Our "cruise" began in Beijing which included visits to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Old Summer Palace. We also visited a 200 year old community near the Forbidden City where citizens adhere to older customs and a simpler culture. During the evening, we attended a Kung Fu show at a local theater. Next, on to the ancient capital Xian where we were bused to the site of the Terra Cotta soldiers...amazing Upward to Lhasa, Tibet at 12,000 feet where we visited several Buddhists temples, the highlight being the Potala Palace, whose 400 steps tested the fitness of all. While in Lhasa, the group was invited to a local home where we all had the chance to see how typical Tibetans live their daily lives.
Down to Chongquing, a city of 37 million residents at the head of the Yangtze, where we boarded the Viking Emerald for our cruise. Departing Chongquing, we sailed through the Three Gorges which was truly a once in a lifetime experience. On day two on the ship, we went to the Three Gorges dam, still under construction, a site to behold nonetheless. Wending to Wuhan, we visited a Chinese elementary school and spent an hour or so in the classroom talking to the children, which was a unique experience.
The six days on the ship were nothing less than wonderful. The service from all of the crew was complete and friendly, the Americanized menu magnificent, while I refrained from tasting some of the more exotic Chinese delicacies like pig ears, chicken feet and jellyfish salad. Our room on deck five was quite spacious with plenty of storage, the bathroom we thought relatively large for a river cruise ship. The common areas were spacious and welcoming, especially the dining room and lounges, all certainly up to what we have come to know as Viking standard.
The cabin was in the rear of the ship outfitted with a king sized bed, plenty of storage space, television, and a spacious bath room. The daily cleaning service was superb and never interfered with our schedule. While traveling off river in Beijing, Xian, Lhasa Tibet, and Shanghai. the hotels were all five star with great restaurants and support. The Fairmont, Shanghai which is located right on the Bund, is probably the best hotel I have ever visited.