We just returned for a wonderful trip to China with 3 boys (17, 17 & 18)my husband (42) and myself (42).
The trip was very informative and a lot of fun. I'd like to share a bit of information that I wish I had before I boarded the ship.
There is nothing for kids to do on the ship. Bring games, cards, movies, books, I pod... something. There really isn't much for adults either and you have some days that you are on the boat for 20+ hours. I read a lot.
There is no food available other than set times. Bring lots of snacks, cookies, crackers and maybe even some cereal. If you go to the top deck you can get pringles and nuts from the bartender if you have a drink. We got to know him very well.
When you go into port, buy some soda and beer there and bring it onboard with you, drinks are way too expensive. I don't mind paying a fair price but 4.50 for a can of soda is a bit much. You can bring anything you want onboard and ask for ice.
Take some laundry detergent and wash whatever you need washed and hang it on the balcony. Laundry is super expensive. We spent 200.00 on 2 days worth of clothes for the 5 of us.
We chose to skip a few of the Chinese dinners and venture out on our own. I suggest doing this. You will have your fill of Chinese food. We ate at Hard Rock, McDonalds and a pizza place. We skipped the Opera and were told the next day that the others wished they had as well.
In Beijing go to the Silk Market, prices are unbelievable. Nothing should be over 100 - 150 yuen. Walk away, they'll come get you.
All in all it was a great trip, kids loved it other than the food. Viking is a class act and takes great care of their guests. Guides are wonderful too.
In Beijing don't miss Wal Mart.. It's a great place to get snacks and t-shirts to take home. We had a blast here..
Take along packets to add to water to make power aid drinks or ice tea. Water is free on the bus and in all rooms. Makes for a nice addition to your drinks.
Fill up on the wonderful breakfasts. Lunch's and dinners are mostly Chinese and get old quick. Take fruit along from the buffet.
Bring lots of snacks. We ate all of ours the first few days and wished we had more. The inner China airports don't sell any American snack foods.
Purchase tips ---------------------
Pack an extra bag for the wonderful purchases you will make.
We got knock off True Religion jeans for 10.00 a pair. Stick to your guns and you'll do the same.
Knock off purses were 15-20.00 each depending on the brand.
T-shirts were 3 for 10.00 (Quicksilver, Ed Hardy, Paul Frank)
I love China t-shirts were 2.00 each.
Fans and kites are 4 for 1.00 in most of the ports.
Scarfs were 5 for 10.00
Pashminis were 4$ each