Viking River Cruises, one of the industry's biggest players in the river cruising arena, has just launched its first-ever China cruise-tours with a brand-new ship. The most significant "extra" offered by the 186-passenger Viking Century Star, the line's 24th ship, is that all cabins have balconies (unusual for river-oriented cruise vessels).
The ship, built by the Chongqing, China-based New Century Cruise Company, is sailing 9- through 16-night Yangtze River itineraries between Chongqing and Wuhan April through November. Key ports of call include Beijing and Shanghai -- and among major sites of interest along the way are Three Gorges Dam and the Ming Tombs.
Another point of distinction for Viking Century Star is that some menus are custom-designed by Martin Yan, best known as the star of the "Yan Can Cook" television series and author of several Chinese cookbooks. The ship also features traditional American fare. Other features of Viking Century Star include in-cabin Internet access, a workout facility, and the Observation Lounge, for cocktails and 360-degree views.