The cruise on the Yangtze was a very nice cruise, although it wasn't until the third day on the ship that we actually started to see some fantastic views on the river. From there on in there were really pretty views from the river, including the Three Gorges and then the Goddess Stream. The tours during the cruising were all very interesting and when we weren't cruising through scenic areas, there were always great presentations on the ship by really knowledgeable staff to pique everyone's interest. This survey only asks about tours while on the ship but it's important to note that once the sailing portion of this trip was over we had several days where we stayed in some wonderful cities and in some beautiful hotels and did tours that were amazing (The Great Wall of China, The Terra Cotta Warriors, Tienanmen Square, The Forbidden City, etc). All of those things, combined with the cruise, made for a great trip.
5 out of 5
We got into our room on the ship very quickly and our suitcases arrived very shortly thereafter. It was a very smooth process.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
The dining room experience on Viking was great, as it always is. The food was excellent and they did a very good job of providing Gluten Free choices, which we had notified them in advance that one of us would need. The only suggestion I would have for this particular cruise (since it was China and they offered many opportunities to try Chinese cuisine along the way) would be to have this option available for people who are Gluten Free. An easy way to to that would be to have Tamari (a gluten free soy sauce) on board, since that is the ingredient that causes the most gluten problems with Chinese dishes because it's in most sauces and that would allow Gluten Free folks to enjoy many of the traditional Chinese dishes that were served.
5 out of 5
Because there wasn't much to see on the river the first couple of days, Viking provided a lot of different things to learn about and see. They taught us how to make dumplings, not only demonstrating but allowing everyone who wanted the chance to actually try making them and then served them during the demonstration. There was a presentation to learn about The Yangtze River itself and one on Chinese Culture. We learned about pearls and how to tell the difference between real and fake ones. We saw a demonstration on painting on the inside of different sized glass pieces, we even had a tea ceremony demonstration with tastings of different teas. We saw a calligraphy and painting demonstration.
5 out of 5
The crew on board were very talented and we were treated to their talents a few times on the ship. One of the staff was very good at choreographing beautiful dance routines that had a story throughout and we were very impressed with the job they all did. They also treated us to a ballroom dance by some of the staff, which was very well done.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
The service and staff on board were remarkable. Our room steward had our room cleaned before we finished breakfast most days and always had bottles of water for us. He turned down our bed every day, putting a fresh glass and bottle of water next to both sides of the bed. He even folded clothes I left on the bed, which we never expected him to do. The servers in the dining room and the bar were wonderful and every one of the ship personnel were friendly and welcoming.
5 out of 5
The ship had a very nice design layout. The staircase going from floor to floor gently curved and looked beautiful with its shining banisters. Each floor on this ship had some type of shopping or browsing to offer (jewelry on one side, paintings on another, etc). There was a really nicely laid out room for just reading or playing a game, a small exercise room with a few treadmills and other equipment, a computer room with several computers for those who needed it, and even a library. The lounges were always clean.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
The cabin was bigger than we expected. This is our fourth Viking cruise and we were surprised at just how big our cabin was. There was a nice sitting area with a couch and coffee table that we weren't expecting based on our last three cruises with Viking. We purchased one of the less expensive cabins since we don't spend any time in the room so we were expecting it to be a bit smaller (not that they've ever been bad) but this one was much bigger than we've had. The room was kept perfectly clean and the room and bed were comfortable. The only problem we found was that it was very damp in the room, even with the air-conditioning always on so our clothes did feel a bit damp. Apparently they must have expected it on this boat because there were small dehumidifiers in the hallway on our floor. Other than that the cabins were wonderful (and even with that they were still enjoyable).
I wouldn't bother to purchase the most expensive room since you don't spend much, if any, time in your room except to change clothes or sleep. The rooms on this particular ship are a good size and are very comfortable so use the money saved on something else. This was a really nice ship!
We toured the Wuhan Hubei Museum, which was interesting and my favorite part was that we were treated to a performance of the ancient bells, which was wonderful.
5 out of 5
We were supposed to do two tours (one to a school) but because school wasn't in session, they brought the children on board where they did an amazing dance recital. These children, grades 1 through 3 remembered every step of their routines! They did several dances (both boys and girls) and for their last dance chose tourists to dance to "If you're happy and you know it". I was lucky to be chosen by a little girl to dance with her. It was heart warming. Afterwards we were taken on a tour of the Ancient City Wall of Jingzhou, which was very interesting.
The Three Gorges Dam is a massive dam project. It took 4 escalators just to get up to a viewing area where we could look down on the dam. Later that evening our ship sailed through the ship lock but we had to wait to go through and it got late so we didn't get to experience the few hours of going through the ship lock there (many people did stay up for it though). The next day we did an excursion, which was a ride in a sampan (small boat) up a tributary of the Yangtze called the Goddess Stream, which was a tour of the Lesser Three Gorges. The hour and a half ride gave us some amazing views of the Goddess Stream and was really enjoyable.
This was a walking tour to the Shibaozhai Temple. The beginning of the walk from the ship was up a very steep grade (about 200 yards straight up hill) in very hot weather. Some folks took either a rickshaw or car ride up because it was too strenuous for them. We walked through the "Hello Market" and after a pretty good walk we crossed over the "Drunken Bridge" (a suspension bridged that had slats that caused it to move both up and down and side to side so that you walked like you were drunk). The temple itself had 99 steps inside that you walked up and it was pretty hot inside.
Chongquing's port was not an easy one. We had to climb around 100 stone steps from where the boat was to where the buses waited for us and you had to carry your carry on bag with you (unless you wanted to pay someone to carry it). It was already really hot when we got there so it was great to finally get on our bus at the top of the steps. Our tour there was a little disappointing. We were taken to the zoo and got to see Pandas, which was wonderful. We saw three regular pandas and also saw some "lesser pandas" which were red pandas that looked a bit like a racoon does. What was disappointing was that we were in a huge zoo in a different country but didn't have enough free time after seeing the Pandas to see anything else because the zoo is so spread out and the schedule called for us to go to lunch and then drive to the airport for an afternoon flight to Xian
Checking out on the ship was easy and fast enough and was professional done but I was disappointed with the actual disembarkation itself. For the cost of what we paid for this cruise, I was disappointed that Viking required that you either carried your carry on bag off the ship and up the approximately 100 stone steps up in Chongqing to where the buses were or you had to pay some Chinese local person (and there were many waiting to do so) to carry it for you. It wasn't like there were handrails and the stone steps were steep in many places. It was also a very hot day. It seemed that rather than taking care of their customers that Viking was just trying to create a money making opportunity for the locals. That was a little disappointing.
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