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CHINA


FAR LEFT: Yangtze River ABOVE: Celestial Suite, Yangzi Explorer LEFT: Sampan on Shennong Stream


four speciality suites), all of which were refurbished earlier this year to reflect either contemporary Chinese design or more colonial styles. Those who have sailed on European rivers will be impressed by the size of the cabins and suites. But it was the spa that took me most by surprise – it’s enormous. Most river vessels barely have a treatment room to speak of, but the Yangzi Explorer boasts a fully dedicated wellness area with six treatment rooms and an extensive treatment list. The wellness offering continues on the top deck where daily tai chi lessons are held as the sun rises. The classes are short


– usually only about 15 minutes – but it’s a relaxing way to start the day, particularly given the hazy, and almost dewy, looking skies surrounding you. The impressive wellness programme is complemented by a series of onboard activities that teach guests about Chinese culture. My favourites were the cookery and calligraphy lessons, but other options include tea ceremonies and classes in Chinese medicine. Surprisingly, the ship is well equipped


for children and families – often a rarer sight on river ships than even a shooting star. In July and August each year, staff


organise kite-making sessions, mask painting, origami classes, scavenger hunts and pyjama parties for young travellers. The one downside is that the children’s play area is located directly above some of the spa treatment rooms and it can be a little noisy when you’re trying to zen out. When it comes to scenic cruising


favourites, the Yangtze is high on the list. The views of the mountainous areas between Yinchang and Chongqing are unbelievable and truly impressive. I could happily have sat on deck all day listening to staff explaining the history of the magnificent vistas. Their passion for


aspire september 2017 — 63


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