We began our Mekong adventure by flying in early to Hanoi just before the Chinese New Year. The city of Hanoi was lit up like our Christmas lights all around the lake and in the neighborhoods. It was delightful! Everyone should experience Chinese New Year at least once in their lives in Hanoi.
The next day we took the Viking extension to Ha Long Bay and saw the hundreds of rock islands. Beautiful and so different from anything we've ever seen. We then went back to Hanoi and began the Viking River tour, including Siem Reap, Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City. Our tour group consisted of approximately 40 people and we were split into two groups of 20 and spent the land portions of the tour in the same bus and with the same tour guide "Bob". By splitting into the same tour group we were able to get to know our fellow travelers better and become familiar with our guide. Bob was fabulous! Friendly, knowledgeable, great sense of humor - it was a great experience being part of "Bob's family" for 15 days.
Our first experience getting onto the boat was eye-opening to us. We climbed over a short wall and crew members helped us climb down to the ship on dirt steps dug out of the hill. It was quite an introduction! Thankfully crew members carried anything we needed onto the ship and held our hands as we came down the make shift ramp.
The boat is much smaller than the European Longboats, but comfortable. The top deck is the lounge, sundeck, entertainment area. The cabins are all the same sizes - just vary by where they are on the ship. The cabins (and bathrooms) are small. After taking another Viking River cruise in Myanmar on a similar ship I found that having the beds set up as twin beds, with walking area in between and the beds against the walls' make the room feel larger and we were able to move around easier.