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Rising water levels as a result of the Three Gorges Dam project
on China’s Yangtze River have allowed Victoria Cruises to create
shore excursions to formerly hard-to-reach sites on the aptly
nicknamed “River of Heaven.”
“Since we began sailing in 1994, we’ve employed a dedicated team
of individuals to craft shore excursions that encompass the unique
attributes of the Yangtze including the Three Gorges, ancient
historical sites and the smaller tributaries off the river,” said
Larry Greenman, manager of public relations and customer service
for Victoria Cruises.
“As we move forward in the 21st century, we will continue to
enhance our offerings with new excursions that emerge as a result
of the Three Gorges Dam project and rising waters that provide
access to sites not easily reached,” Greenman added.
Recent enhancements to shore excursions include:
Shennong Stream As a result of the Dam project, higher water
levels make it possible for visitors to travel further along
Shennong Stream (a Yangtze tributary), which has become more
navigable for a greater distance. Passengers board small “pea pod”
wooden boats and take a relaxing ride through the attractive
Gorges. The Shennong Stream region features a wild preserve, which
is home to more than 1,000 types of trees; Daning River/Small
Gorges Higher water levels have allowed Victoria Cruises to sail
far enough on the Daning River, another Yangtze tributary, so
travelers can see all three of the Gorges from a different
perspective. Victoria Cruises now also uses larger and more
comfortable motorized boats on the Daning River (holding
approximately 130 passengers as opposed to boats once holding about
30 people). A side trip of the Daning River excursion is a journey
via sampan to the Ma Du River, a tributary of the Daning River.
After boarding a sampan on the Daning River, travelers will embark
on a 45-to-60-minute trip up the Ma Du River to the Mini Gorges (or
“Lesser Lesser” Gorges), a picturesque area with clear, swift
running water, unusual rock formations and monkeys and goats along
the banks; White Emperor City also known as Baidicheng, overlooks
the Western end of Qutang Gorge, and had been included as a shore
excursion in the past but was discontinued because the climb up
Baidi Mountain to the historical temple involved many steps.
However, the water level on the Yangtze is expected to rise this
season to 165 meters above sea level with the ongoing construction
of the Three Gorges Dam, thereby greatly reducing the climb.
Currently, White Emperor City is replacing the “ghost city” of
Fendgu on select sailings, and if it is well-received by travelers,
Victoria Cruises will consider including it on additional sailings.
White Emperor City has long been a refuge for would-be kings and
poets who traveled there to be inspired by the breathtaking views.
Legend has it that in 25 A.D., white vapor in the shape of a dragon
rose from a well there, and Gong Sunshu, a soldier who had been
headquartered there, declared himself the “White Emperor.” Remains
of the city wall can be seen on the hill behind Baidi Mountain, and
a temple built to commemorate Gong’s reign dates back more than
Not all shore excursions are available on all itineraries.
Excursion availability depends on the specific cruise booked as
well as river conditions.
The Three Gorges will remain on Victoria Cruises’ Yangtze River
itineraries as the Three Gorges Dam project, the largest
engineering endeavor of its kind, moves toward completion in 2009.
The Three Gorges Dam has become a highlight on all of Victoria’s
"Many people are under the assumption that once the Dam and
flooding are complete, the Three Gorges will disappear, but this is
not true,” noted Greenman.
An American-managed company, Victoria Cruises operates the largest
fleet of vessels with the coveted five-star rating from the China
National Tourism Administration.