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82 Viking River Shanghai Cruise Reviews

My 15 year old granddaughter and I planned a trip between middle and high-school. Our original intent was the European river cruise, however, because of terror attacks in Europe, we chose the only other cruise that would fit our schedule, ... Read More
My 15 year old granddaughter and I planned a trip between middle and high-school. Our original intent was the European river cruise, however, because of terror attacks in Europe, we chose the only other cruise that would fit our schedule, China. What a wonderful change it was! Emma was the youngest person on the cruise by far. Everyone, staff and guests, were all very gracious. Our guide arranged an unscheduled stop to see pandas because Emma asked when we were going to see them. I believe the Panda stop was a highlight for everyone. Our cabin was comfortable, and the food on board provided many options for our differing tastes. We didn't miss an excursion and learned something new each day including how to play Mah-jongg. The only downside for a teenager was the lack of internet when we left Shanghai until we arrived in Peking. Upon leaving the boat in Chongqing we flew to Tibet. Unfortunately, it took the first day for us to adapt to the altitude. It would be nice if the trip could include a train to Tibet rather than a flight. Guests would have the opportunity to see the different landscapes of China and gradually adapt to the altitude. Tibet was full of amazing sights, sounds and aromas. Colors are everywhere. We enjoyed Yak steak; however, many of the other dishes were spicier than we are used to eating. The St Regis hotel was amazing. The slate floors in the bathroom are heated. Xi'en and the Terra Cotta Army is a memory we will always cherish. When we arrived at the Shangri-La hotel we decided we had died and were in food heaven. There was a salad bar, a sushi bar, pizza, steak, chicken, a seafood bar, and at least 30 feet of deserts! Our final stop was Beijing. The Great Wall, the Forbidden City all sights we will remember for a lifetime. It has been six months since our trip. We have wonderful memories and haven't eaten Chinese food yet. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We wanted to see China and when we heard about this cruise/tour, we knew that it was what we needed to book since it covered so many of the sites we wanted to see. We have traveled Viking before on the Danube in Europe and knew that ... Read More
We wanted to see China and when we heard about this cruise/tour, we knew that it was what we needed to book since it covered so many of the sites we wanted to see. We have traveled Viking before on the Danube in Europe and knew that we would enjoy it.. We definitely did!! We did explore our departure city (Shanghai) before the cruise with our tour guide (it was part of the cruise/tour). The embarkation and disembarkation both went smoothly. The entire experience was wonderful. The ship and the cabin were very nice. The staff/crew were very helpful and friendly. We really enjoyed the entertainment, activities and all of the shore excursions. The dining room offered many choices and the dining staff were very interested in seeing that we were happy we our meals. I have a dietary issue and the maitre'd was very attentive to my needs. Our Viking experience included travel by plane and bus as well as our time on the ship. The entire experience was phenominal. We had a wonderful time and we would go again in a heartbeat. P.S. Our tour guide Francis was exceptional! He is the best tour guide that we have ever had on any of our prior cruises. His personality, his kindness, his knowledge of the many places we visited helped to make this trip the best we have ever had. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
My wife and I chose the cruise on the basis of a friend's experience with Viking in Europe. Our trip was an 18 day tour starting in Shanghai and ending in Beijing, with a 5 night cruise down the Yangtze River and stops in various ... Read More
My wife and I chose the cruise on the basis of a friend's experience with Viking in Europe. Our trip was an 18 day tour starting in Shanghai and ending in Beijing, with a 5 night cruise down the Yangtze River and stops in various cities after that by plane. The Viking Emerald was an elegant ship, and our cabin provided wonderful amenities (including a veranda with two chairs) and enough storage space to unpack our suitcases. The food was outstanding, and the personnel (including the wonderful and hilarious hotel manager Wilhelm) were very knowledgeable and helpful. Service was wonderful. Our room steward even provided a translation of the poem on the wall in our stateroom. The day tours while on the ship, and the tours there after had wonderful guides, and the transfers were handled very smoothly. Since we were primarily with a small group of 20 people, we got to know our fellow tourists and enjoyed conversation and visiting. The restaurants were very good. The shops (often related to the restaurants) were of high quality, once we got accustomed to Chinese bargaining and salesmanship. I can't say enough about our guide, Tom. The local guides were also very good, but Tom was outstanding. In addition to his usual duties of accompanying us on our travels and tours, he was outstanding in emergency. One of our group took ill in Lijiang, and Tom (and the local guide Bruce) made sure that she got excellent care and that she had someone bi-lingual with her at all times. She recovered nicely and rejoined the group, but Tom and Bruce handled the emergency with great sensitivity and aplomb. Read Less
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
Sail Date June 2016
This was a 12 day cruisetour that began in Shanghai and ended in Beijing, with a 5 night cruise on the Yangtse in the middle. The arrangements were very smooth, including intra-China flights. The ship appeared to be older but refurbished. ... Read More
This was a 12 day cruisetour that began in Shanghai and ended in Beijing, with a 5 night cruise on the Yangtse in the middle. The arrangements were very smooth, including intra-China flights. The ship appeared to be older but refurbished. The service was very friendly and very attentive. The food onboard was excellent, with a mix of Western and Chinese foods. There were several informative lectures about the sights we'd be visiting and about China itself. The entertainment was China-themed, performed by the crew who had other jobs onboard. The public areas were beautiful and elaborate. The cabins were standard size, maybe slightly larger than a standard cabin on an ocean liner, but all the cabins had verandas, which was great for viewing the 3 Gorges and the locks of the dam. There was often a lot of walking involved to get from the ship to either the bus or the sight itself. In fact this whole trip involved a lot of walking, sometimes up very long staircases. Since China has a way to go on accessibility, this is not a trip for mobility-impaired folks. Overall, this trip was wonderful and an eye-opener. We were constantly amazed and delighted at the sights and experiences. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
My 76-year old lady-friend's husband did not want to fly from Florida to China, so this 70-year old accompanied her friend who wanted to see the terra cotta soldiers near Xi'an. Both of us had been flight attendants for many ... Read More
My 76-year old lady-friend's husband did not want to fly from Florida to China, so this 70-year old accompanied her friend who wanted to see the terra cotta soldiers near Xi'an. Both of us had been flight attendants for many years in our former lives, and we retain the adventuresome spirit. Viking's excursions were top notch, and the entire trip exceeded our expectations. Our warm and caring Chinese tour guide for 13 days, RAY, spoke excellent English and went way above and beyond to make sure all 36 people in his diverse group were happy. The seven days on the ship were glorious, thanks to restaurant manager, Dominick, and awesome program director, Wilhelm, as well as all the staff. The selection of food onboard was unparalleled, and the "lazy Susan" Chinese meals onshore while at three different five-star hotels were fabulous. Oh, yes, and the three intra-China flights went smoothly. A rickshaw ride through Beijing hutong was one of the best experiences because we were able to see how older families live in contrast to the current ultra-modern cities. I was most impressed by the overall infrastructure -- many gorgeous new suspension bridges and, of course, the Three Gorges Dam that is able to supply water and power to many people, while, unfortunately its creation displaced many others. The locals were exceptionally friendly -- in the Chingqing zoo near the panda exhibits, in the elementary school, and on the Great Wall. GO GO GO!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
The cruise and the subsequent mainland tour covered most of the China tourist highlights (Yangtse Gorges, Dam, Panda Sanctuary, Terracotta Warriors, Great Wall, Forbidden City). Arrived in Shanghai, but did not really get sufficient time ... Read More
The cruise and the subsequent mainland tour covered most of the China tourist highlights (Yangtse Gorges, Dam, Panda Sanctuary, Terracotta Warriors, Great Wall, Forbidden City). Arrived in Shanghai, but did not really get sufficient time to explore and acquaint ourselves with the city. A trip on the high speed Maglev train would have been appreciated. Transfer to the ship at Wuhan was well organized. We had booked one of the two luxury suites - excellent in all respects, but perhaps more expensive than it deserved. Food was excellent; wine perfectly drinkable and generous. Entertainment minimal, although several talks were very informative and the quality of the entertainment by the crew was very good. Service could not be faulted either in the restaurant, the cabin or anywhere else on the ship. The trip to the local school was an eye-opener in terms of the class sizes and facilities, whilst the children and teachers were most welcoming. Trips involving the gorges were interesting, although the visit to the dam was rather less exciting since it was the wrong time of year to witness its operation and power. We were very unlucky with the weather - damp, misty or simply very wet - which perhaps coloured our impressions unfairly. Our major warning would be that we chose to do the cruise first and the mainland tour later, since this was the only way to visit the pandas. However, due to flight schedules we only had 90 minutes at most in the Sanctuary, which was almost hardly worth it, since no-one in their right mind would do the trip this way round, as the subsequent mainland tours were quite strenuous in terms of frequency and timings. To be fair, I would advise the Beijing to Shanghai itinerary rather than the Shanghai to Beijing route, since you would then have time to recover on the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
this was a Yangtze River cruise. We had time in Shanghai before leaving--great museum, would have liked a bit more time to explore city sights. Transition to ship was smooth--all Viking staff were terrific--extremely professional and ... Read More
this was a Yangtze River cruise. We had time in Shanghai before leaving--great museum, would have liked a bit more time to explore city sights. Transition to ship was smooth--all Viking staff were terrific--extremely professional and attentive to our needs. The ship staterooms were a bit tight, though comfortable enough. I liked the view from the ship and the various field trips. The workout room was a bit tight but the Tai Chi instructor was great--challenging and excellent workout each morning helped counteract the tight quarters and lots of food. Meals were enjoyable and the Officers and dining staff were incredibly responsive to requests, going out of their way to exceed all of our expectations. The on-ship programs were interesting and entertaining as well The river cruise was only a third of our trip, however. As a whole, this was definitely a 5-star tour, from our engaging and deeply knowledgeable guide, Patrick, to the outstanding hotel accommodations, to the inclusive tours and events and the few optional engagements--everything provided a thoughtful, insightful view of China and broad exposure to a fascinating country. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I was in a group of eight people who took the Viking Imperial Jewels of China cruise and land tour from Shanghai to Beijing. The tour included a 5 day cruise on the Yangtze River as well as time in Shanghai, Xian, and Beijing. The ... Read More
I was in a group of eight people who took the Viking Imperial Jewels of China cruise and land tour from Shanghai to Beijing. The tour included a 5 day cruise on the Yangtze River as well as time in Shanghai, Xian, and Beijing. The Viking Emerald was a comfortable ship with a first rate crew who catered to our every need. The dining room offered both the standard European menu available on Viking cruises plus numerous Chinese dishes. The service was excellent. The activities offered were primarily educational in nature although one evening we did have a crew talent show and another evening we had a performance that included Chinese costumes. The tour escorts were excellent and knowledgeable and the hotel accommodations in Shanghai, Xian, and Beijing were five star. The domestic flights on the Chinese airlines were comfortable and, except for weather delays moving between Shanghai and Wuhan, on time. The activities in the major cities included the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, a hutong, and the Ming Tombs in Beijing (and more things not so famous); the terra cotta warriors in Xian; and beautiful gardens, a great museum, and some lovely shopping in Shanghai. There were three additional evening activities that were extra, but well worth the additional money. Viking managed everything beautifully and efficiently. The tour is quite active with the cruise portion and moving among three major cities during the land portion so, if one is considering this tour, one should be ready and willing to move from place to place. The embarkation and the disembarkation were handled very well by Viking both by the tour escorts and by the army of people that work for Viking at the major airports. I definitely recommend this cruise and land tour in China. It was an interesting cultural and educational experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
If you have never been on a Viking Cruise then you don't know what leaving up to the cruise organizers to do all the hard work is. From the time you get off the plane to when you head home, everything, and I mean everything is just ... Read More
If you have never been on a Viking Cruise then you don't know what leaving up to the cruise organizers to do all the hard work is. From the time you get off the plane to when you head home, everything, and I mean everything is just about perfectly planned to make the trip easy and more Importantly we could focus on just enjoying all the tours and, food, and the company we traveled with. If there was a glitch the staff would attend to it right away. This was our second Viking cruise and we have more planned and we wouldn't think of going with anyone else but Viking. We got to se all the places we had on our "wish List" and at what I felt at a great value for the services we received. The ship Emerald was not up to the full luxury standards that Viking usually demands, since the Chinese government had a lot to do with how it could and would be built, but the mostly Staff ( they have to hire so many locals, to meet the government demands.) made up for it in so many ways. The main tour guide was fantastic, and we became friends by the end of the tour. About 40% of the off ship, on site, tour guides had somewhat of a language barrier, again local hiring demands, and they were not too up on doing their jobs, and going through the motions, but it made for some interesting conversations. Food on board was fantastic, at some of the restaurants fare, but then again it was in China, and we got a good flavor of the local menus, the local beers were of great value and tasted very good. Our cabin was always well kept ,modern and very clean. We only slept there so who cares. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was the Roof of the World Tour so the river cruise was just a portion of the total trip. The tour guide for our 18-person group, Jamie, was amazing - knowledgable, compassionate, communicative. She helped us know what was coming and ... Read More
This was the Roof of the World Tour so the river cruise was just a portion of the total trip. The tour guide for our 18-person group, Jamie, was amazing - knowledgable, compassionate, communicative. She helped us know what was coming and how to be most comfortable, safe and in the moment for each experience. Our entire experience was first class. The accommodations and food were fabulous. My major suggestion is that Viking be more upfront about the possibility that altitude in Lhasa could affect a large proportion of travelers so that people were not panicked that their symptoms might have been unrelated to altitude. Fully half of our group required doctor care and we learned that that percentage was not atypical. This was despite following advice prior to travel including altitude medication, hydration and rest. Nonetheless, for my son and me, Lhasa may have been the most precious of our destinations. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Our group of 7 (family and friends) started the Imperial Jewels of China trip in Beijing at the Kerry Hotel. The next twelve days were a whirlwind of activity as we went on great excursions to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, The ... Read More
Our group of 7 (family and friends) started the Imperial Jewels of China trip in Beijing at the Kerry Hotel. The next twelve days were a whirlwind of activity as we went on great excursions to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace and the Hudongs and that was just the first 3 days. It only got better as we traveled by air to Xian and then to Chongquing to board the Viking Emerald and sail down the Yangtze through the Gorges with multiple stops at cities along the way and past the dam to Wuhan. After a tour of the city we flew to Shanghai for the final days of our trip. We had so much fun exploring each of the cities that we stayed in. This was one of the best and most enjoyable cruise/tours that we have been on, I cannot truly express the joy we had and the education we received along the way. Our "Chinese" guide James was with us the whole way and he became like one of our group, he was so full of information and tidbits about every location we visited. I highly recommend this trip to everyone I talk to. I particularly liked starting in Beijing rather than Shanghai, because we had more time to explore the city and especially the extra time in Shanghai which is a fabulous city. River cruising is very relaxing and Viking does and excellent job in removing all the stresses of traveling. Read Less
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
Sail Date April 2016
This was a great way to see China. Viking took care of everything. The hotels were very good and in excellent locations. The luggage was always handled by Viking arranged porters. Breakfasts were provided in the hotels for convenience ... Read More
This was a great way to see China. Viking took care of everything. The hotels were very good and in excellent locations. The luggage was always handled by Viking arranged porters. Breakfasts were provided in the hotels for convenience and the dinners were in local restaurants to get a taste of the local cuisine and culture. They were always clean and we had no concern for our health. The best part of the trip was the excellent guide (Jamie) that made China come alive through her growing-up experiences. She had excellent English, great stories from her background, good humor that was easily understood, and developed a great friendship with the guests. Viking picked the best locations and experiences in China for the first time visitor and scheduled many of the tours to minimize the crowds. The ship was very clean with several usable locations for viewing the river. All rooms seemed about equal as they all had small balconies and the ship small enough that even rooms on the ends were very close to the atrium. The small shops had good quality Chinese souvenirs that were reasonably priced. My wife had a Chinese jacket hand made and ready the next day. She ordered it the first day and got use out of it onboard a couple of times. She was very happy with the quality and price and her satisfacion led to several others being purchased. The meals gave the option for local cuisine or more standard fare. Even though it was nearly all buffet style, there were table waiters that gave suggestions, got drinks and kept water glasses filled. The entertainment was only so so but the river narratives were very interesting. This trip exceeded our expectations and I would recommend it heartily....especially if you get Jamie. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
The cruise went to excellent ports, the tours were very informative and Arnold our tour guide throughout the cruise was excellent. He was very knowledgeable The junior suite was a good size. The food was good and the people that worked ... Read More
The cruise went to excellent ports, the tours were very informative and Arnold our tour guide throughout the cruise was excellent. He was very knowledgeable The junior suite was a good size. The food was good and the people that worked on the ship were very attentive. Everything was well organized and I would recommend this cruise to everyone including the extension to Hong Kong, China is a spectacular country and if I could I would return but I would rather explore other countries. The weather in March was neither cold nor hot just perfect. It was a wonderful experience. The entertainment on ship and the bartenders were great, The people in China are very friendly and respectful. We are going to take another Viking cruise in March. I also recommend the Prague to Budapest Viking cruise it was spectacular. Overal, The cruise met all our expectations and we had a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I've always wanted to travel to China, was on my short bucket list, and I was not disappointed. I had been on ocean cruises before but the river cruise was the perfect way to see China. The cities of Shanghai, Xi'an and Beijing ... Read More
I've always wanted to travel to China, was on my short bucket list, and I was not disappointed. I had been on ocean cruises before but the river cruise was the perfect way to see China. The cities of Shanghai, Xi'an and Beijing were amazing, so much history, so many thing to see and so much culture to enjoy. The cruise up the Yangtze River was all I expected, the sites along the river were breathtaking and the cities visited along the river were very interesting and the people very friendly. The tour escort was very knowledgeable and made the trip much more enjoyable. The hotels that I stayed at were "first class" 5 star all the way. The food, both in the cities and on the boat, was varied and delicious, in some cases, to many choices. The service onboard was excellent, the waitresses and waiters were very friendly and made sure you were taken care of. The ship was larger than I thought it would be, and with the number of passengers was very roomy. The shore excursions were very informative, with a lot to take in. I was not disappointed at all, it was the perfect way to see and enjoy China, I so glad I went. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This trip is the perfect way to see China. If you want to experience some of the breadth and depth and majesty of China—its history, culture, and natural beauty—with the convenience of English-speaking guides and the pampering of ... Read More
This trip is the perfect way to see China. If you want to experience some of the breadth and depth and majesty of China—its history, culture, and natural beauty—with the convenience of English-speaking guides and the pampering of Viking Cruises personnel, then this IS the trip for you. Viking organizes everything and executes pretty much on schedule (for those things under its control). You have to unpack and pack several times. You stay in 3 hotels. You have 3 internal flights and the cruise on the Yangtze River. China is a BIG country. But you get to travel to several impressive places in China. And you get to meet really nice, interesting people—your fellow passengers. We had mostly Americans on the trip, but also some from Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. We made lots of new friends. My intent is to write a review that will give you insight and tips to help in planning your trip. I read reviews on Cruise Critic about the Imperial Jewels of China trip before I left home, but I learned many things on my trip that were not covered in those reviews. Hopefully my tidbits will make your vacation more enjoyable and memorable. Yes, it’s a Communist country, but the people were friendly, and the guides were open in talking to us about the good and the bad. For example, we learned from some of the female guides that they are not interested in having a second child, even if it is allowed, because of the cost of raising a child in China. I guess some matters are never as black and white as we might suppose. We were a novelty in some places; Chinese citizens asked us to be in their photos. We saw some of the challenges as China tries to modernize and provide for its people without causing future shock to its 1.3 billion inhabitants. Realize that a small city in China means one with 4 million inhabitants. We saw pollution in the cities: lots of people and lots of cars being driven (in addition to the coal plants) leads to pollution; visibility was sometimes several miles. But it wasn’t really bothersome, probably because of the time of year we visited (late October). The only time I had an issue was in Chongqing at the airport. You could drive an hour away and not have so much pollution. We also saw blue skies in several of the cities. We saw wind turbines and nuclear power plants. There just aren’t enough alternative energy sources for all the people yet. I liked the order of our itinerary for the 13-day Imperial Jewels of China trip, starting in Beijing first and ending up in Shanghai. In Beijing and Xi’an, there are some places where you walk a couple of miles for sightseeing. You have a lot of energy at the start of the trip, and you can relax when you get to the river cruising portion of the trip. And there is not a lot of walking in Shanghai at the end. This is my 2nd Viking River cruise. I did one last year in Europe (Cities of Light trip). I would rate that trip as a 9.5 out of 10 (downgraded due to an execution/transportation issue in the last city). In comparison, I would rate the Imperial Jewels of China trip as an 8.5 out of 10—still very good. The planning, communication, and execution was just a little better on the European river cruise trip. As previous cruisers, we are members of the Viking Explorer Society. We had a special reception on the ship and received a special gift (aquavit glass). The ships for my two trips were a little different. The Category A verandah rooms on the Viking Emerald were larger (by 45 square feet) than the verandah rooms on the Viking longship (Odin) I traveled on last year in Europe. The Emerald is bigger than the Odin, and has more facilities (e.g., gym, spa, shopping). It has 4 passenger decks and an additional sun deck, with 128 cabins (256 guests). The Odin has 3 passenger decks and an additional sun deck, with 95 cabins (about 190 guests). The Emerald is not built or owned by Viking; it is leased by Viking from China’s Century Cruises (it is technically the Century Emerald ship). The “fit and finish” of the Odin was a little better. The trip itinerary was as advertised with 2 exceptions. First, those passengers who did the Viking transfer from the Beijing airport to the Beijing hotel were notified about an optional tour to the Summer Palace on Day 1. (They were flown in by Viking a day in advance, on Day 0.) My wife and I did our own transfer, and also arrived on Day 0. We learned about the tour at the last minute from some of the other passengers. Viking knew we were arriving a day early, but did not attempt to notify us about this tour. Second, on Day 2, there was supposed to be the optional excursion to attend a Peking opera show. Our tour escort told my group that Viking had dropped that show, and instead substituted a Kung Fu show “based on previous passenger feedback”. No one in my group opted to attend the show, possibly because we had an early flight the next morning to Xi’an. Or, we didn’t get enough information on the show—just that it was a Kung Fu show. I learned from other travelers who attended the show that it was more choreography than a martial arts demonstration (as the name implied). Viking should have notified passengers about this change, prior to departure, when they mailed us the booklet on “Itinerary & Departure Information”. Notification of new optional tours and of changes to existing optional tours is an area of improvement for Viking Cruises. The passengers were divided into 7 tour groups, each with a tour escort who stayed with the group for the entire trip. Each group used its own bus for city tours and transportation to the airport for internal flights. You’re told the name of your tour escort during your transfer from the first airport in China, or you find out at the first hotel if you transfer on your own (a piece of paper was slipped under the door of our hotel room). Due to the number of passengers, they stayed at either of two hotels in most of the cities. There were 3 internal flights: from Beijing to Xi’an, from Xi’an to Chongqing, and from Wuhan to Shanghai. All flights were on large Boeing or Airbus aircraft (not Russian-made aircraft), on either China Eastern airlines or on Sichuan Airlines. The flights were comfortable and ran on time. The seating configuration was typically 3-3. Not all groups flew at the same time. The tour escorts took care of getting boarding passes for you. Viking staff took care of the checked bags, both delivering them from the hotel to the airport and picking them up at the airport (and then delivering to either your hotel or to the ship). Here are the flights my group took: Flight at 7:45 am to Xi’an, 1 hour, 40 minutes long. I forget the type of plane. Flight at 2:10 pm to Chongqing, 1 hour, 15 minutes long. Airbus 320. Flight at 12:30 pm to Shanghai, 1 hour, 30 minutes long. Boeing 737. Information provided by Viking prior to departure indicated a 20 kg weight limit for a single checked bag with a single carry-on bag allowed on the internal flights within China. As the tour escort told us, the airlines are a little flexible: you could check a bag that weighed a little more (on the last flight, my bag, with souvenirs, weighed 22 kg). You could also bring 2 carry-on bags onto the flights, as long as they could fit into the overhead compartments or underneath the seat in front of you. Carry-on bags were never weighed (thank goodness)—nominally a 5 kg limit. Due to Chinese aviation rules, lithium batteries are only allowed in carry-on luggage. Lighters and matches are NOT allowed, even in checked bags. Liquids (except for prescription drugs) must be put into checked luggage; this is very different than rules in the USA. It took a long time to get the luggage after our afternoon flight to Chongqing. We arrived at 3:25 pm. We boarded the ship by 5:00 pm. We were told our luggage would be delivered to our cabins on the ship by 7:00 pm; it arrived later than that, for unknown reasons—a disappointment. This is another area of improvement for Viking. My tour escort liked to get to the airport in the morning or in the early afternoon, so that traffic was not too bad—typically it was about an hour drive to the airport, or from the airport to the next hotel or to the ship. Box lunches were provided on two of the drives to the airport (stopping in town to eat would have meant a late afternoon departure, with a possibility of a flight delay). We ate at the airport at Xi’an prior to our flight to Chongqing to go to the ship. The food was good. The hotels that Viking selected were very good. For my group, the hotels were: the Kerry Hotel in Beijing, the Hilton Xi’an, and the Westin Bund Center in Shanghai. All are 5-star hotels with staff that mostly speak and understand English. There is one time zone throughout China. So you never had to reset your watch during the trip. You are provided a quantity of 2 bottled waters per person per day on the buses for your city tours or transportation to/from an airport. With all the traffic in the cities, expect for the bus trips to take an hour or more to get to where you’re going (e.g., Forbidden City, Three Gorges Dam, hotel from airport). Typically the tour escort or local guide would give you some educational or cultural information about the city during the commute. You’re provided with a Vox box and earphone at the start of the trip. Your boxes are tuned to a pre-designated frequency for your group. The tour guide at a site you’re visiting speaks into a master unit, and you can clearly hear his or her narration while you walk around and follow your group (follow the “lollipop”, the Viking sign with your group letter). You tip the driver and the local guide typically on the last day in each city. Your tour escort will let you know if the local guide is only for that morning or afternoon. It’s better to tip in local currency (Yuan/RMB). One area of improvement for Viking Cruises is ensuring that hotels know how to contact tour escorts when problems develop. My tour escort gave my group his mobile phone number and told us his room number at each hotel. However, when I contacted the front desk to reach my escort (Jack) to get his help with a problem with my hotel room in Shanghai, they had no idea who Jack was. They told me there was no Jack in the room number I gave them (because he was registered under his Chinese name, not as Jack). They called his mobile phone for me, but couldn’t reach him. I called the room number, but there was no answer and I got a recorded message in Chinese that I couldn’t understand. I had to wait until the next morning to describe the problem to the tour escort, but he helped me sort it out with the hotel Duty Manager, and followed up to be sure the problem was taken care of. You are given opportunities to shop at state-run stores (terra cotta figurines, furniture, embroidery, tea). Using your credit card at such stores is considered safe. At other stores, they may photograph your credit card and use the information later to make an unauthorized purchase. Change money before you get to the ship, such as at one of the hotels you stay at (or from an ATM, or bring Yuan currency, aka RMB currency, from home). Currency exchange is not allowed on the ship. The Reception Desk can provide change for you, so that you can get smaller bills (Yuans). Sparkling wine (from South Africa) was served at breakfast. Beer and house wines (from Chile as I recall) were served at lunch and dinner. You could upgrade to the Silver Spirits package (for 990 RMB per person for the 5-day cruise, but both people in the room had to buy the package), and then get wine and beer throughout the day, with a bigger selection of wines, as well as cocktails. I figured out that if you got more than 2 glasses of wine a day outside of meal times, then the package saved you money. Access to Google and Google products is blocked in China (includes Google search and Gmail), as of June 3. This affected a number of the passengers, both in the cities and on the ship. Internet searches with alternate search engines, such as msn.com, would work. You could email from another kind of account (e.g., Apple mail, AOL mail) to Gmail accounts. You just couldn’t receive from your Gmail account. There was Wi-Fi on the ship; ask the staff for the password. You needed to be in the bar area, on the 5th or 6th decks to get reception. Reception was spotty at times and uneven. If you waited patiently, you could probably receive your emails or send text messages. The ship did provide an Internet café with 6 computers. Access to the Internet was more reliable through those computers. There are no refrigerators in the Category A verandah rooms on the ship. There were refrigerators on deck 5 in the suite rooms. We took advantage of laundry service on the ship. It worked well. Turn in clothes in the morning and get them back in the evening. (This was also true at all the hotels in China.) The cabin did not have universal adapter plug sockets (updated). You needed to use a travel adapter plug:  Outlet Type G (British BS-1363), Outlet Type I (Chinese CPCS-CCC), or Outlet Type A (Chinese Non-Grounded Class II). Curiously, this information was not provided in the booklet on “Itinerary & Departure Information” that Viking sent passengers before departure. The dining room attendants, the cabin steward, and the bar stewards—all Chinese—made an effort to learn your name and remember your likes and dislikes. My wife and I felt pampered. The ship’s staff was excellent. We particularly liked Program Director Terry Lei who gave informative and interesting presentations, with a little humor on the side. We loved the Minority Costume Show and the Crew Cabaret Show (the skit taking place in a men’s bathroom is unforgettable!) in the evenings. We enjoyed learning Tai Chi for our morning exercise; Master Tom demonstrated and River Guide Ben translated for us. Remember to apply for a China visa prior to your trip. I contacted Viking Cruises to find out whom they recommend (Generations Visa Service), and I contacted my travel agent to get her recommendation (A Briggs). We used Generations Visa Service, because we got a discount for doing 2 people at once (my wife and I). GenVisa has worked with Viking Cruises and had all the hotel information necessary for filling in the visa paperwork (you will have to contact either your travel agent or Viking to confirm exactly which hotels you’ll be staying in). From a passenger perspective, hand sanitation practices on the ship did not appear to be that good, compared to other cruises I have been on (both ocean and river). The hand sanitation dispensers only provided a very, very small amount of sanitizer if you put your hand underneath the device. I think some passengers just stopped trying to use the devices. We were in confined spaces at the beginning of the trip, on buses and planes. By the end of the trip, it seemed like over half the people in my group had caught a cold and cough from someone else. My wife and I both actively took preventive measures to not get sick, but to no avail. That still didn’t dampen our enthusiasm and enjoyment of the trip, though. There were shops on two of the decks on the ship. One sold typical Chinese souvenirs, including pearls and jade carvings. One was a Chinese tea shop. In another you could get a custom-made Chinese gown or shirt. Another shop featured an artist who could paint a scene or do calligraphy at your request (within reason). We ordered a scene of the Great Wall of China, with fall colors, as a memento of our trip. We liked all of the included land and shore excursions. That’s one main reason we select Viking Cruises—no extra fees and high-quality tours. The Beijing Hutongs tour via rickshaw and visit to one of the (artist) families living there was one of our favorite excursions of the trip. Another favorite was the scenic cruising on the Goddess Stream (Lesser Three Gorges). There were optional excursions: Peking opera show in Beijing (replaced by a Kung Fu show that we didn’t attend), Peking duck dinner in Beijing (recommended if you’ve never had the duck), and Tang Dynasty Dinner & Show in Xi’an (recommended). Unlike for our previous European river cruise, it appears that Viking is now providing tours during post-trip extensions in Shanghai, as well as in Guilin and Hong Kong. The Cruise DVD included photos and videos of passengers on the river cruise portion of the trip. It also included “canned” scenes from some of the optional excursions (e.g., Tang Dynasty show) from previous trips. It did not, however, include scenes from the Kung Fu show that was substituted for the Peking Opera show. The videographer just learned on this cruise that Viking had dropped the Opera show. He had no video of the Kung Fu show to put on the cruise DVD; instead, he included video of a Peking Opera show from a previous trip. The DVD DID include actual scenes from the ship passengers’ visit to the elementary school in Jingzhou on Day 10. You could purchase an alternative to the Cruise DVD package (cost of 249 RMB). You could get higher-quality images with the Blu-ray package or the USB (thumb drive) package (cost of 325 RMB). All included video, a photo disc, and a map of the trip itinerary. Although it involves a little more effort, you can save money by doing your own transfers rather than paying Viking Cruises for the transfers. In Beijing, the cost of a taxi from the Beijing airport to the Kerry Hotel was 115 RMB (about $18 US) in the late afternoon. In Shanghai, the cost of a taxi from the Westin Bund Center to the Pudong airport was 201 RMB (about $32 US) in the early morning. As I recall, Viking was charging about $60 per person for the transfers. Be sure to contact your first hotel in China and ask for the name and address of the hotel in Chinese to print out and show the taxi driver at the airport, who probably doesn’t understand much English. I found several items useful to pack for the trip. For the air pollution: lubricating eye drops (we took Thera Tears), saline nasal spray, cold medicine/antihistamine (we took Sudafed and Mucinex DM), cough drops, and a carbon-filter face mask. Other items: Kleenex (to use as emergency toilet paper; the tour escort also had Kleenex available at rest stops), antiseptic hand wipes, hand sanitizer, moisturizing hand and face lotion, lip balm, stickers (to give to small children as gifts), tea tree oil, Tide to Go stain remover pen, insect repellent, and good walking shoes. One thing we could have used occasionally was a white noise generator app on our smartphones, for sleeping at night. (We installed an app after we returned from the trip.) We did not need to use our anti-diarrheal medicine or electrolyte drink tabs (for dehydration). Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
My wife and I have been on a number of river and ocean cruises and this was our first time with Viking. We chose this holiday as we wanted to experience a different culture. We were not disappointed! This is not a trip for the faint ... Read More
My wife and I have been on a number of river and ocean cruises and this was our first time with Viking. We chose this holiday as we wanted to experience a different culture. We were not disappointed! This is not a trip for the faint hearted as it is very 'full on' with early starts, 6 internal flights and coach travel. I appreciate that this review is about the cruise aspect but feel that I should add that the hotels for the land days were all five star comfort and luxury- we love being pampered! All were excellently located for us and near to the sights. We added the pre-extension in Shanghai and the post-extension in Guilin/Hong Kong. During the different aspects of the trip we were looked after by 3 guides, Francis in Shanghai and Ray in Hong Kong. They were excellent, managing the group with care and efficiency. The bulk of the trip we were in the care of Jenna. I cannot fault her organisation and her knowledge of all aspects of her country was incredible. This gave us a real insight into the thinking and workings of China. We saw not only the 'must see' sights but also had the opportunity to see and experience the real China. Local guides, with local knowledge, were employed at every stop along with our own guide, Jenna. The Viking Emerald is leased to Viking as I understand they are not, under the Chinese Authority, able to use their own ship. However, it is very comfortable. The bars are pleasant with great views and we very much enjoyed the pianist and singer in the Deck 6 bar. Onboard shops are interestingly stocked and not over-priced. My wife used the onboard tailor who created a beautiful made-to-measure silk jacket within 2 days. The laundry was surprisingly cheaper than those at the hotels. The restaurant is very comfortable and the food excellent - a vast range to choose from including Chinese dishes to Western style food. There is so much to choose from that any diet goes out of the window. The waiters and waitresses were delightful and couldn't do enough for us. We were particularly looked after by Fiona and Allen - they couldn't have been more attentive. In fact, this applies to all of the crew that we encountered. Evening entertainment was by the crew was delightful. They were so enthusiastic and had obviously worked hard. They gave us an evening of traditional dress and another of traditional Chinese dance. The cabin was surprisingly bigger than expected and comfortable. The verandah is on the small size but more than adequate - this was not a trip for sunbathing. The views were spectacular and need to be seen to be believed. The bathroom area was clean but was looking a little tired and could probably do with a little TLC. If you want a holiday where you can laze by a pool and soak up the sun this is not for you. However if, like us, you want to use the time to see as much of a country as possible and experience their way of life than we cannot recommend this trip more strongly. It is hectic, tiring, with a trip out on virtually ever day, but the most amazing experience that will live with us forever. Viking's organisation was excellent and, any small glitches were out of their control. However, the Viking guides competently led us through all aspects ensuring that all was well. Extraordinary memories. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Very disappointed in the Century (Viking) Emerald. The ship is leased from a Chinese firm, but there are six Viking employees onboard. The welcome aboard and first day were good, but things quickly turned sour. During the dinner the ... Read More
Very disappointed in the Century (Viking) Emerald. The ship is leased from a Chinese firm, but there are six Viking employees onboard. The welcome aboard and first day were good, but things quickly turned sour. During the dinner the second night, it seemed like the wait staff went on strike. An hour after being served the first course, we watched the wait staff clear some tables around us. At that point we left. The next morning we heard from many others of problems with service. Housekeeping was likewise unimpressive, e.g., had to ask three times for a dehumidifier that we had to empty about every eight hours, call the front desk for additional soap, etc. About the only thing the housekeeping staff did was to replace towels and pull up the duvet. Generally a lackadaisical crew who were polite but not very motivated. (Perhaps it was because the season was coming to a close.) The ship itself was also unimpressive - decks uneven, air conditioning kept the room cool, but not dry, bedskirt was stained and dirty, bathroom not particularly clean, etc. On the positive side, the many vendors onboard (tea sales, souvenirs, jewelry, tailor, etc.) were professional, helpful and enthusiastic - but they were selling product. As suggested by previous travelers, request a dehumidifier for the room as soon as you board. We had to empty it about every eight hours. The air conditioning only keeps the temperature cool, but does not remove any moisture from the air. The land portion of the trip was excellent if you don’t mind being one of 33 passengers being herded by an outstanding guide. All flights operated on time and we were able to see all the sights listed in the Viking brochure. Most disappointing was the daily lunch in Shanghai and Beijing which were provided by a shop of some sort, jade, ceramics, silk, etc., in exchange for us being there for extended “touring” which is really expensive shopping. If we were to do this again, we would opt for a shore-based vendor such as China Odyssey with whom we had booked pre- and post-tours where we toured with a guide and driver. Avoid summer travel unless you like temps in the high 90’s and low 100’s with humidity in the 90’s. We were lucky to arrive on October 8, just after the October 1 – 7 holiday ended. (Seems like everyone in China who does not work in the hospitality field goes on vacation then.) After October 8 through very early November is a great window weather-wise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
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 October 2015
This trip was well worth the money and effort. Having in mind before we left that China would be a whole new and different experience from that we had done before our expectations were met. The Hotel accommodation in Shanghai was excellent ... Read More
This trip was well worth the money and effort. Having in mind before we left that China would be a whole new and different experience from that we had done before our expectations were met. The Hotel accommodation in Shanghai was excellent as were the Xi'an and Beijing Hotels. The river cruise took a while to get started. The first two days were slow but the excursion to the school was excellent. The children are an absolute pleasure and as it was school holidays full marks to them for turning out and entertaining us. The trips through the gorges lived up to expectations as did the visit to see the Pandas and what was the crowning glory of the hoilday for me, the Terracotta Warriers. Then we arrived in Beijing to visit the Wall and the Forbidden City. Timing at these venues was bad. The Wall visit in my mind was not at all enjoyable because of the huge crowds. This wasn't at the advertised site where we were told there was a walk of about a mile, but at a Cable Car site where everybody chose to go including thousands of Chinese tourists. It was estimated that some 200,000 would visit during the day. Our time on the wall was spent clinging for dear life to the hand rails as the wall was so steep and crowded. It was impossible to soak up the moment. The visit to the Forbidden City also was extremely crowded but that is expected and we managed a reasonable visit. One of my complaints to Viking is the lack of knowledge regarding Chinese internal flights, baggage regulations. I am an amateur photographer and this trip for me was to be a photographic extraganzer. On enquiring to Viking before we left we asked about the internal flight baggage rules. We were told that check-in was 20kgs and carry-on was 5kg ONE ITEM ONLY, which would have to include any cameras or handbags etc. This resulted in me only taking one camera with no backup. Yes you guessed it, my camera failed two days in!! On enquiring in China regarding the carry-on rules I was told that you could take on what you like within reason which meant I could have taken my full camera kit. The Chinese lady simply said next time ask a Chinese Viking person. In conclusion its full on, with six flights, three hotels plus the boat and early starts but it was still a good holiday and one I would recommend but Viking need to do their homework on some very obviouse needs of the trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was our first Viking cruise and won't be our last. The organisation was superb with an escort for the whole time who flew with us on the internal flights as well as being on the ship. The ship was modern, the cabin a good ... Read More
This was our first Viking cruise and won't be our last. The organisation was superb with an escort for the whole time who flew with us on the internal flights as well as being on the ship. The ship was modern, the cabin a good size with plenty of ammenities. The service in the restaurant was good and all the staff on board were friendly. Tthe evening entertainment was performed by the crew and was both entertaining and interesting! We found the talks and introduction to our tours helpful. Our escort, Leo, was informative about the traditions and culture and gave some additional information and opinions of modern China. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
From the first moment of booking our holiday Viking looked after us. There was always a helpful person on the end of the telephone to answer any enquiry, however mundane. All arrangements were efficiently sorted and that included the visa. ... Read More
From the first moment of booking our holiday Viking looked after us. There was always a helpful person on the end of the telephone to answer any enquiry, however mundane. All arrangements were efficiently sorted and that included the visa. The thoughtful pre-cruise gifts were lovely and in the case of the document holder, extremely useful (I shall contine to use that) the entire time were were in China we were surrounded by top class Viking people from the dining staff to the Captain, the cabin crew to the guides. This cruise involved internal flights but from the beginning we did not even have to handle our luggage, even going through the different airports. That made such a difference. To beging our holiday we visited the bund and Old Shanghai and saw wonderfully talented acrobats. In Wuhan we went to a bell performance. Totally amazing. The cruise up the Yangtze on the Emerald was so relaxing. High quality food, accommodation and entertainment (not only from the crew but visiting school children.) The 3 gorges dam, the largest hydroelectric power station in the world, was breathtaking. Transferring to a smaller boat to cruise the lesser Gorges and see the hanging Tombs amid the beautiful scenery was a lovely addition to the Three Gorges that we cruised through. In Xian we visited the pandas. A special moment. This was specially arranged for us, the zoo being opened early just for Viking. The Terracotta Army. Another special moment, it was so much more than I expected words fail me. In Beijing we visited the Great Wall, another special moment as was Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. We chose to see the Peking Opera as an extra. An amazing experience we were glad we hadn't missed. I have not mentioned our hotels. As expected of Viking these were all of the highest standard. This was truely an unforgettable holiday. Thank you Viking. We shall return to you yet again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
After booking our trip to china with Viking, we were really looking forward to the 5 day trip down the Yangztee. We travelled during September and found the ship very damp, even down to our bedding. This was not helped by the air ... Read More
After booking our trip to china with Viking, we were really looking forward to the 5 day trip down the Yangztee. We travelled during September and found the ship very damp, even down to our bedding. This was not helped by the air conditioning being on with no option to change it to heat. The smell of sewerage in the cabin and round the ship, we found unbearable. Onboard, we could not fault the staff and there was a wide range of food although the food was never hot. Many of our group were ill after leaving the ship with flu type symptoms causing us to miss out on the best trips of the tour. The hotels that were selected for us to stay in during the land tours were exceptional but be aware that the first day you arrive your food is not included in the holiday and food is very expensive in the hotels (although this was the best food of the whole holiday). Meals included in our holiday were alway at different Chinese retaurants and alway served on a lazy Susan. These were very repetitive and were always the same dishes at every meal. Even though we love Chinese food, this is not Chinese food as we know it and it was the most disgusting food we had ever eaten. We felt that the trips were very rushed by trying to fit too many trips into the time allocated. Too much time is spent in the coach travelling, to many museums displaying the same items etc, etc. 1 instance was in leaving the Viking Emerald. We were taken to the zoo to see the pandas (amazing). On arrival, we were told we only had 1 hour at the zoo so got to see the pandas and nothing else. This is an amazing zoo with so much more to see. We were then took for lunch at 10.30 ( after we had already had breakfast on the ship), which no one wanted as we were being fed again on our flight to Xian 3 hours later. This extra time would have been much better used at the zoo. Days were very early starts, starting at 5am for breakfast to be on he coach for 6.30 in order to avoid crowds at the places we visited. On a good note, our guide Michael was the best. He is very knowledgable, funny, caring and is there constantly. Anyone who is disabled, please note that this trip is not for wheelchair friendly for most of the trips. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
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