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Victoria Cruises has announced that this year it will be the only passenger cruise ship operator to use the recently completed ship elevator — the largest in the world — at the Three Gorges Dam, one of the highest points of cruise itineraries on the Yangtze River.
The elevator in Yichang City, China, has been operational since last September for freight vessels. Starting with its March 16 departure, American-managed Victoria will use it for its passengers cruising the Three Gorges. The 40-minute process will cut the time needed to traverse the locks by up to four hours.
The elevator’s ship basin is nearly 60 feet wide and 400 feet long and carries vessels up 370 feet, the height of a 40-story building, while providing sweeping views of the surroundings.
Victoria’s passengers will use the elevator onboard a specially designed sightseeing boat, followed by a tour of the dam, on a shore excursion offered on both upstream and downstream itineraries.
“In addition to its truly humbling size and scope, the time saved by using the ship lift allows for a more optimal sailing schedule," said Larry Greenman, manager of public relations and customer service for Victoria Cruises.
Besides the Three Gorges Dam, Victoria’s Three Gorges Highlights cruise includes excursions such as a scenic tributary ride on a traditional Chinese sampan with local guides and a visit to the 12-story wooden pagoda at Shibaozhai, which was constructed without using nails. Onboard enrichment runs the gamut, from tai chi lessons and Yangtze history to performances of traditional Chinese dance and music.