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Viking Emerald Review

4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating
297 reviews
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Editor Rating
4.0
Very Good
Jeannine Williamson
Cruise Critic Contributor

Launched in 2011, Viking Emerald is Viking River Cruises' sole ship operating on China's Yangtze River.

A chartered vessel, it has all the "feel" of a Viking-owned ship with the familiarity of branded products, menus, newsletters, day-to-day schedules and service standards. Repeat passengers won't feel short-changed. Unlike the line's predominantly European-based fleet, where low bridges and water levels restrict the size of ships, 256-passenger Emerald is a larger vessel, with four passenger decks and a sun deck, plus additional facilities that include shops, a spa, hair salon, Internet cafe and gym. With a sleek glass atrium extending through the decks, it's akin to a small, pared-down cruise ship.

Although it's relatively new, Emerald does not have the ultra-contemporary decor of some modern European river cruisers and is more traditionally furnished, although comfortable throughout. During our cruise, the onboard ambience was relaxed and friendly, and grumbles were few and minor. Crewmembers definitely stand out, unfailingly smiling and charming even when standing in the rain helping passengers up and down steps. This more than made up for small service issues in the dining room, such as occasionally running out of dishes at the lunchtime buffet.

Between March and November, Emerald sails on three Yangtze River land-cruise itineraries that range in duration from 12 to 18 days, again different to the European product that only features river cruises.

Attracting a predominantly American market, Viking's trademark attention to detail extends to the land stay with a company tour guide taking care of everything, including the collection and transfer of luggage for internal flights and even providing suitcase locks for passengers that need them. 

Pros

Cons

Bottom Line


About

Passengers : 256
Crew : 138
Passenger to Crew : 1.86:1
Launched : 2011
Shore Excursions : 0

Sails To

Sails From

Fellow Passengers

Unlike European river cruises, which mainly draw a 50-and-older market, China cruises attract a more diverse crowd, including younger couples and families with adult children. A large number on our cruise were river cruise veterans, many loyal to Viking. Others were confirmed ocean cruisers curious to find out about river cruising, and a few were on their first-ever cruise.

Passengers are divided into groups of up to 30 on arrival and stay with the same people on excursions for the duration of the itinerary, so many had already bonded by the time we boarded Emerald and stuck together for the rest of the trip. Those who want to socialize can broaden their circle, as the small and informal nature of river cruises makes it easy to circulate at mealtimes and in public rooms.

An average 75 percent of Emerald's passengers are from the U.S. The remainder hail from Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

Viking Emerald Dress Code

Dress is casual and comfortable onboard and ashore, with no formal nights that require special outfits. Jeans can be worn in the restaurant, and there's no obligation to change for dinner, although most people do. The captain's welcome dinner and/or farewell dinner provide an excuse for passengers to dress up a bit, albeit this still errs on the side of smart-casual.

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Viking Emerald Cruiser Reviews

Rooftop of the World - Viking Emerald is a Big Disappointment

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.... Read More
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dawneroe1

2-5 Cruises

Age 50s

Another fantastic cruise with an amazing guide and fantasic staff

All the staff we met along the way were, as always, very welcoming and really helpful and a great credit to Viking.... Read More
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JohkneeB

2-5 Cruises

Age 60s

Viking Emerald was o.k. but Yangtze River is not very scenic

., 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.... Read More
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woernerdavid

2-5 Cruises

Age 70s

Perfect Way to See the Real China

We went on the Viking Emerald Yangtze River cruise because a.) we wanted to see the real China, and b.) our daughter was studying abroad in Shanghai and we decided to tack on a few days at the end of the... Read More
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