Victoria Cruises expands fleet in China

NEW YORK -- Victoria Cruises added two new vessels -- the Victoria Angel and the Victoria Blue Whale -- for a total of eight small ships, each carrying from 140 to 150 passengers.

All of the Victoria ships cruise on the Yangtze River in China, the largest river in Asia and the third-longest in the world.

Similar, but not identical in design, all vessels in the fleet have been fitted for the conditions of the waterway. Three- to 10-day itineraries are available.

With the additions to its fleet this year, Victoria Cruises is hoping to solidify its partnership with U.S. travel agents and is setting up a series of fam trips and other educational opportunities. Details are expected to be released in the next few weeks.

The firm offers 10% commission and one free cabin for every 20 passengers booked.

New for this year are a selection of sailings on the western Yangtze, roundtrip from Shanghai.

Highlights include Yangzhou, with its gardens and pavilions; Nanjing; Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), one of China's most outstanding scenic attractions, and Lushan, a resort with numerous deep gullies, precipitous cliffs and magnificent waterfalls.

Highlights on the western Yangtze include the Three Gorges, a stretch of majestic cliffs and spectacular scenery, along with ancient towns and remote villages. Passengers also will have the opportunity to see the world's largest dam project.

The dam, scheduled to be completed in 2010, will raise the level of the Yangtze River, resulting in dramatic changes to the current face of the waterway.

The three-night Downstream Chongqing-Wuhan sailing features a shore excursion to Fengdu, the "Ghost City"; a sail through Qutang Gorge; an excursion through the Small Three Gorges along the Daning River; a sail through Wu Gorge; an evening show at Zigui; a sail through Xiling Gorge; a view of the Three Gorges Dam, and a shore excursion to the ancient city of Jingzhou.

The five-night Upstream Wuhan-Chongqing trip includes a shore excursion to the 2,000-year-old city of Yueyang in northern Hunan Province, a view of the dam, Xiling Gorge, Wu Gorge, Small Three Gorges excursion, a sail through Qutang Gorge and a shore excursion to Fengdu or picturesque Wanxian

The multilingual on-board staff includes European and American cruise directors who have studied and/or worked in China.

Each vessel also carries river guides with extensive knowledge of the region and its people.

Lectures on history and culture are provided along the way, as well as lessons on tai chi, Chinese painting and calligraphy.

Live entertainment features traditional Chinese performing arts. Nightly dancing is offered in the Yangtze Club.

Cuisine on-board includes both western and Chinese selections. Special meals can be arranged for passengers with vegetarian, diabetic or low-salt restrictions.

All cabins are outside with picture windows, lower berths, televisions and private bathrooms; suites with luxury appointments also are available.

Public facilities include a business center, a nightclub, a bar, a clinic, a reading room, a fitness center, a gift shop, a beauty salon and conference facilities.

The western-managed cruise line, which launched in 1994, has offices in Woodside, N.Y., and Chongqing, China.

For rates, brochures videos and reservations, contact the firm at (800) 348-8084 or e-mail [email protected] cruises.com.

The company's Web site is at www.victoriacruises.com.

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