Just returned from the 12 day land tour/river cruise Imperial Jewels of China with Viking River cruises!
What a wonderful, wonderful trip! Flew into Shanghai and the Viking reps met us at the airport - we were lucky enough to stay at the Shangri-La in downtown Shanghai - an incredible hotel! The Garden tour was lovely and the acrobat show was fantastic! The next day, we flew out to Wuhan for tours and to board the Emerald.
This was the only snafu of the trip - and it had nothing to do with Viking. Our flight, after we had already boarded the plane, was cancelled due to a "bird strike". Hard to believe as it was sitting on the ground... In any case, our guide, Jamie, moved heaven and earth to get us on another flight - unfortunately at another airport, which ate up most of the day - so by the time we got to the ship in Wuhan, it was 7:30 at night, way past the tours of the museum and the bronze bells. The last group did not get in until after 10PM - so we embarked late and also missed the shore excursion to the Viking school the next day. But they brought the children onto the ship instead - which still gave us an opportunity to meet and interact with them.
The next days were fantastic - the ship is absolutely gorgeous, our cabin was spaceous and very comfortable - we were on deck 2, same level as the restaraunt. The tours to the dam, going through the locks and the pagoda were all terrific. Sailing the river was very enjoyable. There is a tai-chi master who holds a half hour class every morning on the back deck, weather permitting - doing tai-chi out in the open air while sailing through the absolutely spectacular scenery of the gorges is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.
The on-board lectures are very good. I have read some criticism of the food on board - don't know why, I enjoyed all of it. Yes, some things were better than others, but there were plenty of choices and if you did not like something, they would happily bring you another choice. Our dining room attendants greeted us by name every meal and seemed genuinely happy to see us, even greeting us when they saw us about the ship and on shore.
Regretfully departing the ship in Chongqing, we were very lucky to see several pandas including an adorable baby at the zoo. Then we flew into Xi'an and the next morning saw the incredible terra cotta warriors. A last flight into Beijing - the great wall is fantastic, as are the other excursions we went on. We stayed in the Regent Beijing, another lavish fantastic hotel.
Our guide, Jamie, really made the trip for us - she was fun, entertaining, very knowledgable and really brought China and the culture alive for us. All of the Viking staff, on board the Emerald or on land, were great - they can't do enough for you and really want to make your vacation memorable. This was a wonderful trip and we can't wait for our next Viking tour/cruise!