Home / Opinion / China Daily Bureau Chiefs

My memories of the Yangtze River cruise

By Tan Yingzi | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2015-08-17 17:21

My memories of the Yangtze River cruise

A cruise ship sails on the Yangtze River in the Xiling Gorge scenic spot of the Three Gorges in Yichang city, central China's Hubei province, on May 19, 2013.[Photo/IC]

On the night of June 1, the ship with 456 on board capsized in Hubei province as it sailed from Nanjing in Jiangsu province to Chongqing. There were only 14 survivors.

The tragedy has resulted in a number of tour groups canceling cruises on the river because of safety concerns, and cruise operators expect to see shrinking visitor numbers this season.

Though I have been deeply upset by this deadly accident, I believe for most of Yangtze River cruise passengers, the journey through the magnificent Three Gorges remains an unforgettable memory.

As the longest river in China and the third-longest on the planet, the Yangtze River is famous for its rich history and beautiful scenery. As early as the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Chinese emperors would board the wooden ships cruising along the river to inspect their territory.

Nowadays the Yangtze cruise tour is as popular as those on the Nile in Africa, the Mississippi River in the United States, and the Rhine and Danube in Europe.

As a local who grew up by the Yangtze River, I have taken two cruise trips long before the Three Gorges Dam was built in 2006.

The first time was in 1992, in the summer when I was in junior high school. My mother took me and a son of her friend's on a 10-day cruise trip on the Yangtze River between Chongqing and Yichang, Hubei province. At that time, there were only a few large luxurious vessels and they all only served foreign tourists. For us domestic travelers, we took mid-ranged ships with less fancy facilities, very similar to the original Eastern Star before it was revamped into the current look.

We took a third-class cabin with three bunks. There was no air-conditioning in the room and we had to use public toilets and bathrooms. The ship ticket only covered the cabin and we would pay for meals and sightseeing fees by ourselves. But for a teenage girl, I did not mind these inconveniences at all and looked forward to seeing the beautiful sceneries I had read about in books and ancient poems.

At that time, the river was running much faster and the waves rolled against the ship along the way. But we got used to it very soon and found walking on the shaky deck was fun.

In addition to the Three Gorges, there were several scenic spots along the bank. We would get off the vessel and went sightseeing, shopping and dining on the land.

Seven years later in 2002 when the high-end cruisers started to get popular among domestic tourists, I took a more comfortable cruise with my friends during our summer vacation. It was an all-inclusive package tour with five-star hotel standard rooms. The vessel was much bigger and more stable with dining halls, gym, tea house and KTV. I could not forget the time we were sitting on the deck watching the sunset on the river, when the breeze was cool and the time was slow.

Though the accident was so terrible and heartbreaking, many business insiders said the popular cruise section between Chongqing and Yichang is far away from the accident site and it is very navigable and safe.

I hope tourists at home and abroad will not be scared away from this longest and most beautiful river in China. And I am planning to take my parents to a cruise tour this summer to see the Three Gorges Dam.

Most Viewed in 24 Hours