Victoria Katarina Yangtze River Cruise in China
Our Victoria Katarina Yangtze River cruise began later than planned as our flight from Xian was four hours late, thus, we ate dinner late in Chongqing, stopped at the liquor store and got to the ship about 11:00 pm. We took the Victoria Katarina downstream from Chongqing to Yichang.
We were warned that the boys wanted big tips for carrying our bags to our rooms and that drinks were expensive. So we carried our own bags up. We still had to tip them. Money is not the issue, having small bills is always a problem as ATMs spit out 100 yuan notes. This was after our briefing by a German woman Marion. I was too tired to hear anything but, “You will sit at your assigned table, three times a day.”
We got to our room on the second deck from the top. The room was spacious with fixed twin beds. The bathroom was not 5 star by any means. It was you typical small boat setup with water coming from the sink to power the shower and the sink. It was a plastic bath tub. (We just bought a new home. We didn’t even go to the second model if the builder was using plastic bath tubs.) The shower had bulk containers for shampoo and body wash. The only place you could store anything was under the beds. Plastic deck chairs need to go.
AM, It was good to see some halfway normal food on the buffet. Service was excellent, and we just had to sit with our group of 54 people, not an assigned table. There was no cook to order egg station. The staff does not use plastic gloves required by the Arizona Food Handlers licensing board and there was no USA Coast Guard required sneeze guard on the buffet.
We were hurried off for our first shore tour. Six hundred or so steps up! (They told us the exact number) We cut out about 400 by taking the tramway. Up the hill we go to see more Buddist’s temples, and then a higher one, again. More smells of incense. There were good views of the river. Hurry up and then back. We did not have time to browse the little stores. Once on board with one set of ruined extra sweaty clothes, we hurry to shower, hurry to lunch while the ship was moving. Our river guide gives us running commentary. We figured how to shut that off in our cabin.
There was just one seating at meals. At lunch, people are going on both sides of both buffet tables. One of our assigned tables is where people go by and bump into you because Americans cannot walk down plane aisles or carry food without bumping into people. OK. I sit on the inside from now until the end of the cruise.
Supper was nothing special. It was the same tourist Chinese food you get everywhere else in China except at the dinner show in Xian. Now that is 5-star Chinese food! The Katarina’s food was more like the China Buffet down the street on Bell Road in Surprise, AZ. It was just served on the lazy Susan, no choices.
The evening entertainment was fantastic. The crew dresses in traditional costumes and dances to traditional Chinese music. The bar room was cold and we eventually docked at our next port for the evening. Most people went to bed at 9 pm after the show.
The next day we take a boat out of “Mamma Mia the Movie” upstream. We get on a smaller boat a go further upstream. We saw monkeys.
Getting off the ship was a pain. They told us to put our bags out at 11:30 am. We eat lunch and the bags are all lined up in the atrium. About one o’clock or so they say our bags can’t leave until we pay the porter their $1.50 a bag. They had a sheet with a list of how many bags they picked up from each room. I already left plenty in the tip box. Now they say we have 66 bags and 54 people, they need more money for the extras to take to shore. I told our national guide that as our group leader, this in not my problem. Baggage handling is included.
We had a fun time with our group. It is not five star. It is a step above the old Windjammer Barefoot Cruises because they use glassware in the bar. The service is good. Evening meals could use an upgrade. We saw gourmet Chinese food in Xian and know what it can be. Drinks were reasonable and they are learning how to tend bar.
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