Sanctuary Cruising is putting a new small luxury ship into China next year and is targeting UK tour operators to sell the product.

The company and Orient Cruises are spending £6 million to refit the 124-passenger vessel in preparation for its first voyage on the Yangtze River in April 2008.

 Yangzi Explorer will feature luxury suites and cabins as well as a spa, viewing lounge and a theatre area.

The ship will offer three and four-night cruises and Sanctuary Cruising marketing manager Allison Burnett thinks it is a perfect product to tie in with a twin-centre holiday.

She said: ” It’s a really good cruising option for the UK travellers. We already work with Cox and Kings and Kuoni and we want to target operators who have clients that

are interested in luxury specialist China. The itineraries are three and four-day trips and they tie in nicely with Shanghai and Beijing.

“Also with the Olympics next year, it is the perfect time for us to launch the ship.”

Burnett said that after the US, the UK was the most popular market for Sanctuary Cruising.

The company already offers a cruise along the Nile in Egypt as well as having its own luxury lodges, camps, villas and apartments known as Sanctuary Retreats in areas

such as Botswana and Tanzania.

Prices start at £550 for a deluxe cabin.