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We chose Viking for our China visit as we knew they'd take good care of us in a country where we don't speak the language and can't read the signs - and they did. From the time we stepped off the plane to the time we checked back in for the trip home, we were very well cared-for. Viking assigns you to a group of about 30 who stays together with one guide the entire trip, so you get to know this group very well and still have the fun of meeting others. All of the guides are terrific, not only telling you about everything you see but also candidly sharing a lot about their personal lives and what everyday life is like in China - fascinating! FAQs: - Toilet paper: bring some small travel rolls as you will run into the 'squatty potties' (a flushing ceramic hole in the floor) in airports and outside the big cities and frequently there is none available. There are usually 1 or 2 western toilets available out of 5 or 6 stalls, but with long lines. - Food: you will always have western-style options for breakfast, but lunch and dinner while you are travelling are usually Chinese. Food on the ship is very good; always a buffet with both western and local options, with additional western items you can order from the menu, plus some food stations with food cooked to order. Food in hotels (breakfasts and dinners) were usually very large buffets with many western options. Most people had no problem with the ubiquitous lazy-Susan (family-style) Chinese lunches we got while travelling, but a few had backup granola bars or crackers with them. If you're a picky eater, be prepared. - Go south to north or vice versa? we went north to south (Beijing to Shanghai) because we knew we'd appreciate the restful afternoons and the western food options onboard ship after a week of all-Chinese food while travelling, and were glad we did. The tradeoff: north to south options get a rickshaw ride into the hutangs in Beijing, visiting one local family; if you go south to north, you usually see the pandas in Chongching instead. No trip offers both. We figured we could catch pandas on our next visit to DC! - Excursions: all were terrific, and all were included in the price except 3 (which makes this trip a great value). The optional ones: recommend the Kung Fu performance (great entertainment even if you are like me and don't care for martial arts), Tang Dynasty (excellent). We did not do the optional Peking Duck dinner as we knew we would see plenty of Peking duck throughout the trip and we did. Those who went said it was ok. - What to pack: (1) layers. We went in October, and hit temps from the high 40s to the high 70s. A lighter rainproof jacket you can put a layer underneath works best; you'll find yourself layering up or down throughout the day. Coldest part of trip: windy Great Wall in the 50s; warmest part: Wuhan to Beijing (low 70s). (2) Always pack a medical kit: Aleve/aspirtin, Imodium, an antibiotic like Cipro from your doctor; you'll need at least one of them. Pack and USE antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer; lots on our trip were coming down with something by the end. - Tips onboard ship: (1) ask for a dehumidifier. You're on a river in a humid area, it will make a great deal of difference in how comfortable your cabin is. We had to empty ours daily. (2) We looked at a wine list and promptly bought the beverage package. House wine and beer are included at meals, but if you like your wine you'll probably want the beverage package not only to upgrade the quality, but also give you the option to get a cocktail outside of meals. When we realized that we'd have to pay separately for a glass of wine at 5 pm and another during the evening performances, the beverage package became a great option. They had pretty good Australian and New Zealand wines and the beverage package isn't limited by bottles - it's basically all you want to drink. - Tips on the road: do NOT drink the water. Close your mouth when showering; brush your teeth with bottled water. Not even the locals drink tap water. I brought makeup remover towelettes for my face, put a bottle of water by the tap so I wouldn't forget to use it, and had no problems. Others on our trip had problems and it is miserable to have to fly to another city when you have diarrhea. - Tips for travelling: airport security is very tight: put all your batteries and battery-powered items in your carry-on luggage and your liquids in your packed luggage and you'll have no problems. At least once on the trip you'll need to put your luggage out the night before (Viking gets your luggage to the various airports for you), so keep your morning makeup in containers of less than 150 ml. so they can go with you the next morning in your carry-on. Do yourself a favor and don't take any battery power packs (the backup power packs you use to recharge items): they caused problems at every airport security. - Tips for buying: you'll see lots of the same souvenirs (silk jewelry cases, silk embroidery, kids silk pajamas, tee shirts) throughout your trip: they are the cheapest in the bazaars along the Yangtze River. Offer vendors 20% of their initial ask and you'll usually settle for about 30%-40% of it. Carry some US $1 bills as you'll run into lots of "one dollah" offers which are usually slightly better than what you'll pay in yuans. Don't buy anything you will need to ship home yourself as it's expensive; several on our trip bought an extra suitcase and paid the airline fee for it rather than pay $500 to ship home a small box. If you are looking at a large item, ask if the vendor will ship it for you and include it in the price. FABulous trip! We really enjoyed the cultural experience, the great care Viking took of us, and I'd recommend it. It's the first trip I've taken where just about everything was included in the price, and I think it was very good value for the money.

Tips for a great China river cruise on Viking

Viking Emerald Cruise Review by shipmesomewhere

37 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We chose Viking for our China visit as we knew they'd take good care of us in a country where we don't speak the language and can't read the signs - and they did. From the time we stepped off the plane to the time we checked back in for the trip home, we were very well cared-for.

Viking assigns you to a group of about 30 who stays together with one guide the entire trip, so you get to know this group very well and still have the fun of meeting others. All of the guides are terrific, not only telling you about everything you see but also candidly sharing a lot about their personal lives and what everyday life is like in China - fascinating!

FAQs:

- Toilet paper: bring some small travel rolls as you will run into the 'squatty potties' (a flushing ceramic hole in the floor) in airports and outside the big cities and frequently there is none available. There are usually 1 or 2 western toilets available out of 5 or 6 stalls, but with long lines.

- Food: you will always have western-style options for breakfast, but lunch and dinner while you are travelling are usually Chinese. Food on the ship is very good; always a buffet with both western and local options, with additional western items you can order from the menu, plus some food stations with food cooked to order. Food in hotels (breakfasts and dinners) were usually very large buffets with many western options. Most people had no problem with the ubiquitous lazy-Susan (family-style) Chinese lunches we got while travelling, but a few had backup granola bars or crackers with them. If you're a picky eater, be prepared.

- Go south to north or vice versa? we went north to south (Beijing to Shanghai) because we knew we'd appreciate the restful afternoons and the western food options onboard ship after a week of all-Chinese food while travelling, and were glad we did. The tradeoff: north to south options get a rickshaw ride into the hutangs in Beijing, visiting one local family; if you go south to north, you usually see the pandas in Chongching instead. No trip offers both. We figured we could catch pandas on our next visit to DC!

- Excursions: all were terrific, and all were included in the price except 3 (which makes this trip a great value). The optional ones: recommend the Kung Fu performance (great entertainment even if you are like me and don't care for martial arts), Tang Dynasty (excellent). We did not do the optional Peking Duck dinner as we knew we would see plenty of Peking duck throughout the trip and we did. Those who went said it was ok.

- What to pack: (1) layers. We went in October, and hit temps from the high 40s to the high 70s. A lighter rainproof jacket you can put a layer underneath works best; you'll find yourself layering up or down throughout the day. Coldest part of trip: windy Great Wall in the 50s; warmest part: Wuhan to Beijing (low 70s). (2) Always pack a medical kit: Aleve/aspirtin, Imodium, an antibiotic like Cipro from your doctor; you'll need at least one of them. Pack and USE antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer; lots on our trip were coming down with something by the end.

- Tips onboard ship: (1) ask for a dehumidifier. You're on a river in a humid area, it will make a great deal of difference in how comfortable your cabin is. We had to empty ours daily. (2) We looked at a wine list and promptly bought the beverage package. House wine and beer are included at meals, but if you like your wine you'll probably want the beverage package not only to upgrade the quality, but also give you the option to get a cocktail outside of meals. When we realized that we'd have to pay separately for a glass of wine at 5 pm and another during the evening performances, the beverage package became a great option. They had pretty good Australian and New Zealand wines and the beverage package isn't limited by bottles - it's basically all you want to drink.

- Tips on the road: do NOT drink the water. Close your mouth when showering; brush your teeth with bottled water. Not even the locals drink tap water. I brought makeup remover towelettes for my face, put a bottle of water by the tap so I wouldn't forget to use it, and had no problems. Others on our trip had problems and it is miserable to have to fly to another city when you have diarrhea.

- Tips for travelling: airport security is very tight: put all your batteries and battery-powered items in your carry-on luggage and your liquids in your packed luggage and you'll have no problems. At least once on the trip you'll need to put your luggage out the night before (Viking gets your luggage to the various airports for you), so keep your morning makeup in containers of less than 150 ml. so they can go with you the next morning in your carry-on. Do yourself a favor and don't take any battery power packs (the backup power packs you use to recharge items): they caused problems at every airport security.

- Tips for buying: you'll see lots of the same souvenirs (silk jewelry cases, silk embroidery, kids silk pajamas, tee shirts) throughout your trip: they are the cheapest in the bazaars along the Yangtze River. Offer vendors 20% of their initial ask and you'll usually settle for about 30%-40% of it. Carry some US $1 bills as you'll run into lots of "one dollah" offers which are usually slightly better than what you'll pay in yuans. Don't buy anything you will need to ship home yourself as it's expensive; several on our trip bought an extra suitcase and paid the airline fee for it rather than pay $500 to ship home a small box. If you are looking at a large item, ask if the vendor will ship it for you and include it in the price.

FABulous trip! We really enjoyed the cultural experience, the great care Viking took of us, and I'd recommend it. It's the first trip I've taken where just about everything was included in the price, and I think it was very good value for the money.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 439
Cabins are what you expect from Viking on a river cruise - nice, with everything you need. We had a bit of a problem with our air conditioning never really cooling beyond a comfortable 72 degrees - ok, but we like it colder when we sleep. I think this was just our cabin as others reported no problems. Balconies are just large enough for two to sit outside with a cup of coffee and a book, bathrooms are as advertised. Good steward service.