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.
Noise from above during any activity in the forward lounge. Room moist, not clean.