101 Viking River Viking Emerald River Cruise Reviews

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
We wanted to take an Asian cruise and decided on the Viking Roof of the World land/river cruise tour. It included 6 days on the Yangtze plus 10 days on land. The clinching part was the inclusion of 2.5 days in Tibet which none of the ... Read More
We wanted to take an Asian cruise and decided on the Viking Roof of the World land/river cruise tour. It included 6 days on the Yangtze plus 10 days on land. The clinching part was the inclusion of 2.5 days in Tibet which none of the other river cruise lines offered. We landed in Beijing after a 14 hour flight and were met by the Viking representative who would be our tour guide for the entire trip and a better one we couldn't have had. We were fortunate to have gotten one that didn't parrot the party line and was even critical of some of the government practices - a breath of reality in an oppressive political climate. Then we arrived at the first of four 5 star hotels we would stay at- the Fairmont Beijing. Walking in through a revolving door that had living plants as a center piece and that was activated by your presence was just a preface of the luxury that the hotel offered. The room was all that and more with an over king sized bed, plush robes and towels that would have wrapped up both my wife and myself. The staff was at our beck and call but that first day we were too tired to do more than get settled and go to dinner which, like all the meals, was a buffet style. We never ate more Chinese food in 16 days then we did on this trip. The next 7 days included Bejing where we saw the Forbidden City, which was awesome and brought to life history that we had just read about like the whole trip did, and trekked to the Great Wall (be prepared for lots of climbing on that excursion and bring lots of water) Xian where the terra cotta soldiers are - far more impressive seeing them for real then any picture can do justice to - before arriving in Lhasa, Tibet. Upon landing we taxied past a line of Mig-23 fighter planes parked on the tarmac showing us why out flight there had been delayed over three hours. We saw the highest monastery in the world and were pleasantly surprised in not needing to use the oxygen provided in our rooms at the Shangri-La Lhasa (they did that because we were over 13,000 ft above sea level). After leaving Tibet we flew to Chongquing where we boarded the Emerald for the trip down the Yangtze. Our cabin was fairly large for not being a suite and amply supplied with water and sodas all included in the trip. Dinners were open seating so we were able to sit with different people almost every night although we did form attachments and tended to search those people. The Viking trips are inclusive so all excursions are part of the trip and we were kept busy - almost too busy to shop although we did manage to find time to get some very nice items. For the most part DO NOT pay the posted price unless it is in a government store - bargaining is expected and enjoyed by the vendors. You will be looked on with contempt if you don't! I saved about 30% on some jewelry by bargaining so it works. One of the highlights of the river part is the trip through the Three Gorges - magnificent scenery and we were fortunate to have clear if partly cloudy days for it. Words can't describe it just like they can't describe Alaskan scenery - you have to see it and try to capture the essence in photo's. We docked in Wuhan and flew to Singapore, spent 2 days there before making the long flight back home. This was a long and tiring cruise/tour but one that we both enjoyed and look forward to visiting other regions in Asia. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This cruise was an excellent way to see China. It was part of a combined land and river vacation. The accommodations on the river cruise boat were great and service was excellent. The dining facility was nice and there was great variety in ... Read More
This cruise was an excellent way to see China. It was part of a combined land and river vacation. The accommodations on the river cruise boat were great and service was excellent. The dining facility was nice and there was great variety in the meals. Some of the meals had Chinese themes which added to our enjoyment of the local cuisine. On the ship there were many shows, lectures, and exhibits. The staff were very helpful and always answered all our questions. There were very informative lectures and presentations that preceded the various ports of call. They were very helpful in preparing us ahead for the various sites we would visit. On the shore excursions there were always guides to assist us and give us information on the cultural sites that we visited. They helped us to appreciate more the places that we visited. Our stateroom had a nice view of the Yangtzee River. There was also a daily newsletter to keep us up to date on the various activities on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We traveled with Viking River Cruises on the Imperial Jewels of China trip (April, 2016) in the direction from Beijing to Shanghai. The trip was wonderful and a fantastic experience. A very safe and convenient way to see parts of China. ... Read More
We traveled with Viking River Cruises on the Imperial Jewels of China trip (April, 2016) in the direction from Beijing to Shanghai. The trip was wonderful and a fantastic experience. A very safe and convenient way to see parts of China. Good tour guide who spoke excellent English (although we had to call him by a made up western name!) Why? Hotels were excellent - Kerry in Beijing, Hilton in Xi'an and Westin Bund in Shanghai. Kerry was the best by far, although it's dining experience was affected by a lot of new staff still very much "in training" mode. Summer Palace - we went there ourselves and enjoyed. Tiananmen Square and Forbidden city - both hugely interesting and full of such intrigue and history. Great Wall - -the best trip of the holiday. Some stiff walking, steep steps and hills but just an amazing site and incredible that a Wall can be built on top of a mountain/hills! Xi'an - Terra Cotta warriors - we loved and were amazed at the story behind finding them in 1974/1976 and how well so much of it has been preserved. Yangtze river cruise started in Chongqing. Bit of a shambles getting to and onto the boat (Viking Emerald) but a great welcome from the staff when arriving at the boat's reception. First stop - Shibaozhai pagoda - fascinating but a lot of hassle from traders getting there and back. Enjoy the "Drunken Bridge". 3 Gorges and dam were stunning - even though it was misty most of the time. Added to the eerie atmosphere. Cabin was good, bed and pillows fine, excellent shower and great and helpful staff. Food was good and two or three Captain/Welcome-back receptions which were nice. Good evening entertainment, especially the show put on by the boat's staff. Fantastic, especially the magician. Shanghai was a very modern and westernised city (and very busy). would recommend this tri to those who would like to visit China and see a number of top sites and relax for 5 days on a river cruise. Areas of disappointment - - information suggested that all evening meals were included in the hotels were were staying in. No. Two meals were outwith the hotel and one was part of an optional trip to the theatre, which we weren't doing. So we had to buy two meals ourselves as we were tired and didn't want to leave the hotel. - 3 internals flights (main luggage all taken care of, which was wonderful) - fine but we were only told the flight times on the day (or evening before) and that they would be about 30 to 90 mins. Each was over 2 hours. - information on the trips was only fully provided the day before, not allowing we thought, adequate time to plan whether to go on an excursion or not. - took ill on the second last day on the boat (as a number of fellow passengers did) Chinese doctor was $120 and I came away with 8 boxes of medicine. Got home, saw doctor, diagnosed pneumonia changed the medicines. This clouded my experience of the last 4 to 5 days of the trip I am afraid. Especially as I had got in touch with some of the wonderful people we had met on the trip and discovered that a number of other people had also taken ill with similar symptoms to mine. - recommendations on tips seemed high - but that seemed to be the way of things these days. - three lunches were at places where you had to listen to a 20 minute presentation (you weren't told this until you arrived) - jade, terra cotta warriors and something else I have forgotten and then shop and then get your lunch. Not what I had expected from Viking. Overall we enjoyed the trip, but not as much as the Danube river cruise we had done with Viking the year before.Viking staff reallay look after you well and nothing is too much trouble to them. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We chose this cruise because we really enjoyed our Viking cruise in France, and the excursions covered a lot of sights we wanted to see. Unfortunately, this one didn't go as well as our French cruise. There were many problems on the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we really enjoyed our Viking cruise in France, and the excursions covered a lot of sights we wanted to see. Unfortunately, this one didn't go as well as our French cruise. There were many problems on the Emerald: Moldy smell in many areas: rooms/hallways. Had to change rooms to the second alternative room, because the first alternative room also smelled moldy. Room attendant, Marvin: We ran out of toiletries, including toilet paper. He didn't replenish them. Had to call desk for more. His cart was outside our room everyday. One day I took a soap because we were low, and the cart contents never changed. Every day, everything was neatly arranged and full, except for the hole left by the one soap I took. I don' think anybody got new toiletries. He never cleaned the rug. It was filthy by the end. I put a dirty bathroom glass in the center of counter to exchange for a clean one. He just put the dirty one on an old coaster and put it behind the faucet as if it were a clean glass. I left my robe on the couch one day. He just wadded it up and put a pillow over it to cover it. Basically all he did was make the bed every day. He didn't understand anything we tried to say to him. Fiona was an excellent server, as was Alice. The main emcee gentleman was pretty impossible to understand. Also, the Shangri-La hotel in Guilin was not a good choice. It was overrun with children, and if you didn't like seafood, the food choices were just vegetables. I had tomatoes, olives and bread for dinner. It's a good thing I decided against the chicken, because a fellow passenger told me the next day that it had made him sick. Also, towels and toiletries were on the skimpy side. All other hotels were wonderful. Ray, our guide, was outstanding, and totally saved this trip! He made all the shore excursions fun. (Unfortunately, nobody could make the Chinese Acrobat show fun. It was not terribly acrobatic, or interesting.) Other shows were good. 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
My mom and I chose to travel with Viking to China because we had heard great things about Viking tours, and wanted to travel with a reputable company. When we looked at the available cruises we chose the 'cruise' from Beijing to ... Read More
My mom and I chose to travel with Viking to China because we had heard great things about Viking tours, and wanted to travel with a reputable company. When we looked at the available cruises we chose the 'cruise' from Beijing to Shanghai. One thing that appealed to us "virgin" cruisers was that there were hotel stays prior to and after the cruise portion. We had a few days in Beijing and Xian before the cruise and got to explore The Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, The Terra Cotta Warriors, and other fantastic places, all while staying in five-star accommodation. Then we boarded the Viking Emerald, we enter into a beautiful atrium and our taken to our stateroom-spacious and has a great veranda. The Yangtze River provided a beautiful backdrop as we cruised, and it was wonderful to enjoy sitting on our veranda. The food onboard was delicious, and I loved that at every meal there was a local cuisine option. The crew was amazing, and talented! The entertainment on board surpassed my expectations. The shore excursions were well thought out and gave a view of China that we couldn't get in the larger cities- I particularly loved the lesser gorges tour because our guide had lived there her entire life and she described the culture. Even when we couldn't go on one of the excursions (due to a weather/lock schedule issue), the staff on the boat went out of their way to plan some last minute entertainment, including a free alcoholic beverage, so that we would still get a great experience, even if it wasn't the one we had planned. It has been over six months since we traveled, and my mom and I still are talking about all of the wonderful experiences we had in China. I am normally an independent traveler, but I am so glad I traveled with Viking because I know I would not have seen a quarter of what I saw with them, or with the ease that everything was handled. I have recommended this trip to everyone I know, and I would gladly go on this trip again! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Fantastic cruise, fantastic restaurants, fantastic ship, fantastic staff, fantastic food, fantastic service, fantastic guide (Joshua). This was our China anniversary (20 years) so we picked China for our holiday. We were not disappointed. ... Read More
Fantastic cruise, fantastic restaurants, fantastic ship, fantastic staff, fantastic food, fantastic service, fantastic guide (Joshua). This was our China anniversary (20 years) so we picked China for our holiday. We were not disappointed. The whole trip was brilliant, particularly with our well informed, excellent English speaking guide, Joshua. The five nights spent on the ship was only part of a fortnight's tour, the rest of which was excellent too. We visited the Dam on the Yangzte, a major feature on the river with it's giant locks alongside. Sailing through the three gorges was spectacular with high steep faced cliffs either side of a narrow gorge and the Goddess gorge, a separate trip on a smaller vessel was a must, a spectacle in its own right, the Terracotta Warriors, the Great Wall of China and not forgetting the Pandas @ Chonqing. Fantastic, thank you Viking for this memorable trip. I'm glad we went in the direction that we did as the scenery got better the further we went and going back towards Shanghai would appear to be largely industrial and apparently you cannot visit the pandas in that direction. All of the restaurants visited were of a high standard serving excellent food with exceptional staff and service. We particularly liked the Peking Duck restaurant in Beijing where the duck was carved and served at the table in front of you with an expert member of staff showing you how to assemble a proper pancake. Furthermore we enjoyed the dancing show which included 12 different types of dumpling which were delicious. The Kung Fu show was amazing also. Looking forward to our next Viking trip! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was an excellent experience for our first trip to China. Fantastic itinerary, great hotels, awesome cruise. Great service all around. In an overwhelming country with so much to see, Viking helped us to focus on the must sees. Right ... Read More
This was an excellent experience for our first trip to China. Fantastic itinerary, great hotels, awesome cruise. Great service all around. In an overwhelming country with so much to see, Viking helped us to focus on the must sees. Right from picking us up at the airport and adding an extra excursion for those of us arriving a day early, we realized that this would be something special. The land portion of the tour was great, fantastic hotels, meals and a well-informed, interesting and energetic tour guide. The cruise was breath-taking! Our first real river cruise experience did not disappoint. The ship was beautiful, well-appointed and clean with very helpful staff. It was amazing how quickly they got to know us, and what our needs were. The room was very nice, and it was great to be able to sit on the balcony and take pictures as we cruised down the Yang-Tse. We would most definitely recommend this tour as a great way to discover China. 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
I thought this tour was exceptional. The organization of everything by Viking was wonderful; everything went very smoothly. The hotels were 5-star; the food was wonderful - on land and on the ship. Roy was a great escort. The sights ... Read More
I thought this tour was exceptional. The organization of everything by Viking was wonderful; everything went very smoothly. The hotels were 5-star; the food was wonderful - on land and on the ship. Roy was a great escort. The sights were amazing. It has to rank among my top three trips ever! We stayed at the Westin Beijing Choayang which was very nice. Traffic in Beijing was horrible; it took us probably 3 times longer than necessary due to the traffic jams. Luckily, that was figured into the planning and we got everywhere on time. The Beijing Opera was interesting but not a "must see". There were big crowds on the Great Wall and in the Forbidden City but not too overwhelming. On the Great Wall, it would be very crowded and then somehow people dispersed and you would feel like you were there on your own. In Xian, we were at the Crowne Plaza. The Tang Dynasty Show itself was very good but the food was just okay. The TerraCotta Warriors were wonderful! It was pretty crowded there but the pits are large so you could always find a spot for some good viewing. When we arrived at the ship, we were welcomed by music and a dancing dragon. Staff was there to escort us to our cabin which was pleasant. We did get a dehumidifier which helped; all we needed to do was ask at the front desk. The dining room was quite pleasant and all the meals on board were very good, though they did have some specialties one night , like phoenix legs, chicken feet and pig snout which we didn't try. Staff was very attentive and our wine glasses were never empty. The onboard enrichment activities were okay. Some of the talks about China seemed somewhat rambling and the mah jongg lesson had most of the groups sitting too close to one another. The painting demonstration was good as was the cooking demo. We enjoyed the staff cabaret. My husband enjoyed the tour of the Three Gorges Dam while I thought the tour of the Temple of the Golden Ox was good too. It was here were I did some shopping and got a good deal on some scarves. The Shibaozhai Temple was fascinating and the view from the heights there was wonderful. In Shaghai, we were at the Jing'anShangriLa. The room was magnificent as was the view from the 54th Floor. Here, we were able walk in the area and found a Buddhist Temple and a market to occupy our morning before we left for the airport. The best part of the tour though was all the wonderful people we met. Everyone in our group was very friendly and enjoyable to be with. Read Less
Sail Date September 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
Sail Date August 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
Sail Date July 2015
Don’t think of this three-week odyssey as a vacation, but as a journey. It’s not an easy trip for several reasons, but the payoff comes in surprising ways along with a few pretty significant downers. The 21-day Roof of the World ... Read More
Don’t think of this three-week odyssey as a vacation, but as a journey. It’s not an easy trip for several reasons, but the payoff comes in surprising ways along with a few pretty significant downers. The 21-day Roof of the World cruise/land “vacation” offered by Viking River Cruises, which we took, included the Hong Kong/Guilin supplemental portion. Start your trip in Beijing because you’ll want to get that portion completed. It’s a very important and interesting part of the experience—Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall—but it is exhausting and Beijing is not very interesting. This is a difficult trip physically and there are almost no accommodations for anyone that can’t walk or stand for eight hours a day and that is very evident in Beijing. The Chinese obviously don’t believe in sitting and there are virtually no benches, chairs or even surfaces to rest your bum—besides, you are walking pretty much non-stop in heat, humidity and staggering air pollution. There are approximately 22 million people in Beijing and there are about 8.5 million in New York City, just to give you a comparison. We didn’t see the sun for three days and there are simply lots and lots of people everywhere. Viking does an admirable job considering everything they must juggle. Their best asset is, without a doubt, their people. Our guide, Jenna, was fabulous—knowledgable, kind, smart and always working. Her English was perfect and her attitude admirable given the Chinese Government and the hundreds of variables she managed daily. Coming in second to Jenna was the quality of the hotels. We stayed at several Shangri-la hotels and two Fairmont hotels and they were all exceptional. The breakfast buffets at these hotels were the best of all the food offered on the trip. Often, we also ate dinner at the hotels and while it got a little old, you could eat the food. That was not always the case on the cruise and in the local restaurants. You get pretty tired of the same Chinese, lazy Susan, family-style offerings such as limp tasteless book choy. Drinks also seem to be an issue. Wine is pretty non-existent, beer is served (ONE per customer) and they’ll take you down if you ask for a second soda. Budget for your liquor consumption and figure nothing is included. Viking does a great job with the baggage, transfers and details associated with what turned out to be seven intra-China flights, endless bus rides and interference by the Chinese government. Just as we were to leave for our cruise portion of the flight, we were informed a portion of the Yangtze River had been closed. This necessitated us taking two domestic flights in one day, topped off by a five hour bus ride that put us boarding at 3:00 a.m. After the five hour ride, we were told we should “tip the bus driver”. Really? I didn’t want to use him in the first place and I’m responsible for the government closing the river? Tipping is something of a concern. It is endless. I don’t mind tipping, but every bus driver, every local guide, porter and handyman?? We tipped Jenna more, because she was worth it, but you are “advised” to tip $15 a day, per couple for the tour guide. If you are on the trip for 21 days, that is $315. There is vitally no internet. None. No Facebook, CNN or Google. Sometimes, when the stars and moon align and it’s 3:00 am, you might get Yahoo in the larger cities. The entertainment is not worth mentioning because, while very pleasant, are the same people who clean your room. The Emerald riverboat is old and clearly not of Viking quality. The towels are dripping with loose threads and the sheets are worn thin. The bathroom is small and dated. The balconies are small with chairs that are capable of eating your flesh and the food less than. The staff are generally eager to please and have a reasonable command of English. We saw a lot of China and that was great. Viking did an amazing job fitting everything into the schedule. We personally hated all the “factory tours” that resulted in a “shopping opportunity” but people bought, so I guess it’s part of the program. The Terra Cotta Soldiers were amazing and Lhasa a true highlight. We both got very sick with the altitude sickness so plan on bringing medication. The hotel had a doctor, but it ran about $300 extra per person to get treated. Shanghai was a wonderful surprise (so different from Beijing) and Hong Kong was stunning. The quick trip to Guilin was worth the effort because the ride down the Li River was exceptional. There was just so much to see and you do start to understand the different Chinese thought process. We were a small group—21 in our group and 18 in a companion guided group—together because our itinerary included Tibet and most on to Hong Kong—and that provided a surprising upside. You get to know the people well and, while I wouldn’t have selected many of them in a general sense, it was a fabulous group of interesting people—aged from 22 to 80 years. The people absolutely made the trip—and Jenna was the glue that made it all possible. Take this trip for what it is—a journey with lots of average Chinese food, exploring emerging tourist sights and highlights of cultural enrichment, coupled with the great need to be adaptable while getting to know a variety of great folks. And, train physically before you go! Read Less
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 June 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 May 2015
This was our first venture into China, so we booked all air and transfers through Viking. They flew us to Beijing a day early which was appreciated. We flew Air China which offered nothing out of the ordinary regarding space or food. It ... Read More
This was our first venture into China, so we booked all air and transfers through Viking. They flew us to Beijing a day early which was appreciated. We flew Air China which offered nothing out of the ordinary regarding space or food. It got us where we needed to be both directions. We were met by a Viking representative who took us to the beautiful Kerry Hotel. The bathroom here was the talk of the tour. It has the most high teck toilet I've ever used. It also offers a bountiful breakfast buffet, and a very nice evening buffet as well. We are very glad we did this trip in November. The temperatures were moderate to cool. Because of the APEC conference, factories in the Beijing area were closed for the week or so before hand and only half the cars (either odd or even license plates depending on the date of the day) were permitted to drive so air quality was better. We heard tales of very hot summer weather. Advice offered in other reviews led us to book starting in Beijing. This is indeed a very active tour, and since it begins with walking Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall the first two days very glad we packed our insoles. Because we arrived a bonus day early, we took the subway to the Summer Palace. Young people speak good enough English and were very helpful in finding stations and giving directions when we needed them. There is an optional tour to this Palace, but it is easily done on your own for less than $2, and you have the adventure to talk about. Day 5 included Xian and its Terra Cotta Warriors. Enough time there to get a good look and lots of photos. We didn't attend the optional Tang Dynasty show, but those who did were positively impressed. The following day we flew to Chongqing to board the Emerald which is leased from the Chinese. The staff is all Chinese and works very hard to insure a pleasant journey. The first few nights there were problems with temperature controls. Dining room very warm, cabins usually too warm, sometimes too cold. Food on the ship was plentiful and good. Food on tour was adequate. Meals on tour are usually served one course at a time. ie, the beans are put on a lazy susan. All people at the table help themselves. Pity the last person to be served, cause there isn't always enough. Then come the next 9 items, one at a time ending with soup or a slice of watermelon. So you may taste a bite of 10 dishes, and one of these is always tofu, and smalls bits of fish, pork or beef. One day we experienced hot pot. There are other comprehensive reviews and the Viking itinerary offers more touring details, so I'll let you know that the guides are wonderful. Their English is excellent, they are well versed in culture, history and current events. They find good restrooms on tour...sometimes there are lines because of limited western toilets for the ladies. They are able to answer questions forthrightly and give insight into the thoughts of young people. There is, it seems to me an excessive amount of residential building going on in most cities in China. "Ghost towns" seem to be everywhere. There is almost too much time for shopping, but some loved that aspect too. The multi talented crew presented two evening shows. One featured beautiful costumes and dances of various ethnic groups in China. The other was a very well done variety show. The fellow who poured our wine was a pretty good magician.! The cruise director gave interesting lectures on history and culture. We also enjoyed presentations on noodle making and Chinese art. There is no wifi on board! There are 8 computer stations on deck 6, and a terminal was usually available, though connections were very slow. Disembarkation and transfers to Shanghai were handled efficiently. We learned so much, saw and experienced more than we'd expected. Although there were a few people who had difficulty walking, I'd recommend this trip well before you need a knee replacement, or after you've healed because it is a very active trip and mobility issues will interfere with seeing many sites.   Read Less
Sail Date November 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
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 October 2014
I just returned from this trip and it far exceeded my expectations. (I traveled the direction: Beijing to Shanghai.) First I can tell you that I heard nothing but good reviews from my fellow passengers about their own Tour Guide, but I ... Read More
I just returned from this trip and it far exceeded my expectations. (I traveled the direction: Beijing to Shanghai.) First I can tell you that I heard nothing but good reviews from my fellow passengers about their own Tour Guide, but I still think ours was the best: Terry! From start to finish everything was first class. The land portion has passengers staying in 5+ star hotels. Enough cannot be written about how outstanding the hotels were - one simply must experience them. Taking this tour, one sees all the highlights of China, and if there is something in particular you wish to see that is not on the itinerary, the staff is more than helpful in assisting you to put something together so that you can see what you wish. Do come prepared to be in, and experience, a non-Western country. Some individuals on my tours were disappointed they ate so much Chinese food! Others became impatient because a Chinese national could not understand English. Since we were in China this surprised me; I simply thought we all came expecting a country, food, culture and language very different from our own. As with touring anywhere outside of one's home country digestive tracts can become upset trying to adjust, so do come with over-the-counter preparations to help you with such symptoms. I had no issues at all, but about 10% of our group had mild to moderate digestive problems for a short duration. The Summer months can be hot and humid. I understand that Spring and Fall are perhaps ideal times to visit. My trip was at the tail end of Summer and so the climate was still fairly warm and muggy. Light-weight travel clothes that launder well by hand are ideal. On-board I would recommend asking for a dehumidifier for one's room as soon as you board. It will still feel a bit damp in the room, but the dehumidifier does make a pleasant difference. My recommendation is to make this tour starting with Beijing if possible. The Beijing portion is the most physically taxing - long day and significant walking at Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace and the second day at the Great Wall. It makes the relaxation when you get to the boat even more enjoyable. I do wish there had been one more day in Shanghai and others seemed to agree with this, so if your plans allow, add time in Shanghai. In all ways I recommend this tour. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was a first class tour of China. I would rate the 4 hotels we stayed in as 5 star. The Viking Emerald was modern and well maintained. The food on board was excellent. We had one guide who accompanied our group of 30 during the entire ... Read More
This was a first class tour of China. I would rate the 4 hotels we stayed in as 5 star. The Viking Emerald was modern and well maintained. The food on board was excellent. We had one guide who accompanied our group of 30 during the entire trip (she was excellent) and local guides joined us at each new city (they were very good and had expert knowledge of the local area). The entire trip was interesting and Tibet was most unusual and enjoyable. We had a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
The cultural experience in China was excellent. The guides and ship staff were pleasant and hard working. English language skills were very good. The Viking Emerald, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Although the on-line information ... Read More
The cultural experience in China was excellent. The guides and ship staff were pleasant and hard working. English language skills were very good. The Viking Emerald, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Although the on-line information states that the ship was built in 2011, it is obviously a much older ship, possibly refurbished several times. The cabin floors were uneven and the bathrooms were very dated. The ship sported several different names on signs on midship and on the bow, so perhaps it is used by different cruise lines simultaneously. Food in the dining room was all right, as long as there were western-style meals served. If the menu was announced as "traditional Chinese dinner" you could count on really cheap cuts of meat, flavorless noodles and sauces and little variety in vegetables. We found it humorous that the chef's biggest claim to fame was the breakfast yogurt--which was good, but hardly something to write home about. The on-board informational talks were all given by the cruise director. While a nice person, he was hardly an expert in all of the topics that he tried to talk about, so the level of each talk was at about a 6th grade level. He was unable to answer most questions that were put to him. The on-board entertainment consisted entirely of different members of the ship's crew (cabin attendants, diningroom staff, security personnel) who had been dressed in different outfit/costumes and then waltzed around the dance floor swinging their arms. Nice effort, but completely amateur. The land portion of the cruise tour was very good. The hotels were excellent 4-5 star. Air travel within China was what you would expect for a tour group, but our main Viking guide facilitated everything very smoothly. The ports were what we came for, and were not disappointed. A lot of walking was required. We greatly enjoyed the huge number of cultural sights included in the tour, and the local guides provided by Viking were appreciated, although their English skills were not as good as the main guide's. The constant tipping took a little getting used to, but the main Viking guide facilitated the passengers acquisition of smaller local currency to make this process easier. It was a trip we will remember for the rest of our lives.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We have just returned from China after an amazing experience with Viking Cruises. Our holiday started in Beijing and ended in Shanghai. Three nights 5* in Beijing and a visit to Tienanmen Square, a flight to Xian for two nights 5* and a ... Read More
We have just returned from China after an amazing experience with Viking Cruises. Our holiday started in Beijing and ended in Shanghai. Three nights 5* in Beijing and a visit to Tienanmen Square, a flight to Xian for two nights 5* and a visit to the Terracotta soldiers. Another flight to Chongqing to join the cruise ship Emerald and a 5 night sail down the Yangtze River to Wuhan. There was so much to see at every stop. A Flight then took us to Shanghai and a further two nights in a 5* hotel. We visited so many places, a local school, a jade factory and a silk carpet factory to name a few. This trip was so organised, not too many people (250) and the best food offered at every meal. The rooms were all clean and air conditioned and the whole thing was at an all in price. The only extras were tips to local coach drivers and guides so factor that into your spending budget. I cannot stress how much my partner and I enjoyed this holiday, and thanks must go to Jane our Viking rep. She was fantastic, funny and extremely knowledgeable with boundless energy considering the heat in June/July this year (2014) Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
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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