The Viking Peterhof was my home for 12 days as I learned about and experienced Russia. The staff was extremely well-organized and looked after all the details so I enjoyed a relaxed learning experience. They were friendly, courteous and diligent about their responsibilities. The chef provided varied and tasty meals three times a day and lots of food was available between these. The serving staff were well-trained and most spoke English well enough that they could even joke with the passengers. The restaurant conveyed a friendly atmosphere and was small enough that I enjoyed sitting and visiting with many different people during the voyage.
The tours ran like clockwork! The guides were extremely knowledgeable - this was the first tour I have been on where the guide has not once referred to notes. When we were not out touring, there were at lectures on Russian history, Russian language, souvenirs, a demonstration of Russian cooking and a Russian tea party. Not to be missed is the vodka tasting evening where I learned various ways to hold the shot glass while drinking vodka and when each is appropriate. The pianist in the lounge was most versatile and could play any selection requested.
Each evening a program for the next day was placed in the cabins so that we were well informed as to what would be happening the next day. The following morning the main details were announced over the PA system so everyone was aware of times, places, etc.
The coaches used for tours were most comfortable and had reliable drivers. The local guides were some of the best I have encountered.
There was a great variety of activities provided from the Swan Lake ballet to the night tour of Moscow and all were superb!
The ship was exceptionally clean and with the refurbishment (and renaming) of it during the winter of 2011-12 to provide larger dining areas and an elevator it will be even better!
Transportation to and from the airports was handled most efficiently. I highly recommend this Viking River Cruise and it will certainly not be the last tour that I take with Viking River Cruises.
Since the smaller ports we stopped in are not listed on the selection menus I will comment on them here. Mandrogy is like a fairy-tale village with its hand-carved buildings and unusual architecture. The vodka museum is not to be missed. I loved the wooden slide with its ornamental covering. Kizhi is an island of old wooden churches which is a contrast to all the brightly coloured churches we saw elsewhere in Russia. These churches were constructed in the early 1700s. The Russians did not have nails at this time so there is not one nail in the buildings. Amazing workmanship! The next port included a coach trip to a monastery built in the 1300s. At Yaraslavl we saw more and different churches and beautiful garden areas. Our last stop before Moscow was at Uglich and again we visited three uniquely different churches.
Moscow is also not on the selections list so I will mention it here as well. We toured the Kremlin with the Armory included, enjoyed the walk around Red Square, saw the most photographed church in Russia - St Basil's, and had time to spend in the large modern Gum Department Store. The city tour showed us the highlights of Moscow and we returned to see Moscow at night. We also attended a classical concert to see and hear the traditional instruments of Russia.