One of the nicest ways to explore Russia is to take a Russian river cruise between Moscow and St. Petersburg on Viking River Cruises. Russian has gone through many sweeping changes in the last century. Cruising on the Russian waterways allows the traveler to view firsthand how these changes have affected the country and to some extent the world.
Viking River Cruises is one of the premium cruise lines specializing in Russian River Cruises. They have four ships offering Russian River Cruises, Viking Pakhomov, Viking Kirov, Viking Peterhov and the Viking Surkov. Carrying up to 210 guests, these ships are comfortable and intimate and provide a unique cruise experience.
Upon arriving in Moscow and transferring to the ship it is time to relax, unpack and get settled into your stateroom. All of the staterooms are spacious with a large picture window and a number of features and amenities including a refrigerator, a desk area, sufficient closet space, an internet connection and both 110 and 220 plugs. There is also free wireless access throughout the ship.
Once unpacked, enjoy a leisurely dinner with your fellow cruisers. The food on the Viking River ships is very good, the service is very attentive and open seating is offered for all meals. A large breakfast buffet combined with made to order options starts the day. Lunch features a buffet which changes daily as well as a variety of menu entrees served at your table. The dinner menu offers many options and frequently features local specialties and recipes. Steaks (which were excellent), grilled chicken and salmon are always offered on the dinner menu. The desserts were a wonderful way to end the meal.
Wonderful enrichment programs are can be enjoyed as the ship sails including cooking demonstrations, Russian language lessons and lectures on Russian history and culture.
The first three days are spent in Moscow and during that time the ship is used as a floating hotel. Moscow is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city highlighted by numerous monuments and historical buildings that tell part of the story of Russia’s diverse past. This history is seen on the many complimentary excursions that are included throughout the cruise. A number of additional optional excursions are also offered throughout the cruises itinerary.
The Viking River Cruise guides are exceptional. One of the real advantages with the shore excursion program is that guests are with the same guide throughout the entire cruise. This really allows guests to get to know their guide and for the guides to get to know their groups.
In Moscow the complimentary excursions included a City Tour with a Folk Music Orchestra Performance. The city tour takes the guests to Red Square and the impressive St. Basil’s Cathedral, GUM department store and the Moscow subway. Throughout the tour the guide points out many other highlights of Moscow. The next day a complimentary tour takes guests to the impressive Kremlin and the many cathedrals located within the complex.
Some of the optional excursions include a tour to Zagorsk Monastery, a tour to the Military Museum, a tour of the Tretyakov Gallery and an evening canal cruise which was fantastic. For those who are more adventurous, there is a subway stop about a 10 minute walk from the ship which goes directly into Moscow. From there you can explore Moscow on your own. In the afternoon the ship departs Moscow and begins its cruise down the Moscow River.
The next afternoon the ship arrives in Uglich. A complimentary walking tour of Uglich gives guests a good overview of the city. During the tour you visit the Church of St. Demetrius and the Prince's Palace. After the tour an optional home hosted visit is offered. The home hosted visit takes small groups (10-12 guests) into a local resident's home. You are welcomed by the host with tea, cakes and vodka with the traditional Russian bread and pickles. After some toasts everyone has the opportunity to ask questions and learn about different aspects and views that the local residents have. While our host did not speak English our guide was happy to translate. The experience was wonderful and really provided a different perspective of Russia and the Russian people.
As the cruise continues, traversing many locks, and it arrives the next day in Yaroslav. The complimentary tour includes a visit to a local market as well as seeing the Uspensky Catherdral which dates back to the 15th century. The afternoon is spent leisurely sailing through the many locks that make up the Volga-Baltic Canal.
The following day the ship arrives in Kuzino where guests enjoy a complimentary tour of the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery. The monastery was built in 1397 and became one of the most powerful fortresses in Russia. Lunch is enjoyed on board and a leisurely afternoon is spent sailing through the Volga-Baltic Waterway.
After a morning of cruising the ship arrives in Kizhi. The island of Kizhi is home to the Church of Transfiguration. Built in 1713, the wooden Church of Transfiguration was built entirely without nails and is now one of Unesco's World Heritage sites.
The final day before arriving in St. Petersburg a stop is made in Mandrogi, a recreated traditional village. Here you can visit some of the traditional homes and village buildings and see some of Russia’s traditional Russian architecture.
As you wake up the next morning you will find yourself in the beautiful city of St. Petersburg. For three days you will call your ship home as it remains docked just outside of the city. On the first morning a complimentary tour of the city will give guests a wonderful overview of the city. During the evening you will enjoy a ballet performance at the Alexandrinsky Theater.
During the next two days complimentary tours to the Hermitage and Pushkin Palace (the summer home of Catherine the Great) will show the great history of the Tzarist period. Optional excursions are also available to the Peterhof Palace (amazing), a St. Petersburg Canal Cruise, a tour of Yusupov Palace and a Folklore Cossack show. You can also take the time to explore St. Petersburg on your own. If you get the chance go inside the impressive Church on Spilled Blood. For those with a little extra energy you can take a walk up to the top of St. Issac’s Cathedral (250 steps). The views from the top are amazing.
A slightly different itinerary is offered from St. Petersburg to Moscow but whichever cruise is selected the experience is filled with diverse history, culture and incredible art found both in the Cathedrals and the museums.
For more information on Russian River Cruise call 888-776-0659 and a cruise expert will be happy to help you or go to:
• Moscow to St. Petersburg
• St. Petersburg to Moscow