Imperial China with Viking River Cruise November 16 – 29, 2012

Viking Emerald

My daughter and I had the opportunity to explore China with Viking – neither one of us had ever been to China, we loved it! The first thing we noticed, oddly enough, was just how clean China is. Isn’t it odd, we have a preconceived perception of things and they turn out so different?  We noted that there were always people sweeping and cleaning up and found out that China as a whole made a concerted effort when they were awarded the 2008 Olympics to clean things up and keep them clean – they are doing a great job.

This was my second Viking River Cruise and my daughter’s first…what can I say about Viking, it was an awesome trip! Our Viking River Cruise was outstanding, right from the start, they do an unbelievable job to make the trip seamless. So what makes traveling with Viking so amazing? Well, so many things….let me cover a few.

First you only handle your own bags when you arrive in Beijing and come out of customs but after that….you never handle them again until you fly home from Beijing.  Everything in between…Viking takes care of. Bags are handled and even on the inter-China flights we only handled our carry-on bags – what a pleasure.

Next, a Viking tour guide is with  you all the way! From Shanghai to Beijing, Viking guides are their to take care of any questions you may have or concerns along the way.  Our guide, Francis, was funny, personable and very knowledgeable.  Also, Viking makes sure to bring on a local guide in the different cities to give wonderful insight on that city.  I love that Viking gives each traveler a headset called a Vox so that we could hear our tour guide(s) without having to crowd around them, this is so much nicer than the old way of crowding around your guide and trying to hear what they are saying. I was thrilled that not only did our tour guides show us around, they provided us with great information and then gave us free time to explore on our own, allowing time for shopping and exploring on our own.

While traveling with Viking, for the land parts, they put you in nice hotels, but the best part…the ship…we traveled on the Viking Emerald. Good food on board and the ship and staff as a whole are great.  Our dining personnel, Maggie and Eddie, were so efficient – after the first night they knew our names and what we liked to drink.  The entire staff was very friendly and helpful, they made you feel welcome and at home.  They were on hand to see you off the ship for shore excursions and again when we returned.  All of the tours were included except for two – the Tang Dynasty dinner show in Xian and the Peking Duck Dinner and Opera in Beijing.  Both shows were well worth going to even though the clients have to pay for them.  Both of these optional tours as well as the other tours, added to the whole China experience. It’s an active trip with lots of walking, it would be a challenge if you were in a wheelchair, but many parts could be done…just not all of it.

This was definitely a trip of a lifetime! Seeing China…the cities…amazing. The schools that Viking sponsors and the countryside breathtaking. And I’ll never forget the giant pandas, the Terra Cotta Warriors and the Great Wall….unbelievable.

I would highly recommend this trip…if I could do it over, the only thing I would change…I would spend some extra days in the China…before and/or after the trip!

I met a wonderful travel writer from the UK while on my trip, Jeannine Williamson, here is a link to her thoughts on this amazing cruise.

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