The good, the bad and the ugly of going on a Yangtes cruise in China
I never thought I would ever be going on a cruise, but as a Yangtse cruise was a fixed part of my recent trip to China I decided to give it a try. Afterall, it was a river cruise, so the dimensions of the ship were comparibly smaller than of those out in the Ocean. I enjoyed having a bit of a break from the hectic itinerary our trip had had so far, just sitting on our balcony (you have to have your own balcony if you want to enjoy a cruise) and reading a good book.
Still, the experience brought up very mixed feelings inside me and while I knew I would miss the calm moments as I just described above the cruise had other sides to as well.
The good thing about going on a Yangtse cruise is that you see a part of China which is otherwise hardly accessible. Driving through the three gorges was marvelous and we saw a lot. One could either stay on the big ship or do different excursions to explore some areas further.
The bad thing about the different trips were that not only most of the people of our ship were going to a specifi site at a specific time, but there were always at least three other cruise ships somehow following EXACTLY the same itinerary, so the seeing some sites was at least as annoying as the meal times on the ship. The latter were just insane sometimes with everyone running at the Buffet at the same time pushing and pulling to get everything first.
The ugliest thing of all, however, was the lack of sustainability of the whole enterprise. Cruises, as I anticipated, are an environmental disaster. I could not imagine the amount of waste water going directly into the river. One of the other participants of our trip swore she saw the sewage going directly into the Yangtse at some points of the day. Not to mention the amount of rubbish which must have accumulated over the period of three days (four nights) we spent on the ship. Economically, the lack of local spilling as all meals were served on the ship were far from sustainable for th local communities, let alone the cultural exploition of some “native tribes” which put on a not very authentic show for the tourists on one of the excursions.
All in all, while I do not regret having done a cruise once in my life, I don´t think I will repeat it anytime soon and would not recommend it to anybody who is conscious about sustainability issues before clearing the frame arrangements of waste, sewage, and possibility to let locals of the places one visits get something out of the whole deal as well. I imagine, there are possibilities to go on similar trips with smaller boats with a more sustainable outlook than this, whereas I am sure, it could also have been worse.
Has any of you ever been on a cruise and if so, what were your experiences? How did you feel about the points mentioned above?