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Historical China, Tibet + the Yangtze

16 days

Never more than 16 guests OR Travel Privately

Overall Rating
based on 95 Reviews

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Our Distinctive A+R Style

  • Situated a bit farther from the capital, the Great Wall at Mutianyu draws fewer visitors; and with its many defensive towers and splendid mountain setting, it offers a more rewarding experience.
  • Enjoy a private Tai Chi class on the lovely grounds of the Temple of Heaven.
  • Spend time with a Thangka painter and join an ancient rite of walking and prayer – genuine experiences of Tibet’s culture and deeply spiritual heritage.
  • Our unique Panda Encounter takes you behind the scenes for up-close engagement and to feed these  extraordinary creatures.
  • Touch Antiquity with a curator of the Xian Museum as you examine and handle priceless ancient artifacts.
  • Our private talk with a local archaeologist enhances your discovery of the Terra Cotta Warriors.
  • With 11 nights in our luxury hotels; 4 nights in an outside balcony stateroom aboard China’s finest river ship; 38 meals with wine at lunch and dinner; all sightseeing and shore excursions; all transfers; all 3 internal flights; port charges; and all gratuities except for your Trip Leader.
 

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Day
1

You’ll be warmly greeted at the airport and escorted to our luxury hotel in the heart of the capital. The rest of this day is yours to relax and enjoy as you wish.

Day
2

Your expertly guided, full-day exploration begins in Tiananmen Square. Covering more than 100 acres in the heart of the city with a scale reminiscent of Moscow’s Red Square or the Piazza San Marco in Venice, it ranks as one of the grandest public plazas in the world. Then follow in the footsteps of Ming Dynasty emperors as you explore the magnificent palaces, courtyards and pavilions of the sprawling Forbidden City c. It is said that there are 9,999 rooms within these imposing walls and although you won’t see everyone, your guided tour offers a fascinating look into the splendor of Imperial life centuries ago.
 
Then explore by rickshaw through the narrow lanes of a Hutong, one of the city's few remaining enclaves of traditional, centuries-old courtyard homes. After lunch, you'll tour the resplendent Summer Palace c. Set on wooded hills surrounding a tranquil lake, this assemblage of pavilions, palaces and gardens offers a fascinating look into Imperial life long ago. From April to November, our tour of the Summer Palace includes a boat ride on Lake Kunming, a delightful and tranquil way to experience the architectural landmarks and sublime natural beauty of this World Heritage Site. Tonight’s festive Peking Duck banquet is accompanied by wine and local beer.  Meals B+L+D

The Great Wall c stretches for nearly 4,000 miles across northern China - its oldest sections dating back more than 2,000 years when various states and dynasties first began to build these defensive walls. A few centuries after these earliest sections were constructed, Emperor Qin Shihuang consolidated them into a single, massive fortification to guard his empire against Hun invaders from the north. Succeeding emperors maintained, reconstructed and built anew, and much of what is seen today is the result of work that was done during the Ming Dynasty. As a result the wall is not uniform throughout its length; situated farther from the capital than other parts of the Great Wall, the section at Mutianyu draws fewer visitors and is celebrated for its many defensive towers and splendid setting amidst the rugged mountains. Ascending by cable car, you'll walk atop the Great Wall here at Mutianyu as our expert guide shares dramatic stories of its past. For lunch today, we'll take you to the famous Brickyard Restaurant, conveniently located nearby. Back in the city, the rest of your afternoon and evening is free to enjoy and dine as you wish.  Meals B+L
 

Day
4

Fly to Yichang + Embark your Yangtze Cruise

MS Yangzi Explorer

This morning, you’ll enjoy a guided tour of the Temple of Heaven c; it’s a resplendent example of Ming Dynasty design and engineering that also offers fascinating insight into ancient Chinese beliefs in numerology and cosmology. The temple’s tranquil grounds are the perfect place for our specially arranged private class with a Tai Chi Master.

After sightseeing, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight to the river city of Yichang. On arrival, you’ll be escorted to the pier to board the Yangzi Explorer, China’s finest river ship. You’ll have time to settle in to your balcony stateroom and refresh before dinner is served in the Explorer’s elegant restaurant. Choose from a tempting array of international and regional Chinese dishes, accompanied by free-flowing wine.  This evening, the 7 Wonders of China documentary will be screened in the Tang Theater. Meals B+L+D

Day
5

The Immense Three Gorges Dam

MS Yangzi Explorer

This morning’s optional Tribes of the Three Gorges excursion has been specially prepaid for A+R guests. Taking you into one of the most scenic areas of Xiling Gorge, you’ll be introduced to some of the region’s indigenous peoples. Through their food, dress and a lively folk performance, you’ll learn about the history and culture of the Tujia, Ba and Chu ethnic groups.
 
After lunch onboard, visit the immense Three Gorges Dam where you’ll learn about its far reaching impact on the geography, archaeological sites, industries, and residents of the region. By special arrangement, A+R guests will get an up-close look at the Three Gorges Ship Lift. Like a giant elevator, this engineering marvel - built in cooperation with BMW - is capable of raising and lowering ships and freighters weighing up to 30,000 tons. It’s the largest ship elevator in the world and turns the 3 to 4-hour passage through the multi-step locks into an 8 minute ride!
 
Back onboard, the Yangzi Explorer will navigate through Xiling Gorge, the longest of the river’s Three Gorges. Then as the river widens and sweeps through groves of orange and pomelo trees, you’ll experience the tranquil side of life along China’s mightiest river. Tonight’s Captain’s Welcome Reception is followed by dinner and then entertainment in the Tang Theater. Meals B+L+D

Day
6

Up Shennong Stream + Through the Yangtze Gorges

MS Yangzi Explorer

Step off ship this morning for an unforgettable journey up Shennong Stream. You’ll explore this spectacular region in traditional sampan boats poled by Tujia boatmen. The landscapes here are unrivalled, encompassing rushing waters, dense forests and towering rock formations. As you venture upstream, you’ll espy coffins stowed high within the limestone cliffs that tower above you – a legacy of the region’s earliest inhabitants. Before returning to ship, you’ll visit a nearby village to experience life in a rural community.
 
After lunch onboard the Yangzi Explorer navigates Wu Gorge, renowned for its massive cliffs rising sharply from the river. Later, our ship cruises through spectacular Qutang Gorge, the narrowest of the river’s Three Gorges. If you wish to join this afternoon’s optional excursion to the White Emperor City, it has been specially pre-paid for A+R guests. Set on the top of Baidi Mountain overlooking Qutang Gorge, you’ll discover a fine ensemble of Ming Dynasty halls including the lovely Observing Stars Pavilion where Zhuge Liang, a great military strategist of the Three Kingdoms Period, would come to observe the night sky and make weather forecasts that helped him plan his victorious battles.  Meals B+L+D

Day
7

Ashore in Fuling

MS Yangzi Explorer

A delightful morning onboard our 5-star ship is yours to do as you wish. You might learn about China’s thriving pearl industry or attend a workshop on traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy. After lunch, you can tailor your touring with the included excursion of your choice:

The 816 Underground Project: This unique tour takes you underground into a vast cavern that was built by more than 60,000 laborers as part of a top-secret military project. Initiated in the 1960’s and designed to house China’s first nuclear reactor, construction was halted after 17 years before the project’s completion. The tunnels and cavern remained a closely guarded secret for nearly 50 years until the Government revealed its presence in 2002.

The White Crane Ridge Underwater Museum: Venture close to 150 feet under water to see what lies beneath the surface of the Yangtze River. You’ll discover ancient rock carvings from the Tang Dynasty that were permanently submerged after the construction of the Dam and also learn about the Yangtze’s flora and fauna.

Note: Today’s morning at leisure and your choice of an included afternoon excursion applies to cruises from May to September. Guests on our other sailings will visit the 816 Underground Project in the morning and the White Crane Ridge Underwater Museum in the afternoon.  Meals B+L+D

Day
8

Disembark in Chongqing + Fly to Lhasa, Tibet

Shangri-La - Lhasa, Tibet

Enjoy a final buffet breakfast onboard before disembarking the Yangzi Explorer in Chongqing. You’ll be escorted to the airport for your included flight to Tibet. After arriving in Lhasa, you’ll spend some time with a family in their home, a wonderful introduction to the life, traditions and warmth of the Tibetan people. Then check in to our 5-star hotel where you’ll have time to refresh before dinner.  Meals B+D

Day
9

Tibetan History + Culture

Shangri-La - Lhasa, Tibet

Your guided tour of this fascinating city begins after breakfast at Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas. Built in the 18th century, this expansive palace complex encompasses tranquil wooded areas, landscaped garden grounds and lovely pavilions. You’ll also visit Jokhang Temple. Originally founded in the 7th century, this 4-story timber structure topped with gold remains an important pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists. Nearby, you’ll have a chance to explore Barkhor Street with its lively and colorful markets. Then spend some time with a master Tangka painter in his studio, learning about the history and techniques of this unique and spiritual art form.  Meals B+L+D

Day
10

Experience Kora + Tour the Potala Palace

Shangri-La - Lhasa, Tibet

This morning, you’ll join local residents as they perform Kora. Observing and even participating in this ancient Buddhist rite of walking and prayer will give you an authentic experience of Tibet’s enduring spiritual traditions. Then tour the magnificent Potala Palace c. Built on a mountain ridge in the heart of the Lhasa Valley, this was the winter palace of the Dalai Lama for more than 1,000 years. Continue with a visit to the Sera Monastery, founded in the 15th century at the foot of Tatipu Hill. This evening’s dinner features traditional Tibetan cuisine.  Meals B+L+D

We’ll take you to the airport this morning for your included flight to Chengdu where you’ll be escorted to the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel. Later this afternoon, join your guide to experience a bit of the city – starting with a stroll in People’s Park where you can join residents to refresh with a cup of tea. In the Kuanzhai Xiangzi district, you’ll discover evocative pedestrian-only alleyways where old stone and brick buildings and traditional courtyards have been given new life as cafes, restaurants and shops. This evening’s Hotpot Dinner, a regional specialty of Chengdu and Sichuan Province.  Meals B+D

Day
12

Our Exclusive Panda Encounter + Rail to Xian

Hilton Hotel - Xian, China

After breakfast, we’ll take you to the Dujiangyan Panda Center for our special Panda Encounter. Taking you behind the scenes, this unforgettable experience offers a rare and unique opportunity to learn about Giant Pandas as you join the Center’s staff to participate in their care and feeding. You’re sure to get close to these amazing creatures – figuratively and literally – as you help to clean their enclosures and prepare their food. Educational sessions and time to explore the grounds of the Panda Center complete this morning’s Panda Encounter.
 
After lunch, you’ll be escorted to the station to board the ultra-modern high-speed train. Sit back and enjoy comfortable Business Class seats for the journey to Xian, China’s ancient capital for 13 dynasties. On arrival, you’ll be escorted to our deluxe hotel where your Executive Room will give you access to the lounge for meals and coctails.  Meals B+L+D

Day
13

Discover the Terra Cotta Army c

Hilton Hotel - Xian, China

Farmers stumbled upon the site while digging a well in 1974; today the Terra Cotta Army c is still regarded as China’s greatest archaeological discovery. Set out this morning to visit the excavation site and marvel at the exquisite details of this clay army -  buried 2,000 years ago to guard the tomb of China’s first emperor. It has been estimated that more than half a million laborers and craftsmen worked for nearly 40 years to complete the tomb - and the thousands of terra cotta soldiers, horses and chariots that were to serve the Emperor in the afterlife. Enhancing your visit, a local archaeologist will join our group to share their unique insights and perspective.  Meals B+L

Day
14

Touch Antiquity + Fly to Shanghai

Fairmont Peace Hotel - Shanghai, China

After breakfast, a specially arranged experience awaits you at the Xian Museum. China’s history, of course, stretches back for thousands of years and excavated relics now offer extraordinary insight into the culture, beliefs and daily lives of China’s ancient civilizations. This morning, you’ll join museum curators to literally Touch Antiquity – donning white gloves to hold and examine some of these ancient artifacts as these experts illuminate their historic significance and explain what they can teach us about ancient China.
 
After lunch, transfer to the airport for your included flight to Shanghai where you’ll be escorted to the Fairmont Peace Hotel, a luxury landmark in the heart of the city. Begin your exploration with a guided stroll along the historic waterfront Bund, still graced with architectural landmarks built by European and Japanese mercantile companies after the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing opened the city to international trade.   Meals B+L
 

After breakfast, your guided city tour begins in Yu Yuan Garden, originally established in 1577 by a government officer as a tranquil retreat for his aging parents. Hailed as a spectacular example of classical Chinese landscape design during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, you’ll discover a sublime ensemble of plantings, lotus ponds, winding paths, pavilions and bridges. Browse in the bustling Old City Bazaar and then sit down to lunch at Casanova, one of the city’s most stylish restaurants. In the afternoon, your sightseeing continues at the highly regarded Shanghai Museum; home to a vast collection of artifacts spanning millennia of Chinese culture, history and civilization, you’ll find ancient bronzes, beautiful celadon pottery, precious jade, and exquisite Ming Dynasty furniture. This evening, gather with your fellow travelers for a congenial farewell dinner.  Meals B+L+D

Day
16

Farewell to Shanghai

After breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your homeward journey.  Meals B

Extend Your Trip

Hong Kong Insider Extension from Shanghai

4-Day Small Group Extension from $1,399

This affordable easy-to-add Tour Extension includes your flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong, 3 nights at our stylish city-center hotel, daily breakfast, lunch, and our unique Be a Hong Kong Insider full-day tour.

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Day
1

From Shanghai to Hong Kong

On arrival in Hong Kong, you’ll be warmly greeted and chauffeured into the heart of this vibrant and cosmopolitan city. Complimentary water and a refreshing towelette will be provided as your personal guide introduces you to their native city and answers any questions you might have. Upon reaching the city center, you’ll check in to your choice of hotel.

Day
2

Be a Hong Kong Insider

This morning your private guide, a savvy city resident, will be waiting to show you the highlights and hidden facets of their hometown. Your exploration begins as you board the iconic Star Ferry! Cross Victoria Harbor and take in the impressive city skyline as your in-the-know guide shares information and insight. Step off on Hong Kong Island for a walking tour through Central, the city’s bustling business and financial center. Marvel at striking architectural landmarks like I.M. Pei’s China Bank Tower and learn how ancient Feng Shui principles still guide Hong Kong’s urban planners and architects.
 
Hop aboard one of the city’s double-decker trams, an essential part of island life for more than a century, and then explore by foot in Sheung Wan where you’ll see traditional herbal markets and learn about Chinese medicine. Continue along world-famous Hollywood where generations-old shop houses have been transformed into some of the city’s trendiest cafes, galleries and boutiques. Visit Man Mo Temple, one of the oldest in Hong Kong, and then sit down to a traditional Dim Sum lunch in one of your guide’s favorite restaurants. Delve into layers of architectural and cultural history at the unique PMQ Complex, and then join city residents along Graham Street. For nearly 200 years, this is where locals have come to buy their daily staples – everything from fruits and vegetables to preserved tofu, duck eggs and condiments. At one of the many markets, you’ll pause to refresh with a glass of freshly-pressed sugar cane juice. End your sightseeing on a high note as you ride the Peak Tram to the top of Victoria Peak – where you’ll have breathtaking views of the city skyline, Victoria Harbor and distant vistas of green hills and offshore islands. After sightseeing, you’ll be escorted back to your hotel where the rest of the afternoon and your evening are at leisure to enjoy as you wish.  Meals B+L

Day
3

Another Day in Hong Kong

This entire day is yours to enjoy as you wish. Your hotel’s central location, surrounded by shopping, dining and cultural attractions, makes it easy to explore at your own pace. If you prefer additional guided sightseeing, you can choose from a wide variety of available tours including these:
 
Kowloon Markets: This half-day tour takes you through the back streets of Kowloon to experience facets of daily life glimpsed by few visitors. Venturing through the busy streets of the Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok neighborhoods, you’ll join ordinary citizens and professional florists as they browse and shop in the colorful flower market. Strolling in the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden, you’ll see men and their bird cages – and learn about this popular hobby. Accompanied by our in-the-know guide, you’ll also explore the Goldfish Market and the Ladies’ Market – a great place to shop for fashion and accessories. Finish up at Tin Hua Temple and the Jade Market where hundreds of merchants specialize in jewelry and carvings made from this revered green stone as well as fresh-water pearls.
 
Treasures of Kowloon: Spend a half-day with our expert guide delving into Hong Kong’s cultural heritage. Focusing on some of the principle landmarks and attractions in the Kowloon district, this guided tour includes Wong Tai Sin, a popular temple known for its fortune tellers. You’ll also explore Walled City Park, set on the site of a 19th-century Chinese garrison, and visit the Chi Lin Nunnery, an impressive Buddhist temple built in Tang Dynasty-style.
 
Hong Kong Island Foodie Tour: A must for culinary aficionados, this guided tour takes you down colorful side streets in the Hong Kong Island neighborhoods of Central and Sheung Wan. With our expert guide at your side, you’ll stop at a half-dozen places to sample authentic regional specialties like barbecue pork and wonton noodles. Along the way, you’ll learn how the area grew from a tiny fishing village into an international center for finance and trade. Tour begins and ends in Central on Hong Kong Island and lasts about 3.5 hours.
 
Cheung Chau Island: You’ll be met at your hotel and escorted to the pier to board the ferry to Cheung Chau Island. With no motorized vehicles allowed, Cheung Chau offers a chance to experience traditional village life away from the 21st-century rhythms of Kowloon and the bustling districts on Hong Kong Island. Fishing boats ply the harbor of Cheung Chau and the waterfront promenade is alive with local shops, seafood restaurants and family-run grocery stores. This 6-hour tour includes a tasting of Cheung Chau’s culinary specialties.
 
Curated Arts of Hong Kong: Accompanied by our specialist guide, this exclusive tour takes you to some of the city’s most highly-regarded galleries and artists’ studios where professional staff and gallery managers will offer insightful introductions to their current exhibitions and artists. This tour also visits Duddell’s, an innovative dining venue that brings in rarely-seen contemporary art work – most on special loan from private collections. This 3-hour tour includes roundtrip private transfers from your hotel.
 
Heritage Tour: This unique tour explores the legacy of the five great clans that played such an important role in the early days of Hong Kong - with some of the families, like the Tangs, tracing their arrival in the area to the 12th century. Tucked in amongst the modern apartment towers and busy highways of Kowloon and the New Territories, you’ll discover a virtual living museum where historic sites offer a glimpse into the life and culture of these long-ago, once-powerful families. Among the highlights, you’ll visit the walled village of Shan Ha Wai, tour the Tang-styled Buddhist temple at the Chi Lin Nunnery, and see the stately home built in 1865 by a descendent of the Man clan. A final stop at the Hong Kong Museum of History offers a great wrap-up of the history you’ve explored on this fascinating half-day tour.

Day
4

Depart Hong Kong

Your car and driver will take you to the airport or cruise ship terminal for your onward journey.  Meals B

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More Personal Space
+ Our Extra Care
 

  • Proper physical distancing with two seats to yourself on our large, luxury touring coaches
  • High-touch surfaces on coaches and private vehicles sanitized frequently throughout the day
  • Whisper Headsets when there are 5 or more guests
  • Dine at small, properly distanced tables, avoiding crowded large-capacity restaurants
  • Guides and staff will wear face masks when in close proximity to guests
  • Face coverings and sanitizer always available complimentary for our guests
>> Click Here to read all that we are doing so you can travel with More Space + Extra Care

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DepartureReturnFromAvailabilityDeparture Note
15 April 202130 April 2021$7,299Guaranteed
AccommodationPriceAvailability
Main Deck$7,299Guaranteed
Xiling Deck$7,399Guaranteed
Wu Deck Cabin$7,499Guaranteed
Wu Deck Suite$8,399Guaranteed
Qutang Deck Suite$8,499Guaranteed
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17 June 202102 July 2021$6,999Guaranteed
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Main Deck$6,999Guaranteed
Xiling Deck$7,099Guaranteed
Wu Deck Cabin$7,199Guaranteed
Wu Deck Suite$7,699Guaranteed
Qutang Deck Suite$7,699Guaranteed
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29 July 202113 August 2021$7,299Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,299Guaranteed
Xiling Deck$7,399Guaranteed
Wu Deck Cabin$7,499Guaranteed
Wu Deck Suite$7,999Guaranteed
Qutang Deck Suite$7,999Guaranteed
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12 August 202127 August 2021$7,299Available
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Main Deck$7,299Available
Xiling Deck$7,399Available
Wu Deck Cabin$7,499Available
Wu Deck Suite$7,999Available
Qutang Deck Suite$7,999Available
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02 September 202117 September 2021$7,599Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,599Guaranteed
Xiling Deck$7,699Guaranteed
Wu Deck Cabin$7,799Guaranteed
Wu Deck Suite$8,899Guaranteed
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16 September 202101 October 2021$7,599Sold Out
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30 September 202115 October 2021$7,599Sold Out
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Main Deck$7,599Sold Out
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07 October 202122 October 2021$7,599Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,599Guaranteed
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14 October 202129 October 2021$7,599Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,599Guaranteed
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07 April 202222 April 2022$7,599Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,599Guaranteed
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Wu Deck Cabin$7,799Guaranteed
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21 April 202206 May 2022$7,599Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,599Guaranteed
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12 May 202227 May 2022$7,599Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,599Guaranteed
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16 June 202201 July 2022$6,999Guaranteed
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Main Deck$6,999Guaranteed
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28 July 202212 August 2022$7,299Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,299Guaranteed
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Qutang Deck Suite$7,999Guaranteed
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11 August 202226 August 2022$7,299Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,299Guaranteed
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Qutang Deck Suite$7,999Guaranteed
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01 September 202216 September 2022$7,599Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,599Guaranteed
Xiling Deck$7,699Guaranteed
Wu Deck Cabin$7,799Guaranteed
Wu Deck Suite$8,899Guaranteed
Qutang Deck Suite$8,999Guaranteed
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15 September 202230 September 2022$7,599Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,599Guaranteed
Xiling Deck$7,699Guaranteed
Wu Deck Cabin$7,799Guaranteed
Wu Deck Suite$8,899Guaranteed
Qutang Deck Suite$8,999Guaranteed
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06 October 202221 October 2022$7,599Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,599Guaranteed
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Wu Deck Suite$8,899Guaranteed
Qutang Deck Suite$8,999Guaranteed
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13 October 202228 October 2022$7,599Guaranteed
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Main Deck$7,599Guaranteed
Xiling Deck$7,699Guaranteed
Wu Deck Cabin$7,799Guaranteed
Wu Deck Suite$8,899Guaranteed
Qutang Deck Suite$8,999Guaranteed
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13 April 202328 April 2023$7,599Guaranteed
AccommodationPriceAvailability
Main Deck$7,599Guaranteed
Xiling Deck$7,699Guaranteed
Wu Deck Cabin$7,799Guaranteed
Wu Deck Suite$8,899Guaranteed
Qutang Deck Suite$8,999Guaranteed
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Pay-In-Full

Save $1,000 per couple + $500 solo on all of our Small Group, Small Ship and Private Journeys when you pay-in-full at time of booking.

Family + Friends

Travel is one of  life's most rewarding experiences, perhaps even more so when it's shared with those you love! Combine our limited-time pay-in-full discount with our Family & Friends offers and save even more:
  • Save $50 more per person when 3 guests go
  • Save $100 more per person with 4 people
  • Save $150 more per person with 5 people
  • Save $200 more per person with 6 or more people!

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