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58 Beijing to Asia River Cruise Reviews

This is an EXTREMELY long report; I don’ seem to be able to anything halfway. Please read it knowing that we are NOT tour people. We don’t like regimentation and we surely do not want to get up at 5am every day of our “vacation”. ... Read More
This is an EXTREMELY long report; I don’ seem to be able to anything halfway. Please read it knowing that we are NOT tour people. We don’t like regimentation and we surely do not want to get up at 5am every day of our “vacation”. I have years of experience planning and managing events, and I am quite persnickety. We’ve done many cruise-tours with Grand Circle and Avalon. They have been great, with excellent Tour Escorts. We were expecting “even better” with Viking, and we paid top dollar for this trip. So, out of ignorance, I may be critical of things that are taken for granted on a complex cruise-tour of China. This Trip Report contains mostly my opinions; my husband isn’t quite so critical, but I don’t know what will ever get him on another Viking trip. Before leaving Emerald, we were given two surveys, maybe one for the cruise and one for the overall trip, we were not sure. I never did know which was which, so I didn’t complete either. I have used those surveys as a template for this report. Not being able to figure out the two surveys rather sums up our experience with Viking’s Jewels cruise-tour of China, which departed Beijing on November 2, 2019. We expected a seamless experience but were very disappointed with the lack of attention to detail. I’d rate the Emerald a 10, the cruise 8 of 10 and the tour 4 of 10. Overall experience a 5. We have an excellent Travel Agent cruise expert, so no issues booking or managing trip. We found the trip poorly planned, we spent far too much time in places that deserved about ten minutes, we were force-marched out at 8am or earlier for days on end. Some of us flew 15 hours to China and spent 4 hours in traffic getting into Beijing from the airport. Many pax spent far more time than that to get to Beijing. ENTERTAINMENT Crew did an incredible show one night. Extremely creative and enjoyable. DAILY NEWS Adequate, laid out the next day’s schedule, could have used more detail, but always delivered on time. SHOPPING 3 forced-shopping lunch stops were deplorable. One day we dined at a jade factory. One day we lunched at a lacquer furniture store. We were fed below-average to awful food and trapped in these stores for up to 90 minutes after the lunch. We were pestered at every step to buy something. We had no alternative, forced to stay with the group. It was absolutely insulting. INCLUDED LUNCHES … the Restaurant lunches were fine to very good. Lovely décor, welcoming service, very good food. Food the same at every restaurant, but delicious. FLIGHTS We flew United’s new Polaris SFO-PEK on points. Quite underwhelming. I posted details on FlyerTalk. THREE INTERNAL FLIGHTS were fine. Most of us were concerned about security, etc. But our VikingTour Escort did a great job for our first internal flight and we became quite relaxed about them all. SHANGHAI to HONG KONG to SFO Cathay Pacific Viking’s air desk did a perfect job booking this flight. I was very excited about flying CX but it was merely OK. FAs were robots, they welcomed us, did the drink/meal service and disappeared. TOUR ESCORT I have had the pleasure of working with many Tour Directors over the years on river and small-ship cruises, all of whom I rate as outstanding. We liked our TEr and enjoyed his company, he was welcoming and friendly. I can only rate him adequate to incompetent as a TE. Communicating details to our group seemed to elude him. A couple of examples: No welcome information greeted us at the first hotel. The Viking desk that evening was manned by the bus driver with little English. He told to us to show up next morning at 8am. Our TE blamed the hotel concierge for our lack of info. He appeared the next morning at 750 and was mobbed with pax. What kind of a TE arrives the first day with ten minutes to spare? In the rain, we board the bus. Our TE is good on the mic, but he is mumbling about a marathon. Sure enough, we arrive at T SQ, troop through the rain to a barricade. T SQ is closed for a marathon. Nobody knows when it will open. I expect a TE to be top of this kind of information. Another example is our flight from Xian to board the Emerald. The flight was delayed. Our TE disappeared and didn’t come back for hours. What kind of TE leaves his group sitting at the gate for several hours with no information? China is not like Western Europe, where you can manage to communicate somehow. I don’t understand how a professional TE can be so bad with group communication. We spent a lot of time on this trip trying to figure out what was going on. HOTELS were beyond excellent, JWMarriott in Beijing, Xian Hilton, Shanghai Wanda. 3 nites in Hong Kong on our own; Conrad was great. China has great showers everywhere. JW MARRIOTT BEIJING CENTRAL is a GREAT hotel, super food, lovely Exec Lounge, extremely hospitable. We checked in a day early, a driver had met our flight and we spent 3.5 hours in traffic. Welcome to China! JWM’s front desk people were difficult, but a manager finally got us checked in properly. (It took 30-45 minutes to check in, and 15 minutes to check out.) The clerks should have called for a Manager immediately when they couldn’t understand us. I would expect Viking to choose hotels with personnel available who can communicate with Americans. The warm hospitality of the Executive Lounge surely made up for the awful arrival. XIAN HILTON On arrival, we were greeted in the lobby by a row of smiling young ladies in black with long cream-colored jackets – very elegant. I’m a Hilton Honors person, this was an excellent Hilton with a lovely Executive Lounge. Too bad Hilton would not grant me privileges, only the upgraded room. We laughed every time we passed the Lounge, it was always empty. But Viking took very good care of us during our stay. WANDA REIGN ON THE BUND, SHANGHAI Superlative, absolutely superlative. I agree with the CC reviewer who said it was the best hotel he’d ever stayed in. Reality is even more impressive than the stunning photos on Wanda’s website. 1000% excellent. GROUND TRANSPORT Excellent, clean, spacious buses, friendly, helpful drivers. No restrooms in any bus, contrary to Viking’s information. With the awful toilets in China, this was a major problem. None of the rides were “too long”. VIKING EMERALD Our top-deck suite was wonderful but we didn’t use the balcony with the bad air. There was only one dining room, very good food and service, but the noise was awful, it was like walking into a wall of sound; we skipped dinner a couple of times because we just couldn’t face an hour in the din. Even a few little bites set out at the Bar would have helped. I’ve never booked a suite on a cruise ship that refused to do room service for breakfast, very annoying. Food was good to excellent overall, nothing special. Crew seemed great, happy and welcoming, I felt I could ask for anything. Our cabin steward was sweet. But it’s hard to get over arriving to board the Emerald. Three flights of uneven-height stairs with no hand rails, in the DARK. Absolutely terrifying. This is inexcusable. BEIJING First thing we did was find a WalMart down the street to get some cheap wine. It was a surreal experience that we’ll never forget. Everything in China is huge, but this store was Gi-normous as Peter would say. Unbelievably loud, everyone yapping at full volume, people running all over, brushing by an inch away … we had to laugh because this was just what we had read about. Live people, plus little battery-run megaphones sitting all over the displays, barking at you. Dan engaged a young lady at the jewelry counter to find something in the store, they had an enjoyable discussion using her phone’s translate app. We actually enjoyed our little adventure. We found the Chinese to be lovely people everywhere. And the WalMart wine was quite drinkable. Once the official trip started, we saw a few things in Beijing area over 2 days but not much else. I had two pages of notes on things to see in Beijing. Our time was badly planned, much time wasted. For example, Forbidden City is an enormous property with seemingly hundreds of buildings that all look the same. All the interesting interior things apparently reside in Taiwan. Why would we want to spend 90 minutes walking past these buildings? Boring … FC worth about 15mins walking tour. Very nice garden at the end of the walk but we rolled quickly through it. The fairly long walk from the bus to the entrance was beautiful, along a lake with our TE telling us how it was for the royals. Second day in Beijing Because of Sunday’s marathon, this day we were required to leave the hotel at 715am. This is the SECOND DAY of our tour, we’re still getting acclimated and waking up at 3am. But we’re happy to be on the bus … and on our way to the Great Wall! We appreciated the drive around T SQ, walking it would not have been very interesting. It’s a concrete-covered square, there’s NOTHING there except poor Mao in a huge building with his picture on it. The bus rides would have been a fine time to learn about the areas we were driving through, but our TE talked mostly about history; we learned little about today’s China. We were too strung out to even consider that evening’s Kung Fu show. Turned out to be a good decision, people were not enthused. GREAT WALL Nice short ride, really cool to climb the wall, fairly rough steps and walkways, very windy and chilly; the air felt great and we saw some sunshine. Super group photo and souvenir book. No warning on horrid toilets or advice on how to find one we could use. Our TE just kept telling us to hurry up so we could do the group photo. Most of the women were upset; I was livid. Let’s see, breakfast, then an hour on the bus … and nobody expects there will be no usable bathrooms up on the Great Wall. Too bad, we don’t want to keep the photographer waiting. For me, this cooked it for our poor TE. SACRED WAY tombs with beautiful gardens, huge animal statues along mile-long walkway, very nice walk. Speakers in the trees jabbered away, telling people what they were seeing. Before our flight to Xian, the bicycle Rickshaw tour of Hutongs was excellent. Interesting visit to Madam Wang’s home, we were invited in to hear her story about the ancient courtyards, see her house, and meet some family. Lovely walk back to bus along a lake. Flight was great, well organized, half empty plane a bonus. They served a full meal! XIAN THE WARRIORS Very exciting to “be there”. A couple dozen warriors and several horses had come to San Francisco many years ago and I was wild to see the whole site. In SF, they had presented them in a replica of the excavation; terracotta was all polished and the display very well lit. I found the real thing disappointing. I knew the site had been covered for preservation, but it’s like an enormous warehouse with very little light; everything’s grey/taupe, even the air. 3 “pits” and their contents all looked the same in the murky light. Seeing one of them would have been adequate. Mobbed with people and kids of course. Excellent “museum” quality displays and exhibits at the end. A major issue arose at the end of our Warriors visit. On arrival, we had been whisked away in golf carts to start the tour. Our walking tour lasted for 90 minutes, and without warning we were told that we would be walking back to the bus. People with walking challenges could have rested a bit had they known. Another forced march, a solid 30 minutes. This was the kind of detail that seemed to elude our TE and was the last straw for several in our group. For the evening, we signed on for the optional TANG DYNASTY DINNER THEATER. The descriptions and reviews I’d read made it sound very special. It was awful. Instead of strolling through vast palace gardens and then into the palace for a performance during dinner, we were all hustled off the bus and into a huge banquet room and quickly seated at tables for six. A beautifully-costumed group of musicians was playing ancient Chinese music on ancient Chinese instruments. Uh, not exactly. They were playing songs such as “Oh Suzanna” and “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain”. I knew we were in trouble. We received beautiful keepsake menus, big bottles of ice-cold beer, and the first courses started arriving. The food was inedible, everyone I talked with the next day agreed. The fish course I had was very good, but many people didn’t like any of it. Soon the performers started singing. The criteria seemed to be the decibel level. Shrieking seemed to rule; nothing melodic about it ... and it went on forever. We spent more than $160 to be tortured in a huge room with a vast group of people and we left hungry. That was the last of the Viking optional excursions that we signed up for. CHONGQING The airport experience out of Xian was a total disaster. Flight is delayed, our TE disappears for several hours, we sit at gate. Utter incompetence. Nasty box lunches and no guidance on buying snacks or anything to drink. Maybe something we recognized, we could have purchased, like a Coke ... warm soda, yuck. Ice cream was good. I discovered a “facial recognition” board you could stand in front of and it would recognize you and flash up all your flight info. Very cool, I beamed it up about 9 times during the long afternoon. At last our departure time flashed up and I could tell everyone. We joked that the TEs had all been holed up in the VIP Lounge. Plane a third full, very comfy. Lighters/matches are confiscated at all Chinese airports, our TE found a lighter for me at the end of every flight, he was very thoughtful. All airports were modern, no hauling carryons on stairs or any of the other negatives I’d read. We didn’t see anything of Chongqing, but the elevated highways and the beautiful lights everywhere made for a great ride to Emerald. She was all lit up and we were so glad to see her … for most of us, The Emerald was the reason we were here. A hair-raising scramble down crumbling steps with no handrails, hustle in for dinner, and we depart on the Yangtze River! YANGTZE Floating down the river was just magic. So many of our fellow travelers considered this the primary reason for their trip. Our six days on the Emerald were extremely enjoyable. SHIBAOZHAI Dan skipped this; I rolled out. We walk off the ship and are informed that it’s a 20-minute walk UP HILL to get to the site. You’re telling us this NOW? Golf carts are there for 20Y, but we don’t know that in the chaos. Drivers are trying to hustle us into their cart. Our TE finally shows up to explain, and I zip up the hill with a grinning maniac who lays on his piercing horn at every opportunity … which is every 6 seconds. I whiz by the locals with fingers in my ears. Temple accessed by “Drunken Bridge” that moves all over underneath your feet, fun. Nice landscaped path winds around, there are buildings “up there”, I think “Really, this is it?” No, no, after the last bend appears the gorgeous temple. We’re now on a huge elevated walkway with plenty of room to drink it all in and wave at people climbing 12 stories to the top … who knows why. Emerald is floating in the distance. I enjoyed just wandering and taking photos, making my way back to the square where my golfcart driver waited. Then the daughter accompanying her sometimes-confused mother loses her somewhere. This is a big space and daughter gets hysterical, several of us are trying to help. Daughter tells me that she left mother with the TE to go climb the temple. I don’t think that he would just abandon mother, so I call him on one of the TEs phones and he quickly shows up. Daughter and our TE tear off on a golf cart to see if she’s gone back on board. Daughter later told me that she couldn’t find him, and one of the other TEs was very dismissive and unhelpful. That set her over the edge, poor girl. Never did find out exactly what happened to mother, but she was fine. Until then, I had just enjoyed being “on my own” and wandering around in the beautiful place, snooping through the vendor huts at the dock. THREE GORGES Scenery absolutely spectacular. Air still grey but no longer smells, nice to be outside while we glide through this amazing part of China. SAMPANS UP THE GODDESS STREAM very enjoyable. I had no idea what to expect … a canoe paddled by kids, a fishing boat piloted by an ancient man, a pontoon rigged up from empty oil barrels. The sampans looked very sea-worthy, well-decorated and very cute with huge windows. You could sit out on a spacious back deck as well, what a treat in the clean fresh air! The guide was wonderful, enthusiastic and obviously proud of her home. A huge line of sampans motored up the river; the scenery was indeed spectacular. A super treat for us. 3-GORGES DAM TOUR We were told that we would see the inner workings of this massive structure up close. With the Warriors, this was to be the highlight of the whole trip to China for many of us. Our time at the dam was major disappointment. We were led around to the public viewing sites and the guide told us all about the dam. But we never actually saw anything other than just what anyone would see by visiting this place on their own. I expected a video, a look inside the “works” and some special access … or SOMETHING special. Nada. Viking gave us nothing but the bare minimum. OK, it’s huge. But you can’t see much through the murky air. And everything in China is huge. JINGZHOU It appeared that this stop was made so pax could contribute to a school that Viking supports. I had notes of several things to see in this city, but there was no information in our Daily News. Tour the school or nothing. We skipped it, desperate for some down time, disgusted with lack of information and exhausted by getting out the door every day at the crack of dawn. We had been very careful with the water, but were both coming down with respiratory issues at this point. This Jewels tour has a ridiculous itinerary, poorly planned, with too much wasted time. People said the school kids were cute. WUHAN Sailing into Wuhan after dark was SPECTACULAR. Everybody knows about “light shows” but this brilliant, ever-changing display against all the monster buildings lining the river was really something. Not from the balcony, of course, big city = stinky air; we watched from inside our cabin. I think this was the night they served food like sliced pig tails and chicken feet for dinner. Really disgusting. If you want to give pax a true taste of local foods, please do so somewhere tucked away where the rest of us don’t have to see it. We rolled out the next morning at 8am to see the Hubei Museum. Nearly dark inside, mobbed with people and kids, we tromped around forever looking at bronze cauldrons, etc. How many bronze vessels does one need to see? Stayed much too long, but Hubei Bells performance following the museum was wonderful. Exotic, talented musicians, very well done. This may have been the day with a real lunch at a real restaurant, very enjoyable. SHANGHAI We arrived after dark. Wanda Reign probably the nicest hotel we’ve ever experienced. I stayed in bed, husband did the tour next morning and enjoyed it somewhat. The forced-shopping stop was at a Silk Embroidery place (which I had been looking forward to) was of little interest to him. Far too much time spent at the Shanghai Museum. They skipped the garden for some reason. The temple was terrific. We skipped the evening acrobats; we’d had enough bad entertainment on this trip. We were visiting Hong Kong for three days on our own; Cathay Pacific offers a free stop-over. I remain beyond impressed with Viking’s air desk. We were quite concerned about how we’d manage without our TE! No issues, CX is a very good airline. HONG KONG We were booked at the Hilton Conrad which was affordable with a combination of points and cash. A wonderful choice, from the 57th floor we overlooked Victoria Harbor, and the Executive Lounge was lovely and welcoming. We both noticed the lack of traffic, horn-honking and crowding. The air was usually clear in the morning and the view was spectacular. We didn’t venture far due to our coughing and wheezing. We were there on a weekend, but no sign of protesters. Cathay Pacific Hong Kong to SFO was not as grand as I had expected, but a very comfortable flight. We were both very happy to gobble up some Nyquil, crawl into bed and sleep. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Thirteen nights, 7 land, 6 cruising. A little background. My husband and I have cruised on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Oceania but never on a river cruise. We did do Galapagos but I don't count that as a river cruise. China was on ... Read More
Thirteen nights, 7 land, 6 cruising. A little background. My husband and I have cruised on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Oceania but never on a river cruise. We did do Galapagos but I don't count that as a river cruise. China was on our bucket list. I was a little hesitant because I am hearing impaired. I can hear but conversation is tough in a noisy environment. Also, I can't use the earpiece/transmitter apparatus because it just sounds garbled. So I knew I had to rely on my husband to fill me in on what was being said. Now that you know that, you realize why my review may be a little skewed. We flew in a day early to try and adjust a little to the 12 hour time difference from the U.S. east coast to China time. Not easy. You can read my hotel reviews on tripadvisor. They were all 5 star hotels and each had its pluses and minuses. Please be forewarned. There is lots of walking. There are lots of stairs and ramps. If you have any mobility problems, I don't think this is for you. On the actual day 1, which is supposed to be arrival day, you check into your hotel. You are given information as to what you will do the next day and what time. The majority of the time, excursions started early, 7:30 or 8am. There were 3 groups staying at our hotel and 3 groups at another. There were also 2 groups who did Tibet and we did not see them until we boarded the ship. Our group had 34 people and everyone was very friendly. Our tour escort, Anthony, was terrific. I wish I could have understood everything he was saying but my husband filled me in on a lot of it. The remaining 2 days in Beijing were busy, Tianamen Square, Forbidden City, Great Wall, and more. You can read the itinerary on the Viking site. The tour bus was comfortable and the air conditioning worked well because it was hot outside. One big problem, kids were not in school yet so every site in Beijing was ridiculously crowded with locals pushing and shoving. Many women had umbrellas to shield the sun and they carried them low so you had to watch out to make sure you didn't get stuck in the eye. Had we known this about the kids, we would have gone a week or two later. After Beijing, we flew to Xian. Checked bags are put outside of your door the night before or early the morning of the flight and you don't see them again until they're in your hotel room or in your cabin. Carry on bags are put in the belly of the bus. We had 3 intra-China flights, Beijing to Xian, Xian to Chongqing, Wuhan to Shanghai. You will be patted down, just accept it. The first two flights I did not sit with my husband but no problem. The last flight we had to leave the hotel at 6am to catch an 8:20am flight (which was delayed). People were not happy about that. No one looked forward to spending time in the airports for the 1 1/2 hour flights. For two of the flights, there was no jetway. Everyone lines up at the gate to get on a bus to take you to the plane. Then, lugging your carry on, you climb the many steps to board the plane. The same thing happened on our trip home from Shanghai and we were on a big Delta 777. In Xian, we all marveled at the Terra Cotta Warriors. But, again, very crowded and hot. One more surprise, the toilets. Many toilets in restaurants, shops, and malls, are squat toilets. Nowhere to sit. At the airport, the stalls are marked as to which type of toilet is inside. From Xian, we flew to Chongqing to board our ship. Stairs, ramp, but once inside, it was really nice. There are 2 elevators but we only used them once. We were led to our cabin on deck 3 and it was fine. Actually better than expected. Comfy bed, Blackout drapes that actually closed all the way. Small bathroom but plenty of vanity and shelf space. Plenty of closet and storage space. Small balcony with 2 chairs. And it was quiet. The service was outstanding. Everyone smiled and made sure that you were happy. The food, buffet for breakfast and lunch, menu for dinner could rival some of the best restaurants. Please note that all of the tables are round tables for 8 people. You are always eating with others. I thought, with my hearing problem, that would bother me but it didn't. We met and talked with so many people from all over the world and made many new friends. Excursions every morning and then, usually, cruising in the afternoon. There were talks about ports or China life. I didn't attend so there were many times I was bored. Some shows in the evening put on by the staff and they were fun. After 6 nights, we flew to Shanghai. Since our flight was delayed and it was raining when we arrived, Anthony decided we should just go to the hotel. We were all very happy. Busy last day. Then, the next morning, we boarded our bus to airport. We were exhausted and we're now trying to get our internal time clock back to Eastern time. So, to summarize: Be prepared for the time difference. Think about when you want to go. Check school schedules and big events. If you have mobility issues, think twice about this trip. Make sure you're up for it because you will miss a lot if you can't climb the stairs or the ramps. In the bathrooms, look for the signs on the stalls as to what time of toilet is inside. Understand that you will always be eating at a table of 8. If you still decide to go, you will be rewarded. There is so much to see and everyone is there to make sure you are happy. The tour escorts are the best. The food and accommodations are top notch. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the school kids. They are charming and they all looked forward to meeting us. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was another fantastic Viking experience made all the more special by our personal guide, Terry, who stayed with us from day 1 til we left. All the staff we met along the way were, as always, very welcoming and really helpful and a ... Read More
This was another fantastic Viking experience made all the more special by our personal guide, Terry, who stayed with us from day 1 til we left. All the staff we met along the way were, as always, very welcoming and really helpful and a great credit to Viking. We extended our trip both at the start and at the end which helped with jet lag and allowed us to explore the fantastic cities of Beijing and Shanghai ourselves. I would really recommend it. Throughout the trip, whether by road or plane Terry our guide was there to make sure everything went smoothly. He was warm, friendly, funny, incredibly knowledgeable and a really great person. His dedication and hard work were exceptional. We did meet other guides and many of the staff on the ship and they all worked hard to make this a really special trip. Thank you all! The ship was great, and although we had heard criticism of the build quality, we didn't see this and it was up to the exacting standard of other Viking ships we have been on. Food on board was up to the usual very high standards we have found with Viking. The excursions were all really great and fascinating, with more extremely knowledgeable guides. We loved every one and only wish we had more time for each - though the time was well balanced as there was lots to see. All in all, this was another fantastic amazing cruise with a great company supported by some special and exceptional staff. Thank you so much. Can't wait for the next one! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
First of all I apologize for the lateness of this review as I've been busy with life since getting back. We went on the Viking Emerald Yangtze River cruise because a.) we wanted to see the real China, and b.) our daughter was ... Read More
First of all I apologize for the lateness of this review as I've been busy with life since getting back. We went on the Viking Emerald Yangtze River cruise because a.) we wanted to see the real China, and b.) our daughter was studying abroad in Shanghai and we decided to tack on a few days at the end of the cruise to visit her. It was our first Viking cruise, and if it was indicative of how Viking operates I am looking forward to being a repeat customer. Our journey started in Beijing. It took use four hours to get through the multiple lines, two artificial intelligence photos, one misplaced bag and countless immigration officials at the Beijing airport. We were sure that the Viking official who was to pick us up would have left by the time we made it through the gantlet. I was preparing to get a cab to our hotel. But no, Leo, who would serve as our guide throughout the trip, was waiting at the end of the maze for us. That got everything off to the right foot. It really is more of a tour than a cruise. You are split up into groups of about three dozen, and you stay in that group the duration of the trip with the same tour guide. You also start to make friends with a variety of people you did not know before. Leo was fantastic. The poor guy was herding cats the whole trip, and it started five minutes into our first tour at Tiananmen Square, where one person made a wrong turn almost immediately as we got off the bus. But Leo was patient, and eventually he was reunited with the group. China is a strenuous tour. But not impossible. There's a lot of walking, Viking did arrange a wheelchair for one person in our group, and even though China is not an accessible-friendly country, he did manage quite well with the aid of a Viking associate. Basically our tour started with land tours in Beijing, Xi'an, and Chongqing. That took about five days. In Chongqing we boarded the Emerald and traveled down the Yangtze for about six days. Then from Wuhan we flew to Shanghai to complete the tour. Viking offers the same tour in the opposite direction. In addition to the tourist sites, we got to see how regular people live, meeting an artist in her home in one of the poorest sections of Beijing, and visiting a primary school that is sponsored by Viking. The food was spectacular. We had Peking Duck in Beijing, and a variety of food throughout the trip both o the ship and in restaurants. I don't drink so I can't attest to the wine and beer, but I heard no complaints. The ship was great. The public rooms and our guest room were well-maintained and clean. The staff was friendly and always available to help. If China is something on the bucket list, I would highly recommend Viking. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Never been there, wonderful experience. It was a great experience,guide was wonderful. Would do trip again, if the world wasn’t so big. Looking forward to our next adventure. Met wonderfully people. Really enjoyed traveling with them. ... Read More
Never been there, wonderful experience. It was a great experience,guide was wonderful. Would do trip again, if the world wasn’t so big. Looking forward to our next adventure. Met wonderfully people. Really enjoyed traveling with them. Hotels were excellent. Next time we would be a little bit more aggressive. Money exchange was a bit confusing, use credit cards. Tours were great enjoyed everyday, looking forward to our next trip. Staff was great everything was wonderful. Foods were a experience, difficult to make choices although they tried to give us choices. Beer and wine on board was great, no complaints. We really recommend this trip it was more than we expected. China is a great country, but we really needed more time there. Only complaint was boarding our ship, which was horrible. They really needed a better boarding ramp. Everyone was upset the way we boarded. The ship was great once we were aboard. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Viking did their typical great job of organizing and running a three week Roof of the World visit to China. Can't really complain about anything. The food was great. The guide we had (for the entire duration of the trip) was excellent ... Read More
Viking did their typical great job of organizing and running a three week Roof of the World visit to China. Can't really complain about anything. The food was great. The guide we had (for the entire duration of the trip) was excellent and really worked at getting all the guests to talk to each other. The food on board was very good. You had the choice of Chinese or non-Chinese food which helped alot. Food on the land portion was also very good. The hotels were all 4 or 5 star and mostly had buffets which allowed you to choose again from local foods or more standard European/American offerings. The cabin on board was ok but not stellar. Internet while supplied was virtually useless. The guide offered a mild apology in that Viking does not own the ship. They will be bringing their own boat online in a year or two. As a side note, weather was very hot. Consider a cruise a month or so earlier. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The Roof of the World tour is a very good tour to see the wide expanse of China. You hit all the high points with a Yangtze cruise in between two land portions. Food was excellent with very good Chinese selections from each area as well as ... Read More
The Roof of the World tour is a very good tour to see the wide expanse of China. You hit all the high points with a Yangtze cruise in between two land portions. Food was excellent with very good Chinese selections from each area as well as Western. But remember that this is a Chinese visit so don't expect Western fare at all meals by any means. Yangtze cruise was good but not great. With the exception of the three gorges, the majority of the river is pretty boring. City visits are interesting but again not wonderful along the river. The visit to the Great Wall and Xian (terra cotta soldiers) was very good. Tibet was unexpectedly great. I should mention that the guide on the tour was extraordinary. If you're prone to altitude sickness or not sure, make sure you bring some high altitude meds to take. 4 people out of about 50 ended up being very sick. Those that took meds had no problems in Tibet. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose this cruise because we had cruised with Viking before and had a lovely experience. Also, we wanted to visit China and see the highlights. Unfortunately this trip did not live up to our expectations. The food on the land portion ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had cruised with Viking before and had a lovely experience. Also, we wanted to visit China and see the highlights. Unfortunately this trip did not live up to our expectations. The food on the land portion of the trip was very poor. Many of the lunches and dinners were buffets or tables of 10 with a lazy susan in the middle. Food was often cold and not very good. the buffet breakfasts in the hotels were fairly good, as was the food on the ship. Another issue was the pollution that existed everywhere we went in China. A mask was definitely in order. Our visit to the Terracotta Army was the best excursion on the tour. We visited the Great Wall, but unfortunately the weather gave us drizzle and fog, so the visibility was horrible - probably about feet. The hotels we stayed at in Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai were excellent. They were the highlight of the trip. In Shanghai we attended an acrobatic show that was marvelous. There were some other excursions that were not so good - a visit to a Jade factory was just a stop so that we were captive in their shops, and the buffet lunch there was horrible. A rickshaw ride in Beijing was the other activity that was fun, although the portion where we went inside a woman's home was not needed. To get on the boat we had to walk a fair distance on a dock in the water as the boat did not dock at the shore. There were 3 flights within China during this trip. You really didn't get a feel of the land in China. Possibly going by rail between the cities would be a better choice. Our guide was a lovely gentleman who did the most to make a good tour for us all. Also the crew on the ship was very good. Overall this trip was not worth the amount of money we paid. i think Viking is doing itself a disservice by offering this trip. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We (wife and I) chose this Viking Emerald cruise because it has the major destinations (cities), river cruising, and the dates we wanted. The tour was for 14 days. We booked a couple days before and after the tour/cruise dates to get ... Read More
We (wife and I) chose this Viking Emerald cruise because it has the major destinations (cities), river cruising, and the dates we wanted. The tour was for 14 days. We booked a couple days before and after the tour/cruise dates to get acclimated to the time zone change (from USA/AZ to CN/Beijing) and do some extra site seeing in Beijing and Shanghai. We had a ride booked from the Beijing airport to our hotel and use a cab to ride from Shanghai to the airport. Taxi cab prices were very reasonable. We made sure to get the hotel's address/map, and have the hotel's front desk write down the destination in Chinese for the cab drivers. It was an initial challenge 'flagging down' a return taxi ride until we saw how other people were positioning themselves on the streets. We were on the Viking Emerald river boat for seven days from Chongqing to Wuhan. It was easy to navigate the various levels and find the rooms. The ship levels were all very clean and well furnished. The staff was very accommodating, knowledgeable, and friendly. The cabin was very comfortable, quiet and there was enough storage for our stuff. The dining was good. My wife and I are vegetarian and the selection was spare for lunch and dinner. We asked for some more 'interesting' dishes and the chef was able to accommodate our wants a couple nights. It was enjoyable to sit at different tables to meet new people from various locations. There were approximately 250 people on the boat. The entertainment by the staff was interesting and fun. The informational talks were very good. The staff entertainment with local dress and dance was very good. The M/C was very good, fun jokes, explained local customs and culture. and coordinate the entertainment in the evenings (with guest participation). We did a lot of walking at the cities, ports and excursions. Typical days we walked 2-5 miles -- so make sure you wear good shoes. Smog was an issue for me by the end of tour even though I wore a breathing mask (still dealing with respiratory issues over a month later). My highlight was X'ian and the Terra-Cotta army exhibit. But, all destination were fascinating: Beijing's Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City, Buddhist temple, Confucius temple, neighborhoods, Great Wall, etc. Xian's city square and the Terra-Cotta army exhibit, museum, plus capital for 13 dynasties, etc. Chongqing's embark onto river boat Yangstze River's cruise, Shibaozhai temple, Three gorges wall views, locks, 3G dam, Jingzhou elementary school visit, etc. Wuhan's disembark from river boat for plane ride to Changhai. Shanghai's historical architecture, new buildings, art district, etc. The tour manager/guide was very knowledgeable, courteous, and fun to be with. I took approximately 2,400 pictures and am editing them for viewing. Lots to see and remember the trip via computer screen saver slide show. One trip to China satisfies our interest. We traveled to Southeast Asia and will probably go back there as the food is more accommodating. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
While we had twice been to Beijing on business, and had done some sightseeing while there, this was our first trip to China for the purposes of travel only. The entire program was under the direction of Viking Cruises and they more than ... Read More
While we had twice been to Beijing on business, and had done some sightseeing while there, this was our first trip to China for the purposes of travel only. The entire program was under the direction of Viking Cruises and they more than exceeded their reputation for excellence. There were several groups of travelers in the itinerary, none larger than 30 persons, each with a tour guide. Our guide, Richard, was above every expectation in all respects. The hotels were all excellent, and one, the Four Seasons in Shanghai, was one of the best in which we have ever stayed. The well thought out programs were somewhat strenuous, but we all managed to keep up. There were three nights in Beijing, two nights in Xian, which included a viewing to the Terracotta Warriors, three nights in Lhasa, and then, after a flight to Chongqing, five nights on the Viking Emerald with interesting tours at every port on the Yangtze river. Finally, we spent two nights in Shanghai. As an example of thoughtful planning on Richard's part, we were taken to the superb Shanghai museum on arrival in Shanghai rather than squeezing in a visit in an already crowded schedule the following day. This is not a cruise for the fainthearted, but if one is willing to make the effort and try the different foods, it is a great trip. incidentally, the ship is leased, not owned by Viking, and it is very good, but not as good as if they were to have built, owned and maintained the vessel. That is prohibited by the government because of the use of the Yangtze as a major commercial artery in China. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Viking has a great reputation and we expected a great cruise on a luxurious ship. it began with a compulsory stay in a business type hotel in Beijing nowhere near anything important. We wished to stay in another hotel but were told that, ... Read More
Viking has a great reputation and we expected a great cruise on a luxurious ship. it began with a compulsory stay in a business type hotel in Beijing nowhere near anything important. We wished to stay in another hotel but were told that, if we did not turn up and stay in the selected hotel, we would be considered as no shows. in fact, the pre-cruise experience dealing with the US office was horrible. for no apparent reason, tours organised in Beijing had to commence at ridiculously early hours. We declined them all. On board: my wife's request for vegetarian food was not transmitted to the ship. in spite of that, the dining room staff tried very hard to please her. But the only award that could be given for the dining experience was for the fastest plate snatching i have ever come across. The dining staff were generally very poorly trained. The "gym" was very worn and rather.grubby with a view onto the back of the lit ship's name both filthy and frighteningly wired, some of the wires quire bare. China tea is spectacular but, in the dining room, only cheap tea bags were available. The TV remote control had been replaced with a very limited controller which had no ability to change the format: watching TV was an absurd occupation with everything distorted. Cleaning of our cabin was poor. Empty cups were not removed and the wc got grubbier each day.. The captain's uniform summed up the ship's standards. it looked like his non seamstress mother or wife had made it. our visit to the bridge was like visiting a large, stale ashtray. Viking should stop selling this cruise. Carnival Cruises has more style and quality at far lower prices. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Always wanted to visit China and found the Viking trip highlighted everything we wanted to see without having to make our own arrangements to get to the different places. Everything was very well organized and the staff were excellent, ... Read More
Always wanted to visit China and found the Viking trip highlighted everything we wanted to see without having to make our own arrangements to get to the different places. Everything was very well organized and the staff were excellent, our tour guide was fabulous and gave really interesting information about the places we visited. It was a remarkable experience! The trip began in Bejing with visits to Tiananmen Square, the forbidden city and the Great Wall. Transportation to and from these places was very well coordinated. Air transfer to Xian was very easy. The terra cotta warriors, enamel factory and Tang Dynasty dinner and show were included in that transfer. All were great! From there we took a plane to Chongquin to embark on the river cruise part of the trip. There was plenty to see and do, once on board, and the ship was beautiful. The staff were very attentive and nice, the food was great and the educational offerings were very interesting. If you wanted down time there was space for that and also areas to Socialize. There were several interesting stops in places near the river. The river cruise ended in Wuhan and continued to Shanghai. Both of those places were beautiful and all of our accommodations were top rate. A trio of a life time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Friends told us but ours was different no zoo tour air food and lodging were bad we were sick the whole time and sick for 6 weeks upon return air born virus I broke 2 teeth eating at the restaurant inbejing first night and the insurance ... Read More
Friends told us but ours was different no zoo tour air food and lodging were bad we were sick the whole time and sick for 6 weeks upon return air born virus I broke 2 teeth eating at the restaurant inbejing first night and the insurance refused to pay Viking also refused any liability Way below Viking cruise standards we have done other Viking cruises this will be our last We had to repeatedly tell room service to clean the bathroom we and many passengers were sick from the food tubs were dirty the tour guide did not have sufficient bathroom stops they would have heavy breakfast at hotel and have us ride without bathroom stops for hours I learned quickly to put my breakfast in a napkin and not eat it till we arrived near a bathroom and not drink anything please understand cruisers are old people and must make bathroom stops Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We chose this Cruise because I wanted to see areas of China I had not seen in my previous visit. My partner had never been to China it seemed like a very good way for him to see a lot of the country and the culture. We thoroughly ... Read More
We chose this Cruise because I wanted to see areas of China I had not seen in my previous visit. My partner had never been to China it seemed like a very good way for him to see a lot of the country and the culture. We thoroughly enjoyed the onboard activities and the shore excursions were wonderful. The guide was a joy to have and full of wonderful information that made each Excursion come alive. The cabin and the amenities on board were very comfortable. The staff was courteous very thoughtful and helpful. Dining provided us with both Western food and local Chinese Fair all of it was delicious and beautifully presented. We had a wonderful time sailing between Beijing and Shanghai and would take another Viking Cruise sometime in the future probably somewhere in Europe. A cruise through Europe on a Viking ship is definitely on my bucket list. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
Active Adventure! China and Tibet were very new cultural, historical, societal, political and religious experiences for us. Very eye opening. It is best be understanding and flexible. The land based portion had beautiful 5 star hotels, ... Read More
Active Adventure! China and Tibet were very new cultural, historical, societal, political and religious experiences for us. Very eye opening. It is best be understanding and flexible. The land based portion had beautiful 5 star hotels, especially the Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai, The Regency in Beijing, and The Shangri la in Tibet Ship on Yangtze River was not the typical Viking Long Ship, but still very comfortable. The chef was wonderful .... The best beef tenderloin ever! The ship was a welcomed respite from the intra country travel hotels, planes, and busses. Words of Wisdom: Pack light, be in good health and take altitude meds for Tibet, bring your own TP/travel tissues and hand sanitizer for sightseeing excursions. Highlights were the Forbidden City in Beijing, The Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an, all of Tibet, and the Three Gorges Dam. This was a once in a life time trip. Would recommend starting in Beijing direction of travel. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We chose Viking for our China visit as we knew they'd take good care of us in a country where we don't speak the language and can't read the signs - and they did. From the time we stepped off the plane to the time we ... Read More
We chose Viking for our China visit as we knew they'd take good care of us in a country where we don't speak the language and can't read the signs - and they did. From the time we stepped off the plane to the time we checked back in for the trip home, we were very well cared-for. Viking assigns you to a group of about 30 who stays together with one guide the entire trip, so you get to know this group very well and still have the fun of meeting others. All of the guides are terrific, not only telling you about everything you see but also candidly sharing a lot about their personal lives and what everyday life is like in China - fascinating! FAQs: - Toilet paper: bring some small travel rolls as you will run into the 'squatty potties' (a flushing ceramic hole in the floor) in airports and outside the big cities and frequently there is none available. There are usually 1 or 2 western toilets available out of 5 or 6 stalls, but with long lines. - Food: you will always have western-style options for breakfast, but lunch and dinner while you are travelling are usually Chinese. Food on the ship is very good; always a buffet with both western and local options, with additional western items you can order from the menu, plus some food stations with food cooked to order. Food in hotels (breakfasts and dinners) were usually very large buffets with many western options. Most people had no problem with the ubiquitous lazy-Susan (family-style) Chinese lunches we got while travelling, but a few had backup granola bars or crackers with them. If you're a picky eater, be prepared. - Go south to north or vice versa? we went north to south (Beijing to Shanghai) because we knew we'd appreciate the restful afternoons and the western food options onboard ship after a week of all-Chinese food while travelling, and were glad we did. The tradeoff: north to south options get a rickshaw ride into the hutangs in Beijing, visiting one local family; if you go south to north, you usually see the pandas in Chongching instead. No trip offers both. We figured we could catch pandas on our next visit to DC! - Excursions: all were terrific, and all were included in the price except 3 (which makes this trip a great value). The optional ones: recommend the Kung Fu performance (great entertainment even if you are like me and don't care for martial arts), Tang Dynasty (excellent). We did not do the optional Peking Duck dinner as we knew we would see plenty of Peking duck throughout the trip and we did. Those who went said it was ok. - What to pack: (1) layers. We went in October, and hit temps from the high 40s to the high 70s. A lighter rainproof jacket you can put a layer underneath works best; you'll find yourself layering up or down throughout the day. Coldest part of trip: windy Great Wall in the 50s; warmest part: Wuhan to Beijing (low 70s). (2) Always pack a medical kit: Aleve/aspirtin, Imodium, an antibiotic like Cipro from your doctor; you'll need at least one of them. Pack and USE antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer; lots on our trip were coming down with something by the end. - Tips onboard ship: (1) ask for a dehumidifier. You're on a river in a humid area, it will make a great deal of difference in how comfortable your cabin is. We had to empty ours daily. (2) We looked at a wine list and promptly bought the beverage package. House wine and beer are included at meals, but if you like your wine you'll probably want the beverage package not only to upgrade the quality, but also give you the option to get a cocktail outside of meals. When we realized that we'd have to pay separately for a glass of wine at 5 pm and another during the evening performances, the beverage package became a great option. They had pretty good Australian and New Zealand wines and the beverage package isn't limited by bottles - it's basically all you want to drink. - Tips on the road: do NOT drink the water. Close your mouth when showering; brush your teeth with bottled water. Not even the locals drink tap water. I brought makeup remover towelettes for my face, put a bottle of water by the tap so I wouldn't forget to use it, and had no problems. Others on our trip had problems and it is miserable to have to fly to another city when you have diarrhea. - Tips for travelling: airport security is very tight: put all your batteries and battery-powered items in your carry-on luggage and your liquids in your packed luggage and you'll have no problems. At least once on the trip you'll need to put your luggage out the night before (Viking gets your luggage to the various airports for you), so keep your morning makeup in containers of less than 150 ml. so they can go with you the next morning in your carry-on. Do yourself a favor and don't take any battery power packs (the backup power packs you use to recharge items): they caused problems at every airport security. - Tips for buying: you'll see lots of the same souvenirs (silk jewelry cases, silk embroidery, kids silk pajamas, tee shirts) throughout your trip: they are the cheapest in the bazaars along the Yangtze River. Offer vendors 20% of their initial ask and you'll usually settle for about 30%-40% of it. Carry some US $1 bills as you'll run into lots of "one dollah" offers which are usually slightly better than what you'll pay in yuans. Don't buy anything you will need to ship home yourself as it's expensive; several on our trip bought an extra suitcase and paid the airline fee for it rather than pay $500 to ship home a small box. If you are looking at a large item, ask if the vendor will ship it for you and include it in the price. FABulous trip! We really enjoyed the cultural experience, the great care Viking took of us, and I'd recommend it. It's the first trip I've taken where just about everything was included in the price, and I think it was very good value for the money. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We enjoyed out first Viking River cruise ,The Grand European Tour . We wanted to go to China and Viking had the places and cities we wanted to see. Beijing- The Great Wall,Tiananmen Square & Forbidden City along with the Kung Fu ... Read More
We enjoyed out first Viking River cruise ,The Grand European Tour . We wanted to go to China and Viking had the places and cities we wanted to see. Beijing- The Great Wall,Tiananmen Square & Forbidden City along with the Kung Fu performance.We did the optional Peking duck dinner and the skin of the duck was soggy not crisp.We enjoyed the rickshaw ride and visit to the Hutongs tour. We loved the Terra Cotta army and the Tang Dynasty dinner show.Hiked up the Shibaozhai Temple along side the Yangtze River.Sailed thru the three gorges and the huge three gorge Dam. Our tour director(Michael) was excellent and answered any and all questions.Alll three of the Hotels we stayed at were excellent.The food at the hotels and on the boat was very good and had a variety.The cabin on the boat was damp and musty other than that the ship was okay.All the service personnel seemed to enjoyed there job.We have three more trips planned on Viking. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Outstanding service throughout the entire land and cruise. We had 7 days on land and then the 6 day cruise. The land accommodations were excellent at all premium hotels. The river cruise was fabulous. The ships are different and locally ... Read More
Outstanding service throughout the entire land and cruise. We had 7 days on land and then the 6 day cruise. The land accommodations were excellent at all premium hotels. The river cruise was fabulous. The ships are different and locally owned in China, but they were very nicely equipped. The food was excellent throughout - some authentic local and enough Western to satisfy most people. I felt that we packed more into this trip in a small timeframe over a huge Country than I imagined possible. This is not a relaxing cruise but more of a intensive exploration of the Country. Lot's a walking and long days make for a very rewarding experience. Viking staff and local staff were amazing. We had no language issues and really appreciated the local expertise. Entertainment is local or ship board crew and it was fun. Don't expect a Broadway show. I would highly recommend this tour and Viking to anybody interested in a full scale China visit. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
This was a lifetime opportunity for my wife and I to personally visit some many wonderful places which are so different than any where else in the world , that had so much significance. Every day was filled with new and exciting ... Read More
This was a lifetime opportunity for my wife and I to personally visit some many wonderful places which are so different than any where else in the world , that had so much significance. Every day was filled with new and exciting experiences. This trip was first class in every way, from the pre cruise documentation, to the greeting at the airport to the wonderful English speaking tour guide. Transportation in luxury coaches everywhere on land, to a really well equipped ship, excellent well planned daily events, great service everywhere. The visits to World Heritage Sites such as the Forbidden city, Tiananmen Square, the Terra Cotta Warriors, the Three Gorges on the Yangste River, and the Three Gorges Dam were highlights among so many activities. Onboard dining was excellent, with a variety of wonderful food always provided, and beverages such as wine or beer available for the meals. All meals were provided daily and were terrific wherever we travelled. Hotels and in-China flights were excellent . We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise seeing wonderful, famous places, meeting great people from all over the world, and yes, we highly recommend Viking River Cruises to all interested in travelling to China. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
The objective of this trip (both cruise and land portion) was to experience the highlights of China. We organized this particular trip in conjunction with a trip to Hong Kong and Japan. The trip was excellent. The organization was ... Read More
The objective of this trip (both cruise and land portion) was to experience the highlights of China. We organized this particular trip in conjunction with a trip to Hong Kong and Japan. The trip was excellent. The organization was phenominal. There were 4-5 flights within China, hotel accomodations, plus the river portion. Each portion of the trip went without a hitch, which in my opinion was amazing (if you have ever flown in China, you will understand). The days were action packed. Not a day went by without either one or two tours, and that included days we flew between cities. The highlights of the tour included all of the iconic China sites, plus a very interesting tour to a local school. We were very satisfied with this tour and especially satisfied with our tour guide Tom (sorry, I do not know his Chinese name). Without someone to organize all of the various tours, flights, hotels, etc. the trip would be almost impossible to do on your own. If you do take this tour, rest up ahead of time. By the end of the trip you will be very exhausted, but in a very good and satisfying way. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Wonderful way to tour a foreign country. Always felt safe and cared for. Our guide was generous with his time and knowledge. He gave us a new understanding of China. The crew kept us happy, we'll fed and entertained. The ship ... Read More
Wonderful way to tour a foreign country. Always felt safe and cared for. Our guide was generous with his time and knowledge. He gave us a new understanding of China. The crew kept us happy, we'll fed and entertained. The ship was always clean and tidy. Hotels were excellent. We started our trip with a pre extension in Korea. We were the only couple on that part of our trip and had the guide to ourselves. We ended with a post extension in Shanghai. So glad we did both. We particularly like how Viking guides meet you at the airports on arrival and get you check in on departure. I have a nut allergy. Our guide always ensured our meals were nut free. He wrote me a note in Chinese characters saying I was allergic to show at restaurants when we ventured out for a meal on our own. Viking employees did so many things, small and large to make our trip one to remember. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Viking 13 Day China trip with 5-6 Yangtze River cruise. We went from Beijing to Shanghai. Basically North to South. A better route in that the first 5 days before getting to the boat, Beijing and Xian, you do a lot of touring and night ... Read More
Viking 13 Day China trip with 5-6 Yangtze River cruise. We went from Beijing to Shanghai. Basically North to South. A better route in that the first 5 days before getting to the boat, Beijing and Xian, you do a lot of touring and night time events. The boat gives you a chance to unwind and relax before going on to Shanghai. An exciting journey that I highly recommend. Viking does an excellent job of taking care of all 250 guests. We were 2 couples 62+ and we had a great time. About the hotels Viking had us stay- Beijing, J.W. Marriott Central; Xian the Crown Plaza; Shanghai the Four Seasons. All hotels were 5 stars with excellent room accommodations. The Crown Plaza turns off the A/C Nov.1 st. This created a problem for many guests as it was very warm in Xian at that time and rooms were as warm as 80 deg. F!! Some tips on the Beijing airport Arrival/Departure. Arriving at the Beijing airport-arrivals must take a shuttle train to area T3-C to exit and baggage pick up. Return from Shanghai to Beijing, on arrival at Beijing, a bus took us to the terminal building where you have to pick up the shuttle train to area T3-C for Departure. At Beijing airport, the security inspection of carry-on luggage may be over zealous and all your items spilled out onto the counter for examination. You must then reassemble all of the items back into your carry-on bags trying not to forget items such as your cell phone, wallet or keys that may have been spilled out. At the Shanghai airport inspection was more “relaxed” and courteous. Some of the dining experiences- Viking uses local restaurants as we tour between places. The lunch time dining is at "banquet halls" associated tourist places selling stuff. 1. Beijing-Jade/jewelry, 2. Xian-Terra Cotta warrior items. 3. Shanghai-Art works. That is-Beijing (lazy Susan), Xian (was a buffet with long lines), Shanghai (lazy Susan). These banquet hall restaurants have no ambience and can use some cleaning up and a spruce up. The bathrooms are really (1) low low, low on a scale of 1 to 5. You should be aware that the toilets (Happy Houses) are easier for the men but a little less accommodating for the women. Not all the stalls are sit-down western style. Toilet paper is bring you own while out touring. The restaurant in Shanghai had us sitting on at least one chair that was totally broken. Those restaurants serving lazy Susan buffet style do not provide serving utensils that permit more than a single morsel to be picked up. It was obvious that they wanted small portions to be eaten to cut the down on the expense of serving a more sufficient quantity to the guests. At one restaurant the serving utensils were small Chinese soup spoons. Everyone laughed. In the end you still have enough to eat. Think each item as a small plate and you’re just doing a tasting menu. Remember, this is China where big servings of meats, pork, fish, etc. is not the tradition. A personal bias - Living in NYC, and having the largest variety of Chinese and pan Asian restaurants to dine at, gives a biased view of the Lazy Susan/buffet foods served at the local restaurants. I was not impressed or excited by the items served. For example, Xian is famous for wide noodle dishes. None were served at our local lunch place. Yes, they served a small local tasty Xian burger, try it. Most Viking guests may not care or have the same experiences with the food for comparisons. In the end you won’t go hungry. On the other hand, the breakfast and dinner buffets at the 3 hotels had more expansive menus to meet the needs of the Asian and non –Asian guests. This was a great treat & very enjoyable. Obviously 4-5 star hotels do not cut costs with ingredients & small serving utensils. The Viking Emerald cruise ship provided a very good variety of dishes at all meals. Again the menu has to cater to majority of guests with non- Asian palates. The menu always had something Asian available. That was fun, even at breakfast. Don’t let the “on the road” dining dissuade you from this trip. It was well put together and unforgettable!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
First river cruise and first time with Viking. Trip was great. Be prepared to move along quickly; lots of walking. Staff on ship were wonderful; cruise through the Three Gorges area was awesome. Had a great tour guide that stayed with us ... Read More
First river cruise and first time with Viking. Trip was great. Be prepared to move along quickly; lots of walking. Staff on ship were wonderful; cruise through the Three Gorges area was awesome. Had a great tour guide that stayed with us the entire trip. His knowledge and willingness to talk about the culture and history added to much to the whole experience. Would love to go to China again. Food both on ship and during land portion was excellent . Added treat when we were able to unexpectedly visit a zoo prior to boarding the ship; saw many Pandas including 2 babies. Downside is the air and water pollution which is pretty much everywhere. Problems with air conditioning in one hotel which were beyond control of tour guides. Rooms in hotels were well appointed and in areas where you could walk. Ended up purchasing a extra suitcase in Shanghai to bring home purchases. Enjoyed the extension in Shanghai. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
First time with Viking and wanted to be fully escorted on our first trip to China. Heard great things about Viking in China and it did not disappoint. Viking took care of us from the moment we landed in Beijing until we flew home from ... Read More
First time with Viking and wanted to be fully escorted on our first trip to China. Heard great things about Viking in China and it did not disappoint. Viking took care of us from the moment we landed in Beijing until we flew home from Shanghai. Ship did not have a lot of entertainment but we were tired each day from our tours so it did not matter. Staff on the ship remembered our names and what we like to eat and drink which made going into the dining room or bar area more welcoming. I had the tailor make me a lined jacket as well as a silk robe which is very nice to have as a memory. Massages are available on board and they are all very reasonable considering it is a cruise ship and usually those are very expensive. I would recommend a Viking Cruise if you want to visit China! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016

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