While China is a very hectic, very overwhelming country, it is also a country filled with incredible natural beauty. For the average tourist, these beautiful sites are largely inaccessible or extremely difficult to access due to a combination of language barriers and lack of public transportation. One of these gorgeous areas is located between Yichang and Chongqing: the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River.
A few fun facts about the Yangtze River:
- It is the longest river in Asia.
- It is the third longest river in the world.
- It is one of the world’s busiest transportation waterways.
- It is home to the world’s largest hydro-electric power station.
With this in mind, many cruise companies have begun offering multi-day trips down the Yangtze River, making the relatively inaccessible easily accessible. One such cruise company is Victoria Cruises. They have a range of vessels and itineraries to suit one’s needs. We decided to hop aboard their most prestigious boat, the Victoria Jenna, for a five night/four day luxurious cruise through the gorges. Newly renovated this year, the ship exudes class and comfort.
The rooms aboard the Victoria Jenna were clean and quite spacious considering we were on a ship.
The beds were extremely comfortable, the flatscreen TV had HBO & CNN, on top of streamed movies nightly, and the desk facing outside proved for a great spot to get some work done.
The highlight was definitely our patio, which overlooked the incredible scenery as we cruised through the gorges en route to Chongqing.
To supplement the five-star standard within the rooms itself, the Victoria Jenna offered ample facilities for it’s guests. Whether you want to lounge on the rooftop or grab a drink at the lovely Yangtze Club bar, there’s something for everyone.
Looking to get some reading done? Check out the Horizon Lounge.
Want a manicure and a massage? Head to the spa.
Prefer to work out? There's a small gym on board.
Don’t have enough photos with your loved one? Don’t worry, the Victoria Jenna has photographers on each excursion as well.
Ready for a cozy night in? There's a movie theater.
Not feeling well? Thank goodness there’s a doctor, who also hosts Tai Chi lessons in the morning!
In need of a shirt, new set of pearls, or handmade snuff bottles? You could find those on board too.
Feel like splurging? Everyone deserves to be pampered every now and then. With the purchase of the Luxurious Amenities package, you have all-day access to the Executive Lounge.
Fancy a game of Mahjong? There’s even a Mahjong Room!
The Luxurious Amenities.
For an extra price, one could purchase the luxurious amenities package. Those who purchase this package will be served all of their meals in the Executive Lounge on the top deck. Complimentary soda, tea, coffee, and juice is offered at all meals and throughout the day. During dinner and happy hour, house wine and local beer is also included free of charge.
If you’re in need of a small snack, complimentary muffins, cookies, fruit, and crackers are offered all day in the Executive Lounge too. Aside from food and drink preference, the Luxurious Amenities package also provides you with a WiFi code to be used in the lobby and Decks 5&6 (but we found it to work in our room on Deck 4 too!).
The Victoria Jenna has two restaurants: the buffet-style Duck Dynasty and the a la carte style Executive Lounge. The Duck Dynasty is the standard dining room, whereas you have to make a reservation for the Executive Lounge (at an extra charge of 395 RMB, about 60 USD, per dinner).
Should you purchase the Luxurious Amenities package, all of your meals will be consumed in the Executive Lounge.
We were extremely impressed with the quality of the food. We ate all of our meals in the Executive Lounge; breakfast and lunch were buffet-styled, and we ordered our four-course dinner each day at lunchtime. The food was extremely varied for each meal, and there was a nice array of both Asian and Western cuisines. There was most definitely something for everyone, and the staff handled some of our food allergies extremely well.
To have the option of a Western breakfast — pancakes, french toast, and omelettes — was exciting, since I’ve already been in Asia for over two months. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed these familiar foods.
The Asian-fused lunches were quite flavorful as well. From stir-fried tofu to noodles and bok choy, I had the opportunity to have high-quality, delicious Asian cuisine. There were always multiple vegetable options too, which I definitely appreciated since I was consuming so much food!
Come dinner time, I was happy to have a meal a la carte. With fresh warm bread, a small appetizer, soup or salad, entrée, and dessert, we had more than enough food. The fine dining restaurant on the Victoria Jenna is most definitely worth experiencing! Appetizers were largely Asian influenced, with plates such as scallion pancakes and spring rolls; the soups varied, with options such as hot and sour and minestrone; the salads ranged from grilled shrimp with marinated vegetables to caesar; entrees always offered plenty of variety from grilled salmon with a ginger glaze and steamed vegetables to penne with Alfredo sauce.
As with most cruises, there were included tours and optional tours. We were lucky enough to go on all of the included and optional tours offered on the Victoria Jenna, and I’m thrilled that we did. While all of the tours were enjoyable in their own ways, I’d even go far enough to say that some of the optional tours were more interesting than the included tours (ie. I much preferred the White Emperor City over the Three Gorges Dam Project).
Over the three days, we went on six excursions:
Day 1 — Tribe of the Three Gorges and the Three Gorges Dam
Day 2 — Ferry down the Shennong Stream and the White Emperor City
Day 3 — Red Pagoda and the Ghost City
(There will be extended articles on each of the excursions coming soon!)
The On Board Lectures & Entertainment.
The Victoria Jenna offered various lectures for those who chose not to go on the optional activities, or to fill the space between our cruising times. There were lectures on the Yangtze River, Chinese Medicine, and Tea Culture, but my favorite was the Chinese 101 Lesson. In this lesson, we learned basic Mandarin phrases, and realized just how difficult the language really is! With a few failed attempts, and many laughs, we learned some basic Chinese phrases. Now let’s see how much of it we could actually remember…
Each night, the staff put on a fantastic show in the Yangtze Club. From Chinese Dynasties to Chinese Cabaret and Chinese Culture Night, they were all enjoyable and showed the staff’s dedication to our stay.
I’m usually not a fan of evening entertainment while on cruises and all-inclusive resorts, however, I was very impressed with the quality of the shows on board the Victoria Jenna.
I’ve never experienced a staff so attentive. I’ve always said that a hello and a smile go a long way, but the staff on the Victoria Jenna went above and beyond. They were exceptionally friendly and truly knew how to brighten someone’s day. From housekeeping to the bar and the dining room, each person was a joy to be around.
A very special shoutout goes to Dick, our Cruise Director, who made sure that everything we needed was taken care of; Steven, our River Guide, who not only knew the in’s and out’s of the Yangtze, but also taught Mahjong and Chinese 101, on top of playing MC for the week; and Maggie, our fantastic waitress for every meal in the Executive Lounge, who not only knew us by name, but knew all of our food and drink preferences as well.
While cruising down the Yangtze River on the Victoria Jenna, we had the opportunity not only to learn about the Three Gorges Dam Project, but to explore some incredibly preserved cities along the banks. Cruising down the river offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, but the excursions offered will enrich the experience that much further. The Xiling Gorge, Wu Gorge, and Qutang Gorge each have something different to offer, be it its zig-zags and difficult navigation or its canyons and peaks, making the 120 km journey well worth the time and effort.