In China, the Yangtze River is known as Chang Jiang or Long River.
The next part of our China trip was a very mixed bag. We embarked on a three day Yangtze River cruise from Chongqing to Yichang.
This was our first river boat cruise, having only cruised on much larger ships in the Caribbean and Alaska. This was going to be a TOTALLY different experience.
Our ship the Century Sun was pretty typical of riverboat cruises. About five decks, small atrium with guest services desk, a small shop with snacks and local art, one buffet-style restaurant, a lounge/bar/showroom and a sun deck with about 150 “luxury” cabins and suites.
Embarkation was really interesting as the river itself is WAY down an embankment, I’m sure it is not as steep or long during seasons with heavy rain when the river is higher.
Porters, who appear to be in their mid to late 50’s, carry luggage down this steep embankment on a bamboo pole. Not just one, not even two, but FOUR! We watched in amazement as my bag, Chuck’s were strapped to one side with two similar sized bags on the other.
I know our bags each weighed 40 pounds, so that worked out to be about 160 pounds, carried straight downhill!
The embarkation was easy because our Tour Manager had checked us all in and room keys were ready to go. We decided to ask about any available upgrades from a standard cabin to one of the six deluxe suites. Not a lot of perks, just a little more space.
Luckily there were two left and the price for upgrading was almost laughable, about $60 US a night, so we jumped at it as it actually came with complimentary laundry service.
One of the perks of a suite and one afforded to our tour group was the use of a private lounge on deck four forward. The lounge had comfortable indoor seating, a coffee machine and two types of shortbread cookies as well as an outdoor deck overlooking the front of the ship; with 24-hour access.
As it turned out this lounge was right next to our cabin, so waking up at 4am I was able to go next door, watch the sunrise, have some coffee and catch up on some social media and email with the WIFI hotspot we rented on the ship.
The cabin afforded us a little space to spread out, a small sitting area, and a larger bathroom. Not luxurious but comfortable. The first day we filled the laundry bag with most of the shorts and shirts we had worn in the six or so days prior. They picked them up in the morning and were back around dinner time.
While the staff was nice, friendly enough, the atmosphere and food were just OK. It afforded us an opportunity to see the Three Gorges, which were beautiful. We saw some beautiful temples, small cities and side tributaries of the river that we would not have seen otherwise.
The biggest downside to the cruise was the dampness. The air handling system, which I would hardly call air conditioning, cooled the room and circulated air but left it very damp. The cabin smelled musty and all of our moisture-wicking clothes absorbed the moisture and were left damp.
The other interesting thing about riverboat cruises is the way that they dock, we were side by side with a number of other boats and often we had to cross through them to get to the dock. Not to mention that you can see directly into the cabin across from you.
At the end of the day, it was a nice break in the hectic pace of the tour to be able to stay in one place three days and see so much.