New evening cruises offer an entertaining and different perspective of Shanghai. Shi Yingying hops on board.
At Suzhou Creek's Danba Road Pier, the Suzhou Cruise No 1 cuts a delightful figure. The small boat's sleek lines contrast with the bulk of the much larger ships plying the waterway. Even before Emily Zhang and her family board the vessel, it has already won them over.
"Now we will have something fun to do on the weekends when relatives and friends come to town to visit," says the 30-year-old Zhang, who with her mother, her six-month old daughter and her wheelchair-bound mother-in-law is enjoying the slow ride along the Suzhou Creek.
"The older members of our family will probably love taking a relaxing cruise like this to catch the sights of the city," she says.
With plenty of open space on deck to catch the cool night breeze, the cream-colored Suzhou Cruise No 1 is equipped with comfortable sofas to lounge on. It can hold up to 10 passengers and it is the smallest of six boats berthed at Danba Road Pier and Moganshan Road Pier.
The difference between Suzhou Cruise No 1 and its bigger sister No 21, a glass-topped red cruiser that can accommodate up to 50 passengers, is not just size but also speed.
"We suggest that the elderly and really small children take the bigger boat as it travels at a slower speed and the ride is smoother," says Feng Xuecong, the supervising captain of Suzhou Creek's cruise boats. "But for most young people, the smaller boat is a bit more exciting as it runs faster."
The best part of the night cruises is the dazzling view of the city from the water, says Feng, who has sailed on both the Huangpu River and Suzhou Creek.
The stunning neon lights glittering from the buildings lining both banks and the bridges that straddle Suzhou Creek make a grand show.
"It wows the visitors," says Feng. "We've been fully booked since the cruise started operating at night on August 16.
"Attractions along the Huangpu River are limited to the Bund and Lujiazui Area (on the Pudong side of the river) and it takes only about 15 minutes to see everything. But on Suzhou Creek, there are bays and dozens of scenic spots. It's much more interesting."
Cruise-goers can see both old and new Shanghai on the 10-kilometer waterway between Danba Road and Moganshan Road piers.
Old factories and warehouses from the 1930s dot one side of the creek, many of them converted into museums. They form a sharp contrast with the colorful residential skyscrapers and office towers rising more than 30 stories on the opposite bank.