On the Yangtze RiverSAFETY in the skies has been at the forefront of the media in recent months, but the cruising sector has also been painted with the same brush following the tragic capsizing of the Eastern Star on China’s Yangtze River last month.

More than 440 people were killed when the passenger ferry capsized in poor weather early last month, with only 14 people rescued from the disaster. Investigations are now underway to determine how such a tragedy could occur on such a frequented river while more than half a dozen other vessels sailed without consequence.

Investigations will continue in the months ahead, but now begins the aftermath which will no doubt involve queries from concerned travellers as to the safety of the Yangtze’s waterways.

A number of travel companies issued statements in the days following the tragedy to stress that safety standards remain at the forefront of operations. Victoria Cruises – which operates charters for Avalon, Uniworld and Wendy Wu Tours on the Yangtze – insisted that it adheres to strict safety guidelines that comply with “Western standards”.

While no ships in the Victoria Cruises fleet were affected by the weather events, the company conceded that the tragedy “underscores the need for higher safety and inspection standards”. The cruise line also encouraged travellers to book China travel through “reputable” tour operators who ensure passenger safety and satisfaction.

Wendy Wu Tours was quick to issue a response in the wake of the disaster, stressing that the company only operates charters with companies that adhere to “vigorous safety checks”. APT also insisted that there was no need for travellers to re-consider plans to travel on the Yangtze.

“APT and Travelmarvel would like to reassure clients that its Yangtze river cruises are safe,” the company told travelBulletin, again stressing that it only deals with companies that conform to the “highest standards”. Further details are sure to emerge as the investigation continues, but Australian operators are insisting that it’s business as usual for now.

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