2 Viking River Viking Emerald Gay & Lesbian Cruise Reviews

This was a land and river escorted tour beginning in Shanghai for 2 nights and flying to Wuhan to board the ship, sailing for 5 nights on the Yangtze, disembarking in Chongqing, flying to Xian for an overnight and then flying to Beijing ... Read More
This was a land and river escorted tour beginning in Shanghai for 2 nights and flying to Wuhan to board the ship, sailing for 5 nights on the Yangtze, disembarking in Chongqing, flying to Xian for an overnight and then flying to Beijing for 3 nights. Accommodations: In Shanghai, the Pudong Shangri-La was superior. 5 star rooms, 5 star service. The riverboat was surprisingly excellent for a riverboat. Clean, superb staff catering to the needs of passengers. All cabins had balconies. Crew members at two occasions performed for the guests and did a better job than some of the paid performances attended on the tour. In Xian, the Golden Flower Hotel was excellent. Not quite as nice as Shanghai 4 star, but service was 5 star. In Beijing, Westin Chaoyan was the worst experienced in a long time. 5 star rooms, 1 star service. The tour guides were not allowed by the hotel to pick up room keys forcing all guests to register. 5 bus loads of guests arrived being forced to enter from the rear making a poor impression from the start. The one receptionist had difficulty registering guests and was finally joined by others to move the process along. Many elderly guests had to stand in line to register, for there were no chairs in the lobby for them. Once the room key card was given, there was a problem accessing the elevator to the upper floors. Above the 17th floor, the key card was required to punch in the floor. The elevator assistant had to enter the elevator to use his master card in order to get to the floor. The key did work for the room. The key card had to be returned to the desk for a new one, provided with no apology for the inconvenience of the guest. The staff at the Westin appeared to care less about guests' requests. A request for Chinese coins was met with frowns and "your bothering me, boy" attitude. Meals at the hotel were very good. The tour escort: The guide assigned to the group of 36 had an excellent command of the English language and culture. He was able to understand and answer questions with ease, some quite difficult questions about culture. He appeared to treat each guest as a friend and took care to ensure our trip was pleasurable. On the river cruise, one couple experienced medical problems. The gentleman was seen by the doctor on board and referred ashore for treatment. The escort departed the ship with the couple, acted as translator and assistant. He worked with the US Embassy to arrange medical treatment and accommodations. The seriousness of the medical problem prevented the couple from rejoining the tour. The guide rejoined the tour after about 2 days. The fellow tour guides filled in for him during his absence and were good to us. The guide provided us daily reports of the status of the gentleman. The fear that he had a 50-50 chance of living resulted in the cruise line flying their son to China. [As a note: he did recover and flew back to the States about 2 weeks after the tour was over.] Excursions: All were included in the tour except two. They were very exciting and informative. Being able to really see the rural aspect of China was limited and was mostly tourist spots and large cities. The cruise line does support one local school along the river in Yueyang. This was about a close to seeing the "real" China as we got. Half of the school children came to school on a Saturday, a day off for them, to greet us, give us a performance, and then join us in their classroom. This was very nice. Of course, the Terra Cotta soldiers in Xian and the Great Wall & Forbidden City were the reasons for going to China. The side trip to the Summer Palace was dull. The two optional excursions were the Tang Dynasty Dinner & Show in Xian and the Peking Duck Dinner & Peking Opera in Beijing. The Tang Dynasty event was excellent and well worth the cost. It is highly recommended. On the other hand, the Peking Duck Dinner was the worst meal had in China. Having had Peking duck dinners before, this one was a joke. Each guest was given a few slivers of duck breast along with lots of common dishes that were poorly presented and lacked the quality of even street food. The Peking Opera was not to my liking but if one likes opera, it would be of interest. We were ushered into the opera after the dinner and seated at the "VIP" tables instead of in seats with the rest of the audience. Snacks were provided along with tea. Only the tangerine were worth eating. Being bored by the opera and not having anything to do caused more boredom. It was not the way to end one's trip to China. If one were to collect coins from countries visited, in China one must start trying to obtain them upon arrival. They are not worth much and are not used in the main hotels. There is little free time to find an open bank either. My effort resulted in only about 2/3 of the types of coins used and took the entire tour to get 4 of the 6 coins. Viking River Cruises read my critique of the tour. I was refunded the price for the Peking Duck Dinner [if one had the nerve to call it that]. This was unexpected and appreciated. Since I collect coins and many in our group had young ones back home that would be thrilled to get Chinese coins, I suggested that the company give each guest some coins as a gift. One of each coin would cost them less than $0.30 and would be something the kids would appreciate back home. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Starting in Shanghai, the hotel was excellent, Pudong Shangri-La. A little on the expensive side, e.g. a martini, a Bailey's and coffee, and a small dessert was $55 where as dinner near by was only $35 for two including drinks. The ... Read More
Starting in Shanghai, the hotel was excellent, Pudong Shangri-La. A little on the expensive side, e.g. a martini, a Bailey's and coffee, and a small dessert was $55 where as dinner near by was only $35 for two including drinks. The guide was superior, excellent command of the English language and a very good understanding of American customs. In all, there were 3 flights in China. The guide demonstrated his expertise in managing the group of 36 with ease. Flights were nothing special but clean and well organized. Upon boarding the ship, the crew welcomed us with smiles and energy. Staterooms all had balconies and were well taken care of by the staff. Food on board was generally fine, family style was generally done with a big lazy susan for the 10/table. The waiters and waitresses were very good in paying attention to the guests and seeing to the needs. The bar had an exceptional variety of liquors, wines, and beers. I would suggest buying the beverage package if you would drink the equivalent of 2 martinis/day. Entertainment on board was good. On two nights we were treated with the crew performing for us and this was a real treat. Not only did we know our crew but marvelled in how well they performed on stage, nothing short of amazing. During the cruise, we visited the school supported by Viking River Cruises. I wished someone had informed us of this, for we would have brought some little gifts for the students. We arrived at the school on a Saturday and about half the student body come to school on their day off to perform for us and join us in their classrooms. It was fun seeing them. Disembarking from the ship, we went to the zoo in Chongqing. Of course, seeing pandas was the treat. At the end of the zoo tour, we visited an art shop on the zoo grounds and there were some fantastic pieces to buy. Not particularly inexpensive but very well done. Upon arrival in Xian, the hotel, Golden Flower by Shangri-La, was nice, not quite as nice as in Shanghai but clean. Visiting the Terra Cotta Warriors was the next treat. It was amazing how our guide was able to herd cats wandering about, but with skill he managed that feat. Following Xian, we arrived in Beijing. Our arrival at the hotel, Westin Chaoyang, was not a pleasant experience. To put it bluntly, if they offered me a suite for as long as I wished, I would not stay there again. It was a 5 star room with 2 star service. To begin with, the large number of guests arriving had to enter the hotel from the rear. Instead of the guides being allowed to pick up our room keys and hand them out to us, the hotel insisted each of us check in individually. Long lines, with initially only one clerk, and no seats in the lobby. A number of the guests were elderly and standing in a line was not something they would want to do. When we finally got our room key, we were on a floor requiring the room key to be placed in the elevator so to access our floor. It didn't work! A person from the hotel had to use his pass key to allow us to punch in our floor. The key did work in the room door but not the elevator which required a second trip to the front desk to be ignored for a while by staff. Like I said, I would find it difficult to accept even a free room at this hotel. One of the optional thing in Beijing was the Peking Duck Dinner. Forget that. If you have ever had Peking Duck before you will find this is like going to a burger joint and ordering Kobe steak. The dinner was the absolute worse on the whole trip. I will mention though that I was asked by Viking River Cruises how I like my trip and if I had any comments. I mentioned the poor dinner and they refunded me the charge. The trip to the Forbidden City was amazing. Again, the guide was able to keep us all in check and help us maneuver this large place. The trip to the Summer Palace was a little disappointing and would not have been missed by anyone if we hadn't gone. The trip to the Great Wall was yet another marvel. I cannot say enough good things about our guide who helped us in every way possible. One small thing on a personal note, we collect coins from countries we visit to be mounted. Going to China proved to be a place where we thought this hobby would be easily completed. It wasn't. Finding coins proved to be a very difficult task. Finding a bank to manage this was also difficult. Our guide did help with finding coins but I did not get all of them. Overall, the cruise was a surprise for us who were first time Viking guests. The guide made our stay in China feel like we were welcome. We did have an event while on the river cruise portion of the trip. A man became ill and the guide escorted him and his wife ashore to the hospital. There was an issue with the small hospital and dealing with Americans. The guide made contact with the Embassy and worked with them to get the man moved to a larger city with better facilities. At one point, we thought they would rejoin us, but as we neared the end of the tour, we were told on our daily briefings on them that he may not survive. Viking flew their son to China. The good news is that he recovered and was well enough to fly back to the States 2 weeks later. The guide took personal charge of seeing to their needs allowing other guides to manage his group for him. This personal service was well appreciated. The crew on the ship was equally wonderful. There were only two things to avoid, the Peking Duck dinner and the Westin Chaoyang Hotel. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Viking Emerald Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.4
Entertainment 4.0 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.5
Family N/A 3.5
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.6
Enrichment 5.0 4.4
Service 4.0 4.7
Value For Money 4.0 4.5
Rates 4.0 4.2

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