We had taken a river cruise in the past and so were interested in a small/boutique cruise experience. This ship has approximately 200 passengers, which in hindsight was probably a bit big for our tastes. The age of the group varied, but the majority were over 70 years old - we are in our late 40's, so a more mixed group would have been preferable for us - however everyone was lovely. For some reason they sat everyone for meals on the first night and wouldn't allow anyone to change tables after that - this was a disappointment, as the opportunity to meet other people from different countries is always a great aspect of traveling - management should change this practice. For anyone considering this cruise, it is important to consider that China has a lot of steps! Every stop on the cruise demanded walking up many steps.
The cabin was lovely - good cooling, good balcony, and a fridge in the room. Drinks in the bar cost approx 25 yuan (about $3.75 AUS) for a beer, 35 yuan (about $5.25 AUS) for a gin and tonic, and about $30 AUS for a bottle of Chinese red wine. Beer can be bought at any local supermarket, or street stalls for about 45cents AUSD, wine for about $4.50 AUS a bottle - so with the fridge in your room you can have a few drinks on your balcony at minimal cost.
Laundry was standard international hotel prices - about $10 AUS for a pair of pants - as a result, very few passengers seemed to use the laundry service, and seemed to rinse things out themselves.
The staff are lovely, and multi-talented - they are required to undertake their regular duties, and perform in the entertainment at night!
Of note - one passenger had an injury that required stitches - the doctor on board didn't have the equipment/materials to do that. The doctor was able to offer moxibustion, acupuncture, but it seems equipment for standard Western treatment was lacking - the cruise group should consider this issue.
Hairdressing/massage was popular, and reasonably priced - approx $20 AUS for hair-wash and blow wave.
Food was great, I am amazed that the amount,quality and variety the chef produces every meal for 200 people! But was there are a number of days with limited activity (ie: not leaving the ship, or leaving for a brief tour at 7pm) by day three we moved onto a bowl of cereal for breakfast and little if any lunch - we had lost our appetite - no reflection on the food - we simply didn't need three buffet meals a day when doing little exercise!
This cruise was a really convenient and peaceful way to see a lot of China that would have been difficult or busy to travel to. It was a great break from the hustle and bustle of China. The Gorges area is beautiful and the Ship locks of the dam project are amazing - a great area to see.