Viking Emerald Cruise Review by Lomapaseo
- Sail Date: May 2012
- Destination: Asia
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