Following the addition of White Emperor City as an optional excursion featured in Victoria Cruises’ 2010 Yangtze River brochure, China’s pre-eminent five-star cruise line has announced a second optional shore excursion for those “on the go types” who prefer to do and see as much as they can when on vacation. Starting in March 2010, guests on one of Victoria Cruises’ Yangtze River itineraries can also opt to visit a 12-story red, wooden pagoda at Shibaozhai for $32 per guest.
Dating back to the 18th century, the temple at Shibaozhai (pictured right) is an architectural marvel. Roughly translated as “precious stone fortress,” the temple is believed to have been constructed without the use of a single nail. Its famous red pavilion leans up against an impressive stone cliff for support.
Prior to the completion of the Three Gorges Dam project, the Chinese government erected a wall around the base of the temple to protect it from the rising waters of the Yangtze.
“The temple at Shibaozhai is one of the architectural highlights of the Yangtze River,” said Larry Greenman, manager of public relations and customer service for Victoria Cruises.
“With only one excursion included on our itineraries per day, Shibaozhai was not a regular offering, but now that we have expanded our program with optional shore excursions, we felt this would be a perfect opportunity to introduce travelers to this architectural splendor,” he noted.
In addition to Shibaozhai, Victoria Cruises passengers can also participate in an optional shore excursion to White Emperor City. Overlooking the Western end of Qutang Gorge, White Emperor City has long been a refuge for would-be kings and poets who traveled there to be inspired by the breathtaking views. Legend has it that in 25 A.D., white vapor in the shape of a dragon rose from a well, and Gong Sunshu, a soldier who had been headquartered there, declared himself the “White Emperor.” Remains of the city wall can be seen on the hill behind Baidi Mountain, and a temple built to commemorate Gong’s reign dates back more than 1,950 years.
White Emperor City (pictured right) had been included as a shore excursion in the past but was discontinued because the journey up Baidi Mountain to the historical temple involved climbing many steps. However, the increased water level on the Yangtze resulting from the completion of the Three Gorges Dam has significantly reducing the climb. The optional shore excursion is now available on all Victoria Cruises itineraries for $32 per guest.