Great River Run

Victoria Cruises inspired by success in 2004

By: Ana Figueroa

Victoria Cruises had a lot to be thankful for in 2004. Not only did the year bring continued growth for the leading Yangtze River cruise operator, it marked the 10th anniversary of the inaugural sailing of the line’s Victoria I. Additionally, the line’s revitalized fleet of luxury vessels sailed enhanced itineraries, and earned five-star ship ratings from the China National Tourism Administration.

“2004 emerged as one of the most exciting years in our history because of the tremendous growth we experienced and the groundwork we laid for our awesome future potential,” said Jerry Pi, director of global operations for Victoria Cruises. “Within a decade, we transformed tourism on the Yangtze River. We have a pioneering and innovative spirit that will pave the way for even further development as we look at building more deluxe vessels and exploring new itineraries,” Pi added.

2004 marked the launch of the Victoria Katarina, the first of three new sister ships designed by Victoria Cruises. The Victoria Katarina is the company’s largest and most elaborate vessel thus far. With a passenger capacity of 266, the ship features 133 cabins, including 119 standard rooms, six junior suites, six deluxe suites and two Shangri-la suites. The Victoria Katarina sailed its maiden voyage on Mar. 21 with a 7-night roundtrip itinerary between Chongqing and Yichang.

“The introduction of a ship as technically enhanced and grand as the Victoria Katarina allows Victoria Cruises to continue leading the way in revitalizing the Yangtze River experience and reinforces our reputation as an innovator and leader on the river,” said Benson Wu, vice president of Victoria Cruises.

The Victoria Katarina joins the line’s “premier” class of ships that includes the Victoria Empress, Victoria Prince, Victoria Queen and Victoria Star. Each is new or newly rebuilt, and features enhanced facilities such as private balconies in every cabin and spacious public areas. Victoria Cruises also operates the Victoria Rose, in the “classic” ship categories. Rebuilt in 2001, and smaller than the other ships in the fleet, the Victoria Rose maintains the same high quality and safety standards of the company’s other vessels.

Victoria Cruises vessels are known for their tastefully decorated cabins and elegant atriums with sparkling chandeliers and polished woods. The ships feature Internet access, HBO and BBC broadcasts, a main dining room, beauty salon, fitness room, library, gift shop and elegant Yangtze Club for informative and lively cultural presentations. All ships are staffed with multi-lingual Western cruise directors and a professionally trained local staff.

Three Victoria Cruises vessels, the Victoria Katarina, the Victoria Prince and the Victoria Queen have earned the coveted five-star rating from the China National Tourism Administration. The rating is the organization’s top honor, and is bestowed on cruise ships with superior accommodations, amenities and services. Victoria Cruises now can boast four five-star rated ships on the Yangtze. (The Victoria Star earned the five-star rating in late 2003.)

For 2005, Victoria Cruises will continue its commitment to showcase the rich history and unparalleled scenery of the Yangtze. In order to provide the most comprehensive view of the imposing Three Gorges region, the line introduced a new 7-night Three Gorges Explorer itinerary in March 2004. The itinerary is a roundtrip cruise, from Chongqing to Yichang and back. Shore excursions vary in each direction of the cruise, in order to allow passengers to experience the Three Gorges and the massive Three Gorges Dam project; the historic cities and cultural treasures along the way, as well as the new cities springing up to house those displaced by the rising Yangtze waters.

In addition to the Three Gorges Explorer program, Victoria Cruises will offer the Grand Yangtze Discovery (Chongqing-Shanghai and reverse) and the Three Gorges Highlights (Chongqing-Yichang and reverse) programs in 2005. The Chongqing-Shanghai itinerary takes passengers through the Three Gorges and the Three Gorges Dam site as well as Wuhan, Mt. Huangshan (one of China’s most outstanding scenic attractions) and Nanjing (capital of Jiangsu province). On the Chongqing -Yichang itinerary, passengers sail through the verdant valleys that comprise the Three Gorges.