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Sanctuary Yangtze Explorer - Luxury Family Cruise Experience on Yangtze River

By Bean (Boston, the United States) | July 17, 2017 | 2591 views
  • Departure Date: 2017-7-12
  • Travel Length: 4 Days
  • Group Size: 4
  • Which Ship: Yangtze Explorer Cruise
  • Highlights: Three Gorges Dam Site, Shennong Stream, Shibaozhai Pagoda

The Sanctuary Yangtze Explorer brings a new standard of cruising in China - more intimate and luxurious. With the largest cabins and suites on the river, all with private balconies, as well as the high staff to guest ratio of 1:1, this is a Yangtze cruise unlike any other. Enjoy the exhilarating shore excursions that highlight the beauty and heritage of the area while relaxing on the only super 5 star Yangtze cruise.

Yangtze Explorer is a part of 2-week journey after Beijing and Xian of Mr. Bean and his family. From the late of flight for embarkation of the first day till the last day, they enjoyed superior service offered by Yangtze Explorer. Follow them for inspiration and ideas.

Yangtze Explorer Cruise for Family of Four

Our 4 day sailing on Sanctuary Retreat's Yangtze Explorer was a highlight of our 2 week visit to China. I am a particular traveler - we started our China trip at the Waldorf Astoria in Beijing and ended it at the Waldorf in Shanghai so I am accustomed to and expect luxurious accommodations and superior service. The Yangtze Explorer did not disappoint us.

I found Sanctuary's booking agents to be very comprehensive and helpful - we handled the entire process by email which was efficient given the 12 hour time difference. Ultimately we booked one of their four specialty suites (The Mandarin Suite) with a neighboring standard suite next door for our children (ages 23 and 18). On this ship there are only 64 cabins to begin with - a great advantage over other boats on the river. Even the standard cabins are a large 330 square feet. Booking a standard suite increases the size by about 30%+. There are four luxury suites - Mandarin and Jade on the upper deck are both close to 900 sq feet each. The suites on the lower deck are even larger - about 1,200 sq feet. All 4 have large outdoor decks, with the lower deck cabins having the biggest decks. I opted for the smaller Mandarin suite since it was on the more desirable upper deck (the 4 suites are all priced identically, so if you don't mind the lower deck you can get much more space for the same price). All cabins were just recently renovated and they are stunning. Our suite had a large living room and dining room and wrap around windows facing the front of the boat. A separate bedroom had a large private bath. The views as we sailed from inside and our deck were stunning. This would be a lovely suite at a hotel - to have a cabin this large on a boat was a real treat.

The big advantage to this boat is its small passenger count (maximum 128) and high staff to guest ratio (over 1:1). It meant that service was exceptional and very personal. It also meant that when it came time for our shore excursions there was no mad dash - we gathered in the lobby and went out on small groups generally of 8-15 people. Many of the excursions were things that a larger boat just could not offer. All the staff - from the "hotel manager" down greeting us by name - very personal service.

Breakfast and lunch were buffets - the selection was generally quite extensive but there was nothing memorable. Dinners were more special. Local beer and wine is included at meals - all other drinks are an additional charge.

Booking a suite got us 12 pieces of laundry laundered on the second day of the cruise for free per suite. Since we were in the middle of our two week trip this was a big plus.

Superior Service Offered by Yangtze Explorer

I won't spend a lot of time talking about the actual itinerary and excursions but will say they are quite accurately portrayed in the brochure and all was wonderful. However the standout on this trip was the service. One final example - ignoring my own best judgment I booked our inbound flight on the day of sailing - but I left over 6 hours of time to accommodate a delay. Unfortunately awful thunderstorms in Beijing delayed us substantially - when we called the boat's local emergency number I was surprised to hear them say they spoke to the captain and he agreed that he would delay the 9:30pm scheduled departure until as late as 1am to accommodate us and another delayed family if necessary. Yes, I had booked two suites including one of the four top suites on the cruise. Yes this sailing was only about 55% booked so us and the other family did make up a sizable percentage of the passengers on the journey. But it is virtually unheard of for a cruise line to ever hold a boat for late arriving passengers. Don't test this one - but take it as another example of superior service.

Finally, I made arrangements for airport transfers and a city tour after debarkation through the cruise line. This turned out to be quite wise, as our driver waited 6 hours at the airport waiting for us on the inbound flight (and had the crew standing by with flashlights at the darkened pier when we finally arrived) and we had a great guide when we disembarked who took us to lunch, had us tour Yichang and made sure we got to the airport safely. I would definitely urge you to make these arrangements through Sanctuary.

Bottom line this was a very special trip and I highly recommend Yangtze Explorer.

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