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River Boat Cruises in China

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Victoria Jenna

River boat cruises in China are essentially limited to the great Yangtze River.  Rising in the Tibetan Palteau and traversing the width of China before emptying into the East China Sea near Shanghai, the Yangtze -at 3915 miles- is the third longest river in the world, behind the Amazon and Nile rivers.  Historically, the Yangtze marks the division between North and South China.

While there are many sites of historical and cultural interest along the way, the highlight of any river boat cruise on the Yangtze is the mesmerizing Three Gorges Region.  Arrayed along approximately 150 miles of the river, the gorges enchant and awe the visitor.  The Qutang Gorge is the shortest and narrowest, with the tallest peaks and the most spectacular scenery. Wu (Witches) Gorge passes through lush, mist shrouded mountains. Finally, Xiling Gorge at 47 miles, is the longest of the three, with high, narrow, precipitous cliffs.

Many passengers opt to transfer to a smaller vessel for the popular excursion up the Daning River to visit the Three Lesser Gorges – Dragon Gate, Misty and Emerald Green.  Narrower than the Three Gorges, these gorges offer dramatic canyon scenery.  Man-made sites are also included in these river boat cruises.  Of particular note are the Shibaozhai Temple, a dramatic, red, 12 story wooden structure and the immense Three Gorges Dam.

The majority of the river boat cruises sail between Chongqing and Yichang, for either 3 or 4 nights, depending on direction, or 7 nights roundtrip.  For those with more time, there are longer cruises from Chongqing to Nanjing or Shanghai.  Depending on direction, these can take up to 11 days.

Viking River cruises operates 2 vessels on the Yangtze, Viking Century Sun and Viking Emerald, offered in conjunction with land tours.  Victoria Cruises, the other major river boat cruise operator in the region, has 8 ships deployed on this magnificent river.

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