Yangtze River Cruise


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2 senior women with canes (but rarin' to go)want to do a Yangtze River cruise and need advice, e.g., when to go and with whom to go. Many thanks.

The best time to do a Yangtze River Cruise is spring (April/May) and fall (Sept./Oct). Winter is too cold and foggy; summer is too hot (Chongqing and Wuhan are 2 of the 4 "furnace cities" of China). Your best choice of vessel is one of the Victoria cruise ships, which is the only American cruise line on the Yangtze River. One of their ships with an excellent rating is the Victoria Jenna, but they have a number of others too. Another good company is New Century Cruises, in particular their ship called the Century Diamond, and several of their other ships are used by Viking River Cruises. Unless you are looking for a cruise line that is less expensive than either Victoria or New Century, based on my personal experience back in 2008 I would not particularly recommend the President Cruise Line, other than their top-rated ship, the President Prime. Answers to many questions about Yangtze River Cruises, including cruise calendar, itinerary, features, ship comparisons and ratings, best time to go, etc. can be found at http://www.chinahighlights.com/yangtzecruise/

I agree with the last posting, I would skip the Yangtze cruise
and do more traveling in land.

Thanks for your very helpful second response, Ada. I was not surprised to learn that you're a New Yorker. I'm an Upper West Sider; where are you?

Thanks, Skunkman, you've given something to think about.

Thanks, Sonia, we may go back to the drawing board.

Different strokes for different folks. I am not a cruise person and dislike cruises in general (most notably the one that I took on the Dnieper River in Ukraine several years ago with Viking River Cruises). However, I happened to enjoy my Yangtze river cruise, as did most of the people on my Adventures Abroad group tour back in Sept. 2008 (including at least one other person besides me who was not a cruise person). The Orient Odyssey tour group on the same ship also enjoyed the cruise. I found it scenic and interesting (with the exception of the Ghost City of Fengdu, which I considered "hokey" and artificial, a Chinese Disneyland of sorts). As previously mentioned, I didn't like the choice of ship that my tour company used, but I had no control over that. To the best of my knowledge mercifully that vessel (the President No. 3) is no longer in operation.

Indeed, when I go back to China yet again later this year (for the 6th time), I plan on taking another Yangtze river cruise, but this time on a more deluxe ship (the Century Sun, if possible, or one of the other vessels operated by New Century Cruises). There are three reasons I plan on taking another Yangtze river cruise: 1) in 2008 my camera temporarily stopped working while on the cruise, so I want to go back and take the photos that I missed (with a newer camera, of course); 2) because I love old pagodas, I want to go to the 12-story Qing Dynasty wooden pagoda called Shibaozhai (Red Pagoda), which is a stop on New Century Cruise lines' itinerary in lieu of the Ghost City of Fengdu, at least according to their itinerary on the website that I mentioned in my previous posting on this subject; and 3) most of all, I want to purchase more of the attractive, colorful Nanjing brocade jackets that are sold at all the tourist stops on the Yangtze river cruise and which I can't find anywhere else in China (except in Nanjing itself for a much higher price). I purchased a beautiful Nanjing brocade jacket near the dock in Fengdu in 2008 for the sum of 80 yuan (about $12 at the time) and have gotten so many compliments about it here in NYC that I regret that I didn't buy more in other colors and patterns. I realize that 4 years later those jackets won't be 80 yuan anymore, but hopefully they will still be quite the bargain.

Here it is I've been back for only 3 days from a month-long visit to China and already I'm talking about my next China trip. I'm a China-holic and can't get enough of that country, although I acknowledge that it poses many many problems for the western tourist, most of all a total lack of compassion, sympathy and special accommodation for anyone with walking disabilities or balance problems -- in other words, no ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) there. Thus I think that for the two ladies with canes who initiated this thread, American-owned Victoria River Cruises would be more likely to be accommodating to their needs than a Chinese-owned line. As I advised them privately, best for them to contact Victoria Cruises directly or any other Yangtze cruise line they are interested in and ask them to recommend the best ship for their particular needs.

In any event, the upstream route between Yichang and Chongqing is only 4 nights and the reverse route downstream between Chongqing and Yichang is one night less. For such a short cruise it's worth the try and they might even like it, as I did. I doubt if they would consider it suffering. However, based on the pervasive moldy odor that Skunkman unfortunately experienced, I would now further advise them to choose the newest ship that the cruise line of their choice offers and one that has not been refurbished. I think the Jenna is the newest ship for Victoria River Cruises.

On Saturday, March 3, 2012 I attended the annual New York Times Travel Show at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan where I picked up the 2012 official brochure for Victoria Yangtze River Cruises. Their current fleet contained in it are as follows (from oldest to newest):

Victoria Selina - built 1994, rebuilt and refurbished 2011, no elevators
Victoria Sophia - built 1994, rebuilt 2004, refurbished 2011, no elevators
Victoria Lianna - built 1995, rebuilt and refurbished 2011, no elevators
Victoria Grace - built 1996, rebuilt 2002, refurbished 2012, no elevators
Victoria Katarina - built 2004, refurbished 2010, 1 elevator
Victoria Anna - built 2006, refurbished 2010, 2 elevators
Victoria Jenna - built 2009, not rebuilt, not refurbished, 4 elevators

For this cruise line at least, the best choice is obvious -- Victoria Jenna.

Thanks again, Ada, you're a veritable fountain of information.

My perspective is old -- from 2002. We toured China and Tibet including a Yangtze cruise with General Tours. www.generaltours.com If you happen to be a AAA member and book through them, you will get extra perks... Another option might be Grand Circle.

I was happy with the Yangtze cruise portion of the tour. Of course, we were there before the dam was completed and, consequently, we saw villagers quickly dismantling towns that would soon be flooded. Also, for us, the cruise provided a welcome respite after experiencing the fascinating, but challenging areas near Lhasa, Tibet. Now, of course, you will see the completed dam and, hopefully, renewed countryside.

But, as I ponder earlier responses to your post, I feel compelled to encourage you to not limit yourselve only to the cruise. China is a broad, diverse country of rapid change. Minimally, I'd suggest that you also visit Beijing to see sights like the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, and of course The Great Wall. You'll want to visit Xian to see the terra cotta warriors. The scenery along the Lijiang River near Guilin remains like the stylized artwork depicts. And this is only a glimpse of all China offers.

My personal highlight was visiting Lhasa. Unfortunately, the Potala Palace and various monestaries in Tibet would be difficult for anyone with mobility challenges.

Most of all, enjoy your travels. I loved imagining you two "senior women with canes, but rarin' to go..." Good for you! Keep on going....