My wife and I have been on a number of cruises over the years, and although it’s not our preferred method of sightseeing, we have enjoyed the cruises we’ve taken (various Caribbean cruises and one in northern Europe). As part of our tour of China, a Yangtze River Cruise was included*. This was a four night trip, and prior to its start, our guide touted the cruise as a highlight of the tour. To be honest, we found the cruise a bit boring, especially after the first couple of days.
The reason I say this cruise was somewhat boring is because we are used to a lot of shore excursions and on board activities on other cruises. However, on this trip, other than a few organized stops, we were “stuck” on the ship and since a river cruise ship is smaller, it really didn’t offer a lot of entertainment options–there were a few shows, a few shops, a swimming pool and the typical buffet meals and that was about it.
If you want a quiet cruise with little to do, this might be the one for you. My advice – bring a couple of good books, download some movies or games and enjoy the quiet time.
Overall, I was impressed with the cruise ship itself, it of course is smaller than ocean-going cruise ships, but it still had a number of amenities and comfortable staterooms, every stateroom has a river-view balcony.
The food on the ship was reasonable, but if you get a late night craving, it’s a good idea to bring your own snacks!
The cruise started in the city of Jingzhou and travelled up river, ending in Chongqing (a total distance of about 700 km or 435 miles). We briefly toured Jingzhou before embarking on the cruise. It is a very historical city and has a good museum.
A number of cruise lines offer cruises of a similar length and itinerary. The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world. It is a major industrial thoroughfare, with continual freighter traffic moving all kinds of goods up and down the river.
The first part of the cruise was interesting, with gorgeous scenery. You go through the locks of the Three Gorges Dam the first night. Three Gorges is the largest dam in the world, a controversial project that took about 18 years to complete.
We then visited the Water Village, and while this stop is a bit of a tourist trap, the scenery along the Long Jin stream feeding into the Yangtze and traditional buildings on this part of the tour were beautiful, along with narrow canyons and mysterious peaks all around us.
Another highlight was the Wu Gorge, where we transferred to small boats that took us up into the narrow passageway with waterfalls and wildlife visible.
After the first couple of days, the river widens out, appears more polluted and the shoreline becomes more populated, with endless high-rise apartment buildings and large cities lining the banks.
The cruise ended in Chongqing (formerly Chungking), a huge and fast growing city (the metropolitan area’s population is about 18 million).
In Chongqing, we visited an interesting old section of the city and a zoo, specifically to see the cute Panda bears. I will cover Chongqing in another post.
*I just learned that Sinorama Tours, based in Vancouver, Canada, has ceased operations as of August 2018. They were the company we used to arrange our China Tour. This is unfortunate, they offered a great tour value.