Sailing routes & seasons
- Cruise Lines
For anyone who is planning the Yangtze Cruise, taking into consideration the cruise destination can make a difference. Many routes varied from the destinations and the directions of cruise are provided for visitors to go exploring the cradle of Chinese civilization-Yangtze River.
For the direction of the cruise, that is, to upstream or downstream the river, please see details on How to Plan a Cruise. After deciding your cruise's direction, it is still not enough for working out a cruise that suits you best. Do not forget destinations. Cruise companies always arrange various lines according to special requirements of visitors. Generally, they are divided into long lines and short lines.
- Long Lines
Chongqing --> Wuhan (1,200 kilometers/756 miles) taking 5 days downstream.
Wuhan --> Chongqing (1,200 kilometers/756 miles) taking 6 days upstream.
Chongqing --> Shanghai (2,399 kilometers/1,491miles) taking 8 days downstream.
Shanghai --> Chongqing (2,399 kilometers/1,491miles) taking 10 days upstream.
Advantages: Long lines usually means more time spent on board. Thus passengers have more time for refreshing themselves after shore excursions. The extra leisure time will enable you to join in the various activities on board such as Chinese culture lectures, shadowboxing, stage performances etc. Destinations such as Chongqing, Wuhan, and Shanghai are all metropolises that provide you with convenient transportation, which means you can reach your next destination promptly.
Disadvantages: More time on board might fetter some adventurous passengers who may wish to do more exploring.
- Short Lines
Chongqing --> Yichang /Jingzhou (about 600 kilometers/ 373 miles) taking 4 days downstream
Yichang --> Chongqing/Jingzhou (about 600 kilometers/373 miles) taking 5 days upstream
Advantages: Less time on board costs you less. Passengers can still view the whole grand Three Gorges scenic area, whilst performances on board are more focused.
Disadvantages: Since the activities and the onshore excursions are one after another, there is less time for rest, and for those who prefer a relaxed traveling which involves long time for refreshment should give this a second thought. Destinations such as Yichang and Jingzhou are relatively small cities, so perhaps you may need to transfer to Wuhan to catch up with your vehicle.
Anyway, it is wise for you to know this basic knowledge before your cruising journey, just choose the very one that suits you best.
- Cruise Seasons
-Low-water Season and High-water Season
The Yangtze River is within the sub-tropical climate area of Central Asia and has a low-water season from December to March and a high-water season (flood season) from June to September.
Before the construction of the Three Gorges Project the low-water season was not suitable for cruising. Now that the project is completed the sailing conditions are greatly improved because of the higher water level. Some tributaries are marvelous for exploring the beautiful natural scenery. It is reported that cruising in winter and during the low-water season is increasingly popular.
-Tourism Peak Season and Off Season
Generally, April, May, September and October are considered the peak seasons for cruising. During this period, the weather is neither too cold nor too hot and the scenery is the best of the year.
The rest of the months are considered the off season, they are January, February, and March, plus June, July, August, November, and December. In recent years, because of the improvement in sailing conditions as well as the efforts made in the rejuvenation of tourism in the Three Gorges area by the government, off season traveling is gaining in popularity with both Chinese and foreign tourists. Besides, visitors seeking to avoid the crowded peak season can enjoy some off-peak specials offered by some ship companies and travel agencies.