1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Viking River Cruises
  4. Viking River Cruises Cruise Reviews

98 Viking River Beijing Cruise Reviews

This was a first class tour of China. I would rate the 4 hotels we stayed in as 5 star. The Viking Emerald was modern and well maintained. The food on board was excellent. We had one guide who accompanied our group of 30 during the entire ... Read More
This was a first class tour of China. I would rate the 4 hotels we stayed in as 5 star. The Viking Emerald was modern and well maintained. The food on board was excellent. We had one guide who accompanied our group of 30 during the entire trip (she was excellent) and local guides joined us at each new city (they were very good and had expert knowledge of the local area). The entire trip was interesting and Tibet was most unusual and enjoyable. We had a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
If you are contemplating booking this cruise, I would recommend starting in Beijing and doing all the strenuous part of the tour first. Firstly the tour does involve lots of walking and steps, so it is not recommended for people with ... Read More
If you are contemplating booking this cruise, I would recommend starting in Beijing and doing all the strenuous part of the tour first. Firstly the tour does involve lots of walking and steps, so it is not recommended for people with mobility issues. Our tour guide David was excellent, and kept us fully informed of timings and meeting places, and he kept us amused with tales of his childhood experiences and day to day life in China which was extremely interesting, It was also great not to have to worry about lifting heavy suitcases everywhere, as Viking took great care of coordinating and checking in our luggage, so all we had to do was identify it after each internal flight, and it was promptly delivered to our respective hotels. The land tours were well coordinated, taking in Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and Great Wall. For me, the highlight of the trip was flying to Xian to see the Terracotta Warriors. All the hotels we stayed in were equivalent to 4/5 star and of a very high standard. The Kerry Hotel in Beijing had a complimentary mini bar which was stocked daily with beers and soft drinks, and the bathroom was very opulent. The food in all the hotels was buffet style and very good quality and choice. The cabins on the Viking Emerald are spacious, and with a balcony, but unfortunately the river was shrouded in mist/fog and smog which is apparently normal, and the guide in Chonquing told us that they only have about 5 days of sun each , so needless to say, most of the time it was like looking through lace curtains, which was quite disappointing. The trip wasn't very relaxing, as Viking do not plan too much down time, and personally I think they include too many trips to museums. I Think it would be preferential to offer alternatives, if you do not want to go to another museum. The latest time we woke up was 0700, which is very early day in day out, but I guess that we had to avoid the constant queues of traffic, and also to avoid the queues at the other places we were visiting. I did feel at times that we were being 'herded', but with 34 people in the group, this is the only option. The food on the boat was excellent with lots of choices, and wine is included at lunch and dinner, but although the staff are extremely pleasant, they need a few lessons in customer service. I found that we had to keep asking for basic things like condiments, which should automatically be placed on each dining table, and they weren't always proactive in topping up wine glasses. We constantly had to ask for more wine. There was an excellent wine waitress called Lois, who was incredible with attending to us, and she even remembered everyone's name, even though we constantly changed tables. It was always reassuring when Lois was waiting on our table at meal times. She was also extremely polite and personable. I also need to mention that when not eating in hotels, Viking had arranged meals in different restaurants which were obviously geared up for tourists, as there were always numerous coaches parked outside, and all tables were filled with groups of 8. All of these meals were served by using lazy susans, and the food was just 'plonked' on the table. We were only entitled to 1 drink which seemed a bit mean, so if you dared ask for a glass of water with your beer, it was promptly refused! In all the restaurants, the staff are constantly trying to remove your plate, even though you could still be eating! It all seemed very rushed, and that part was not very pleasurable. Most times we were in and out within 1 hour. All in all it was a very enjoyable holiday with some amazing sights, but would I do it again-probably no. It ticked all the boxes of places to see, and I can't fault Viking for that.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Overall the cruise was good and we enjoyed it. No significant problems during the land part of the trip. There are a few gripes however 1) Our stateroom on the Viking Emerald (C315) was cold and clammy, everything we touched was damp. We ... Read More
Overall the cruise was good and we enjoyed it. No significant problems during the land part of the trip. There are a few gripes however 1) Our stateroom on the Viking Emerald (C315) was cold and clammy, everything we touched was damp. We dreaded to crawl into the cold and damp bed at night. While the AC worked fine there was no heat. After 2 days of complaining we were given a dehumidifier and after extracting several gallons of water from the cabin it became liveable. On bonus was the heat generated by the device, going to bed was no longer an ordeal. Sadly we were not the only ones with that complaint, perhaps being more vocal helped us in getting the dehumidifier. 2) During the last night aboard quite a number of passengers including my self came down with diarrhea, not a pleasant affair knowing we had to fly that day. Took about 10 days to totally dispose of that problem. . 3) We paid for transportation to the airport for our return flight. 9 of us spend 90 minutes in a dilapidated minivan with our knees under the chin. For the $120 total we paid we could have gone in a private car or the Maglev and had money left over !! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was a combination 5 night cruise and 7 night land tour and it hit pretty much all the things we'd thought about seeing in China. Hotels were all 5 star (Ritz Carlton, Hilton, Shangri La) and the ship is a beautiful 5 star ... Read More
This was a combination 5 night cruise and 7 night land tour and it hit pretty much all the things we'd thought about seeing in China. Hotels were all 5 star (Ritz Carlton, Hilton, Shangri La) and the ship is a beautiful 5 star floating hotel on it's own accord! The Beijing Ritz Carlton provided by far the finest service that we have ever received at ANY hotel - they make you feel like royalty! As with all Viking cruises, local excursions at all stops/ports of call with knowledgeable local guides and they add a lot to the touring experience. Viking has also revamped the menu for a couple of onboard dinners to provide "western meals" and between them and the "western breakfast" available daily at the buffet (onboard and at the hotels) most folks shouldn't get "burnt-out" on Chinese food! I found the food to be generally very good - even though it is a little different from the "Chinese Food" we eat in the US - and beautifully presented Service onboard was also top notch. The crew really hustled to try and make sure everyone was well served and happy and even performed a couple of after dinner shows that were quite enjoyable. You just cannot beat Viking for a fantastic cruise experience. The best in service and facilities without breaking the bank to pay for it!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We embarked the Emerald in Chongqing having arrived that morning from Lhasa with our new "family" of 28. We went directly to our cabin to pick up our keys and then did quick tour of the ship to get our bearings. The basic cabins ... Read More
We embarked the Emerald in Chongqing having arrived that morning from Lhasa with our new "family" of 28. We went directly to our cabin to pick up our keys and then did quick tour of the ship to get our bearings. The basic cabins are tidy and utilitarian, with not much hanging storage but plenty of room under the beds for bags. The bathroom was tiny compared to the grand baths we had become accustomed to at the luxury land hotels Viking used but sufficient for our stay. Our cabin attendant did a great job and made sure there was always plenty of bottled water through out the trip. The fan in the cabin has varying speeds but you really cannot control the temperature. Yes, the ship can be a bit humid and there was a dehumidifier running constantly in our hallway but really not an issue. Small balcony with 2 chairs and enough room to hang out your laundry :) Having heard about the onboard tailor, we made that one of our first stops. Arnold will help you select fabric and style so that in about one day you will have a custom made jacket, vest, dress or pants. Reasonably priced, this makes a great thing to bring back from the trip. Soft drinks, wine and beer are complimetary during meal times and they offer a Silver Spirits beverage package for purchase. All parties sharing a stateroom must purchase the package so if you think you may want a few cocktails or beer during the days on the river, as well as better wine with meals, do the math and see if the package works for you. Best to sign up the first day to get the maximum benefit. About 20% of the passengers on our cruise took the package and all agreed the bar service was excellent - thanks Lois!!! Yes, the noise at dinner time can be quite loud. Seemed worse the first night maybe because of everyone's excitment or maybe we just got used to it over the next few days. We had 3 nights of "western" food and 2 nights of Chinese food with the lazy susan. Personally, I thought they did an excellent job preparing the western food though service is slower because of having to plate each meal. Maitre d' Evelyn Kolditz was present at every meal, always extremely pleasant and constantly on watch to make sure things went well. Buffet breakfasts and lunches were quite good and it was interesting to share a table with different people at almost every meal. Ports were the usual: Shibaozhai, Wushan and the Lesser Three Gorges, Jingzhou for the Viking School. While all interesting, the Three Gorges Dam is mind blowing and the most impressive. We did the locks at night so it was totally different to see the ships going through during the day while we did the land tour. Entertainment is minimal but there is a live band every night on deck 6 and the crew cabaret and fashion shows are fun. Many in our group did Tai Chi in the morning before breakfast and Program Director Jamie He had several enrichment programs scheduled during the days on the river. It is important to remember that China is a developing country and while there are things that are different by "western" standards, the staff works very hard to ensure a pleasurable and memorable trip.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We had an amazing, awesome, wonderful cruise on the China Cultural Delights tour that began Aug. 1, 2013. (Just the cruise part is actually 10 days.) I don't even know where to start. From the moment we landed in Beijing to the moment ... Read More
We had an amazing, awesome, wonderful cruise on the China Cultural Delights tour that began Aug. 1, 2013. (Just the cruise part is actually 10 days.) I don't even know where to start. From the moment we landed in Beijing to the moment we left Shanghai, Viking River Cruises and, especially, our tour escort, Peter, took such good care of us. The excursions were somewhat more active than I had anticipated and the heat was extreme, but I would go again in an instant. So many things about the trip were just extraordinary. I can't wait to take another Viking adventure. When I try to say which place or excursion was the best I find that I just cannot. EVERYTHING....from the Great Wall to the Terra Cotta Warriors to the school visit to the porcelain factory to the three gorges boat ride to the temples at Mt. Jiu....every single day was the best one yet! I really do believe that I have a new understanding of China today and of her history. The Chinese people are so very friendly, especially the children. I will be talking about this trip for years to come. When Viking tells you it is ok to be casual, believe it. We only dressed up on a couple of occasions and even then, not super dressed up. If you are going in late summer, as we did, take a hat and an umbrella for sun. Some of the excursions are quite active...as in lots of walking and some climbing. Having said all of that, I will add that it is worth every minute of sun and walking. Viking takes very good care of her passengers. We had ample bottled water, for example, whether in our cabin or on an excursion. When we were out on a tour our guides would give us tips as to where the most comfortable restrooms would be and when we would likely be near one. Depending on how mobile or adventurous you are, this can be very useful information. Our wait staff and onboard crew were perfect. The food was delicious and the cabin very comfortable. We really enjoyed the lectures and performances aboard ship as well. Do read up on China to add to your experience before you go. I happen to be a big fan of Amy Tan and Lisa See so I heartily recommend some of their novels. This was a fantastic trip and I would do it again in an instant! Gosh...wish I were boarding again right now! :-)   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
I don't want to go into details as to how BAD this trip was but here is the list. 1- First Hotel, Mildewy and dirty floors with wine spill that was never cleaned. 2- No Refrigerated water on a sweltering 115 degree weather, they ... Read More
I don't want to go into details as to how BAD this trip was but here is the list. 1- First Hotel, Mildewy and dirty floors with wine spill that was never cleaned. 2- No Refrigerated water on a sweltering 115 degree weather, they just don't believe in Ice. 3- Unfriendly trip Guide that did not like people but Loved the was somewhat nicer when it came to make sure that she is getting a good tip. 4- Substandard ship with old floors and that are mangled. 5- First day of arrival parts of engine was being repaired by four people on the same deck they were handing out Champagne. 6- Hot Salad and Cold food, Everybody lost weight on this ship including us. 7- Dirty glasses and plates which I took pictures of. 8- No snack or in cabin service, 3 meals and then you had an apple tray for the whole day. 9- Unfriendly guest service but a great and hard working waiters. 10- Meal packets for the excursions were two pieces of bread, on slice of meat, one slice of lettuce and a slice of tomato, hot bottled water. 11- Dirty transfer buses with people throwing up on the seat or baby poop, couldn't tell which. 12- initially charged for 2% Visa fee without our knowledge but after pushing them to take action they refunded it. This was the first time with Viking and it will be the last time. we thought we were getting what their main commercial shows but far from that. I will choose another cruise line to travel with and don't become a victim of a 10 grand scam. They treat their employees very poorly and the only thing they care is to sell you a substandard trip.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We have just returned from the Apr. 4th Imperial Jewels in China. Wow. Before any other comments count - had hotels, food, sites all been awful, one element would have made it memorable anyway. Jin. He was our tour escort. He ... Read More
We have just returned from the Apr. 4th Imperial Jewels in China. Wow. Before any other comments count - had hotels, food, sites all been awful, one element would have made it memorable anyway. Jin. He was our tour escort. He endeared himself to us all. He not only had us laughing so often, always had our backs and filled our needs, seamlessly orchestrated all trip elements, but ALSO gave a 4 credit graduate course in the politics, history and economic development of China. Amazing. I actually feel truly sad each time I see his big full-faced squinting eyed smile in my mind's eye, when I realize I'll probably never see him again. He was the trip. Once beyond that, the highlights included a fabulous Ritz Carton in Beijing. Chef Nathan Brown made everyone so at ease and welcome with his constant presence in the lobby and dining room. The food and rooms were simply exceptional - along with the service of the restaurant wait staff. Top notch. The breakfasts and one buffet dinner were more than 5 star! Total treat. Also the trip sites (Wow, thanks Viking for the amazing 11 of 12 days of blue clear skies - we lucked out!!) were just as amazing as one might expect of China. The Great Wall, the Forbidden City - all the nationals visiting during grave sweeping - and being so sweet toward 'foreigners' - amazing. The Sacred Walk - OK, something minor after lunch. We didn't have a great Summer Palace tour - cold, crowded, and we didn't see a lot of it, not sure why. Then, the rickshaw, home visit, tea ceremony - all fantastic, especially with Jin's support. The 3 inter China flights were all on time and very nice, all airports clean and well run. Lunch boxes were always adequate, the Ritz one terrific, the next 2 OK, but good effort and decent. The Hilton in Xi'an was nice, totally comfortable. The Tang Dynasty Show was a winner, food and entertainment. The Warriors don't need our plaudits. Amazing, and local guide, Yale, was terrific. The time on the Emerald was perfect, beginning to end. The staff is above anything I can think of to say - every wait staff, room attendant - everyone was so sweet and there to make us happy. wow. The food was terrific. The ship is lovely, our cabin, 430, very nice. We loved the gorges, locks, learning to play Mahjong with Jin, carving vegetables, eating 1,000 yr old eggs Winking smile emoticon. The on-board tailor staff is incredible. Table service with Stan was incredible also. Also Debbie in the 5th deck lounge. It was all white glove service. The Chef is a keeper. Keep him. The school visit was my highlight - as a teacher I was delighted. Good for you for your sponsorship. Wonderful for me and my students to interact through postcards I brought and pictures I took away. Wuhan bells - beyond amazing. Shanghai Ritz is very nice, just more impersonal, with high service fees in their lounge, etc. Chef Brown in Beijing told us Stephen at Shanghai did a top - notch job - we'd say Chef Brown doesn't realize he and the Beijing RC is a cut above. The Acrobatic show, with Chinese family style dinner before were both just great! The few downsides were the jade factory and silk rug factory. The Jade factory had a really nice lunch. But prices are high for shopping - a too-rare chance on the trip. The silk rug factory was a major disappointment for us - we were so looking forward to the silk factory with the silk-pulling and shopping. It's a shame it was switched out from when we booked till we went, for the carpet site. The Mongolian BBQ is OK, but not worth loosing the silk factory. There are not enough chances to shop without being in a 'factory'. The one hour allotted at the end in Shanghai by the Gardens is NOT enough. We actually found the same objects at the airport upon leaving CHEAPER than the factory places we were taken to for 'lunches'. Ah, the BIG downside - Peking Duck dinner. I haven't read one review on Cruise Critic, or talked to one friend who's taken the trip from back to 2007 who's enjoyed the dinner. You can't mass produce Peking Duck. Why not offer suggestions and help in making local reservations for those who'd like them. The Opera separated and with some subtitles appears to be doing better. Also, the dinner for those who didn't go to Peking Duck was also 'yuk'. How about group Hot Pot? Heck, your Pecking Duck price per person is higher than Da Dong - and they provide a half duck for every 2 persons. Some of your guests got only one pancake with a slim slice of duck. Totally a bad choice. Luckily, we'd read enough on Cruise Critic to avoid that. We'd also read enough to learn about Black Sesame Kitchen in Beijing, which we visited for dinner on our own our first night in China. A full review of our night there is posted on Tripadvisor.com One thing that did surprise us and MANY - was the statement on website, etc. that wine and beer were available on all lunches and dinners, - only to find out it was ONLY on the ship. Come on, honest up. Wine is only available free on the ship. Your site is misleading on this issue, and many were unhappy with that. Over all - beginning to end - it was a trip of a lifetime. Well constructed, well executed. Thank you! Our only worry is we've done Viking's best - now what? Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My husband and I went on our first river cruise with Viking this past April. We selected the Imperials Jewels of China as this trip seemed to offer an array of the high points in China for a first time visit. The flight from LA was very ... Read More
My husband and I went on our first river cruise with Viking this past April. We selected the Imperials Jewels of China as this trip seemed to offer an array of the high points in China for a first time visit. The flight from LA was very moderately priced so we upgraded for an extra $99 per person each way for super economy. This gave us an extra 5-6inches of space which was truly appreciated on an11-12 hour flight to China and back. Our tour included a full extra day in Bejing at the Ritz Carlton due to our flight schedule. This gave us time to visit the Bejing Zoo and see the two Panda exhibits. Also began to meet some of the other Viking guests before the formal part of the land tour began. Our stay at the Ritz was a first and probably only experience for us at this level of hotel and it was amazing. We were in a very safe and clean area of the financial/business district and could go out and take walks around the city whenever we desired. Viking divided the 250 of us into five groups of approximately 38-40 people. Although we stayed with those people the entire trip we had plenty of time to mix with all the others on board the ship. The itinerary was literally over the top and Viking is highly organized and skilled in moving 250 guests around, always on time. Our leader, Jenna, shared many personal and poignant stories of her life in China coming from a one child family. We all loved her and she made the entire experience a real success. I would highly recommend this particular River Cruise and land tour to anyone who wants to see the jewels of China. All the tours from the river cruise were included and we had to pay very little out of pocket for extra. The visit to Xian was noteworthy in that theViking guests got in to see the Terra-cotta Warriors a full hour before the museum was open to the public. Be sure to pick the right time to visit China and many of the cities are called "furnace cities" during the summer and can be freezing during the winter. April was a great month and we only had one 1/2 day of rain. Great value for the money on this one! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My husband and I fulfilled his lifelong dream of touring China in booking and going on the VRC cruise Imperial Jewels of China in March 2013. First off let me state that the ultimate success of our trip is largely (if not completely) due ... Read More
My husband and I fulfilled his lifelong dream of touring China in booking and going on the VRC cruise Imperial Jewels of China in March 2013. First off let me state that the ultimate success of our trip is largely (if not completely) due to the professionalism, intelligence, and humor of our tour escort Jimmy Liu. He could easily work for a multinational corporation and almost everyone in our group could easily imagine hiring him as an employee. Despite never having visited a country where English is spoken his command of the language, the vernacular, and his understanding of the comparisons between our represented English speaking countries' and his lovely China was impressive! His goal was to present China to us and let us make our own decisions about the country of which he is so proud--a fellow member of Jimmy folk said that Jimmy is 100% communist and 100% capitalist--in other words so neutral that he let us form our own informed opinions--thanks Jimmy! We began in Beijing and took a private tour of the Temple of Heaven, Beihai Park and other Beijing venues not covered by VRC--this is highly NOT recommended by VRC as they want you to rest if you are on the forced overnight--but we were not sorry we did this--this might have been our only opportunity to visit Beijing (but hopefully not) and we didn't want to miss a thing--although we did bow out of the last thing on our private guide's agenda--the Lama Temple sadly--(we got to our hotel the Ritz Carlton Financial Street at 1 a.m.!). The evening meal was on us so I made a reservation (a month in advance) at the Black Sesame Kitchen in the Black Sesame hutong and would strongly recommend this as an amusing way of spending an evening in Beijing--incredible food and intelligent conversation. Our first tour with Viking was Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City with a buffet lunch at the Nikko Hotel. If you don't believe the information VRC provides you about the level of fitness necessary to successfully navigate this trip this is where the blank hits the fan. We had a lovely elderly couple with us (although our first encounter with them did not indicate this). They were from Florida, with mobility issues, dressed in sandals with no socks on an extremely, extremely chilly Beijing March day. Jimmy gently suggested to them that our 3 mile journey from one end of Tienanmen Square to the other end of the Forbidden City was going to be too much for them and they finally relented and hired wheel chairs with a pusher. I am in my early 60's and in EXTREMELY fit condition (I work out with a personal trainer and she would tell you I'm in good shape for a 40 something) and this was a very intensely physical visit. DO NOT go on this trip unless you are in good shape or are willing to forgo trips that require this or are willing to hire help if necessary!!!!! We soon realized that this couple was unfailingly cheerful and willing to do whatever was necessary to not ruin this trip for the rest of us and we all went out of our way to make things easier for them and they did the same for us. The second part of the day included a mile walk out and back through the summer palace--again a lot of walking and a lot of cold--it would be HOT in later spring or summer. We truly enjoyed our trip to THE wall and found that the lunch served at the Jade Factory was one of the best meals in China while the alternate dinner (we didn't attend the duck dinner) was the worst. Our favorite visit in Beijing was the rickshaw ride through the hutong near the bell tower (I was feeling really hesitant about using a rickshaw until Jimmy told us that the drivers were people who had been laid off from other employment and this is how they now supported their families). We visited the home of an ex-government employee whose niece lives with her and who (the niece) is an artist who paints inside bottles with a one-hair brush. The owner also had a white poodle whose ears had been dyed yellow--really adorable--this was her "baby." The opera was very good--if you are open to another culture's standards--they were extremely amusing although the first opera was a tad long. The star of this first opera is very, very funny. We saw him again while flipping through channels in Shanghai--he must be a star. Our visit to Beijing was made even more fabulous by the incredible hospitality of the Ritz Carlton Financial Street--particularly Nathan Brown and his staff in the restaurant. Every morning there was a scrumptious buffet with pastries such as I have tasted only in France--and Nathan brought the pastry chef out so that I could give him my compliments! I was trying to find the shopping mall in the basement of the complex--not easy--and Nathan actually walked me out of the hotel and directly to the grocery store I was trying to find--over and beyond any necessity of service! He was very complimentary of the service we would receive in shanghai at the Portman Ritz Carlton and while it was efficient it was nowhere near as personal as the service we received in Beijing--thanks Chef Nathan! I enjoyed talking food to him (I am a self-confessed foodie) and exchanging information about travels and family. The transfer from Beijing to Xi'an was efficient (just be prepared to be patted down by security--everyone is). The domestic terminal in Beijing is clean and comfortable and our plane was modern and although the overhead bins were somewhat smaller than our usual standard they adequately held everyone's carry-on luggage. We were met with an incredible tour guide in Xi'an (can't remember name) who was funny and had a great knowledge of the city and the warriors. We absolutely loved the Tang Dynasty Show (and I had been quite resistant to this show) and of course the warriors--you have to see to believe! While we were grouping up to board buses again for the airport we noticed that the sky had gotten yellow--sand storm--we transferred to Xi'an airport and had lunch at an airport restaurant--pretty good--then boarded flight only to sit on the runway for quite some time while the storm blew around us--we could barely see the plane next to us--again overheads adequate--plane clean and comfortable. Once off the ground quick flight to Chongqing and quick ride through the city--unlike earlier arrivals who sat in heavy, heavy traffic. I was actually the very last passenger to board--Jimmy's group always seemed to be the "sweeper" group making sure all was okay. We found out that the storm was generally over most of the north of China and had blown the roof off the international terminal at Beijing airport! Our luggage did not get there as early as we did but thanks to CC we had packed an extra set of clothes in our carry-on luggage and were able to take a quick shower and change before dinner--much moaning in our group of those who were not as well prepared as us. As many have said the land cruise and the ship are like two different trips--we immediately relaxed attending briefings for life on board and our daily excursions--much shorter and less intense than our days in Beijing. We loved our visit of the Pagoda, the trip to the dam (and were lucky to be there on a day of pretty high visibility), the trip on the smaller boats through the Lesser Three Gorges, and our trip through the locks--we were the only passenger ship allowed through downstream as they were repairing the locks--Viking came through for us!! No buses!!! Our school trip was heart warming and touching and a highlight for those who attended (many people in our group opted out of this one and it was disheartening to see the disappointed looks on the faces of the children who did not get to share their seat with a "big nose"). The captain had to put the pedal to the medal to make it to Wuhan on schedule (a gentleman had a medical emergency--nothing to do with the ship or China and had to be med-evaced to the hospital during the night) but we made it on time and to one of the highlights of the trip--the Hubei Provincial Museum with its bells and ancient artifacts (oh and the passenger was fine and met us in Wuhan). We then headed to the Wuhan airport and our last intraChina flight. This was the least convenient of all of our flights for many of the passengers--boarding was rather chaotic--very, very small overheads-there was no room for my husband's carry-on bag--luckily one of the attendants found a space--lots of moaning and groaning. Then we arrived in Shanghai. Dinner on our own on VRC's tab in the R-C Portman--very good but kind of lonely after all the tables for 8 on the river--we quickly made plans to have breakfast with some good friends we had made. Enjoyed our day of touring in Shanghai--especially YuYuan Gardens and market, the Bund (not enough time spent there), visit to the rug factory--very expensive but good Mongolian barbecue lunch. I felt the trip to the Shanghai Museum would have been better with some guidance--we were left on our own with vague instructions to start at the top and work our way down--I personally found that the exhibits on the lower floors were more interesting and since I really knew little about any of it some guided instruction would have been helpful. Our last night we had the second worst meal in China before we went to the acrobats show--a lazy Susan dinner with no explanation of what we were being served and our guide--wonderful Jimmy--running back and forth between our tables to be sure we were getting what we should be and that we understood what was being served. The acrobat show was incredible. And then it was over...one thing I forgot to mention was that I had issues at the hotel in Beijing with employees using the club lounge above us as a break room and waking me at 1 a.m. every night and our Jimmy intervened for me (after indifferent response by the front desk when I finally figured out where the noise was coming from--and also a very drunk neighbor on our floor running up and down the hall for at least an hour while the hotel employees sent up to deal with him cowered in a service closet across the hall from us) and we were upgraded to a suite on the 40th floor of the R-C Portman--VRC takes care of its passengers!!!! :) It took me a month to get used to having to do ANYTHING for myself once I got home--I was so used to a standard of service that it was difficult to come back to reality. This was our first cruise f any kind and I understand that VRC is the one to beat in China--I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see a lot of China in a minimal amount of time--we figure we traveled at least 2217 miles in 12 days. By the way, I started by saying that this was my husband's lifelong dream--in the course of our trip it became MY lifelong dream too! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
I do not have enough good things to say about our recent trip to China. Run by Viking River Cruises, it included 8 days on land and a 6 day cruise on the Yangtze. Everything went like clockwork, including three intra-country flights. ... Read More
I do not have enough good things to say about our recent trip to China. Run by Viking River Cruises, it included 8 days on land and a 6 day cruise on the Yangtze. Everything went like clockwork, including three intra-country flights. Everything was included, so there were no decisions to make about how much to spend on land excursions. Everyone on the ship does the same thing at the same time, making things run even more smoothly than on a large cruise ship. There were two optional experiences: The Peking Opera in Beijing and a Tang Dynasty show in Xi'an. Both included dinner. We did both and felt they were very worthwhile. During the land portion, the hotels were uniformly excellent. Two Ritz Carltons (real luxury) and a Westin. Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth. With only 250 passengers, there is not the cattle drive of a much larger ship. Our Chinese guide was fantastic. He was with us from our check-in in Beijing through the land portions, on the river to our departure in Shanghai. Even after 15 years in the business, he remains very enthusiastic. He was knowledgeable, courteous, very attentive and spoke excellent English. One member of our group had a food allergy and he frequently put together a special meal for her. Often at dinners off the ship, rather than sit and eat, he was seen running around making sure everything went well. He loves his country and conveys that at all times. In addition, there were often local guides for excursions along the way. The trip was fast-paced much of the time, but there is no way to see so much of such a huge country without keeping things moving. Still, there were frequent opportunities to shop or explore museums for an hour or more. On board the ship, there were lectures or presentations every day about Chinese history, politics, culture and more. I noticed that, unlike larger ships where they are selling something every minute, the sales pressure on this ship was minimal. Compared to a regular cruise ship, everything is reduced in size. There was a small gym and a few shops. On the other hand, it is easy to get anywhere in a few minutes with only 6 decks and room for 250 guests. Our stateroom was fairly good sized, comfortable and everything worked well. Housekeeping did an excellent job. Entertainment on the ship is limited by its size. The same people who wait on your table dance in the show and model ethnic costumes. This is not a way to go if you like big production numbers. Still the entertainment was of acceptable quality. The food and restaurant service were very good. In fact, service throughout the ship was excellent. Ports: The only cities I had even heard of before the trip were Beijing and Shanghai. The former is full of fascinating history and architecture (Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace). The latter is a cosmopolitan financial center with gleaming new buildings on one side of the Bund and 19th Century European colonial architecture on the other. We, also, enjoyed the Shanghai Acrobats. Pretty incredible. Other ports: Xi'an is a city of 9 million with terrible pollution, but the Terra Cotta Warriors have to be seen to be believed. We were in and out of Chongqing in a short while, but sailing from there at night was thrilling. Shiboazhi has a Pagoda saved from the rising Yangtze. We got to hike up 100+ steps to the top. In Qutong we took a ferry into the beautiful Lesser Three Gorges. The next day we went through the five locks at the Three Gorges Dam (everyone was up on deck for hours.) The Dam itself is sort of an anticlimax. It is hard actually to see it because of the persistent mist on the river. In Jingzhou we visited a school-it was OK. In Wuhan we visited the museum and the highlight was a wonderful performance of ancient chimes. Finally, I think the value was excellent. We paid about $4,500 per person, including round-trip airfare from home for the entire 12 days, with everything except tips, included. I highly recommend Viking's Imperial Jewels of China. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
This was our 6th river cruise and first cruise with Viking. We chose this cruise because we've done all the rivers in Europe and the chance to see the Great Wall and Terra Cotta Warriors was exciting. Definitely go in the fall! ... Read More
This was our 6th river cruise and first cruise with Viking. We chose this cruise because we've done all the rivers in Europe and the chance to see the Great Wall and Terra Cotta Warriors was exciting. Definitely go in the fall! First thing I should mention is that you will find few "western" style toilets. I had read the previous reviews and knew to take paper with us..but no one had mentioned that even in the tourist locations, you would be required to squat over a "moat". The name of the game is "hole or bowl?". And it was usually a hole unless you chose to wait in a long line for that one western toilet. I won't go back to China unless they use some of their money to improve the bathroom facilities in all of their public buildings. They continue to build thousands of new skyscrapers and luxurious hotels yet can't improve the toilets, even with all the thousands of new western tourists! It's not only disgusting, it's unhealthy. Most of us river cruisers are 50 and older and some are not physically capable of squatting down low. Yes, we may not be as healthy and agile as the Chinese, but that's no excuse for their bathroom facilities. I don't want to review day by day. I'd rather just mention a few things that I think are important for you to know if you take this cruise. From Beijing to Shanghai, be prepared for some strenuous and hectic days. If you aren't accustomed to long walks, start exercising. The first day in Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City, be prepared to walk about 3 miles. As others have written, there are uneven surfaces and many steps. The internal flights were handled superbly by Viking. We simply boarded the bus to the airport and they handled all the luggage, boarding passes etc....it was an easy process but those days were hectic and precious time was spent flying instead of sightseeing. We didn't realize how fast paced those first days would be. It was rush, rush, rush until we were able to board the Emerald. Everyone we spoke with had the same sentiments...they were all exhausted and just wanted to relax. As far as the ship...in fairness, the boats in China do not compare to the river boats in Europe. The emerald is advertised as being only 2 years old. Personally, I think it's older than that and just rehabed. For all I know it could be the older "Century". The rooms are standard size but appear to be dated. The closets are very shallow and there is little storage for hanging clothing. The beds are HARD..not simply firm but hard! The first night was miserable and a fellow passenger suggested I let the front desk know, which I did. I usually don't like to complain but I had no choice. Housekeeping came immediately and added more comforters under the sheets. It helped just slightly and I woke up with a backache each night. I'm used to a firm memory foam mattress, but as I said, this wasn't firm, it was hard. I used to take a cheap foam topper in a space saver bag which helped but I assumed this "newer ship" would have a foam mattress..wrong! The bathroom was also dated, and there was mold and crud around the bottom of the shower stall. Yes, there is alot of wear and tear in these rooms, but the quality did not compare with the three companies we've used in Europe. You had to step over thresholds in the hallways and in the entrance to your room. You could feel slopes and rises in areas under the carpeting in some places. Again, I've heard Viking's European longboats are beautiful so it may just be a "China" problem. The food...again I could only compare it to the other cruises we have done. It was not as good. Breakfast was typical and good..eggs to order etc and bacon, sausage, hash browns, cereals, yogurts...yadda yadda, there was something for everyone. Lunch buffet however, I felt was lacking. Salad bar was decent with fresh butter lettuces, deli meats, a small variety of cheeses, breads, a daily soup which tasted the same but just a different color, a choice of three entrees that had to be ordered at the table. There were no other types of salads, such as pasta salads, tuna or chicken salads, vegetable salads. If there were, they were Asian style/flavored. In the 5 previous cruises, at dinner I ordered the "always available" chicken/steak just once. On this trip, I ordered a chicken breast or steak four nights. It seemed as though we had more Chinese food than western, but hey, we were in China. Service was good, staff was good and had a sense of urgency which is always appreciated. I was impressed that they remembered our names, even without name tags. Hard working kids. The amount of building going on in every city in China is unbelievable. I stopped taking pictures. You have to see it in person. Our mouths were wide open as our buses drove through Beijing, Chongqing and Xian. It's like a futuristic scene from a science fiction movie.Skyscraper after skyscraper..thousands in rows, cranes all over building tops...Unbelievable! and the landscaping!!! everywhere! lush and green. All along the streets in all the cities, there are trees and parks and beautiful landscaping. Amazing. I forgot to mention that the hotels were excellent! all 5 star. The breakfast buffets in all were above average. The Westin in Shanghai was luxurious with huge rooms. Location to shopping in Yu Garden was excellent. I did not realize that the jewelry is all 24K in the jewelry stores and is good value. Bought a wedding band to replace mine lost years ago. We struggled when packing for this trip due to the strict weight limits on the Chinese internal flights. When I mentioned to our guide that I did not want to buy things because of the limit, he assured me that those limits were for individual passengers, not for Viking passengers. I wish I had known that before we left. However, I can understand why Viking doesn't advertise that fact. Needless to say, we were then able to stock up on all sorts of junk and souvenirs. The day before we left the boat for Shanghai, I noticed a passenger trying on a silk robe on the 4th floor where clothing is sold. I commented on it and she said she just had it made and was making sure it fit. I had no idea there was a tailor on board. I asked if it was possible to have one made and they obliged in about 5 hours. It was a cream on cream pattern and beautiful. Cost was 220.00 US, which I thought was reasonable, considering. I know that a similar item in a high end dept. store in the states would be at least twice that amount, if not more. Nope, I wouldn't be able to find one in Marshalls or TJMaxx! So I splurged for once. Take more than one adaptor if you are taking a phone and Ipad/netbook. No plug in the ship's bathroom for the hair dryer. You'll have to sit at the desk mirror or on the bed to dry your hair. I've always had an outlet in the bathroom for a dryer on all previous river cruises so again, is this a China thing or is it what I suspect, an older boat? Be prepared to eat Chinese everywhere other than on the boat. Tables for 8, large glass lazy susans, family style which is nice. Beer and sodas included but I asked for water at one lunch and had to pay 5 yuan! I was craving a burger and managed to get my husband into a McDonald's. My mistake was ordering the chicken sandwich instead of the burger. Wasn't a breast..was a thigh with the skin. Yuch. But the fries were great! I took enough knit tops so that I did not have to use the ship's laundry. Another passenger was complaining about the cost of two pounds of wash and fold. They do not have dry cleaning so if you use the laundry, make sure they hang to dry or you may get something back that will no longer fit! One more hint...when a group of us were standing in line in the bathroom at the airport in Beijing, young Chinese girls walked right past us and jumped into a stall when the door opened. They have no respect for lines..I elbowed the young woman when she came out of the stall which I had been waiting for...so be prepared..stand your ground ladies and don't let them cut in front of you..anywhere, in any line! Have specific questions? texastart@aol.com In ending, I will say we had the most articulate, educated, considerate guide of all the 6 river cruises! Aihua was fantastic! He herded us like little sheep, kept close watch on all of us and it did not go unnoticed. He was a wealth of information and his personal stories were very touching. Without Aihua, the trip would not have been nearly as enjoyable. We were fortunate to have him as our guide. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We just returned from the Viking Imperial Cruise with the Guilin/ Hong Kong extension. There are many other reviews that will give you an idea of what to expect so I will try to fill in with our experience. I think everyone in our ... Read More
We just returned from the Viking Imperial Cruise with the Guilin/ Hong Kong extension. There are many other reviews that will give you an idea of what to expect so I will try to fill in with our experience. I think everyone in our "group" was humbled by how big China is and how much development has, and is, taking place. It is impossible to explain to anyone or capture in photographs what is occurring there. If you have ever been to Africa and seen the Serengeti and how open and expansive it is and tried to tell someone what it feels like...China is just the opposite! All the airports are new, and large, and quite a ways from downtown and as you drive in to each there are high rise apartments and office buildings as far as you can see. (Sometimes that's not too far as the air pollution or "mist" as they call it can be bad.) There are several things to consider when you decide to go. First is the time of year. The weather can be very hot and humid in the summer and along with the possibility of air pollution can make some outdoor tours more difficult. There are lots of tourists at the more popular sites. Most are Chinese that are seeing these things for the first time, along with tour groups like you will be a part of. The hotels all are great, the buses are all air conditioned and have ample bottled water, but when you get off the bus at Tiananmen Square or the Great Wall and it is 98 degrees, humid, etc. it can take its toll and it affects your photos. The second decision is the direction. Starting in Beijing puts the more strenuous portion of the trip first followed by five days onboard to relax a little. The difficult portions of the remainder of the trip are the logistics of moving from one city to another. Viking has it down perfect but it still requires getting aboard the bus, usually 45 minute to one hour ride. Getting inside early enough (two hours)to get boarding passes, security checks, etc. 60 -90 min plane ride, checking to confirm everyone's' luggage arrived then another 45 min ride into your new city, registering, you get the picture. Viking handles all this for you. One thing we noticed were other tour groups we passed at airports having to check and retrieve and load their own luggage on the bus. Viking handles all the luggage from outside your hotel room door to inside your next location. They only have you confirm that your bags have all arrived intact, with no damage before you leave the airport. The third decision is to evaluate your ability to handle the above. There are lots of uneven steps, ramps, cobblestone walkways etc. in China. The airports are huge, and there is lots of walking! Beijing is a big city (100miles X 110 miles) lots of traffic. We had planned to go for Peking Duck on our own and skip the opera. We made reservations before we left the States, but the night we tried to go we wited over 45 min outside the Westin in the cab line and only two cabs drove up! The traffic is so bad the local cabs don't want to be tied up in traffic during rush hour. We missed our dinner. The hotel booked us for the following night at the same place (DaDong) but our bus was stuck in traffic and we got home too late to get back in a cab so we flicked it in. We got into Xian very late because our arrival coincided with the China-Japan-Taiwan flap over the islands and some of the Chinese were protesting and blocking traffic. The traffic in China is terrible to say the least. It is a real thrill to ride in the front of the bus at least once to experience what goes on. They do have traffic laws but our guide said "they are only a suggestion"! Terra Cotta Warriors are impressive. Viking got our group in before it even opened so we had the entire place to ourselves for about 45 minutes, After two hotel stays, the ship was a welcome chance to unpack for five days. We found the rooms to be great. The bar and dining staff could not be better or more efficient. They are all young, college graduates, most with degrees in hotel management/ tourism. There is a drink package that is something to consider. It is a one time charge and allows you to have a cocktail or beer anytime you want and they have a better selection of wines they pour for you at lunch and dinner. We didn't sign up before the cruise, but we met some people in the lounge and they had penciled out that it made sense. I don't know if I broke even but I didn't have to keep track. There is an Internet Cafe onboard, but I never used it. I brought my Ipad and phone and the WiFi worked fine. Before we left, I went to AT&T and paid $5.99 for a one month International Calling Plan, and purchased 250 MB of data for $28.99. There is a free App called VIBER that allows you to make free phone calls, text, or send photos similar to Skype. The difference is you don't have to have it on to send or receive so it is just like a regular phone. You need to sign up before you leave, and tell anyone you want to possibly contact to also download the app (work, children, grandkids etc.) or it won't work. It was my wife's birthday while we were onboard, and in the middle of one of the Gorges, her grandkids got to wish her happy birthday. Facetime also worked early morning when the ships bandwidth wasn't all tied up. Most phone chargers, camera battery chargers, etc work in the ships outlets without a converter. The plugs are very tight as a type of "childproof" protection. As far as Viking Cruise I can't say enough about how well organized they are! They cradle you from the first arrival to your departure and all points in between. The guides are well informed, funny, and willing to discuss some pretty controversial subjects. We had Francis as our guide from Beijing to Hong Kong and I don't think anyone could do a better job. However, everyone we talked to loved their guide also so I'm pretty sure Viking is very selective. Our Cruise Director onboard, Jin, was hilarious and very knowledgeable not only about China, but World history and China's part in it both past and future. They have a big experiment going on with their financial situation, the "one child" policy, and no one is really sure how it is going to turn out. China was not on the top of our "bucket list" but after a friend described this same trip he took last year, we decided we should do it while we can. China is rapidly changing and I'm sure people that were early visitors would not recognize or particularly like the vast expansion that is occurring. The Three Gorges Dam was built to provide 10% of China's power for the future but with the growth they are having it is having less and less impact. The one thing it is doing is allowing China to move manufacturing from the coastal areas, where labor and the cost of living is getting more expensive, to the more inland areas where labor is cheap still and large container ships can now reach to transport goods for export. Way too long a report, I'm trying to keep myself awake and get back in the right time zone since we just returned yesterday. In summary, we never saw a boat on the river that we wished we were on or a tour group that we wanted to trade places with. We could have never seen as many places in the period of time we were with Viking. You can probably go cheaper but I don't think you can do better than Viking!   Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
After talking with a friend who had taken the same cruise one year ago, my wife and I decided to move China up on our list of places to visit. We just returned from the Viking Imperial Cruise with the Guilin/ Hong Kong extension. There ... Read More
After talking with a friend who had taken the same cruise one year ago, my wife and I decided to move China up on our list of places to visit. We just returned from the Viking Imperial Cruise with the Guilin/ Hong Kong extension. There are many other reviews that will give you an idea of what to expect so I will try to fill in with our experience. I think everyone in our "group" was humbled by how big China is and how much development has, and is, taking place. It is impossible to explain to anyone or capture in photographs what is occurring there. If you have ever been to Africa and seen the Serengeti and how open and expansive it is and tried to tell someone what it feels like...China is just the opposite! All the airports are new, and large, and quite a ways from downtown and as you drive in to each there are high rise apartments and office buildings as far as you can see. (Sometimes that's not too far as the air pollution or "mist" as they call it can be bad.) There are several things to consider when you decide to go. First is the time of year. The weather can be very hot and humid in the summer and along with the possibility of air pollution can make some outdoor tours more difficult. There are lots of tourists at the more popular sites. Most are Chinese that are seeing these things for the first time, along with tour groups like you will be a part of. The hotels all are great, the buses are all air conditioned and have ample bottled water, but when you get off the bus at Tiananmen Square or the Great Wall and it is 98 degrees, humid, etc. it can take its toll and it affects your photos. The second decision is the direction. Starting in Beijing puts the more strenuous portion of the trip first followed by five days onboard to relax a little. The difficult portions of the remainder of the trip are the logistics of moving from one city to another. Viking has it down perfect but it still requires getting aboard the bus, usually 45 minute to one hour ride. Getting inside early enough (two hours)to get boarding passes, security checks, etc. 60 -90 min plane ride, checking to confirm everyone's' luggage arrived then another 45 min ride into your new city, registering, you get the picture. Viking handles all this for you. One thing we noticed were other tour groups we passed at airports having to check and retrieve and load their own luggage on the bus. Viking handles all the luggage from outside your hotel room door to inside your next location. They only have you confirm that your bags have all arrived intact, with no damage before you leave the airport. The third decision is to evaluate your ability to handle the above. There are lots of uneven steps, ramps, cobblestone walkways etc. in China. The airports are huge, and there is lots of walking! Beijing is a big city (100miles X 110 miles) lots of traffic. We had planned to go for Peking Duck on our own and skip the opera. We made reservations before we left the States, but the night we tried to go we waited over 45 min outside the Westin in the cab line and only two cabs drove up! The traffic is so bad the local cabs don't want to be tied up in traffic during rush hour. We missed our dinner. The hotel booked us for the following night at the same place (DaDong) but our bus was stuck in traffic and we got home too late to get back in a cab so we flicked it in. We got into Xian very late because our arrival coincided with the China-Japan-Taiwan flap over the islands and some of the Chinese were protesting and blocking traffic. The traffic in China is terrible to say the least. It is a real thrill to ride in the front of the bus at least once to experience what goes on. They do have traffic laws but our guide said "they are only a suggestion"! Terra Cotta Warriors are impressive. Viking got our group in before it even opened so we had the entire place to ourselves for about 45 minutes, After two hotel stays, the ship was a welcome chance to unpack for five days. We found the rooms to be great. The bar and dining staff could not be better or more efficient. They are all young, college graduates, most with degrees in hotel management/ tourism. There is a drink package that is something to consider. It is a one time charge and allows you to have a cocktail or beer anytime you want and they have a better selection of wines they pour for you at lunch and dinner. We didn't sign up before the cruise, but we met some people in the lounge and they had penciled out that it made sense. I don't know if I broke even but I didn't have to keep track. There is an Internet Cafe onboard, but I never used it. I brought my I Pad and phone and the Wi-Fi worked fine. Before we left, I went to AT&T and paid $5.99 for a one month International Calling Plan, and purchased 250 MB of data for $28.99. There is a free App called VIBER that allows you to make free phone calls, text, or send photos similar to Skype. The difference is you don't have to have it on to send or receive so it is just like a regular phone. You need to sign up before you leave, and tell anyone you want to possibly contact to also download the app (work, children, grandkids etc.) or it won't work. It was my wife's birthday while we were onboard, and in the middle of one of the Gorges, her grandkids got to wish her happy birthday. Facetime also worked early morning when the ships bandwidth wasn't all tied up. Most phone chargers, camera battery chargers, etc work in the ships outlets without a converter. The plugs are very tight as a type of "childproof" protection. As far as Viking Cruise I can't say enough about how well organized they are! They cradle you from the first arrival to your departure and all points in between. The guides are well informed, funny, and willing to discuss some pretty controversial subjects. We had Francis as our guide from Beijing to Hong Kong and I don't think anyone could do a better job. However, everyone we talked to loved their guide also so I'm pretty sure Viking is very selective. Our Cruise Director onboard, Jin, was hilarious and very knowledgeable not only about China, but World history and China's part in it both past and future. They have a big experiment going on with their financial situation, the "one child" policy, and no one is really sure how it is going to turn out. China was not on the top of our "bucket list" but after a friend described this same trip he took last year, we decided we should do it while we can. China is rapidly changing and I'm sure people that were early visitors would not recognize or particularly like the vast expansion that is occurring. The Three Gorges Dam was built to provide 10% of China's power for the future but with the growth they are having it is having less and less impact. The one thing it is doing is allowing China to move manufacturing from the coastal areas, where labor and the cost of living is getting more expensive, to the more inland areas where labor is cheap still and large container ships can now reach to transport goods for export. Way too long a report, In summary, we never saw a boat on the river that we wished we were on or a tour group that we wanted to trade places with. We could have never seen as many places in the period of time we were with Viking. You can probably go cheaper but I don't think you can do better than Viking! Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Sailed on Viking Emerald from Bejing to Shanghai Aug 3-19. We sailed from Amsterdam to Budapest last year with Viking and so thought I would provide some comparison comments. Going through China needs to be seen as an educational and ... Read More
Sailed on Viking Emerald from Bejing to Shanghai Aug 3-19. We sailed from Amsterdam to Budapest last year with Viking and so thought I would provide some comparison comments. Going through China needs to be seen as an educational and cultural experience; it is not necessarily relaxing. Also, this trip is 5 days on land in Bejing/Xiam/Shanghai plus 10 days on the boat. The 2 are not the same! The land portion is very structured by Viking. You are in hotels, buses, airports, constantly on the move and living out of suitcase. Hotels picked by Viking are absolutely 5 star in every way, however should be noted wine and beer are NOT provided during lunch or dinner. Tours can be long with lots of walking, steps etc. China in August is extremely hot, extremely humid and the tour experience can be diminished by this. If possible, suggest spring/fall departures. Bejing is just a big city; nothing particularly redeeming about it. Xiam is the stop over point before tour of the Terra Cota soldiers; you are just in and out. Shanghai is spectacular; huge, bustling city with stunning architecture and at night the waterfront is lit up like nowhere else in the world. Very impressive. If you plan to extend your stay, suggest you do it in Shanghai. Note many of the lunches/dinners were at chineese style restaurants where you sit at a table and they bring individual plates of chineese food to be shared by all. On several occasions quantity of food was not sufficient since they do not bring a second plate of anything. Viking should address this. The boat portion was typical Viking. Boat was spotless, food was good and lots of it (Western style generally). Wine and beer, excellent service. Rooms very nice for a small boat, quiet, very clean. Small balcony to sit out on. 2 lounges, outdoor deck, no pool. Internet service spotty at best. Cannot say enough about the staff everywhere on board; almost smothering with kindness! No language issues although sometimes you needed to say it twice. China as a whole is dirty (not garbage per se), but everything is just gritty and looks like it needs a good power washing. It is congested, noisy , people at every turn, nightmare driving and scary walking since pedestrians literally have no right of way. Ports are old, dirty, generally floating ganyway to shore. Water in the river is filthy. Unlike Europe, there are no nice outdoor cafe's to stop and have a drink, no churches or castles to tour, no cobblestone streets to wander around. They just do not have these things. Instead it is very urban, very 3rd world in many respects. Western style Toilets are highly sought out but not common other than in hotels/boat. I give Viking 5 stars because they make the best of a difficult environment. They did a great job of herding all 200 of us around, through airports, crammed public sites such as the great wall. Tickets to everything were instantly provided; we never waited in line. Tour guides were good. Some tours were pretty much a waste of time and a lot of emphasis on going to a place selling jade/silk etc where obviously Viking was getting a commission for delivering us to the front door. Too much shopping for me although many people were buying stuff. Group was 60% USA, rest from Canada/UK/Australia/New Zealand. Age range 50-80, average 65-70. Mostly retired. Nothing for kids to do although we had 2. In summary, this is a tour for people who want to see China and experience the culture. It is not for those wanting to sit in a cafe having a latte, relaxing and people watching. The dirt, congestion, noise and hectic pace got to many people, and generally I would think most would not return for a second time. However, it is a fascinating cultural experience and certainly you are not going to fly in, rent a car and do it on your own. So if you want to see China, this is the way to do it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Our Viking cruise On teh Viking Emerald in China was the best trip we have been on. The sites, tours, food and beverage service were all above expectations!The ship itself was new and lovley, clean, shiny, beautifully decorated and well ... Read More
Our Viking cruise On teh Viking Emerald in China was the best trip we have been on. The sites, tours, food and beverage service were all above expectations!The ship itself was new and lovley, clean, shiny, beautifully decorated and well laid out. The cabins were good-very clean, nicely decorated, and comfortable. The room and veranda were comfy and the bath was fine for our needs. I am picky about linens and ours were first rate. Our tour guide (or our loyal and benevolent caretaker) was absolutely the BEST! James told us facts, stories and legends. He took great pains to make sure we saw everything we wanted and understood what we saw. He gave us shopping tips and advice as well as eating tips and advice! James made a huge contribution to our enjoyment of the trip. He was with us on land, river and in the air. The Viking company is so well respected in China that when we were tied up in traffic and late for the plane, James called ahead and they held the plane for us and expedited us through security. WOW! When do you remember having that done for you! We were also first to go in the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit so we had a better view than later visitors. We got the autograph of the last surviving farmer who discovered the warriors. The bar manager, Lois, was wonderful! She really took care of us-we were traveling with 2 friends and made a connection with another couple and made a lively table of 6. We were treated like royalty! We could not have been happier with our cruise! One thing I really like is that all ground excursions are included in the price-with maybe one or two minor dinners/performances. This makes it easy to project your expenses! We have already planned another one for next year with Viking to Transylvania! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We have just returned from the Viking Cruise/land tour Imperials Jewels of China. This trip covered 3 days in Beijing , 1.5 days in Xian, 5 day cruise on Yangtze River and 1.5 days in Shanghai. Included was 5 star hotel accommodation in ... Read More
We have just returned from the Viking Cruise/land tour Imperials Jewels of China. This trip covered 3 days in Beijing , 1.5 days in Xian, 5 day cruise on Yangtze River and 1.5 days in Shanghai. Included was 5 star hotel accommodation in the 3 cities listed,3 internal flights and a verandah stateroom on the Viking Emerald. The passengers, 160 in all, were divided into 4 groups of 40 each with a dedicated tour escort for the whole journey. This was not a relaxed cruise/land tour and was full-on, especially on the days when visiting the tourist sights in Beijing, Xian and Shanghai. There was a significant amount of walking in high temperatures and dealing with large crowds at the various sites. It was highly organised and always on the go, leaving very little or no free time on the land days. Apart from breakfast, dining was at local restaurants under the "lazy Susan " format with the food choice being very limited and sub standard at times. On the days of the internal flights it was quite time consuming though the organisation covering the check in and luggage handling and transfers to hotel was well organised, leaving us with no concerns. The Viking Emerald is a reasonably new ship and had all the modern conveniences to make the cruise very comfortable and relaxing. The meals were of a reasonable standard with a choice of either Chinese or Western. There was no entertainment apart from 2 revue type shows put on by the crew. Unfortunately the river cruise schedule had to be changed due to the Yangtze river being in flood and we were unable to sail through the Three Gorges and pass through the lochs which would have been a major attraction for us. However Viking made alternative arrangements to sail up the river to the Three Gorges Dam from Wuhan and return, giving us 4 days cruising and an extra day in Wuhan. Our tour escort was very good and knowledgeable on the key factors covering the places we visited, which was very helpful in helping us attain an understanding of the Chinese culture and lifestyle. The local guides were also of a high standard. One disappointing aspect of this trip was that once you were allocated to your group you were expected to stay with it, and the opportunity to mix with the other passengers was non existent because of the structure that was in place to move everybody around China during the trip. Whilst we understood this, we felt that on the cruise there could have been some relaxation in the group situation so that we could utilise the open dining policy that Viking offers. This was not the case and we were all directed to dine within our groups, and thereby the opportunity to meet and mix with the other passengers did not eventuate. To sum up this trip, it was more an adventure than a holiday in that it provided us with a fully organised insight into China. We understood such organisation was necessary as trying to cover the major tourist attractions on our own, would have been very demanding. Given the short time at our disposal, however, we have to say that Viking proved to be excellent tour operators and their superb organisation enabled us to cover a large amount of China in a very short time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
This was our first experience with a river cruise and with Viking, and we were very nicely impressed. The itinerary had us spending more time on land than on the ship, but it enabled us to see several highlights of China (the Forbidden ... Read More
This was our first experience with a river cruise and with Viking, and we were very nicely impressed. The itinerary had us spending more time on land than on the ship, but it enabled us to see several highlights of China (the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the terra cotta warriors) quickly and efficiently; and the experiences were memorable. Land accommodations were wonderful, food was very good, and we really enjoyed and appreciated our small group's tour guide (Shanshan Wei). The company handled changes and transfers between locations very nicely. We especially appreciated the fact that the excursions were all included as part of the cost of the trip. Flooding on the Yangtse River meant that we had to board and depart the boat at unexpected places, and we were impressed that Viking was able to make adjustments in our schedule and arrange for transportation to keep us on our journey. We started in Beijing and ended up in Shanghai, and we strongly recommend that itinerary. (The reverse trip is also available from Viking.) It was really nice to have most of the walking and land travels at the beginning of the trip, and then the time on the ship was more relaxing. It was also nice to begin with some of the earlier historic sites and end the trip in the modern city of Shanghai. The entire experience was very special, and we look forward to planning another adventure with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
This was our first trip to China and Viking provided a great itinerary to give travelers that little taste of the highlights of China. We almost didn't book with Viking because they were so unhelpful and uncooperative. Having ... Read More
This was our first trip to China and Viking provided a great itinerary to give travelers that little taste of the highlights of China. We almost didn't book with Viking because they were so unhelpful and uncooperative. Having completed months of research on the various cruise lines, we decided on Viking and called, ready to set everything up and book. We were met with SO MUCH negativity, resistance and unwillingness to help, that we almost decided to look into another cruiseline. We couldn't believe people could be so unfriendly so my husband and I called separately over a period of a month, hoping to get someone who wanted to book us. If not trying to rush us to make some decision while unwilling to give us information to help us do that, they'd put us on hold on the phone for long lengths of time and always came back to tell us they couldn't do this or that. Being that they were the "travel agent" and I an infrequent traveler, I couldn't believe I knew more about booking and traveling to China than they did. Viking literature promotes their willingness to help you extend your trip and all we wanted to do was arrive in Beijing two days early, but they tried so hard to dissuade us as if they didn't want the extra work. We even called ANOTHER TRAVEL AGENCY to obtain information they should have known and to give them available flights and they couldn't even understand the time difference between China and the USA. We got the feeling that they hated their job and didn't care at all about trying to make this experience a good one for the traveler OR selling any of their tours. Luckily my husband happened upon AFFORDABLE TRAVEL who we highly recommend, who helped us with everything we wanted to do to plan this trip. It was ironic that we had to go through this third party in order to finally book our Viking cruise because Viking travel agents were so unhelpful. Once on the tour, the entire trip was wonderful. My only negative comment was that since we are only seeing a very, teeny bit of China, why so many museum tours? I'd rather be out there seeing the sights of China and the people, than stuck in a museum ... and I believe we had 3-4 museums on our tour. Too many! Other than that, we had an excellant tour guide -- Yang Xu -- who was a fountain of knowledge and very interesting to listen to, who dealt with everything thrown at him with a smile and was always pleasant and entertaining and calm, taking charge of all of our emergencies. He really added to the wonderful experience we had. He had us well organized and always told us where to be and when. The sights they put on the tour was a nice sampling of all the main tourist attractions (good itinerary for a first time visitor) and we enjoyed all the Chinese dinners and lunches they provided. I liked the small Voxes they provided us with and the small, manageable tour groups as we got to know everyone in our group really well by the end of the tour. Accommodations - All the hotels we stayed at were FIRST RATE AWESOME. The ship had really nice staterooms, larger than what we had on our Princess Alaska cruise. Great food, great tours, great guide, awesome tour mates, great ship. I would definitely want to take another Viking cruise as we had such a wonderful time on this well organized tour; however, I would not book my airline through Viking (they flew us from Shanghai across the continental U.S. to Toronto on the east coast and then back to the west coast where we live) and I would forget about calling Viking direct to book and go straight to Affordable Tours who arranged everything for us and always with a smile. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This was our first trip to Asia. After a great deal of research of tour operators, we settled on Viking because of their willingness to deal with dietary needs and conversations with previous travellers on similiar trips. A number of ... Read More
This was our first trip to Asia. After a great deal of research of tour operators, we settled on Viking because of their willingness to deal with dietary needs and conversations with previous travellers on similiar trips. A number of acquaintances had travelled on less expensive excursions that were all fine, but Viking came out ahead on first class hotels, a new ship, meals and organization of tours. From the moment we arrived in Beijing and were met by a Viking representative to the time we were escorted to the check in counter to depart Shanghai, every detail was looked after. Our guide Jimmy was extremely knowledgeable, caring and organized. We were kept on a tight schedule but we saw everything and received a in depth education of the culture, history and understanding of today's dynamics. We stayed at the first class Westin's in Beijing and Shanghai, and the beautiful Crowne Plaza in Xian. The Viking Emerald is a very comfortable ship with good cabins and excellent public spaces. Meals at hotels, restaurants, performances an on the ship were all very good with much choice and accommodated western palates. All the tours and stops had something to offer. The big disappointment though was the Three Gorges Dam Project. Because of the permanent mist you can't see the dam, and do not get to see the inner workings of this massive project. You are limited to the displays, grounds and gift store. For a first glimpse of China, don't hesitate to choose Viking. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Viking River Cruises are an incredible experience! Our second cruise with Viking was a land/river cruise in China. Over the top impressive! Every detail was handled with care. Excursions were perfect, food on-board ship was excellent ... Read More
Viking River Cruises are an incredible experience! Our second cruise with Viking was a land/river cruise in China. Over the top impressive! Every detail was handled with care. Excursions were perfect, food on-board ship was excellent and ambiance was very nice. Wait staff was very attentive to our needs. China was not on our "radar" or "bucket list". A friend of ours asked us to travel with them. So glad we did. I highly recommend this cruise. Excursion walking is strenuous. Hotels for the land part were absolutely luxurious. Guides met us at the airport, were with us continuously and dropped us off at the return airport. Our guide was a font of knowledge, answered our every question and was attentive and kind. Loved him. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
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
The Imperial Jewels cruise from Beijing to Shanghai was our second trip with Viking. After cruising with them on the Danube, my expectations were very high. They were exceeded in every way from booking through our return flight home. I ... Read More
The Imperial Jewels cruise from Beijing to Shanghai was our second trip with Viking. After cruising with them on the Danube, my expectations were very high. They were exceeded in every way from booking through our return flight home. I made our reservation direct with Viking including airfare. By using the Viking Air Plus Service, we were able to confirm the direct flights we wanted as soon as they were available from the airline. Even 320 days in advance, Viking's response to my request was 'no problem'. The other advantage of booking airfare through Viking was the included transfers and extra night in Beijing. About 6 months before departure we were notified that our hotels were the Ritz Financial District in Beijing, Westin in Xian, and Portman Ritz in Shanghai. All three were ultra plush with outstanding rooms, food, and concierge services. Checking in and out was seamless. We never had to wait for keys. Luggage always seemed to take a little longer but it was never a big deal. We arrived in Beijing on a rainy Tuesday afternoon and were greeted by Viking as soon as we exited customs. Those scenes of Beijing with thousands of bicycles are long gone. They have been replaced by horrible traffic jams. Since the official tour program didn't start till Thursday morning we had an extra evening and full day to explore on our own -- something we are very comfortable doing. Tuesday's rain led to a beautiful blue sky on Wednesday. We took the subway to the Temple of Heaven complex which is a huge park area with several different ornate temple structures. The temples are spectacular but the added bonus was all the locals doing Tai Chi, playing cards, singing and dancing. They really take advantage of the beautiful park. There were more locals there than tourists. We then took the Subway back to the hotel to meet up with some friends for lunch at the Whampoa Club. It's an old courtyard house in the middle of new office buildings about 3 blocks from the Ritz. The Concierge made us a reservation but none of us was prepared for the 'WOW' factor of this place. We had a huge fancy private room just off the main courtyard. It had a sitting area and a big round table set for only 4. The food was probably the best local food we had on the trip and that's saying a lot. After raving about the clean, efficient, and cheap Subway (about 32 cents one way anywhere in the system) we all headed for the Lama Monastery. It's a huge complex of buildings and courtyards and also very interesting. We were really glad we took the subway because the rush hour traffic was in full swing. We heard from others that it was an hour plus to get back to the hotel. There are only 2 optional tours in this itinerary: Peking Duck & Opera in Beijing; and Tang Dynasty Dinner & Show in Xian. Based on other reviews we decided against the Opera. So Wednesday evening we went to 'Duck de Chine' for Peking Duck. We were going to go someplace else but the Concierge said that this was really the best place. They were roasting the ducks over wood fires which made the restaurant smell really good. It was an older courtyard building that was probably originally someone's house. We ordered a duck and broccoli with Garlic. It was more than plenty for 2. The duck comes with pancakes, little sesame buns, hoisin sauce, and some thinly sliced radish, carrot, and celery. When the duck is presented they bang a gong and announce 'Your Duck has arrived'. The chef then carved it at our table and arranged it on 2 plates with the trimmed meat under the crisp, but still greasy skin. It was a terrific dinner and we were glad we had a chance to try the famous duck. But I also think it's an experience that doesn't need to be repeated. Viking assigns a guide to a group for the entire trip. Thursday morning we met Daniel and the other 26 people in our group. Since you travel together, tour together, and mostly eat together you tend to get pretty attached to your group. Daniel was outstanding and I can't imagine any guide being better. Fortunately we didn't have any problem individuals in our group. Everyone was good about meeting times and moved at a decent pace. Plus the VOX headsets they use make guided tours a pleasure as you don't have to gather around close to hear the guide. All aspects of the tours and meals in Beijing went like clockwork. The sites are amazing, big, and crowded. But timing is everything and we tended to visit the sights early before the crowds of Chinese tourist became overwhelming. This was especially true at the Great Wall where we had the section toward Mongolia almost to ourselves. As we were leaving, hundreds of Chinese School groups were charging toward us. Timing is everything! Our blue skies were long gone as every day the smog got progressively worse. By the time we left Beijing on Saturday you could barely see a few blocks down the street. Our morning Rickshaw ride was really fun and tour of the Hutongs very interesting. It really showed the contrast between the old neighborhoods and the new high rise apartments. We then had an afternoon flight to Xian and the Tang Dynasty show that night. Everyone who attended both shows said the Tang Dinner & Show was ten-times better than the Duck & Opera. We definitely made the right choice. The next morning we headed out early to the Terra Cotta Warriors. Once again, timing is everything and we were in and out before it got really crowded. Even the guides remarked that they expected heavier crowds. We were then off on a flight to Chongqing to meet up with the Viking Emerald. The flights within China were always easy due to both our guide and the Viking staff. Luggage disappeared then reappeared without us having to do anything. Daniel always had our boarding passes so once we got through security all we had to do was walk on the plane. All the flights were about 1.5 hours and wait time was much less than if we'd been on our own. The Viking Emerald was new to Viking in 2011 but was an older ship that was totally refurbished. Everything about the ship was fantastic including the food and wine at dinner. They poured Beringer Chardonnay and Cabernet as their house wine. It flowed freely at both lunch and dinner -- in addition to beer. The breakfast buffet had a huge variety of items and always included Chinese specialties like noodles and dumplings. Eggs, omelets, French toast, and pancakes were prepared in the dining room by 4 or so cooks. The only item ordered from the kitchen was Eggs Benedict, which we had several times. Lunch had 3 entree choices in addition to the soup, salad bar, buffet items and Chinese options. Dinner also had 3 appetizer, entree, and dessert choices. Plus you could always have a steak and Caesar salad if nothing else sounded good. Everything was so outstanding it was hard to abstain. The Beef Tenderloin, Rack of Lamb, and Lobster Thermidor were especially good and cooked perfectly. The staterooms all had balconies, a couch, a desk area, and a good size bathroom with a glass enclosed shower. The only item missing was a refrigerator. You also had to make sure to close the balcony doors correctly so the top sensors matched up, otherwise the air conditioning system thought the doors were open and would not work. We once again had great weather when we went on the small boat tour through the Lesser 3 Gorges. It was a perfect day as we sailed toward the Dam on Tuesday evening. Then the FOG came in. The Chinese authorities stopped all traffic going through the locks and ship traffic backed up quickly. Viking used their connections to jump the Dam lock queue and we managed to go on the Dam tour on Wednesday while waiting for our turn. But the fog came back, the locks shut down, and we didn't get through till early Thursday evening. By then there was no way we could sail to Wuhan so we docked right outside the locks, once again in heavy fog. We ended up missing Xiling Gorge, the stop at the Viking School, and Museum in Wuhan. Viking made alternate arrangements to get us to Wuhan by bus so we could catch our flight to Shanghai. Because of this detour, we saw a different view of the Chinese countryside that we would not have normally seen. Seeing all the farmers in the rice fields plowing with their water buffalos was pretty amazing. Saturday in Shanghai was busy from morning till night. Viking certainly made the most of day there. The grand finale was the Acrobat show which was ideally located adjacent to the Portman Ritz. Only 8 of our group of 28 were headed home. The rest were off to the Guilin and Hong Kong. We would have liked to have gone to Guilin but since we had already been to Hong Kong the additional cost seemed extreme. So we were off to the Airport Sunday morning and even arrived early back in San Francisco. This was probably one of the best trips we've taken. I could not even imagine going to China with any company other than Viking. From start to finish everything was first rate!   Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click