The Yangtze River (长江) is the greatest river in China and is about 6,000 km long, behind only the Amazon and the Nile. For thousands of years this river has been a key transport route for the Chinese people and has been the cradle of Chinese civilization. Several major cities, such as Chongqing, Wuhan, Nanjing and Shanghai, lie along the river as testament to its importance. It boasts a rich culture as well as the famous Three Gorges scenery, and taking a Yangtze River Cruise is regarded as the best way to enjoy both. As the only gorge available for cruising, this is a must-do for foreign travelers visiting China. ©
Yangtze Cruise Itinerary
There are two major cruise itineraries. One is a nine-day (upstream) or seven-day (downstream) trip between Chongqing and Shanghai, passing the grand Three Gorges and the major part of the Yangtze River, which is managed exclusively by the Victoria Cruises Line.
Cruise line between Chongqing - Shanghai
The other itinerary is a four-day (downstream) or five-day (upstream) route running between Chongqing City and Yichang County, which best presents the essence of the Three Gorge scenery. This is the most popular route.
Cruise line between Chongqing - Yichang
What to See Along Yangtze River
Traveling on a the Yangtze River cruise has been popular for about 20 years, and although during these years some new attractions have been added as land excursions, and different cruise lines and cruise ships stop at different places, the essence remains the same. Whenever you board a Yangtze cruise, you will not want to miss Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge, and the chance to visit Fengdu Ghost City, Shibaozhai, and Baidicheng (white Emperor City), as well as the Three Gorges Dam and Shennong Stream.
The Three Gorges
Qutang Gorge (瞿塘峡)
Qutang Gorge (瞿塘峡) is the first gorge and also the grandest of the Three Gorges, but with the shortest length (8 km) between Baidicheng and Daxi. The point that the river passes between the mountains of this section is known as the Kuimen Gate (夔门), from which point starts the exploration of the Qutang Gorge. Moreover, you will jump into the backdrop of a 10 yuan banknote. The Kuimen Gate is considered the most beautiful among the three gorges. You will even witness ancient paths cut into the mountainside and hanging coffins on the cliff dating back thousands of years.
Wu Gorge (巫峡)
Continuing to sail, you will soon arrive at the Wu Gorge (巫峡) at the downstream end of the Qutang Gorge，which stretches 45 km between Wushan and Guandukou (Badong). Archives show that the gorge has had this name since the Three Kingdom Period and became famous because of a classical poem, "Passing Wu Gorge"(过巫峡) by the Tang Dynasty poet Yang Jiong. Interestingly, the mountains on either side of the river passing Wu Gorge are called the Wu Mountains (巫山).
Xiling Gorge (西陵峡)
The third gorge is the Xiling Gorge (西陵峡), which forms the major part of the Three Gorges with a length of 66 km between Zigui and the Nanjin Pass. It is also the furthest downstream. It is known for its various rapids and strong currents. The gorge is so long that it can be conveniently cut into four smaller ones: the Precious Sword, Horse Lung and Ox Liver, Soundless Bell and Shadow Play Gorges.
Yangtze River cruises now offer land excursions. From upstream to downstream, attractions will be visited as follows. Some are included in the itinerary, whereas others require an extra fee. But do not worry, they are all are optional sightseeing, and visitors can decide by themselves what to do.
Three Gorges Dam (三峡大坝)
Three Gorges Dam (三峡大坝) has been the largest water conservancy project undertaken by human beings in the world since it was completed in 2009. Though it was a controversial issue before construction, it does help the locals and has now become a grand sightseeing spot for visitors taking Yangtze Cruises. The dam is 1.983 kilometers long, 185 meters high, and 18 meters wide on the top and 130 meters wide at the bottom. The best place to get a full view of the huge dam is at Tanziling (坛子岭).
Fengdu Ghost City (丰都鬼城)
Fengdu Ghost City (丰都鬼城) is in Fengdu County, which is a big name along the Yangtze River. Many ghost stories about the place and tombs from the Han Dynasty add to the atmosphere. Listen carefully to your guides telling you about the incredible stories and stand firm if you do not want to go to heaven too early, as according to legend there were two men of the Han Dynasty who ascended to the heavens in the daytime to become supernatural beings because of their actions.
Shibaozhai (石宝寨), literally meaning "precious stone fortress", is a hill on the north bank of the Yangtze River and on the hillside facing the river there was originally a nine-story pavilion leaning against the hill during the Ming Dynasty. The nine stories is a reference to nine heavens in the sky. Later, in 1956, another three stories were built on the top of the pavilion, making the whole building 56 meters tall. Interesting stories about the Three Kingdoms are vividly represented by three sets of statues in the temple.
Baidicheng (White Emperor City白帝城)
Baidicheng (White Emperor City 白帝城) was an ancient city located in the Qutang Gorge area with a notable history. It is also the perfect point to get the best view of the Kuimen Gate. Standing there, the view in front of you may inspire you to sing beautiful songs or recite poems just as numerous famous poets in ancient China once did. They set foot in the city and wrote many beautiful poems about it. You can even walk around the area where Liube died, the first emperor of the Kingdom of Shu during the Three Kingdoms.
Shennong Stream (神农溪)
Shennong Stream (神农溪) is a left tributary of the river with stunning scenery on both banks. Besides the scenery and hanging cliff coffins, half-naked boatmen navigating small boats in rapids highlight the area. Humans discovered the area since the Han Dynasty and started to make a living there. You will pass through the site of a famous naval battle between Liubei, an emperor of the Three Kingdoms Dynasty, and Narshall of the Wu Kingdom in the lower part of Shennong Stream.
What's a Yangtze Cruise Like?
Yangtze Cruises are managed by several main cruise lines. Victoria Cruises, Century Cruises, Presidents Cruises and Changjinag Cruise Overseas Travel are the most famous and popular. In general, the conditions, service and equipment on offer are similar.
Accommodation (Where to Stay)
A Yangtze Cruise ship is very much like a big hotel and is constructed based on the standards of a hotel. It consists of several floors for different functions such as rooms, the main hall, an entertainment center and the dining halls. Rooms are also similar to those in a hotel and include standard cabins, junior suites, executive suites and the presidential suite.
Standard cabins are a room with two beds and a bathroom. The junior suite has a room with a double bed (1.5 m × 1.9 m), a parlor and a bathroom with a bathtub. The presidential suite is equipped with a parlor, a room with a queen bed (1.8 m × 2.0 m), a bathroom with a bathtub and a bar counter.
Onboard Activities (What to Do)
On this big cruise ship there is no lack of interesting activities. The captain's welcoming banquet will kick off the trip on the first night, which is a good time to get to know new people and a general idea of the cruise. Crew's shows or having fun in the bar will bring laughter at night and a captain's farewell party will impress you and leave you with a good memory of the trip.
Apart from some land excursions in the daytime, some activities are also held on the cruise ships. Taichi, Majong, Chinese traditional painting, Chinese dumpling-making and Chinese folk dancing are all available onboard, and professional teachers will help.
Furthermore, you can enjoy Chinese Tuina and Massage, and foot massages are provided on the cruise ship at extra cost after land excursions in the daytime. If you are going out with kids, there are special zones for them to play games and have fun.
On Board Dining (Where and What to Eat)
The cruise ship provides breakfast, lunch and dinner in specialized dining halls. On some ships they even offer a 24-hour buffet meal. Western food and Chinese food are both offered. When having meals, ten people share a table according to their nationalities, cultural background or the travel agents they booked with.
Generally, the meal will be served on the second floor at a fixed time. Breakfast time is from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., lunch will be served between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., and dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. A bottle of soft drink is included with lunch and dinner.
A Yangtze Cruise will always visit Hubei Province and Chongqing, thus Chinese food provided onboard is mainly Hubei cuisine and Sichuan dishes, which are the main cuisines in China. In total, there are more than 20 dishes for western buffets at lunch and dinner.
Onboard staff can speak fluent English and provide professional service. On average, every two staff will serve three guests, ensuring they take care of every passenger's needs. Generally, a guest will tip the staff 150 yaun for a trip between Chongqing and Yichang, while 300 yuan is suggested for a cruise trip between Chongqing and Shanghai.
Internet access is available at appointed network locations on most ships. Victoria Cruise require that passengers pay 150 yuan for the whole cruise trip, and other cruise liners charge from 20 yuan to 60 yuan per hour. One great feature is that all guests on the President Prime, President 7 and President 8 can connect to the Internet in their rooms.
In 2013, Wi-Fi became available in four new cruise ships. The President 7 and President 8 charge a 50 yuan per hour or 300 yuan for the whole trip. Guests on the Century Legend and Century Paragon need to pay 200 yuan for the whole trip.
How to Choose a Yangtze Cruise?
Choosing an Itinerary
The trip between Chongqing and Shanghai takes seven days downstream, and nine days upstream. It visits Wuhan, Huangshan and Nanjing, which are popular among older people. The cruise ships running between Chongqing and Yichang take four days for downstream, and five days upstream.
The upstream trip will take one or two days more because the current when calling at the same the same spots, whereas the downstream trip will give guests a feeling of sailing downward with the current. Thus we would recommend that our customers take the cruise ship between Chongqing and Yichang for the downstream.
Choosing a Ship
Regarding cruise liners and cruise ships, different liners have their pros and cons. Century Cruises have refurbished their ships and two new cruise ships were launched in 2013 with modern designs and advanced equipment. They are the Century Legend and the Century Paragon.
If you are looking for a cruise liner with good quality of service, Victoria Cruises will not let you down. This line is managed by an American company, which means they understand the needs of Western guests very well.
For guests wishing to experience both sides of the coin, the President 1, the President 7 and the President 8 would be the perfect candidates; these are the most economical while the equipment and service are not inferior to other more expensive ships.
Top Cruise Ships
The five most economical cruise ships are the President 7, the President 8, the President Prime, the Century Star and the Victoria Jenna.
The four most popular cruise ships with European and American guests are the Victoria Katarina, the President Prime, the Century Sky and the Victoria Sophia. The three most luxurious cruise ships are the Yangtze Explorer, the Victoria Jenna and the Century Paragon.
How to Get to Yangtze Cruise Docks from Chongqing/Yichang
All Yangtze Cruise ships depart from Chongqing dock in Chaotianmen Port (Changjiang Binjing Road, Yuzhong District, 朝天门码头) . However, note that there are different piers for different cruise ships in this large port. So, before getting there, make sure you know which pier to go to.
Chonqing Jiangbei Airport is around 27 km away from the port, and it takes about 40 minutes by taxi at a cost of 60 yuan in the daytime (6:00 a.m.–10 p.m.), and 80–100 yuan at night (10 p.m.–6 a.m.).
Chongqingbei Railway Station (Longtousi, Yubei District 重庆北火车站) is the most important railway station. It is also known as Longtousi Railway Station. A ride from the rail station to the port by taxi takes about 30 minutes.
If you take the Yangtze Cruise (upstream) from Yichang to Chongqing, there are two main docks in the city. One is Taohuacun Dock, serving ships from Changjiang Cruise Overseas Travel CO. such as the M.S. Yangtze 1 and the M.S. Blue Whale. The other is New Century Dock for most Yangtze Cruise ships from different cruise liners such as New Century Cruises and Victoria Cruises. These two docks are 5 km of each other.
Most of our customers go to these two docks from Yichang airport, which is called Sanxia Airport (三峡机场) .
The airport is 35.7 km from Taohuacun Dock. If taking a taxi, it takes 40 minutes and costs 100 yuan (not metered). Or you can take the shuttle bus (20 yuan per person) and get off at Qingjiang Building (清江大厦) after 50 minutes, and then take a taxi at 30 yuan to get to Taohuacun Dock.
It is about 38 km from the airport to New Century Dock. It costs 150 yuan and takes 45 minutes by taxi from the airport to the dock. The other choice is take the shuttle bus in the airport going to the city center (Qingjiang Building) at a cost of 20 yuan for a trip of about 50 minutes. Then transfer to New Century Dock at a cost of 35 yuan.
The airport is 40 km from the city center, a journey which will cost you 150 yuan by taxi, taking about 45 minutes. Or you can simply take a shuttle bus at 25 yuan for 50 minutes.
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