Yangtze River cruises are a good way to see not only the Yangtze River, but also a significant portion of China, including some of its famous attractions, like The Ghost City of Fengdu, and cities, like Shanghai, which is where the delta of the river is located. This much was made clear in our recent overview of Yangtze River cruises. One aspect of these river cruises that we didn’t cover in this article, however, was how to book a Yangtze River cruise. As a result, we have laid out exactly how to book a Yangtze River cruise below. It is a lot like booking a regular cruise vacation, but not in every respect.
A lot of people will book a cruise in one of two ways. If they have a relationship with a particular cruise line, then they will likely contact that cruise line either because they simply like their services, or perhaps because they will offer them the best deal (because of a frequent cruising rewards program, for instance). Many other people will visit major cruise deal websites – like CruiseDeals.com or Expedia.com – to try to find a good deal. Using one of these third-party sites is often the easiest way to find the cheapest cruises out there.
However, when it comes to Yangtze River cruises, you might run into problems taking either approach. As far as booking through your favorite cruise line is concerned, there is a good chance that whatever your cruise line preference, it won’t offer cruises on the Yangtze River. This is because the cruise lines that offer cruises on the river – like Century Cruises and Victoria Cruises – for the most part only offer Yangtze River cruises, and the major cruise lines of the world – like Carnival and Royal Caribbean International – do not. (This is true at least in part because the ships in these cruise lines’ fleets are far larger than the ships used to cruise the Yangtze River.) So, unless your favorite cruise line just so happens to be one of the relatively small ship operators on the Yangtze River, you won’t be able to book through your favorite cruise line.
The problem with booking through the major cruise deal sites is that they simply don’t list many Yangtze River cruises. Some (but not many) ships as part of a larger itinerary will cruise a part of the river, but, again, you won’t find many river cruises that focus only on the Yangtze. The cruise deal sites are great for finding good deals for cruises to more popular destinations (Alaska, the Caribbean, and so on), but they can give you trouble when you are looking for very precise cruises that largely escape the attention of the typical cruise vacationer.
Basically, all we have said so far can be summed up like this: Yangtze River cruises are a small niche in the cruise industry, so the large websites and cruise lines that are part of this industry are not the best for finding cruise on the Yangtze River. So, what can you do? First, you can book cruises through the smaller cruise lines that operate ships on the Yangtze. We listed two of these companies above – Century Cruises and Victoria Cruises – but there are other lines out there, like President Cruises. These cruise lines have their own websites, so these are good places to start if you want to book through one of these lines. However, by far the most helpful site we found on Yangtze River cruises was operated by the fittingly named Yangtze River Cruises. This site lists numerous cruises that leave every single day, and it also provides an enormous amount of information about Yangtze River cruises. You book directly through this company, which guarantees the lowest prices for cruises on the Yangtze. Yangtze River Cruises is actually a lot like the major cruise deal sites – the only difference is that the former focuses entirely on cruises that take place on this specific river.
As you can see, booking a Yangtze River cruise is a little different than booking any other cruise vacation, but only in that you can’t rely on the standard companies with whom you are used to working. You can book through cruise lines, but just not the cruise lines you are used to, and you can book through deal sites, but not the ones you’re accustomed to using. You have to largely work within the Yangtze River cruise industry, which is different, but necessarily any more difficult.