We accompanied friends on what we thought would be an amazing journey through the Three Gorges area of the Yangtze River. Overall the trip was "OK" but did leave a bit to be desired.
The Victoria Anna is old an tired and must have been through many refurbishments in it's time. Originaly we had opted for a standard cabin but one look at this saw us quickly fork out $1000 to upgrade to a suite!!! The suite was spacious and well appointed but, as with the rest of the ship, tired and dated. Despite numerous complaints about the air conditioning not working the temperature in our suite remained too hot for the duration of our voyage. We suspect that it was actually an economy measure and that they didn't want to turn on the air conditioning plant for a few "picky" westerners!
Embarkation and disembarkation was through slums and construction sites over rickety pontoons. We had to stand waiting on one of these pontoons with our baggage for 30 minutes or more as the company had changed the access time without letting our tour company know. The baggage porters were local "coolies" who tied rope to the handles of our expensive luggage and then toted them with a bamboo pole much to our protestations at the time.
The passenger mix was predominantly Chinese with a few Americans and us. We were persuaded to upgrade to the al a carte didning room for $100 and I quote "so we wont have to mix with the Chinese in the buffet" end quote. The food was terrible and possibly some of the worst we have come across. The breakfast buffet was tolerable but lunch and dinner, especially dinner, were almost inedible.
The staff were very friendly and helpfull with the exception of the reception staff who's goal in life was to try and upsell services at every possible opportunity.
There was nightly entertainment of reasonable quality and the bar area and drink service were quite good. There were daily information sessions conducted by Andy who was the shining star of the staff on the Victoria Anna.
The daily morning tours were outrageously expensive for Chine and, consequently, were almost empty. The free afternoon tours were better attended and generally interesting with the exception of one bizarre excursion which took us some distance up a tributary to a plastic pontoon area to be serenaded by a group of Chinese tour guides singing what sounded like Chinese "pop" songs.
We disembarked at a town near the Three Gorges Dam and transferred to another boat to be taken through the dam on the new "ship elevator" which was an exciting and interesting experience. We were subsequently put on a bus and taken for a very brief and abridged tour of the Three Gorges Dam area with a very interesting and funny guide who played the harmonica for our bemused entertainment.
Was it an unusual and different experience that we enjoyed to some degree - yes. Would we do it again - no way!
Spacious and well appointed but old and tired with air conditioning that didn't work. No movies and only one English Channel on TV.