Plying the Yangtze

Re the letter “Yangtze Cruise Curtailed” (Nov. ’03, pg. 34), about a cruise that was to begin in Chongqing, China, on April 8 but ended up being curtailed on two sections of the river, it is just by coincidence that on April 9, ’03, we were leaving Yichang and heading upriver on the MV East King to Chongqing. . . we thought.

There was never any doubt in our minds that the cruise no longer left Wuhan. Our tour company, Laurus Travel (#45 - 3195 Granville St., Vancouver, B.C. V6H 3K2, Canada; phone 877/507-1177 or visit, had planned it that way and obviously knew months in advance that ship traffic was no longer possible from Wuhan to the dam site.

However, soon after boarding we were warned that the river was very low between Fengdu and Chongqing and we might not be able to go all the way. It was, in fact, an hour-to-hour decision, of course up to the captain.

It ended up that we did disembark in Fengdu, walking a mile across the mud and up 200 steps to our waiting bus. Desirable? No, but this is travel, and none in our group or on the boat were upset. It was, indeed, a long day to Chongqing and then Dazu and back (seeing street markets along the way and some beautiful scenery), but we just cut dinner short and had a peaceful rest to catch up!

By the way, our 18-day “Odyssey” tour, April 2-19, was a magnificent experience due much in part to Laurus Travel’s planning, knowledge and guide selection.

The cost was approximately $3,290 per person, with coach airfare included from Los Angeles. (We used frequent-flyer tickets to get from Charleston to L.A.; had we used the Laurus flight package from Charleston, it would have been $290 per person extra.) Travel insurance, which we purchased separately, was extra, but there were NO other extras, and the accommodations and dining were some of the best we have ever experienced — anywhere — and that includes most of the rest of the world.

FYI, we flew China Eastern Air from L.A. nonstop to Beijing and back from Shanghai — very good.

We highly recommended Laurus Travel.

As a last point for anyone now contemplating a similar trip to China, do go and don’t worry about a low Yangtze. That’s no longer a problem — forever!

Wando, SC