"Victoria Anna is a bloody good ship!!!"
Having read mixed reviews here on TA we were quite apprehensive about our cruise, but booked in none the less.
Our ship of choice was the Century Paragon which we booked through our travel agent. Within 2 weeks of confirmation Century cancelled on us due to a "Chinese govt charter", and our agent suggested Victoria Anna. He even promised us an extra cabin for the kids, and the advance tips paid off as well , for the same fare .
We took it with some trepidation, and we are so glad that we did, as I do not believe our experience could be topped. Boarded at Chongqing after dinner at 7.30 pm, and straight up we met Frau Marion, the German Cruise director. Yes she can come across a bit stern or strict, but I appreciated it when she told off the Chinese tourists who tried to smoke on board, or had to herd off hundreds off passengers on time every morning for excursions!
Marion was everywhere, in the main restaurant at mealtimes, making sure that the buffets were replenished, and NO ONE went hungry, what ever the time, at the reception to welcome you back from excursions and ensure we all got hot towels and ice tea, at the main lounge to introduce the Captain and his crew at the formal dinner, and making sure the entertainment went off like clockwork every night!
One of the passengers suffered a stroke soon after boarding. Frau Marion was there too, deputing a river guide to accompany her off the ship to the nearest hospital and then on to a larger hospital that could provide emergency treatment. That is service for you!
Being German, she could be mistaken for sounding curt, but not once, was she unfriendly, impolite or inefficient! We were offered a paid upgrade to the suite, but were quite happy with the standard cabin. Ours were on the end of the corridor, with views to the side and rear of the ship as a bonus. We chose cabins opposite to each other rather than adjoining , so as to enjoy the views on both sides.
The starboard side also tends to lose its views while in port when another cruise ship ties up alongside. If you are really unlucky, then you can get sandwiched in on both sides in a busy port.
We enjoyed the optional excursions to Ghost Town Mountain ( lots and lots of steps. Wait did I mention that there were lots and lots of steps?), the included excursions to the Shennong Stream.and got the guide with the best voice, Miss chubby cheeks, who even had her own CD. Her voice delighted us on the river.
Andy was our dignified river guide on board who was a minefield of information took us through each of the three gorges with his commentary in excellent English and Mandarin.
The views of the gorges were breathtaking and we wish we could have spent more time there. We did not see much of rural China from the Yangtse, as much of it would be below the waterline and replaced with "vertical villages" of towers dominating the landscape throughout.
The quality of meals provided on board was excellent. They have a great baker of German style breads who did an excellent breakfast spread. Lunches had a western and Chinese spread, while dinners were home style Chinese. The food was plentiful, unlike previous reviews, and of top quality. There was no recycling of food on the buffet, I know for a fact, as I saw buckets of leftovers (schweinkugels) being offloaded into a sampan once when we were anchored, presumably going to a piggery somewhere!
Our waitstaff were efficient, and we had the same waitress and table mates throughout the cruise. Bailey Yu was our charming waitress, who I swear never stopped smiling even once , during the 3 days on board.
We had a Captains formal tea, one afternoon, which was quite English, with scones, cucumber sandwiches, lemon tarts, et al. The last meal was a 10 course formal dinner served on the table, in a beautifully decorated restaurant, and elegant formally dressed waitresses.
We all would finish our dinner before 8 pm to meet up in the lounge again for a spectacular evening of entertainment put together by the talented staff from Housekeeping, Front Office, F&B , of traditional Chinese Music, dance and incredibly colorful and elegant costumes! Our multi talented Bailey Yu was at it again, in various productions, playing an instrument, singing, or dancing gracefully, but what set her apart from her multi talented colleagues, was that she clearly enjoyed her job so much that she again could not stop smiling her charming smile that emanated from the depths of her eyes, through the entire performance.
The last night we passed through the first of the massive locks, 4 ships at a time . It was the most incredible , in your face feat of engineering I had ever seen, and was completely gobsmacked.
The morning welcomed us to the last of the 5 locks and the humongous dam and its museum. It was an interesting tour through the dam site up numerous escalators to a superior vantage point at the top. A quick lunch followed on our return to the ship and a sad farewell at Yichang to the good ship Victorian Anna and here talented crew!
"Viking Emerald 11-day cruise between Chongqing and Nanjing"
Started in Beijing, to Xian and ended in Shanghai; saw the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Terra Cotta Army; went to Jingdezhen, birthplace of porcelain; and, to Mt. Jiu Hua's remote Buddhist Temple complex; then, to Suzhou with its elegant classical gardens.
The Viking Emerald was a very nice, clean ship; the staff and crew were exceptional. They don't come any better than our tour guide, Leo! I can't say enough good things about Leo. He was dedicated, organized, and ensured everybody was always accounted for to ensure we didn't leave anybody behind.
We definitely plan on doing another Viking trip!
"Century River Cruises - Century Sun"
FANTASTIC!!! My wife and I have just returned from our Treasures of China experience and have really enjoyed ourselves. Part of our trip was the Three Gorges Cruise on board the Century Sun. Right from the start with an absolutely fantastic warm welcome and all throughout the cruise with such marvellous service that we received from all the staff onboard the Century Sun we could not fault the wonderful experience. We were in a group of eight people from the UK amongst nearly 300 chinese tourists but we were looked after like we were the only eight on board! The majority of the other passengers were friendly and really seemed to enjoy trying their english out with us. It was great!
My wife was apprehensive about a cruise but she so enjoyed it that she now wants to do another! I must mention Libby the tour Manager who really went that extra mile to make us feel really special but our gratitude must be to everyone who helped to make our stay an amazing one.
Whether you do this with a tour or on your own you will love it. Check out the www.yangtzecruisetours.com website for more detailed itinerary - I did before we went and I have to say it was pretty spot on with everything that they say it is!