Also experienced curtailed cruise

I read ITN reader Helmut Richter’s letter, titled “Yangtze Cruise Curtailed” (Nov. ’03, pg. 34), about the river cruise portion of his trip “Imperial China, Tibet and Yangtze” with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT), and have some comments to add.

My husband and I took this identical trip Oct. 15-Nov. 4, ’02. When we signed up for this trip, we were told that this was OAT’s most popular trip and we had the impression that OAT schedules frequent departures. In fact, during the course of our trip we encountered another OAT group taking the identical trip with another guide, which indicates that simultaneous departures also occur during some parts of the year.

We did not encounter the bus ride created by the low-water situation at the start of the above-mentioned reader’s cruise. However, we were told when we boarded the Victoria Cruises ship that the Chinese government had moved up the time line for curtailing certain types of ship traffic downstream from the dam to Wuhan and that we would be boarding a bus instead of cruising for the last day of our river trip.

Note that this occurred in late October of 2002, a full five months prior to the reader’s trip. We accepted the situation as a consequence that sometimes occurs in international travel. However, in the other reader’s situation, five months and a multitude of identical trips later, I feel that it was remiss and deceptive of OAT to have continued to describe the trip as a cruise from Chongqing to Wuhan with no mention of busing.

As frequent travelers, we feel that OAT has an excellent reputation for their trips. Ms. Shea’s response that OAT provided the destination highlights and therefore was not responsible for the “change beyond our control” was disappointing because it missed the real point. The point is that while OAT may not have been responsible for the change, neither should it have continued to misrepresent the facts of the situation.

Cupertino, CA

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to Overseas Adventure Travel (One Broadway, Ste. 600, Cambridge, MA 02142) and received a call from Christel Shea in Quality Management, who said OAT is standing behind their previous response to Mr. Richter’s letter, printed in the November ’03 issue.