Posted April 10th, 2013, 06:14 PM
Steve, having just returned recently from the Imperial Jewels tour (Beijing to Shanghai direction), I can confirm the following:
- Your tour escort is with you DAILY for the entire duration of the trip (so 12 days + any extra you wish to give)
- In Beijing, where the tour escort is the key guide, we also had a local guide strictly through the Hutongs, as well as a pedal cab driver, both of whom we tipped.
- The Beijing bus-driver remains the same through our tour of Beijing, and was tipped for his entire duration in one shot as he dropped us off at the airport. (The tour escort will usually hint at this by saying, "Now it's time to say good-bye to our bus driver". After this, we all kind of got the hang of when to tip.)
- In Xian, we had a local guide and driver, in addition to the tour escort.
- During the cruise, there were local guides for the daily excursions:
--> Shibaozhai (guide only, no bus);
--> Three Gorges & Lesser Three Gorges (guide on the small tour ship; no bus);
--> Three Gorges Dam & Three Gorges (local guide + bus driver);
--> Jingzhou (no guide (just your tour escort) but driver) + there was a donation box at the school for cash donations.
On the ship, there was a tip box in the Lobby for you to deposit the tip into on the last night of the cruise. They provide envelopes for you to write a thank you note. In addition, because the staff worked so hard, we tipped additionally directly to our 3 servers and cabin housekeeper.
- Wuhan, local guide and driver
- Shanghai, although the tour escort was the "speaking" guide, there was a local guide on hand making all the arrangements and picking up museum tickets, so we still tipped him. Additionally, there was a bus driver for the duration of stay.
- Transfer to airport - we tipped the local driver also as he helped with our bags.
I understand where you're coming from wanting to ensure you bring enough cash to cover the tips. Importantly, the Tour Escort is tipped in cash (any denomination you have - USD, RMB) but I believe you can charge your ship-board tip to credit card (I put cash into the envelope). (Hint, take an extra envelope with you to put your tip for the Tour Escort at the end of the trip.)
We might have tipped a little excessively but when you convert it all back to your local $ (Canadian $ for us), it's negligible in the overall scheme of the cost of the vacation.
Although we went to Hong Kong, we did not go with Viking, but I would imagine you would also tip in a similar fashion.
Hope this helps.
Exactly the kind of information I was looking for...Thank you so much. This really helps...
I typically plan ahead for every cruise...including withdrawing money from the bank in the correct assortment of bills to have at least enough for every recommended tip, then an assortment of additional bills in case I want to up the gratuity for any individual--for exceptional service or for extra services provided or such...But I'll place at least as much cash as I know I'll need--and the denominations I know I'll need-- in a separate envelope...
On my typical European big ship cruises, I'll prepare two such envelopes--one with tip[ money (though I, nowadays, charge the recommended onboard tips on my credit card), the second for private tour costs that need to be paid in cash on the day of the tour (in the correct national currency required) ...At least with this one, I know there will be no additional private tours...
I hope you enjoyed this trip...
I'll ask you my next question since you just did this trip (even though as we get closer, I may post it as an entirely new thread):
I'm also concerned with packing--noting the 44 pound baggage limit...
I've gotten some seemingly conflicting advice from my TA as from the message boards...
I know we're allowed 44 pounds in one suitcase each--which may be weighed precisely or not...but what about carry-ons? It seems they are allowed though my TA says no...I just like to carry my knapsack with my camera, chargers, batteries, iPad, a puzzle magazine, assorted papers, gum and mints and my medications...Obviously, I would carry this with me at all times--not check it in for flights or such...Okay or not?
And what to wear? I typically, on big ship cruises, wear cargo shorts and T-shirts or golf shirts during the day and in port, changing to long pants for dinner...I'll carry some sort of long pant in my knapsack that I can slip over my shorts if we go into a religious venue where shorts are forbidden...but, due to the 44 pound limit and the fact that it will be VERY HOT in late June, I'd like to pare down my packing list...My TA says no cargo shorts or T-Shirts...the threads on the China trip say otherwise...Can I wear the shorts most places?
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