Previously known as the Century Emerald, Viking River Cruises has chartered the Emerald vessel since 2011, and it provides sophisticated and elegant cruises along the Yangtze River. It is Viking’s only ship operating in China, and offers state-of-the-art interiors, facilities and amenities to its guests, set across five decks – the Main, Middle, Upper, Observation and Sun Decks.
From its marble floors and crystal chandeliers, to the five-storey atrium that lights up the whole vessel, and full verandas in every room, a river cruise on the Viking Emerald is a refined and indulgent experience that will take guests on an unforgettable oriental adventure.
At full capacity, the Viking Emerald can hold 256 guests, so much larger than your average river cruise vessel, but without negatively affecting the quality of service and level of luxury. The English-speaking crew ensure travel is uncomplicated, with no need for translation onboard, and work hard to provide unfalteringly excellent levels of service at every step.
Cruises on the Viking Emerald tend to appeal primarily to well-educated passengers from the USA, but are also popular with British travellers. All guests receive a copy of ‘Viking Daily’ in their stateroom every evening, informing them about activities, shore excursions and departure times well in advance.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner services are all available in the main restaurant, situated on the Main Deck, which operates an open-seating system. All tables are well-laid, crisp and elegant, with larger tables kitted out with a Lazy Susan to ensure shared dishes can be enjoyed with ease.
Breakfast consists of an expansive buffet of cereals, pastries, meats, egg dishes and cheeses, as well as a fresh fruit station, healthy choice station, hot meals and homemade yoghurts. Fruit smoothies, juice and hot drinks are readily available.
For lunch service, there’s an extensive variety of dishes available at the buffet station, including salads, and hot and cold Western and Asian choices. Dinner comes in the form of a five-course sit-down menu, with a choice of appetisers, mains and desserts, followed by a cheese plate. Special dietary requirements can also be catered for.
Complimentary wines and beers are served with lunch and dinner service. Alternatively, beverage packages are available which can include unlimited fine wines and drinks from the bar. Tea and coffee are available 24/7 from the station outside the Observation Lounge, where you’ll also find pastries and cookies. Complimentary bottled water is also available.
As with most river cruises, entertainment isn’t as loud and proud as ocean alternatives, but that doesn’t mean it’s non-existent. On Viking Emerald, guests can head to the Observation Lounge and Lounge Bar if they’d like to enjoy a lively and inviting social area, where drinks flow and live music can be heard every evening. The Emerald Bar also hosts live music after dinner, and has a small dancefloor.
Highlights of every itinerary are the Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Dinners, which are perfect opportunities for mingling with fellow travellers, and dressing for the occasion. You may also find themed events onboard, depending on your itinerary and date of travel.
Start the day with a Tai Chi session on the Sun Deck, or catch up with loved ones back home in the Internet Corner on the Observation Deck. Enjoy a relaxing hour in the reading room on the Sun Deck, or take part in one (or more) of the various activities, demonstrations and talks that the Observation Lounge hosts daily. This enrichment program reflects the culture and traditions of China, including Chinese painting, language lessons, talks on the region and tea-making.
Shore excursions are a highlight of the cruise, and are included in the fare. QuietVox audio systems ensure the words of the expert guide aren’t missed.
There is a choice of nine different categories of staterooms, ranging from Veranda Staterooms with panoramic windows and private veranda, to Explorer Suites with wraparound verandas that offer 270degree views of the sweeping river landscapes.
All staterooms (Cat A to Cat F) feature hotel-style beds with optional twin-bed configuration, private bathroom with shower, premium toiletries, telephone, safe, hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities, air con, TV with premium entertainment package and ample storage space. Bathrobes and slippers are also available on request. They’re spacious at 250 sq. ft.
The Junior Suite and Suite offer the same amenities as the Veranda Staterooms, but are larger, while the Explorer Suite offers a whopping 603 sq. ft. of space (the largest in river cruising), with separate sitting area, two TVs, and a bathroom with bathtub as well as shower.
No matter what accommodation is chosen, guests can enjoy a beautifully decorated and luxurious space in which to relax and rest after busy days filled with activities and excursions.
Passengers can enjoy a range of amenities onboard that will help to ensure their fitness and wellbeing. The ship’s Sun Deck is home to a sauna, massage area and gym, while a hairdresser and beauty salon can also be found onboard. There’s also a doctor onboard, just in case.
Don’t forget the fresh air and magnificent views that can be enjoyed from the Observation Deck – the sunshine, breeze and scenery are often all that is needed to reinvigorate the mind, body and soul.
The 13 day ‘Imperial Jewels of China’ tour is the most popular option onboard the Emerald, and takes guests through all of China’s landmark highlights. From cosmopolitan Shanghai to its capital Beijing, this cruise along the dramatic Yangtze River that weaves through the beautiful Three Gorges region is an absolute standout. The itinerary comes complete with 11 guided tours, and excursions that include the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Xian – home to the incredible Terracotta Army.