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60 Asia River Cruise Reviews

After three flights from Calgary, Alberta to Yangon, Myanmar met at the Yangon Airport by Mojo (Cruise Director Assistant). Asked Mojo about exchanging US dollars to chat and asked Mojo about an approximate amount, he suggested exchanging ... Read More
After three flights from Calgary, Alberta to Yangon, Myanmar met at the Yangon Airport by Mojo (Cruise Director Assistant). Asked Mojo about exchanging US dollars to chat and asked Mojo about an approximate amount, he suggested exchanging $300 US. Received 2 bundles, one of $5000.'s and one of $1000's. These funds lasted through the whole 14 days. Used chat to pay tips on board and $.50 per passenger for 1/2 day, $1 for full day, yes that is for the driver and his assistant total/together. Transfer with AMA Waterways to hotel Shang-ri-la. Offered an upgrade, which was an upgrade from floor 12 to floor 22. Great views and less noise. Room was excellent (for me), but did not upgrade on return to Yangon. Brunch (breakfast) is included in room cost, buffet for lunch $22.US and Buffet for supper was $27 US (approx.) I found as a single service was poor. Waited 20 minutes for someone to ask if I would like coffee/tea, and another 15 minutes for it to arrive even when DR was quiet. Discussion (as a tour is referred) day after arrival with a trip to a local market. Walking distance back to hotel, 2 blocks. After two nights we boarded two busses to start our adventure. Three stops along the way (for toilet, drinks at our cost) I believe this trip was 6.5 hours. Arrival at Pyay brought smiles to many faces. The ship looked great and the crew were ready to assist each of us going down the hill to the ship. We all needed assistance, steps are different heights, and steep at embarkation and disembarkation. The crew would be out making steps in the sand for us to climb. We did celebrate US Thanksgiving. Turkey was served the one thing missing was mashed potatoes (baked potatoe served), gravy and stuffing. We never left the DR hungry, if you did it was your choice. Four salads, great bread, sweet breads, condiments, WONDERFUL desserts (including 3 kinds of ice cream + toppings), fruit, cheese. Steak, chicken and one other item were served at request if you do not want the Chefs suggestions. Wonderful entertainment. Beautiful costumes. Our last night onboard with the crew entertainment was the best. The talent was exceptional, Crew showed another side that surprised many. Smith (DR) is a very quiet man, but with a mike in his hand, well he surprised us all. Disembarkation had us flying from Mandaly to Yangon. Luggage was placed in the hallway for 6:30-7:00, Breakfast served from 7:00-8:00, and we left the ship at 8:00. Flew by prop plane, which was excellent (and I hate to fly) and the flight was EARLY. We were taken back to the Shang-ri-la Hotel, after two tours. We had a small wait for rooms to be ready and Mojo reminded each of us our wake up call times and transfers. We were welcomed by a great group of people. This was a ship that gave a feeling of welcome to your home, and that was felt by many in the group. We did have a bug going through the ship and we think nine passengers became ill. Total number of passengers-29, with 2 couples and 1 single canceled. Country is poor and squat toilets are the norm, with the occasional American toilet. Yes on the ship toilet paper is put into the garbage, not in the toilet. We had a group of gals follow us on motor bikes to different stops to sell us items. They would not take our money without us making a purchase. Go with an open mind, this country is changing, but our expectations are different from theirs. Enjoy the smiles, hearing the children laughing, sliding down the sand embankments towards the water and the docking ship, Adults are washing and doing laundry as the ship is docking. Some move sooner then others. Enjoy. NowRose Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
I had been to Vietnam during the Vietnam war in the late 60s and wanted to see and experience it in a different light. Angkor Wat was also on our bucket list. We found the Vietnamese people very warm and likable, but their tourism ... Read More
I had been to Vietnam during the Vietnam war in the late 60s and wanted to see and experience it in a different light. Angkor Wat was also on our bucket list. We found the Vietnamese people very warm and likable, but their tourism industry needs a little help finding better venues to see. Cambodia was phenomenal as were there people and the ruins. Angkor Wat is a must see. Bangkok was interesting but very busy, 10 million people with 6 million motor bikes. Canal boat trips were a treat and the off tour restaurants were very good. The weather was exceptionally hot and the air conditioning on the River Boat was hit and miss in the dining room and hard to control in the cabin(too cold or to hot). Cabins are quite small. Cabin access is from the exterior passageway where the pubic could pass, so it was not comfortable to leave our curtains open to view the passing scenery. The crew were exceptional, nice and very accommodating(primarily Cambodian). Dining on the boat was also quite good. Shore excursions were interesting and educational. Our Vietnamese tour guides were exceptional, and very educational. All the Hotels on this trip were luxurious, especially in Bangkok, where we were right on the river and could view the boat traffic which was educational on its own. The Hotel in Siem Reap was the absolute best on the trip. The Buffet meals were exceptional with multi international choices. The cuisine in all of Southeast Asia was delightful, and the markets a real treat. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This trip is the perfect way to see China. If you want to experience some of the breadth and depth and majesty of China—its history, culture, and natural beauty—with the convenience of English-speaking guides and the pampering of ... Read More
This trip is the perfect way to see China. If you want to experience some of the breadth and depth and majesty of China—its history, culture, and natural beauty—with the convenience of English-speaking guides and the pampering of Viking Cruises personnel, then this IS the trip for you. Viking organizes everything and executes pretty much on schedule (for those things under its control). You have to unpack and pack several times. You stay in 3 hotels. You have 3 internal flights and the cruise on the Yangtze River. China is a BIG country. But you get to travel to several impressive places in China. And you get to meet really nice, interesting people—your fellow passengers. We had mostly Americans on the trip, but also some from Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. We made lots of new friends. My intent is to write a review that will give you insight and tips to help in planning your trip. I read reviews on Cruise Critic about the Imperial Jewels of China trip before I left home, but I learned many things on my trip that were not covered in those reviews. Hopefully my tidbits will make your vacation more enjoyable and memorable. Yes, it’s a Communist country, but the people were friendly, and the guides were open in talking to us about the good and the bad. For example, we learned from some of the female guides that they are not interested in having a second child, even if it is allowed, because of the cost of raising a child in China. I guess some matters are never as black and white as we might suppose. We were a novelty in some places; Chinese citizens asked us to be in their photos. We saw some of the challenges as China tries to modernize and provide for its people without causing future shock to its 1.3 billion inhabitants. Realize that a small city in China means one with 4 million inhabitants. We saw pollution in the cities: lots of people and lots of cars being driven (in addition to the coal plants) leads to pollution; visibility was sometimes several miles. But it wasn’t really bothersome, probably because of the time of year we visited (late October). The only time I had an issue was in Chongqing at the airport. You could drive an hour away and not have so much pollution. We also saw blue skies in several of the cities. We saw wind turbines and nuclear power plants. There just aren’t enough alternative energy sources for all the people yet. I liked the order of our itinerary for the 13-day Imperial Jewels of China trip, starting in Beijing first and ending up in Shanghai. In Beijing and Xi’an, there are some places where you walk a couple of miles for sightseeing. You have a lot of energy at the start of the trip, and you can relax when you get to the river cruising portion of the trip. And there is not a lot of walking in Shanghai at the end. This is my 2nd Viking River cruise. I did one last year in Europe (Cities of Light trip). I would rate that trip as a 9.5 out of 10 (downgraded due to an execution/transportation issue in the last city). In comparison, I would rate the Imperial Jewels of China trip as an 8.5 out of 10—still very good. The planning, communication, and execution was just a little better on the European river cruise trip. As previous cruisers, we are members of the Viking Explorer Society. We had a special reception on the ship and received a special gift (aquavit glass). The ships for my two trips were a little different. The Category A verandah rooms on the Viking Emerald were larger (by 45 square feet) than the verandah rooms on the Viking longship (Odin) I traveled on last year in Europe. The Emerald is bigger than the Odin, and has more facilities (e.g., gym, spa, shopping). It has 4 passenger decks and an additional sun deck, with 128 cabins (256 guests). The Odin has 3 passenger decks and an additional sun deck, with 95 cabins (about 190 guests). The Emerald is not built or owned by Viking; it is leased by Viking from China’s Century Cruises (it is technically the Century Emerald ship). The “fit and finish” of the Odin was a little better. The trip itinerary was as advertised with 2 exceptions. First, those passengers who did the Viking transfer from the Beijing airport to the Beijing hotel were notified about an optional tour to the Summer Palace on Day 1. (They were flown in by Viking a day in advance, on Day 0.) My wife and I did our own transfer, and also arrived on Day 0. We learned about the tour at the last minute from some of the other passengers. Viking knew we were arriving a day early, but did not attempt to notify us about this tour. Second, on Day 2, there was supposed to be the optional excursion to attend a Peking opera show. Our tour escort told my group that Viking had dropped that show, and instead substituted a Kung Fu show “based on previous passenger feedback”. No one in my group opted to attend the show, possibly because we had an early flight the next morning to Xi’an. Or, we didn’t get enough information on the show—just that it was a Kung Fu show. I learned from other travelers who attended the show that it was more choreography than a martial arts demonstration (as the name implied). Viking should have notified passengers about this change, prior to departure, when they mailed us the booklet on “Itinerary & Departure Information”. Notification of new optional tours and of changes to existing optional tours is an area of improvement for Viking Cruises. The passengers were divided into 7 tour groups, each with a tour escort who stayed with the group for the entire trip. Each group used its own bus for city tours and transportation to the airport for internal flights. You’re told the name of your tour escort during your transfer from the first airport in China, or you find out at the first hotel if you transfer on your own (a piece of paper was slipped under the door of our hotel room). Due to the number of passengers, they stayed at either of two hotels in most of the cities. There were 3 internal flights: from Beijing to Xi’an, from Xi’an to Chongqing, and from Wuhan to Shanghai. All flights were on large Boeing or Airbus aircraft (not Russian-made aircraft), on either China Eastern airlines or on Sichuan Airlines. The flights were comfortable and ran on time. The seating configuration was typically 3-3. Not all groups flew at the same time. The tour escorts took care of getting boarding passes for you. Viking staff took care of the checked bags, both delivering them from the hotel to the airport and picking them up at the airport (and then delivering to either your hotel or to the ship). Here are the flights my group took: Flight at 7:45 am to Xi’an, 1 hour, 40 minutes long. I forget the type of plane. Flight at 2:10 pm to Chongqing, 1 hour, 15 minutes long. Airbus 320. Flight at 12:30 pm to Shanghai, 1 hour, 30 minutes long. Boeing 737. Information provided by Viking prior to departure indicated a 20 kg weight limit for a single checked bag with a single carry-on bag allowed on the internal flights within China. As the tour escort told us, the airlines are a little flexible: you could check a bag that weighed a little more (on the last flight, my bag, with souvenirs, weighed 22 kg). You could also bring 2 carry-on bags onto the flights, as long as they could fit into the overhead compartments or underneath the seat in front of you. Carry-on bags were never weighed (thank goodness)—nominally a 5 kg limit. Due to Chinese aviation rules, lithium batteries are only allowed in carry-on luggage. Lighters and matches are NOT allowed, even in checked bags. Liquids (except for prescription drugs) must be put into checked luggage; this is very different than rules in the USA. It took a long time to get the luggage after our afternoon flight to Chongqing. We arrived at 3:25 pm. We boarded the ship by 5:00 pm. We were told our luggage would be delivered to our cabins on the ship by 7:00 pm; it arrived later than that, for unknown reasons—a disappointment. This is another area of improvement for Viking. My tour escort liked to get to the airport in the morning or in the early afternoon, so that traffic was not too bad—typically it was about an hour drive to the airport, or from the airport to the next hotel or to the ship. Box lunches were provided on two of the drives to the airport (stopping in town to eat would have meant a late afternoon departure, with a possibility of a flight delay). We ate at the airport at Xi’an prior to our flight to Chongqing to go to the ship. The food was good. The hotels that Viking selected were very good. For my group, the hotels were: the Kerry Hotel in Beijing, the Hilton Xi’an, and the Westin Bund Center in Shanghai. All are 5-star hotels with staff that mostly speak and understand English. There is one time zone throughout China. So you never had to reset your watch during the trip. You are provided a quantity of 2 bottled waters per person per day on the buses for your city tours or transportation to/from an airport. With all the traffic in the cities, expect for the bus trips to take an hour or more to get to where you’re going (e.g., Forbidden City, Three Gorges Dam, hotel from airport). Typically the tour escort or local guide would give you some educational or cultural information about the city during the commute. You’re provided with a Vox box and earphone at the start of the trip. Your boxes are tuned to a pre-designated frequency for your group. The tour guide at a site you’re visiting speaks into a master unit, and you can clearly hear his or her narration while you walk around and follow your group (follow the “lollipop”, the Viking sign with your group letter). You tip the driver and the local guide typically on the last day in each city. Your tour escort will let you know if the local guide is only for that morning or afternoon. It’s better to tip in local currency (Yuan/RMB). One area of improvement for Viking Cruises is ensuring that hotels know how to contact tour escorts when problems develop. My tour escort gave my group his mobile phone number and told us his room number at each hotel. However, when I contacted the front desk to reach my escort (Jack) to get his help with a problem with my hotel room in Shanghai, they had no idea who Jack was. They told me there was no Jack in the room number I gave them (because he was registered under his Chinese name, not as Jack). They called his mobile phone for me, but couldn’t reach him. I called the room number, but there was no answer and I got a recorded message in Chinese that I couldn’t understand. I had to wait until the next morning to describe the problem to the tour escort, but he helped me sort it out with the hotel Duty Manager, and followed up to be sure the problem was taken care of. You are given opportunities to shop at state-run stores (terra cotta figurines, furniture, embroidery, tea). Using your credit card at such stores is considered safe. At other stores, they may photograph your credit card and use the information later to make an unauthorized purchase. Change money before you get to the ship, such as at one of the hotels you stay at (or from an ATM, or bring Yuan currency, aka RMB currency, from home). Currency exchange is not allowed on the ship. The Reception Desk can provide change for you, so that you can get smaller bills (Yuans). Sparkling wine (from South Africa) was served at breakfast. Beer and house wines (from Chile as I recall) were served at lunch and dinner. You could upgrade to the Silver Spirits package (for 990 RMB per person for the 5-day cruise, but both people in the room had to buy the package), and then get wine and beer throughout the day, with a bigger selection of wines, as well as cocktails. I figured out that if you got more than 2 glasses of wine a day outside of meal times, then the package saved you money. Access to Google and Google products is blocked in China (includes Google search and Gmail), as of June 3. This affected a number of the passengers, both in the cities and on the ship. Internet searches with alternate search engines, such as msn.com, would work. You could email from another kind of account (e.g., Apple mail, AOL mail) to Gmail accounts. You just couldn’t receive from your Gmail account. There was Wi-Fi on the ship; ask the staff for the password. You needed to be in the bar area, on the 5th or 6th decks to get reception. Reception was spotty at times and uneven. If you waited patiently, you could probably receive your emails or send text messages. The ship did provide an Internet café with 6 computers. Access to the Internet was more reliable through those computers. There are no refrigerators in the Category A verandah rooms on the ship. There were refrigerators on deck 5 in the suite rooms. We took advantage of laundry service on the ship. It worked well. Turn in clothes in the morning and get them back in the evening. (This was also true at all the hotels in China.) The cabin did not have universal adapter plug sockets (updated). You needed to use a travel adapter plug:  Outlet Type G (British BS-1363), Outlet Type I (Chinese CPCS-CCC), or Outlet Type A (Chinese Non-Grounded Class II). Curiously, this information was not provided in the booklet on “Itinerary & Departure Information” that Viking sent passengers before departure. The dining room attendants, the cabin steward, and the bar stewards—all Chinese—made an effort to learn your name and remember your likes and dislikes. My wife and I felt pampered. The ship’s staff was excellent. We particularly liked Program Director Terry Lei who gave informative and interesting presentations, with a little humor on the side. We loved the Minority Costume Show and the Crew Cabaret Show (the skit taking place in a men’s bathroom is unforgettable!) in the evenings. We enjoyed learning Tai Chi for our morning exercise; Master Tom demonstrated and River Guide Ben translated for us. Remember to apply for a China visa prior to your trip. I contacted Viking Cruises to find out whom they recommend (Generations Visa Service), and I contacted my travel agent to get her recommendation (A Briggs). We used Generations Visa Service, because we got a discount for doing 2 people at once (my wife and I). GenVisa has worked with Viking Cruises and had all the hotel information necessary for filling in the visa paperwork (you will have to contact either your travel agent or Viking to confirm exactly which hotels you’ll be staying in). From a passenger perspective, hand sanitation practices on the ship did not appear to be that good, compared to other cruises I have been on (both ocean and river). The hand sanitation dispensers only provided a very, very small amount of sanitizer if you put your hand underneath the device. I think some passengers just stopped trying to use the devices. We were in confined spaces at the beginning of the trip, on buses and planes. By the end of the trip, it seemed like over half the people in my group had caught a cold and cough from someone else. My wife and I both actively took preventive measures to not get sick, but to no avail. That still didn’t dampen our enthusiasm and enjoyment of the trip, though. There were shops on two of the decks on the ship. One sold typical Chinese souvenirs, including pearls and jade carvings. One was a Chinese tea shop. In another you could get a custom-made Chinese gown or shirt. Another shop featured an artist who could paint a scene or do calligraphy at your request (within reason). We ordered a scene of the Great Wall of China, with fall colors, as a memento of our trip. We liked all of the included land and shore excursions. That’s one main reason we select Viking Cruises—no extra fees and high-quality tours. The Beijing Hutongs tour via rickshaw and visit to one of the (artist) families living there was one of our favorite excursions of the trip. Another favorite was the scenic cruising on the Goddess Stream (Lesser Three Gorges). There were optional excursions: Peking opera show in Beijing (replaced by a Kung Fu show that we didn’t attend), Peking duck dinner in Beijing (recommended if you’ve never had the duck), and Tang Dynasty Dinner & Show in Xi’an (recommended). Unlike for our previous European river cruise, it appears that Viking is now providing tours during post-trip extensions in Shanghai, as well as in Guilin and Hong Kong. The Cruise DVD included photos and videos of passengers on the river cruise portion of the trip. It also included “canned” scenes from some of the optional excursions (e.g., Tang Dynasty show) from previous trips. It did not, however, include scenes from the Kung Fu show that was substituted for the Peking Opera show. The videographer just learned on this cruise that Viking had dropped the Opera show. He had no video of the Kung Fu show to put on the cruise DVD; instead, he included video of a Peking Opera show from a previous trip. The DVD DID include actual scenes from the ship passengers’ visit to the elementary school in Jingzhou on Day 10. You could purchase an alternative to the Cruise DVD package (cost of 249 RMB). You could get higher-quality images with the Blu-ray package or the USB (thumb drive) package (cost of 325 RMB). All included video, a photo disc, and a map of the trip itinerary. Although it involves a little more effort, you can save money by doing your own transfers rather than paying Viking Cruises for the transfers. In Beijing, the cost of a taxi from the Beijing airport to the Kerry Hotel was 115 RMB (about $18 US) in the late afternoon. In Shanghai, the cost of a taxi from the Westin Bund Center to the Pudong airport was 201 RMB (about $32 US) in the early morning. As I recall, Viking was charging about $60 per person for the transfers. Be sure to contact your first hotel in China and ask for the name and address of the hotel in Chinese to print out and show the taxi driver at the airport, who probably doesn’t understand much English. I found several items useful to pack for the trip. For the air pollution: lubricating eye drops (we took Thera Tears), saline nasal spray, cold medicine/antihistamine (we took Sudafed and Mucinex DM), cough drops, and a carbon-filter face mask. Other items: Kleenex (to use as emergency toilet paper; the tour escort also had Kleenex available at rest stops), antiseptic hand wipes, hand sanitizer, moisturizing hand and face lotion, lip balm, stickers (to give to small children as gifts), tea tree oil, Tide to Go stain remover pen, insect repellent, and good walking shoes. One thing we could have used occasionally was a white noise generator app on our smartphones, for sleeping at night. (We installed an app after we returned from the trip.) We did not need to use our anti-diarrheal medicine or electrolyte drink tabs (for dehydration). Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We took the Windows of the World tour which covered China & then we went on to Tibet. Tibet was by far the most enjoyable part of the trip except for the altitude sickness & the food. Great overview of China even though some of ... Read More
We took the Windows of the World tour which covered China & then we went on to Tibet. Tibet was by far the most enjoyable part of the trip except for the altitude sickness & the food. Great overview of China even though some of the trip seemed canned. Our tour guide Gao was fabulous. Extremely organized! Hotel accommodations were wonderful except in Tibet. Food & wine on the ship was great! Made some lifelong friends on this journey, our first ever river cruise. Our room was another story all together. We had a veranda room so that I could get outside & get some fresh air since the room was so cramped. The rooms are way too small, even to move around in. And, our shower leaked all over the floor every time we used it. The ship itself could use some updating. We thought the entertainment was somewhat lame. We did however enjoy the speakers. Hard to please all of us, all the time, I guess. We are going on another Viking cruise in September to Budapest, Vienna & parts of Germany. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We had an amazing but busy and somewhat exhausting (due to the high temperatures) time in Beijing and Xian and were ready to relax. We would recommend starting in Beijing and finishing in Shanghai. The ship was well equipped and the menu ... Read More
We had an amazing but busy and somewhat exhausting (due to the high temperatures) time in Beijing and Xian and were ready to relax. We would recommend starting in Beijing and finishing in Shanghai. The ship was well equipped and the menu offered a good variety. The service was relaxed and a number of waitstaff crew were new but well instructed and trained by the amazing matre di "Jay". We enjoyed how the staff genuinely took care of our needs in the dining room and loved open sitting which afforded us to meet lots of new people. The ship is leased by Viking as ownership is not allowed by the Chinese gov't. It is comparable to the other ships in Viking's fleet. The entertainment on board was very good for a river cruise. We enjoyed the ethnic dress fashion show and the amazing Peking opera style fan man! Not sure who could be contacted but Some of the stairways at the ports are in need of attention as there are no hand rails, and very slippery. Many of the passengers, of all ages, were concerned about this. The suggested tipping in the guide book is outrageous- another single fare- (far excedes ocean cruises which have many more services and amenities). Viking did a first class job with organizing the tour guides, tours and flights. The land hotels were 5 star quality.We definately saw more of China in 12 days then we could have imagined.We fully endorse this trip by Viking! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was out second Viking River cruise. A fair amount of time was spent ashore, so the entire "cruise" was not on the river. The three hotels that we stayed at were magnificent. The staff in the hotels as well as on-board the ... Read More
This was out second Viking River cruise. A fair amount of time was spent ashore, so the entire "cruise" was not on the river. The three hotels that we stayed at were magnificent. The staff in the hotels as well as on-board the boat were extremely pleasant and very helpful. A lot of time was spent on buses traveling to and from out accommodations and places we were visiting. Some of the sites we visited were physically demanding. That being said, everything we saw was beautiful and a wonderful experience. The food and service, as with our other Viking experience was excellent. If you wanted something other than what was on the menu, the staff would quickly accommodate your wishes. The cabin was comfortable. I would suggest requesting a dehumidifier when you board the boat. We did and it arrived within minutes of our request. This was not our first Viking cruise nor will it be our last, We are sold on the Viking experience. Everything from accommodations to the food, service and the ours including the guides are the best. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We visited wonderful places - in awe factor order - Forbidden City, Great Wall, Terra Cotta Soldiers, Yangtze River Gorges, school visit, Zoo/Pandas, numerous historical/cultural sites sprinkled throughout our journey. Was not impressed ... Read More
We visited wonderful places - in awe factor order - Forbidden City, Great Wall, Terra Cotta Soldiers, Yangtze River Gorges, school visit, Zoo/Pandas, numerous historical/cultural sites sprinkled throughout our journey. Was not impressed with Hu Tong visit (much construction work which appeared mostly unkempt and junky) and a demonstration of hacky sac type game nearby. Our guide, Matt, was excellent - always in tune with our group and looking out for our welfare. I am an adventurous eater and the food was excellent everywhere we went. Viking Emerald is an older ship so it was not as well appointed as others but accommodations were satisfactory none the less. The ship's crew were friendly, courteous and professional always. The Chinese people appeared friendly and always smiled. We learned to say "Hello" in Chinese and that always brought a smile and a wave and occasionally a picture with "the American visitors" especially from the kids who were just adorable. We would not hesitate to book future Viking vacations in any country offered. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We sailed on the Victoria Sophia as part of a Magic of the Yangtze trip and sailed down the river from Shanghai to Chongqing staying on the boat for 8 days. A number of tours off the boat was also included in the packaged holiday cost at ... Read More
We sailed on the Victoria Sophia as part of a Magic of the Yangtze trip and sailed down the river from Shanghai to Chongqing staying on the boat for 8 days. A number of tours off the boat was also included in the packaged holiday cost at the various places it stopped including Nanjing, Wuhan and the three Gorges. So first of all the boat which was (according to them) 5 star but I'd put it nearer 3+, the cabins were in essence all the same (except the rather expensive suites) and were of a similar size to most big Cruise ships, functional but not over spacious. All of the areas were kept very clean and the staff were excellent as was the food (mostly buffet style) provided in the restaurant. As per most ships nearly all purchases aboard were charged to your ship board account to settle at the end, the exception being the on-board artists which preferred cash for decorated jars, paintings, engraved stones etc. As part of booking early we received a $200 on board credit to our account but we couldn't use this to pay for any optional trips, on-board artist products or the mandatory service charge (staff tips) so effectively had to use the $200 just to buy drinks. To be honest for the first 3 days we were very disappointed with the scenery down the Yangtze as it's all industrialised and sailing for some 500 miles with factories either side of the river bank and being accompanied by coal barges and container ships down the river was no fun. In general most of the tours they do from the boat are quite reasonable and do show you more of rural China but the one trip I'd recommend is an optional trip to the "Tribe of the Three Gorges" which goes to a very beautiful, peaceful and picturesque area. On board the boat there weren't many activities planned during the day with the exception of some talks presented by the boat's English speaking River Guide who was quite excellent and provide us with some Chinese history as seen by the Chinese people. On some evenings the boat's staff put on various shows (Chinese costume, culture etc.) and these were all very good. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Our 21 day tour began in Bangkok and ended Cambodia at Angkor Wat. The guides and service staff were outstanding. The tours were interesting, however, they did not include a downtown tour of the city of Bangkok. It would have been much ... Read More
Our 21 day tour began in Bangkok and ended Cambodia at Angkor Wat. The guides and service staff were outstanding. The tours were interesting, however, they did not include a downtown tour of the city of Bangkok. It would have been much more interesting to see this city than do the railroad market. The tours left a lot to be desired in regard to seeing life in the larger cities. I grew up on a farm and did not need to see a pepper field or go to a brick factory. In regard to the later, this was an area that was not safe to walk around in. Industrial clutter was everywhere and easily one could have hurt themselves. The junk rides were fun but the areas to disembark were steep, wet and again very unsafe. The saving grace was the guide, Ut, who was wonderful. Viking needs to consider a more modern and up to date ship. The "cute little ship" we were on was the worst one we have taken on a river cruise. The stairs were very narrow and steep much like on a naval vessel. There were thresholds everywhere at each door. This is not a good thing when the travelers were all over 60! I tripped on one and broke my ankle while on the tour. No wheelchair was available either and no elevator! As a temporary measure I had to use an office chair with wheels to try to get around my room. I had to convince the administrator to get a wheelchair which he did for me. The lounge area for movies and spa was in the lower level of the ship with again a very steep narrow stairwell. This was very poorly supplied with old worn out furniture I would have had placed in my basement for the grand kids to jump on. I would recommend the tour but not on the current ship. Avalon had one of their ships pulled up next to us and it was a smaller version of the big Viking ships. If I had known this ship was available I would have selected them to travel with. The evening briefing was held on the sundeck with another steep and narrow naval stairwell to climb. With the broken ankle I was left with the choice of not to go or slide on my butt up each stair to the top of the ship. Don't get me wrong I have taken many tours with Viking and been very happy with them. This simply is an issue that Viking needs to correct and upgrade. The staff and the tour guide made this tour as great as it could be. Bravo for hiring and training great people! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We sailed the Ganges River after 2 weeks of a bus tour of India (Delhi, Jaipur, Agra) and a pre-trip to Kathmandu, Nepal. We were picturing a luxurious boat from the pictures of the all-suite ship in our Vantage catalog and looked forward ... Read More
We sailed the Ganges River after 2 weeks of a bus tour of India (Delhi, Jaipur, Agra) and a pre-trip to Kathmandu, Nepal. We were picturing a luxurious boat from the pictures of the all-suite ship in our Vantage catalog and looked forward to a restful sail after 2 weeks of bus riding! We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise--especially the tours of the small villages and farms along the river. It was wonderful to walk among the local people and see how they lived their daily lives. And they were as fascinated with us as we were with them! Children lined the banks of the river to wave as the sailed by. We had 3 local guides that went ashore with us who were extremely helpful and informative about the lives, the culture, the farming---they also did food, sari and henna demonstrations on board for us. The the word "luxury" does not come to mind when thinking about the sailing on the Ganges Voyager. We stayed in the Viceroy suite...(one of the larger suites) it was really beautifully decorated with ornate furniture and paintings on the walls but not nearly as large as the pictures make it seem. The extra sitting/bench area was basically wasted space as it wasn't practical and could better have been used for storage! The bed was large and comfortable and we slept well!! "Suite" is really a misnomer---it's merely a much larger cabin than you usually find aboard cruise ships. There was very little room for storage --- one small closet enough for one! (suitcases did NOT fit under the bed) There is a large desk, a bar area and a sitting area (that really was NOT comfortable) and a small table and chairs. The bathroom was much larger than those in a regular cabin. The lounge area indoors and outdoors was filled with ornate furniture and pillows. Lectures and movies were held in the indoor lounge and bar area. The outdoor area was perfect for reading and just sitting and viewing as we sailed the Ganges. The dining room was small but sufficient for our small group (our group of about 40 were the only ones onboard). Breakfast and lunch consisted of hot and cold offerings with a good variety of Indian and American foods. Dinners were not so good as the choices were limited--ordering beef or pork was definitely a mistake as it was using vary tough. Sauces seemed to lack flavor. The small wait staff was inexperienced and frequently mixed up orders. Our country boat that served as a tender to shore was an OLD wooden boat in need of a good paint job, with an unsteady wooden ladder that mostly 'seniors' needed to climb down to get into the tender each time and a bamboo gangplank to walk to shore. It certainly added a touch of 'quaintness' to the experience (and we didn't lose anybody overboard !!) The biggest problem aboard our cruise was the illness that spread rapidly once we were onboard. We had been together for 2 weeks before boarding the ship and although a few of our group had been ill with a 24 'thing'--more than half of the group became VERY sick once we set sail and several people NEVER were able to take even one excursion off the ship. Hopefully the many letters our group sent to the main Vantage office in Boston has resulted in some changes and has reached the Haimark staff. Some type of "noro" illness definitely was onboard our journey although Vantage and the Haimark personnel refused to accept this. We believe that lack of the sanitary conditions in handling waste was the reason for the rapid spread of illness. My only advice (as one who did not get sick on board) is bring lots of sanitizer, Wash your hands! Wash your hands! Wash your hands! (ALSO remember you CANNOT drink the water!!) We carried small bottles of sanitizer in every pocket and handi-wipes. We used them constantly after touching handrails and doorknobs. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015

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