5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Great itinerary to see China (Beijing/Great Wall; Xian/Terra Cotta Warriors; Yangtze River/3 Gorges Dam & sights) and land portion of tour with excellent guides and 5 star hotels was really outstanding. However, the Viking Ship Emerald ... Read More
Great itinerary to see China (Beijing/Great Wall; Xian/Terra Cotta Warriors; Yangtze River/3 Gorges Dam & sights) and land portion of tour with excellent guides and 5 star hotels was really outstanding. However, the Viking Ship Emerald (actually a Chinese ship with all Viking passengers) was damp and musty with below average service. Humidifiers in hallways should have given us our first clue as to serious problems with the ship. We asked for room humidifier and air filter fans and the crew provided these immediately. Dining room service was unusual for a cruise -- couples had to share menus at dinner and at lunch only one menu per table was provide for 8 people (does Viking have a strange cost cutting effort going on?) -- and wait service was impatient and wanted you to order quickly. My onboard credit was denied and I was curtly asked to prove that I had it. Luckily I had a cruise reservation form that had a Viking logo on it so they could finally give us our $250 credit. We has a suite but no one told us that laundry was free -- the Viking documentation was generic and said we had to pay. All other cruises we have taken have a paper in the room which tells of perks that come with the room. Embarkation to ship at Chongqing was a true disaster, extremely unsafe and must be fixed by Viking. From busses we had to descend many crumbling concrete stairs with no railings dragging our carry on luggage by ourselves with absolutely no help from Viking staff of 10-15 standing by watching us struggle to help each other down the wet and muddy stairs. When we complained the Viking staff said China did not allow the Viking ship staff to help us; however, someone delivered our large luggage from the airport to the ship down those same stairs. The ship is supposed to be refurbished in Dec 2018 so that may help appearance, but probably not service. I give this cruise 3 stars because the guides were terrific (ours was Joshua); tours very good (lots of steps -- not easy, but outstanding); the hotels were 5 star plus; and the itinerary outstanding. I also hope that Viking can fix the embarkation disaster (should be easy fix) and the ship is being refurbished. We hope Viking could train the crew to European standards and print a few more menus. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose this cruise because we had cruised with Viking before and had a lovely experience. Also, we wanted to visit China and see the highlights. Unfortunately this trip did not live up to our expectations. The food on the land portion ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had cruised with Viking before and had a lovely experience. Also, we wanted to visit China and see the highlights. Unfortunately this trip did not live up to our expectations. The food on the land portion of the trip was very poor. Many of the lunches and dinners were buffets or tables of 10 with a lazy susan in the middle. Food was often cold and not very good. the buffet breakfasts in the hotels were fairly good, as was the food on the ship. Another issue was the pollution that existed everywhere we went in China. A mask was definitely in order. Our visit to the Terracotta Army was the best excursion on the tour. We visited the Great Wall, but unfortunately the weather gave us drizzle and fog, so the visibility was horrible - probably about feet. The hotels we stayed at in Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai were excellent. They were the highlight of the trip. In Shanghai we attended an acrobatic show that was marvelous. There were some other excursions that were not so good - a visit to a Jade factory was just a stop so that we were captive in their shops, and the buffet lunch there was horrible. A rickshaw ride in Beijing was the other activity that was fun, although the portion where we went inside a woman's home was not needed. To get on the boat we had to walk a fair distance on a dock in the water as the boat did not dock at the shore. There were 3 flights within China during this trip. You really didn't get a feel of the land in China. Possibly going by rail between the cities would be a better choice. Our guide was a lovely gentleman who did the most to make a good tour for us all. Also the crew on the ship was very good. Overall this trip was not worth the amount of money we paid. i think Viking is doing itself a disservice by offering this trip. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Pros: It is nice to only have 200 people on board the ship. The staff was lovely and accommodating. The food was fine. The hotels were excellent! The tour guide was good. The intra- country flights were well organized. The live ... Read More
Pros: It is nice to only have 200 people on board the ship. The staff was lovely and accommodating. The food was fine. The hotels were excellent! The tour guide was good. The intra- country flights were well organized. The live performances were good. Embarkment and disembarkment went smoothly. The pandas, the Great Wall, The three gorge dam, the terra cotta warriors and Tiananmen square were the highlights. Cons: The Viking Emerald is a ship that needs to be updated. The cabins, rugs, and couches are old and worn. Three excursions were canceled and filled with mediocre activities. It was so disappointing not to go to the school, the Shanghai Museum and the Hubei Museum and bells performance. This trip is not an easy one. It requires three intra- country flights, climbing many stairs, packing and unpacking, three different hotels, and many shore excursions that require walking long distances. Be prepared! You need to be mobile for this trip. Read Less
31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
This was our first river cruise. We are avid ocean cruisers and have done 55 cruises to date. We have been many times to Shanghai and a couple of times to Beijing over the years. We wanted to see more of China, as it is a vast country that ... Read More
This was our first river cruise. We are avid ocean cruisers and have done 55 cruises to date. We have been many times to Shanghai and a couple of times to Beijing over the years. We wanted to see more of China, as it is a vast country that can only be seen by visiting inland. We decided on Viking Cruises because it is a brand that we had heard a lot about. The Viking customer service we received in the UK was professional and responsive. The booking process was very easy. All the details regarding the cruise and obtaining the Chinese visa was sent on time. However, the information we received before booking the cruise was ambiguous and unclear. >> After we received our booklet with the summary itinerary, we realised that Viking do not provide any meals on the first day of the package >> As we had international baggage allowances, I enquired before we left about the lower luggage weights on the Chinese internal flights but Viking did not advise us that it would not be a problem with the weights because of group check in. As a result we took limited warm clothes. The weather was very cold in Beijing. >> We did not realise that the ship we would be cruising on was not a Viking ship. Viking use a Chinese ship that changed it's name back to the Chinese name 'Century...' on our disembarkation day. There was a sister ship in one of the ports. >> Viking do not explain that the only almost 4* experience that we would receive for the entire 12 nights related to the 5 days whilst we were onboard the ship and not to the land portion of our holiday. I have described the ship as 'almost' 4* because the ship is possibly only a 3* ship. When we boarded the ship in Wuhan, after 2 nights in Shanghai, we were greeted with a warm welcome stating that this was the start of our holiday and when we left after 5 days cruising, we were waved good bye with a message that this was the end of our holiday Viking Century Emerald - The Good & The Bad >> We had to change our cabin at 1:30 am because there was a rattling sound from the balcony and the water discharge plug was moving up and down making a din. >> The staterooms and the entire ship are faded and need complete renovation. It is brown and old. >> The food was alright but nothing to shout about. >> Beer wine and soft drinks are only offered at lunch and dinner >> The Chinese cultural entertainment by the crew was very good, considering that they are not professional. >> The management staff were always willing to listen and were helpful. >> Our cabin steward was non existent and we had to request amenities to be replenished. >> The ship's air conditioner did not work. It was cold at the bottom and stifelingly hot on the upper floors. It was like a sauna in the gym and internet room. >> The internet, although free was unavailable during most of the cruise. Pre and Post Cruise Hotels - Mixed Quality Pre cruise, we stayed in The Westin Bund Center, Shanghai for 2 days. The room we were allocated was on the 5th Floor and needed refurbishment. >> The carpet and chair needed to be changed. >> The air conditioner did not work both days and there was a problem with the automatic night lights behind a glass panel that kept going on and off every now and again during the first night. An engineer disabled the lights >> The breakfast in the main dining room was probably the best that we had on our entire trip. There was a fantastic variety of Chinese and Western food in the buffet. >> Viking had arranged 1 night's dinner in the hotel and it was described as an Italian buffet dinner. This was very poor. There were a couple of hot dishes with soup and pizza, pasta and sandwiches. Post cruise, we stayed in The Hilton, Xi'an and The Ritz Carlton Financial Street, Beijing >> The Hilton room was probably the best one that we stayed in on this trip. >> At the Ritz Carlton, we had to move out of the room we were allotted on the 3rd Floor because the carpet was badly stained and looked dirty. The management were extremely helpful and we were moved immediately to the 10th Floor Throughout our stay we were treated with courtesy and made to feel very welcome. The last day, Viking arranged for us to have dinner in the main restaurant and this was good. Tour Guide - Excellent Our Tour Guide, Bob was very knowledgeable and dedicated to us. He knew his job inside and out and took care of every detail of our trip. Everything flowed seamlessly and we had great admiration for his enthusiasm, stamina and how he managed the group. Tours - All tours were well organised and coaches turned up on time to take us to places of interest. Local guides spoke good English and were knowledgeable. The optional tour in Xian (Tang Dynasty Performance + Dinner) which we paid for additionally was good. Food & Drinks - Very Poor Viking had arranged lunch and dinner in local restaurants or in factories in Shanghai, Xi'an and Beijing. The food was always the same either Chinese types offered on individual tables with 'lazy susans' in local restaurants or in buffets in the jade or carpet factories. The food was monotonous and usually lukewarm at best. We stopped going for the group meals in Beijing. We were only allowed 1 drink in a glass : a beer, water or soft drink, no wine. I don't drink beer or soft carbonated drinks, so I had water throughout the land portion in local restaurants. Internal Flights - Very Disruptive Only 1 of our 3 flights was on time. We had delays on 2 flights - from Shanghai to Wuhan where we missed a tour because we arrived too late and had to go straight to join the ship; and from Xi'an to Beijing, when the flight was cancelled and our guide had to get later flights. We were delayed by 4 hours and had a dreadful Chinese lunch at the airport in a set aside area. Conclusion China is a very complex and fascinating country. We learnt a lot about China's history, culture and people but we found the whole itinerary disjointed. We felt that we wasted 2 of our 12 days holiday sitting in airports. Although it is described as a Viking Cruise it really is a land tour with a small cruise thrown in the middle. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
This was a 12 day cruise tour that began in Shanghai and ended in Beijing, with a 5 night cruise on the Yangtze in the middle. The arrangements were very smooth, including intra-China flights. The ship appeared to be old but refurbished. ... Read More
This was a 12 day cruise tour that began in Shanghai and ended in Beijing, with a 5 night cruise on the Yangtze in the middle. The arrangements were very smooth, including intra-China flights. The ship appeared to be old but refurbished. The service was very friendly and very attentive. The food on board was excellent, with a mix of Western and Chinese foods. There were several informative lectures about the sights we'd be visiting and about China itself. The entertainment was China-themed, performed by the crew who had other jobs on board. The public areas were beautiful. The cabins were small size, compered to an ocean liner, but all the cabins had verandas, which was great for viewing the 3 Gorges and the locks of the dam. There was often a lot of walking involved to get from the ship to either the bus or the sight itself. In fact this whole trip involved a lot of walking, sometimes up very long staircases. The whole experience was let down by the return flight by Air China, has a frequent flyer (20 flights this year ) It was like going back 30 years. Why did we leave from T3 and arrive back in T2? I tried to change it but Viking didn't wont to know! I wont be going with viking again. Virgin say they are an equal partner there not. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
The mechanics of the trip were good - everything was well planned out and the hotels that we had were great. We had a wonderful guide in Tingting. That being said, China was a bit of a disappointment due to the massive upgrading to ... Read More
The mechanics of the trip were good - everything was well planned out and the hotels that we had were great. We had a wonderful guide in Tingting. That being said, China was a bit of a disappointment due to the massive upgrading to "new" and the loss of the "old" China. They were a few really great sites and a lot of blah! Our room on the Viking Emerald was too hot and we couldn't control the heat at all. Others told us their room was too cold. We also thought too much time was spent trying to sell us stuff and too much time was spent at places that were designed to get us to buy. We would have rather been given the option of seeing other sites vs. just waiting around looking at stuff we had no intention of buying, Non-chinese food was excellent - didn't like the lazy susan meals (more of a personal choice). One of the worst parts of the cruise and land package was the air and water pollution - we luckiy just missed the red alert in Beijing - but the pollution was evident everwhere. Its pretty bad when you can't see more that a couple hundred meters before all was grey. Everyone on the cruise seemed to be coughing or was sick. Compared the Russian Viking Cruise - this cruise had a lot to be desired. China also needs to clean up its act in regards to the pollution. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
This trip was well worth the money and effort. Having in mind before we left that China would be a whole new and different experience from that we had done before our expectations were met. The Hotel accommodation in Shanghai was excellent ... Read More
This trip was well worth the money and effort. Having in mind before we left that China would be a whole new and different experience from that we had done before our expectations were met. The Hotel accommodation in Shanghai was excellent as were the Xi'an and Beijing Hotels. The river cruise took a while to get started. The first two days were slow but the excursion to the school was excellent. The children are an absolute pleasure and as it was school holidays full marks to them for turning out and entertaining us. The trips through the gorges lived up to expectations as did the visit to see the Pandas and what was the crowning glory of the hoilday for me, the Terracotta Warriers. Then we arrived in Beijing to visit the Wall and the Forbidden City. Timing at these venues was bad. The Wall visit in my mind was not at all enjoyable because of the huge crowds. This wasn't at the advertised site where we were told there was a walk of about a mile, but at a Cable Car site where everybody chose to go including thousands of Chinese tourists. It was estimated that some 200,000 would visit during the day. Our time on the wall was spent clinging for dear life to the hand rails as the wall was so steep and crowded. It was impossible to soak up the moment. The visit to the Forbidden City also was extremely crowded but that is expected and we managed a reasonable visit. One of my complaints to Viking is the lack of knowledge regarding Chinese internal flights, baggage regulations. I am an amateur photographer and this trip for me was to be a photographic extraganzer. On enquiring to Viking before we left we asked about the internal flight baggage rules. We were told that check-in was 20kgs and carry-on was 5kg ONE ITEM ONLY, which would have to include any cameras or handbags etc. This resulted in me only taking one camera with no backup. Yes you guessed it, my camera failed two days in!! On enquiring in China regarding the carry-on rules I was told that you could take on what you like within reason which meant I could have taken my full camera kit. The Chinese lady simply said next time ask a Chinese Viking person. In conclusion its full on, with six flights, three hotels plus the boat and early starts but it was still a good holiday and one I would recommend but Viking need to do their homework on some very obviouse needs of the trip. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
As mentioned in other reviews, the on board staff couldn't have been more pleasant and efficient. The ship itself appeared to be in decent condition, and was never too loud when running. If your idea of a great vacation is ... Read More
As mentioned in other reviews, the on board staff couldn't have been more pleasant and efficient. The ship itself appeared to be in decent condition, and was never too loud when running. If your idea of a great vacation is spending 5 days of with very little physical activity, this might be the cruise for you. I am not a cruise fan, so maybe all cruises are like this. Told my wife I would NEVER go on a cruise, but this is what she wanted to do for her 50th birthday. Check and mate. For the people whose dream vacation consists of spending all but a few minutes a day sitting and eating, sitting and drinking or sitting and reading or sitting and playing board games or sitting and listening to a lecture (Basic Mandarin phrases, playing Mah Jongg or fun facts about the Yangtze River,) or laying in bed watching one of 5 television channels, this is the dream vacation for you. The other few minutes a day are spent going up or down the stairs to one of the aforementioned events. We were able to get off the boat on 3 of the 5 days: once to walk through the edge of a small city towards a temple while dodging a 4 block long gauntlet of aggressive local merchants who see American tourists as walking dollar bills, once to walk a few hundred feet to another tour boat where you sit for another hour and a half going through scenery, and the last time to finally do a little walking (after still more sitting on a bus ride) on the way up to the 3 Gorges Dam. The web page for this crew mentions a 'gym.' I called Viking to verify that the boat had a 'gym' before we left for the cruise. Only a few of us actually used those facilities, so for most people taking this cruise, the quality and condition of those facilities won't matter. The 'gym' had an erg that hadn't been lubricated since Nixon was president, a treadmill, an elliptical machine on which the display screen was non-functional and had a squeak so loud that it could be heard throughout the boat, and a small set of dumbbells, most of which were not marked with a weight. Nevertheless, the 'gym' provided virtually the only activity that didn't involve more sitting. The fore and aft outside decks provided sufficient chairs for yet more sitting and scenery consumption, but when you travel over 1,000 miles on any road or river, there are many extended periods of monotonous doldrums. This trip is certainly no exception. I would recommend taking the cruise during July or August, when you can enjoy the scenery when daytime temps are mostly in the upper 90's (mid-30's C,) the humidity is stratospheric and the air quality truly indescribable. At night, the temps MAY drop down under 80 (about 26C,) but then the humidity will be near 100%. You can't be that for a comfortable night's sleep!! I witnessed several American cities in the 60's before anti-pollution laws were enacted, but I have never seen air quality like we experienced in most of China. I thought the atrocious air quality might last for a day or so due to some unusual atmospheric condition, but the air quality only deteriorated the farther inland we went. Several of us developed sore throats and random coughing fits. A week after getting back home, I was still coughing up remnants of Chinese air from my lungs. Truly something one needs to experience first hand. The food on board was plentiful, but there are no snack bars & no in-between-meal offerings other than alcohol. The cooking staff was from China, and they did an admiral job preparing Western food. Unfortunately, they have mastered the art of making the food 'look' pretty long before they mastered taste. As there were cruisers from several parts of the U.S. and the world, it would be extremely difficult to please everyone with the small kitchen available on the river cruise its ship. My wife and nephew are Chinese, and they tell me that the crew did a respectable job with some Chinese breakfast items. For the most part, the food was acceptable, but that's about as far as one could stretch the description. You''ll get your steak they way they cook it, so don't bother with asking for RARE or MEDIUM WELL or WELL DONE. On the whole, the cruise staff made up for some of the cruise's shortcomings, so thank God for that. If you won't go completely stir crazy spending 95% of your day sitting on what amounts to a 'prison' ship, you'll love this cruise. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Don’t think of this three-week odyssey as a vacation, but as a journey. It’s not an easy trip for several reasons, but the payoff comes in surprising ways along with a few pretty significant downers. The 21-day Roof of the World ... Read More
Don’t think of this three-week odyssey as a vacation, but as a journey. It’s not an easy trip for several reasons, but the payoff comes in surprising ways along with a few pretty significant downers. The 21-day Roof of the World cruise/land “vacation” offered by Viking River Cruises, which we took, included the Hong Kong/Guilin supplemental portion. Start your trip in Beijing because you’ll want to get that portion completed. It’s a very important and interesting part of the experience—Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall—but it is exhausting and Beijing is not very interesting. This is a difficult trip physically and there are almost no accommodations for anyone that can’t walk or stand for eight hours a day and that is very evident in Beijing. The Chinese obviously don’t believe in sitting and there are virtually no benches, chairs or even surfaces to rest your bum—besides, you are walking pretty much non-stop in heat, humidity and staggering air pollution. There are approximately 22 million people in Beijing and there are about 8.5 million in New York City, just to give you a comparison. We didn’t see the sun for three days and there are simply lots and lots of people everywhere. Viking does an admirable job considering everything they must juggle. Their best asset is, without a doubt, their people. Our guide, Jenna, was fabulous—knowledgable, kind, smart and always working. Her English was perfect and her attitude admirable given the Chinese Government and the hundreds of variables she managed daily. Coming in second to Jenna was the quality of the hotels. We stayed at several Shangri-la hotels and two Fairmont hotels and they were all exceptional. The breakfast buffets at these hotels were the best of all the food offered on the trip. Often, we also ate dinner at the hotels and while it got a little old, you could eat the food. That was not always the case on the cruise and in the local restaurants. You get pretty tired of the same Chinese, lazy Susan, family-style offerings such as limp tasteless book choy. Drinks also seem to be an issue. Wine is pretty non-existent, beer is served (ONE per customer) and they’ll take you down if you ask for a second soda. Budget for your liquor consumption and figure nothing is included. Viking does a great job with the baggage, transfers and details associated with what turned out to be seven intra-China flights, endless bus rides and interference by the Chinese government. Just as we were to leave for our cruise portion of the flight, we were informed a portion of the Yangtze River had been closed. This necessitated us taking two domestic flights in one day, topped off by a five hour bus ride that put us boarding at 3:00 a.m. After the five hour ride, we were told we should “tip the bus driver”. Really? I didn’t want to use him in the first place and I’m responsible for the government closing the river? Tipping is something of a concern. It is endless. I don’t mind tipping, but every bus driver, every local guide, porter and handyman?? We tipped Jenna more, because she was worth it, but you are “advised” to tip $15 a day, per couple for the tour guide. If you are on the trip for 21 days, that is $315. There is vitally no internet. None. No Facebook, CNN or Google. Sometimes, when the stars and moon align and it’s 3:00 am, you might get Yahoo in the larger cities. The entertainment is not worth mentioning because, while very pleasant, are the same people who clean your room. The Emerald riverboat is old and clearly not of Viking quality. The towels are dripping with loose threads and the sheets are worn thin. The bathroom is small and dated. The balconies are small with chairs that are capable of eating your flesh and the food less than. The staff are generally eager to please and have a reasonable command of English. We saw a lot of China and that was great. Viking did an amazing job fitting everything into the schedule. We personally hated all the “factory tours” that resulted in a “shopping opportunity” but people bought, so I guess it’s part of the program. The Terra Cotta Soldiers were amazing and Lhasa a true highlight. We both got very sick with the altitude sickness so plan on bringing medication. The hotel had a doctor, but it ran about $300 extra per person to get treated. Shanghai was a wonderful surprise (so different from Beijing) and Hong Kong was stunning. The quick trip to Guilin was worth the effort because the ride down the Li River was exceptional. There was just so much to see and you do start to understand the different Chinese thought process. We were a small group—21 in our group and 18 in a companion guided group—together because our itinerary included Tibet and most on to Hong Kong—and that provided a surprising upside. You get to know the people well and, while I wouldn’t have selected many of them in a general sense, it was a fabulous group of interesting people—aged from 22 to 80 years. The people absolutely made the trip—and Jenna was the glue that made it all possible. Take this trip for what it is—a journey with lots of average Chinese food, exploring emerging tourist sights and highlights of cultural enrichment, coupled with the great need to be adaptable while getting to know a variety of great folks. And, train physically before you go! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
I might mention that the air part of the trip was terrible (and scheduled by Viking) . Not booked directly to Shanghai (where tour began) but through Beijing. And not enought time to make connection. Missed flight, etc. The breakfast ... Read More
I might mention that the air part of the trip was terrible (and scheduled by Viking) . Not booked directly to Shanghai (where tour began) but through Beijing. And not enought time to make connection. Missed flight, etc. The breakfast buffets on the ship were outstanding (as were those in the hotels). The lunches and dinners were fine, but nothing outstanding. I think the ship was ok for what it was. However, there wasn't a lot to see and the scenery got a little boring since they had damned up the river. I actually enjoyed Shanghai, Xian, and Beijing and I am recommending that one skip the cruise. I would have enjoyed seeing more of the sights in Beijing, but there wasn't enough time scheduled since we spent 5 days on the Yangtze. The tours were very well organized and provided safe food and we felt comfortable where we went. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
The cultural experience in China was excellent. The guides and ship staff were pleasant and hard working. English language skills were very good. The Viking Emerald, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Although the on-line information ... Read More
The cultural experience in China was excellent. The guides and ship staff were pleasant and hard working. English language skills were very good. The Viking Emerald, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Although the on-line information states that the ship was built in 2011, it is obviously a much older ship, possibly refurbished several times. The cabin floors were uneven and the bathrooms were very dated. The ship sported several different names on signs on midship and on the bow, so perhaps it is used by different cruise lines simultaneously. Food in the dining room was all right, as long as there were western-style meals served. If the menu was announced as "traditional Chinese dinner" you could count on really cheap cuts of meat, flavorless noodles and sauces and little variety in vegetables. We found it humorous that the chef's biggest claim to fame was the breakfast yogurt--which was good, but hardly something to write home about. The on-board informational talks were all given by the cruise director. While a nice person, he was hardly an expert in all of the topics that he tried to talk about, so the level of each talk was at about a 6th grade level. He was unable to answer most questions that were put to him. The on-board entertainment consisted entirely of different members of the ship's crew (cabin attendants, diningroom staff, security personnel) who had been dressed in different outfit/costumes and then waltzed around the dance floor swinging their arms. Nice effort, but completely amateur. The land portion of the cruise tour was very good. The hotels were excellent 4-5 star. Air travel within China was what you would expect for a tour group, but our main Viking guide facilitated everything very smoothly. The ports were what we came for, and were not disappointed. A lot of walking was required. We greatly enjoyed the huge number of cultural sights included in the tour, and the local guides provided by Viking were appreciated, although their English skills were not as good as the main guide's. The constant tipping took a little getting used to, but the main Viking guide facilitated the passengers acquisition of smaller local currency to make this process easier. It was a trip we will remember for the rest of our lives.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
Sailed with Viking River Cruises (Emerald boat) Imperial Jewels of China. The land portion of the tour in Beijing/Xian/Shanghai were wonderful with fabulous 5 star hotels. The Yangtze River cruise needs some help-maybe 3 stars if I am ... Read More
Sailed with Viking River Cruises (Emerald boat) Imperial Jewels of China. The land portion of the tour in Beijing/Xian/Shanghai were wonderful with fabulous 5 star hotels. The Yangtze River cruise needs some help-maybe 3 stars if I am generous. The ship supposedly is not that old but looks really shabby inside and out. Carpets are worn, floors are warped, room has mold on ceilings due to the high humidity, bathrooms in staterooms are vinyl and tired. The river itself is so polluted and dirty with trash floating down all the time that your balcony will not be used. The embarkation is a dirty side street along the river bank with many steps old stone steps to maneuver down-no modern port-felt bad for older folks trying to carry luggage down. No entertainment on board-some mahjong classes, lectures, staff variety show-very cheesy. Excusions were very good-side trips into the 3 Gorges is breathtaking & prettier than the main river. Navigating the locks were very impressive as well. Overall choose this tour because it gets you to all the major attractions safely and just realize the river cruise is not up to Western big companies such as Celebrity and Norwegian. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
We did the 3 week cruise tour with Viking River Cruises in late April/early May of this year. The experience was exhausting but in a good way - it was a good way to see to much of China and Tibet in a very short time.Our group of 66 was ... Read More
We did the 3 week cruise tour with Viking River Cruises in late April/early May of this year. The experience was exhausting but in a good way - it was a good way to see to much of China and Tibet in a very short time.Our group of 66 was divided into to two groups of 34 and 32 people with each group having their own guide throughout the tour as well as having 'local' guides at every stop. We had great access to many of the museums and temples. The highlights for us were the Terra Cotta Soldiers and Tibet. The other highlight was a rural school in China that Viking River cruises supports through donations. The children there were the same as everywhere and as most on the cruise were grandparents, a great time was had by all.Luggage was never an issue - porters took care of all the larger bags and once we arrived in China, our responsibility was to have the larger suitcases packed and outside our hotel rooms by the designated times. Weight was only an issue flying out of Tibet. But be aware that you are not allowed to carry previously opened liquor in your larger suitcase. Dear hubbie had his Crown Royal confiscated and one of our fellow travellers lost his expensive scotch. This is not a tour for the faint of heart - it's go, go, go with very little down time, even when you get on the river cruise part of the trip. There is a lot of walking involved, much on uneven ground and with many steps up and down the various museums as well as to and from the river boat. Personally, I suffered from mild altitude sickness when in Tibet so my participation there was somewhat limited to level ground, slow walking. My husband was able to fully participate and for him, the highlight was the climb up the Potela (the winter palace of the Dali Lama).The positives were the hotels we stayed at, the guides and the staff while on the Emerald. They were great. Once they knew your name and your preferences in the bars and dining room - these were not forgotten while on board the Emerald. Special kudos to "Lois", the bar manager, whose memory for names and preferences astounded us.The down side - the food - we had read some negative comments about this previously but took it with a grain of salt. However, the ongoing 'family style' meals in local 'restaurants' got old very, very fast. This meant round tables with lazy susan delivery of various dishes of unknown origin to be shared - nothing wrong with the concept but the food was not inspired and seemed to be the same at every meal. Considering what was paid for the tour, I would have expected better food and restaurant choices than Viking provided. Our best 'local meal' was on our own in Shanghai where we went into a local establishment and ordered by pointing at the menu. Food was good, service was fast and polite, despite the language barrier.As well, many of the stops involve what we jokingly refer to as the 'jewellery factory' - a compulsory factory shop. While I don't mind shopping, I prefer to shop in the markets and buy from local artisans in the local market places. On the discussion board I had read that the tailor on the Emerald would make anything you asked for if you asked early. I took a pattern with me and asked - No, was the answer. Only willing to make traditional clothes - no variation from what was being displayed.That being said, breakfasts in the hotels were good (we were put up at two Fairmonts, a St Regis in Lhasa and a Hilton in Xi'an). Best supper (other than on the Emerald) had to be the fixed menu supper at the Fairmont Peace in Shanghai. The worst meal - well, we didn't go but stayed back at the hotel and had a very nice supper in the dining room at the St Regis - sorry, but I wasn't feeling well and the last thing I wanted to face was another 'interesting' (our guide's word not mine :-) )meal.Also, word of warning regarding the flight to Lhasa - you have to be up by 4:30 AM to get your breakfast and catch your early morning flight!I did enjoy this tour but think people should made aware that there are things Viking could do to improve things - more free time in the cities visited and less structured time, better restaurant picks and better flight times to Lhasa (0430 wake up call - UGH!!!). And if this is a trip you're considering, start exercising now. Lots of walking, lots of steps (uneven in many parts). Great trip but exhausting. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
Overall I must say my wife and I were happy with the cruise and the stay in Shanghai and Beijing. We got to see everything we wanted to. The cabin and service on the Viking Emerald were very good - no complaints at all. The restaurant ... Read More
Overall I must say my wife and I were happy with the cruise and the stay in Shanghai and Beijing. We got to see everything we wanted to. The cabin and service on the Viking Emerald were very good - no complaints at all. The restaurant staff were very good, service was good (if you stuck to the menu) and loved our waitresses. We sat in a different area one night where the experience was totally the opposite so you have to watch. The meals were all well prepared and very filling. The only downside was if you ordered some of the alternate choices people found most of the table were done eating before their main course arrived. The ship staff were all excellent and very helpful. Since English is not their native language there were a few minor challenges but we were always able to solve that. The entertainment was primarily done by the staff and were worth going to. Typically fun and a good way to end the evening. We stayed in a category A room and couldn't have been more pleased with it. Very comfortable and roomy, nice sized bathroom and comfortable beds.The negatives: While the hotels were all excellent, the were not in the best parts of town for seeing things on your own. The tour was split into 2 separate hotels and the others stayed near the Bund in Shanghai, Forbidden Palace in Beijing which had lots of local color, flavour and markets. Also, the food, once on shore, was marginal at best. It was all large "family" table style and very similar in presentation - often in presentation centers. Would have appreciated noodles or dim sum in Beijing. We ended up striking out on our own a couple of times for something different. Note: we love oriental style foods so that wasn't an issue. The other thing missing was really getting a chance to see the people and culture. We were taken to many standard places (jade shops, ceramic shops) but no markets or chance to experience the people. This was the most disappointing aspect. 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2011
This was our second Viking River cruise. The first was unfavorable due to a missing luggage issue and there was absolutely no help from the ships hotel or cruise directors getting it back to us in 10 days despite the fact it was at the ... Read More
This was our second Viking River cruise. The first was unfavorable due to a missing luggage issue and there was absolutely no help from the ships hotel or cruise directors getting it back to us in 10 days despite the fact it was at the airport one hour after we arrived. The Tulips and Windmills cruise, absent this luggage and uncaring staff problem was very good so we thought we would try China using Viking. We booked a suite at a $3000 premium and that was a big mistake. As you might have seen in other reviews this ship is not up to any western or Viking standard at all. The suites are on deck five and to start the floor and walls are very uneven. The steel deck plates are sloping and have uneven places where they overlap and / or were welded. The bedroom sloped 2" just in the space of the king beds headboard (6 feet) and we "fell" downhill from the door to the window. My guess is that there was a 6 to 8 inch drop in the length of the room. We asked for and received another room which was not quite as bad but still had a slope issue (the bed was more level than in room 508). The hall was in the middle of the ship and even there you could feel the welds and deck-plate waviness under the carpet. Most people had trouble walking, especially after cocktail hour. The shower in our "better" room (511) was so uneven that the water did not flow to the drain, it stood in a big puddle in the back of the shower where you had to step out. The shower door rolled downhill and had to be engaged just so to keep it in place. Generally poor construction quality and with no use of levels or plumb-bobs in the construction process. Gaps, saw cuts in the woodwork to repair issues and other poor fit and finish items were commonplace. The deck five suites are a mess. Now, the air conditioning. During the five days on the ship AC was a major problem on deck 5. The temperature in our room (during May) was in the 80's and by electronic measurement by the staff, the "cool" air blowing into the room measured at and above 80 degrees F. For five days the suite passengers at times stood in the hall on Deck five while staff tried to fix the problem. We found this was not a new problem for just our cruise and some staff said this ship "was not up to Viking standards". We complained about the heat the entire trip while the rest of the passengers complained that the ship was too cold. It was cold in fact as they had lowered the temperature trying to placate deck 5. Basically the cold air that was available was not making it to the deck five air ducts. On day one they brought in a supplemental "air conditioner" to our room. It was a small unit (similar in size and shape to a dehumidifier) which blew air across a small bucket of ice cubes that we had to request be refilled several ties a day. NOTE - passenger direct access to ice is not available. It helped a small amount if you sat in front of the substitute "AC Unit" but it increased the humidity making it feel worse anywhere else in the room. Needless to say, curtains had to be closed to eliminate solar-heat gain. A not-so-nice nice touch if you want to see the sights along the river. After day three and a lot of complaints, I noted the cabin across from us had a full stock of these units filling the room. This was a known issue! Highest priced cabins had no adequate temperature control and were not level. Side issue but not the way I would handle a land / river cruise combo: While we were highest category customers (other than the Presidential Suite), the only upgrade for the cruise was to the worst set of cabins - large saunas described above. During the rest of the trip we were given no "upgrade" treatment. Starting with seats on the planes - luck of the draw I assume. Note there are many intra-China flights on this "cruise". It took several different regular-scheduled passenger planes to ferry us around on this land / cruise trip. Some of the 150 or so passengers were assigned to first class, some got aisle seats and some had to sit in the middle seats. In most cases we personally had the worst seats. In the hotels, we had average rooms but many on the tour got the "luck of the draw" in some cases with much better views or hallway locations. It seems to me that for a 12-day trip after paying 40% more than most others for a higher category, we would be in a waiting list to be among those getting any available better rooms or seats on the plane. Viking does not see it this way yet they could work this small problem. I personally would make every effort to give a little something extra to my highest paying customers. China is polluted. We saw blue sky on our total 16 days there while in the airplanes above the smog or while in Hong Kong which was clear. The people there are very nice. Too much Chinese food however. The guides for the most part were good. The tours were good. So, we enjoyed the trip, especially the Guilin / Hong Kong extension but the ship is not adequate, especially deck five and the upgrade fee for the sauna-suites is for only five days, not twelve. I am sure if I had paid the many thousands less and had one of the regular cabins this would have been a much better trip. Read Less
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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