9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Only way we would tour China was with a guided tour; we chose Viking because friends had recommended Viking for its wonderful service and comprehensive excursions. We were not disappointed. In fact, we loved every minute, though the ... Read More
Only way we would tour China was with a guided tour; we chose Viking because friends had recommended Viking for its wonderful service and comprehensive excursions. We were not disappointed. In fact, we loved every minute, though the schedule and pace were extremely exhausting. Our tour, "Undiscovered China," began in Shanghai, ending in Beijing. We felt safe the entire time and were amazed at the friendliness and openness of the Chinese people. Our guides all along the way were extraordinary, especially "TOM," our guide who stayed with us on the entire tour. At one point, one of our fellow travelers became very ill and had to spend a couple of nights in a local hospital. Viking's attention to her needs all along the rest of the trip was amazing. We will definitely travel with Viking again. We would recommend that Viking upgrade the China ship...it was tired, but the crew and staff were absolutely wonderful. The pace, though, was a killer. Quite a few of us had to miss a day of touring along the way, just because of being worn out. Some fell ill and had to miss a day or two of touring. I haven't a suggestion to remedy this, but too much of the local food seemed to be the culprit in most cases. All in all, this was the trip of a lifetime, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
The Viking Emerald is not the usual Scandinavian design, it is definitely Chinese. Beautifully decorated with shops where you can have silk clothing MADE on board, watch a very good artist paint, and more. The staff is polite and ... Read More
The Viking Emerald is not the usual Scandinavian design, it is definitely Chinese. Beautifully decorated with shops where you can have silk clothing MADE on board, watch a very good artist paint, and more. The staff is polite and attentive. The meals, really special. We did tour to Xian. I was blown away by the warriors , and the Great Wall really impress. For me this was not a vacation. It was a lot of walking every day. I came home tired but very happy we went. The population in China is shoulder to shoulder. The traffic was hair raising. Our driver was good and our tour director was outstanding. He had an answer for almost all question the 29 of us could ask and his patience was unending. This was a wonderful trip and I encourage you to go. Take good walking shoes, rain jacket and sunglasses. Happy travels Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
The cabins on our ship were always well maintained. We had a great view off our balcony and we could hear the scenery descriptions as we sailed down the Yangtze River. We really appreciated the surprise gifts left in our cabins during our ... Read More
The cabins on our ship were always well maintained. We had a great view off our balcony and we could hear the scenery descriptions as we sailed down the Yangtze River. We really appreciated the surprise gifts left in our cabins during our journey. As always we enjoyed the varied Viking menu which included food and beverages native to the areas we visited. The crew put on some outstanding shows and the audience participation was a lot of fun. The stops we made, the excursions and our on board native country guide were all excellent! Our guide was easy to understand and always attended to our every need. We had plenty of time for sightseeing and shopping. And the on board shopping had an outstanding selection as well. This trip also featured an on board tailor so we could special order apparel. My husband, brother, sister-in-law and I would strongly recommend this trip! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2015
As usual, Viking arranged five star hotels and an excellent guide! Our hotel in Shanghai, The Fairmount Peace Hotel was beautiful and right across the street form the Bund, or River Walk. The ship was not as nice as the longship we cruised ... Read More
As usual, Viking arranged five star hotels and an excellent guide! Our hotel in Shanghai, The Fairmount Peace Hotel was beautiful and right across the street form the Bund, or River Walk. The ship was not as nice as the longship we cruised on in Holland, but it was clean and the staff was excellent. Our cabin was very roomy, and we enjoyed our verandah as we cruised down the Yangtze River. Tibet was the most unusual place we have ever been! I loved the people dressed in traditional clothes. The food in our hotels was great, but the restaurants we visited all seemed to serve the same food, and it was rather bland. I did like the Chinese hamburgers-pork loin on a steamed bun. I know the restaurant on the way to the Summer Palace was convenient, but the food was not good. The Shanghai Acrobats were incredible, as was the show in Xian. The Terra Cotta Warriors were a highlight for me, and The Shangri-La Hotel in Xian was the nicest hotel I have stayed in. The Green Fish restaurant at the Ritz Carlton in Bejing was great. The Three Gorges tour was beautiful. The tour guide can make or break a trip, and our tour guide Richard was the very best! He looked after every member of our group of 32, and shared his heartfelt memories of growing up in China. He recapped the next day's plans each day and arranged our many flights, making it as easy as possible for us all. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Although this is presented as a cruise the time on the water is only half of the trip. Nor did we embark at Shanghai but the option to choose Chonqing is not in the menu. This was our first experience of cruising since both my husband ... Read More
Although this is presented as a cruise the time on the water is only half of the trip. Nor did we embark at Shanghai but the option to choose Chonqing is not in the menu. This was our first experience of cruising since both my husband and I suffer from seasickness and had not thought it wise to try the oceans! The "Imperial Jewels of China", from Beijing to Shanghai is a once in a lifetime trip. It could hardly be called a "holiday" since leisure time is extremely limited at the beginning and end. Excursions to the "must do" sites such as Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Terra Cotta Warriors etc set off very early in the day to try to avoid the worst of the crowds (not apparently successful!) so leisurely lie in bed is not on the programme. And even on the ship the excursions and activities are time consuming. But apart from the endless crowds and the rather disappointing weather this is an amazing experience. The vastness of a country you see only a portion of, the different culture, the overwhelming scenery - so different as you pass through different regions, the seething crowds ...... The cruise part of the itinerary we enjoyed immensely despite a couple of wet days. Unused to the possibly more luxurious cruise ships we found The Emerald more than comfortable and the crew delightful. If you want more luxury stay put in the hotels that Viking arranged for the rest of the trip! We were unfortunate since the night we embarked at Chongqing was the night that the Chinese cruise ship went down in the Yangtze with the loss of about 400 lives. This impacted on our timetable but the crew were more than helpful and reassuring. We had hoped to be sunbathing on our stateroom balcony but sadly the weather was not that kind. In fact we saw the sun on few occasions which, coming as we do from Andalucia in Spain, was disappointing. The pollution in the big cities hides the sun and the weather systems down in the mountains mean the sky is often grey with heavy cloud and drizzle. So don't take this trip if you want luxurious leisure or if you have difficulty in walking for long periods of time or if bad weather might put you off or if you are allergic to crowds. Take it if you want to experience something totally different and have your mind blown by the "Imperial Jewels of China", it's something you will never forget! P.S. The Viking tour guides are fantastic, particularly ours, the lovely "Johanna", and make things run like clockwork even on such a tight and demanding schedule. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
We visited wonderful places - in awe factor order - Forbidden City, Great Wall, Terra Cotta Soldiers, Yangtze River Gorges, school visit, Zoo/Pandas, numerous historical/cultural sites sprinkled throughout our journey. Was not impressed ... Read More
We visited wonderful places - in awe factor order - Forbidden City, Great Wall, Terra Cotta Soldiers, Yangtze River Gorges, school visit, Zoo/Pandas, numerous historical/cultural sites sprinkled throughout our journey. Was not impressed with Hu Tong visit (much construction work which appeared mostly unkempt and junky) and a demonstration of hacky sac type game nearby. Our guide, Matt, was excellent - always in tune with our group and looking out for our welfare. I am an adventurous eater and the food was excellent everywhere we went. Viking Emerald is an older ship so it was not as well appointed as others but accommodations were satisfactory none the less. The ship's crew were friendly, courteous and professional always. The Chinese people appeared friendly and always smiled. We learned to say "Hello" in Chinese and that always brought a smile and a wave and occasionally a picture with "the American visitors" especially from the kids who were just adorable. We would not hesitate to book future Viking vacations in any country offered. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Pictures, films, books, and magazines fall short of capturing China in it's beauty, frenzy, contradictions, and growth to modernization. The Viking cruise did a fantastic job in showing as much as possible in a short period of time. ... Read More
Pictures, films, books, and magazines fall short of capturing China in it's beauty, frenzy, contradictions, and growth to modernization. The Viking cruise did a fantastic job in showing as much as possible in a short period of time. Everything was well planned, well timed, and executed. The tour escort Jenna was exceptional. The ship was very comfortable with good food, cabins, lectures, activities, and staff. The pace was good for older travelers wherein we saw a lot but were not hurried from place to place. We had time to rest with some leisure time on board. We took the extension to Guilin and Hong Kong which was well worth it. All the hotels were 5 star by western standards. The buses were comfortable and modern. We could not have covered as much ground on our own in such a huge country especially not knowing the language. Vikings airport service was efficient and much appreciated. They handled all our ticketing and bags from the moment we booked, arrived in Shanghai until we left the country with no slip ups. This is a first class operation. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We are not easily impressed having been disappointed on many occasions, but this is one time where the trip actually lived up to its hype. While travel in China is not without its drawbacks, we felt that Viking did an excellent job of ... Read More
We are not easily impressed having been disappointed on many occasions, but this is one time where the trip actually lived up to its hype. While travel in China is not without its drawbacks, we felt that Viking did an excellent job of delivering the highlights of China within a reasonable time frame and at a reasonable cost. We like the corporate culture, and were amazed by our tour guide, Bonnie, and the staff onboard the Viking Emerald. I felt that the people Viking employed were very concerned about the welfare and comfort of the participants and very determined to give us personal insights that you would not have gotten had you tried to attempt a trip of this complexity on your own. We had no problem with food safety and were given unlimited bottled water everywhere we went. We only spent 5 days of the cruise tour on the ship, but we found it to be a pleasant experience. There was a pride in doing a superior job that we have not seen in a very long time. I think the Viking corporate culture breeds this type of employee and they should be commended for their excellence. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Roof of the World was a trip of a lifetime! My husband and I thoroughly recommend it for both the cultural and historical aspects. We chose this excursion because it included visiting different areas of China and Llhasa, Tibet. Our group ... Read More
Roof of the World was a trip of a lifetime! My husband and I thoroughly recommend it for both the cultural and historical aspects. We chose this excursion because it included visiting different areas of China and Llhasa, Tibet. Our group of 38 people were housed and traveled separately from other Viking groups (except on the river cruise) because we were the only group going to Tibet. Viking assigns a guide who remains with you throughout this trip. Our guide, Francis, is a Bejing native, and was by far the best guide we've ever had in our many travel experiences. He has 10+ years of travel industry experience and is able to share his personal experiences of the past 30-years of change within his country. Our time aboard the Emerald on the Yangtze River was marvelous. Cruising on this river we could enjoy a variety of local and business traffic, the farmers and fishers in their daily activities, the amazing Three Gorges and the minor gorges, Three Gorges Dam, and large and small cities along the route. Our cabin was compact but thoroughly comfortable. Closet space was a premium, but suitcases fit under the bed so you can store unnecessary clothing. (Note: this cruise is a relaxed environment/dressy casual atmosphere, so formal clothing is not needed here nor on land. Comfort is key!) The Emerald staff are helpful, friendly, and courteous. If they can't understand your question, they find someone who will help you. Of particular note are Lois (lounge), Paul (activities), and the head of the dining room (sorry, but I forgot his name!). With my food allergy, everyone was able to help me avoid problems. We were amazed at how rapidly staff remembered our names and room numbers! If you like to visit the lounge and like wine, we encourage you to sign up for the Premium package! Ordering from the menu or visiting the daily buffet gives a variety of food options. The port and shore excursions included local guides with detailed knowledge of history, traditions, and daily activities. We enjoyed walking through towns, museums, and temples to see and hear the local activities. The Vox speaker system is a perfect in these situations! The visit to a local Tibetan home was an excellent experience. The Viking School children visiting us onboard was wonderful. We were extremely lucky with beautifully clear weather on most days of our trip. The Great Wall was spectacular with fall foliage and blue skies. We know this isn't always the case, and breathing can be difficult for those with asthma or related health issues. Tibet's elevation makes moving and breathing difficult, but the people, places, and food makes it very worth drinking lots of water, resting, avoiding alcohol, and, if necessary, using oxygen. Embarkation, disembarkation, airport check-in, and baggage handling are very efficient. We enjoyed having someone else handling all this for us. A carryon bag and small "daypack" are essential in addition your checked bag. Be prepared for staying in luxury hotels, eating a variety of foods, and non-western toilets. Take this trip and be adaptable. Viking's trip to China and Tibet is excellent! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
This was our first experience with Viking and although the cruise part of the tour and pre cruise trip was only 5 days, the entire trip was 15 days for us. There were lots of logistics for them to handle and we felt they did an excellent ... Read More
This was our first experience with Viking and although the cruise part of the tour and pre cruise trip was only 5 days, the entire trip was 15 days for us. There were lots of logistics for them to handle and we felt they did an excellent job. In fact we have signed up for a 30+ day Baltic/ Norwegian/Iceland extravaganza on their new ocean ships for 2016. We feared that 5 star in China might not mean 5 star, but really I think it is pretty accurate, but this is not a cruise for the person looking to go to the spa, dress up, drink exotic cocktails, see glitzy shows, dance and gamble the night away. This is for the hard core travel addict who is there to see the country, expand their horizons and come home with a new appreciation for a different culture, but wants comfort and safety. The tour guides and staff took their jobs very seriously and gave us wonderful personal insights into their country. We have cruised on many different cruise lines, but Viking seems to have matched our interests better than the others. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
We travelled on the Viking Imperial Jewels tour/river cruise at the end of July. We havecruised frequently on ocean cruises and are also independent travellers so this was a unique situation for us. Most of my angst was travelling with a ... Read More
We travelled on the Viking Imperial Jewels tour/river cruise at the end of July. We havecruised frequently on ocean cruises and are also independent travellers so this was a unique situation for us. Most of my angst was travelling with a difficult group. Viking is an outstanding company that we will travel with in the future. For those wanting to see China at a more than comfortable level this is a great trip. Eight groups of 34 make up the entire group travelling on the river. You are put into one of those groups and assigned a tour escort for the whole trip. We were blessed with a great group, mostly teachers due to the time of the year. Our tour escort, Iowa, was outstanding. He provided free and open opinions about China, including first hand information about him in Tianemenan Square in 1989. He was organized and professional. The hotels that are used are 5-6 star quality. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton. Portman in Shanghai, the Hilton in Xi'an and the Regent in Beijing. Outstanding in every way! This is NOT a shopping tour although there are chances to spend money, mostly at Viking approved places. Jade, silk embroidery, silk carpets and Xi'an souvenirs are some of the stops. You have to spend your free time going out to the markets as Viking does not encourage this. There is a tailor aboard the ship if you want a custom silk jacket made, as well as a pearl store and Chinese artist. Each day of the cruise provides for a shore excursion, included in the price. We toured the Three Gorges Dam, toured the Lesser Three Gorges by small boat and climbed the Shaobazhai Temple. There is not a lot to do on the ship so be prepared to relax and read. There is no promenade deck to walk around. We travelled in the summer so there was very, very hot and humid weather. All the daily talks were very informative. The food was very good and plentiful - the best thing is the homemade yogurt served in small jars. Delicious. The staff works extremely hard, especially Lois, the bar manager. The premium bar package at 150.00 is great value, especially if you like trying other wines and enjoy drinks other than beer and wine. House wine and beer and no extra charge however the only choice is Chardonnay. That sold me on the package. Don't expect Wifi, it doesn't exist. There are 6 computers, slow but always available. Wifi is available at Ll hotel free of charge. This is a VERY good trip and an excellent way to see China. I would highly recommend it.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
As with most of our fellow passengers, this was our first visit to China. The trip comprised three land centres punctuated by a five day cruise on the Yangtze. The selected hotels in Shanghai, Xian and Beijing were all of a very high ... Read More
As with most of our fellow passengers, this was our first visit to China. The trip comprised three land centres punctuated by a five day cruise on the Yangtze. The selected hotels in Shanghai, Xian and Beijing were all of a very high quality. Our trip started in Shanghai and ended in Beijing. This to us seemed the best option as it offered the only opportunity to see the pandas. Most of those we spoke to agreed that, with the benefit of hindsight, this was indeed the preferred option as, leaving the Terracotta Army, Forbidden City and Great Wall until the end of the trip diminished any possible feeling of anti-climax. We were fortunate to have an excellent guide, Johanna, who gave us comprehensive background to life in China and an interesting perspective on the changes wrought over the past century. It must be pointed out that we believed we had struck lucky with Johanna but those in other groups were equally enthusiastic about their guides. The specialist city guides too were all of a high quality. The visits were well chosen and informative although those of us staying away from downtown Shanghai would have liked more time on the Bund rather than a cursory drive through. Enrichment activities were organised in several centres, some include, some optional. We enjoyed the evening entertainment in Shanghai and the playing of the ancient instruments in Wuhan. We skipped the circus and duck dinner in Beijing both of which received mixed reviews. We did opt for the afternoon trip to the Summer palace in Beijing and were well rewarded. The transition from land to sea was smoothly handled. Embarkation was swift and welcoming. Services on the Emerald were excellent, a nice touch being that by the end of the first evening the dining room and bar staff had learned our names. The food was uniformly fine with several options for each course in the evening and some interesting choices at lunchtimes for those who were feeling adventurous. We purchased the drinks package which for $150 per head allowed more choice of wine/beer as well as extra drinks outside of mealtimes. Those who did not do so pronounced the complimentary beer and wines perfectly acceptable. The sit as you please dining arrangement allowed us to converse with other guests with whom we would not otherwise have met. The passengers seemed to be split 50-50 in terms of Brits and Americans and we enjoyed some pleasant evenings. Having cruised with Americans in the past we were happy not to meet any who whinged about their taxes and/or tried to convince us that Obama was not an American and should never have been allowed to take his place in the White House. These were truly a different breed! Dining in the cities was usually in the 'Lazy Susan' style allowing the opportunity to sample a number of different dishes. This we enjoyed. Excursions from the boat were well chosen. These included a transfer to smaller boats to sail the Lesser Three Gorges and a visit to the spectacular Shibaozhai pagoda. Entertainment on the boat was limited but the crew put on a couple of shows to showcase their talents. In truth, there was not a lot to do by day except to sit and enjoy the scenery but several informative lectures were provided by the Cruise Director, Paul. Everyone with whom we spoke expressed surprise at the modernisation of China and the speed of progress. Many cities unknown in the west have populations of millions. The memories of vast urban developments, the rush to embrace all things western, and the hugely entertaining interpretation of traffic laws will live long. China is a rapidly changing country with a fascinating past. A visit is enormously rewarding and Viking River Cruises' Imperial Jewels trip offers a value for money introduction to China. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
We traveled on Viking River Cruise's Imperial Jewels of China trip in May/June 2014. We chose Viking because of their total package, and because China would be difficult to navigate by ourselves. I'll start with the negative, ... Read More
We traveled on Viking River Cruise's Imperial Jewels of China trip in May/June 2014. We chose Viking because of their total package, and because China would be difficult to navigate by ourselves. I'll start with the negative, but there were many more positives. The negative was that our group of 24 who traveled and ate most meals together included 8 people who were not able to physically keep up with the rest of the group for various reasons. One individual brought a walker and friend to help her, but even that was not adequate for most of the excursions. During our two week time, two people fell, and two went home before the trip ended. Though Viking "warns" travelers about the rigorous nature of the trip, it's really up to the traveler to decide. The Chinese tour guides are not equipped to accommodate large numbers of handicapped/mobility-challenged individuals. Our guide spent many days scurrying to find wheelchairs for this often demanding group. Viking needs to have the flexibility to move these folks into a group of their own the first or second day (in situations like ours); otherwise, it negatively impacts the rest of the tour group. We missed a trip to the Chongqing Zoo (which has natural habitats rather than a traditional zoo) and the famous Dumpling restaurant in the Muslim District in Xian. So please, if you fall into this category and are considering a trip to China, consider the other travelers before booking a trip. On the positive, we enjoyed our time in the major Chinese cities - Shanghai, Xian and Beijing - more than our time on the cruise. The hotels were 5 star - we stayed at the Shanghai Ritz Carlton, the Xian Hilton and the Regent in Beijing. All were well-located and accommodated to our needs. Traveling from Shanghai to Beijing is beneficial because there is time to get over jet lag at the beginning of the trip, and touring the Yuyuan Gardens, the silk factory and the Shanghai Museum can be done at a relaxing pace. The leg from Xian to Beijing is the most interesting and requires the most walking and traveling. The Chinese airlines were all professional, clean and organized, in our experience, and Viking coordinated our flights well. Xian was one of the highlights of the trip, and Viking wisely made it a two-day stop. Beijing was wonderful during our visit - the weather, the people and our time at Tiananmen Square/Forbidden City - walked 5 miles as well as our 2-hour hike up the south side of the Great Wall of China at Badaling. Shopping at the Pearl Market was a great time with many deals. Give yourself a full afternoon for that. Regarding the cruise, the staff on the ship could not have been nicer or more accommodating. It is not as luxurious as some cruises we have done, but we enjoyed the small group (180 people total), and we made friends with many people. This was nice to do at the beginning of the trip so we could spend time together for the remainder of the trip. Most thought that 3 days on the Yangtze would have been enough, but since Viking is a cruise company, that seems unlikely. The Three Gorges Dam and the Lesser Gorges are definitely worth seeing, but much of the coastline as you head east is industrialized. You will learn so much about China and its culture, and we recommend it! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Subject: Viking Cruise, China Nov 1-18, 2013 – Tour Guide-Arnold Zheng We experienced 18 amazing days in China! My sister-in-law and I decided to take a Viking Cruise to China. I love travel and have been on over 25 cruises with various ... Read More
Subject: Viking Cruise, China Nov 1-18, 2013 – Tour Guide-Arnold Zheng We experienced 18 amazing days in China! My sister-in-law and I decided to take a Viking Cruise to China. I love travel and have been on over 25 cruises with various cruise lines in the states and in Europe, so I was anxious to try a river cruise. Growing up in St Louis, on the Mississippi River, I was interested in travelling down the Yangtze River. I had absolutely no idea that this trip would be the very best I had ever experienced in all my travels. It was a trip of a lifetime! In retrospect, the credit for such a fantastic experience should go to Arnold, our amazing guide. Arnold set the tone for tours and his professionalism, sense of humor, incredible knowledge of history and love of his country and family, and his genuine kindness and concern for all of us, made this an exceptional time in China. His English is superb, and his openness and willingness to share stories and his knowledge gave us all a new perspective of Chinese culture. Arnold is certainly a premier tour guide and a genuinely wonderful person who cares about the people who are touring with him. He went above and beyond to ensure that everyone’s needs were met. There wasn’t a situation that he couldn’t handle and did so with kindness and professionalism. Every tour, hotel arrangements, schedule was handled perfectly. Arnold always prepared us for what we would see and do, and he gave us the comfort level in travel that is rarely experienced. Everything was so well planned; and we were very well taken care of during our stay. He showed ultimate respect for all of us, and I have the highest respect for Arnold and his professionalism. It isn’t easy to be away from family for extended periods of time, but it is evident he loves his family and is devoted to them and to his career. Arnold has a great perspective on life; and he is a wonderful ambassador for not only Viking Cruise Lines, but his country, China. The people on the boat were very well travelled. While we docked in some "interesting" places with lots of stairs and ramps that were definitely not the Caribbean docks and ports, everyone seemed to just go with the flow and experience the culture. Stairs were many with few hand rails, but we were always well prepared for the day by our tour guide. Food on the boat was very good and yogurt superb! Chinese local restaurants were very nice, if you like Chinese food. The Peking Duck was wonderful! Optional tours were definitely worth the time and money. Tours were filled with outstanding local guides and a wealth of information. Always plenty of time to shop or take pictures. We left with wonderful memories, great pictures, new friends, and we will definitely book another Viking Cruise in 2014. Hopefully we will experience more “Arnolds” in other countries. It was one fantastic trip!   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
We just returned home from a 17 day trip to China starting in Shanghai and ending in Beijing. We had a 6 day cruise along the Yangtze River and an incredible 3 day excursion to Lhasa in Tibet. The entire trip was fascinating. We are ... Read More
We just returned home from a 17 day trip to China starting in Shanghai and ending in Beijing. We had a 6 day cruise along the Yangtze River and an incredible 3 day excursion to Lhasa in Tibet. The entire trip was fascinating. We are seasoned travelers and usually rent a car and tour through countries on our own. We knew this was not possible in China if we wanted to see as much as we could during our time there. Plus the maneuvering from flights, river cruise and historical sights was a massive task. Our amazing tour guide Jessie made it look easy but it would not have been possible as an American tourist. Just working our way through 4 Chinese domestic flights was overwheming with the language barriers. We both agree that Viking was very smart in hiring the best tour guides which stay with you during your entire trip from start to finish. Jessie was always diligent in her attention to details. She would tweek our schedule slightly to work us around obstacles which came up in our tours because of the Chinese government. If she saw that we were moving faster or slower than the schedule had allowed she would call ahead and change our tickets for the next event accordingly. She was friendly and helpful but more than that she was incredibly knowledgeable about the country. We learned so much from her oratory about her family experiences, the changes in China and her personal daily life. It was like she understood that if you were traveling in China we must be very interested in its culture and its people. Tibet was certainly not an easy part of our trip but again Jessie knew just how to plan the three days to allow for some altitude sickness which can range from a slight headache to dizziness and nausea. Because of her attention to this we never missed one event and Tibet was one of our favorite places. We always felt safe and well cared for during our entire time in China because Jessie was thorough in her planning and her attention to our needs as travelers in her country. Our China trip was an amazing experience, of course there were some minor mishaps just as you would have on any travels but the people that Viking hires to deal with such things did their jobs and we were never inconvenienced by the changes or problems that arose. We would definitely use Viking Cruises again to travel in other parts of the world and we would highly recommend them to our friends. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
Just returned from Viking Imperial Jewels of China cruise. We booked our own air with Delta. A Viking local tour guide met us at the airport in Shanghai and the transfer to the Ritz Carlton was flawless. At the hotel we met our guide Jane ... Read More
Just returned from Viking Imperial Jewels of China cruise. We booked our own air with Delta. A Viking local tour guide met us at the airport in Shanghai and the transfer to the Ritz Carlton was flawless. At the hotel we met our guide Jane who was with us for the entire trip. I cannot say enough about her. I called her our security blanket. She managed to get us on early domestic flights which resulted in 3 on time flights. China's domestic airlines are notoriously delayed. We also arrived at all of the crowded venues (pandas, terracotta warriors and Great Wall) ahead of the crowds. We booked the extra nights in Shanghai and were glad we did. Gave us an opportunity to get over jetlag and to see more of this remarkable city. We flew to Wuhan where we boarded the Viking Emerald which was built in 2010 not 2011 for Century cruises. It is chartered by Viking. Chinese shipbuilding is not up to Western standards. The air conditioning cooled all of the rooms, but did not dehumidify which is important. The climate along the Yangtse is subtropical with lots of heat and humidity. The interior decoration of the ship was very attractive. Carpet in some areas is wearing thin. Fall is the best time to cruise. Shipboard staff were excellent and well trained in customer service. Food was good, not great. Pretty much what we expected based on previous Viking cruises in Europe. I would suggest cruisers get the extra alcohol package unless they enjoy the really cheap free wine provided free with meals. This also includes soft drinks used at non meal times. I realize this is a casual cruise, but gym shorts and tee shirts at dinner was too casual for our group of ten. The scenery in the 3 Gorges is spectacular, but be aware this is a humid foggy area with an overlay of the air pollution seen throughout China. Visiblility was only fair except for one day when it was a little better. The river is very busy with commercial traffic. Many river boats carrying raw materials for the massive construction boom we saw everywhere we went along with coal for the many power plants located along the river. The children at the school sponsored by Viking were delightful. We could barely see the 3 Gorges dam because of limited visibility. The Lesser 3 Gorges tour on a smaller boat is very good. We saw the pandas in Chongquing as they were waking up. They are wonderful. The terracotta warriors in Xian are spectacular. The highlight of Bejing was the trip to the Great Wall. We had time to walk as much of the wall as we wanted. Again, visibility was fair at best. During the trip, we toured a silk factory and jade factory, Very interesting, but mainly intended to entice us to purchase their wares. Thankfully, no hard sell. Overall, the trip met our expectations. One peeve was that at all non-ship meals the drink choice was beer, water or soda. Several in our group would have preferred a glass of wine which was either not available or at extra cost. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
First of all, this was not my choice of trips, it was my mom's. She wanted to go for a long time and since she treats me so well and lets me choose destinations a lot of the time I knew that I had to do it for her. I have a hard time ... Read More
First of all, this was not my choice of trips, it was my mom's. She wanted to go for a long time and since she treats me so well and lets me choose destinations a lot of the time I knew that I had to do it for her. I have a hard time with being in a country when I cant speak the language and I am a very very very picky eater so China checked off those two boxes for me right off the bat. I had decided I could always get rice so that would be what I would do if I had to...and I brought a bunch of meal bars with me. I have to say that I never ate any of those bars I brought with me....and this trip is in my top 2, actually its in a class all by itself in the number one spot. I was very pleasantly surprised and very very very impressed with Viking. From the time I collected my luggage from baggage claim upon arrival in Shanghai to the moment I checked in my luggage when leaving from Beijing I was completely taken care of. I felt comfortable and safe and free to enjoy myself. I never actually handled my luggage (other than carry on) during that trip except for arriving and departure from the country. The food on the Viking Emerald is the best I have ever had...ever. They make their own yogurt everyday.....6 different flavors...everyday!! To die for! The ice cream and sorbet was also homemade and so so good!! Great choices for meals and breakfast was killer. I loved going to the same table for every meal and getting to know the staff. Lucy, Amy and Andrew rock!!! There is an anytime menu available that I ordered from twice. I also loved the on board shops!!! Hand carved personalized stamps, tailored clothing, jewelery, tea (and instruction), painting and souveners (I loved the girl in the shop, Cherry), all very nice quality and good prices. The room was perfect, great size, loved the shower! Loved the shows put on by the staff and the lectures and narrations. The 12 days were balanced very well time wise. We had only a couple of days that were hectic, but only because we chose to do the optional excursions, and even then we had a few hours of down time on those days. The on board ship days we had excursions each day and the rest of the time on the ship, it was so relaxing. We saw and did so many amazing things that it was hard to wrap your mind around everything we saw and did, the photos bring it all back each and every time I look through them. I really enjoyed the Acrobatic Show (included excursion), the Bells Performance (included excursion), the Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show (optional excursion) and the Peking Opera (optional excursion). My favorite stops were the Lesser Three Gorges excursion, the Pagoda Visit, seeing the Giant Panda bears, the Terra Cotta Army visit and the Great Wall. Usually you have just a few highlights....I have many more from this trip. I loved The Regent Beijing the best of the hotels, they were all 5 star but this one was much more in my opinion. The best part of this trip was the Tour Escort and the group tho. We had a group of 31 and our Tour Escort was Terry. Terry managed to create a family of us and he was always there for anything we needed. His relaxed attitude and his love of his country shined right through and was very comforting and fun. He shared the right balance of personal information about life in China as a child and as an adult and history of the country. He held our attention with interesting facts and stories and was so natural. We had some great local guides as well but no one could compete with Terry. Of the 31 people in our group we became close with 10 of them, not bad for a group of 31! By the end of the trip Terry was able to peg us pretty closely as to what type of person we were. I hope that Viking realizes what a gem they have in Terry. As for the very very very picky eater, I did well, there were only 2 meals out of 36 that I had a tough time with and ate mostly rice. The lazy Susan meals were fun, and Terry did tell us each time what each dish was. My mom was the taster, she tasted first and gave her impression. We all had great time at the table discussing the foods. It did'nt take long for any of them to figure out that I was the picky one, lol! So in closing I will share the one negative I had about the trip and that was the Intra China flights. There were problems with delays and gate changes and even being bussed out to the field to board a plane. These are not things we typically experience in the US but it happened on all 3 flights and it didnt appear to be out of the ordinary for China. This in no way reflects upon Viking. And I am aware that the flights are necessary to be able to see that much of the country in 12 days at a pretty relaxed pace (which was so welcome). Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
This was a wonderful trip. We were treated as VIP's throughout the tour. It is a hybrid cruise and tour. Because of language barriers the guides have to work harder and they did a great job assisting every person. Don't expect as ... Read More
This was a wonderful trip. We were treated as VIP's throughout the tour. It is a hybrid cruise and tour. Because of language barriers the guides have to work harder and they did a great job assisting every person. Don't expect as much free time just wandering around but every minute is a wonderful memory. Our guides went above and beyond. Jenna Chen, our tour escort, was wonderful, funny, intelligent and super helpful. We asked her to make reservations at NOBU in Beijing and she totally took care of it. She arranged taxis and helped us with every request. All the guides helped informing the group about everything we were going to experience. They were always patient with our group (even when some of the people talked through everything they said and they had to tell them over and over)...the longest delay our group experienced was one hour in the Xian airport...the trip was always on time All the Hotels were five star. The ship was wonderful...The crew accommodated every request. They were friendly and helpful...They anticipated every need. If you wanted chili paste with your food they remembered and had it waiting for you. Jamie, our program director, was informative and had a wonderful sense of humor. It was her first cruise as program director but it seemed she had been doing it forever. Ben was fun and made the cruise more fun. Lois and Nora put up with our nonsense with good humor. Bella and Maggie waited on us hand and foot... We had a Junior Suite which was conveniently located to everything. It was still extremely quite. We were not able to book a Suite so this was a great compromise. It gave us some extra room. With size of our bags that was great. We didn't spend much time in our room because we were always on the viewing deck, lounge or dining. But, the cabin was extremely nice. Beds were comfortable. Bathrooms were a little dated but functional (It is China)...Baths took care of all my requirements. Veranda was wonderful. Super nice experience...Cabin was always clean and tidy....Super wonderful cabin.....CLEAN, Great Veranda and Bed.... We made lifelong friends on this tour. The river cruise was something you just can't experience in China any other way. The beauty of the trip just can't be described. The Viking River Cruise arranged for us to be the only quests at the Wuhan Museum for a Concert of the Bronze Bells. We traveled to China during the National Holiday but spent the Holiday on the cruise down the Yangtze...So we missed most of the crowds...But, the crew was still aware of the issue and arrange things to avoid as much of the crowds as they could. Definitely would advise to take the Shanghai to Beijing trip gives you a chance to relax and adjust to the time change. The crew and guides made this trip so special...The facilities were wonderful...I would definitely travel with Viking again. I would recommend this trip to anyone...Don't hesitate to take this trip but remember it isn't Europe...There aren't always Western Toilets (but the guides warn you where to use them) The Peking Duck was super....Loved the Tang Dynasty Show. It was beautiful (food was yuck but worth the it)...I can't say enough about how great the food on the ship was.. Loved every excursion. The Great Wall was awesome. Because we went during the National Holiday there were flowers everywhere. I will say nothing I have said above does this trip justice. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
We have just returned from the Viking Emerald - China's Cultural Delights August 2013 First and foremost, think twice before traveling to China in August. The temperatures were near 100 with 100% humidity daily. The trip has a lot of ... Read More
We have just returned from the Viking Emerald - China's Cultural Delights August 2013 First and foremost, think twice before traveling to China in August. The temperatures were near 100 with 100% humidity daily. The trip has a lot of walking and stairs - the temperature makes the excursions more difficult to handle. Consider your level of fitness, if stairs leave you out of breath or walking more than 1 mile is not going to happen, consider a different trip. You will also encounter lots of pollution. The Viking staff goes out of their way to be helpful and does a good job of taking care of you during your stay, however the trip does leave a lot to be desired. If you are paying more than their  price deal you are paying too much. The ship is warm and damp - with temperatures regulated globally rather than per cabin. The dampness = a musty odor. Floors are uneven and the carpet needs to be re stretched. The cabins are a good size and comfortable. During your river cruise there is a daily excursion, but the majority of the day/night is spent cruising the river. You will have a 3-4 hr excursion which generally includes a 30 min to 1 hour bus ride to your destination. Viking takes you on an extreme number of shopping experiences - rugs, silk, porcelain, jade all served with a mediocre Chinese lunch. You will be taken through a factory and shown the process, with every tour ending in a shop where you can purchase something. If you are not a shopper, beware  of your excursions are shopping experiences. The on board food is plentiful - but quality and taste are not always great. The land portion of the trip is fast paced, the hotels nice, the food plentiful - but not gourmet. You will spend less than 24 hours in most locations and only see a quick highlight of the locations you are visiting. Meals are served on lazy Susan - drinks are usually a warm water, soda or beer - no wine is offered on land. You are encouraged to tip daily for guides and bus drivers- I would suggest you take $100 American Dollars for these tips. Additionally you can charge the on board tips, but if you want to ensure that the tips are going to those you truly appreciated, tip them directly. What you will see and experience is a wonderful culture with people who are genuinely happy and optimistic about their country and their opportunities for a better future. You will interact with local children and their grandparents who greet you at every port. You will see China's richest treasures in Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an and at several stops along the Yangtze. You will sail through beautiful gorges and past mega industrial sites. You will leave with an overview and appreciation for China.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
Our total trip, land + river, was 12 days. A viking representative met us at the airport in Shanghai and from that point on we were superbly cared for until a Viking rep dropped us at the airport in Beijing. The attention to detail, the ... Read More
Our total trip, land + river, was 12 days. A viking representative met us at the airport in Shanghai and from that point on we were superbly cared for until a Viking rep dropped us at the airport in Beijing. The attention to detail, the very personal care, the knowledge of our guide, the friendships we made - all exceptional. Quality 5 Star hotels, no cuing in lines for tourist sites, spectacular World Heritage tours. The Viking ship, Emerald, was good - not great....it's a little tired and could use some updating, but again the service of the Viking employees was exceptional. Breakfast and lunch buffet were excellent, but chef could use a course in preparation of western cuisine. When local fare was prepared, it was wonderful, but the kitchen struggled a bit with anything out of their traditional comfort zone (Chilean Sea Bass cooked till dry as wood chips) And cookies! How difficult would it be to offer a simple Toll House Chocolate Chip instead of dried compressed sawdust. But if those are the only two things that weren't up to par they were more than compensated for by the overall excellence of our experience. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
My son (25) and I (58) took the July 9, 2013 Shanghai-Beijing "Imperial Jewels of China" 12-day tour, which included 5 nights on the Yangtze River going upriver. It was a trip of a lifetime. As an American, the cultural ... Read More
My son (25) and I (58) took the July 9, 2013 Shanghai-Beijing "Imperial Jewels of China" 12-day tour, which included 5 nights on the Yangtze River going upriver. It was a trip of a lifetime. As an American, the cultural differences between China and Northeast US where we live cannot be overstated. China, for the most part, is still a third-world country in many aspects. It's clear that this country only opened itself to the world in recent decades. The Chinese culture has a very strong history which is still unchanged by other cultures due to their centuries of self-seclusion. Celebrated in music, in theatre, in daily living, every day on this trip introduced my son and I to new outlooks, new foods, new scenery, new ideas and traditions, and new friends. We were able to see the truly amazing natural sites like the historic Yangtze River/extensive and awe-inspiring gorges and Chongqing's giant pandas, plus ancient and extraordinary man-made artifacts such as a buried enormous set of Chinese Bells, jade, Oriental rugs and rug-making, the Terra-Cotta Warriors, the Great Wall, the new largest-in-the-world (Three Gorges) Dam/5-lock system, which changed the face of that part of the world with the rising river water it produced, Shanghai's cosmopolitan modern city and Beijing's historic Tiananman Square and the Forbidden City. And more. The ship was lovely, the food was great, if sometimes experimental (the Chinese really do eat everything), and there were artisans onboard who could create you Chinese clothing made-to-order, beautiful Chinese paintings and painted articles, tea sets and Chinese tea culture, Chinese dancing and traditional costumes of various dynasties. You could also receive an introduction to Tai Chi or receive Chinese massage, pedicure or other delights. Daytrips were mostly covered financially as part of the tour price with only 3 charged extras, all of which we experienced, including two dinner-theatre events (Tang Dynasty and Peking Opera), and a traditional Peking Duck dinner. The boat is small, only accommodating some 240, which split into groups of approximately 30, each led by a Chinese tour guide, which traveled on individual buses for the land portions of the tour. Although ship cabins are always challenging in size if one doesn't have a huge budget, I found the shower to be larger than expected and the bathroom fairly spacious. The interior 270-sq-ft space was nicely fitted, with unanticipated added "comes-with-the-room" features like an umbrella and robe. Loved the veranda as well. In a very hot climate as the Yangtze river areas were, it was a pleasure to be able to sit in a private space to enjoy the view, or to, as we did, rig up a clothes-line system (we brought clothes line and pins) so we had a place to dry laundry, which we washed by hand on-board several times. This was allowed since it's a very common thing in China to hang your laundry; almost no one uses a clothes dryer anywhere, there. Definitely a good decision on the part of Viking to allow everyone to have a veranda. I was dismayed, on the next-to-last day of the tour when we were at the Great Wall, when I inadvertently took a wrong turn when trying to return to our meeting place and found myself far, far away from where I was supposed to be. Although I missed getting back to my meeting place in time and my bus returned without me on the 50-minute ride back to Beijing, this extremely frightening experience (I had no Chinese language and the people where I found myself had little to no English skills) cost me a taxi-ride back to where I was supposed to get to, where I found out for the first time I had been "stranded" by my bus at the Great Wall, Viking River Tours already had anticipated such innocent mistakes as mine, and because I was wearing a name tag with a Chinese character on it telling the Chinese who I was with and therefore where I was supposed to meet, and because that same name tag had the phone number of my bus's Chinese (Viking) travel guide, I was rescued by Viking. In fact, the company even paid for my second taxi...the 50-minute one back to Beijing to the luncheon spot where the rest of my group had gone ahead of me. So, two things about that....they rescued me and took care of/paid for my rescue....and they didn't hold everyone else up while my rescue was happening. Although I was terrified at the time, I was actually under good care (which no one could share because of the language barrier) and was safe all the while, due to Viking's efficiency and management of their tour spots. Because of this rescue and the Viking's overseeing my well-being, my son and I have decided to go on the Viking Oceans 15-day "Viking Homelands" tour on their new 2015 Ocean cruiser, the Viking Star. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
I will try to stay on matters relevant to prospective travellers and not to dwell on incidentals. A few specifics that may set a framework: we travelled from June 20-July 5, 2013, from Shanghai to Beijing with extension to Guilin and Hong ... Read More
I will try to stay on matters relevant to prospective travellers and not to dwell on incidentals. A few specifics that may set a framework: we travelled from June 20-July 5, 2013, from Shanghai to Beijing with extension to Guilin and Hong Kong; Im 68, overweight, but long ago athletic, and my wife is 57, not athletic, but generally fit. I wont try to cover everything but will focus on pros and cons, each in chronological order. PROS - Vikings organization from airport(s) to hotel(s) to boat. Worriless. - The Tour Escort system, which always give you a bilingual person to rely on and learn from. (Ours was Gao, and he was a mensch.) - The extremely high quality of all hotels. - The Shanghai Museum. Limited but a great way to fill the 75-minute slot available. Ceramics/porcelain the highlight for me, followed by painting; wife favored the bronzes. As much archaeology as art, but learning about Chinese history through artifacts became a valued layer of our trip. - The boat in general (the Viking Emerald). Service excellent, food good, and lecturer (Daniel Peng) informative and witty. Laundry was fast and fairly priced. - The staterooms. Ours was high-end (Deck 5) since we booked late (April) and it was the one that happened to open up, but I believe even the least expensive are good and all have picture windows and balconies (dont expect to use the latter much in the heat and humidity) as well as good bathrooms and showers. Storage a bit short for hanging sweaty clothes. - Fellow passengers. Generally open, good-spirited sorts. We travelled by ourselves but never lacked for good meal companions, although we did find ourselves averting our glances from people whose life stories we already knew and scanning for tables with people who looked interesting. - Casual dress. Shorts the norm. In the heat and humidity, its a relief never to have to dress up. - The Hubei Provinical Museum in Wuhan. We arrived in late afternoon, in a hurry to get to the boat, and only had time for a quick concert on replicas of musical instruments recently unearthed from the tomb of Yi (the king of the Zeng Sate in the Warring States Period (476 BC - 221 BC), then a quick tour of rooms with original chimes and other artifacts, but exhibit was impressive and musicians were skillful. - The scenery after the Three Gorges Dam. Youre in the mountains now. - Smaller boat ride through the lesser Three Gorges. This stretch (and especially the later trip on the Li River in Guilin) reminded me of one of my favorite travel experiences ever, sailing through a fjord in Norway. - Shibaozhai Pagoda on the Yangtze. Very scenic. I cramped a calf on walk to it and didnt climb Pagoda, but wife tells me it was great, and it looked great from outside. - Chongquin Zoo. We saw seven pandas, which our cheerful local guide Romy told us was exceptional. - Terra Cotta Army Museum in Xian. Words cannot describe. Truly one of the wonders of the world, along with, on succeeding days - Great Wall in the Badaling Hills outside Beijing, and - The Forbidden City. These last three sights epitomized the best feature of our trip: being transported into a different world and culture and history. The adjoining Tienamin Square didnt do much for us. Mainly a big, empty space with a strong sense of Mao. - Foot massage in Guilin (were now on the extension and our escort is Jimmy, who was also very good). Another extremely likable, cheerful local guide, Lisa, arranged this. All but a few of us signed up and none regretted it. - Li River Cruise from Quilin to Yangshuo Village. The dimpled, sandstone mountains were spectacular. - Spectacular cityscape from Victoria Peak over Hong Kong and downtown Kowloon. - The 8:00 to 8:18 PM light show from the highrises on the bay was also delightful, and we were lucky enough to catch it on a clear day from a terrific 29th floor restaurant, Aqua (not on tour itinerary). Before I turn to cons, I should note that weather makes a huge difference, and we lucked into good weather in Hong Kong, on the Li River, in the Lesser Three Gorges, and on several other days. Heat, humidity, and smog are givens for most of the trip, at least in summer, but we were able to see nearly everything clearly (or through a scenic mist) and never felt a need to don our masks. CONS - lunch and dinner at local Chinese restaurants in Shanghai. Truly mediocre (and I love Chinese food back home in Los Angeles). I feared that this would become the norm, but the rest of the local restaurant stops were better. - Acrobatic show after dinner in Shanghai. I kept nodding off, and I dont think it was all the fault of the jet lag. The acrobatic routines were, well, routine, and the music was mind-numbing. A far cry from Cirque de Soleil. - Endless bleak landscapes of pre-fab looking highrises, most of which didnt seem occupied (whos doing the planning here?). Downtown Shanghai and Beijing are spectacular, but we came away from busrides through other areas grateful we didnt live there. - The Three Gorges Dam. We used to apply a standard with our sons (now grown and not on this trip), If we wouldnt do it at home, why do it here? and weve never gone to the Hoover Dam. Then, for the Three Gorges, you add in the heat, humidity, and fog/smog that makes it unlikely youll see much. Guide joke, They say there are two kinds of days here, foggy and very foggy. - The Viking School in Yueyang. The children are adorable and the cause is probably worthy, but its painful to think of the kids being required to perform for the Westerners (ours had come in on a Sunday, just for us). Also, this morning excursion is the only event of the day. I cynically pictured Viking Executives sitting around brainstorming, What can we throw in for people in the long, dull stage of the cruise before the mountains? I know, lets help fund a school! - The scenery before you get to the Three Gorges. All bleak and flat. Look, theres a sandpile! - The walk to the Shibaozhai Pagoda. Although the Pagoda is at water level a short distance from the boat, they routed us to it through a steep, two-block climb through a gauntlet of hawkers then a similar descent. This was when I tweaked my calf. - The stop at the jewelry store on the Hong Kong tour was endless. Id felt mildly peeved at the shopping opportunities at a silk rug and embroidery outlet in Shanghai, but I was fuming by the time they let the captive audience out of the jewelry store. True, Im not a shopper, but they could have told us, Youve got half an hour, and shoppers and non could have been satisfied. As it was they kept us for over an hour until the last person stopped showing any interest in the over-priced baubles. A few general impressions. We had a great time. We wanted to escape our routines, and China and Viking certainly provided that, and in as much comfort as it would be reasonable to expect. The five internal flights in China got to be complicated and tiresome, but Viking handled them smoothly, and I accept that they were necessary for us to get as rounded a tour as did. Well definitely be looking through our Viking catalogue for future river cruises, but well also be checking other companies. Cruisecritic provided a helpful resource for this trip (amazing how you can sort out a consensus through the few people who loved everything and the few people who hated everything), and we expect to use it more broadly.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
We are experienced travelers and cruisers and we had never taken an escorted vacation before the Viking Emerald Imperials Jewels of China. However China presented challenges that we did not feel qualified to meet, so we signed up with ... Read More
We are experienced travelers and cruisers and we had never taken an escorted vacation before the Viking Emerald Imperials Jewels of China. However China presented challenges that we did not feel qualified to meet, so we signed up with Viking. We found the vacation more than met our expectations and we were satisfied in every way. We decided to take the Shanghai to Beijing route rather than the reverse because we wanted to begin the trip in Hong Kong (on our own) in order to deal with the jet lag before the main part of the trip and because my husband had been the Hong Kong on business before (albeit a long time ago). We discovered later that there was an additional benefit because this version of the trip allows one to visit the zoo in Chongking and see the pandas where the Beijing-Shanghai does not. Hotels: This trip includes hotels before and after the Yangtze cruise, in Shanghai and Beijing, and a hotel in X'ian where you see the Terracotta warriors. Our hotels included the Shangri-La Pudong and the Hilton in X'ian and the Regent in Beijing and we thought they were all very luxurious and beautiful and probably far beyond what we would normally be able to book for ourselves. We particularly loved the Shangri-La and would recommend asking Viking for it if possible. Ship Info: We booked an entry-level cabin at the Category F level. It had a sliding door that opened to a French (i.e., non-existent) balcony. In size it was exactly the same as all the other balconies and we would recommend getting one of these if you can. There are some larger cabins but frankly you are not in them very often and unlike cruises, you are probably not going to either eat or watch television in your cabin. We thought the cabin was well-appointed and comfortable and while not as luxurious as some cabins we have had on ocean cruises, it was much more comfortable than what we expected on a river cruise in China. We also were very pleasantly surprised with the activities, shops and food aboard the Emerald. They had quite a few lectures on local sites, history (with surprisingly open discussions of current events, including Tiananmen Square), culture (including tea and painting demonstrations) and other interesting information. They also managed to present several little evening shows that featured ethic costumes and the like that we thought were well done particularly given the limited space and the fact that they were using personnel that performed various other functions on the ship. All the staff were courteous and friendly and certainly the folks manning the desk, the bars, and the dinner tables were comfortable using English. We thought the small number of shops on board were fine and well balanced - there was a shop featuring a tailor who made, with the help of a very hard working staff, silk jackets and other clothes made to your specifications and finished before the end of the cruise, a painter who I really loved - I would have purchased everything in his shop but settled on two items that I framed upon our return (in Michael's-nothing fancy) and they are a wonderful souvenir of our trip, a jewelry store, a store specializing in tea where they demonstrated the tea ceremony frequently. There was also a library where there were tables to play games (there was a Chinese Mahjonng demonstration during the cruise). In short, it is different from an ocean cruise but I was pleased and surprised at the extent and variety of activities especially given our limited time on board and their limited space. We were also pleasantly surprised by the food. I thought we would be given nothing but Chinese food and that I would get tired of it quickly. Instead I found that the food was mostly Western and mostly well-prepared. At the hotels, there was generally a big breakfast buffet with a big selection of food. On the ship, there was really no assigned seating except for one or two groups that travelled together from Scotland or wherever and it was nice to meet new people frequently. Once we made a few friends with like interests, we tended to see them out and sit with them. But it was all very low key and friendly. Our servers often became familiar with our personal likes, such as ice-tea with lemon, and were very friendly. Most of the food we had off the ship at banquets and other places was uneven - the lunches were generally better than the special dinners which tended to be very touristy. Some of them, like the Mongolian stir fry and buffet in X'ian and one of the lunches in Beijing were very good. The lunch in the airport in X'ian was surprisingly good. Excursions: We thought all of the excursions were well done and our tour escort Matthew was wonderful (ask Viking for him if you can although we also thought the other tour escort were also good). You are assigned a specific tour escort who is yours from the beginning to the end of the trip. Occasionally, at specific ports/sites, a second guide will also accompany your group and take over delivering the tour for that particular day or site. It was all very well done- they dole out an audiovox guide (about the size of a small tape recorder) that you wear around your neck with headphones like an IPod and these allow your guide to talk to you without raising his/her voice. It also permits you to wander somewhat away from the group, which if you are a photo nut like me, is very welcome. Although groups are only 35 people, it is nice to be able to wonder to nearby display cases without worrying about a crowd getting in the picture. The tour escorts are responsible for all the logistics. They get you to and from the buses, and in and out of your hotels and to and from the airport. They did a phenomenal job which made the various transfers painless. If you are used to an ocean cruise where you pack once for the duration, it is a little different to have to leave a hotel in Shanghai, a cruise cabin, a hotel in X'ian and a hotel in Beijing. But they collect your bags at night and they deal with delivery and check-in at the airport and delivery to your rooms at the next location. It was amazing to see how smoothly this was accomplished. The only issue came at the port of Chongking, where we disembarked and there was a long causeway followed by a stairway where we were expected to manage our carryon items ourselves (we still had them because we needed to dress, etc. in the morning even though our suitcases had already been collected). There were certainly some passengers who found this transfer a little more difficult than expected and we commented on that to Viking even though it wasn't a big problem for us. They may arrange for some sort of porters in the future to help. In sum, we would definitely recommend this trip and thought it was a very good value for the price. Certainly there are more expensive tours but we can't imagine what they could have done better. Lessons learned- a few comments on things I was wondering about before the trip: Money: we found that most large purchases in most gift shops can be done with a credit card. If you need local Chinese currency, the best place to get it is in the ATMs around your hotel. In fact, we found that most hotels, and the ship, will not change Dollars (or other foreign currency) to local currency. But they will change local currency into the smaller denominations you will need if you want to make some small purchases from the local markets or street vendors that you will meet. If you are getting a transfer through Viking to your hotel, you probably won't need local currency before you get there although you can get some in advance at a bank in a major US city like New York. Internet: We brought my Kindle Fire and were able to access the internet in our hotels and on the ship. We were surprised that we were able to send and receive messages through our Yahoo account and most news from the outside world was not blocked. Medical: We brought a regular drug store of stomach medications in case of illness but thankfully we did not need it at any time. They provided bottled water which we used and we drank bottled beverages or beer at meals off the ship. The food on the ship presented no adverse health problems - we ate salad and fresh vegetables without fear and with no after effects. Luggage: We were concerned about the size of our carryons, which are standard domestic rollerboards but somewhat larger than the 20" that they advised we needed. At no time, in any internal flight, did anyone look or comment on our carryons (or our other luggage). You do have to comply with their requirements on not carrying open liquor bottles - one couple that packed a partial bottle of vodka had their luggage held up by the authorities until they removed it- but otherwise there was never a problem with that. Peking Opera: We were leery of this additional evening excursion because we knew that Chinese opera can be dissonant and difficult to follow. However they selected several pieces that were beautiful and sometimes very funny- there were translations in English to help you follow and the costumes were so amazing that our pictures here because some of the best of the trip. We would definitely recommend going on this excursion and the Tang Dynasty evening (where the food was mediocre) which also had beautiful costumes and music. How many times are you going to be able to experience this? Pre/Post Cruise: For what it is worth, we stayed in the Sheraton in HongKong precruise and the Westin Beijing after the cruise for a few days on each end. We had been told that the Viking folks would be booked in the Westin so we anticipated that we could stay on at the same place but they changed it to the Regent at the last minute and we did not want to pay more for the Regent particularly as we had Starwoods points to use for the Westin so we transferred by taxi at the end. I think the extra time in HongKong was good for the reasons mentioned before and the extra time in Beijing (we obtained a local guide) allowed us to see the hutong neighborhoods, the museum and a few temples we did not see with the Viking tour and eat in local restaurants with our guide. But if you don't have time to do that, you will not have missed anything significant. We wished there was a second day in X'ian, as the ancient capital of China there is a lot to see there beyond the Terracotta Warriors, and we have so advised Viking.   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2010
Somewhat seasoned travellers, my wife and I are in our late 50's and residents of a small village in Eastern Canada. We wanted to visit Asia while our health still permitted it. We decided on an extended 8-night cruise on the Yangtze ... Read More
Somewhat seasoned travellers, my wife and I are in our late 50's and residents of a small village in Eastern Canada. We wanted to visit Asia while our health still permitted it. We decided on an extended 8-night cruise on the Yangtze River from Shanghai to Chongqing with a few days in Shanghai at the beginning and some time in Hong Kong to end a 16-day trip. We had experienced river cruising in Europe in 2007 with Uniworld from Basel Switzerland to Amsterdam and we absolutely loved that cruise. Aboard the River Ambassador, we had a small but very comfortable stateroom, excellent meals, visits to scenic sports and nice scenery along the way. We were then confident of receiving the same type of quality service since Victoria Cruises is used by Uniworld for their China river cruises. Also, if one looks at their promotional advertisement on U-Tube, Victoria Cruises appears like a vacation of luxury, relaxation and gastronomy. They tell you about executive chef Walter Stade preparing their gastronomic adventure and about the mixture of Chinese and western food to please all palates. They talk of great wine, of personnel trained to meet your every need, etc. Lovely indeed... We boarded the Victoria Prince leaving Shanghai on May 2, 2010 and arriving in Chongqing on May 10th. The ship is relatively well maintained. The staterooms are small but comfortable. The beds and linen are good. We had a mini fridge and a small balcony with 2 chairs that we enjoyed a lot. Each cabin had a HDTV with HBO and CNN. The public rooms were well appointed and quite comfortable. It was very acceptable if not quite the same quality and good taste as the Uniworld European fleet. The first very unpleasant experience was morning coffee followed quickly by food. I generally go to bed early and get up early, around 5 a.m. When I get up, in a comatose state, I need 2-3 coffees to become human again and help me wait for breakfast. Cruise Ships (including Uniworld) and hotels usually have coffee available around the clock. I never had problems before anywhere. On the Victoria Prince, it was impossible to get a coffee before "coffee hour" which varied every morning according to their precisely managed daily schedule, generally around 7 a.m. I tried everything to get coffee. I got myself a thermos of hot water delivered to my cabin at 11 p.m. at night but could not get a thermos of hot coffee delivered the same way, even by begging or bribing. For some unknown reason, this small need could not be accommodated. I then tried to buy some instant coffee from the ship store but they had none (as a matter of fact, the food section of the ship store consisted of only a few chocolate bars such as M&M or Snickers - no chips, no peanuts, nothing unless you wanted to eat a t-shirt!). I was not the only coffee hound on the ship. A smart Australian oman found a supermarket in Nanjing and was kind enough to let me have a third of a Nescafe jar. I am forever grateful and in debt. With that, I managed to get a small cup of milk from the bar every day that I kept in my mini-fridge. With my hot water delivered at night, I could make myself some very bad coffee every morning but that made me happy. The food was also a sorry affair. Far from the promised adventure in gastronomy, as described in the publicity, it was below par and could not be compared with anything I had in the past. Generally, I am not a fussy eater if I can manage to get some decent proteins and a bit a carbohydrates. ON large cruise ships, I rarely visit the dining room and I am quite satisfied with cafeteria-style food. And I have had many mals in very good Chinese restaurants, mostly to m y liking and often to my delight. I lost a lot of weight on that trip because the food was simply lousy. The first morning, I was pleased to see that they had scrambled eggs and bacon, my saviour food when I don't like what is served at other meals. The following day, the bacon was gone, replaced by a milky white tube they called a port sausage. Certainly did not taste like pork or anything I have ever tasted. And I did not see bacon for another 4 days, then sporadically only. When there were potatoes, they were fried in very old dark oil, leaving an overcooked burnt oily taste in the mouth. The soup was a corn starch base with finely cut vegetables in it. It tasted like glue, cold and repulsive. Their designer chef Walter Stade must be quite pleased with this new gastronomic wonder! For meals, we were assigned to a table of 9. Our table companions were 4 Australians, 2 Americans and one German gentleman and they were all very pleasant. We used to re-order 5 to 6 baskets of bread and butter per meal. The bread was good and so was the butter. We tried the 10 different plates served family-style at every meal. Ate a little of this, a little of that, in an attempt to feed ourselves. Most of it was vegetables covered with thick bland starch thickening agent or what was called marinated vegetables, which was basically just lumpy and tasteless. The quality of the meat was also very poor, chewy and nerdy. No fish, Small breaded shrimps once. They had good fresh green salad with what they called ranch dressing. Once during the trip, we had small slices of beef in a pepper gravy with mashed potatoes. That emptied in seconds and everybody was smiling for a day. Once we had one spring roll each, very oily and not very good but to us, it was better than the usual fare, so we emptied it. Most of the food went back to the kitchen at every meal but nobody every asked us why. So I guess they knew why... And with poor food on a cruise, you start feeling like a prisoner in a camp very quickly. You look for possible alternatives but there are none. You wonder why you have a mini fridge in each room with nothing in it. Daily excursions bring you to museums, temples, mountaintops, not to a store where you can buy something to eat. Contrary to Europe, there is very little free time to mix with the Chinese or try local restaurants. You are in and out of buses and back on the ship. Everyday you always hope that things will improve but they never do. At the end of the trip, you have no appetite left. You feel like a zombie. Thank God the last day has come,Fengdu temple, the temple of the dead, how fitting! But there were some positive things on this trip. The ship hotel staff, all young and willing, are impressive in their funny way. They are more than willing to please but they don't know how and the management is drilling them into little patterns like military personnel. When you shop up for morning coffee, for example, there are 3 of them standing around the coffee machine, white shirts and black suits. One welcomes you, the other one give you a coffee or a tea, the third one wishes you good day. Every morning, same routine, same personnel, same method. When you get off the ship for an excursion, there are 10 to 20 young employees in uniform, every 25 feet or so, everyone taking turn in wishing you a good day. The same is true when you come back. They are all lined up, everyone in turn welcoming you back. I guess this is what their management tell them is good customer service. This line up is important but still no coffee in the early morning just the same. On each floor on of the ship, in front of the stairs, there is one of those young employees sitting behind a desk 24-7. As you go by, he or she gets up and says hello. Strange again. There is a pone in each cabin but no room service. If you need ice, they say you should ask the attendant on your floor. When you ask your attendant, he/she does not understand. If you say "bing kwai tchii" or "ice please" in mandarin, he/she does not understand because of your poor pronunciation. You then make a little ice cube with your hand and then shiver, they get it and literally run to get you ice. They are bored but quite willing to be of service and somebody should teach them what ice means, or a few simple words, like towel, or sop, basic things like that. But what they know how to do, they do extremely well. Our stateroom was made up the minute we stepped out of it in the morning and again during supper and was kept spotless. Just as the hotel management of the ship leaves to be desired, the junior attendants to wonders. I figures that after months or years in the corridor, when they have enough English, they graduate to the dining room. We had 2 attendants in the dining room that we could have basic conversation with. They also taught us some Chinese sentences and it was very enjoyable. They serve 3 meals a day, then do floor shows cabaret style during the evenings. They really have full days and work hard but are always smiling. Like I said, great staff, very poor hotel management. I still can't believe this company is owned by Americans. There were some interesting excursions on this cruise but everything in China seems to come with a lot of stairs in it Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum 392 steps, Huangshan mountain 380 steps, Fendu 700 steps (thank God there is a chair lift that solves that one by 80%). The highlights are definitely the 3-Gorge and the Dam, very beautiful and impressive. The low point is that you meet so few Chinese people outside the government appointed guides giving you the official story. You always seem to be kept away, isolated, in tourist land. We had to use the ship doctor, also the tai chi instructor. My wife developed a bronchitis, due to uncontrolled air conditioning, high level of humidity and constant diesel fumes. The doctor identified a small throat infection and suggested administering antibiotics through an IV. She flatly refused so he gave her some throat losanges. He did not have any syrup or anything to make her sleep and she kept coughing all night which added to the lack of sleep. The problem got easily fixed in Hong Kong a week later. Do not count on the ship doctor, bring lots of medicines for various ailments as some of the other passengers did. They can be useful. Finally, let me say that it was an interesting trip but not a pleasant one. We thought the cruise would be the highlight of our trip to Asia. It was not. We enjoyed Shanghai a lot at the beginning and the cruise was quickly washed away in Hong Kong, where I had possible the best meal of my life or so it seemed after a week on the Victoria Prince. If you choose to do a cruise on the Yangtze, choose a short cruise (3 or 4 nights) to visit the 3 Gorges and the Dam. Stay away from the long 8-night cruise. Read Less

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise