The entire Roof of the World tour included a land package that started in Beijing, then we flew to Xian, Lhasa Tibet, and Chongqing, where we boarded the Viking Emerald and sailed down the Yangtze River to Wuhan; then flew to Shanghai, ... Read More
The entire Roof of the World tour included a land package that started in Beijing, then we flew to Xian, Lhasa Tibet, and Chongqing, where we boarded the Viking Emerald and sailed down the Yangtze River to Wuhan; then flew to Shanghai, where the main tour ended (but we also took the post-extension tour to Guilin and Hong Kong). I will not give a full review of the entire trip, as this posting is primarily about the 'cruise' portion, but for more details on the rest of the trip, I recommend you read the review by terran_explr, 'Perfect way to visit China', although that trip (Imperial Jewels of China) did not include Tibet.
I will also note to you that if you take the tour the first week in October, be prepared for massive crowds at all the tourist spots, because this is their national holiday week, and the Chinese are also on vacation!
First, I will say that the tour escorts Viking provides are first rate. And our guide, Arnold, was the best of the best! You will be very lucky, indeed, if you get him for your tour. And I must also say that all the hotels we stayed at were first rate (4/5 stars). We stayed at a couple of Fairmont Hotels and the rest were Shangri-La Hotels; all were fabulous and luxuriously appointed. Dining in the hotels was usually buffet style, so lots of choices, and good food. Other restaurants during the day's tours were sometimes 'uneven' in quality; most just okay. Although I will say that the restaurant we went to for Peking Duck was exceptionally good!
I found the Viking Emerald to be a lovely ship (yes, it is actually owned by a Chinese company, Century, and leased by Viking...just part of doing business in China, I guess). But the ship itself is in very good condition, especially compared to some other tourist ships there, I've heard. We had no problems with anything not functioning the way it should, except the loudspeaker system was not always very clear, and the wifi was very uneven or absent. But our room (Veranda A428) was lovely and well kept, as were all the public areas.
The restaurant was part buffet, part table service. Seating was completely open, which was a very nice option, in that you could join a new group of people, or meet up with friends, at any table at each meal. Food was quite good, too, and they would always offer the usual 'western' items, as well as featuring specialties from whatever area in China you were at for the day. And they were always very generous with beer and wine at lunch and dinner (included)! There were also gift shops for jewelry, jade, art, tea, and silks onboard. There was a modest library, gym and salon/spa, internet room and coffee (& other refreshments) station. There were also 2 bars/lounges, and open deck area on the top deck. Programs and entertainment shows were presented in the lounges.
The ship is usually in port during the day, when shore excursions are underway. I will say that one of our favorites was the trip up the Goddess Stream area...wild and beautiful scenery! The tour of the Wu Dam was also very impressive. Some parts of the Yangtze are quite scenic, although we were sad to see so much trash and pollution in the water, especially above the dam. Hopefully the government (?) will try to address this, as it will impact the tourist trade, if it gets too bad.
Onboard, there is always something to do, even when not in port...I learned how to play Chinese mahjong and make Chinese dumplings! There are also several programs offered on Chinese history and customs, etc. But I will also say that there is time to relax and take a nap, just visit with friends, or have a facial, if you like. The land portion of this trip is so filled with so many things to see and do, that by the time you get on board the ship, you're ready to slow down and catch your breathe. And the cruise down the river is like having a vacation from your vacation! I quite enjoyed it. Read Less