Traveling by cruise ship is not always our favorite way to explore new places. Nothing against the food, flair, and fun onboard, it's just that when it comes to seeing things on shore, the time and options are often limited.
That was certainly not the case with our recent stop in Shanghai. Not only did our ship, Holland America's ms Volendam, stay for two full days, but we docked in an absolutely unbelievable location. The incredible new Shanghai International Cruise Terminal could not be more in the center of everything happening in this legendary city.
The view of Shanghai from the deck of the ms Volendam
Our berth on The Huangpu River was directly across from the Pudong district, which is home to the iconic Pearl of The Orient Tower as well as a couple of the world's tallest buildings. These have all sprung up in the past twenty years or so and another, The Shanghai Tower, is set to become the second highest building on the planet. When completed next year the tower will be one of only four man-made structures to stand over two thousand feet high.
On our side of the river, we were a five minute walk from The Bund, which has become the chosen spot for locals and tourists alike to congregate along the riverside. Originally a British settlement, The Bund became the economic center of Shanghai as the city grew from the nineteenth into the twentieth century. Banks, trading houses and consulates lined the streets, giving the area a distinctly European feel. After the 1949 revolution much of this activity stopped, but in the last few years the buildings have returned to their previous glory and now house luxury hotels and several of China's biggest banks.
The Bund from the Volendam at night
While we were most appreciative of our incredible docking position, we also had been pretty lucky. With 1,400 passengers and at about 70,000 tons, The ms Volendam is one of the largest ships able to make it up The Huangpu to this spot, and that's only if she comes in and out at low tide. We made it under the forty-eight meter high Yangpu Bridge with only about two meters to spare. It looked for all the world like the stack was going to clip the underside of the span as we headed back out to sea!
The Yangpu Bridge is quite a marvel at over five miles long, but the clearance serves as a blockade to many of today's massive cruise ships. All larger vessels must use the port at the Wusong International Cruise Ship Terminal, about twenty miles out of town on The Yangtze River, since there is no way that they can get under the bridge.
Downtown Shanghai from the Volendam at night
Having our ship right in the heart of Shanghai made it so much more convenient to explore the city sometimes called "Paris of the East," especially at night. It was like staying in a downtown hotel where we could come and go at our leisure.
On an evening stroll along The Bund, with the neon skyscrapers on one side of the river and the classic architecture on the other, we were completely captivated by the city.
You might even say we'd been Shanghaied.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
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