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24 Asia River Cruise Reviews

While this trip also includes multiple land transfers and exploration of several cities, I'll focus on the cruise portion. Most importantly, it is deceptive call the Emerald a Viking ship because apparently they don't own it - ... Read More
While this trip also includes multiple land transfers and exploration of several cities, I'll focus on the cruise portion. Most importantly, it is deceptive call the Emerald a Viking ship because apparently they don't own it - they most certainly didn't build it. The moment you step on board you will know it is not up to Viking standards. The ship is tired and shabby, at best. While the Viking staff does everything possible to enhance your experience, the boat is not what we were looking forward to especially after some hard land travel for a week before. Immediately upon entering our stateroom we saw something brown all over one of the walls and a great deal of mold on one of the bedside lampshades...the room was so awful I just started to cry. The housekeeping staff were there right away and were incredibly gracious and brought a new lampshade and cleaned the wall, but the mood was set. The bathrooms are dark, poorly ventilated and have yucky plastic showers. The rooms are never quite dry given the high humidity along the river so your sheets and towels always feel a bit damp. There is definitely an air quality issue and I couldn't help but lie in bed and imagine the mold that is probably in the ventilation system. We did ask for an additional air unit which was cheerfully provided and that helped a bit, but I can't imagine the dampness in rooms without it - it was a comment we heard very often while onboard. All of that said, once we settled in the boat was comfortable enough. As always, the Viking staff are amazing and really do try to make up for what is lacking in the ship itself. The food was quite good and the dining service was fine. They have a number of excellent bartenders and we never had trouble finding a quiet space or room to hang out with others from our group. The Yangtze experience itself is ok. Some of the scenery through the gorges is obviously amazing, but the river is VERY polluted and for a good deal of the trip you can hear all the rubbish hitting the ship. The excursions are not the best, but I don't know that there are any better options for Viking to choose from. All in all it would have been fine if this was a lower end company, but it was not acceptable from Viking. Given that the rest of the tour includes much air travel and many hours on buses, it was everyone's goal to get to the ship and enjoy a bit of luxury...unfortunately that just wasn't our experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We wished to visit China and this was river cruise was 6 days out of 15 days total. The river cruise was o.k., the dining and meals on the Viking Emerald were surprisingly good and service was good. Our standard room and bathroom were ... Read More
We wished to visit China and this was river cruise was 6 days out of 15 days total. The river cruise was o.k., the dining and meals on the Viking Emerald were surprisingly good and service was good. Our standard room and bathroom were very tight, I recommend upgrading the room. The Yangtze River is not very scenic, much of the cruise time was rather bland and the facilities at several of the cities we docked at were very ramshackle. The land portion of the tour was very good, we were taken to the Great Wall and to the Terra Cotta Warriors and other important sights. It was unfortunate that the tour had to include three airline flights within China, although flight time for each was only a couple of hours the trips to and from the airports, and going through security, etc. effectively killed the entire day, so 3 days out of 15 were sacrificed to the airline travel. But if you do not do that you will fail to see important sights in this very large country. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Unfortunately we did not have have a choice of ships. The tour company used both Century and Victory cruise ships. We were on a 3 night 4 day cruise down the Yangtze River. As we left our bus we walked a long distance from parking ... Read More
Unfortunately we did not have have a choice of ships. The tour company used both Century and Victory cruise ships. We were on a 3 night 4 day cruise down the Yangtze River. As we left our bus we walked a long distance from parking lot to pier which we were told was shared by dinner boat cruises. We stared down at approximately 200 steps with no hand rails to pier. As we approached boat the pier was a floating mass of small metal platforms held together with chain hand rails. Luckily we did not have to handle our luggage instead we watched men carry 4 pieces of luggage on their shoulders on bamboo poles down steps to boat. Embarkation was slow at best our tour leader did all the arrangements as we patiently waited in the ships dining room. Arriving on ship ... surprisingly was quite modern and our cabin which we upgraded was clean with a walk out balcony with 2 chairs on promenade deck. Dining was in a private dining room which we shared with groups from Smithsonian and Globus. Chinese tourists had their own dining room and menu. Our tours were interesting but we unfortunately did not go on the evening tour which we heard was spectacular. Instead we enjoyed the city/ countryside light show w/ fireworks on the top deck of ship. Leaving ship was much better the port had a lift which transported our group to the bus. The only major complaint was the dirty curtains in our room they were suppose to be white but instead gray. Other than that room was quite clean! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
This cruise was part of a 15 day tour of China with a luxury tour company. The accommodations on this ship were by far the worst of the tour. I have been on several river cruises in Europe and the Yangzi Explorer simply fails every ... Read More
This cruise was part of a 15 day tour of China with a luxury tour company. The accommodations on this ship were by far the worst of the tour. I have been on several river cruises in Europe and the Yangzi Explorer simply fails every comparison test. My room was dirty and stunk of Urine. There were mosquitos and flies everywhere. No screens on the windows. A/C did not work well at all. WiFi was a joke. Management seemed not to care and just gave excuses. The bar on deck six is nice, but the staff needs to be trained better in making cocktails. Service in the bar was friendly but staff seemed overwhelmed if the request was anything that varied off of the mundane. The resturant was nice and the food was good. Breakfasts were excellent with lots of variety. The cruise itinterary was okay. The guide on the boat who commented on what we were seeing was annoying. Talked constantly about nothing at all. If you have been to Norway or New Zealand, the scenery in the Three Gorges will not impress that much. It is pretty and others on the trip found it amazing. I was constantly saddened by the amount of trash I saw floating down the river. As this cruise is often part of larger itineraries, many visitors to China will end up on this boat. If someone had the choice of taking this cruise or not on a visit to China, I would probably say "Don't Bother". The spa is mediocre at best. I booked three treatments. Cancelled the third after the underwhelming experience with the first two. Since this is supposed to be the nicest boat on the river, I do wonder what the others are like. I am also shocked that Sanctuary considers this boat to meet its standards. There is also NO WAY this boat was refurbished in 2017. If it was, Sanctuary needs to complain to the company that did the refurbishment. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Great itinerary to see China (Beijing/Great Wall; Xian/Terra Cotta Warriors; Yangtze River/3 Gorges Dam & sights) and land portion of tour with excellent guides and 5 star hotels was really outstanding. However, the Viking Ship Emerald ... Read More
Great itinerary to see China (Beijing/Great Wall; Xian/Terra Cotta Warriors; Yangtze River/3 Gorges Dam & sights) and land portion of tour with excellent guides and 5 star hotels was really outstanding. However, the Viking Ship Emerald (actually a Chinese ship with all Viking passengers) was damp and musty with below average service. Humidifiers in hallways should have given us our first clue as to serious problems with the ship. We asked for room humidifier and air filter fans and the crew provided these immediately. Dining room service was unusual for a cruise -- couples had to share menus at dinner and at lunch only one menu per table was provide for 8 people (does Viking have a strange cost cutting effort going on?) -- and wait service was impatient and wanted you to order quickly. My onboard credit was denied and I was curtly asked to prove that I had it. Luckily I had a cruise reservation form that had a Viking logo on it so they could finally give us our $250 credit. We has a suite but no one told us that laundry was free -- the Viking documentation was generic and said we had to pay. All other cruises we have taken have a paper in the room which tells of perks that come with the room. Embarkation to ship at Chongqing was a true disaster, extremely unsafe and must be fixed by Viking. From busses we had to descend many crumbling concrete stairs with no railings dragging our carry on luggage by ourselves with absolutely no help from Viking staff of 10-15 standing by watching us struggle to help each other down the wet and muddy stairs. When we complained the Viking staff said China did not allow the Viking ship staff to help us; however, someone delivered our large luggage from the airport to the ship down those same stairs. The ship is supposed to be refurbished in Dec 2018 so that may help appearance, but probably not service. I give this cruise 3 stars because the guides were terrific (ours was Joshua); tours very good (lots of steps -- not easy, but outstanding); the hotels were 5 star plus; and the itinerary outstanding. I also hope that Viking can fix the embarkation disaster (should be easy fix) and the ship is being refurbished. We hope Viking could train the crew to European standards and print a few more menus. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was part of a multi centre trip to China. It was a 6 night cruise down the Yangtze River. Staff, food and excursions were exceptional. However, the boat has a very serious problem with damp/ excessive humidity. We were advised to ask ... Read More
This was part of a multi centre trip to China. It was a 6 night cruise down the Yangtze River. Staff, food and excursions were exceptional. However, the boat has a very serious problem with damp/ excessive humidity. We were advised to ask for dehumidifiers in our cabin when we first arrived. These were provided but made little difference to the dampness overall. Our clothes and bedding were always cold from the damp. The linen in the dining room was damp also. When we arrived at our next destination, I had to take all our clothes out of the suitcases to air them as they were damp! When we returned I advised Viking of my concerns and was informed that the Yangtze River was experiencing high humidity at that time! It is interesting to note that other travellers on this ship sailing at different times were also told the same! Some cabins were definitely worse than others with this problem. I expressed my concerns that if travellers had any respiratory problems, there could be serious repercussions. It is also worth noting that wewere offered £500 off the next trip. This boat is leased to Viking from the Chinese and therefore Viking are unable to rectify this problem themselves. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose this cruise because we had cruised with Viking before and had a lovely experience. Also, we wanted to visit China and see the highlights. Unfortunately this trip did not live up to our expectations. The food on the land portion ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had cruised with Viking before and had a lovely experience. Also, we wanted to visit China and see the highlights. Unfortunately this trip did not live up to our expectations. The food on the land portion of the trip was very poor. Many of the lunches and dinners were buffets or tables of 10 with a lazy susan in the middle. Food was often cold and not very good. the buffet breakfasts in the hotels were fairly good, as was the food on the ship. Another issue was the pollution that existed everywhere we went in China. A mask was definitely in order. Our visit to the Terracotta Army was the best excursion on the tour. We visited the Great Wall, but unfortunately the weather gave us drizzle and fog, so the visibility was horrible - probably about feet. The hotels we stayed at in Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai were excellent. They were the highlight of the trip. In Shanghai we attended an acrobatic show that was marvelous. There were some other excursions that were not so good - a visit to a Jade factory was just a stop so that we were captive in their shops, and the buffet lunch there was horrible. A rickshaw ride in Beijing was the other activity that was fun, although the portion where we went inside a woman's home was not needed. To get on the boat we had to walk a fair distance on a dock in the water as the boat did not dock at the shore. There were 3 flights within China during this trip. You really didn't get a feel of the land in China. Possibly going by rail between the cities would be a better choice. Our guide was a lovely gentleman who did the most to make a good tour for us all. Also the crew on the ship was very good. Overall this trip was not worth the amount of money we paid. i think Viking is doing itself a disservice by offering this trip. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We chose this cruise because we had already done a Uniworld cruise in Europe and thought it may deliver the same standards. It didn't. The ship is OK. It's nothing special. The cabin (Heritage Suite) was OK. The food was OK but ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had already done a Uniworld cruise in Europe and thought it may deliver the same standards. It didn't. The ship is OK. It's nothing special. The cabin (Heritage Suite) was OK. The food was OK but the complimentary Indian wines were below par. The entertainment was good. The ships crew were very good. Almost every time you turned a corner there was one of the ship's crew with a hand sanitiser. It didn't help. Of the 22 passengers all but 4 were sick for at least a day. Some 3 days. It certainly takes the shine off the enjoyment of the voyage. The crew tried very hard to make an uncomfortable situation more enjoyable. Overall I was disappointed with the cruise. Apart from an inspiring visit to Mother Teresa's Orphanage and possibly the Hari Krishna's (currently under construction) Temple there is not a lot to see along the Ganges. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Luxury is a subjective word as is the definition 5 stars. Scenic is constantly reviewed as a 5 star product and because of this and the 5 star rating and luxury spruiked by Scenic in its tour advertising and brochures that we selected ... Read More
Luxury is a subjective word as is the definition 5 stars. Scenic is constantly reviewed as a 5 star product and because of this and the 5 star rating and luxury spruiked by Scenic in its tour advertising and brochures that we selected the Scenic Spirit from Vietnam to Cambodia. In my opinion some simple truths, grey threadbare towels are not luxury or even 5 star. We needed to asked the room service teams twice to fix the mould in the shower (soap holder cavity and where two walls joined) and exposed electrical wiring around the light in the shower area. 1* removed for mould and old thread bare grey towels, face clothes and hand towels. 1 * removed as the advertised L'Occitane products not available and they now use a local lemon grass product. So you have lemon grass scented, soap, shampoo, conditioner body lotion. I for one don’t particularly like the smell of lemongrass. Walk in wardrobe door stuck open with the sensor light stuck on for hours and hours – 1/2/ * So, far we have lost 2.5 stars and we have not left the main room. Food: To me “world class meals” are something that I can’t cook at home or a far better than anything I can cook. The breakfast and lunch is a buffet where the staff did everything for you it was a great effort – luxury no, world class meals no. Think a very small carving area fit only with chick/duck/beef and the rest was salads and other warming dishes and an egg station during the breakfast. Scenic advertise world class meals, No meal was a truly world class from start to finish. You often waited with no reason given and just when you thought you should go something would turn up. Despite the standard of the meals the Cambodian and Vietnam staff were excellent. So the good bits… Whilst the food was average the variety was good. The cabin size, beds and air conditioning were great. Crew – The Cambodian and Vietnamese staff for the most part were excellent. The tours etc for the most part were well arranged and managed. In some ways they were a little repetitive. Scenic have a simple philosophy if you are not at the meeting point on time then you have decided not to do the tour. On board it is inclusive of everything except the spa and a better wine list. Not so good… The daily briefings were more a ramble than a briefing. You will need to get used to the term “Happy House” (bathroom/toilet) which seemed to figure into every tour briefing and off boat visit, boat rides, bus rides, cart rides. The guide often just pointed out Happy Houses when we were walking and emphasised that it wasn’t a Scenic 5 star Happy House. Most times whilst the briefing went into every detail of the next day it did not actually mention times and places to meet. The briefing talks were then repeated during the actual tours. The embarkation process was poor, we were advised to meet at the Park Hyatt at 08:30 to hand over passports and luggage, then come back at 10:00 then to be told to come back at midday. You can easily and clearly hear the people in the next cabin, especially in the bathroom. Food was okay. Nothing special and nothing to rave about. The guides could do far more to protect its guests from the local street hawkers who follow you and slightly hassle you to buy. The food was very Western and could use some more Asian influence. The included wine and drinks list is large but not particularly great, Scenic could do better with a less is more philosophy, with a small list but better wines. I suppose the question is does Scenic do it better or worse than any other river cruise company on the Mekong. Speaking with many repeat customers of Scenic on this cruise it does sound like it’s a very different experience to Europe and South America. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
A Myanmar travel agent booked the cruise for us. The cruise was booked to start in Mandalay,(a place worth exploring at least for two days). The ticket voucher indicated a jetty for embarkation which is actually in Sagaing, a town across ... Read More
A Myanmar travel agent booked the cruise for us. The cruise was booked to start in Mandalay,(a place worth exploring at least for two days). The ticket voucher indicated a jetty for embarkation which is actually in Sagaing, a town across the river, all the while pretending that the trip would start in Mandalay. It also recommended the Tint Tint website for further information. This website indicates a jetty in Mandalay as embarkation point for this particular cruise. This is also the information that our travel agent had obtained from Tint Tint company. We noted the contradiction two days before departure. Since the "contact" web form of Tint Tint was inoperative, I wrote them by email, asking them for clarification. They never answered me. Had our Mandalay hotel not called them on the phone, we would never have known which was the embarkation point. It was, in fact, in Sagaing, thus in a different town from what we had booked. Our travel agent apologized for the mistake. Tint Tint company never corrected it. To this day, their website (http://www.tinttintmyanmarcruise.com/mandalay-to-bagan-2-nights-3-days-ip/) gives you wrong information on this item. The ship is relatively small. Cabins are sufficient. Meals are rather repetitive. Service was friendly. Entertainment on board and shore excursions were interesting and well guided. The landscape on this stretch of the Irrawaddy is relatively boring. On its website, Tint Tint Co. thinks that "Once you experience our fast and personal service, we know you will want to continue booking us for you and your clients!" One may recommend an Irrawaddy cruise; but be sure to choose a different company. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Interesting and exciting itinerary or so I thought. First full day in Yangon scenic free choice all customers were on one trip (no antiques market or arts or crafts tours) only trip to village not to my taste going round market which was ... Read More
Interesting and exciting itinerary or so I thought. First full day in Yangon scenic free choice all customers were on one trip (no antiques market or arts or crafts tours) only trip to village not to my taste going round market which was smelly with flies crawling over meat and fish.ferry crossing alright. Hotel in Yangon was very good. Full day to ship .packed lunch inedible. Ship staff were very pleasant.food was very good.cabin outside window were dirty and were never cleaned . Mini bar requested vodka and brandy had none refilled used gin bottles.no suitable Area for onboard entertainment although everybody did their best( dinning room and pool which had no space). As the boat was not full had ten travel agents on board who tended to take over areas where pool where there is not much room. Do not mind some non paying Guests but not that number . Trips. Too much triggering my social conscience first village abject poverty and people Taking pictures of their poverty made me extremely uncomfortable.next village walking through mud and more poverty. Too many visits to fruit and meat markets four. Some excellent trips Mou t pops spectacular, teak bridge from small boats and champagneWonderfull. Temples and stupas worth seeing This trip should have been atrip of a lifetime but some the trips fell flat and the boat missing Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We boarded the Victoria Anna for what was supposed to be a "5 day 4 night" cruise. I think that needs to be corrected to a "4 day 4 night cruise" How day 1 can be counted as boarding at 9pm with no dinner supplied is ... Read More
We boarded the Victoria Anna for what was supposed to be a "5 day 4 night" cruise. I think that needs to be corrected to a "4 day 4 night cruise" How day 1 can be counted as boarding at 9pm with no dinner supplied is beyond me!!!! Cabins were just ok, very small but sufficient. When you get on you are hit with opportunities to upgrade your cabin and your dining option. We decided to upgrade our dining option, as the main dining room wasn't that large and sharing it with 350 odd people fighting with a buffet style, compared to upstairs with 50-60 and a peaceful meal was to good to pass up. We were very glad we spent the extra 200 yuan pp. The biggest problem with this cruise is the lack of activities. If you were not on a shore excursion there is literally NOTHING to do on board. The TV is all in Chinese with Chinese sub titles, there is nowhere to get a coffee or morning/afternoon tea, just nothing except sitting in your cabin or lounge. At one port we were very clearly advised that we were not permitted off the ship if we were not going on an excursion. It was made over the PA system numerous times, due to some Chinese law (which was fine and we understood) However, at the next port, my daughter and I spent 3.5 hours in our cabin with absolutely NOTHING to do, while an excursion took place. After talking to some of our group they asked if they were permitted to go ashore and they were told yes providing they go 1 hour after the tour departure and were back at the same time. When I found this out I was furious, as we had just wasted a whole afternoon bored to death in our cabin, when we could have gone for a lovely walk and for some afternoon tea. When I approached "Marion" the cruise director, and asked why it wasn't announced that we could go, I was told "because we have to pay a tax per person that goes ashore". When I said I was very upset at having wasted a whole afternoon, she shrugged her shoulders and walked away. Food is great but only at dining times. So there is no food available on board at other times. 2/4 days we ate lunch at 12 and had nothing else to eat until 7pm dinner. We had to resort to taking pastries and cakes after lunch to have later in the day. Getting off the ship was also an experience.We had to walk along a pontoon of about 1 k then up 100 steps (yes we counted) and then a further walk to our bus. All I can say is thank goodness we only had to carry our carry on luggage. If you are going on this cruise with high expectations, it is not the cruise for you. Very much a river cruise on a budget, and no services for people with any physical disabilities. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We accompanied friends on what we thought would be an amazing journey through the Three Gorges area of the Yangtze River. Overall the trip was "OK" but did leave a bit to be desired. The Victoria Anna is old an tired and must ... Read More
We accompanied friends on what we thought would be an amazing journey through the Three Gorges area of the Yangtze River. Overall the trip was "OK" but did leave a bit to be desired. The Victoria Anna is old an tired and must have been through many refurbishments in it's time. Originaly we had opted for a standard cabin but one look at this saw us quickly fork out $1000 to upgrade to a suite!!! The suite was spacious and well appointed but, as with the rest of the ship, tired and dated. Despite numerous complaints about the air conditioning not working the temperature in our suite remained too hot for the duration of our voyage. We suspect that it was actually an economy measure and that they didn't want to turn on the air conditioning plant for a few "picky" westerners! Embarkation and disembarkation was through slums and construction sites over rickety pontoons. We had to stand waiting on one of these pontoons with our baggage for 30 minutes or more as the company had changed the access time without letting our tour company know. The baggage porters were local "coolies" who tied rope to the handles of our expensive luggage and then toted them with a bamboo pole much to our protestations at the time. The passenger mix was predominantly Chinese with a few Americans and us. We were persuaded to upgrade to the al a carte didning room for $100 and I quote "so we wont have to mix with the Chinese in the buffet" end quote. The food was terrible and possibly some of the worst we have come across. The breakfast buffet was tolerable but lunch and dinner, especially dinner, were almost inedible. The staff were very friendly and helpfull with the exception of the reception staff who's goal in life was to try and upsell services at every possible opportunity. There was nightly entertainment of reasonable quality and the bar area and drink service were quite good. There were daily information sessions conducted by Andy who was the shining star of the staff on the Victoria Anna. The daily morning tours were outrageously expensive for Chine and, consequently, were almost empty. The free afternoon tours were better attended and generally interesting with the exception of one bizarre excursion which took us some distance up a tributary to a plastic pontoon area to be serenaded by a group of Chinese tour guides singing what sounded like Chinese "pop" songs. We disembarked at a town near the Three Gorges Dam and transferred to another boat to be taken through the dam on the new "ship elevator" which was an exciting and interesting experience. We were subsequently put on a bus and taken for a very brief and abridged tour of the Three Gorges Dam area with a very interesting and funny guide who played the harmonica for our bemused entertainment. Was it an unusual and different experience that we enjoyed to some degree - yes. Would we do it again - no way! Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
This week-long river Ganges cruise was the second half of an APT holiday in India. The first week was an excellent land tour covering Delhi, Agra (for the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur, staying in top class hotels. We then flew to Kolkata and ... Read More
This week-long river Ganges cruise was the second half of an APT holiday in India. The first week was an excellent land tour covering Delhi, Agra (for the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur, staying in top class hotels. We then flew to Kolkata and embarked on the Ganges Voyager. This boat was described in our tour brochure as "the most luxurious vessel of its kind in India". Whilst we found it quite pleasant, we would not describe it as "luxurious". Details: 1) Our cabin (Signature grade on the main deck) was spacious with a very large comfortable bed; a French balcony and two armchairs in front of it. Attractive décor. Always kept immaculate by our excellent stewards. Ample bottled water, constantly replenished. Main downside: very little storage space for clothes. After a week on the move we were all looking forward to unpacking properly and hanging clothes up for the week on board but there was very limited hanging space and just a few small drawers. TV had in-house programmes only, no connection to e.g. satellite news channels. No Wi-Fi in cabin. Bathroom was also roomy but again, short of storage space - very little shelf space. Used toilet paper had to be placed in a bin as the flushing system could not cope with it - not what one would expect on a "luxurious" vessel. 2) The dining room was not particularly attractive, with just two rather dull pictures. Food was generally good but not exceptional. There were no hot plates for keeping buffet dishes warm, consequently food was often not very hot. Waiting staff all very pleasant and willing but not trained to good hotel standards. Main complaint about the dining room: it is directly above the engine and, when the boat was sailing, it was extremely noisy, difficult to make conversation and not very relaxing. On the day of a cookery demonstration we were asked to bring our Vox listening devices (used for shore excursions) so we could hear the chef - an indication of the noise level. 3) Entertainment / activities: about what we expected on a small boat; some attractive local dance shows but not a great deal else - but then people don't expect a big range of activities on this sort of cruise, so no complaints. 4) Service: all staff we came into contact with were very friendly, willing and helpful. A special mention for the crew of the tender taking us ashore each day - they always took special care of us. Some people found the steps on the tender (almost a ladder) a bit difficult but this is not a complaint as we were told before booking that a certain level of fitness was required for this trip. 5) Ports and shore excursions: generally a good variety. I especially enjoyed the walk around a rural village and would have liked more such experiences. I would also have liked the chance to browse around local shops and markets, not just the showrooms aimed at the tourist . Our tour director (who was with us for the first week's land tour as well as the boat) was excellent: not only extremely knowledgeable but also very entertaining in his delivery. 6) The ship in general: pleasant enough but not particularly impressive in décor. (We were on La Marguerite on the Mekong two years, with Travel Marvel, the cheaper branch of APT and we thought that boat was much more attractive, with superb food and beautifully dressed staff.) The sundeck was comfortable but the lounge somehow lacked atmosphere. Very few people bothered to gather there in the evenings after dinner. Unfortunately the main problem during the week was illness. There were 16 in our tour group (8 British, 8 Australian). Nobody had been ill during the first week on the land tour, but, within a couple of days of joining the boat, people were becoming ill with vomiting and diarrhoea. 13 of the 16 in our group got it, some just for 24 hours but others for up to four days, some quite seriously ill. It was a similar proportion in the other group on board. I can't speak for absolutely everyone but I know that we and our friends never drank the tap water and we were scrupulous about hand-washing and sanitising - but to no avail. It is possible there are issues that need to be addressed here. Despite the illness and the lack of "luxury" this was nevertheless an enjoyable trip and I would recommend it to others. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
This was our first river cruise. We are avid ocean cruisers and have done 55 cruises to date. We have been many times to Shanghai and a couple of times to Beijing over the years. We wanted to see more of China, as it is a vast country that ... Read More
This was our first river cruise. We are avid ocean cruisers and have done 55 cruises to date. We have been many times to Shanghai and a couple of times to Beijing over the years. We wanted to see more of China, as it is a vast country that can only be seen by visiting inland. We decided on Viking Cruises because it is a brand that we had heard a lot about. The Viking customer service we received in the UK was professional and responsive. The booking process was very easy. All the details regarding the cruise and obtaining the Chinese visa was sent on time. However, the information we received before booking the cruise was ambiguous and unclear. >> After we received our booklet with the summary itinerary, we realised that Viking do not provide any meals on the first day of the package >> As we had international baggage allowances, I enquired before we left about the lower luggage weights on the Chinese internal flights but Viking did not advise us that it would not be a problem with the weights because of group check in. As a result we took limited warm clothes. The weather was very cold in Beijing. >> We did not realise that the ship we would be cruising on was not a Viking ship. Viking use a Chinese ship that changed it's name back to the Chinese name 'Century...' on our disembarkation day. There was a sister ship in one of the ports. >> Viking do not explain that the only almost 4* experience that we would receive for the entire 12 nights related to the 5 days whilst we were onboard the ship and not to the land portion of our holiday. I have described the ship as 'almost' 4* because the ship is possibly only a 3* ship. When we boarded the ship in Wuhan, after 2 nights in Shanghai, we were greeted with a warm welcome stating that this was the start of our holiday and when we left after 5 days cruising, we were waved good bye with a message that this was the end of our holiday Viking Century Emerald - The Good & The Bad >> We had to change our cabin at 1:30 am because there was a rattling sound from the balcony and the water discharge plug was moving up and down making a din. >> The staterooms and the entire ship are faded and need complete renovation. It is brown and old. >> The food was alright but nothing to shout about. >> Beer wine and soft drinks are only offered at lunch and dinner >> The Chinese cultural entertainment by the crew was very good, considering that they are not professional. >> The management staff were always willing to listen and were helpful. >> Our cabin steward was non existent and we had to request amenities to be replenished. >> The ship's air conditioner did not work. It was cold at the bottom and stifelingly hot on the upper floors. It was like a sauna in the gym and internet room. >> The internet, although free was unavailable during most of the cruise. Pre and Post Cruise Hotels - Mixed Quality Pre cruise, we stayed in The Westin Bund Center, Shanghai for 2 days. The room we were allocated was on the 5th Floor and needed refurbishment. >> The carpet and chair needed to be changed. >> The air conditioner did not work both days and there was a problem with the automatic night lights behind a glass panel that kept going on and off every now and again during the first night. An engineer disabled the lights >> The breakfast in the main dining room was probably the best that we had on our entire trip. There was a fantastic variety of Chinese and Western food in the buffet. >> Viking had arranged 1 night's dinner in the hotel and it was described as an Italian buffet dinner. This was very poor. There were a couple of hot dishes with soup and pizza, pasta and sandwiches. Post cruise, we stayed in The Hilton, Xi'an and The Ritz Carlton Financial Street, Beijing >> The Hilton room was probably the best one that we stayed in on this trip. >> At the Ritz Carlton, we had to move out of the room we were allotted on the 3rd Floor because the carpet was badly stained and looked dirty. The management were extremely helpful and we were moved immediately to the 10th Floor Throughout our stay we were treated with courtesy and made to feel very welcome. The last day, Viking arranged for us to have dinner in the main restaurant and this was good. Tour Guide - Excellent Our Tour Guide, Bob was very knowledgeable and dedicated to us. He knew his job inside and out and took care of every detail of our trip. Everything flowed seamlessly and we had great admiration for his enthusiasm, stamina and how he managed the group. Tours - All tours were well organised and coaches turned up on time to take us to places of interest. Local guides spoke good English and were knowledgeable. The optional tour in Xian (Tang Dynasty Performance + Dinner) which we paid for additionally was good. Food & Drinks - Very Poor Viking had arranged lunch and dinner in local restaurants or in factories in Shanghai, Xi'an and Beijing. The food was always the same either Chinese types offered on individual tables with 'lazy susans' in local restaurants or in buffets in the jade or carpet factories. The food was monotonous and usually lukewarm at best. We stopped going for the group meals in Beijing. We were only allowed 1 drink in a glass : a beer, water or soft drink, no wine. I don't drink beer or soft carbonated drinks, so I had water throughout the land portion in local restaurants. Internal Flights - Very Disruptive Only 1 of our 3 flights was on time. We had delays on 2 flights - from Shanghai to Wuhan where we missed a tour because we arrived too late and had to go straight to join the ship; and from Xi'an to Beijing, when the flight was cancelled and our guide had to get later flights. We were delayed by 4 hours and had a dreadful Chinese lunch at the airport in a set aside area. Conclusion China is a very complex and fascinating country. We learnt a lot about China's history, culture and people but we found the whole itinerary disjointed. We felt that we wasted 2 of our 12 days holiday sitting in airports. Although it is described as a Viking Cruise it really is a land tour with a small cruise thrown in the middle. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
This was a 12 day cruise tour that began in Shanghai and ended in Beijing, with a 5 night cruise on the Yangtze in the middle. The arrangements were very smooth, including intra-China flights. The ship appeared to be old but refurbished. ... Read More
This was a 12 day cruise tour that began in Shanghai and ended in Beijing, with a 5 night cruise on the Yangtze in the middle. The arrangements were very smooth, including intra-China flights. The ship appeared to be old but refurbished. The service was very friendly and very attentive. The food on board was excellent, with a mix of Western and Chinese foods. There were several informative lectures about the sights we'd be visiting and about China itself. The entertainment was China-themed, performed by the crew who had other jobs on board. The public areas were beautiful. The cabins were small size, compered to an ocean liner, but all the cabins had verandas, which was great for viewing the 3 Gorges and the locks of the dam. There was often a lot of walking involved to get from the ship to either the bus or the sight itself. In fact this whole trip involved a lot of walking, sometimes up very long staircases. The whole experience was let down by the return flight by Air China, has a frequent flyer (20 flights this year ) It was like going back 30 years. Why did we leave from T3 and arrive back in T2? I tried to change it but Viking didn't wont to know! I wont be going with viking again. Virgin say they are an equal partner there not. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I had read very good reviews about this boat but found I was a little disappointed. It could possibly be that we went at the wrong time of year as the Mekong was very low and getting on and off the boat was an ordeal at times. The crew ... Read More
I had read very good reviews about this boat but found I was a little disappointed. It could possibly be that we went at the wrong time of year as the Mekong was very low and getting on and off the boat was an ordeal at times. The crew had to dig out steps in the muddy banks or put cardboard on the damp mud (an accident waiting to happen, gladly I didn't hear of anyone having one). During one excursion we had to disembark from the boat into a sampan and then up a very steep path to shore where unfortunately I pulled a muscle in my calf and was unable to walk. I remained on the sampan until the excursion finished and we returned to the boat. When I mentioned this to the hotel manager she promptly got me an elastic bandage and arranged for me to have a massage at the ships expense, which greatly helped but I was unable to join any excursions the following day. In the brochure free drinks and cocktails were advertised but unfortunately the cocktails were only available on special occasions (Captains Dinner, New Years Eve and final Good bye dinner). The cabins offer a balcony but none of the cabins had one, there was a door which opened onto a shelf which housed the air conditioning unit - there was no room to even get outside. The cabins were extremely dark and the lights had to be on all the time in order for you see around ok. The restaurant catered for all tastes and the staff were always extremely pleasant. The most disappointing for us was that there was no entertainment/quiz/lecture etc after dinner so most people just went to bed out of boredom. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
The mechanics of the trip were good - everything was well planned out and the hotels that we had were great. We had a wonderful guide in Tingting. That being said, China was a bit of a disappointment due to the massive upgrading to ... Read More
The mechanics of the trip were good - everything was well planned out and the hotels that we had were great. We had a wonderful guide in Tingting. That being said, China was a bit of a disappointment due to the massive upgrading to "new" and the loss of the "old" China. They were a few really great sites and a lot of blah! Our room on the Viking Emerald was too hot and we couldn't control the heat at all. Others told us their room was too cold. We also thought too much time was spent trying to sell us stuff and too much time was spent at places that were designed to get us to buy. We would have rather been given the option of seeing other sites vs. just waiting around looking at stuff we had no intention of buying, Non-chinese food was excellent - didn't like the lazy susan meals (more of a personal choice). One of the worst parts of the cruise and land package was the air and water pollution - we luckiy just missed the red alert in Beijing - but the pollution was evident everwhere. Its pretty bad when you can't see more that a couple hundred meters before all was grey. Everyone on the cruise seemed to be coughing or was sick. Compared the Russian Viking Cruise - this cruise had a lot to be desired. China also needs to clean up its act in regards to the pollution. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This trip was well worth the money and effort. Having in mind before we left that China would be a whole new and different experience from that we had done before our expectations were met. The Hotel accommodation in Shanghai was excellent ... Read More
This trip was well worth the money and effort. Having in mind before we left that China would be a whole new and different experience from that we had done before our expectations were met. The Hotel accommodation in Shanghai was excellent as were the Xi'an and Beijing Hotels. The river cruise took a while to get started. The first two days were slow but the excursion to the school was excellent. The children are an absolute pleasure and as it was school holidays full marks to them for turning out and entertaining us. The trips through the gorges lived up to expectations as did the visit to see the Pandas and what was the crowning glory of the hoilday for me, the Terracotta Warriers. Then we arrived in Beijing to visit the Wall and the Forbidden City. Timing at these venues was bad. The Wall visit in my mind was not at all enjoyable because of the huge crowds. This wasn't at the advertised site where we were told there was a walk of about a mile, but at a Cable Car site where everybody chose to go including thousands of Chinese tourists. It was estimated that some 200,000 would visit during the day. Our time on the wall was spent clinging for dear life to the hand rails as the wall was so steep and crowded. It was impossible to soak up the moment. The visit to the Forbidden City also was extremely crowded but that is expected and we managed a reasonable visit. One of my complaints to Viking is the lack of knowledge regarding Chinese internal flights, baggage regulations. I am an amateur photographer and this trip for me was to be a photographic extraganzer. On enquiring to Viking before we left we asked about the internal flight baggage rules. We were told that check-in was 20kgs and carry-on was 5kg ONE ITEM ONLY, which would have to include any cameras or handbags etc. This resulted in me only taking one camera with no backup. Yes you guessed it, my camera failed two days in!! On enquiring in China regarding the carry-on rules I was told that you could take on what you like within reason which meant I could have taken my full camera kit. The Chinese lady simply said next time ask a Chinese Viking person. In conclusion its full on, with six flights, three hotels plus the boat and early starts but it was still a good holiday and one I would recommend but Viking need to do their homework on some very obviouse needs of the trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I had a difficult time finding reviews, and after I got there realized that the boat itself was called Tonle Pandaw, so if you're having difficulty that may be the reason. The weather is hot and humid. Right now they have a drought ... Read More
I had a difficult time finding reviews, and after I got there realized that the boat itself was called Tonle Pandaw, so if you're having difficulty that may be the reason. The weather is hot and humid. Right now they have a drought going on, so we had little rain. So there were a few things I did right. 1. Bought baby powder w/ cornstarch at $ store 2. Took Lemon Eucalyptus oil (bought at Nat'l Grocers instead of deet. That was info I found online. Bought it because I didn't want to smell at night. Liked it so well that I used it all the time instead of the Max 30% deet I also bought. Got it online...green spray bottle. No mosquito bites...and they like me. 3. Bought cool cloths on HSN and used them around my neck. Actually, liked the necktie one best. Things I did wrong: 1. I had a choice between Golite clothing and Eddie Bauer travel. Took 3 capris in Golite. 1 in Eddie Bauer. Should have gone the other way. The Eddie Bauer breathed MUCH better and was much cooler. 3. Should have carried an umbrella each day. 4. Lt.wt. purse..when you're hot a purse sticking to your side isn't great. 5. Should have taken more cash..esp. $1's and $5's. Take $75 1's Our tour director Bob was fantastic. I'd give him 10 stars out of 5. Tour directors carry repellant, pills for anything you might need, rain ponchos, and Viking gives you cleaning cloths each time you get on bus after tour..plus water is available always. I only gave cruise 3 stars, not because Viking wasn't great, but because I had great difficulty w/ the heat. Angkor Wat was 93...felt like 115 according to Weather channel. And it did. I don't do well in heat. Saigon was the 88 w/ 88 humidity I was expecting. That was tolerable. Knew that going in, but my husband wanted to revisit Vietnam. Highlight was electric "cars" in Hanoi. Be prepared for POVERTY. Didn't go to brick factory and school. People said we didn't miss anything. I think Viking could rethink some of their tours. Floating markets and any other markets were great. Viking gives you a great emersion into all vehicles used ..except motorcycle, which was okay w/ me. Went to Raffles in Phnom Penn. Just nice to sit and chat. Much of cruise folks showed up. Saigon has changed a lot in 50 years according to him..now a BIG city. Sofitel is excellent. People in Vietnam are outstanding, no animosity towards Americans, and most speak English. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
As mentioned in other reviews, the on board staff couldn't have been more pleasant and efficient. The ship itself appeared to be in decent condition, and was never too loud when running. If your idea of a great vacation is ... Read More
As mentioned in other reviews, the on board staff couldn't have been more pleasant and efficient. The ship itself appeared to be in decent condition, and was never too loud when running. If your idea of a great vacation is spending 5 days of with very little physical activity, this might be the cruise for you. I am not a cruise fan, so maybe all cruises are like this. Told my wife I would NEVER go on a cruise, but this is what she wanted to do for her 50th birthday. Check and mate. For the people whose dream vacation consists of spending all but a few minutes a day sitting and eating, sitting and drinking or sitting and reading or sitting and playing board games or sitting and listening to a lecture (Basic Mandarin phrases, playing Mah Jongg or fun facts about the Yangtze River,) or laying in bed watching one of 5 television channels, this is the dream vacation for you. The other few minutes a day are spent going up or down the stairs to one of the aforementioned events. We were able to get off the boat on 3 of the 5 days: once to walk through the edge of a small city towards a temple while dodging a 4 block long gauntlet of aggressive local merchants who see American tourists as walking dollar bills, once to walk a few hundred feet to another tour boat where you sit for another hour and a half going through scenery, and the last time to finally do a little walking (after still more sitting on a bus ride) on the way up to the 3 Gorges Dam. The web page for this crew mentions a 'gym.' I called Viking to verify that the boat had a 'gym' before we left for the cruise. Only a few of us actually used those facilities, so for most people taking this cruise, the quality and condition of those facilities won't matter. The 'gym' had an erg that hadn't been lubricated since Nixon was president, a treadmill, an elliptical machine on which the display screen was non-functional and had a squeak so loud that it could be heard throughout the boat, and a small set of dumbbells, most of which were not marked with a weight. Nevertheless, the 'gym' provided virtually the only activity that didn't involve more sitting. The fore and aft outside decks provided sufficient chairs for yet more sitting and scenery consumption, but when you travel over 1,000 miles on any road or river, there are many extended periods of monotonous doldrums. This trip is certainly no exception. I would recommend taking the cruise during July or August, when you can enjoy the scenery when daytime temps are mostly in the upper 90's (mid-30's C,) the humidity is stratospheric and the air quality truly indescribable. At night, the temps MAY drop down under 80 (about 26C,) but then the humidity will be near 100%. You can't be that for a comfortable night's sleep!! I witnessed several American cities in the 60's before anti-pollution laws were enacted, but I have never seen air quality like we experienced in most of China. I thought the atrocious air quality might last for a day or so due to some unusual atmospheric condition, but the air quality only deteriorated the farther inland we went. Several of us developed sore throats and random coughing fits. A week after getting back home, I was still coughing up remnants of Chinese air from my lungs. Truly something one needs to experience first hand. The food on board was plentiful, but there are no snack bars & no in-between-meal offerings other than alcohol. The cooking staff was from China, and they did an admiral job preparing Western food. Unfortunately, they have mastered the art of making the food 'look' pretty long before they mastered taste. As there were cruisers from several parts of the U.S. and the world, it would be extremely difficult to please everyone with the small kitchen available on the river cruise its ship. My wife and nephew are Chinese, and they tell me that the crew did a respectable job with some Chinese breakfast items. For the most part, the food was acceptable, but that's about as far as one could stretch the description. You''ll get your steak they way they cook it, so don't bother with asking for RARE or MEDIUM WELL or WELL DONE. On the whole, the cruise staff made up for some of the cruise's shortcomings, so thank God for that. If you won't go completely stir crazy spending 95% of your day sitting on what amounts to a 'prison' ship, you'll love this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Recently we participated in what was advertised as an 8 day river cruise, for people with a "good level of fitness", up the Mekong from Saigon to Siem Reap. It promised active excursions that required a good level of fitness. ... Read More
Recently we participated in what was advertised as an 8 day river cruise, for people with a "good level of fitness", up the Mekong from Saigon to Siem Reap. It promised active excursions that required a good level of fitness. It was the promise of the days spent on the river on the luxurious AmaLotus, along with the opportunity to enjoy active excursions, that sold us on the trip. We arrived at the given time at the Sheraton Hotel in Saigon to register. As we watched other participants gather, we wondered if we were in the right place, as very few of the people gathering looked to be of a "good level of fitness". A number needed canes and walking sticks to aid in their mobility. It turns out that this was the right group and the right cruise. Our excursions were limited by the lowest common denominator, where our guides were apologizing if the distance we needed to walk was longer than 15 minutes. This could hardly be called "active". The cruise was billed as an "8 day river cruise", with fine print stating that the itinerary would be subject to change depending on weather and conditions. That's fair enough. What was not made clear is the fact that it is only for a scant 2 months out of the year that the ship is actually able to navigate up the Tonle Sap all the way to the port nearest to Siem Reap. The fact is that the trip really was a 7 day river cruise and one day on the bus, having back-tracked to Phnom Phen. The bus trip was over 6 hours long and all the was provided was the cost for the use of the toilets on the two toilet stops along the way. On arrival to Siem Reap, those of us who were not continuing with APT, were basically ushered off the bus and left to fend for ourselves, without even refreshments or a basic lunch provided after a less than comfortable bus ride. On the positive side, the ship was beautifully appointed and the crew were helpful and friendly. The food was abundant and deliciously prepared. Sadly the wines were questionable. The saving features of the cruise were the local guides. While the excursions were disappointing overall, the guides made up for it with their generous sharing of their passion for their respective countries and their perspective on both historical events and how they continue to impact and influence the current social and political climate. Tim in Vietnam and Wanti in Cambodia in particular deserve a special mention. Thanks to them a trip that would have been a major disappointment, was redeemed to a great degree. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We also did only the river cruise as part of a broader package that APT travel provides. The trip was advertised as requiring a "good level of fitness" to participate in the excursions. "Good level of fitness" ... Read More
We also did only the river cruise as part of a broader package that APT travel provides. The trip was advertised as requiring a "good level of fitness" to participate in the excursions. "Good level of fitness" included passengers who required a good level of assistance simply to get on and off the boat. We were expecting an active holiday. It was definitely more sedentary than what we expected from the advertising. The trip was advertised as an "8 day river cruise". In small print it did say that the itinerary would be subject to change dependent on conditions and weather. The truth of the matter is that the conditions for cruising all the way up the Mekong and Tonle Sap waterways from Saigon to Siem Reap are right for a short two months of the year, during the rainy season. For the rest of the year the water levels are too low, to allow for the passage of the ship. Instead we had to endure a 6 1/2 hour bus ride from Phnom Phen to Siem Riep, with two rest stops where APT generously covered the cost for the use of the toilets. On arrival to Siem Reap, those of us who were not part of the ongoing land tour, were basically ignored and left to our own devices. Not even refreshments were provided. On the plus side, the ship, the AmaLotus, was beautifully appointed, with highly capable and professional staff. The food was outstanding, though the wines served with the meals were pretty mediocre. The saving feature on the cruise were the guides. We were provided with local guides both in Vietnam and then in Cambodia. They shared freely of their abundant knowledge about their countries, both from an historical perspective, as well as the a forward-looking cultural perspective. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
I might mention that the air part of the trip was terrible (and scheduled by Viking) . Not booked directly to Shanghai (where tour began) but through Beijing. And not enought time to make connection. Missed flight, etc. The breakfast ... Read More
I might mention that the air part of the trip was terrible (and scheduled by Viking) . Not booked directly to Shanghai (where tour began) but through Beijing. And not enought time to make connection. Missed flight, etc. The breakfast buffets on the ship were outstanding (as were those in the hotels). The lunches and dinners were fine, but nothing outstanding. I think the ship was ok for what it was. However, there wasn't a lot to see and the scenery got a little boring since they had damned up the river. I actually enjoyed Shanghai, Xian, and Beijing and I am recommending that one skip the cruise. I would have enjoyed seeing more of the sights in Beijing, but there wasn't enough time scheduled since we spent 5 days on the Yangtze. The tours were very well organized and provided safe food and we felt comfortable where we went. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015

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