Q. I'm interested in taking a cruise on the Yangtze River in China. What are your recommendations?
A. I highly recommend Victoria Cruises (800/348-8084). This company has been offering cruises on the Yangtze River for over 10 years. Their cruises include multi-lingual cruise directors; a private balcony for every cabin on their ships; Chinese dinner banquets; various onboard facilities (business center, reading room, fitness area, gift shop, and beauty salon); Internet access as well as HBO and BBC broadcasts; shipboard activities with lectures on Chinese history and culture, Tai Chi lessons, and calligraphy demonstrations; evening entertainment based on ancient Chinese traditions; and much more.
Their cruises range from three (starting from $775 per person) to eight nights (starting from $1,400 per person). The three-night cruise goes from Chongqing to Yichang, with several stops including an optional visit to the Three Gorges Dam site. The eight-night cruise goes from Shanghai to Chongqing, with stops at Nanjing, Yellow Mountain, Wuhan and other destinations. Shore excursions costs $80 each. Please note that the rates I've listed are for travel during the shoulder season: March 17 to 31, June, July, August, and November.
However, they are currently running a special for the Chongqing to/from Yichang cruise starting from $450 per person, and a seven-night Chongqing-Yichang-Chongqing cruise starting at $800 per person, for sailings from December 1 through March 12.
Q. We're thinking of traveling to China for the Beijing Olympics and would like to learn of any travel companies specializing in putting together travel packages for this event. We have not used an outside company for past travel and want to ensure we find someone reputable for such an expensive trip.
A. The schedule of events for the Beijing Olympics hasn't been released yet, thus there isn't an exact price list from tour operators. However, what the companies are doing now is taking names, and creating a list, so once the event dates are available space will be given according on a first come basis. For example, Mongol Global Tour Company (based in California, 866/225-0577) has a 2008 Beijing Olympics China Tour, and is currently taking deposits of $500 per person. The 16-day tour will include tours of the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the terra cotta warriors, and more. China Discovery Tours (888/371-3228) is posting an online survey to help them decide what to include in their packages.
Check out beijingpage.com, a handy resource for almost anything you'd need to know about Beijing, including information about hotels, tour companies, entertainment, and more. And don't forget to look at the China National Tourist Office (888/760-8218 or 800/670-2228) for a lot of helpful advice.