Cruises and Sailing
|May 23, 2002|
Regal China Cruises Sees Bright Future In Yangtze River Cruising
|Contrary to a public rumor that tourism in the scenic Three Gorges region of China's legendary Yangtze River will halt once the second phase of construction of the Three Gorges Dam is completed (summer 2003), Regal China Cruises, the only five-star American managed cruise line navigating China's Yangtze River, anticipates a bright future for sailing on the world's third longest waterway. "Travelers will actually gain access to areas that have been out of reach for centuries, therefore, expanding exploration on the River," says David Yiu, president of Regal China Cruises. "Once construction of the Three Gorges Dam begins phase three and the water levels begin to rise (June 2003), ships will be able to navigate the many streams and tributaries of the Yangtze, offering new spots to discover in places where little is known to mankind as the water was previously too shallow to explore."|
According to the National Tourism Administration of the People's Republic of China, the Three Gorges Dam will provide 15 percent of China's electricity, improve navigation along the river and lessen the severity of flooding by about 90 percent. There are three phases of the project. Phase one, which included building a diversion canal, was completed in 1998. During the second phase, a temporary ship lock will be completed and all ships will begin using it this November. During the third and final phase, beginning in June 2003 and continuing until 2009, water levels will gradually rise to 175 meters (about 525 feet). Once the damming of the Three Gorges is complete, a 360-mile long reservoir will replace 13 cities, 140 towns and 1,352 villages. Residents, farms and industries are currently being relocated to adjacent higher ground. Some historical sights, landscapes and natural beauty will be submerged wholly or partially. These areas account for only 13 percent of the entire scenic attractions of the Three Gorges region. Most of the peaks along the gorges are between 100 and 1,000 meters (about 300 to 3,000 feet) above sea level and will be unaffected. The poetic landscapes and views east of Sandouping will remain unchanged.
What are some of the areas that will be affected? Baidicheng, known as White Emperor City (near Wanxian), and Shibaozhai, which contains an ancient temple dating from the Ming Dynasty, will become islands accessible by boat, but they will be preserved. Kuimen Gate, Fairy Peaks and Xiling Gorge will remain intact.
Some of the popular sights that Regal China Cruises passengers can enjoy now and after the dam is complete, include Fengdu, or "Ghost City," where it is said ancient mythology comes alive with wild demon images dedicated to gods of the underworld, meant to remind people of the devil's threat should they misbehave in their lifetime. (Parts of Fengdu surrounding the "Ghost City" will be submerged and residents will be relocated across the river.) Other stops include a visit to Sandouping, the site of The Three Gorges Dam. Upon arrival, passengers will take a bus across the Three Gorges Bridge, which leads toward the top of the hill for a birds-eye view of the construction from an observation deck. Visitors will observe the five-step ship lock, the diversion canal, the dam in construction, and the power station. English-speaking professional guides are on hand to provide detailed information on the history of the dam and facts on its construction. In addition, an exhibition room displays a model of the dam, and offers passengers another opportunity to ask questions and learn about the benefits of this amazing project.
The spectacular Small Three Gorges can be experienced on a day excursion. Passengers are escorted in smaller pan-bottom boats through this impressive sight of three canyons converging. A series of thousand-year-old suspended coffins can be seen in the rock formations, with small river trade villages lining the waterway.
By 2009, The Three Gorges will be a comprehensive tourist destination, reminiscent of the past and the future. It will feature the largest hydroelectric undertaking in the world complemented by the area's ancient culture and natural scenery. Regal China Cruises has been introducing and educating travelers to the Three Gorges region for the past decade. A variety of on-board cultural programs are offered, from lectures by American Cruise Directors to morning Tai Chi classes beneath mist-shrouded gorges on the ship's Sun Deck. Daily land excursions explore significant sights along the magnificent Yangtze River, providing visitors with insight to Chinese beliefs and customs.
Regal China Cruises offers a fascinating venture into China. The quality, service and the convenience of German-built cruise vessels, accommodating 258 passengers, offers the opportunity to enjoy the culture, food and tradition of this ancient country in complete comfort.Organized land excursions allow travelers to explore different regions, see the sights close-up and delve into the country's rich tradition.