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As mentioned in other reviews, the on board staff couldn't have been more pleasant and efficient. The ship itself appeared to be in decent condition, and was never too loud when running. If your idea of a great vacation is spending 5 days of with very little physical activity, this might be the cruise for you. I am not a cruise fan, so maybe all cruises are like this. Told my wife I would NEVER go on a cruise, but this is what she wanted to do for her 50th birthday. Check and mate. For the people whose dream vacation consists of spending all but a few minutes a day sitting and eating, sitting and drinking or sitting and reading or sitting and playing board games or sitting and listening to a lecture (Basic Mandarin phrases, playing Mah Jongg or fun facts about the Yangtze River,) or laying in bed watching one of 5 television channels, this is the dream vacation for you. The other few minutes a day are spent going up or down the stairs to one of the aforementioned events. We were able to get off the boat on 3 of the 5 days: once to walk through the edge of a small city towards a temple while dodging a 4 block long gauntlet of aggressive local merchants who see American tourists as walking dollar bills, once to walk a few hundred feet to another tour boat where you sit for another hour and a half going through scenery, and the last time to finally do a little walking (after still more sitting on a bus ride) on the way up to the 3 Gorges Dam. The web page for this crew mentions a 'gym.' I called Viking to verify that the boat had a 'gym' before we left for the cruise. Only a few of us actually used those facilities, so for most people taking this cruise, the quality and condition of those facilities won't matter. The 'gym' had an erg that hadn't been lubricated since Nixon was president, a treadmill, an elliptical machine on which the display screen was non-functional and had a squeak so loud that it could be heard throughout the boat, and a small set of dumbbells, most of which were not marked with a weight. Nevertheless, the 'gym' provided virtually the only activity that didn't involve more sitting. The fore and aft outside decks provided sufficient chairs for yet more sitting and scenery consumption, but when you travel over 1,000 miles on any road or river, there are many extended periods of monotonous doldrums. This trip is certainly no exception. I would recommend taking the cruise during July or August, when you can enjoy the scenery when daytime temps are mostly in the upper 90's (mid-30's C,) the humidity is stratospheric and the air quality truly indescribable. At night, the temps MAY drop down under 80 (about 26C,) but then the humidity will be near 100%. You can't be that for a comfortable night's sleep!! I witnessed several American cities in the 60's before anti-pollution laws were enacted, but I have never seen air quality like we experienced in most of China. I thought the atrocious air quality might last for a day or so due to some unusual atmospheric condition, but the air quality only deteriorated the farther inland we went. Several of us developed sore throats and random coughing fits. A week after getting back home, I was still coughing up remnants of Chinese air from my lungs. Truly something one needs to experience first hand. The food on board was plentiful, but there are no snack bars & no in-between-meal offerings other than alcohol. The cooking staff was from China, and they did an admiral job preparing Western food. Unfortunately, they have mastered the art of making the food 'look' pretty long before they mastered taste. As there were cruisers from several parts of the U.S. and the world, it would be extremely difficult to please everyone with the small kitchen available on the river cruise its ship. My wife and nephew are Chinese, and they tell me that the crew did a respectable job with some Chinese breakfast items. For the most part, the food was acceptable, but that's about as far as one could stretch the description. You''ll get your steak they way they cook it, so don't bother with asking for RARE or MEDIUM WELL or WELL DONE. On the whole, the cruise staff made up for some of the cruise's shortcomings, so thank God for that. If you won't go completely stir crazy spending 95% of your day sitting on what amounts to a 'prison' ship, you'll love this cruise.

Yangtze River Cruise Wuhan to Chongqing

Viking Emerald Cruise Review by hwmpg

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Trip Details
As mentioned in other reviews, the on board staff couldn't have been more pleasant and efficient. The ship itself appeared to be in decent condition, and was never too loud when running.

If your idea of a great vacation is spending 5 days of with very little physical activity, this might be the cruise for you. I am not a cruise fan, so maybe all cruises are like this. Told my wife I would NEVER go on a cruise, but this is what she wanted to do for her 50th birthday. Check and mate.

For the people whose dream vacation consists of spending all but a few minutes a day sitting and eating, sitting and drinking or sitting and reading or sitting and playing board games or sitting and listening to a lecture (Basic Mandarin phrases, playing Mah Jongg or fun facts about the Yangtze River,) or laying in bed watching one of 5 television channels, this is the dream vacation for you. The other few minutes a day are spent going up or down the stairs to one of the aforementioned events.

We were able to get off the boat on 3 of the 5 days: once to walk through the edge of a small city towards a temple while dodging a 4 block long gauntlet of aggressive local merchants who see American tourists as walking dollar bills, once to walk a few hundred feet to another tour boat where you sit for another hour and a half going through scenery, and the last time to finally do a little walking (after still more sitting on a bus ride) on the way up to the 3 Gorges Dam.

The web page for this crew mentions a 'gym.' I called Viking to verify that the boat had a 'gym' before we left for the cruise. Only a few of us actually used those facilities, so for most people taking this cruise, the quality and condition of those facilities won't matter. The 'gym' had an erg that hadn't been lubricated since Nixon was president, a treadmill, an elliptical machine on which the display screen was non-functional and had a squeak so loud that it could be heard throughout the boat, and a small set of dumbbells, most of which were not marked with a weight. Nevertheless, the 'gym' provided virtually the only activity that didn't involve more sitting.

The fore and aft outside decks provided sufficient chairs for yet more sitting and scenery consumption, but when you travel over 1,000 miles on any road or river, there are many extended periods of monotonous doldrums. This trip is certainly no exception.

I would recommend taking the cruise during July or August, when you can enjoy the scenery when daytime temps are mostly in the upper 90's (mid-30's C,) the humidity is stratospheric and the air quality truly indescribable. At night, the temps MAY drop down under 80 (about 26C,) but then the humidity will be near 100%. You can't be that for a comfortable night's sleep!!

I witnessed several American cities in the 60's before anti-pollution laws were enacted, but I have never seen air quality like we experienced in most of China. I thought the atrocious air quality might last for a day or so due to some unusual atmospheric condition, but the air quality only deteriorated the farther inland we went. Several of us developed sore throats and random coughing fits. A week after getting back home, I was still coughing up remnants of Chinese air from my lungs. Truly something one needs to experience first hand.

The food on board was plentiful, but there are no snack bars & no in-between-meal offerings other than alcohol. The cooking staff was from China, and they did an admiral job preparing Western food. Unfortunately, they have mastered the art of making the food 'look' pretty long before they mastered taste. As there were cruisers from several parts of the U.S. and the world, it would be extremely difficult to please everyone with the small kitchen available on the river cruise its ship. My wife and nephew are Chinese, and they tell me that the crew did a respectable job with some Chinese breakfast items. For the most part, the food was acceptable, but that's about as far as one could stretch the description. You''ll get your steak they way they cook it, so don't bother with asking for RARE or MEDIUM WELL or WELL DONE.

On the whole, the cruise staff made up for some of the cruise's shortcomings, so thank God for that.

If you won't go completely stir crazy spending 95% of your day sitting on what amounts to a 'prison' ship, you'll love this cruise.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 336
Everything worked. Thank God for the AC. Craftsmanship and finish details.....well, they're still working on it, but those things aren't essential for enjoying this trip.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Badaling Great Wall
    Go in July or August, like we did, so you can experience the clothes-drenching sweat you'll work up while climbing, and climbing, and climbing in 90 (32C) degree heat. You won't be going far if you're really out of shape or have any difficulty walking. Nice views, but we didn't catch any Mongolian hordes off in the distance. Shade is non-existent, and so were breezes for the most part. Another place where you can experience, first hand, the difference in crowd behavior customs between Chinese nationals and Americans. My wife, who is Chinese, actually DID get into a lengthy verbal altercation with several Chinese tourists at this site, accidentally recorded on her iPhone so the rest of us could enjoy the incident. The highlight of the visit.
    View All 24 Badaling Great Wall Reviews
  • Forbidden City
    Could possibly have been a pleasant experience with about 50,000 fewer people and temperatures under 95 F (32 C.) In addition, most Chinese tourists (and most of the tourists at this site are from China,) have radically different manners in large crowds than Americans. Caucasians are clearly treated better than Chinese, but my wife is Chinese and nearly got into a fight with one of the workers. If you're really interested in the Forbidden City, the Viking River Cruise guide was full of information that fascinated most of the folks on our group tour. For those of us less interested, it was a 2 hour long grind of gigantic open courtyards and buildings that all looked the same.
    View All 30 Forbidden City Reviews
  • Hutong Tour
    30 of us crowded into a very small living room with temperatures in the 90's (30's C.) Host very pleasant and accommodating. Chinese-style public restrooms that are cleaned......very occasionally. Interesting look through Hutong life, but any activity done with 30 of your cruise-mates lacks intimacy with local folks and their lives. On different days in Beijing we walked through different Hutongs on our own. Much more interesting than the visit with the herd.
    View All 16 Hutong Tour Reviews
  • Tiananmen Square
    (Looked more like Tian an men rectangle to me.) Walking through a big open public area to admire a gigantic poster of Chairman Mao. If that doesn't excite you, I don't know what will.
    View All 22 Tiananmen Square Reviews
  • Shanghai Museum
    Have no interest in museums. My wife went and liked it, but mostly because the kids inside were cute. Enjoy the long entry lines.
    View All 15 Shanghai Museum Reviews
  • The Bund
    One of the few excursions on our 2 week trip through China where it wasn't over 90 degrees (32C.) Interesting skyline. If you're interested in the history of the area, the Viking River Cruise guide held other cruise-mates rapt attention. Otherwise, 15 minutes on the Wikipedia page would suffice.
    View All 19 The Bund Reviews
  • Yu Gardens
    Unlike most people, I am actually interested in plants, so I held out some hope that this segment of our tour might be interest me. In it, we learned the theory behind the construction of Chinese gardens. Plants themselves are low on the priority list in Chinese gardens. If you, like me, are also interested in plants, you won't find anything interesting here. Chinese gardens are more about architecture, water spaces, bridges and 'spaces for contemplation.' Certainly not for the contemplation of plants and flowers. Surrounding the garden is an extensive tourist trap area, a kind of Disneyland with Chinese-looking buildings. Along with the usual shops for blowing your cash on trinkets and overpriced clothing and artifacts, there are a few shops selling food and a Starbucks. We had buns (bao) served with straws. We had to see why they were served with straws. Pretty good, but extremely hot, soup inside the bao.
    View All 22 Yu Gardens Reviews