We chose this particular cruise for the ports of call, none of which we have been to before and also the chance to see the sights around Beijing before the cruise.
It all started out so normally. An Emirates flight from Dublin to Dubai and onto Beijing Capital airport, arriving mid afternoon on what became a date written in infamy.....October 4th.
After landing in Beijing, I was able, through a VPN to access Facebook (banned in China like a lot of things). There is a dedicated page for the October 7th cruise and it advised that Chinese Immigration was randomly refusing entry to travellers who were applying for the 144 Hour Transit visa. As our party of four was hoping to enter China this way, it was a very worrying time. After completing the fingerprint process we lined up at the Transit Visa desk and witnessed what can only be described as the start of a nightmare for the unfortunates who were refused entry, with no reason being given. After more than 2 hours we reached the desk and all of us were granted the visa. It was a pure lottery. On the ship later we heard stories of families being split up. some allowed entry with the rest refused and given till midnight to leave China or face arrest. Many intrepids managed to fly to Japan to join the ship two days late in Fukuoka , at great cost, as the airlines raised the prices astronomically. Others just gave up and flew home. Heartbreaking.