship with all Viking passengers) was damp and musty with below average service. Humidifiers in hallways should have given us our first clue as to serious problems with the ship. We asked for room humidifier and air filter fans and the crew provided these immediately. Dining room service was unusual for a cruise -- couples had to share menus at dinner and at lunch only one menu per table was provide for 8 people (does Viking have a strange cost cutting effort going on?) -- and wait service was impatient and wanted you to order quickly. My onboard credit was denied and I was curtly asked to prove that I had it. Luckily I had a cruise reservation form that had a Viking logo on it so they could finally give us our $250 credit. We has a suite but no one told us that laundry was free -- the Viking documentation was generic and said we had to pay. All other cruises we have taken have a paper in the room which tells of perks that come with the room. Embarkation to ship at Chongqing was a true disaster, extremely unsafe and must be fixed by Viking. From busses we had to descend many crumbling concrete stairs with no railings dragging our carry on luggage by ourselves with absolutely no help from Viking staff of 10-15 standing by watching us struggle to help each other down the wet and muddy stairs. When we complained the Viking staff said China did not allow the Viking ship staff to help us; however, someone delivered our large luggage from the airport to the ship down those same stairs. The ship is supposed to be refurbished in Dec 2018 so that may help appearance, but probably not service. I give this cruise 3 stars because the guides were terrific (ours was Joshua); tours very good (lots of steps -- not easy, but outstanding); the hotels were 5 star plus; and the itinerary outstanding. I also hope that Viking can fix the embarkation disaster (should be easy fix) and the ship is being refurbished. We hope Viking could train the crew to European standards and print a few more menus. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
Expect the days to be HOT and humid at each port you visit. If you can stand the heat and like to sweat, then you'll have a great time. I enjoyed the food offered on the ship, the chefs had nightly special, that gave you a chance to ... Read More
Expect the days to be HOT and humid at each port you visit. If you can stand the heat and like to sweat, then you'll have a great time. I enjoyed the food offered on the ship, the chefs had nightly special, that gave you a chance to try foods that you wouldn't have a chance to enjoy otherwise. The crew couldn't have been more helpful, from keeping the room clean, deck dry, and even cleaning your shoes after coming back from shore excursions. The entertainment on board the ship was limited, except they showed several movies about the area, which help you gained a better understand of their culture and customs. Enjoyed visiting villages, palaces, temples, and homes while on the cruse. Took the pre-excursion to Bangkok, Thailand and was glade that I did. Bangkok is truly a colorful city to visit and their temples have the WOW factor that you just can't miss if you want an enjoyable vacation in Asia. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
We chose this cruise because I have always wanted to return to Vietnam after servicing there in 1970-71. Being able to visit Cambodia and Thailand were added benefits that provided a very unexpected and memorable experience. Our first ... Read More
We chose this cruise because I have always wanted to return to Vietnam after servicing there in 1970-71. Being able to visit Cambodia and Thailand were added benefits that provided a very unexpected and memorable experience. Our first night destination was Hanoi which proved to be a very nice experience. The Sofitel Legend Metropole was beautiful and the service and restaurant were outstanding. The next morning we departed the hotel on the additional trip to Ha Long Bay. We experienced beautiful scenery, a fun trip on a junk with a nice lunch and a trip to a cavern that was a total surprise. Then we were delivered to our hotel by boat. The Vinpearl Hotel was luxurious and welcoming on its own private island. The next morning we visited a cultured pearl farm and learned about the technique and method used to culture a pearl. Then we were off back to Hanoi. We enjoyed and felt safe going out at night to walk through the city to enjoy all of the weekend festivities around the lake. Our next adventure was to fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Visiting the many temples was unbelievable. The pictures you see just don't do them justice.The tour guides, both Viking and local for the entire trip were very knowledgeable and entertaining. After many memorable experiences on land we embarked the Viking Mekong. The ship was beautiful on board (not much to look at from shore). Stateroom was very nice and comfortable, food on board was the highest of quality and the service provided made us feel like we were the only people on board. Perfect! As mentioned earlier our guides were absolutely amazing. The care and concern for our well being was far beyond our expectations. We we got to Saigon our guide, Smiley arranged for me to visit the village in Vietnam that I worked in during the war. The day was a day I will treasure the rest of my life. I felt very proud of what we accomplished and the progress that had been made since 1971. All of the hotels, restaurants and excursions were the best of the best! Handling of luggage and moving us from place to place was perfectly executed. I would make this trip again and again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We chose this cruise because we had never been to China and having cruised with Viking before it was a no brainer. Doubtful that we would ever consider any other Cruise Line. The food and service on board the Viking Emerald was ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had never been to China and having cruised with Viking before it was a no brainer. Doubtful that we would ever consider any other Cruise Line. The food and service on board the Viking Emerald was excellent, as were the on shore excursions. Our favorite shore excursion was the school visit, a surprise because neither of us are what you would call children people. Our tour began in Shanghai and ended in Hong Kong. The weather cooperated wonderfully, light sprinkles in Shanghai And a 15 minute down pour on Victoria peak in Hong Kong which the local guide told us would happen. Of the cities we visited Guilin was our favorite, we thought it was quite beautiful.. The cruise on the River Li was spectacular. The only complaint would be we were tired of Chinese buffets, but we were in China. Our tour guide Tom was with us from Shanghai and said good bye in Hong Kong. He was excellent. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
Viking did their typical great job of organizing and running a three week Roof of the World visit to China. Can't really complain about anything. The food was great. The guide we had (for the entire duration of the trip) was excellent ... Read More
Viking did their typical great job of organizing and running a three week Roof of the World visit to China. Can't really complain about anything. The food was great. The guide we had (for the entire duration of the trip) was excellent and really worked at getting all the guests to talk to each other. The food on board was very good. You had the choice of Chinese or non-Chinese food which helped alot. Food on the land portion was also very good. The hotels were all 4 or 5 star and mostly had buffets which allowed you to choose again from local foods or more standard European/American offerings. The cabin on board was ok but not stellar. Internet while supplied was virtually useless. The guide offered a mild apology in that Viking does not own the ship. They will be bringing their own boat online in a year or two. As a side note, weather was very hot. Consider a cruise a month or so earlier. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
We had never been to Asia, and the price for this cruise was very good. The hotels we stayed at were absolutely beautiful and top notch. The excursions were great, but there was a lot of down time flying from city to city. Overall, we ... Read More
We had never been to Asia, and the price for this cruise was very good. The hotels we stayed at were absolutely beautiful and top notch. The excursions were great, but there was a lot of down time flying from city to city. Overall, we felt it was a wonderful trip, but having been on Viking River Cruises before in Europe, and we have taken a Viking Ocean Cruise, we were disappointed in the ship. It was an old ship. The air conditioning did not work properly. Everything felt damp to the touch. The food and service onboard was outstanding, but I would never take another cruise on Viking to Asia unless I knew it was a Viking Ship that we would be on. The excursions were great, but when eating food off the ship, we were not impressed with the lazy susan style of lunches. At all locations, the food was the same. We weren't overly impressed with the Peking Duck dinner that we paid extra for either. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
The Roof of the World tour is a very good tour to see the wide expanse of China. You hit all the high points with a Yangtze cruise in between two land portions. Food was excellent with very good Chinese selections from each area as well as ... Read More
The Roof of the World tour is a very good tour to see the wide expanse of China. You hit all the high points with a Yangtze cruise in between two land portions. Food was excellent with very good Chinese selections from each area as well as Western. But remember that this is a Chinese visit so don't expect Western fare at all meals by any means. Yangtze cruise was good but not great. With the exception of the three gorges, the majority of the river is pretty boring. City visits are interesting but again not wonderful along the river. The visit to the Great Wall and Xian (terra cotta soldiers) was very good. Tibet was unexpectedly great. I should mention that the guide on the tour was extraordinary. If you're prone to altitude sickness or not sure, make sure you bring some high altitude meds to take. 4 people out of about 50 ended up being very sick. Those that took meds had no problems in Tibet. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose this cruise because we had cruised with Viking before and had a lovely experience. Also, we wanted to visit China and see the highlights. Unfortunately this trip did not live up to our expectations. The food on the land portion ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had cruised with Viking before and had a lovely experience. Also, we wanted to visit China and see the highlights. Unfortunately this trip did not live up to our expectations. The food on the land portion of the trip was very poor. Many of the lunches and dinners were buffets or tables of 10 with a lazy susan in the middle. Food was often cold and not very good. the buffet breakfasts in the hotels were fairly good, as was the food on the ship. Another issue was the pollution that existed everywhere we went in China. A mask was definitely in order. Our visit to the Terracotta Army was the best excursion on the tour. We visited the Great Wall, but unfortunately the weather gave us drizzle and fog, so the visibility was horrible - probably about feet. The hotels we stayed at in Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai were excellent. They were the highlight of the trip. In Shanghai we attended an acrobatic show that was marvelous. There were some other excursions that were not so good - a visit to a Jade factory was just a stop so that we were captive in their shops, and the buffet lunch there was horrible. A rickshaw ride in Beijing was the other activity that was fun, although the portion where we went inside a woman's home was not needed. To get on the boat we had to walk a fair distance on a dock in the water as the boat did not dock at the shore. There were 3 flights within China during this trip. You really didn't get a feel of the land in China. Possibly going by rail between the cities would be a better choice. Our guide was a lovely gentleman who did the most to make a good tour for us all. Also the crew on the ship was very good. Overall this trip was not worth the amount of money we paid. i think Viking is doing itself a disservice by offering this trip. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
Just knowing that someone would be 'holding our hands' throughout the entire trip changed my attitude about traveling in China. After all, there were so many sights - the pandas, the Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors - that I have ... Read More
Just knowing that someone would be 'holding our hands' throughout the entire trip changed my attitude about traveling in China. After all, there were so many sights - the pandas, the Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors - that I have always wanted to see in person, but the thought of traveling in such a large foreign country - different language, food, customs - was daunting. Viking offered an attractive opportunity for my husband and me to realize this dream, so we jumped on it. Because it was such a comprehensive overview of China we really don't feel a need to return. However, it was a marvelous experience and the cruise portion was definitely a highlight. The food was delicious, the stateroom was more than adequate, the cultural talks were excellent, the staff was attentive and delightful, the entertainment was extremely well done -- by the young people in the staff, no less! -- and the excursions were all worthwhile. No complaints! Oh, and the views from the ship - a photographer's delight! We didn't really spend any time lounging on our veranda, but it was a great place to stand to take pictures! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
A wonderful experience. Knowledgeable tour guides, personal attention and excellent hotels. We were placed in tours with our family grounof 6. Service was excellent. River cruise on Yangtze Rivervwas excellent. Staff was always courteous ... Read More
A wonderful experience. Knowledgeable tour guides, personal attention and excellent hotels. We were placed in tours with our family grounof 6. Service was excellent. River cruise on Yangtze Rivervwas excellent. Staff was always courteous and helpful. We were taken to excellent restaurants and food was outstanding.. Tour guide Johanna gave informative talks about the culture. We saw a great deal of highlights in many cities including the Great Wall, Tianeman Square, Terra Cota burial site and Forbidden city. We have great memories of this fabulous trip. On board entertainment was great and the excursions were very well organized. An unforgettable experience. Transfers were well organized. The food on board was outstanding and very delicious. Truly a very nice trip. Loved the planning and organizing. Staff was courteous and friendly. Air travel was more than adequate and timely. My husband and I were thoroughly satisfied with Viking and it’s staff. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to visit China. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We always wanted to see China and Viking provided an excellent trip all around. Our guide, Michael was personable, very helpful and made our trip very comfortable. He knew all the details about our travels and made them seamless. We saw ... Read More
We always wanted to see China and Viking provided an excellent trip all around. Our guide, Michael was personable, very helpful and made our trip very comfortable. He knew all the details about our travels and made them seamless. We saw and experienced so many beautiful sights; each one more impressive and vast than the last. We ate fabulous Chinese food each day and tasted the various local cuisines. It was a three week trip including a 7 night river cruise on the Yangsee River. The hotels in every city were absolutely top grade; very elegant and the ship was very nice as well. We were in a group with our guide for the entire trip which was very comforting; this made the trip so much better. The local guides in each city were knowledgeable and we learned so much about the culture and different areas of China. It was a trip of a lifetime and we highly recommend this to all. It was a very busy trip with alot of travel; 4 flights and the bullet train inside China; but well worth it in order to see so many beautiful sights. We have wonderful memories and fantastic pictures. Thanks Viking and Guide, Michael. The lectures and entertainment onboard ship was top notch. We look forward to our next adventure with Viking Cruises. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We (wife and I) chose this Viking Emerald cruise because it has the major destinations (cities), river cruising, and the dates we wanted. The tour was for 14 days. We booked a couple days before and after the tour/cruise dates to get ... Read More
We (wife and I) chose this Viking Emerald cruise because it has the major destinations (cities), river cruising, and the dates we wanted. The tour was for 14 days. We booked a couple days before and after the tour/cruise dates to get acclimated to the time zone change (from USA/AZ to CN/Beijing) and do some extra site seeing in Beijing and Shanghai. We had a ride booked from the Beijing airport to our hotel and use a cab to ride from Shanghai to the airport. Taxi cab prices were very reasonable. We made sure to get the hotel's address/map, and have the hotel's front desk write down the destination in Chinese for the cab drivers. It was an initial challenge 'flagging down' a return taxi ride until we saw how other people were positioning themselves on the streets. We were on the Viking Emerald river boat for seven days from Chongqing to Wuhan. It was easy to navigate the various levels and find the rooms. The ship levels were all very clean and well furnished. The staff was very accommodating, knowledgeable, and friendly. The cabin was very comfortable, quiet and there was enough storage for our stuff. The dining was good. My wife and I are vegetarian and the selection was spare for lunch and dinner. We asked for some more 'interesting' dishes and the chef was able to accommodate our wants a couple nights. It was enjoyable to sit at different tables to meet new people from various locations. There were approximately 250 people on the boat. The entertainment by the staff was interesting and fun. The informational talks were very good. The staff entertainment with local dress and dance was very good. The M/C was very good, fun jokes, explained local customs and culture. and coordinate the entertainment in the evenings (with guest participation). We did a lot of walking at the cities, ports and excursions. Typical days we walked 2-5 miles -- so make sure you wear good shoes. Smog was an issue for me by the end of tour even though I wore a breathing mask (still dealing with respiratory issues over a month later). My highlight was X'ian and the Terra-Cotta army exhibit. But, all destination were fascinating: Beijing's Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City, Buddhist temple, Confucius temple, neighborhoods, Great Wall, etc. Xian's city square and the Terra-Cotta army exhibit, museum, plus capital for 13 dynasties, etc. Chongqing's embark onto river boat Yangstze River's cruise, Shibaozhai temple, Three gorges wall views, locks, 3G dam, Jingzhou elementary school visit, etc. Wuhan's disembark from river boat for plane ride to Changhai. Shanghai's historical architecture, new buildings, art district, etc. The tour manager/guide was very knowledgeable, courteous, and fun to be with. I took approximately 2,400 pictures and am editing them for viewing. Lots to see and remember the trip via computer screen saver slide show. One trip to China satisfies our interest. We traveled to Southeast Asia and will probably go back there as the food is more accommodating. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
While we had twice been to Beijing on business, and had done some sightseeing while there, this was our first trip to China for the purposes of travel only. The entire program was under the direction of Viking Cruises and they more than ... Read More
While we had twice been to Beijing on business, and had done some sightseeing while there, this was our first trip to China for the purposes of travel only. The entire program was under the direction of Viking Cruises and they more than exceeded their reputation for excellence. There were several groups of travelers in the itinerary, none larger than 30 persons, each with a tour guide. Our guide, Richard, was above every expectation in all respects. The hotels were all excellent, and one, the Four Seasons in Shanghai, was one of the best in which we have ever stayed. The well thought out programs were somewhat strenuous, but we all managed to keep up. There were three nights in Beijing, two nights in Xian, which included a viewing to the Terracotta Warriors, three nights in Lhasa, and then, after a flight to Chongqing, five nights on the Viking Emerald with interesting tours at every port on the Yangtze river. Finally, we spent two nights in Shanghai. As an example of thoughtful planning on Richard's part, we were taken to the superb Shanghai museum on arrival in Shanghai rather than squeezing in a visit in an already crowded schedule the following day. This is not a cruise for the fainthearted, but if one is willing to make the effort and try the different foods, it is a great trip. incidentally, the ship is leased, not owned by Viking, and it is very good, but not as good as if they were to have built, owned and maintained the vessel. That is prohibited by the government because of the use of the Yangtze as a major commercial artery in China. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
It was a great experience, the guided tours to see Great Wall, Terra Cotta Warriors and Yangtze River 3 Gorges Dam were wonderful. The food and service onboard was very good. The hotels in different cities were 5 stars but eating food off ... Read More
It was a great experience, the guided tours to see Great Wall, Terra Cotta Warriors and Yangtze River 3 Gorges Dam were wonderful. The food and service onboard was very good. The hotels in different cities were 5 stars but eating food off the ship were not impressed at all. The food was the same family style at all cities/locations, for the price we paid for the tour, the offshore food quality is definitely below the Viking standard. The cabin is okay, when we onboard on the first day the room was so damp and with an unpleasant smell. My husband turned on the AC unit and it was fine when we retuned from outside. The transfers were included in our Viking tour price. When we arrived at the Shanghai airport, we were picked up by a seven passengers van with two other couples from other US cities. There was not enough room in the trunk to put all the luggage and they have to placed couple luggage in front of the sit, we felt very cramped and uncomfortable on our way to the hotel. Read Less
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