41 Viking River Viking Emerald Cruise Reviews

We took the Windows of the World tour which covered China & then we went on to Tibet. Tibet was by far the most enjoyable part of the trip except for the altitude sickness & the food. Great overview of China even though some of ... Read More
We took the Windows of the World tour which covered China & then we went on to Tibet. Tibet was by far the most enjoyable part of the trip except for the altitude sickness & the food. Great overview of China even though some of the trip seemed canned. Our tour guide Gao was fabulous. Extremely organized! Hotel accommodations were wonderful except in Tibet. Food & wine on the ship was great! Made some lifelong friends on this journey, our first ever river cruise. Our room was another story all together. We had a veranda room so that I could get outside & get some fresh air since the room was so cramped. The rooms are way too small, even to move around in. And, our shower leaked all over the floor every time we used it. The ship itself could use some updating. We thought the entertainment was somewhat lame. We did however enjoy the speakers. Hard to please all of us, all the time, I guess. We are going on another Viking cruise in September to Budapest, Vienna & parts of Germany. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
As usual, Viking arranged five star hotels and an excellent guide! Our hotel in Shanghai, The Fairmount Peace Hotel was beautiful and right across the street form the Bund, or River Walk. The ship was not as nice as the longship we cruised ... Read More
As usual, Viking arranged five star hotels and an excellent guide! Our hotel in Shanghai, The Fairmount Peace Hotel was beautiful and right across the street form the Bund, or River Walk. The ship was not as nice as the longship we cruised on in Holland, but it was clean and the staff was excellent. Our cabin was very roomy, and we enjoyed our verandah as we cruised down the Yangtze River. Tibet was the most unusual place we have ever been! I loved the people dressed in traditional clothes. The food in our hotels was great, but the restaurants we visited all seemed to serve the same food, and it was rather bland. I did like the Chinese hamburgers-pork loin on a steamed bun. I know the restaurant on the way to the Summer Palace was convenient, but the food was not good. The Shanghai Acrobats were incredible, as was the show in Xian. The Terra Cotta Warriors were a highlight for me, and The Shangri-La Hotel in Xian was the nicest hotel I have stayed in. The Green Fish restaurant at the Ritz Carlton in Bejing was great. The Three Gorges tour was beautiful. The tour guide can make or break a trip, and our tour guide Richard was the very best! He looked after every member of our group of 32, and shared his heartfelt memories of growing up in China. He recapped the next day's plans each day and arranged our many flights, making it as easy as possible for us all. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We had an amazing but busy and somewhat exhausting (due to the high temperatures) time in Beijing and Xian and were ready to relax. We would recommend starting in Beijing and finishing in Shanghai. The ship was well equipped and the menu ... Read More
We had an amazing but busy and somewhat exhausting (due to the high temperatures) time in Beijing and Xian and were ready to relax. We would recommend starting in Beijing and finishing in Shanghai. The ship was well equipped and the menu offered a good variety. The service was relaxed and a number of waitstaff crew were new but well instructed and trained by the amazing matre di "Jay". We enjoyed how the staff genuinely took care of our needs in the dining room and loved open sitting which afforded us to meet lots of new people. The ship is leased by Viking as ownership is not allowed by the Chinese gov't. It is comparable to the other ships in Viking's fleet. The entertainment on board was very good for a river cruise. We enjoyed the ethnic dress fashion show and the amazing Peking opera style fan man! Not sure who could be contacted but Some of the stairways at the ports are in need of attention as there are no hand rails, and very slippery. Many of the passengers, of all ages, were concerned about this. The suggested tipping in the guide book is outrageous- another single fare- (far excedes ocean cruises which have many more services and amenities). Viking did a first class job with organizing the tour guides, tours and flights. The land hotels were 5 star quality.We definately saw more of China in 12 days then we could have imagined.We fully endorse this trip by Viking! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was out second Viking River cruise. A fair amount of time was spent ashore, so the entire "cruise" was not on the river. The three hotels that we stayed at were magnificent. The staff in the hotels as well as on-board the ... Read More
This was out second Viking River cruise. A fair amount of time was spent ashore, so the entire "cruise" was not on the river. The three hotels that we stayed at were magnificent. The staff in the hotels as well as on-board the boat were extremely pleasant and very helpful. A lot of time was spent on buses traveling to and from out accommodations and places we were visiting. Some of the sites we visited were physically demanding. That being said, everything we saw was beautiful and a wonderful experience. The food and service, as with our other Viking experience was excellent. If you wanted something other than what was on the menu, the staff would quickly accommodate your wishes. The cabin was comfortable. I would suggest requesting a dehumidifier when you board the boat. We did and it arrived within minutes of our request. This was not our first Viking cruise nor will it be our last, We are sold on the Viking experience. Everything from accommodations to the food, service and the ours including the guides are the best. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Although this is presented as a cruise the time on the water is only half of the trip. Nor did we embark at Shanghai but the option to choose Chonqing is not in the menu. This was our first experience of cruising since both my husband ... Read More
Although this is presented as a cruise the time on the water is only half of the trip. Nor did we embark at Shanghai but the option to choose Chonqing is not in the menu. This was our first experience of cruising since both my husband and I suffer from seasickness and had not thought it wise to try the oceans! The "Imperial Jewels of China", from Beijing to Shanghai is a once in a lifetime trip. It could hardly be called a "holiday" since leisure time is extremely limited at the beginning and end. Excursions to the "must do" sites such as Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Terra Cotta Warriors etc set off very early in the day to try to avoid the worst of the crowds (not apparently successful!) so leisurely lie in bed is not on the programme. And even on the ship the excursions and activities are time consuming. But apart from the endless crowds and the rather disappointing weather this is an amazing experience. The vastness of a country you see only a portion of, the different culture, the overwhelming scenery - so different as you pass through different regions, the seething crowds ...... The cruise part of the itinerary we enjoyed immensely despite a couple of wet days. Unused to the possibly more luxurious cruise ships we found The Emerald more than comfortable and the crew delightful. If you want more luxury stay put in the hotels that Viking arranged for the rest of the trip! We were unfortunate since the night we embarked at Chongqing was the night that the Chinese cruise ship went down in the Yangtze with the loss of about 400 lives. This impacted on our timetable but the crew were more than helpful and reassuring. We had hoped to be sunbathing on our stateroom balcony but sadly the weather was not that kind. In fact we saw the sun on few occasions which, coming as we do from Andalucia in Spain, was disappointing. The pollution in the big cities hides the sun and the weather systems down in the mountains mean the sky is often grey with heavy cloud and drizzle. So don't take this trip if you want luxurious leisure or if you have difficulty in walking for long periods of time or if bad weather might put you off or if you are allergic to crowds. Take it if you want to experience something totally different and have your mind blown by the "Imperial Jewels of China", it's something you will never forget! P.S. The Viking tour guides are fantastic, particularly ours, the lovely "Johanna", and make things run like clockwork even on such a tight and demanding schedule. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
The trip was great. The hotels were all very nice. It was nice to be in the same small group with the same tour guide the entire trip. I enjoyed all the shore excursions. The food and wine on the ship was outstanding. Since we had 7 ... Read More
The trip was great. The hotels were all very nice. It was nice to be in the same small group with the same tour guide the entire trip. I enjoyed all the shore excursions. The food and wine on the ship was outstanding. Since we had 7 airline flights I liked that the guides took care of our checked in baggage. Everyone was very nice and helpful. My only complaint was two out of our three in country flights were delayed. We missed a couple excursions because of the delays. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We visited wonderful places - in awe factor order - Forbidden City, Great Wall, Terra Cotta Soldiers, Yangtze River Gorges, school visit, Zoo/Pandas, numerous historical/cultural sites sprinkled throughout our journey. Was not impressed ... Read More
We visited wonderful places - in awe factor order - Forbidden City, Great Wall, Terra Cotta Soldiers, Yangtze River Gorges, school visit, Zoo/Pandas, numerous historical/cultural sites sprinkled throughout our journey. Was not impressed with Hu Tong visit (much construction work which appeared mostly unkempt and junky) and a demonstration of hacky sac type game nearby. Our guide, Matt, was excellent - always in tune with our group and looking out for our welfare. I am an adventurous eater and the food was excellent everywhere we went. Viking Emerald is an older ship so it was not as well appointed as others but accommodations were satisfactory none the less. The ship's crew were friendly, courteous and professional always. The Chinese people appeared friendly and always smiled. We learned to say "Hello" in Chinese and that always brought a smile and a wave and occasionally a picture with "the American visitors" especially from the kids who were just adorable. We would not hesitate to book future Viking vacations in any country offered. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our first venture into China, so we booked all air and transfers through Viking. They flew us to Beijing a day early which was appreciated. We flew Air China which offered nothing out of the ordinary regarding space or food. It ... Read More
This was our first venture into China, so we booked all air and transfers through Viking. They flew us to Beijing a day early which was appreciated. We flew Air China which offered nothing out of the ordinary regarding space or food. It got us where we needed to be both directions. We were met by a Viking representative who took us to the beautiful Kerry Hotel. The bathroom here was the talk of the tour. It has the most high teck toilet I've ever used. It also offers a bountiful breakfast buffet, and a very nice evening buffet as well. We are very glad we did this trip in November. The temperatures were moderate to cool. Because of the APEC conference, factories in the Beijing area were closed for the week or so before hand and only half the cars (either odd or even license plates depending on the date of the day) were permitted to drive so air quality was better. We heard tales of very hot summer weather. Advice offered in other reviews led us to book starting in Beijing. This is indeed a very active tour, and since it begins with walking Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall the first two days very glad we packed our insoles. Because we arrived a bonus day early, we took the subway to the Summer Palace. Young people speak good enough English and were very helpful in finding stations and giving directions when we needed them. There is an optional tour to this Palace, but it is easily done on your own for less than $2, and you have the adventure to talk about. Day 5 included Xian and its Terra Cotta Warriors. Enough time there to get a good look and lots of photos. We didn't attend the optional Tang Dynasty show, but those who did were positively impressed. The following day we flew to Chongqing to board the Emerald which is leased from the Chinese. The staff is all Chinese and works very hard to insure a pleasant journey. The first few nights there were problems with temperature controls. Dining room very warm, cabins usually too warm, sometimes too cold. Food on the ship was plentiful and good. Food on tour was adequate. Meals on tour are usually served one course at a time. ie, the beans are put on a lazy susan. All people at the table help themselves. Pity the last person to be served, cause there isn't always enough. Then come the next 9 items, one at a time ending with soup or a slice of watermelon. So you may taste a bite of 10 dishes, and one of these is always tofu, and smalls bits of fish, pork or beef. One day we experienced hot pot. There are other comprehensive reviews and the Viking itinerary offers more touring details, so I'll let you know that the guides are wonderful. Their English is excellent, they are well versed in culture, history and current events. They find good restrooms on tour...sometimes there are lines because of limited western toilets for the ladies. They are able to answer questions forthrightly and give insight into the thoughts of young people. There is, it seems to me an excessive amount of residential building going on in most cities in China. "Ghost towns" seem to be everywhere. There is almost too much time for shopping, but some loved that aspect too. The multi talented crew presented two evening shows. One featured beautiful costumes and dances of various ethnic groups in China. The other was a very well done variety show. The fellow who poured our wine was a pretty good magician.! The cruise director gave interesting lectures on history and culture. We also enjoyed presentations on noodle making and Chinese art. There is no wifi on board! There are 8 computer stations on deck 6, and a terminal was usually available, though connections were very slow. Disembarkation and transfers to Shanghai were handled efficiently. We learned so much, saw and experienced more than we'd expected. Although there were a few people who had difficulty walking, I'd recommend this trip well before you need a knee replacement, or after you've healed because it is a very active trip and mobility issues will interfere with seeing many sites.   Read Less
Sail Date November 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
I will try to stay on matters relevant to prospective travellers and not to dwell on incidentals. A few specifics that may set a framework: we travelled from June 20-July 5, 2013, from Shanghai to Beijing with extension to Guilin and Hong ... Read More
I will try to stay on matters relevant to prospective travellers and not to dwell on incidentals. A few specifics that may set a framework: we travelled from June 20-July 5, 2013, from Shanghai to Beijing with extension to Guilin and Hong Kong; Im 68, overweight, but long ago athletic, and my wife is 57, not athletic, but generally fit. I wont try to cover everything but will focus on pros and cons, each in chronological order. PROS - Vikings organization from airport(s) to hotel(s) to boat. Worriless. - The Tour Escort system, which always give you a bilingual person to rely on and learn from. (Ours was Gao, and he was a mensch.) - The extremely high quality of all hotels. - The Shanghai Museum. Limited but a great way to fill the 75-minute slot available. Ceramics/porcelain the highlight for me, followed by painting; wife favored the bronzes. As much archaeology as art, but learning about Chinese history through artifacts became a valued layer of our trip. - The boat in general (the Viking Emerald). Service excellent, food good, and lecturer (Daniel Peng) informative and witty. Laundry was fast and fairly priced. - The staterooms. Ours was high-end (Deck 5) since we booked late (April) and it was the one that happened to open up, but I believe even the least expensive are good and all have picture windows and balconies (dont expect to use the latter much in the heat and humidity) as well as good bathrooms and showers. Storage a bit short for hanging sweaty clothes. - Fellow passengers. Generally open, good-spirited sorts. We travelled by ourselves but never lacked for good meal companions, although we did find ourselves averting our glances from people whose life stories we already knew and scanning for tables with people who looked interesting. - Casual dress. Shorts the norm. In the heat and humidity, its a relief never to have to dress up. - The Hubei Provinical Museum in Wuhan. We arrived in late afternoon, in a hurry to get to the boat, and only had time for a quick concert on replicas of musical instruments recently unearthed from the tomb of Yi (the king of the Zeng Sate in the Warring States Period (476 BC - 221 BC), then a quick tour of rooms with original chimes and other artifacts, but exhibit was impressive and musicians were skillful. - The scenery after the Three Gorges Dam. Youre in the mountains now. - Smaller boat ride through the lesser Three Gorges. This stretch (and especially the later trip on the Li River in Guilin) reminded me of one of my favorite travel experiences ever, sailing through a fjord in Norway. - Shibaozhai Pagoda on the Yangtze. Very scenic. I cramped a calf on walk to it and didnt climb Pagoda, but wife tells me it was great, and it looked great from outside. - Chongquin Zoo. We saw seven pandas, which our cheerful local guide Romy told us was exceptional. - Terra Cotta Army Museum in Xian. Words cannot describe. Truly one of the wonders of the world, along with, on succeeding days - Great Wall in the Badaling Hills outside Beijing, and - The Forbidden City. These last three sights epitomized the best feature of our trip: being transported into a different world and culture and history. The adjoining Tienamin Square didnt do much for us. Mainly a big, empty space with a strong sense of Mao. - Foot massage in Guilin (were now on the extension and our escort is Jimmy, who was also very good). Another extremely likable, cheerful local guide, Lisa, arranged this. All but a few of us signed up and none regretted it. - Li River Cruise from Quilin to Yangshuo Village. The dimpled, sandstone mountains were spectacular. - Spectacular cityscape from Victoria Peak over Hong Kong and downtown Kowloon. - The 8:00 to 8:18 PM light show from the highrises on the bay was also delightful, and we were lucky enough to catch it on a clear day from a terrific 29th floor restaurant, Aqua (not on tour itinerary). Before I turn to cons, I should note that weather makes a huge difference, and we lucked into good weather in Hong Kong, on the Li River, in the Lesser Three Gorges, and on several other days. Heat, humidity, and smog are givens for most of the trip, at least in summer, but we were able to see nearly everything clearly (or through a scenic mist) and never felt a need to don our masks. CONS - lunch and dinner at local Chinese restaurants in Shanghai. Truly mediocre (and I love Chinese food back home in Los Angeles). I feared that this would become the norm, but the rest of the local restaurant stops were better. - Acrobatic show after dinner in Shanghai. I kept nodding off, and I dont think it was all the fault of the jet lag. The acrobatic routines were, well, routine, and the music was mind-numbing. A far cry from Cirque de Soleil. - Endless bleak landscapes of pre-fab looking highrises, most of which didnt seem occupied (whos doing the planning here?). Downtown Shanghai and Beijing are spectacular, but we came away from busrides through other areas grateful we didnt live there. - The Three Gorges Dam. We used to apply a standard with our sons (now grown and not on this trip), If we wouldnt do it at home, why do it here? and weve never gone to the Hoover Dam. Then, for the Three Gorges, you add in the heat, humidity, and fog/smog that makes it unlikely youll see much. Guide joke, They say there are two kinds of days here, foggy and very foggy. - The Viking School in Yueyang. The children are adorable and the cause is probably worthy, but its painful to think of the kids being required to perform for the Westerners (ours had come in on a Sunday, just for us). Also, this morning excursion is the only event of the day. I cynically pictured Viking Executives sitting around brainstorming, What can we throw in for people in the long, dull stage of the cruise before the mountains? I know, lets help fund a school! - The scenery before you get to the Three Gorges. All bleak and flat. Look, theres a sandpile! - The walk to the Shibaozhai Pagoda. Although the Pagoda is at water level a short distance from the boat, they routed us to it through a steep, two-block climb through a gauntlet of hawkers then a similar descent. This was when I tweaked my calf. - The stop at the jewelry store on the Hong Kong tour was endless. Id felt mildly peeved at the shopping opportunities at a silk rug and embroidery outlet in Shanghai, but I was fuming by the time they let the captive audience out of the jewelry store. True, Im not a shopper, but they could have told us, Youve got half an hour, and shoppers and non could have been satisfied. As it was they kept us for over an hour until the last person stopped showing any interest in the over-priced baubles. A few general impressions. We had a great time. We wanted to escape our routines, and China and Viking certainly provided that, and in as much comfort as it would be reasonable to expect. The five internal flights in China got to be complicated and tiresome, but Viking handled them smoothly, and I accept that they were necessary for us to get as rounded a tour as did. Well definitely be looking through our Viking catalogue for future river cruises, but well also be checking other companies. Cruisecritic provided a helpful resource for this trip (amazing how you can sort out a consensus through the few people who loved everything and the few people who hated everything), and we expect to use it more broadly.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
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. 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Sail Date September 2012
Our 17 day trip to China included Shanghai to Beijing offering. It is a trip not to be missed... the boat was fine for river cruising, meals were excellent and lots of variety. Being in August, the river was low so I personally found it ... Read More
Our 17 day trip to China included Shanghai to Beijing offering. It is a trip not to be missed... the boat was fine for river cruising, meals were excellent and lots of variety. Being in August, the river was low so I personally found it difficult to get from the boat to the buses for excursions (too much climbing stairs) but once on board the bus, totally enjoyed all the scenery and the planned day. For the days that we were on land (2 days in Shanghai, Overnight in Xian and 3 nights in Beijing), the hotels were first rate, clean and extremely beautifully decorated with excellent window views. Of special mention was the Crown Plaza in Xian. The only negative I found was a bit of disappointment at disembarkment in Chongqing where helpers were gouging the tourists for assisting them up the many steps from the ship to the buses. Also, the lack of 'personal' time to do shopping - each excursion takes you to 'the government shop' where one may not find the special gifts they would like to bring home. Travel on tour buses and China airways within our trip was clean and comfortable. Finally, a special mention for our tour guide (Mother Hen). This job was very well executed by Mr. Joshua Wu from Beijing. He took great care of us and we will never forget all the great stories he told us over the 17 days we spent together. We made many new friends from all over the world and still keep in touch with some, trading our everyday life stories through e-mails and pictures. Thank you, Viking! Where can you take me this year? I'm ready to go again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Cruise accommodations on Viking Emerald excellent. Food was best of any cruise we have taken. Ports of call were poor - visiting a school as the only stop that day was inadequate for those who want to see as much of China as possible in ... Read More
Cruise accommodations on Viking Emerald excellent. Food was best of any cruise we have taken. Ports of call were poor - visiting a school as the only stop that day was inadequate for those who want to see as much of China as possible in this short 12-day excursion Three Gorges Dam was unimpressive, not seeing any of the mechanics of how it operates as we would see in other countries. Meals served off ship were institutional quality, trying to emulate western perception of Chinese food rather than authentic Chinese. Guide was excellent, but why have separate guides for each tour in addition to primary guide? 12 days is too short a time. Staff on board was excellent in every way, a highlight of the cruise along with food and service generally on board. Anxious to try another Viking Cruise without pre and post cruise tours. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This river cruise offered fascinating insights into China. The food was good, staff great and accomodations comfortable. Viking offboat activities were OK -could have been better since they were a bit commercial. The offboat food was OK ... Read More
This river cruise offered fascinating insights into China. The food was good, staff great and accomodations comfortable. Viking offboat activities were OK -could have been better since they were a bit commercial. The offboat food was OK but NOT great. As a groupd of six we enjoyed ourselves on our own on several nights. The boat was clean and relaxing; minimal activities but the scenery (after we reached the first dam (from Shamghai to Beijing) was wonderful; prior to that it was very commercial shipping etc. That's the nature of the Yangtze River. The Three Gorges Dam was interesting. Their Beijing tours were better than Shanghai. All hotels were 4-5 star although some are not in the central part of the local cities... check that before you book. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
This being our first trip to China, we had no idea what to expect. I strongly suggest anyone that is a novice cruiser to read reviews, comments and hints via Cruise Critic. It was so helpful for us with all the questions we had. It was ... Read More
This being our first trip to China, we had no idea what to expect. I strongly suggest anyone that is a novice cruiser to read reviews, comments and hints via Cruise Critic. It was so helpful for us with all the questions we had. It was a very fast paced tour//criuise with so much to see and do. We did not get much sleep and were always up early. (Our choice, did not want to miss a thing). The most challenging for us was my slow walking and some limitations. However, our tour guide was always watching out for me, and getting me a wheelchair or access to elevators whenever possible. The embarkation onto the Emerald at Chongqing was a nightmare! Narrow crumbling 100+ small steps with no railings. I had a porter under each arm and carrying my carry-on luggage down those steps. We were quoted a price and then the porters held us "hostage" for 10 times that amount. Viking needs to make sure that the guests that need this assistance keep them honest! The Viking Emerald was a very nice ship - liked having our own balcony. There was a nice variety of foods - the waitresses were very attentive and quick to get you anything special that you might need. The staterooms were a comfortable size. Seems that everyone on the ship was getting colds - after being told to leave the door to the balcony open rather than using the air conditioner - guess spreading bugs around, would help. A little late for us, we had to visit the ship's doctor - which our tour guide helped translate our illnesses for the doctor. I loved walking on the Great Wall with snow on the ground! Slippery, but what a site. We saw so much, too many to mention. Our guide was adept at getting us to the tour locations early, to avoid the long lines and crowds of people. The local food was good, lots of variety - just need to watch out for the very small bones in a lot of their local fish. Not a lot of activities on board the ship, but a nice selection - from Chinese lessons to a wonderful performance by the staff! It was definitely a trip of a life time for us - glad we were able to see so much of China and the extended trip to Guilin and Hong Kong. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We opted for the longer cruise and would probably opt for the shorter version knowing what we do now. The ship is fine, our room was a spacious "Junior Suite" we were with friends who had one of the very large ... Read More
We opted for the longer cruise and would probably opt for the shorter version knowing what we do now. The ship is fine, our room was a spacious "Junior Suite" we were with friends who had one of the very large "Explorer's Suite" it was wonderful with wrap around windows and decks. Though we've only experienced much larger ships with many more amenities this ship had many places to go and do things. The dining room was at times loud with the engines as noted in other reviews. The food was rarely good, most everyone complained and often sent theirs back. I found the always available salmon to be reliably excellent and my partner often ordered pasta with mushrooms which he liked. Its true that the crew is extraordinary and they remembered so many of our names, Lois was a standout. The Viking system of keeping 30 some tourists together with one guide works very well and the guides work very hard to make sure everything goes according to plan, ours even wrote his cell phone # on the back of all of our name tags in case there was an emergency (this worked well for someone who got lost on one excursion). Beware that Viking says you are allowed a max baggage of 44 lbs but never mentions it also must be one bag only (all four in our group had 2 bags each with total weigths under the limit but we were charged for the extra bag when we flew on the extension to Hong Kong) Viking booked us in to fantastically luxurious hotels, the Regent in Beijing was the most outstanding. The downside was how dirty and polluted the cities and river were for the cruise portion, many of the docking situations are pretty ugly (even if you go out to see something wonderful away from the boat)it can be smelly, dank and grim. The extra extension to Guilin has one of the best highlights of the trip, a cruise down the gorgeous Li River - this is amazing, beautiful, clean and serene through one of earth's most gorgeous places - a great departure from the somewhat rushed hustle bustle of most of the trip. Its a trip well worth making but it does incorporates many highs and lows due to the nature of China itself. I recommend Viking, as others have mentioned this would be impossible to book on your own and you will see a lot in a short period of time all while being "handled" by capable staff. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Viking Emerald Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.4
Entertainment 4.0 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.5
Family N/A 3.5
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.6
Enrichment 5.0 4.4
Service 4.0 4.7
Value For Money 4.0 4.5
Rates 4.0 4.2

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