Meet Teddy and George on Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer
The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer has introduced a new standard of cruising for the discerning traveller looking for China tours. With the largest cabins and the highest crew to passenger ratio on the river, this is a cruise unlike any other. Life aboard the spacious Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer is tranquil and unhurried. And with only 62 cabins, and fewer passengers than other boats, the journey is more relaxed.
We spoke to Hotel Manager Teddy Garcia and Cruise Director George Salamon about their insights on luxury cruising on China's Yangtze River - the longest river in Asia and the third-longest in the world.
What is your favourite season on the Yangtze River?
This has to be spring (April-May) as the Yangtze's waters are a beautiful shade of green and we have the cherry blossom too. Autumn (September-October) is also a popular season as the weather is again cool and comfortable. However, winter sailings (March and November) can be a good alternative to consider because the Three Gorges are more breath-taking at this time due to lower water levels, plus we offer lower rates during the winter.
Cherry blossom on Yangtze River
How is the river changing over the years?
It's not so much the river that's changing but the villages and towns along the river banks that are rapidly developing and becoming more modern, along with the rest of China. A Yangtze River cruise gives a great insight into how the country is evolving and the expert guides on board are there to give you an insider's perspective on the People's Republic.
What is your favourite excursion on the cruise?
This is the optional excursion to Shibaozhai red pagoda, an incredible 400 year old structure made completely from wood. We also have a wonderful walking tour through the village of Shibaozhai where we learn about local life and culture before crossing a suspension bridge to reach the pagoda.
Shibaozhai red pagoda
The Tribe of the Three Gorges is also a great optional excursion because of its beauty. Here you can see junk-boats, brooks and waterfalls, playful monkeys and more. There is also a unique virgin forest that gives a taste of nature and the great outdoors.
Tribe of the Three Gorges
What is there to do for families on the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer?
We welcome children of all ages on the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer. In addition to the cruise and the sightseeing excursions along the way, there are also special kids' activities that take place regularly which are supervised and organised by the ship's crew. These include Chinese opera mask painting, kite making and Mandarin lessons for beginners and much more. Amenities on the ship include baby cots, high chairs, children's movies, books and board games.
Kids' activities on board
What's your favourite festival of the year?
For a Chinese festival it has to be Chinese New Year, otherwise known as the Spring Festival. Family members travel from far and wide to get together to celebrate in their home towns and villages. Over the course of the week, they then visit their friends and other relatives as well. It is just a joyous time of the year.
Chinese New Year
What is your most memorable sailing?
This definitely has to be when I (Teddy) was just ready to sail out from one of our main ports of call, and I received news that my baby grandson was just born, just a couple of days before my own birthday, so it was a really memorable, celebratory sailing!
What makes the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer better than competitor's cruise ships?
The fact that there are just 62 cabins on board and this gives the members of the crew ample time to get to know the passengers and their needs quite well, which is also very good for the passengers and the service they receive, one of the most luxuriously pampered type of service they could ever imagine. We also have the most spacious cabins and suite on the Yangtze River and all with a private balcony.
What Chinese delicacy would you recommend our guests try?
There is a particularly appetising barbequed pork bun that is normally served at breakfast - definitely recommended. Guests should also try 'Re Gan Mian' (or dried noodles), a specialty from Hubei Province. Plus pork dumplings (or Jiaozi), Peking duck, Sichuan Hot-Pot…and much more!
What other sights do you recommend guests visit on their China tour?
The flaming mountains of Dunhuang, and the special market in Kashgar, also known in China as Kashi (Xinjiang Autonomous Region). Of course there is Beijing's Great Wall! Apart from its unique wonder, very close to that site are venues that offer various experiences, such as: horse-riding, canoe-boating where you could go fishing or even arrange a typical local meal whilst on board.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
This particular job gives me the satisfaction of being able to perform my duties to my own personal high standard and have it reflected in the way our guests interact with me, enjoy my company and later I check they had a great stay with us by checking the comments on the client questionnaires.
Hotel Manager Teddy Garcia (far right) with Captain Li Jun Ping (centre) with VIP guests