4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Viking has a great reputation and we expected a great cruise on a luxurious ship. it began with a compulsory stay in a business type hotel in Beijing nowhere near anything important. We wished to stay in another hotel but were told that, ... Read More
Viking has a great reputation and we expected a great cruise on a luxurious ship. it began with a compulsory stay in a business type hotel in Beijing nowhere near anything important. We wished to stay in another hotel but were told that, if we did not turn up and stay in the selected hotel, we would be considered as no shows. in fact, the pre-cruise experience dealing with the US office was horrible. for no apparent reason, tours organised in Beijing had to commence at ridiculously early hours. We declined them all. On board: my wife's request for vegetarian food was not transmitted to the ship. in spite of that, the dining room staff tried very hard to please her. But the only award that could be given for the dining experience was for the fastest plate snatching i have ever come across. The dining staff were generally very poorly trained. The "gym" was very worn and rather.grubby with a view onto the back of the lit ship's name both filthy and frighteningly wired, some of the wires quire bare. China tea is spectacular but, in the dining room, only cheap tea bags were available. The TV remote control had been replaced with a very limited controller which had no ability to change the format: watching TV was an absurd occupation with everything distorted. Cleaning of our cabin was poor. Empty cups were not removed and the wc got grubbier each day.. The captain's uniform summed up the ship's standards. it looked like his non seamstress mother or wife had made it. our visit to the bridge was like visiting a large, stale ashtray. Viking should stop selling this cruise. Carnival Cruises has more style and quality at far lower prices. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
This is the worst of Viking experience I can imagine, since we sailed with Viking Ocean before and think that their China Yangtze River cruise should also honor that tradition. On the contrary, this is the worst cruise/tour we have had in ... Read More
This is the worst of Viking experience I can imagine, since we sailed with Viking Ocean before and think that their China Yangtze River cruise should also honor that tradition. On the contrary, this is the worst cruise/tour we have had in the past 25 years. 1. Viking had chartered a low-graded local Chinese river cruise ship (called Century Emerald) and only hang up Viking signage during the journey. It is NOT a Viking ship at all. 2. The ship is old, ill-equipped and lack of proper maintenance. The state room is very small with 6 inches-depth closet space and old and smelly bathroom. Most of the common area has been occupied by vendors for souvenirs...etc. , similar to any popular attractions in China. 3. Food quality on shore is way way below standard, similar to low-fared Chinese local tour group or even worse. We know what good Chinese food is like, and what Viking has contracted is cheap local Chinese restaurants with questionable sanitary standards, as many ended up with upset stomachs, vomiting and diarrhea. 4. Land tour excursions are too limited. For example, there are many attractions in Xi'an and yet Viking only had the group visiting Terra Cotta Warriors, plus an optional dancing performance. That is all for a 2-night stay in Xi'an. The group did not even have a chance to visit the ancient city of Xi'an and its well-known historical attractions near-by. Same situation in Shanghai and Beijing. 5. The pricing is very unjust for people who booked early, since Viking has put the tour on sale 2-3 months before the sailing date. There is no price guarantee, so, it ended up with people who might pay more than double the price of the others in the same group. 6. Local tour escorts need more professional training Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Very disappointed in the Century (Viking) Emerald. The ship is leased from a Chinese firm, but there are six Viking employees onboard. The welcome aboard and first day were good, but things quickly turned sour. During the dinner the ... Read More
Very disappointed in the Century (Viking) Emerald. The ship is leased from a Chinese firm, but there are six Viking employees onboard. The welcome aboard and first day were good, but things quickly turned sour. During the dinner the second night, it seemed like the wait staff went on strike. An hour after being served the first course, we watched the wait staff clear some tables around us. At that point we left. The next morning we heard from many others of problems with service. Housekeeping was likewise unimpressive, e.g., had to ask three times for a dehumidifier that we had to empty about every eight hours, call the front desk for additional soap, etc. About the only thing the housekeeping staff did was to replace towels and pull up the duvet. Generally a lackadaisical crew who were polite but not very motivated. (Perhaps it was because the season was coming to a close.) The ship itself was also unimpressive - decks uneven, air conditioning kept the room cool, but not dry, bedskirt was stained and dirty, bathroom not particularly clean, etc. On the positive side, the many vendors onboard (tea sales, souvenirs, jewelry, tailor, etc.) were professional, helpful and enthusiastic - but they were selling product. As suggested by previous travelers, request a dehumidifier for the room as soon as you board. We had to empty it about every eight hours. The air conditioning only keeps the temperature cool, but does not remove any moisture from the air. The land portion of the trip was excellent if you don’t mind being one of 33 passengers being herded by an outstanding guide. All flights operated on time and we were able to see all the sights listed in the Viking brochure. Most disappointing was the daily lunch in Shanghai and Beijing which were provided by a shop of some sort, jade, ceramics, silk, etc., in exchange for us being there for extended “touring” which is really expensive shopping. If we were to do this again, we would opt for a shore-based vendor such as China Odyssey with whom we had booked pre- and post-tours where we toured with a guide and driver. Avoid summer travel unless you like temps in the high 90’s and low 100’s with humidity in the 90’s. We were lucky to arrive on October 8, just after the October 1 – 7 holiday ended. (Seems like everyone in China who does not work in the hospitality field goes on vacation then.) After October 8 through very early November is a great window weather-wise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
While the land portion of Viking's Jewels' of China Tour was phenomenal (Hotels were first-class; tour guide was the BEST we've ever experienced; planned activities were well-organized and carried out to perfection), the ... Read More
While the land portion of Viking's Jewels' of China Tour was phenomenal (Hotels were first-class; tour guide was the BEST we've ever experienced; planned activities were well-organized and carried out to perfection), the experience aboard the Emerald was disappointing. The ship is dated (musty smell, warped carpeting). SEVERAL people of our floor contacted food poisoning, including me and my husband. My husband and other traveler with us had to have IV from the ship's doctor. We missed touring events because we were sick. We seriously question the sanitary conditions of the food preparation on board. It was ironic for us that the part of the trip that we most looked forward to (we are experienced cruisers), was the most disappointing. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
After booking our trip to china with Viking, we were really looking forward to the 5 day trip down the Yangztee. We travelled during September and found the ship very damp, even down to our bedding. This was not helped by the air ... Read More
After booking our trip to china with Viking, we were really looking forward to the 5 day trip down the Yangztee. We travelled during September and found the ship very damp, even down to our bedding. This was not helped by the air conditioning being on with no option to change it to heat. The smell of sewerage in the cabin and round the ship, we found unbearable. Onboard, we could not fault the staff and there was a wide range of food although the food was never hot. Many of our group were ill after leaving the ship with flu type symptoms causing us to miss out on the best trips of the tour. The hotels that were selected for us to stay in during the land tours were exceptional but be aware that the first day you arrive your food is not included in the holiday and food is very expensive in the hotels (although this was the best food of the whole holiday). Meals included in our holiday were alway at different Chinese retaurants and alway served on a lazy Susan. These were very repetitive and were always the same dishes at every meal. Even though we love Chinese food, this is not Chinese food as we know it and it was the most disgusting food we had ever eaten. We felt that the trips were very rushed by trying to fit too many trips into the time allocated. Too much time is spent in the coach travelling, to many museums displaying the same items etc, etc. 1 instance was in leaving the Viking Emerald. We were taken to the zoo to see the pandas (amazing). On arrival, we were told we only had 1 hour at the zoo so got to see the pandas and nothing else. This is an amazing zoo with so much more to see. We were then took for lunch at 10.30 ( after we had already had breakfast on the ship), which no one wanted as we were being fed again on our flight to Xian 3 hours later. This extra time would have been much better used at the zoo. Days were very early starts, starting at 5am for breakfast to be on he coach for 6.30 in order to avoid crowds at the places we visited. On a good note, our guide Michael was the best. He is very knowledgable, funny, caring and is there constantly. Anyone who is disabled, please note that this trip is not for wheelchair friendly for most of the trips. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
We have just returned from the Viking Emerald - China's Cultural Delights August 2013 First and foremost, think twice before traveling to China in August. The temperatures were near 100 with 100% humidity daily. The trip has a lot of ... Read More
We have just returned from the Viking Emerald - China's Cultural Delights August 2013 First and foremost, think twice before traveling to China in August. The temperatures were near 100 with 100% humidity daily. The trip has a lot of walking and stairs - the temperature makes the excursions more difficult to handle. Consider your level of fitness, if stairs leave you out of breath or walking more than 1 mile is not going to happen, consider a different trip. You will also encounter lots of pollution. The Viking staff goes out of their way to be helpful and does a good job of taking care of you during your stay, however the trip does leave a lot to be desired. If you are paying more than their  price deal you are paying too much. The ship is warm and damp - with temperatures regulated globally rather than per cabin. The dampness = a musty odor. Floors are uneven and the carpet needs to be re stretched. The cabins are a good size and comfortable. During your river cruise there is a daily excursion, but the majority of the day/night is spent cruising the river. You will have a 3-4 hr excursion which generally includes a 30 min to 1 hour bus ride to your destination. Viking takes you on an extreme number of shopping experiences - rugs, silk, porcelain, jade all served with a mediocre Chinese lunch. You will be taken through a factory and shown the process, with every tour ending in a shop where you can purchase something. If you are not a shopper, beware  of your excursions are shopping experiences. The on board food is plentiful - but quality and taste are not always great. The land portion of the trip is fast paced, the hotels nice, the food plentiful - but not gourmet. You will spend less than 24 hours in most locations and only see a quick highlight of the locations you are visiting. Meals are served on lazy Susan - drinks are usually a warm water, soda or beer - no wine is offered on land. You are encouraged to tip daily for guides and bus drivers- I would suggest you take $100 American Dollars for these tips. Additionally you can charge the on board tips, but if you want to ensure that the tips are going to those you truly appreciated, tip them directly. What you will see and experience is a wonderful culture with people who are genuinely happy and optimistic about their country and their opportunities for a better future. You will interact with local children and their grandparents who greet you at every port. You will see China's richest treasures in Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an and at several stops along the Yangtze. You will sail through beautiful gorges and past mega industrial sites. You will leave with an overview and appreciation for China.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
Out Viking River Crusie was disappointing from the start overpriced, 2 for 1 sale, that is always on The Emerald Centruy Riverboat is old and dated, musty, damp. and dreary. The young Chisese staff try very hard and many are great at ... Read More
Out Viking River Crusie was disappointing from the start overpriced, 2 for 1 sale, that is always on The Emerald Centruy Riverboat is old and dated, musty, damp. and dreary. The young Chisese staff try very hard and many are great at their jobs, but are always rushed, confused, which leads to a lot of noisy confused and chaotic dining. The entertainment is odd, and very elementary. The food is served Lazy Susan style, so everything is palced on a spinning platform, often no order or reason. One person is spinning one way, one the other and things get spilled and glasses knocked over. It is noisy and pressured which makes it very hard to visit with your tablemates The tours are often to Viking owned "safe" shops, for carpets, embroaiary, jade, art, etc and all the shops are very expensive. Overall I think Viking is a poorly run company, the Chinese staff try very hard but they are so pressured. Tip the staff directly as Viking bills tips put on your tab to their carpet company and I doubt the realy sevice people see much of the tips. Viking wants and pushed a lot of tipping. One should bring at least 100 $1.00 bilss for buses, local guides and anyone else. Other guides want $10-15 a day per person. I would rate this trip 3/10 or 2 star This was a big disappointment to me and my travel companions, Invest your travel dollars elsewhere. Vijing was difficult to deal with from day one. When you call them, expect to be on hold always, 10 minutes up to an hour. Think twice   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2011
I just returned from Viking River Cruises' Imperial Jewels of China, September 18 -- 30, 2011. This is a once in a life time kind of trip. I am rather disappointed with the misrepresentations by Viking River Cruises. Viking River ... Read More
I just returned from Viking River Cruises' Imperial Jewels of China, September 18 -- 30, 2011. This is a once in a life time kind of trip. I am rather disappointed with the misrepresentations by Viking River Cruises. Viking River Cruises brochure touted the "Viking Emerald" as the "Yangtze's most elegant and newest ship." It was definitely not an elegant or luxury cruise ship by any stretch of the imagination. The carpeting in the hallway was uneven. There were little crawly creatures and cockroach in the bathroom. According to the Program Director, Iowa Xian, Viking River Cruises bought the ship from Century two years ago, a Chinese company. As a matter of fact, all onboard literature referred to the ship as "The Viking Century Emerald." The ship's captain and crew were Chinese. The captain did not speak English. There was no professional staff or entertainment. The Program Director was a Tour Escort turned Program Director, and who openly expressed desire to return to his old job as tour escort. There was not even a theatre or show room. They just put up chairs in the so called "Observation Lounge" on Deck 5. Presentations were displayed on a stand-up projection screen. The same set up for movie viewing (The Last Emperor.) The menu choices were limited. I asked for an entrée without potatoes. I was told it could not be done. I was asked to pick from a stand-by choice of chicken or salmon. I asked for Eggs Benedict without the Hollandaise sauce. After waiting for 30 minutes, I was given a poached egg, period! It opened to question on the skills of the kitchen staff! This is definitely not worth the price Viking River Cruises is charging for the trip. I am also very disappointed with Viking River Cruises customer service. I booked directly with Viking when they had a 2-for-1 sale. I was shocked to see that they charged foreign transaction fee on my deposit. Later, I gave the booking to a travel agent, and did not have to pay any more foreign transaction fee. The customer should be informed about the foreign transaction fee. I could have used a different credit card which did not charge foreign transaction fees. The Customer Service personnel at the toll-free number provided misinformation. I was told that they used small planes of 50 passengers and therefore must stick to luggage weight restrictions. This was far from truth. We flew on regularly scheduled commercial flights. It turned out that the best part of the intra-China flights was that we never had to handle our own luggage and no worry about luggage allowance. The tour escort had "nice cousins." Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2011
Flight was ok, flew connecting through Toronto (continental) to Air Canada first class. No problems going there, food was all right, dinner was pretty good on the plane, breakfast not so much. Service very good, but not the best, booked ... Read More
Flight was ok, flew connecting through Toronto (continental) to Air Canada first class. No problems going there, food was all right, dinner was pretty good on the plane, breakfast not so much. Service very good, but not the best, booked through Viking Air. Arrive in Shanghai to find the Viking crew standing outside, and we were told to wait at an ATM machine as they were waiting on other guests. We waited there for close to 50 minutes (what's that saying about first impressions?). Finally after 20 hours of flying we got on the bus to go to the Portman Ritz. Upon arrival Daniel, our tour guide for the entire trip, proceeded to help us get a smoking room and welcomed us. The hotel was wonderful, and we ate in the Chinese restaurant attached to the hotel. Very good, and something that is easy to miss in this hotel is the 2nd floor bar, where they have live jazz every night from about 8pm till midnight. Also this bar is half smoking, half non-smoking, and it seemed like no one was on the non-smoking side all the night we were there. The next day, we woke up nice and early to go touring. First we go to some sort of garden, it was very nice looking, and we got some free time to visit the merchants. After that we stopped on the Bund to look at the river and skyline. Then we were brought to the first "Tourist Trap", the embroidery "factory", which was mostly a store with pushy salesman, and a restaurant in the back. The food was mediocre at best, and Chinese (which you learned to hate by the end). After this we went to the Shanghai museum that had some interesting coins and jade pieces, but it was nothing to go nuts about, definitely worth a visit though, and was one of the authentic highlights of Shanghai. At night, we went to an Acrobat show, which was quite good, but between the jet lag, and touring all day, it was very difficult to stay awake. The following day we were transitioning to the airport to go Wuhan, but not before we got to just one more "Tourist Trap" in Shanghai. That morning we went to the rug-making factory (woke up nice and early for it too). It had 2 people making rugs when you first walk in, then a shopping area easily 10 times the size of the "factory". We had a box lunch, which could not be consumed. We flew to Wuhan, which took off about an hour late and went to a Provincial museum with a remains of a tomb. Definitely a highlight of the trip, and was quite amazing. We heard them play the bells from the tomb. Which was quite nice. We then went to board our ship, the Viking Emerald. Once on board the ship, we realized this is no cruise like we from the United States are used to. They have no food for long stretches of the day except peanuts, and ramen noodles, however for some reason they offered an all you can drink policy for a very reasonable price (I believe $175 for 4 days, but included premiums like Grey Goose and Hennessey). The room was cruise ship small, but about the same as any regular cruise boat. There was no smoking lounge anywhere, so smokers beware in the bad weather. While there was a Chinese BBQ on the back of the ship, it went completely unused, and the only reason we knew it existed was due to the large sign saying BBQ with pictures of food, that looked considerably better than the food you were eating the whole trip. While on the boat we encountered many poor dishes, and it made me dream of such splendid meals by the great American chef, Colonel Sanders, whose food quality is outstanding compared to his trip (please note, I find KFC to be repulsive). I however digress as we did eventually make it to a KFC next to the Great Wall, not because there weren't good restaurants near the wall, as I am sure there were, but out of desperation for something familiar. The boat did feature a very inexpensive and nice spa, that was a plus, but they offered no enrichment activities, and the biggest show of the week was the crew talent show, which consisted of Chinese chefs trying to sing which in polite terms, reminded me of watching a prison rodeo on TV, where all the prisoners kept smiling while being attacked by a bull. The Yangtze was very beautiful however, and many of the sites we saw were very good. This includes The Three Gorges, which were stunning, the Dam, the locks, and a beautiful pagoda on a hillside. These tours were quite well executed except for one stop, involving the Viking School. The Viking School was an absolute disgrace that should give great shame to Viking. This insulting school "sponsored" by Viking, consisted of the kids acting as a tourist attraction, in an overly run down school made of depressing of cement, with pictures of the Great Leaders of China on the walls. There is a broken basketball hoop in the courtyard however, and it is questionable the amount of donation Viking has actually made to this school. If I had to guess it was no more than a $1000, and I am pretty sure the buses the arranged to go visit the school outweigh their donation every year. Not only was the condition of the school extraordinarily bad, it was depressing in and of itself to be at such a horrid place on vacation. This may be cold-hearted, but the Chinese people chose to have a communist government, and therefore deserve their communist school, capitalism does not need to fund it, and frankly the funding that Viking gives to the school makes capitalism look bad. But I digress. After leaving the river cruise we went to a cruise see the pandas, which was ok, and had another awful lunch in a hotel. What was amazing about all of our food stops, is that they only provided you with one glass of soda, and refills could be purchased. For the $14,000 that we paid (without airfare), one would think that soda would be reasonably included. After we flew to Xi'an where we greeted with the Terra Cotta Warriors. This was the highlight of the trip that everyone should see. It was truly fascinating and awesome. They gave us an adequate amount of time there, and it did not feel rushed. That evening we decided to leave our tour (as we really did not want to give Viking any more money), and g to dinner by ourselves. We went to Huili Japanese Restaurant, as suggested by our Amex Concierge. We hired a hotel limo (Kempinski Hotel) for $80 for 4 hours (a brand new BMW 750li), and went downtown for the evening. Our tour guide seemed surprised that we would wander off on our own, but this seemed more like a sales pitch for the event that evening they were upselling. We had a wonderful meal at Huili and would recommend it to anyone. It was the 2nd best meal we had the whole trip. Our meal came to $38 Dollars including tip, and consisted of 7 courses each, and 4 extra large beers. They do not speak English however, but with the help of my phone, we used Google Translate to tell them what we wanted, and it worked perfectly. We then stopped at a Wal-Mart just to see the difference between a U.S. Wal-Mart and a Chinese Wal-Mart. The next day we flew to Beijing for the last part of our pre-extension trip. We were brought to the "least visited" part of the wall, which felt like the most visited part of the wall. It was packed with tourists, and there is a place where all the tour guides hang all their flags in front of the gift shop next to the KFC, and rows of tourist traps, and I counted at least 15 flags. If you are looking for a private and intimate experience with one of the world's great wonders, look at other tours. After we had our "lunch of local specialties" which consisted of us being paraded through another tourist trap jade factory place, to the back where they had a huge dining room with 10 different tour groups. At this place we had a meal we could not consume, and I was about 30 seconds away from standing up and screaming, but didn't, as many of the people on our trip were clearly trying to make the best of their vacation. I will explain why they did not seem to care later, but once again I digress. We then went to see a recital by the Peking Opera performers, where the duck was quite good, and the performance was quite bad. It was unbelievably annoying and I do not recommend it. We stayed at the Regent hotel in Beijing, where the service was quite excellent, and the hotel was beautiful. When we woke up, we went to see Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City in extreme heat, and while it was quite fascinating the heat got to me after a while, and of course someone got lost in the group and it took us an hour to find them because they did not have an international cell phone. We then skipped their "lunch" which I am sure was at some sort of tourist trap, and we went for lunch and dinner on our own at the hotel, not trusting the food of Viking any longer. The next day we flew to Guilin to being our Hong Kong extension. In Guilin we stayed at the Shangri-La, which had wonderful food, and our meals were in the hotel. We went down riverboats once again and experienced the 5-hour trip down the river, in what seemed like part 2 of the Three Gorges. It was truly a waste of time, and we would have appreciated an extra day in Hong Kong. When we did reach Hong Kong, the trip was more to our pace. There was a small introductory tour in the beginning that brought you to the major sites and 2 days of free time, where we had custom suits made, wonderful dinners on our own, and we even took a jet boat to Macau. This was the highlight of our whole trip, and we realized the reason why... Viking wasn't there to mess it up. While I could not mention everything in the above post, I can say that there were many things we learned from this trip. We learned that as we are seasoned travelers, who have been to over 41 countries, we do not need a corny tour to show what is good, and at the price we paid, could have arranged everything using private cars, first class flights, and our own restaurant preferences. The average Viking guests are traveling upper middle classes, with little to no demands or requests. There are many teachers, retired factory managers, etc. on the trip of their lives, and it shows. There are no repeat performances, there is no chance they would ever come back to China, and this is their dream trip. They are afraid of the unknown, and the tour guide engages this perfectly. This is not a cruise like Crystal, where you discuss the other 40 countries you have been to, or compare notes and complaints compared to other trips you have been on. This group of travelers creates an issue, as they do not demand the service that a truly affluent traveler knows to demand. While this may sound incredibly snobby, it is simply true, which is why I believe there are so many positive reviews of this trip. This trip brought us to 4 tourist traps, which were applauded by the guests around us, while I longingly looked out the windows at the true culture we were missing. We were squished onto crowded planes for short domestic flights of 4 hours after delays (which our tour guide told us were quite common in China), and not made aware that we urgently needed to upgrade to first class (after all, if we had booked it ourselves, it would have been first class, but because they were only supposed to be 1 hour trips, we didn't go through the effort). Looking back however, this trip would not be appropriate to upgrade to first class, as you would likely outcast yourself from the rest of the travelers. This compared to Crystal where it seemed like an echo on the one flight we took from St. Petersburg to Russia, as to why they did not offer a first class option. This trip is not for the well seasoned, and overall is not a very good trip. The food is repulsive for the entire trip, and we found when we got home we spent nearly $1,000 feeding ourselves. The loads of corny jokes from the tour guides such as "my cousins help you with your bags" and "my cousins have blocked the internet" were sad and desperate attempts, that made me feel like I was in a really crappy travel comedy film you watch during a Tuesday afternoon rain delay for a 3rd rate baseball city. You really need to consider anyone else, or consider doing it on your own, you should be more than able to considering the service provided by the hotel we stayed at. This trip was pathetic, and easily the worst trip I have ever taken, but since I like to end on a positive note, all the hotels were very nice, but Viking did not own them (or the ship for that matter). Also, you never had to handle your bags, as they had porters at every stop (which our tour guide referred to as cousins). 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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