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14 Asia River Cruise Reviews

First i need to qualify myself on writing this review as i am comparing the AquaMekong curise experience with a luxury train holiday experience on Maharajah Express. To sum up, if given a choice, i will go back to Maharajah Express ... Read More
First i need to qualify myself on writing this review as i am comparing the AquaMekong curise experience with a luxury train holiday experience on Maharajah Express. To sum up, if given a choice, i will go back to Maharajah Express train holiday because it is worth the money you spent. For AquaMekong river cruise, there are some good points amongst the many negative points. For good points, the bed room is like a normal hotel room, toilet is spacious too. Water pressure is also very good in the bath room, hence staying onboard is no different from staying in a normal hotel on land.. The other plus point is that cruising on the river is a very stable, very much more stable than cruising on ocean and train ride. If you don't look out the window, you hardly notice the boat is sailing. I considered this a plus point for people who are sensitive to motion sickness. AquaMekong also has another distinctive plus point which is it has only 20 rooms with a maximum capacity of 40 guests, unlike other Mekong cruise ships that can carry more than double to triple the capacity of AquaMekong. During our holiday onboard AquaMekong, we have a total of 18 guests, this make it very cozy, and fairly friendly for all onboard. With a small group, getting on and off the off board activities was fairly smooth and fast as there is no need to wait too long. Those who have holidays onboard the ocean cruise ship will understand what i meant. In addition to that, when you are onboard, you will always be courteously addressed by your first name. AquaMekong make it a point (like the first and business class onboard Singapore Airline) for their service staff to remember and address their guests by their first names. Now the negative points (as compared to Maharajah Express train): 1.) Probably due to the service culture difference, somehow the Indians know how to pamper their guests better. When we were with Maharajah Express, they really treat us like "the Maharajahs" (the king) which is a differentiating factor to make you feel that your money spent is well worth. Another distinct difference is that for Maharajah Express train, every room is entitled to a butler service 24 by 7. The butler will do almost everything on request, this is absence onboard the AquaMekong. I shall not elaborate much here as it is not my interest to promote Maharajah Express here. 2.) Meals and Foods - the meals and foods onboard AquaMekong is not "gourmet type", you are served with merely traditional cuisines from the Mekong delta areas, like Cambodia, Vietnam and Thai cuisine. If these cuisines are not your liking, AquaMekong does have an alternate menu which comprises of burgers, sandwiches and pastas, to ensure you don't get hungry. Whereas foods and meals onboard the Maharajah Express train is really gourmet type, besides that the Chef will visit your table every meals to ensure you have a satisfying meals, the chef will endeavour to prepare any meals you are craving for. 3.) Excursion - honestly there is nothing really interesting to see and visit around the AquaMekong delta area, comparing with the Maharajah Express train ride, you get to visit Unesco sites with great historical culture. 4.) For river cruise on Mekong Delta, i think room with balcony is a mistake because the room and balcony lights at night will attract lots of flies and insects hence it is really a mistake to have rooms with balconies. 5.) AquaMekong has the worse value for money if we compare the per day cost of staying at AquaMekong and Maharajah Express, they are about the same, but what you get in return is world apart. For a rating of 1 to 10, i would give Maharajah Express a 10 and AquaMekong a 1. 6.) The best verdict is "would you come back again?", my answer for Maharajah Express is s definite YES, and NO NO for AquaMekong. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Overall good cruise with somewhat interesting itinerary on a relatively comfortable ship and a good crew. We saw what we came to see - how real people of the 2 countries live, many historic sites. Clearly Seam Riep and Angkor Wat are the ... Read More
Overall good cruise with somewhat interesting itinerary on a relatively comfortable ship and a good crew. We saw what we came to see - how real people of the 2 countries live, many historic sites. Clearly Seam Riep and Angkor Wat are the highlights of the tour. Rooms are well designed and a bathroom is good size and well functioned. Great hotels selection. However, I want to concentrate my review on improvement areas: 1. Avalon customer Service - the worst. Never had worse experience. Not a single question could be answered by phone. Provide incorrect information regarding visa's to Cambodia, which costs money to its guests, know it, but refuse to take any accountability or correct it. Whole itinerary, with the exception of hotels, is driven by a single goal - not to spend an extra dollar 2.Tips - if it is mandatory, don't call it tips and just include it as part of the overall price. Even if you pre-pay, cruise director and tour guides are still expecting you to pay extra. I didn't understand why cruise director had to publicly announce who pre-paid ( we pre-paid it well in advance) and who did not... and even if you pre-paid, you had to worry that 'crew is aware of it' and submit a voucher . Why should it be my problem that crew is aware? Clearly, employees are not paid by Avalon and 'tips' is their pay, so make it straightforward and leave 'tips' to reward extra service. 3. Entertainment - non existent. On other similar size ships guests are entertained by the crew. This crew does not have extra talents and this is OK. There are many other options. Both countries are known for excellent musical schools, so why not to invite some string quartet to entertain people with good music? Instead, one night we were entertained by the orphanage kids. Great kids and we were more then willing to donate to the orphanage, but as it lasted 15 min, you could still have professional musicians to play for another 45-60 min. Another night we had to listen to a multi talented cruise director sing, but again it could be done by the professional musicians. I guess, the difference is - in both options it was free for Avalon or, otherwise, Avalon would have to pay.Last night dinner - the worst food and entertainment reminding 3rd rate high school or worse. Complete waste of time in otherwise beautiful city, but probably very inexpensive option for Avalon 4.Tours - overall good program. However, why did you bring us to the 'silversmith workshop', which was clearly not a workshop, but rather a way to sell an overpriced silver staff that could be bought for half the price at Siem Reap? That day we didn't have anything else to do, so feels like a way to artificially extend tour by a day.... Or visit to a scarf making workshop, which also has nothing to do with the workshop, but a way to sell scarfs. Also, while it is interesting to see how 'real people' live, it was repetitive and a little too much. Show us how countries developed, show us how middle class lives, take us to the theater... 5. Environment - a little too much of the 'family' staff. Sometimes felt like a cult, when everybody has to be thankful to our 'dear leader' - cruise director (great guy) and tour guides and pay extra for it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This is an EXTREMELY long report; I don’ seem to be able to anything halfway. Please read it knowing that we are NOT tour people. We don’t like regimentation and we surely do not want to get up at 5am every day of our “vacation”. ... Read More
This is an EXTREMELY long report; I don’ seem to be able to anything halfway. Please read it knowing that we are NOT tour people. We don’t like regimentation and we surely do not want to get up at 5am every day of our “vacation”. I have years of experience planning and managing events, and I am quite persnickety. We’ve done many cruise-tours with Grand Circle and Avalon. They have been great, with excellent Tour Escorts. We were expecting “even better” with Viking, and we paid top dollar for this trip. So, out of ignorance, I may be critical of things that are taken for granted on a complex cruise-tour of China. This Trip Report contains mostly my opinions; my husband isn’t quite so critical, but I don’t know what will ever get him on another Viking trip. Before leaving Emerald, we were given two surveys, maybe one for the cruise and one for the overall trip, we were not sure. I never did know which was which, so I didn’t complete either. I have used those surveys as a template for this report. Not being able to figure out the two surveys rather sums up our experience with Viking’s Jewels cruise-tour of China, which departed Beijing on November 2, 2019. We expected a seamless experience but were very disappointed with the lack of attention to detail. I’d rate the Emerald a 10, the cruise 8 of 10 and the tour 4 of 10. Overall experience a 5. We have an excellent Travel Agent cruise expert, so no issues booking or managing trip. We found the trip poorly planned, we spent far too much time in places that deserved about ten minutes, we were force-marched out at 8am or earlier for days on end. Some of us flew 15 hours to China and spent 4 hours in traffic getting into Beijing from the airport. Many pax spent far more time than that to get to Beijing. ENTERTAINMENT Crew did an incredible show one night. Extremely creative and enjoyable. DAILY NEWS Adequate, laid out the next day’s schedule, could have used more detail, but always delivered on time. SHOPPING 3 forced-shopping lunch stops were deplorable. One day we dined at a jade factory. One day we lunched at a lacquer furniture store. We were fed below-average to awful food and trapped in these stores for up to 90 minutes after the lunch. We were pestered at every step to buy something. We had no alternative, forced to stay with the group. It was absolutely insulting. INCLUDED LUNCHES … the Restaurant lunches were fine to very good. Lovely décor, welcoming service, very good food. Food the same at every restaurant, but delicious. FLIGHTS We flew United’s new Polaris SFO-PEK on points. Quite underwhelming. I posted details on FlyerTalk. THREE INTERNAL FLIGHTS were fine. Most of us were concerned about security, etc. But our VikingTour Escort did a great job for our first internal flight and we became quite relaxed about them all. SHANGHAI to HONG KONG to SFO Cathay Pacific Viking’s air desk did a perfect job booking this flight. I was very excited about flying CX but it was merely OK. FAs were robots, they welcomed us, did the drink/meal service and disappeared. TOUR ESCORT I have had the pleasure of working with many Tour Directors over the years on river and small-ship cruises, all of whom I rate as outstanding. We liked our TEr and enjoyed his company, he was welcoming and friendly. I can only rate him adequate to incompetent as a TE. Communicating details to our group seemed to elude him. A couple of examples: No welcome information greeted us at the first hotel. The Viking desk that evening was manned by the bus driver with little English. He told to us to show up next morning at 8am. Our TE blamed the hotel concierge for our lack of info. He appeared the next morning at 750 and was mobbed with pax. What kind of a TE arrives the first day with ten minutes to spare? In the rain, we board the bus. Our TE is good on the mic, but he is mumbling about a marathon. Sure enough, we arrive at T SQ, troop through the rain to a barricade. T SQ is closed for a marathon. Nobody knows when it will open. I expect a TE to be top of this kind of information. Another example is our flight from Xian to board the Emerald. The flight was delayed. Our TE disappeared and didn’t come back for hours. What kind of TE leaves his group sitting at the gate for several hours with no information? China is not like Western Europe, where you can manage to communicate somehow. I don’t understand how a professional TE can be so bad with group communication. We spent a lot of time on this trip trying to figure out what was going on. HOTELS were beyond excellent, JWMarriott in Beijing, Xian Hilton, Shanghai Wanda. 3 nites in Hong Kong on our own; Conrad was great. China has great showers everywhere. JW MARRIOTT BEIJING CENTRAL is a GREAT hotel, super food, lovely Exec Lounge, extremely hospitable. We checked in a day early, a driver had met our flight and we spent 3.5 hours in traffic. Welcome to China! JWM’s front desk people were difficult, but a manager finally got us checked in properly. (It took 30-45 minutes to check in, and 15 minutes to check out.) The clerks should have called for a Manager immediately when they couldn’t understand us. I would expect Viking to choose hotels with personnel available who can communicate with Americans. The warm hospitality of the Executive Lounge surely made up for the awful arrival. XIAN HILTON On arrival, we were greeted in the lobby by a row of smiling young ladies in black with long cream-colored jackets – very elegant. I’m a Hilton Honors person, this was an excellent Hilton with a lovely Executive Lounge. Too bad Hilton would not grant me privileges, only the upgraded room. We laughed every time we passed the Lounge, it was always empty. But Viking took very good care of us during our stay. WANDA REIGN ON THE BUND, SHANGHAI Superlative, absolutely superlative. I agree with the CC reviewer who said it was the best hotel he’d ever stayed in. Reality is even more impressive than the stunning photos on Wanda’s website. 1000% excellent. GROUND TRANSPORT Excellent, clean, spacious buses, friendly, helpful drivers. No restrooms in any bus, contrary to Viking’s information. With the awful toilets in China, this was a major problem. None of the rides were “too long”. VIKING EMERALD Our top-deck suite was wonderful but we didn’t use the balcony with the bad air. There was only one dining room, very good food and service, but the noise was awful, it was like walking into a wall of sound; we skipped dinner a couple of times because we just couldn’t face an hour in the din. Even a few little bites set out at the Bar would have helped. I’ve never booked a suite on a cruise ship that refused to do room service for breakfast, very annoying. Food was good to excellent overall, nothing special. Crew seemed great, happy and welcoming, I felt I could ask for anything. Our cabin steward was sweet. But it’s hard to get over arriving to board the Emerald. Three flights of uneven-height stairs with no hand rails, in the DARK. Absolutely terrifying. This is inexcusable. BEIJING First thing we did was find a WalMart down the street to get some cheap wine. It was a surreal experience that we’ll never forget. Everything in China is huge, but this store was Gi-normous as Peter would say. Unbelievably loud, everyone yapping at full volume, people running all over, brushing by an inch away … we had to laugh because this was just what we had read about. Live people, plus little battery-run megaphones sitting all over the displays, barking at you. Dan engaged a young lady at the jewelry counter to find something in the store, they had an enjoyable discussion using her phone’s translate app. We actually enjoyed our little adventure. We found the Chinese to be lovely people everywhere. And the WalMart wine was quite drinkable. Once the official trip started, we saw a few things in Beijing area over 2 days but not much else. I had two pages of notes on things to see in Beijing. Our time was badly planned, much time wasted. For example, Forbidden City is an enormous property with seemingly hundreds of buildings that all look the same. All the interesting interior things apparently reside in Taiwan. Why would we want to spend 90 minutes walking past these buildings? Boring … FC worth about 15mins walking tour. Very nice garden at the end of the walk but we rolled quickly through it. The fairly long walk from the bus to the entrance was beautiful, along a lake with our TE telling us how it was for the royals. Second day in Beijing Because of Sunday’s marathon, this day we were required to leave the hotel at 715am. This is the SECOND DAY of our tour, we’re still getting acclimated and waking up at 3am. But we’re happy to be on the bus … and on our way to the Great Wall! We appreciated the drive around T SQ, walking it would not have been very interesting. It’s a concrete-covered square, there’s NOTHING there except poor Mao in a huge building with his picture on it. The bus rides would have been a fine time to learn about the areas we were driving through, but our TE talked mostly about history; we learned little about today’s China. We were too strung out to even consider that evening’s Kung Fu show. Turned out to be a good decision, people were not enthused. GREAT WALL Nice short ride, really cool to climb the wall, fairly rough steps and walkways, very windy and chilly; the air felt great and we saw some sunshine. Super group photo and souvenir book. No warning on horrid toilets or advice on how to find one we could use. Our TE just kept telling us to hurry up so we could do the group photo. Most of the women were upset; I was livid. Let’s see, breakfast, then an hour on the bus … and nobody expects there will be no usable bathrooms up on the Great Wall. Too bad, we don’t want to keep the photographer waiting. For me, this cooked it for our poor TE. SACRED WAY tombs with beautiful gardens, huge animal statues along mile-long walkway, very nice walk. Speakers in the trees jabbered away, telling people what they were seeing. Before our flight to Xian, the bicycle Rickshaw tour of Hutongs was excellent. Interesting visit to Madam Wang’s home, we were invited in to hear her story about the ancient courtyards, see her house, and meet some family. Lovely walk back to bus along a lake. Flight was great, well organized, half empty plane a bonus. They served a full meal! XIAN THE WARRIORS Very exciting to “be there”. A couple dozen warriors and several horses had come to San Francisco many years ago and I was wild to see the whole site. In SF, they had presented them in a replica of the excavation; terracotta was all polished and the display very well lit. I found the real thing disappointing. I knew the site had been covered for preservation, but it’s like an enormous warehouse with very little light; everything’s grey/taupe, even the air. 3 “pits” and their contents all looked the same in the murky light. Seeing one of them would have been adequate. Mobbed with people and kids of course. Excellent “museum” quality displays and exhibits at the end. A major issue arose at the end of our Warriors visit. On arrival, we had been whisked away in golf carts to start the tour. Our walking tour lasted for 90 minutes, and without warning we were told that we would be walking back to the bus. People with walking challenges could have rested a bit had they known. Another forced march, a solid 30 minutes. This was the kind of detail that seemed to elude our TE and was the last straw for several in our group. For the evening, we signed on for the optional TANG DYNASTY DINNER THEATER. The descriptions and reviews I’d read made it sound very special. It was awful. Instead of strolling through vast palace gardens and then into the palace for a performance during dinner, we were all hustled off the bus and into a huge banquet room and quickly seated at tables for six. A beautifully-costumed group of musicians was playing ancient Chinese music on ancient Chinese instruments. Uh, not exactly. They were playing songs such as “Oh Suzanna” and “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain”. I knew we were in trouble. We received beautiful keepsake menus, big bottles of ice-cold beer, and the first courses started arriving. The food was inedible, everyone I talked with the next day agreed. The fish course I had was very good, but many people didn’t like any of it. Soon the performers started singing. The criteria seemed to be the decibel level. Shrieking seemed to rule; nothing melodic about it ... and it went on forever. We spent more than $160 to be tortured in a huge room with a vast group of people and we left hungry. That was the last of the Viking optional excursions that we signed up for. CHONGQING The airport experience out of Xian was a total disaster. Flight is delayed, our TE disappears for several hours, we sit at gate. Utter incompetence. Nasty box lunches and no guidance on buying snacks or anything to drink. Maybe something we recognized, we could have purchased, like a Coke ... warm soda, yuck. Ice cream was good. I discovered a “facial recognition” board you could stand in front of and it would recognize you and flash up all your flight info. Very cool, I beamed it up about 9 times during the long afternoon. At last our departure time flashed up and I could tell everyone. We joked that the TEs had all been holed up in the VIP Lounge. Plane a third full, very comfy. Lighters/matches are confiscated at all Chinese airports, our TE found a lighter for me at the end of every flight, he was very thoughtful. All airports were modern, no hauling carryons on stairs or any of the other negatives I’d read. We didn’t see anything of Chongqing, but the elevated highways and the beautiful lights everywhere made for a great ride to Emerald. She was all lit up and we were so glad to see her … for most of us, The Emerald was the reason we were here. A hair-raising scramble down crumbling steps with no handrails, hustle in for dinner, and we depart on the Yangtze River! YANGTZE Floating down the river was just magic. So many of our fellow travelers considered this the primary reason for their trip. Our six days on the Emerald were extremely enjoyable. SHIBAOZHAI Dan skipped this; I rolled out. We walk off the ship and are informed that it’s a 20-minute walk UP HILL to get to the site. You’re telling us this NOW? Golf carts are there for 20Y, but we don’t know that in the chaos. Drivers are trying to hustle us into their cart. Our TE finally shows up to explain, and I zip up the hill with a grinning maniac who lays on his piercing horn at every opportunity … which is every 6 seconds. I whiz by the locals with fingers in my ears. Temple accessed by “Drunken Bridge” that moves all over underneath your feet, fun. Nice landscaped path winds around, there are buildings “up there”, I think “Really, this is it?” No, no, after the last bend appears the gorgeous temple. We’re now on a huge elevated walkway with plenty of room to drink it all in and wave at people climbing 12 stories to the top … who knows why. Emerald is floating in the distance. I enjoyed just wandering and taking photos, making my way back to the square where my golfcart driver waited. Then the daughter accompanying her sometimes-confused mother loses her somewhere. This is a big space and daughter gets hysterical, several of us are trying to help. Daughter tells me that she left mother with the TE to go climb the temple. I don’t think that he would just abandon mother, so I call him on one of the TEs phones and he quickly shows up. Daughter and our TE tear off on a golf cart to see if she’s gone back on board. Daughter later told me that she couldn’t find him, and one of the other TEs was very dismissive and unhelpful. That set her over the edge, poor girl. Never did find out exactly what happened to mother, but she was fine. Until then, I had just enjoyed being “on my own” and wandering around in the beautiful place, snooping through the vendor huts at the dock. THREE GORGES Scenery absolutely spectacular. Air still grey but no longer smells, nice to be outside while we glide through this amazing part of China. SAMPANS UP THE GODDESS STREAM very enjoyable. I had no idea what to expect … a canoe paddled by kids, a fishing boat piloted by an ancient man, a pontoon rigged up from empty oil barrels. The sampans looked very sea-worthy, well-decorated and very cute with huge windows. You could sit out on a spacious back deck as well, what a treat in the clean fresh air! The guide was wonderful, enthusiastic and obviously proud of her home. A huge line of sampans motored up the river; the scenery was indeed spectacular. A super treat for us. 3-GORGES DAM TOUR We were told that we would see the inner workings of this massive structure up close. With the Warriors, this was to be the highlight of the whole trip to China for many of us. Our time at the dam was major disappointment. We were led around to the public viewing sites and the guide told us all about the dam. But we never actually saw anything other than just what anyone would see by visiting this place on their own. I expected a video, a look inside the “works” and some special access … or SOMETHING special. Nada. Viking gave us nothing but the bare minimum. OK, it’s huge. But you can’t see much through the murky air. And everything in China is huge. JINGZHOU It appeared that this stop was made so pax could contribute to a school that Viking supports. I had notes of several things to see in this city, but there was no information in our Daily News. Tour the school or nothing. We skipped it, desperate for some down time, disgusted with lack of information and exhausted by getting out the door every day at the crack of dawn. We had been very careful with the water, but were both coming down with respiratory issues at this point. This Jewels tour has a ridiculous itinerary, poorly planned, with too much wasted time. People said the school kids were cute. WUHAN Sailing into Wuhan after dark was SPECTACULAR. Everybody knows about “light shows” but this brilliant, ever-changing display against all the monster buildings lining the river was really something. Not from the balcony, of course, big city = stinky air; we watched from inside our cabin. I think this was the night they served food like sliced pig tails and chicken feet for dinner. Really disgusting. If you want to give pax a true taste of local foods, please do so somewhere tucked away where the rest of us don’t have to see it. We rolled out the next morning at 8am to see the Hubei Museum. Nearly dark inside, mobbed with people and kids, we tromped around forever looking at bronze cauldrons, etc. How many bronze vessels does one need to see? Stayed much too long, but Hubei Bells performance following the museum was wonderful. Exotic, talented musicians, very well done. This may have been the day with a real lunch at a real restaurant, very enjoyable. SHANGHAI We arrived after dark. Wanda Reign probably the nicest hotel we’ve ever experienced. I stayed in bed, husband did the tour next morning and enjoyed it somewhat. The forced-shopping stop was at a Silk Embroidery place (which I had been looking forward to) was of little interest to him. Far too much time spent at the Shanghai Museum. They skipped the garden for some reason. The temple was terrific. We skipped the evening acrobats; we’d had enough bad entertainment on this trip. We were visiting Hong Kong for three days on our own; Cathay Pacific offers a free stop-over. I remain beyond impressed with Viking’s air desk. We were quite concerned about how we’d manage without our TE! No issues, CX is a very good airline. HONG KONG We were booked at the Hilton Conrad which was affordable with a combination of points and cash. A wonderful choice, from the 57th floor we overlooked Victoria Harbor, and the Executive Lounge was lovely and welcoming. We both noticed the lack of traffic, horn-honking and crowding. The air was usually clear in the morning and the view was spectacular. We didn’t venture far due to our coughing and wheezing. We were there on a weekend, but no sign of protesters. Cathay Pacific Hong Kong to SFO was not as grand as I had expected, but a very comfortable flight. We were both very happy to gobble up some Nyquil, crawl into bed and sleep. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This was a new cruise for this boat which was apparently brought from another country and it showed. The crew had little knowledge or interest in their jobs. Their command of English was little to poor. The decks were dirty yet never ... Read More
This was a new cruise for this boat which was apparently brought from another country and it showed. The crew had little knowledge or interest in their jobs. Their command of English was little to poor. The decks were dirty yet never cleaned. The bar and coffee area was always a shambles. The barman, when at the bar, could not understand the wine labels. Self-service was the often required . Dining was far from luxurious. Serves were small and only Indian food was on offer, no Western meals at all. Evening meals were served outside, often seated on lounge chairs which were far too low for dining from. Insects were attracted by light and were a nuisance. The head waiter said that they could be dangerous for us yet we could have eaten inside away from them in much more comfort. He covered our drinks with his bare hands as he delivered them. The promised bikes for shore excursions were never sighted. The two shore excursion guides were knowledgable but unintelligible to us Westerners. The ship's exhausts vented on the side of the ship. Oftentimes the excursion launch was moored against the exhaust outlet which deflected the gases unpleasantly up the the lounge area. This cruise was way over-priced. Another passenger quoted his rating for this as 4 /10. We have written to Pandaw with our complaints and requested a partial refund but to date have not received any acknowledgement or reply. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Talked in short. We have group of 20 people including 4 elderly 1) Minimize trip period from 3 nights to 2 nights with short notification 2) Bad arrangement on room distribution (we have total 7 rooms original in 2 different ... Read More
Talked in short. We have group of 20 people including 4 elderly 1) Minimize trip period from 3 nights to 2 nights with short notification 2) Bad arrangement on room distribution (we have total 7 rooms original in 2 different floors even we requested to be on same floor)....due to trip period was being changed. They relocated all 7 rooms into 4 different floors & the worst things was 2 rooms on each floor - either in the front of cruise ship or in the back of cruise ship 3) Need to line up for almost 2 hours to get on-board & told to get wheelchair after onboard (actually wheelchair can be collected when check-in) - we requested wheelchair from the beginning. 4) Room #11292 - whole night with engine running sound loudly and was told this couldn't be fixed....shouldn't inform to guest in advance ????? 5) Cruise set a party on 16/F until mid-light at 1:30am....from 13/F to 15/F we could hear clearly...such a bad time setting for party ?? 6) Buffet breakfast/Lunch/Dinner - always crowded & have to go early to get table...otherwise you have to wait long time......because everybody is having their meal at the same time... Never, ever go to Dream Cruise !!! High recommend NOT GOING ... Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Viking has a great reputation and we expected a great cruise on a luxurious ship. it began with a compulsory stay in a business type hotel in Beijing nowhere near anything important. We wished to stay in another hotel but were told that, ... Read More
Viking has a great reputation and we expected a great cruise on a luxurious ship. it began with a compulsory stay in a business type hotel in Beijing nowhere near anything important. We wished to stay in another hotel but were told that, if we did not turn up and stay in the selected hotel, we would be considered as no shows. in fact, the pre-cruise experience dealing with the US office was horrible. for no apparent reason, tours organised in Beijing had to commence at ridiculously early hours. We declined them all. On board: my wife's request for vegetarian food was not transmitted to the ship. in spite of that, the dining room staff tried very hard to please her. But the only award that could be given for the dining experience was for the fastest plate snatching i have ever come across. The dining staff were generally very poorly trained. The "gym" was very worn and rather.grubby with a view onto the back of the lit ship's name both filthy and frighteningly wired, some of the wires quire bare. China tea is spectacular but, in the dining room, only cheap tea bags were available. The TV remote control had been replaced with a very limited controller which had no ability to change the format: watching TV was an absurd occupation with everything distorted. Cleaning of our cabin was poor. Empty cups were not removed and the wc got grubbier each day.. The captain's uniform summed up the ship's standards. it looked like his non seamstress mother or wife had made it. our visit to the bridge was like visiting a large, stale ashtray. Viking should stop selling this cruise. Carnival Cruises has more style and quality at far lower prices. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This is the worst of Viking experience I can imagine, since we sailed with Viking Ocean before and think that their China Yangtze River cruise should also honor that tradition. On the contrary, this is the worst cruise/tour we have had in ... Read More
This is the worst of Viking experience I can imagine, since we sailed with Viking Ocean before and think that their China Yangtze River cruise should also honor that tradition. On the contrary, this is the worst cruise/tour we have had in the past 25 years. 1. Viking had chartered a low-graded local Chinese river cruise ship (called Century Emerald) and only hang up Viking signage during the journey. It is NOT a Viking ship at all. 2. The ship is old, ill-equipped and lack of proper maintenance. The state room is very small with 6 inches-depth closet space and old and smelly bathroom. Most of the common area has been occupied by vendors for souvenirs...etc. , similar to any popular attractions in China. 3. Food quality on shore is way way below standard, similar to low-fared Chinese local tour group or even worse. We know what good Chinese food is like, and what Viking has contracted is cheap local Chinese restaurants with questionable sanitary standards, as many ended up with upset stomachs, vomiting and diarrhea. 4. Land tour excursions are too limited. For example, there are many attractions in Xi'an and yet Viking only had the group visiting Terra Cotta Warriors, plus an optional dancing performance. That is all for a 2-night stay in Xi'an. The group did not even have a chance to visit the ancient city of Xi'an and its well-known historical attractions near-by. Same situation in Shanghai and Beijing. 5. The pricing is very unjust for people who booked early, since Viking has put the tour on sale 2-3 months before the sailing date. There is no price guarantee, so, it ended up with people who might pay more than double the price of the others in the same group. 6. Local tour escorts need more professional training Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We traveled on a two night sailing from Mandalay to Bagan. We were warned that the evenings may be cool, but we did not expect to have to endure our meals in the freezing cold on an open air deck for both dinners and breakfasts. We asked ... Read More
We traveled on a two night sailing from Mandalay to Bagan. We were warned that the evenings may be cool, but we did not expect to have to endure our meals in the freezing cold on an open air deck for both dinners and breakfasts. We asked if we could be given shelter from the cold wind, but nobody seemed to care. Food was cold before we got it back to our tables. The vegetarian choice was rice with spinach. The all inclusive drinks did not include wine with the meals which was very disappointing considering the price of the trip.The cabins were nice enough, but we felt the excursions provided were pretty mundane. The scenery during the trip was pretty much the same all the time, and didn't have any notable attractions. Just riverbanks and sand banks. The staff were pleasant enough and treated us as guests should be, but they seemed oblivious to our discomfort due to the cold wind on the upper deck. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We had never been on a cruise but heard that Scenic was one of the leaders for river cruises and we had always wanted to go to Myanmar so it seemed a perfect combination. We thought that we would try our the company with a view to doing ... Read More
We had never been on a cruise but heard that Scenic was one of the leaders for river cruises and we had always wanted to go to Myanmar so it seemed a perfect combination. We thought that we would try our the company with a view to doing some serious European river cruising in the future. We'd done a lot of independent travel all over Asia and love it. Frankly we felt that the tour was beefed up to appear more interesting than it was. The Irrawaddy River is the most disinteresting waterway, there is simply nothing to see from the water and it was a very disappointing trip. The water is like a warm caramel milkshake, murky and frothy. When I gave feedback the company thanked me but was not at all interested in retaining me as a customer. In their position I would have asked to be given the chance to prove how wonderful Scenic tours could be. Maybe offer a big discount on a future booking or some incentive. Instead they admitted that the cruise of the Irrawaddy was new and they were still feeling their way. Other guests on the cruise admitted that the cruise was not up to the usual Scenic standard and as they were all repeat customers Scenic must do something right but they really missed out on this one. The land content, except for Mandalay was good although when we went on busses we were often put on tatty, old, buses. If this was all that was available we would have understood but there were lots of modern well appointed busses chartered by other tour companies that we saw along the same routes. The boat was lovely, although already showing signs of wear and tear after only 40 days sailing. The cruise director and staff were wonderful but there were so many other things that needed fixing. Our guide was very friendly but almost impossible to understand and wasn’t pro-active. He gave us the bare minimum of information. We are off to Europe to cruise but because it's obvious Scenic aren't interested in having us as customers we will look for other companies who will value our business. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We did a short 2 night cruise from Bagan to Mandalay. The ship can accommodate ca 60 passengers but there were only 5 couples on board (3 Brits, 1 Australian and 1 German). The fact that we all got on so well compensated for other ... Read More
We did a short 2 night cruise from Bagan to Mandalay. The ship can accommodate ca 60 passengers but there were only 5 couples on board (3 Brits, 1 Australian and 1 German). The fact that we all got on so well compensated for other disappointments. The ship is very well appointed, the staff are helpful and the cabins are fine for a couple of nights but are on the small side for any longer. The best feature of the ship was the bathroom shower! Our cabin was 301, front port side, one of the 2 best positions on the ship. Considering the cost of the cruise it was not good value for money. Overall, the food was very average, the coffee almost undrinkable, the pastries solid and although there is unlimited free local beer and spirits, no house wine was provided; Myanmar wine was $23/bottle. Only one excursion (Yandabo pottery-making village) was worthwhile and the quality of guide/excursions was not good for the price paid. There was confusion about tipping - some guests had it included, others didn't. The staff seemed to expect it. Having previously cruised down the Mekong and had a very good experience, this short cruise was a bit of a disappointment for us, especially considering that it was far more expensive on a per diem basis. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This was our 10th cruise, first on Amawaterways and last river cruise for sure. We boarded the bus from Siem Reap to the ship on a 7 hour bus ride. We made 2 stops along the way for restroom breaks and to stretch your legs. The tour guide ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise, first on Amawaterways and last river cruise for sure. We boarded the bus from Siem Reap to the ship on a 7 hour bus ride. We made 2 stops along the way for restroom breaks and to stretch your legs. The tour guide stated to us that only a few cruises a year actually depart from Siem Reap so expect to be on the long bus ride to the ship. We booked the entire land portion on our own and some what mimicked the cruise lines itinerary. We stayed 5 nights in Hanoi's Old Quarter (Highly recommend) and a 3 day 2 night Halong Bay cruise on Signature Halong Cruises (Top notch experience). The AmaDara is a brand new ship in 2015 and is spacious and comfortable. What set us off from the very beginning and put a bad taste in our mouths was after we checked in and received our keys to our room we approached our cabin watching the "Hotel Manager" giving 4 other passengers a tour of our cabin while our luggage is in plain view inside the room. I asked him why he was allowing people in our cabin and he a stumbled for answers and said "He thought the room was vacant." We booked our cruise 15 months in advance, it was never vacant. Again our luggage is clearly visible in the room. I said to him "You should have pulled the door shut and never allowed them to enter." OUR TRUST WAS IMMEDIATELY BROKEN WITH THIS COMPANY. He then stated that "The door was left opened by the porters so I allowed them to take a "peek"." I said "Really? Our bags are in the room. You should have pulled the door shut." Now they are climbing over our luggage laughing on the way out and said "Thanks for the tour." I say to him "Are you serious?' and he looked at us in disgust and asked us "If there was a problem" I knew then he was a lost cause and an embarrassment to his company. 5 days later he has someone place a bottle of wine with a card apologizing for the misunderstanding on embarkation day. There was never a misunderstanding. Activities onboard include a swimming pool, small gym, eating, and sleeping. Horrible to no WIFI. The food and service by the dining and cabin stewards were amazing. So gracious and always readily available to assist you in any way. Very genuine kind hearted individuals. Port and Shore Excursions were poor and thoughtless. You will hurry through to see floating villages and markets galore. They all look the same with no real time to explore during the short port time. Usually under 2 hours and then they herd you back onboard for lunch and then sit in the middle of the river with no way off to continue to explore. Entertainment onboard consisted of an Apsara Dance performance by local children which I have to say was impressive, a crew talent show which was fun to see the crew relax and have some fun, and a tropical fruit tasting at the end of the cruise to use any left over fruits that were not consumed in the prior 6 days. Disembarkation was a breeze and a 2 1/2 hour bus ride for the port to Ho Chi Minh City. My personal summary of this cruise is not a favorable one. This particular itinerary is weak and is designed for the inexperienced traveler who needs to take baby steps along the way and lives a sedentary lifestyle. If you really want to see Vietnam and Cambodia which I highly recommend, stay in nice hotels along the way and see more and do more for far less money. We wanted to get off half way through and just take a cab to HCMC. Good Luck! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Very disappointed in the Century (Viking) Emerald. The ship is leased from a Chinese firm, but there are six Viking employees onboard. The welcome aboard and first day were good, but things quickly turned sour. During the dinner the ... Read More
Very disappointed in the Century (Viking) Emerald. The ship is leased from a Chinese firm, but there are six Viking employees onboard. The welcome aboard and first day were good, but things quickly turned sour. During the dinner the second night, it seemed like the wait staff went on strike. An hour after being served the first course, we watched the wait staff clear some tables around us. At that point we left. The next morning we heard from many others of problems with service. Housekeeping was likewise unimpressive, e.g., had to ask three times for a dehumidifier that we had to empty about every eight hours, call the front desk for additional soap, etc. About the only thing the housekeeping staff did was to replace towels and pull up the duvet. Generally a lackadaisical crew who were polite but not very motivated. (Perhaps it was because the season was coming to a close.) The ship itself was also unimpressive - decks uneven, air conditioning kept the room cool, but not dry, bedskirt was stained and dirty, bathroom not particularly clean, etc. On the positive side, the many vendors onboard (tea sales, souvenirs, jewelry, tailor, etc.) were professional, helpful and enthusiastic - but they were selling product. As suggested by previous travelers, request a dehumidifier for the room as soon as you board. We had to empty it about every eight hours. The air conditioning only keeps the temperature cool, but does not remove any moisture from the air. The land portion of the trip was excellent if you don’t mind being one of 33 passengers being herded by an outstanding guide. All flights operated on time and we were able to see all the sights listed in the Viking brochure. Most disappointing was the daily lunch in Shanghai and Beijing which were provided by a shop of some sort, jade, ceramics, silk, etc., in exchange for us being there for extended “touring” which is really expensive shopping. If we were to do this again, we would opt for a shore-based vendor such as China Odyssey with whom we had booked pre- and post-tours where we toured with a guide and driver. Avoid summer travel unless you like temps in the high 90’s and low 100’s with humidity in the 90’s. We were lucky to arrive on October 8, just after the October 1 – 7 holiday ended. (Seems like everyone in China who does not work in the hospitality field goes on vacation then.) After October 8 through very early November is a great window weather-wise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
While the land portion of Viking's Jewels' of China Tour was phenomenal (Hotels were first-class; tour guide was the BEST we've ever experienced; planned activities were well-organized and carried out to perfection), the ... Read More
While the land portion of Viking's Jewels' of China Tour was phenomenal (Hotels were first-class; tour guide was the BEST we've ever experienced; planned activities were well-organized and carried out to perfection), the experience aboard the Emerald was disappointing. The ship is dated (musty smell, warped carpeting). SEVERAL people of our floor contacted food poisoning, including me and my husband. My husband and other traveler with us had to have IV from the ship's doctor. We missed touring events because we were sick. We seriously question the sanitary conditions of the food preparation on board. It was ironic for us that the part of the trip that we most looked forward to (we are experienced cruisers), was the most disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
After booking our trip to china with Viking, we were really looking forward to the 5 day trip down the Yangztee. We travelled during September and found the ship very damp, even down to our bedding. This was not helped by the air ... Read More
After booking our trip to china with Viking, we were really looking forward to the 5 day trip down the Yangztee. We travelled during September and found the ship very damp, even down to our bedding. This was not helped by the air conditioning being on with no option to change it to heat. The smell of sewerage in the cabin and round the ship, we found unbearable. Onboard, we could not fault the staff and there was a wide range of food although the food was never hot. Many of our group were ill after leaving the ship with flu type symptoms causing us to miss out on the best trips of the tour. The hotels that were selected for us to stay in during the land tours were exceptional but be aware that the first day you arrive your food is not included in the holiday and food is very expensive in the hotels (although this was the best food of the whole holiday). Meals included in our holiday were alway at different Chinese retaurants and alway served on a lazy Susan. These were very repetitive and were always the same dishes at every meal. Even though we love Chinese food, this is not Chinese food as we know it and it was the most disgusting food we had ever eaten. We felt that the trips were very rushed by trying to fit too many trips into the time allocated. Too much time is spent in the coach travelling, to many museums displaying the same items etc, etc. 1 instance was in leaving the Viking Emerald. We were taken to the zoo to see the pandas (amazing). On arrival, we were told we only had 1 hour at the zoo so got to see the pandas and nothing else. This is an amazing zoo with so much more to see. We were then took for lunch at 10.30 ( after we had already had breakfast on the ship), which no one wanted as we were being fed again on our flight to Xian 3 hours later. This extra time would have been much better used at the zoo. Days were very early starts, starting at 5am for breakfast to be on he coach for 6.30 in order to avoid crowds at the places we visited. On a good note, our guide Michael was the best. He is very knowledgable, funny, caring and is there constantly. Anyone who is disabled, please note that this trip is not for wheelchair friendly for most of the trips. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015

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