In spite of Uniworld's caveat that the River Victoria is not quite up to Uniworld's standard, we found it to be comfortable, staffed by Russians who are friendly and anxious to please and a great way to see not only Moscow and St. Petersburg but also to explore 5 small ports as we cruised through canals, rivers and large lakes. In fact, it is unique to most river cruises as the pace, except for in the two cities, was relaxed, with more time spent cruising day and night than on most river cruises because of the distance to be covered, with walking visits of about 3 hours in the small ports.
As with any riverboat, except for the suites, the rooms are small & compact. The beds are super comfortable. There is good storage except for in the bathrooms, where shelves would be appreciated. There are 220 and 110 electrical outlets at the desk area; however, we did need to use a multisocket converter as our 110 did not work. Pants hangers did not allow slacks to hang fully; you might want to bring your own. The balconies are quite large as they were added by partitioning walking decks. The Victoria is the only ship on the river with balconies. We used ours frequently. The public areas were popular, too. There are two outside decks -- one in the prow and the sun deck uptop. The lounge was used for programs during the day and a dance combo at night. Free wi-fi was available throughout the ship but at times didn't work and was always very slow.
The dining room was larger than it looks in Uniworld's brochures. There are 8 tables for two, which filled quickly, a few for four and the rest for six. Breakfast and lunch buffets had a good variety of food. The four-course dinners offered variety of choice as well; at least one Russian dish was offered, and one night featured a delicious all-Russian menu. Complimentary wine, iced tea and sodas are always available at lunch and dinner.
On-board activities included lectures on Russian history and politics, Russian language lessons, a local little folklore orchestra one night, concerts by on-board accordion and balalaika players, vodka tasting and a blini making and tasting session.
The order of the excursions in the cities was changed from what was advertised, so be aware of that if booking local guides for free time. Our Uniworld local guides were for the most part very good & used the QuietVox system so we could hear well and move away from the groups of about 30 to take photos or look at something of interest. After each tour, we had free time to explore or shop. There were 1 Â½ days of free time in Moscow and 3 afternoons in St. Petersburg, which could be used for optional tours or exploring on your own. Travel to the city center by bus in Moscow took 45 minutes to an hour; in St. Petersburg, half an hour. During that time the guides commented on what we were going to see that day, described sites that we were passing and told us about life in Russia.
Travel to the port of embarkation in Moscow takes about 3 hours from Domodedovo Airport all the way across city. We were met there by the Uniworld representative, and for disembarkation, transported by Uniworld to the St. Petersburg airport, which is only a half hour from the river port. Both processes were smooth as far as Uniworld's complementary transport is concerned. Traffic is another story!
This was an absolutely fabulous trip, due to the itinerary and the comfort of the River Victoria.