Victoria Cruises has announced a new itinerary along China’s Yangtze River that will allow travelers to experience the world’s largest ship elevator.
The new ship lift has an impressive capacity capable of elevating ships up to 3,000 tons along with a volume of water roughly equivalent to four Olympic-sized swimming pools. Its introduction will allow Victoria Cruises' passengers to bypass the slow and arduous five-stage ship locks while experiencing the full scope of China's engineering prowess, the cruise line said.
Beginning with its first regular season departure on March 16, American-managed Victoria Cruises becomes the only passenger cruise line to use the recently completed ship elevator, which has a ship basin nearly 400 feet long by 60 feet wide and climbs a vertical distance of 370 feet-the height of a 40-story building. Its first operational use took place in September 2016.
Passengers will experience the new ship lift on a specially-designed sightseeing boat followed by a tour of the world's largest hydroelectric dam-another feat of modern engineering. The excursion will take place on day two of upstream cruises and on day four for passengers sailing downstream. The new feature will be complimentary for the introductory year.
Larry Greenman, manager of public relations and customer service for Victoria Cruises, said that the new ship lift also allows the line to save time and run a more optimal sailing schedule.
The five-stage ship locks take three to five hours to traverse and are utilized primarily for cargo ships, whereas the new elevator-equipped ship lock can be navigated in as little as 40 minutes, Victoria Cruises said. Additionally, the new route offers safety features, such as a fire escape, which are not present in the five-stage ship locks.
Construction on the ship elevator began in 2008. It is the final stage of the Three Gorges Dam project, which first commenced in 1994. The Three Gorges Dam produces roughly 22,500MW of electricity and reduces the severity of flooding during the rainy season. It also makes it easier for cruise ships to navigate the river and explore deeper into the Yangtze's tranquil tributaries. The project was first envisioned in 1919 by Sun Yat-sen, the Republic of China's founding father.
Victoria Cruises' Three Gorges Highlights program starts at $880 per person, based on double occupancy. In addition to the Three Gorges Dam, a one-time shore excursion fee of $90 per person (inclusive of all standard excursions) includes a scenic tributary experience onboard a traditional Chinese sampan with indigenous local guides as well as a visit to Shibaozhai, where passengers will observe a 12-story wooden pagoda built without the use of a single nail.
Passengers can also participate in onboard activities such as Tai Chi lessons, demonstrations of acupuncture/acupressure and discussions on the Yangtze's history. Nightly entertainment options include traditional Chinese dance and musical performances.
All staterooms aboard Victoria Cruises' vessels have a private balcony. Passengers can upgrade to Victoria Cruises' Luxury Amenities program from an additional $200 per person, enhancing their cruise experience with "white glove" service, enhanced dining privileges, access to exclusive ship areas and complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access.