China can be a logistical challenge for foreigners. The country’s recent tourism boom has put this country on many bucket lists, but maneuvering by plane or train is still difficult due to the language barrier and cultural differences.
Touring by boat, however, is a different story. Viking River Cruises provides a luxurious, stress-free journey throughout much of the country, including the stunning Three Gorges, considered by many to be the trip of a lifetime. From Chongqing to Wusan, the floating luxury hotel stops for exploration of temples and pagodas, floats past misty monolithic bluffs, and pampered guests every inch of the way.
From the moment I stepped onto the gangplank, greeted by a Chinese dragon, I knew this was going to be a memorable trip. The 256-passenger Emerald did not disappoint. The exterior of the ship was unexpected – it did not look like a luxury vessel, but was intentionally designed to fit in with Chinese-style crafts.
Inside was the familiar state-of-the-art Viking sophistication, from the spacious, tastefully-appointed suites, each with sliding glass doors leading onto a veranda on which to sit and take in the views while floating down the Yangtze, to the formal dining with panoramic views, lounges, spa, and shops.
The menu onboard changed every day with Asian and European entrees and buffet items. The staff mingled with the guests for happy hour every evening before the scrumptious dinner, and wine and beer served with the meal. The highlight was always the communal dining experience, where new friendships were forged, often times lasting beyond the cruise itself.
Guests can gather at any time of day on the partially shaded sun deck to socialize while gazing at the emerald green water and towering craggy cliffs.
The cruise embarked in southwest China at Chongqing, the most populous Chinese made it the perfect jumping off point for the Three Gorges. The mountainside city with its Manhattan-like skyline served as the country’s capital during World War II. It’s known as the “Fog City” because of the high probability of being socked in. And so it was as we left port.
Read the rest of China’s Three Gorges in JustLuxe.