My Report on the Yangtze River Trip 2009
Participants: Mary Inkpen's Group (Wales)
Number: 4 people
Date: 17th April - 21st 2009
Written By: Evelyn Roberts
My husband Arthur & I had just finished the Silk Road excursion and with two other people to took the cruise down the Yangtze River. This was a maiden voyage for the SCIC Beijing and our group. So like the Silk Road I thought a newsletter would be a good way of giving some feedback for the benefit of other would be travellers.
We enjoyed this trip very much but be warned it is not as relaxing as it would appear.
The day spent in Chongqing before catching the boat that night gave a lot of time to those who want to do some serious shopping. However, if the weather is raining which I understand it mostly is then it becomes a problem to the guide as to what he can do with you in such a short stay. Most of the sites of interest are outdoors and not pleasant in the pouring rain. So if you have the time to extend your excursion I would suggest two nights in Chongqing would be better for you and the guide.
The old Ciqikou Street was good to walk down with so many different shops selling crafts and of course novelties. As it was raining hard the tea with Sichuan Opera show did not take place as this is an open air event in the park.
The Holiday Inn hotel was superb and although it would raise the price of this venture, if you can, I do think two nights here would be beneficial. It would provide some free time to enjoy what the hotel has to offer and this could help the party to get some rest before the boat trip. The cruise is not conducive to sleep as it is very noisy due to bits on the boat rattling loudly during sailing times, which is normal for these older boats.
The Yangtze is very different to the Lee River which is still natural with many water buffalo and fisherman with their birds. The Yangtze is more commercial with ships carrying coal, steel, cars and industrial materials. There are of course the three gorges to see and they are so beautiful. So if you are a budding photographer your camera will be working overtime.
The cruise organises entertainment with different members of the crew taking language, art, culture Tai Chi & Chinese Medicine courses during sailing times. They also arrange and participate in after dinner shows. The excursions ashore are well organised and all members of the crew were helpful and friendly.
The cabins are adequate and clean with a bottle of drinking water provided each day. Tea & coffee are served free of charge at 6 am before breakfast each day. Soft drinks are also provided with each meal. Any drink that you may want outside these times must be purchase and are expensive. Drinks brought ashore must be drunk in your cabin. There is no money used on the boat only a signed voucher system which is added to your cabin's account and this must be settled before you disembark at the end of the cruise.
The food on the boat is excellent with a good balance of western and Chinese dishes for you to choose from. However, we found the tipping instructions at the end of the cruise expensive as they expected each of us to give 260 RMB as a general tip and then 200 RMB for the River Boat Guide followed by direct tips of 100 RMB to individual staff that had given good service over the three days on board.