On paper, Victoria Katarina's standard cabins look great. Each has a balcony and measures over 200 square ft. In reality, the cabins feel a lot smaller, partially because the balcony is included in the measurement. The balcony itself is tiny, and is really not altogether comfortable as a sitting area. Officially there is no furniture provided on these standard category balconies, though some passengers reported a small chrome table and chairs.
Even though the standard balconies may not be conducive to lounging, they provide a picture-window view of the Yangtze's striking scenery, and, with the sliding door open, refreshing breezes during everything other than China's most blisteringly hot summer days.
Bathrooms feel very spacious, and every cabin aboard Katarina boasts a bathtub -- a nice amenity, but it's one that also cuts into cabin space. Twin beds frame the balcony window, and can only be moved together by a cabin steward. Since leaving them together would totally block access to the balcony, this switcheroo must be performed on a daily basis. A set of wall switches at the head of each bed controls most of the room's electrical functions -- lights, music, etc. This is a nice feature, though moving the beds together puts the switches nearly out of reach. We found storage space somewhat limited. Cabins feature satellite television, which offered a small selection of Chinese TV shows, English-language movies (with Chinese subtitles) and Chinese movies (with English subtitles), as well as BBC news and sports. An in-cabin telephone is usable only as a "house phone." Passengers wishing to call home have to arrange those calls in advance with the purser's desk. Hair dryers are available from the purser's desk as well. Passengers are requested not to use their own electrical appliances in their cabins, even with 220-volt converters, so it's smart to get there early to request a hair dryer.
Katarina boasts six Junior Suites (measuring 327 square ft.), six Deluxe Suites (measuring 406 square ft.) and two "Shangri La" Suites (at 646 square ft.). Suites do include hair dryers and refrigerators, though there is no minibar.
One inspired feature is a steward stationed at the atrium-end of each hallway. This crewmember, kind of a mini-concierge, is responsible for any passenger cabin requests on her deck, including such things as repairs, laundry, etc. She's also worth her weight in gold the first time you realize you left your room key in the cabin just as you hear the door slam behind you.
Critic's Caveat: The pace of modernization in China over the past ten years is nothing short of mind-boggling. However, one area that has yet to be addressed is catering to visitors -- or citizens, for that matter -- with physical disabilities. This goes for Victoria Cruises as well. Though they would leap to the opportunity to tell you that they have successfully catered to many a physically challenged guest, realistically, this is not an appropriate choice of vessel or itinerary for those who are not ambulatory. There are no handicapped-friendly cabins, but more importantly, there are no elevators on the ship. Ashore, many of the ports of call are merely small, floating docks at the foot of flights of steep, concrete stairs leading up to towns atop high bluffs overlooking the river. Some of these stairways number over a hundred steps.