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Sublime Sailing on The Yangtze.

July 31, 2019 River Cruising No Comments Email Email

Your guide to cruising on China’s Golden River.

China’s landscapes are vast, its history and monuments epic. Complex and energetic – this country must be experienced at least once in a lifetime.

And the Yangtze River, the world’s third longest river at 6,280 kilometres (3,900 miles), is its symbolic lifeline. Flowing from Tibet to Shanghai and cutting through the dramatic mountains of the Yangtze River basin, the river’s fortunes are inextricably entwined with those of the country itself. Historically, the Yangtze served as a divider between northern and southern China, a natural barrier against invaders, and a waterway for transport and commerce. Today, the river basin is the country’s heartland, home to 500 million people – a tenth of the world’s population.

There’s no better way to soak up the beauty of China’s heartland than embarking upon a voyage down the Yangtze to explore this immense waterway. River cruise specialist, Sanctuary Retreats, offers a range of Yangtze cruises aboard the luxuriously appointed Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer in partnership with various operators including APT, Abercrombie &Kent and Wendy Wu Tours.

Boutique cruising

According to Michael McCall, Sanctuary Retreats’ Director of Sales Australia, NZ & Asia the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer, which underwent a comprehensive makeover in 2017, remains the gold standard of cruising in China. Says McCall, “We’re passionate about making our client’s travels as memorable as possible. Which is why we believe small is especially beautiful.”

Carrying a maximum of just 124 passengers, compared to the 300 or more favoured by other operators, guests aboard the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer are assured a more intimate experience – and with a far more personalised touch. And with one crew member for every guest – the highest ratio along the Yangtze, McCall says, “the on-board atmosphere is more private club than cruise ship.”

Luxurious design

Authentic charm, unrivalled comfort and meticulous attention to detail are hallmarks of life on-board the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer. Nowhere is this quality more evident than in the vessel’s elegant 38 deluxe cabins and 20 fully serviced luxury suites. Amongst the largest on the river, all feature private balconies and floor to ceiling picture windows, ensuring guests wake up to dramatic views every day. Throw in bespoke 24-hour room service and complimentary Wi-Fi, and the experience is hard to beat, says McCall.

World-class cuisine

Of course, China is also celebrated for its cuisine. The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer’s Dynasty Dining Room, features a delectable east-meets-west menu, with expertly crafted dishes capturing the very best of continental classics and local flavours. Says McCall “The farewell dinner aboard each sailing provides the ultimate flourish, with guests treated to a traditional Chinese banquet – the perfect occasion to feast on some of the mouth-watering specialities characteristic of this alluring Asian corner.

“Me time”

The leisurely pace of a Yangtze cruise naturally lends itself to relaxation, and the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer is the ideal place to unwind. According to McCall, the on-board spa features six treatment rooms offering an indulgent menu of options to ensure guests look and feel their best, while an adjoining state of the art fitness centre helps them re-energise. “Passengers can also dip into our on-board program of free activities spanning everything from traditional performances and lectures and morning tai chi sessions to Chinese medicine master classes, calligraphy lessons and dumpling making, with something guaranteed to entertain guests of every age.

Great Value

The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer offers 3 and 4 night cruises between Yichang and Chongqing. 3-night cruises depart Chongqing on Thursday and travel downstream to Yichang, arriving on Sunday. Alternatively, guests can travel upstream over 4 nights, leaving Yichang on Sunday and arriving in Chongqing the following Thursday, with prices starting from just USD1,350 per person twin share.

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