11 Beijing Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

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
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
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
This was my first Viking experience. The service and attention to detail was exceptional. I did not worry about handling my luggage or transfers. There were enough activities to keep you busy if you wanted to do something and also enough ... Read More
This was my first Viking experience. The service and attention to detail was exceptional. I did not worry about handling my luggage or transfers. There were enough activities to keep you busy if you wanted to do something and also enough space to relax on enjoy the cruise experience. The was an extensive variety in gourmet food selection with every meal. The river boat is an older model with large clean cabins. The crew is very friendly and customer oriented. Viking makes sure the excursions are a once in a lifetime experience, Great Wall, Terra Cota Warriors, Tea Ceremony, Forbidden City, 2 Chinese theater experiences, interaction with local people, and eating in local restaurants. I did not worry about getting to and from the hotel or through customs at anytime because I was with Viking. I will never forget my trip to China and look forward to my next trip with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We enjoyed the whole trip, The tour guide was excellent. He did an outstanding job. Very knowledgeable, accommodating to your needs, nice and pleasant to be with. The places that we visited were all wonderful to see. Very educational ... Read More
We enjoyed the whole trip, The tour guide was excellent. He did an outstanding job. Very knowledgeable, accommodating to your needs, nice and pleasant to be with. The places that we visited were all wonderful to see. Very educational and lots of history that one can do a second visit and learn more about the culture and people. All the hotels we stayed in were first class. Food and service were excellent. The land tours were also awesome. The Three Gorges was a beautiful sight to see and see how the village people who were relocated high in the mountains live. They walk for miles on the rugged mountain slopes to get to their destinations. This is a daily life for them. I thought their way of life is so incredible. Note: When you are a first time booker, I recommend that the travel person who helps you set up your tour should guide you of what to expect in the tour package. Because I booked the tour 9 months in advance, when it came closer to the cruise date, I didn't look at the email as often as I should and missed a lot of valuable information about what you should do (example- you have to do your own set up of the land tours of which one that you want to attend - it was not automatic). The travel person you initial helped you should follow up and help you and guide you on these land tours. Each time I called, I got a different person to help me. Most of them were curious and nice but I truly think the original person who helped with the initial booking should be your guide. David you was the initial person was never there when I called. When I left messages, he sometimes called back in the beginning of the initial booking but after that when I left a message, he never called back. I talked to several people that help me set up the land portion of the cruise. I was very grateful that one person, forgot name was the best who helped me do an automatic checking on the website about the cruise. That is my only complaint I have about the initial travel booker that book our cruise. Other than that I would recommend Viking to everyone. In fact, I called several people to make sure to use Viking on their next cruise. I would recommend everyone to choose Viking for their travel. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We took the cruise to find out more about China and the people. It turned out to be a really great journey. Our escort was fantastic and had a lot of patience with the group. He spoke really good English and was detailed in his ... Read More
We took the cruise to find out more about China and the people. It turned out to be a really great journey. Our escort was fantastic and had a lot of patience with the group. He spoke really good English and was detailed in his explanations of our tour. The crew of the ship and people we had contact with were all very friendly and helpful. We were treated very well during the whole trip. Our fellow passengers were delightful and new friends were made. We really got to know each other and got along very well. The entertainment on the ship was very good and interesting. The food was also very good and had a great variety of things to choose from for your eating pleasure. The stall in the restaurant was top grade. I have been telling my friends about this trip and strongly recommend they take it. We saw things and experienced things we would have never done on our own. The trip is a bargain for all you get to do and see. One last thing. The beds and rooms on the ship were really great and the service we received for our cabin was second to none. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
My intent is to write a review that will give you insight and tips to help in planning your trip. I read reviews on Cruise Critic about the Imperial Jewels of China trip before I left home, but I learned many things on my trip that were ... Read More
My intent is to write a review that will give you insight and tips to help in planning your trip. I read reviews on Cruise Critic about the Imperial Jewels of China trip before I left home, but I learned many things on my trip that were not covered in those reviews. Hopefully my tidbits will make your vacation more enjoyable and memorable. This trip is the perfect way to see China. If you want to experience some of the breadth and depth and majesty of China—its history, culture, and natural beauty—with the convenience of English-speaking guides and the pampering of Viking Cruises personnel, then this IS the trip for you. Viking organizes everything and executes pretty much on schedule (for those things under its control). You have to unpack and pack several times. You stay in 3 hotels. You have 3 internal flights and the cruise on the Yangtze River. China is a BIG country. But you get to travel to several impressive places in China. And you get to meet really nice, interesting people—your fellow passengers. We had mostly Americans on the trip, but also some from Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. We made lots of new friends. Yes, it’s a Communist country, but the people were friendly, and the guides were open in talking to us about the good and the bad. For example, we learned from some of the female guides that they are not interested in having a second child, even if it is allowed, because of the cost of raising a child in China. I guess some matters are never as black and white as we might suppose. We were a novelty in some places; Chinese citizens asked us to be in their photos. We saw some of the challenges as China tries to modernize and provide for its people without causing future shock to its 1.3 billion inhabitants. Realize that a small city in China means one with 4 million inhabitants. We saw pollution in the cities: lots of people and lots of cars being driven (in addition to the coal plants) leads to pollution; visibility was sometimes several miles. But it wasn’t really bothersome, probably because of the time of year we visited (late October). The only time I had an issue was in Chongqing at the airport. You could drive an hour away and not have so much pollution. We also saw blue skies in several of the cities. We saw wind turbines and nuclear power plants. There just aren’t enough alternative energy sources for all the people yet. I liked the order of our itinerary for the 13-day Imperial Jewels of China trip, starting in Beijing first and ending up in Shanghai. In Beijing and Xi’an, there are some places where you walk a couple of miles for sightseeing. You have a lot of energy at the start of the trip, and you can relax when you get to the river cruising portion of the trip. And there is not a lot of walking in Shanghai at the end. The river cruise portion of the trip is 5 days long, from Chongqing to Wuhan. This is my 2nd Viking River cruise. I did one last year in Europe (Cities of Light trip). I would rate that trip as a 9.5 out of 10 (downgraded due to an execution/transportation issue in the last city). In comparison, I would rate the Imperial Jewels of China trip as an 8.5 out of 10—still very good. The planning, communication, and execution was just a little better on the European river cruise trip. As previous cruisers, we are members of the Viking Explorer Society. We had a special reception on the ship and received a special gift (aquavit glass). The ships for my two trips were a little different. The Category A verandah rooms on the Viking Emerald were larger (by 45 square feet) than the verandah rooms on the Viking longship (Odin) I traveled on last year in Europe. The Emerald is bigger than the Odin, and has more facilities (e.g., gym, spa, shopping). It has 4 passenger decks and an additional sun deck, with 128 cabins (256 guests). The Odin has 3 passenger decks and an additional sun deck, with 95 cabins (about 190 guests). The Emerald is not built or owned by Viking; it is leased by Viking from China’s Century Cruises (it is technically the Century Emerald ship). The “fit and finish” of the Odin was a little better. The trip itinerary was as advertised with 2 exceptions. First, those passengers who did the Viking transfer from the Beijing airport to the Beijing hotel were notified about an optional tour to the Summer Palace on Day 1. (They were flown in by Viking a day in advance, on Day 0.) My wife and I did our own transfer, and also arrived on Day 0. We learned about the tour at the last minute from some of the other passengers. Viking knew we were arriving a day early, but did not attempt to notify us about this tour. Second, on Day 2, there was supposed to be the optional excursion to attend a Peking opera show. Our tour escort told my group that Viking had dropped that show, and instead substituted a Kung Fu show “based on previous passenger feedback”. No one in my group opted to attend the show, possibly because we had an early flight the next morning to Xi’an. Or, we didn’t get enough information on the show—just that it was a Kung Fu show. I learned from other travelers who attended the show that it was more choreography than a martial arts demonstration (as the name implied). Viking should have notified passengers about this change, prior to departure, when they mailed us the booklet on “Itinerary & Departure Information”. Notification of new optional tours and of changes to existing optional tours is an area of improvement for Viking Cruises. The passengers were divided into 7 tour groups, each with a tour escort who stayed with the group for the entire trip. Each group used its own bus for city tours and transportation to the airport for internal flights. You’re told the name of your tour escort during your transfer from the first airport in China, or you find out at the first hotel if you transfer on your own (a piece of paper was slipped under the door of our hotel room). Due to the number of passengers, they stayed at either of two hotels in most of the cities. There were 3 internal flights: from Beijing to Xi’an, from Xi’an to Chongqing, and from Wuhan to Shanghai. All flights were on large Boeing or Airbus aircraft (not Russian-made aircraft), on either China Eastern airlines or on Sichuan Airlines. The flights were comfortable and ran on time. The seating configuration was typically 3-3. Not all groups flew at the same time. The tour escorts took care of getting boarding passes for you. Viking staff took care of the checked bags, both delivering them from the hotel to the airport and picking them up at the airport (and then delivering to either your hotel or to the ship). Here are the flights my group took: Flight at 7:45 am to Xi’an, 1 hour, 40 minutes long. I forget the type of plane. Flight at 2:10 pm to Chongqing, 1 hour, 15 minutes long. Airbus 320. Flight at 12:30 pm to Shanghai, 1 hour, 30 minutes long. Boeing 737. Information provided by Viking prior to departure indicated a 20 kg weight limit for a single checked bag with a single carry-on bag allowed on the internal flights within China. As the tour escort told us, the airlines are a little flexible: you could check a bag that weighed a little more (on the last flight, my bag, with souvenirs, weighed 22 kg). You could also bring 2 carry-on bags onto the flights, as long as they could fit into the overhead compartments or underneath the seat in front of you. Carry-on bags were never weighed (thank goodness)—nominally a 5 kg limit. Due to Chinese aviation rules, lithium batteries are only allowed in carry-on luggage. Lighters and matches are NOT allowed, even in checked bags. Liquids (except for prescription drugs) must be put into checked luggage; this is very different than rules in the USA. It took a long time to get the luggage after our afternoon flight to Chongqing. We arrived at 3:25 pm. We boarded the ship by 5:00 pm. We were told our luggage would be delivered to our cabins on the ship by 7:00 pm; it arrived later than that, for unknown reasons—a disappointment. This is another area of improvement for Viking. My tour escort liked to get to the airport in the morning or in the early afternoon, so that traffic was not too bad—typically it was about an hour drive to the airport, or from the airport to the next hotel or to the ship. Box lunches were provided on two of the drives to the airport (stopping in town to eat would have meant a late afternoon departure, with a possibility of a flight delay). We ate at the airport at Xi’an prior to our flight to Chongqing to go to the ship. The food was good. The hotels that Viking selected were very good. For my group, the hotels were: the Kerry Hotel in Beijing, the Hilton Xi’an, and the Westin Bund Center in Shanghai. All are 5-star hotels with staff that mostly speak and understand English. There is one time zone throughout China. So you never had to reset your watch during the trip. You are provided a quantity of 2 bottled waters per person per day on the buses for your city tours or transportation to/from an airport. With all the traffic in the cities, expect for the bus trips to take an hour or more to get to where you’re going (e.g., Forbidden City, Three Gorges Dam, hotel from airport). Typically the tour escort or local guide would give you some educational or cultural information about the city during the commute. You’re provided with a Vox box and earphone at the start of the trip. Your boxes are tuned to a pre-designated frequency for your group. The tour guide at a site you’re visiting speaks into a master unit, and you can clearly hear his or her narration while you walk around and follow your group (follow the “lollipop”, the Viking sign with your group letter). You tip the driver and the local guide typically on the last day in each city. Your tour escort will let you know if the local guide is only for that morning or afternoon. It’s better to tip in local currency (Yuan/RMB). One area of improvement for Viking Cruises is ensuring that hotels know how to contact tour escorts when problems develop. My tour escort gave my group his mobile phone number and told us his room number at each hotel. However, when I contacted the front desk to reach my escort (Jack) to get his help with a problem with my hotel room in Shanghai, they had no idea who Jack was. They told me there was no Jack in the room number I gave them (because he was registered under his Chinese name, not as Jack). They called his mobile phone for me, but couldn’t reach him. I called the room number, but there was no answer and I got a recorded message in Chinese that I couldn’t understand. I had to wait until the next morning to describe the problem to the tour escort, but he helped me sort it out with the hotel Duty Manager, and followed up to be sure the problem was taken care of. You are given opportunities to shop at state-run stores (terra cotta figurines, furniture, embroidery, tea). Using your credit card at such stores is considered safe. At other stores, they may photograph your credit card and use the information later to make an unauthorized purchase. Change money before you get to the ship, such as at one of the hotels you stay at (or from an ATM, or bring Yuan currency, aka RMB currency, from home). Currency exchange is not allowed on the ship. The Reception Desk can provide change for you, so that you can get smaller bills (Yuans). Sparkling wine (from South Africa) was served at breakfast. Beer and house wines (from Chile as I recall) were served at lunch and dinner. You could upgrade to the Silver Spirits package (for 990 RMB per person for the 5-day cruise, but both people in the room had to buy the package), and then get wine and beer throughout the day, with a bigger selection of wines, as well as cocktails. I figured out that if you got more than 2 glasses of wine a day outside of meal times, then the package saved you money. Access to Google and Google products is blocked in China (includes Google search and Gmail), as of June 3. This affected a number of the passengers, both in the cities and on the ship. Internet searches with alternate search engines, such as msn.com, would work. You could email from another kind of account (e.g., Apple mail, AOL mail) to Gmail accounts. You just couldn’t receive from your Gmail account. There was Wi-Fi on the ship; ask the staff for the password. You needed to be in the bar area, on the 5th or 6th decks to get reception. Reception was spotty at times and uneven. If you waited patiently, you could probably receive your emails or send text messages. The ship did provide an Internet café with 6 computers. Access to the Internet was more reliable through those computers. There are no refrigerators in the Category A verandah rooms on the ship. There were refrigerators on deck 5 in the suite rooms. We took advantage of laundry service on the ship. It worked well. Turn in clothes in the morning and get them back in the evening. (This was also true at all the hotels in China.) The cabins (and all of the China hotels) have international wall plugs, so you don’t need to bring a travel adapter. You could easily plug in your USA device into any of the wall sockets. Curiously, this information was not provided in the booklet on “Itinerary & Departure Information” that Viking sent passengers before departure. The dining room attendants, the cabin steward, and the bar stewards—all Chinese—made an effort to learn your name and remember your likes and dislikes. My wife and I felt pampered. The ship’s staff was excellent. We particularly liked Program Director Terry Lei who gave informative and interesting presentations, with a little humor on the side. We loved the Minority Costume Show and the Crew Cabaret Show (the skit taking place in a men’s bathroom is unforgettable!) in the evenings. We enjoyed learning Tai Chi for our morning exercise; Master Tom demonstrated and River Guide Ben translated for us. Remember to apply for a China visa prior to your trip. I contacted Viking Cruises to find out whom they recommend (Generations Visa Service), and I contacted my travel agent to get her recommendation (A Briggs). We used Generations Visa Service, because we got a discount for doing 2 people at once (my wife and I). GenVisa has worked with Viking Cruises and had all the hotel information necessary for filling in the visa paperwork (you will have to contact either your travel agent or Viking to confirm exactly which hotels you’ll be staying in). From a passenger perspective, hand sanitation practices on the ship did not appear to be that good, compared to other cruises I have been on (both ocean and river). The hand sanitation dispensers only provided a very, very small amount of sanitizer if you put your hand underneath the device. I think some passengers just stopped trying to use the devices. We were in confined spaces at the beginning of the trip, on buses and planes. By the end of the trip, it seemed like over half the people in my group had caught a cold and cough from someone else. My wife and I both actively took preventive measures to not get sick, but to no avail. That still didn’t dampen our enthusiasm and enjoyment of the trip, though. There were shops on two of the decks on the ship. One sold typical Chinese souvenirs, including pearls and jade carvings. One was a Chinese tea shop. In another you could get a custom-made Chinese gown or shirt. Another shop featured an artist who could paint a scene or do calligraphy at your request (within reason). We ordered a scene of the Great Wall of China, with fall colors, as a memento of our trip. We liked all of the included land and shore excursions. That’s one main reason we select Viking Cruises—no extra fees and high-quality tours. The Beijing Hutongs tour via rickshaw and visit to one of the (artist) families living there was one of our favorite excursions of the trip. Another favorite was the scenic cruising on the Goddess Stream (Lesser Three Gorges). There were optional excursions: Peking opera show in Beijing (replaced by a Kung Fu show that we didn’t attend), Peking duck dinner in Beijing (recommended if you’ve never had the duck), and Tang Dynasty Dinner & Show in Xi’an (recommended). Unlike for our previous European river cruise, it appears that Viking is now providing tours during post-trip extensions in Shanghai, as well as in Guilin and Hong Kong. The Cruise DVD included photos and videos of passengers on the river cruise portion of the trip. It also included “canned” scenes from some of the optional excursions (e.g., Tang Dynasty show) from previous trips. It did not, however, include scenes from the Kung Fu show that was substituted for the Peking Opera show. The videographer just learned on this cruise that Viking had dropped the Opera show. He had no video of the Kung Fu show to put on the cruise DVD; instead, he included video of a Peking Opera show from a previous trip. The DVD DID include actual scenes from the ship passengers’ visit to the elementary school in Jingzhou on Day 10. You could purchase an alternative to the Cruise DVD package (cost of 249 RMB). You could get higher-quality images with the Blu-ray package or the USB (thumb drive) package (cost of 325 RMB). All included video, a photo disc, and a map of the trip itinerary. Although it involves a little more effort, you can save money by doing your own transfers rather than paying Viking Cruises for the transfers. In Beijing, the cost of a taxi from the Beijing airport to the Kerry Hotel was 115 RMB (about $18 US) in the late afternoon. In Shanghai, the cost of a taxi from the Westin Bund Center to the Pudong airport was 201 RMB (about $32 US) in the early morning. As I recall, Viking was charging about $60 per person for the transfers. Be sure to contact your first hotel in China and ask for the name and address of the hotel in Chinese to print out and show the taxi driver at the airport, who probably doesn’t understand much English. I found several items useful to pack for the trip. For the air pollution: lubricating eye drops (we took Thera Tears), saline nasal spray, cold medicine/antihistamine (we took Sudafed and Mucinex DM), cough drops, and a carbon-filter face mask. Other items: Kleenex (to use as emergency toilet paper; the tour escort also had Kleenex available at rest stops), antiseptic hand wipes, hand sanitizer, moisturizing hand and face lotion, lip balm, stickers (to give to small children as gifts), tea tree oil, Tide to Go stain remover pen, insect repellent, and good walking shoes. One thing we could have used occasionally was a white noise generator app on our smartphones, for sleeping at night. (We installed an app after we returned from the trip.) We did not need to use our anti-diarrheal medicine or electrolyte drink tabs (for dehydration). Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was my first Viking cruise and I would definitely recommend it to all my friends. I have traveled around the world and China was on my list to see next. The Chinese people were friendly and the food was wonderful! Our tour guide, ... Read More
This was my first Viking cruise and I would definitely recommend it to all my friends. I have traveled around the world and China was on my list to see next. The Chinese people were friendly and the food was wonderful! Our tour guide, Richard, was amazing, funny, informative and very organized. He has a true gift for sharing his country with his guests and he made everything run smoothly for us. The ship furnishings seemed a little tired, but was OK. Having a dehumidifier in the room was a must. Our dining room staff were great! They were friendly and always remembered our names! The food on the ship was delicious and there was always a good variety. The cabin staff showed minimal care and our cabin lacked storage. It would have been nice to have some drawer space. Our hotels stays were amazing. The hotels were gorgeous and the food was superior. All our shore excursions were amazing. I enjoyed seeing everything that was available! Reading about China and then seeing the sights in person exceeded all expectations. I wish we had gone in the spring tho, as the temperature in July was very hot and all the Chinese were on vacation as well. Even tho it was crowded, our tour guide was adept at getting us to and thru everywhere. Richard took care of keeping us informed of our every step, from bus rides to our in- country flights. I am so happy that I was able to see China with the help of the Viking staff! It is hard to describe the air pollution throughout China. But it is very noticeable and upon my return home, my lungs took a while to clear out. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was my first Viking River Cruise and it was outstanding. I took this trip alone with no expectations and was pleased to have the time of my life. I enjoyed every minute of the trip and especially meeting some very nice people. That ... Read More
This was my first Viking River Cruise and it was outstanding. I took this trip alone with no expectations and was pleased to have the time of my life. I enjoyed every minute of the trip and especially meeting some very nice people. That is part of traveling. I was pleased that the trip was very well planned by Viking. The hotel accommodations were perfect and our tour guide Kobe was excellent. He made the trip so much fun and I know we learned a lot about China from Beijing to Shanghai. Service on board the ship was very good and the young people who were serving us were very friendly and helpful as was my cabin attendant. All of the staff aboard the ship were very good and very helpful. The shore excursions were well planned and very enjoyable and quite a learning experience. The food was very good as was presentation. The choices were amazing. The entertainment was beyond good it was excellent. Seeing the young servers perform was very special and they did a great job. I was so pleased to attend the Peking Opera, The Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show (I bought a DVD of the Tang Dynasty performance so I can always enjoy this great show), the Shanghai Museum and Bell performance and the Acrobat Show. I could go on and on - I have recommended this trip to friends and family. I look forward to my upcoming Viking River Cruise on the Elbe in May 2016. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
The trip that we thought would be the trip of a lifetime turned into the trip from Hell! Viking is not doing anyone a favor by not disclosing the details of this trip. Any one with any medical conditions, ie. difficulty walking, heart ... Read More
The trip that we thought would be the trip of a lifetime turned into the trip from Hell! Viking is not doing anyone a favor by not disclosing the details of this trip. Any one with any medical conditions, ie. difficulty walking, heart condition or respiratory condition, should not even consider this trip. It is very fast paced and there is alot of walking over uneven ground on 2000 year old cobblestones. The first day out we walked 5 miles, which they didn't tell us until we were on the bus going there. The bus drops you off and picks you up at the other end. There is no way to "opt out" once you get off the bus. You spend alot of time flying from one destination to another. Alot of the restaurants they took us to were dirty. Two of them had mangy cats on the table when we arrived. One had dead cockroaches on the floor. Guess we should be glad they weren't alive! Many of them I didn't eat the food they were so dirty. Viking claims in their information that they personally select the restaurants, so I guess someone is not doing their job! My overall impression of China is that it is dirty, the bathrooms (except in the hotels where we stayed) were disgusting. Some of them smelled so bad even the guys wouldn't use them. Most of them only have squat toilets. I'd never heard of them before I went to China. I wish I still hadn't. The people there are rude and very pushy. There is always some trying to sell you something, no matter where you go and they are very aggressive. This trip goes to Tibet which is at 13,000 feet. About 1/3 of our group had altitude sickness so severe that they had to have IV treatments. 2 people were never able to leave the hotel. Our guide was telling people not to take the medication their doctors had given them to take as a precaution. He said we would not need it. Boy was he wrong! I wished I had not listened to him. I think it was totally inappropriate for him to have done that. After Tibet we got on the boat for the "cruise" part of the trip. They claim that the Emerald is a totally remodeled cruise boat. I was not impressed. They tried to hide the uneven floors, ect. but it is a "chinese owned" boat, so there was probably only so much they could do. By the time we got to the boat, people were starting to get sick and it spread thru the ship like wildfire. I spent the entire 5 days in my cabin, other than to go to meals. Overall, I was very disappointed in Viking because they obviously haven't done a very good job of letting people know what the trip entails. They definitely haven't done their homework as far as providing a safe environment for their clients and ensuring them safe food to eat. This would be the perfect trip for "Undercover Boss"! I'd love to see the CEO of Viking eating in the restaurants they took us to. My advice to anyone considering this trip is DON"T DO IT!!!!!! We complained to Viking when we got back and their only response was to offer us a "coupon" toward the next cruise we took with them. Like that is going to happen. They didn't even care what our complaints were. They just send you the coupon and refuse to respond to any more emails. If anyone thinks I was the only one VERY unhappy by the end of the trip, I wasn't. Everyone was pretty upset about the way were were treated and what we were exposed to. I doubt very many of the 200 people on the trip will be repeat cruisers with Viking! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012

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