Q – We have been following your site for the past three years and really love the way its grown. Hope this question will appear in Q&A as it must concern a fair number of people. As we enter our seventies, we think this is the time that we just have to do China. We are looking at one of the Viking River comprehensive tours. Can you tell us, first, what you think of their China program and which of their programs seems to be the best. Our big question has to do with time of year. I suppose you can get rain or heat and we prefer not to experience either during our travels. As fairly cautious and not very experienced travelers, with a yearning to know a bit about China before we are no longer able to travel, we wonder if this seems like a smart decision on our part.

A – We don’t see any fault in your reasoning for this trip. We are not huge fans of Viking River in Europe, but their China product is vastly superior. It also represents serious value. The Viking Emerald is the ship you need to be on. It will carry 264 guests and feature all balcony staterooms. Viking’s programs in China run like military precision. But you will be over scheduled and you will be exhausted when you get back home. China is just too much for the American mind to comprehend at once. Since shore excursions and pre and post tours are all included, guests seem to feel obligated to absorb an almost daily strain of sightseeing, sometimes with guides whose English is less clear than was Charlie Chan’s. So pace yourself and do some reading before your trip. There are three current Viking itineraries in China. The best is “China’s Cultural Delights.” It sandwiches an eleven-day Yangtze River Cruise between extended stays in Beijing and Shanghai. China promotes itself as a 12-month destination and tour operators want you to believe that you can go at virtually any time. In truth, you should plan on doing this trip in March or April or the second half of September through the end of October. The Viking River experience in China is rated as a four star product. But travelers who fit the deluxe profile come back from this experience feeling that they saw as much as they could in the time they had while sailing one of the best ships on the Yangtze. You are about to make a smart decision but please build in some time for rest.