My husband and I went on our first river cruise with Viking this past April. We selected the Imperials Jewels of China as this trip seemed to offer an array of the high points in China for a first time visit. The flight from LA was very moderately priced so we upgraded for an extra $99 per person each way for super economy. This gave us an extra 5-6inches of space which was truly appreciated on an11-12 hour flight to China and back.
Our tour included a full extra day in Bejing at the Ritz Carlton due to our flight schedule. This gave us time to visit the Bejing Zoo and see the two Panda exhibits. Also began to meet some of the other Viking guests before the formal part of the land tour began.
Our stay at the Ritz was a first and probably only experience for us at this level of hotel and it was amazing. We were in a very safe and clean area of the financial/business district and could go out and take walks around the city whenever we desired.
Viking divided the 250 of us into five groups of approximately 38-40 people. Although we stayed with those people the entire trip we had plenty of time to mix with all the others on board the ship.
The itinerary was literally over the top and Viking is highly organized and skilled in moving 250 guests around, always on time. Our leader, Jenna, shared many personal and poignant stories of her life in China coming from a one child family. We all loved her and she made the entire experience a real success.
I would highly recommend this particular River Cruise and land tour to anyone who wants to see the jewels of China. All the tours from the river cruise were included and we had to pay very little out of pocket for extra. The visit to Xian was noteworthy in that theViking guests got in to see the Terra-cotta Warriors a full hour before the museum was open to the public.
Be sure to pick the right time to visit China and many of the cities are called "furnace cities" during the summer and can be freezing during the winter. April was a great month and we only had one 1/2 day of rain. Great value for the money on this one!