This was our second Viking River cruise. The first was unfavorable due to a missing luggage issue and there was absolutely no help from the ships hotel or cruise directors getting it back to us in 10 days despite the fact it was at the airport one hour after we arrived. The Tulips and Windmills cruise, absent this luggage and uncaring staff problem was very good so we thought we would try China using Viking.
We booked a suite at a $3000 premium and that was a big mistake. As you might have seen in other reviews this ship is not up to any western or Viking standard at all. The suites are on deck five and to start the floor and walls are very uneven. The steel deck plates are sloping and have uneven places where they overlap and / or were welded. The bedroom sloped 2" just in the space of the king beds headboard (6 feet) and we "fell" downhill from the door to the window. My guess is that there was a 6 to 8 inch drop in the length of the room. We asked for and received another room which was not quite as bad but still had a slope issue (the bed was more level than in room 508). The hall was in the middle of the ship and even there you could feel the welds and deck-plate waviness under the carpet. Most people had trouble walking, especially after cocktail hour.
The shower in our "better" room (511) was so uneven that the water did not flow to the drain, it stood in a big puddle in the back of the shower where you had to step out. The shower door rolled downhill and had to be engaged just so to keep it in place. Generally poor construction quality and with no use of levels or plumb-bobs in the construction process. Gaps, saw cuts in the woodwork to repair issues and other poor fit and finish items were commonplace. The deck five suites are a mess.
Now, the air conditioning. During the five days on the ship AC was a major problem on deck 5. The temperature in our room (during May) was in the 80's and by electronic measurement by the staff, the "cool" air blowing into the room measured at and above 80 degrees F. For five days the suite passengers at times stood in the hall on Deck five while staff tried to fix the problem. We found this was not a new problem for just our cruise and some staff said this ship "was not up to Viking standards". We complained about the heat the entire trip while the rest of the passengers complained that the ship was too cold.
It was cold in fact as they had lowered the temperature trying to placate deck 5. Basically the cold air that was available was not making it to the deck five air ducts. On day one they brought in a supplemental "air conditioner" to our room. It was a small unit (similar in size and shape to a dehumidifier) which blew air across a small bucket of ice cubes that we had to request be refilled several ties a day. NOTE - passenger direct access to ice is not available. It helped a small amount if you sat in front of the substitute "AC Unit" but it increased the humidity making it feel worse anywhere else in the room. Needless to say, curtains had to be closed to eliminate solar-heat gain. A not-so-nice nice touch if you want to see the sights along the river. After day three and a lot of complaints, I noted the cabin across from us had a full stock of these units filling the room. This was a known issue! Highest priced cabins had no adequate temperature control and were not level.
Side issue but not the way I would handle a land / river cruise combo:
While we were highest category customers (other than the Presidential Suite), the only upgrade for the cruise was to the worst set of cabins - large saunas described above. During the rest of the trip we were given no "upgrade" treatment. Starting with seats on the planes - luck of the draw I assume. Note there are many intra-China flights on this "cruise". It took several different regular-scheduled passenger planes to ferry us around on this land / cruise trip. Some of the 150 or so passengers were assigned to first class, some got aisle seats and some had to sit in the middle seats. In most cases we personally had the worst seats. In the hotels, we had average rooms but many on the tour got the "luck of the draw" in some cases with much better views or hallway locations. It seems to me that for a 12-day trip after paying 40% more than most others for a higher category, we would be in a waiting list to be among those getting any available better rooms or seats on the plane. Viking does not see it this way yet they could work this small problem. I personally would make every effort to give a little something extra to my highest paying customers.
China is polluted. We saw blue sky on our total 16 days there while in the airplanes above the smog or while in Hong Kong which was clear. The people there are very nice. Too much Chinese food however. The guides for the most part were good. The tours were good.
So, we enjoyed the trip, especially the Guilin / Hong Kong extension but the ship is not adequate, especially deck five and the upgrade fee for the sauna-suites is for only five days, not twelve. I am sure if I had paid the many thousands less and had one of the regular cabins this would have been a much better trip.