Booked a Categrory B, Deluxe Cabin on the Viking Surkov for the Waterways of the Czars cruise (Aug. 10-22,2009). On day one of sailing there was an obnoxious smell of raw sewage in our cabin and in the hallway. We informed reception and were told that this is normal when the ship is in motion, the sewage sloshes! We were unable to sleep because of the stench and the fact that the A/C didn't work. Other travelers complained, with the same results... There were two large pipes leading from the ceiling into a very large wooden box in the floor, right next to the bed. The picture in the brochure shows a small table and 2 chairs - non existing! The entertainment on board (as per brochure) is also non-existing. There was a Vodka tasting, at 15 Euros per person. The Russian folkloric entertainment was in a tent and cost 26 Euros per person.
Check your credit card bill - Our entire cost of the trip was paid by c/c and there was a $600 "foreign exchange fee". We booked through California, why would we have to pay this charge? Your US Dollars are being sent to Switzerland! After much aggravation, the $ 600 were refunded. On board, they use a unit system (which equals Euros). The last two days of the cruise (after the bills were settled in Euros) they switched to Rubles!
The food was good until it came towards the end of the trip, by then the salad bar looked beyond wilted. The endive salad was rotted! My feeling is that Viking could care less about the comfort, or health, of their travelers. They have your money up front and know that you won't take the same cruise again. I have this gut feeling that perhaps this company is not above board.. We have traveled all continents and plan on continuing our travels but definitely NOT with Viking Cruises!
Kizhi Island Located on Lake Onega (Europe's 2nd largest lake) Open air
architectural museum & UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wooden churches
& other buildings were brought here from other parts of Russia.
Transfiguration Church - 300 years old, built completely of wood (no
nails) 22 timbered onion domes. It was a rainy, gloomy day and made the
church look ominous (Halloween?), but yet a very interesting excursion.
Goritzy On the Shore of Lake Siverskoye Visited Kirillov-Belozersky
Monastery, founded in 1397 by St. Cyril filled w/ beautiful icons &
frscoes. Now a museum.
Yaroslavi - Called the Golden Ring city Figured prominently in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Not much to explore in these ports - churches, icons, frescoes.
Uglich Town dates to 1148. Foound this to be a more interesting
excursion, besides just seeing icons, frescoes. Ivan the Terrible's son
was mudered here. The resulting uprising caused great distruction. In
17th-18th centuries wonderful architectural buildings were constructed.
Moscow Amazing City! Very clean. The Metro is easy to navigate. Metro
is very clean, elegant, marble, paintings, chandeliers, sculptures -
Red Square - dating to 15th century. Not as impressive as I imaged,
except for the St. Basil Catheral colorful onion domes.(never got
inside though) Kremlin - More cathedrals, palaces, museums & the
seat of government. By now, I am tired of seeing & hearing about
the icons and frescoes. Every tour guide has the same verbatum speech.
Armory - Fantastic, but very difficult to get close to exhibitions,
especially the Faberge' eggs. The crowds are unbelievable! Exciting
city - much to see and do, but be aware of pick pockets, etc.