While the rest of the world is suffering the global economy and Cruise West recently shut down, the cruise line industry is alive and well in Victorian Cruises, an American-managed, five-star line operating along China's Yangtze River.
Larry Greenman, manager of public relations and customer service for the line, said that although the line has experienced a drop in tourists from the United States and Europe (prior to the recession U.S. travelers constituted 75 percent of the line's passengers, compared to the current amount of no more than 50 percent), the rise of China's middle class has maintained the line's speed.
Greenman said, "We have always provided traditional Chinese entertainment and lectures on local culture, but guests now have more opportunities to take away first-hand experiences by communicating with Chinese guests who are actually becoming increasingly more proficient with the English language."
The line's most popular itinerary is the Three Gorges Highlights, featuring Three Gorges Dam in San Dou Ping, “Ghost City” of Fengdu at Mingshan Hill and a sailing adventure through the Small Gorges of the Daning River, one of the Yangtze’s tributaries. Then, passengers will arrive at a dock near Dachang, where they will board a traditional sampan through the Mini Gorges of the Ma Du River (or Shennong Stream, by the current).
Featuring onboard activities including Tai Chi lessons and cultural entertainment, the four-night upstream or three-night downstream Three Gorges Highlights program between Chongqing and Yichang starts from $880 per person, double occupany, during peak season (May, May, September and October), and $810 per person, based on double occupancy, during the shoulder season (March, June, July, August and November).
Guests can select from shore excurisions available at a one-time fee of $90, including those above, or the White Emperor City and the 400-year-old, 12-story wooden pagoda at Shibaozhai, for $32 each.