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- Popular routes of Yangtze Cruise
The section of Yangtze River in-between Chongqing city（重庆） and Yichang city（宜昌） is generally known as Three Gorges area, including Qutang Gorge（瞿塘峡）, Wuxia Gorge（巫峡）and Xiling Gorge（西陵峡）with 193 kilometers long.
The area is challenging in sail due to its complicated water condition. Yet its scenery is the most magnificent. Awesome mountains and valleys, fantastic legendary stories as well as ancient architectural mysteries have made the area one of the most frequently visited destinations in China.
Yangtze Cruise is absolutely a unique experience in China. It will take you through the cradle of China, while giving you the opportunity to see some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable.
Highlights of a Yangtze River cruise tour are not only the magnificent waterside scenery of the gorges, but also shore excursions to Fengdu Ghost Town, Shennong Stream, Three Gorge Dam, etc.
To tour the Three Gorges, there are four popular routes for you to choose. The first route, going downstream the Yangtze River from Chongqing Municipality towards the east, viewing the magnificent scenery of the Three Gorges, and at last the cruise ship coming to Yichang in Hubei Province. The second one is started from the eastern tip of the Three Gorges in Yichang, the cruise sails as you see the breathtaking landscapes of Yangtze River and Three Gorges, and then you reach Chongqing. Another route is going up the stream that your travel starts in Shanghai, seeing larger part of the Yangtze River and the whole Three Gorges, and then to Chongqing. The last one is that the cruise sails in reverse direction of the third route.
In most situations, the Yangtze River Cruises sail between Chongqing and Yichang in either direction, that is, up the stream and down the stream. Upstream mean that the cruise starts in Yichang and goes west, which is in reverse direction of the river water flowing, and lastly reaches Chongqing. This whole trip takes about 4 days and 3 nights. Down the stream will be must faster travel (just 3 days and 2 nights) that it starts in Chongqing, goes as the water direction, and arrives in Yichang at the end of the trip.
There are advantages and disadvantages for up and down stream tours. By the standard of the Chinese people, a faster down stream travel, which the ship sails at a speed ranging from 28 to 30 kilometers per hour, means to have a smooth trip that implies people will have a happy and peaceful life. It takes less time for you to appreciate the river and gorges scenery. Conversely, an up stream trip, which the cruise sails at a slow speed of 15 to 18 kilometers per hour, is that travelers will have more time to see the landscape along the great mother river of China, and adequate time to take souvenir photographs.
- Disembarking Tours
Almost all Yangtze Cruise ships could arrange two to three famous tourist spots located along the greatest river of China. Schedules will be presented to all travelers when they have just got on board. Some ships could have selectable travel items. The tourism fees are not included in the cruise ticket and the lowest number of people in a tour group is from 10 to 15. The staff will try best to arrange travelers of the same nationality in one single group, if the number is not adequate to form a group, people from different countries will be put together. In this situation, the tour guide might not be English speaking. This quite often happens on below 4-star cruise ships. Tour fares could be paid by cash or credit cards.
Before the trip begins, the ship will remind travelers to prepare disembarking. When disembarking, boarding card will be given to every passenger (including children and babies). At the end of the sightseeing tour, the boarding cards should be returned to the service staff of the cruise ship. This action is meant to exactly count the returning passenger numbers and to make the cruise ship sets sail on time in the Yangtze River.
- The Sightseeing Tours
Nowadays, the itinerary to the Yangtze River is that the most familiar to world tourists is from Yichang of Hubei Province to Chongqing Municipality. The sightseeing spots during the Yangtze River Cruise can be categorized.
Places: Shennong Stream in Badong County（巴东神农溪） and the Lesser Three Gorges in Wushan County（巫山小三峡）.
Historical heritage: The Former Residence of the Poet Qu Yuan in Zigui County（秭归屈原故里）, the Ghost City of Fengdu（丰都鬼城）, Zhang Fei Temple in Yunyang（云阳张飞庙）, the White Emperor City (Baidi City) of Fengjie County（奉节白帝城）, and Zhong County's Shibaozhai Village（忠县石宝寨）.
Historical and cultural attractions: Wanxian（万县） Market and Wanxian Museum
Great contemporary projects: The Gezhouba（葛洲坝） Water Conservancy Project and the Three Gorges Dam Hydraulic Power Project.
Generally, every year cruise ship companies will provide tour calendars for convenient of your choice. Schedules and itineraries are considered by every cruise company that it will chooses one natural scenic spot (which includes branch rivers of the Yangtze River and exciting drifting) and one or two historical and cultural area for visiting. For example, the cruise from Yichang to Chongqing, it will be including Yichang, the Shennong Stream, and Fengdu, or the Red Wall (赤壁，Chibi), Jingzhou (荆州，not a far distance from Wuhan), the Lesser Three Gorges in Wushan, and Shibaozhai Village. However, if the tour to the Shennong Stream is available, there will not be the Lesser Three Gorges, and some other activities can be arranged flexibly. Some cruise companies might be according to certain requirements by travel agencies to stop their ships at the Three Gorges and some famous sites from the Three Kingdoms Periods, which are the main products of the agencies. Therefore, the detailed tour programs of the Yangtze River Cruise should be read quite clearly in order to find out where you would like is included or not before making any decision. The cruise timing and schedules are regulated by the government's shipping authority, after being approved the cruise companies shall not change arbitrarily.
It is an integral part that to appreciate the Yangtze River scenery in your cruise trip. Porthole window is equipped in every room. Some higher star-graded ships have private balconies for commanding great river views. You could also go to certain scenic appreciation areas on the cruise, and introduction will be given in Chinese, English or German about the sightseeing spots, historical facts and legends, ancient relics, and local geography. Moreover, you could contact the service/information counter to apply for entering the navigation zone, and see the beautiful Yangtze River in the purview of the captain.
It should be noted that 1. The average temperature in the Yangtze River area is about 28 degrees Celsius in summer while it will be 7 degrees in winter; 2. The Yangtze River is quite suitable for traveling all year round because all cruise ships have air-conditioning; 3. The water level changes by seasons, lower in winter and higher in summer, but this will not affect the tour.
- Yangtze Cruises for Foreigners
Just like star-graded or luxury hotels, the Yangtze Cruise ships are excellent inns floating on the water. Most of the rooms on board the large luxury boat are standard rooms. There are luxury rooms, single rooms and presidential suites in those that are graded 4-star or above. The information desk is opened 24-hour to provide consultative services and accommodation arrangement, which included managing your charges, food and beverages, safe deposit, and everything you want to be assisted. All luxury ships have installed central air-conditioning, close-circuit televisions, telephones, and audio-visual systems; as well as equipped with conference hall, Chinese restaurants, restaurants that serve special or exotic tastes, hairdressing and beauty salons, game rooms for playing mahjong or computer games, bars or pubs, and sightseeing zones (either indoor or outdoor). In the on board business center, services such as international satellite mobile telephone, global telegram, foreign exchange, credit card, laundry and convenient store. There would have built-in elevators and quality swimming pools in 5-star cruise ships. Moreover, programs that will give a lot of extra fun to your Yangtze River and Three Gorges itinerary, such as artistic troupe performance, Tai Chi boxing practicing, and lectures in traditional Chinese culture and Chinese ethnic customs.
- The Ticket
The cruise ticket includes all the fees needed on board the ship, such as accommodation, three regular meals daily and scheduled itineraries to famous places and the Three Gorges, but not included the medical services, service tips and some personal purchasing items, such as wine, beverages, laundry, telephone calls, beauty and hairdressing, shopping, and independent sightseeing trips other than prearranged group traveling. Every cruise ship has a medical center and a qualified doctor.
- Boarding Procedures and Room Updating
Boarding procedure usually begins three hours before setting sail. You are advised to present your boarding notice and travel documents (passport or identity card) to the ship service counter. The center will arrange accommodation as the passenger booking condition of the day. You will be given your room number, keys and boarding card. A deposit sum should be given to the staff when you have obtained the keys. The money will be returned when you check out and reach your desired destination.
The rooms are located and arranged above the second level (above the deck). The priority and order of accommodation arrangement are according to the passenger number and the time order of their bookings. If you would like to upgrade your room, you could consult the information desk. If the situation allows, a complementary fee is to be charged according to the class of the room you have chosen. Usually, to choose your desired class of room before you boarding the Yangtze cruise ship, because if you want to upgrade on the half way during the tour, extra change added to your ticket totally will be the same as the ship ticket for the higher grade room, thus the fee will be quite expensive.