This was our first trip to China and Viking provided a great itinerary to give travelers that little taste of the highlights of China.
We almost didn't book with Viking because they were so unhelpful and uncooperative. Having completed months of research on the various cruise lines, we decided on Viking and called, ready to set everything up and book. We were met with SO MUCH negativity, resistance and unwillingness to help, that we almost decided to look into another cruiseline. We couldn't believe people could be so unfriendly so my husband and I called separately over a period of a month, hoping to get someone who wanted to book us. If not trying to rush us to make some decision while unwilling to give us information to help us do that, they'd put us on hold on the phone for long lengths of time and always came back to tell us they couldn't do this or that. Being that they were the "travel agent" and I an infrequent traveler, I couldn't believe I knew more about More
booking and traveling to China than they did. Viking literature promotes their willingness to help you extend your trip and all we wanted to do was arrive in Beijing two days early, but they tried so hard to dissuade us as if they didn't want the extra work. We even called ANOTHER TRAVEL AGENCY to obtain information they should have known and to give them available flights and they couldn't even understand the time difference between China and the USA. We got the feeling that they hated their job and didn't care at all about trying to make this experience a good one for the traveler OR selling any of their tours. Luckily my husband happened upon AFFORDABLE TRAVEL who we highly recommend, who helped us with everything we wanted to do to plan this trip. It was ironic that we had to go through this third party in order to finally book our Viking cruise because Viking travel agents were so unhelpful.
Once on the tour, the entire trip was wonderful. My only negative comment was that since we are only seeing a very, teeny bit of China, why so many museum tours? I'd rather be out there seeing the sights of China and the people, than stuck in a museum ... and I believe we had 3-4 museums on our tour. Too many! Other than that, we had an excellant tour guide -- Yang Xu -- who was a fountain of knowledge and very interesting to listen to, who dealt with everything thrown at him with a smile and was always pleasant and entertaining and calm, taking charge of all of our emergencies. He really added to the wonderful experience we had. He had us well organized and always told us where to be and when. The sights they put on the tour was a nice sampling of all the main tourist attractions (good itinerary for a first time visitor) and we enjoyed all the Chinese dinners and lunches they provided. I liked the small Voxes they provided us with and the small, manageable tour groups as we got to know everyone in our group really well by the end of the tour.
Accommodations - All the hotels we stayed at were FIRST RATE AWESOME. The ship had really nice staterooms, larger than what we had on our Princess Alaska cruise. Great food, great tours, great guide, awesome tour mates, great ship.
I would definitely want to take another Viking cruise as we had such a wonderful time on this well organized tour; however, I would not book my airline through Viking (they flew us from Shanghai across the continental U.S. to Toronto on the east coast and then back to the west coast where we live) and I would forget about calling Viking direct to book and go straight to Affordable Tours who arranged everything for us and always with a smile. Less
Viking Emerald Cruises to Asia
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Great cabin. More room than expected, but perhaps it was the way everything was laid out. Loved the balcony. Nice, comfortable beds and loved the sitting area/desk. Closet space could be a little better but it was adequate. We purposely selected this room at the end of the ship so we wouldn't have all the noise from the others walking up and down the halls and it was definitely nice and quiet.
This was not really a port as we were not on the ship yet, but I loved touring this city. Unfortunately you see only the highlights but it's not Viking's fault as you have only so much time at each destination. For instance, we spent maybe 2-3 hours at the Summer Palace but literally took a quick walk (and boat ride) through the establishment, not being able to see within any of the structures. One drawback of being in a tour is you spend quite a bit of time just standing in one spot either listening to the guide.