Sail Date: May 2014
We traveled on Viking River Cruise's Imperial Jewels of China trip in May/June 2014. We chose Viking because of their total package, and because China would be difficult to navigate by ourselves. I'll start with the negative, ... Read More
We traveled on Viking River Cruise's Imperial Jewels of China trip in May/June 2014. We chose Viking because of their total package, and because China would be difficult to navigate by ourselves. I'll start with the negative, but there were many more positives. The negative was that our group of 24 who traveled and ate most meals together included 8 people who were not able to physically keep up with the rest of the group for various reasons. One individual brought a walker and friend to help her, but even that was not adequate for most of the excursions. During our two week time, two people fell, and two went home before the trip ended. Though Viking "warns" travelers about the rigorous nature of the trip, it's really up to the traveler to decide. The Chinese tour guides are not equipped to accommodate large numbers of handicapped/mobility-challenged individuals. Our guide spent many days scurrying to find wheelchairs for this often demanding group. Viking needs to have the flexibility to move these folks into a group of their own the first or second day (in situations like ours); otherwise, it negatively impacts the rest of the tour group. We missed a trip to the Chongqing Zoo (which has natural habitats rather than a traditional zoo) and the famous Dumpling restaurant in the Muslim District in Xian. So please, if you fall into this category and are considering a trip to China, consider the other travelers before booking a trip. On the positive, we enjoyed our time in the major Chinese cities - Shanghai, Xian and Beijing - more than our time on the cruise. The hotels were 5 star - we stayed at the Shanghai Ritz Carlton, the Xian Hilton and the Regent in Beijing. All were well-located and accommodated to our needs. Traveling from Shanghai to Beijing is beneficial because there is time to get over jet lag at the beginning of the trip, and touring the Yuyuan Gardens, the silk factory and the Shanghai Museum can be done at a relaxing pace. The leg from Xian to Beijing is the most interesting and requires the most walking and traveling. The Chinese airlines were all professional, clean and organized, in our experience, and Viking coordinated our flights well. Xian was one of the highlights of the trip, and Viking wisely made it a two-day stop. Beijing was wonderful during our visit - the weather, the people and our time at Tiananmen Square/Forbidden City - walked 5 miles as well as our 2-hour hike up the south side of the Great Wall of China at Badaling. Shopping at the Pearl Market was a great time with many deals. Give yourself a full afternoon for that. Regarding the cruise, the staff on the ship could not have been nicer or more accommodating. It is not as luxurious as some cruises we have done, but we enjoyed the small group (180 people total), and we made friends with many people. This was nice to do at the beginning of the trip so we could spend time together for the remainder of the trip. Most thought that 3 days on the Yangtze would have been enough, but since Viking is a cruise company, that seems unlikely. The Three Gorges Dam and the Lesser Gorges are definitely worth seeing, but much of the coastline as you head east is industrialized. You will learn so much about China and its culture, and we recommend it! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
six of us departed Houston on august 20 bound for Beijing. This was all booked through Viking, and I must say they did a great job. its a 2 hour flight from Houston iah to Detroit, then 12 hours to Beijing. We were met at the airport in ... Read More
six of us departed Houston on august 20 bound for Beijing. This was all booked through Viking, and I must say they did a great job. its a 2 hour flight from Houston iah to Detroit, then 12 hours to Beijing. We were met at the airport in Beijing by Johanna, who ultimately turned out to be our tour escort. She is wonderful. We transferred as a group to the ritz Carleton Beijing, that was a great experience in itself. The staff there were great, they learned your name in no time and the food (yes a few pounds were gained here). We had a free day the next day, so it was taxi to the zoo and then to the llama temple. We spoke no Chinese (other than very good and thank you), but had no problem getting around. Yep, panda bear was there and doing his(her) thing, eating leaves. We found Beijing to be a great way to become introduced to the Chinese culture. The people are friendly. Don't be surprised when kids (mostly teenage Chinese girls) rush up to get their friends to take a photo of them posing with you. We felt like celebraties. The trip to the great wall is all that its advertised to be. Then it was off to the airport for our first intra-china flight on a Chinese airline. My experience with Aeroflot in Russia had minimized my expectations, but this was a great experience. The plane was modern, clean , and the boarding process orderly. We landed in Xi'an and again the transfer to the Hilton was painless. The hotel was immaculate, and the staff great. The next day was the terra cotta warriors, again all that it is claimed to be. Next was a flight to Chongqing - the largest city in the world, and boarding the emerald. The ship is modern, well maintained, great great staff, excellent food and great overall trip management. We bought the drink package, could have saved some bucks had I done this when booking, and if you like wine, beer, etc, its the way to go. Cruised down the river, through some Gorges, all magnificent. Then departed from Wuhan to Shanghai, again intra china airlines and no dissappointments. Trip was all that we hoped for. Viking - your employee, Johanna did a great job the entire trip. She met us at the arrival airport, guided us through all the tours, transfers, etc. But more than that, she introduced us to china. She talked openly about the three generations of her family, and their life experiences in china for the past 50 years. I will definitely cruise with Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
My wife and I have done 5 river cruises so my opinions are more comparison based than usual (forget the stars since my rating is against many similar others). We started by arriving in Shanghai three days before the tour (land + cruise) ... Read More
My wife and I have done 5 river cruises so my opinions are more comparison based than usual (forget the stars since my rating is against many similar others). We started by arriving in Shanghai three days before the tour (land + cruise) started. Obviously after a long flight rest is needed. We got in a little shopping and took one tour on our own. I've got to say that that tour was a significant highlight of our memories. We did the half day Water Village tour and thoroughly enjoyed it. The organized Viking tours are well conducted with both your assigned Viking tour leader (for the duration) + a local guide (superfluous except for political connections). They include much bus travel through extreme traffic to the point where you want to get off and walk. Obvious shopping stops are made at factory outlets which were very interesting to learn how things are made. After a single day of touring it was off to an airport (in the traffic again) to get on a 1-1/2 hour flight saving 7 hours or more on a bus. I've got to say that both the airports experience as well as the plane was a lot better than you would get in the USA. Unfortunately once off the plane it was back on a bus again in heavy traffic to make it to another exhibit and finally to a hotel. That left the days a little hetic and if you booked an optional night tour plan on no time for a shower before getting back on the bus again. The hotels were luxurious beyond expectations (3 story lobby ceilings etc.) Once we got on the cruise ship we could finally get a little more rest. The staterooms were better than average with the bathroom being exceptional. The functional rooms (river boat) were average, which translates to no complaints. The meals were above average with breast and lunch being exceptionally good. Dinner, on the other hand was below average with well presented but sometimes poor western style food (no complaints however for the single Chinese meal or captains farewell dinner). I tend to get by ordering multiple appetisers. The land meals were mostly Chinese with the buffets being good enough for most palates. The only bad meal was a western style plate-of-the-day we had in Beijing. we had opted out of an optional evening tour and ended up with a very poor restaurant choice by Viking. The cruise venue was very good and the stops interesting (long lasting memories). However be forewarned that the Chinese are more fit and able than us westerners. They think nothing of the hills they walk up. The more lasting memories for us were the hills leading up from the river dock to a town. I've got to say that unless you are exceptionally fit, take advantage of the hawkers at the bottom of the gang plank they either carry your bags (Beijing) or have one carry you up the hill on a chair while visiting the Pagoda. Your guide will advise you of the going rate (typically 20-30 Yuan). When the guide advises during a tour to follow him at a leisurely pace that equates to a brisk walk. a highlight video of this trip is available on U-Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uvEVRKeLdk Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
Friends told us but ours was different no zoo tour air food and lodging were bad we were sick the whole time and sick for 6 weeks upon return air born virus I broke 2 teeth eating at the restaurant inbejing first night and the insurance ... Read More
Friends told us but ours was different no zoo tour air food and lodging were bad we were sick the whole time and sick for 6 weeks upon return air born virus I broke 2 teeth eating at the restaurant inbejing first night and the insurance refused to pay Viking also refused any liability Way below Viking cruise standards we have done other Viking cruises this will be our last We had to repeatedly tell room service to clean the bathroom we and many passengers were sick from the food tubs were dirty the tour guide did not have sufficient bathroom stops they would have heavy breakfast at hotel and have us ride without bathroom stops for hours I learned quickly to put my breakfast in a napkin and not eat it till we arrived near a bathroom and not drink anything please understand cruisers are old people and must make bathroom stops Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
It combined visits to several key Chinese cities and tourist attractions with six days on the Yangtze River. A great combination. We were well cared for from start to finish. Hotels were excellent and food was great with lots of choice ... Read More
It combined visits to several key Chinese cities and tourist attractions with six days on the Yangtze River. A great combination. We were well cared for from start to finish. Hotels were excellent and food was great with lots of choice including western and Chinese dishes. The sight seeing hit the high lights from the Imperial City and the Great Wall to the terra-cotta warriors to the Three Gorges and the Bund in Shanghai. The guides were excellent, really knew their material and had a fine command of English. The support staff did a fine job of taking care of getting tickets and getting bags fro one spot to another. Although the overall group was over 230 people, the fact we were divided into 8 small groups made for an enjoyable and friendly experience. After busy days on shore it was good to settle in on the Emerald for some more relaxing days. We enjoyed all the excursions off the boat with the school visit especially fine. A footy day meant we did not see too much of the Three Gorges Dam, but the weather could not be helped. We had a fine time and would certainly do another Viking Cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
I don't want to go into details as to how BAD this trip was but here is the list. 1- First Hotel, Mildewy and dirty floors with wine spill that was never cleaned. 2- No Refrigerated water on a sweltering 115 degree weather, they ... Read More
I don't want to go into details as to how BAD this trip was but here is the list. 1- First Hotel, Mildewy and dirty floors with wine spill that was never cleaned. 2- No Refrigerated water on a sweltering 115 degree weather, they just don't believe in Ice. 3- Unfriendly trip Guide that did not like people but Loved the was somewhat nicer when it came to make sure that she is getting a good tip. 4- Substandard ship with old floors and that are mangled. 5- First day of arrival parts of engine was being repaired by four people on the same deck they were handing out Champagne. 6- Hot Salad and Cold food, Everybody lost weight on this ship including us. 7- Dirty glasses and plates which I took pictures of. 8- No snack or in cabin service, 3 meals and then you had an apple tray for the whole day. 9- Unfriendly guest service but a great and hard working waiters. 10- Meal packets for the excursions were two pieces of bread, on slice of meat, one slice of lettuce and a slice of tomato, hot bottled water. 11- Dirty transfer buses with people throwing up on the seat or baby poop, couldn't tell which. 12- initially charged for 2% Visa fee without our knowledge but after pushing them to take action they refunded it. This was the first time with Viking and it will be the last time. we thought we were getting what their main commercial shows but far from that. I will choose another cruise line to travel with and don't become a victim of a 10 grand scam. They treat their employees very poorly and the only thing they care is to sell you a substandard trip.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2012
The trip that we thought would be the trip of a lifetime turned into the trip from Hell! Viking is not doing anyone a favor by not disclosing the details of this trip. Any one with any medical conditions, ie. difficulty walking, heart ... Read More
The trip that we thought would be the trip of a lifetime turned into the trip from Hell! Viking is not doing anyone a favor by not disclosing the details of this trip. Any one with any medical conditions, ie. difficulty walking, heart condition or respiratory condition, should not even consider this trip. It is very fast paced and there is alot of walking over uneven ground on 2000 year old cobblestones. The first day out we walked 5 miles, which they didn't tell us until we were on the bus going there. The bus drops you off and picks you up at the other end. There is no way to "opt out" once you get off the bus. You spend alot of time flying from one destination to another. Alot of the restaurants they took us to were dirty. Two of them had mangy cats on the table when we arrived. One had dead cockroaches on the floor. Guess we should be glad they weren't alive! Many of them I didn't eat the food they were so dirty. Viking claims in their information that they personally select the restaurants, so I guess someone is not doing their job! My overall impression of China is that it is dirty, the bathrooms (except in the hotels where we stayed) were disgusting. Some of them smelled so bad even the guys wouldn't use them. Most of them only have squat toilets. I'd never heard of them before I went to China. I wish I still hadn't. The people there are rude and very pushy. There is always some trying to sell you something, no matter where you go and they are very aggressive. This trip goes to Tibet which is at 13,000 feet. About 1/3 of our group had altitude sickness so severe that they had to have IV treatments. 2 people were never able to leave the hotel. Our guide was telling people not to take the medication their doctors had given them to take as a precaution. He said we would not need it. Boy was he wrong! I wished I had not listened to him. I think it was totally inappropriate for him to have done that. After Tibet we got on the boat for the "cruise" part of the trip. They claim that the Emerald is a totally remodeled cruise boat. I was not impressed. They tried to hide the uneven floors, ect. but it is a "chinese owned" boat, so there was probably only so much they could do. By the time we got to the boat, people were starting to get sick and it spread thru the ship like wildfire. I spent the entire 5 days in my cabin, other than to go to meals. Overall, I was very disappointed in Viking because they obviously haven't done a very good job of letting people know what the trip entails. They definitely haven't done their homework as far as providing a safe environment for their clients and ensuring them safe food to eat. This would be the perfect trip for "Undercover Boss"! I'd love to see the CEO of Viking eating in the restaurants they took us to. My advice to anyone considering this trip is DON"T DO IT!!!!!! We complained to Viking when we got back and their only response was to offer us a "coupon" toward the next cruise we took with them. Like that is going to happen. They didn't even care what our complaints were. They just send you the coupon and refuse to respond to any more emails. If anyone thinks I was the only one VERY unhappy by the end of the trip, I wasn't. Everyone was pretty upset about the way were were treated and what we were exposed to. I doubt very many of the 200 people on the trip will be repeat cruisers with Viking! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2012
We are experienced travelers, having sailed on 35 cruises in Europe, Mexico, Central & South America, Asia, the Caribbean and Alaska and at least 9 land and cruise tours. From the moment you arrive in China, Viking Tours controls your ... Read More
We are experienced travelers, having sailed on 35 cruises in Europe, Mexico, Central & South America, Asia, the Caribbean and Alaska and at least 9 land and cruise tours. From the moment you arrive in China, Viking Tours controls your time, everything is a hustle. Our tour began in Shanghai (two days in Shanghai, with a short visit to a museum; but the emphasis was a Rug Manufacture (Carpet Weaving) and Silk embroidery factory with lunches on both days in the rear of each establishment. A quick tour of the Bund, and a very short time provided to see YuYuan Gardens before flying in afternoon of the 2nd day to Wuhan. Would much rather have had the time to experience the people in Shanghai like in "Old Street" and the Financial Center district, the 2nd tallest building in the world. We had a Bad experience at the airport in Shanghai, our line ran slow going through Security at the airport and we got separated from the tour guide and the group; an elevator operator let go of the elevator door and it knocked my wife on the ground and she injured her ankle, shoulder. and jaw when she hit the floor; with the help of airport security we found our group. In Wuhan we boarded the ship Emerald Viking; while it was billed (our newest ship) to be a new ship; it is not a new ship by any means. Communication skills of breakfast short order cooks and purser desk were very poor. Purser desk mostly unfriendly as they liked to play the game, no speak English. Asking cabin Stewarts for extra towels or for bottled water was often met with great difficulty and with no speaks English. Lunch was 12noon to 1:30pm and the time schedule was rigid at 1:15pm the buffet was being taken down. The $300. shipboard credit could only be used for goods and services on the ship, but not any for TIPPING. The Cocktail party started at 5:30pm; champagne was offered, I asked for a beer instead but was told that I could buy a beer at the bar, and appetizers were removed fifteen minutes later at 5:45pm; it is interesting to note that beer and wine were served for FREE at 6:00pm at dinner; no music at the cocktail party; not much of a cocktail party. There was no entertainment aboard other than for one crew show. Most of the time aboard the ship, we were without any knowledge of names of the towns along the way. Weather wise we experience smog for most of the 12 days on the Viking tour; a serious problem about anywhere in China. Positive shipboard comments, bed was comfortable, room was clean, a/c worked fine and dinner was ok, the two servers assigned to our table were very nice and accommodating. As far as the Yangtze River cruise, the Three Gorges Dam & Xiling Gorge, Qutang Gorges, Lesser Three Gorges anyone could have seen more on a TRAVELOG as most every day was Smog limiting visibility to less than a half of mile. Disembarking at Chongqing was a real experience walking about 250 steps on Floating Docks and then up 72 Steps to the awaiting bus. Then it was Bus ride to the Chongqing Zoo with about 30 minutes Free Time to see the PANDA BEARS followed by a long walk to an art gallery for a 30 minute presentation by an accomplished artist. Then lunch and off to the airport again for about One and a half flight to Xian to the hotel; next day off to see the Terra Cotta Warriors about a two hour visit before flying to Beijing. Most days on this tour you were required to have luggage out of the room by 6:00am or 6:30am and to be on the bus by 7:30am and one day it was required to be on the bus by 7:00am. The two days in Beijing were about the same, a constant hustle; the tour director was well prepared and gave excellent information about China on the bus and along the tour. Two (2)of the dinners were box lunches.We are happy that we had a week (7) nights in Shanghai before the Viking Cruise & Tour and Seven (7) nights in Beijing following the tour to see and experience the people and culture of China. Shortly, after we arrived home, I wrote a letter dated May 24, 2012 to Mr. Jason Pashko, Sr VP and copied Mr. Michael Sr VP and Mr. Eric Welter, Sr. VP about an issue that occurred in the final stages of booking this cruise. Unfortunately as of July 13, 2012, I have not been given the courtesy of a reply to my letter. Based on our experience noted above, we cannot recommend the 12 day "Viking River Cruises Yangtze Experience." We would rate this cruise tour as Poor. We would say the cruise was well marketed; but is Over Rated, the tour is Extremely Controlled consequently not much fun. This was a poor example of a China Experience. If all one did was get off the airplane and go on this Viking River Cruise Tour they would not have had much of an experience of the Chinese culture. Also we view the cost of this 12 day Viking Yangtze experience at $7,184. to be way overpriced. And lastly, we can't say much favorable for the quality of the management of Viking as they did not have the courtesy to reply to my letter of May 24, 2012; almost two (2) months ago. Our Recommendation is to Pass on Viking and look elsewhere for a Yangtze River cruise and tour experience. Read Less
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
We wished to visit China and this was river cruise was 6 days out of 15 days total. The river cruise was o.k., the dining and meals on the Viking Emerald were surprisingly good and service was good. Our standard room and bathroom were ... Read More
We wished to visit China and this was river cruise was 6 days out of 15 days total. The river cruise was o.k., the dining and meals on the Viking Emerald were surprisingly good and service was good. Our standard room and bathroom were very tight, I recommend upgrading the room. The Yangtze River is not very scenic, much of the cruise time was rather bland and the facilities at several of the cities we docked at were very ramshackle. The land portion of the tour was very good, we were taken to the Great Wall and to the Terra Cotta Warriors and other important sights. It was unfortunate that the tour had to include three airline flights within China, although flight time for each was only a couple of hours the trips to and from the airports, and going through security, etc. effectively killed the entire day, so 3 days out of 15 were sacrificed to the airline travel. But if you do not do that you will fail to see important sights in this very large country. Read Less
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
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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