You could spend a lifetime in China and not fully understand this complex country. But if you haven’t a lifetime to spare, a few days on a cruise might be an acceptable compromise.
The world’s most populous nation has plenty to tempt cruisers, from its much-loved cuisine to its rich culture and traditions. For westerners, the local language may make this a challenging destination, but if you’re up for the challenge, the rewards can be huge.
As with many cruise holidays, conducting a little research before you sail will pay dividends.
At the risk of stating the obvious, it makes sense to read about China and the Chinese way of life, as well as to educate yourself about the individual cities you will be visiting.
Peel away the layers
Remember you are peering into more than 2,000 years of highly evolved civilisation. That means there are many layers to peel away before you can begin to grasp what makes this amazing country and its citizens tick.
And here’s something else to bear in mind.
As one of the world’s largest countries by land area, China has a lot more to offer the tourist than its coastal cities. For that reason it may be an idea to build extra time into your schedule to allow you to do some serious inland exploring.
Several cruises currently give you access to the country, so it’s worth checking out the competing itineraries before making a decision. In particular, you’ll find a number of tempting options that start from these cities:
• Hong Kong – 17 cruises
• Shanghai – 5
• Tainjin – 4
In addition, there are six specific China cruises that are worthy of closer inspection.
To give you an idea of what you can expect as a cruiser to this historic land, here are two packages you might want to consider for your shortlist.
China with Rockstar service
This China cruise on Legend of the Seas can be yours for a mere £1,826 per person. Among other things it comes with Rockstar service and the added bonus of an onboard spend of 100 USD per cabin.
Your departure point is Hong Kong – one of the world’s top financial centres – which you leave on 23 October 2012. From there you sail to the romantic city of Xiamen to get a second taste of China, before heading south to Manila and Boracay in the Philippines.
After that you go left a bit and down a bit – south west to be technical – till you reach Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia on 29 October.
More time to explore
If you’re looking to spend a little longer in China, then there’s this 14-night Celebrity Millennium cruise. Because it starts and finishes in China, you have the option of extending your stay in the country at both ends of the cruise.
Once again your holiday kicks off in Hong Kong which you leave on 12 April 2013. After a day at sea, you reach Keelung in Taiwan and two days later you’ll sail into Nagasaki in Japan.
This is followed by two port stops in south Korea – first Pusan and then Cheju Island – after which you spend another day at sea heading back to China.
Your next port of call is the northern Chinese city of Tianjin which is something of a boom town having seen great economic growth in recent years. And finally, after a further two days afloat, you set foot in what many people call the Paris of the East, namely Shanghai.
Your starting price to be part of this whole experience is £2,513 per person.
To me it would be unthinkable to spend a whole lifetime without paying a visit to the land that is home to nearly one fifth of the human race.
Setting foot in China is truly a landmark experience. For many westerners it can feel like you’ve travelled to another planet, but without all the hassle of having to dodge asteroids and wash your hair in zero gravity.
But while an alien planet might lack life and character, China is very much the opposite. It offers a vibrant and stimulating society, ablaze with colour and full of atmosphere.
Whatever cruise you decide to book, you can be sure China will give you a wealth of memorable experiences, plus plenty to talk about on your return.
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