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September 26, 2009

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Current news -- creek cruises

THE first scenic cruise route on Suzhou Creek began trial trips yesterday in preparation for the real thing just in time for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

Three small boats with seating capacity for 10 and two vessels capable of carrying 24 passengers are in use during the trials.

The 10-kilometer route begins at the Shanghai Marina Club on Guangfu Road W. and ends at Moganshan Road, a site renowned for art and creative galleries. A one-way trip takes about one hour.

The trial will run two return journeys every day and last for 11 days. There will be three night cruises on September 28 and October 3 and 4.

"The view will be more spectacular with the lights on at night," said Liang Liqun, an official in Putuo District who is in charge of the cruise route.

The trial is not open to the public.

"We have invited experts, governors, scholars and residents to experience the free trips and offer suggestions on any possible improvements in service," Liang said.

The route will be officially opened to the public next April, according to Liang.

Passengers will be able to enjoy vastly different views along both sides of Suzhou Creek, including the Match Box and Coinage museums, a 100-year-old flour mill, historic buildings of the East China University of Political Science and Law and workshops and art galleries renovated from old factories.

The public route will begin from Changfeng No.4 Greenland Docks on Guangfu Road W. and will be 2 kilometers longer than the trial trip.

Seven new docks would be built along the creek to allow passengers on and off and more than 10 boats would be in use by then, Liang said.

"We are planning to extend our route to Waibaidu Bridge on the Bund in the future," he said.

"Different prices will be set according to the route," said Lin Yong, president of the Senyin Development Co, which jointly operates the route with the Putuo District government.

Tourists will learn the history of scenic spots from guides on the cruise ships, in both Chinese and English.

However, there has already been a complaint. It is easy for passengers to get wet on the open-air cruises due to splashing from passing boats.

"I think they should provide a raincoat or some waterproof equipment," said resident Samantha Liu, a woman who got drenched on one of the cruises yesterday.

By the way, I got wet too.


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