Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Review: Viking River Cruises - China

Our trip to China began with an advertisement I received from Viking River Cruises.

I had been keeping my eye on their China's Cultural Delight itinerary. This trip is all inclusive. Not only are all meals included but so are many items that are optional with other companies. So while not the cheapest trip available, I felt it offered the most value.

Then the ad came.....air from the west coast to Beijing and then back from Shanghai for $320 pp!!! We have friends in San Francisco and when I told them about this trip, they immediately decided to join us AND invited us out a week early to do some California sightseeing with them. We had offers we couldn't refuse.

I immediately contacted my travel agent, Ellen, (ellen@sea4sail.com) and in no time all was professionally booked and we had our cabin assignment for the river cruise portion of the trip.

Viking River Cruises runs a first class operation. Our land hotels in Beijing and Shanghai were top of the line. The hotel in Xi'An was 5 star for that area but, admittedly, was not quite the level of the hotels in the other cities.

The ship (Viking Century Sun) is a beautiful ship. It was kept spotless and the service was excellent. The crew was friendly and accomodating.

We did have one complaint. With outside temperatures running around high 60's, the Captain used fresh air throughout the ventilation systems, including the cabin systems. With the weather we had (rainy and damp), the cabins were chilly. Many complaints from the passengers finally persuaded the Captain to use the air conditioning which removed the moisture from the air. But, unfortunately, it wasn't something we could depend upon. While all of the passengers were off the ship on a shore excursion, it was obvious, by the feel of the cabins when we returned, that the A/C was shut off while we were gone.

That said, if the weather had been more typical for this time of the year, the above would never have been an issue. We had an excellent tour leader and excellent local guides in the areas we visited. Our cruise on the Yangtze River was 9 nights, allowing us to stop along the river and visit places not normally visited by other vessels.

As typical of a small ship, there were lectures on board and evening entertainment was music and/or things like a crew talent show which was excellent.

We really have no major complaints and would not hesitate to take another river cruise through Viking.

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