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Yangtze Cruise Upstream & Downstream

What is upstream and downstream?

Upstream Cruise

Yangtze River Upstream Cruises mean sailing from East China - lower part of the river (such as Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, or Yichang), up to Chongqing. Recently, there are three upstream cruise routes sailing on the Yangtze River:

  1. 4 Nights and 5 Days Yichang - Chongqing cruise, is the most common route among the upstream routes, and is run by most Yangtze River ships.

Downstream Cruise

Yangtze River Downstream Cruises means sailing from West China - higher part of the river (such as Chongqing) down to East China (such as Yichang, Shanghai). In 2024 and 2025, there are also three downstream cruise routes sailing on Yangtze River as below:

  1. 3 Nights and 4 Days Chongqing - Yichang cruise, is the most popular route chosen by about two-third travelers, and is run by most Yangtze River ships.

What’s the difference between Yangtze Upstream and Downstream?

1. Cruise Length
For Chonqing Yichang Yangtze River cruise routes, the cruise length is the biggest difference between Yangtze upstream and downstream cruise. The upstream cruise sail at an average speed of 15-18km/h, while the downstream sail with a speed between 28-30km/h. Since the upstream cruise takes one more day than the downstream cruise does, upstream cruises are usually chosen by those who want a more relaxing cruise, while downstream cruises are better for travelers whose travel time is limited.

2. Night Sailing
For Chonqing Yichang Yangtze River cruise routes, due to the slower speed, upstream cruise ships have to sail at night in order to reach shore excursion sites and scenic attraction in daylight hours, whereas downstream cruise ships usually dock in the evening and never travel at night.

3. Different Itinerary Schedule
Usually, there are quite difference of the itinerary arrangement between the upstream and downstream for the embark/disembark time of the cruise ports.Let’s see the different arrangement for Chongqing Yichang cruise routes at below.

Sailing Route Embarkation Arrangement Disembarkation Arrangement
Upstream (Yichang->Chongqing) 16:00-21:00 Gather at Yichang East Railway Station or Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal. Take the arranged bus for embarkation at Maoping Port. 09:00 disembark at Chongqing Port
Downstream (Chongqing->Yichang) 18:00-21:00 Embark at Chongqing Port For Only Three Gorges Dam Visiting:
08:00-12:30 Disembark at Maoping Pot. Visit Three Gorges Dam and take and arranged bus to Yichang Three Gorges Cruise Terminal for departure.
For Three Gorges Dam + Ship Lift:
08:00-13:30 Disembark at Maoping Port. Visit Three Gorges Dam Ship Lift by a sightseeing boat and visit Three Gorges Dam. Take and arranged bus to Yichang Three Gorges Cruise Terminal for departure.

Meanwhile, with some main shore excursion sites, the visit time varies differently. The Three Gorges Dam Site, for instance. Some Yangtze River cruises arrange it in the morning and some in the afternoon during the upstream cruises. However, all cruise companies arrange it in the morning during downstream cruises.

4. Price of Cruise
The price of upstream cruises may be lower than that of downstream cruises for some cruise companies. You can contact us for a quotation about your ideal cruise.

Popular Ships for both Upstream & Downstream Cruises

Want to enjoy the classic Chongqing Yichang Yangtze River cruise by a top chosen ship? There are altogether 25 outstanding cruise vessels, and we here give the top best ships with great equipment, facilities, services, and prices. Check them at below!

Top Recommended Yangtze River Ships

Still feel trouble? Check How to Choose Your Best Yangtze Ship to get inspired now!



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Not easy to find the right cruise ship/itinerary for you? Please contact one of our Yangtze cruise specialists to save your time and money. Click the right button to send an online inquiry and we will get back to you within 0.5~23.5 hours.

Your can rely on our expert knowledge and endless enthusiasm!

Questions & Discussions

Following are latest questions and answers from our webusers and customers. You can learn many useful information from the discussion and cases. You can also join in the discussions or ask your own question. Our experts will help you ASAP.

Does cruising upstream or downstream make a difference for someone sensitive to sea sickness? Is one direction smoother over the other direction?
2018-02-16 18:54
Dear Ellen,

Thank you for the question. The upstream and downstream make no difference about the smoothness of the cruising. You could freely choose the sailing direction from Chongqing to Yichang or from Yichang to Chongqing. As the cruise ships sailing on the Yangtze River are well designed and built to maintain a stable cruising, seasickness happens less on the inner river cruise than a large ocean cruise on the sea. Moreover, if you are sensitive and worry about the sea sickness, you could choose a cabin on a lower deck, like the 2nd or 3rd floor to enjoy a smoother cruising.

Have a wonderful trip of the Yangtze River cruise!

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