8 Viking River Viking Emerald Cruise Reviews for Senior Cruises to Asia

We did the Viking "Undiscovered China" version (there are two other shorter alternatives). While onboard, you are together with 250 passengers, but on land you are usually with about 25-30 and one tour guide for the entire trip ... Read More
We did the Viking "Undiscovered China" version (there are two other shorter alternatives). While onboard, you are together with 250 passengers, but on land you are usually with about 25-30 and one tour guide for the entire trip for that group (Mark--outstanding). We started in Shanghai and stayed at the Wanda Reign, a relatively new hotel right on the river (Bund). This was an over the top Art Deco fantasy with an iPad to control the drapes, lights etc., and a toilet whose lid raised up as you entered the room, plus all kinds of bidet functions. This was typical of the other hotels, St. Regis, Chengdu, Westin Lijiang Old Town, Wyndam Grand Xian and Ritz Carleton Beijing. All were 5 stars. We did a pre-extension in Shanghai with a trip to a small town outside Shanghai (Suchow) where they have a grand canal and a classical garden. Then we started the "real" 19 day part of the tour. What we at first didn't realize is that all 250 passengers were in Shanghai, but at 4 different hotels so we didn't see many of them until the ship. Same for Beijing. After Shanghai, we went to Wuhan to pick up the ship for 6 days. This included both the Three Gorges Dam (transited via locks) as well as cruising through the Three Gorges. At the end of this, the 250 people split up as some were going to Tibet, some had the shorter 12 day trip which skipped the pandas at Chengdu (which we saw) etc. In the end there were three groups of 30 or so that had our 19 day route. Lunches on land often included tours to silk factories, jade carving, terra cotta warrior figurines, etc. and were mostly Chinese "round table with lazy-susan) but were all very good and not that repetitive. Dinners alternated nights with large western/Chinese buffets at the hotels, and Chinese restaurants in the local cities. Ship dinners did the same. What some passengers didn't realize is that the ship had a major interior refurbishment between last November and the beginning of April for this year's season. All the carpets, drapes, upholstery were replaced, so earlier complaints about the condition of the ship aren't relevant anymore. Staff was wonderful. We had the Silver Spirits alcohol package on board and they knew what we liked by the second day. Highlights of course were the pandas at the Panda Reserve in Chengdu, the terra-cotta warriors in Xian, and the cruise. We learned so much from our guide Mark who took great care of our group. We've been on Viking's Grand European River Cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam, and this is of course different, but Viking took very good care of all of us throughout. We'd recommend this trip to anyone whose interested in China. One thing to consider: China is not handicapped friendly as in the US. There are lots of steps, hills and cobblestones. We had two people with canes and they got through, but it wasn't easy. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Pros: It is nice to only have 200 people on board the ship. The staff was lovely and accommodating. The food was fine. The hotels were excellent! The tour guide was good. The intra- country flights were well organized. The live ... Read More
Pros: It is nice to only have 200 people on board the ship. The staff was lovely and accommodating. The food was fine. The hotels were excellent! The tour guide was good. The intra- country flights were well organized. The live performances were good. Embarkment and disembarkment went smoothly. The pandas, the Great Wall, The three gorge dam, the terra cotta warriors and Tiananmen square were the highlights. Cons: The Viking Emerald is a ship that needs to be updated. The cabins, rugs, and couches are old and worn. Three excursions were canceled and filled with mediocre activities. It was so disappointing not to go to the school, the Shanghai Museum and the Hubei Museum and bells performance. This trip is not an easy one. It requires three intra- country flights, climbing many stairs, packing and unpacking, three different hotels, and many shore excursions that require walking long distances. Be prepared! You need to be mobile for this trip. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We were unsure what to expect from China, but we found the people to be so welcoming and friendly! Our hotels were all 5 star! Every hotel was more lovely than the one before! Very impressive. And the hotel staff were all very ... Read More
We were unsure what to expect from China, but we found the people to be so welcoming and friendly! Our hotels were all 5 star! Every hotel was more lovely than the one before! Very impressive. And the hotel staff were all very attentive! Our ship was also very nice. We saw all the main sights of China. But we also got to see a lot of the real China with small markets and a visit to a local elementary school. The children sang to us in English and then wanted us to sing to them! All of our shore excursions were wonderful and we had the same guide throughout the entire tour. We were on several different flights within China and the planes were all very modern planes and all went well. They don't give you much to eat on these flights but most were not more than two hours. The entertainment on our ship was put on by the staff and it was all top-notch! They are all very talented singers and dancers. We also had magicians and comedians! It was amazing that they have day-jobs and yet put on these fantastic shows in the evenings! Our cabin on the ship was very comfortable. We had a very heavy duvet and we asked for something lighter and they brought us a very soft lightweight blanket that was just perfect! Our guide was absolutely wonderful! When someone had a problem she was right there and took every step possible to help that passenger! We loved the scenery and thought it reminded us of Hawaii because of how lush and green it was! The food was also amazing! Very interesting presentation and the service was excellent. We loved everything about it. We would definitely think of going back some day. Read Less
Sail Date September 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
The trip was great. The hotels were all very nice. It was nice to be in the same small group with the same tour guide the entire trip. I enjoyed all the shore excursions. The food and wine on the ship was outstanding. Since we had 7 ... Read More
The trip was great. The hotels were all very nice. It was nice to be in the same small group with the same tour guide the entire trip. I enjoyed all the shore excursions. The food and wine on the ship was outstanding. Since we had 7 airline flights I liked that the guides took care of our checked in baggage. Everyone was very nice and helpful. My only complaint was two out of our three in country flights were delayed. We missed a couple excursions because of the delays. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
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
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
Our total trip, land + river, was 12 days. A viking representative met us at the airport in Shanghai and from that point on we were superbly cared for until a Viking rep dropped us at the airport in Beijing. The attention to detail, the ... Read More
Our total trip, land + river, was 12 days. A viking representative met us at the airport in Shanghai and from that point on we were superbly cared for until a Viking rep dropped us at the airport in Beijing. The attention to detail, the very personal care, the knowledge of our guide, the friendships we made - all exceptional. Quality 5 Star hotels, no cuing in lines for tourist sites, spectacular World Heritage tours. The Viking ship, Emerald, was good - not great....it's a little tired and could use some updating, but again the service of the Viking employees was exceptional. Breakfast and lunch buffet were excellent, but chef could use a course in preparation of western cuisine. When local fare was prepared, it was wonderful, but the kitchen struggled a bit with anything out of their traditional comfort zone (Chilean Sea Bass cooked till dry as wood chips) And cookies! How difficult would it be to offer a simple Toll House Chocolate Chip instead of dried compressed sawdust. But if those are the only two things that weren't up to par they were more than compensated for by the overall excellence of our experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
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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