Subscribe today
Get Cruise Critic in your inbox

Viking Rurik Review

Home > Cruise Ship Reviews > Viking River > Viking Rurik Review
86% of cruisers loved it
  • Company-owned ship completely refurbished in 2012
  • More time in St. Petersburg and Moscow than ocean cruise
  • Russian language lessons, vodka tastings and program directors

Show the Lowest Price
Departure Month
Please select at least one vendor.
Expedia
Avoya Travel
American Discount Cruises
LuxuryCruiseConnections
CruiseDirector.com
iCruise.com
Cruise.com
Direct Line Cruises
Priceline.com

Viking Rurik Overview

(4.0) 4.0 out of 5+ star rating
There's something about Russia that stumps even the most intrepid traveler. The language is daunting, the Cyrillic alphabet is difficult, and its 20th-century incarnation as the Soviet Union, aka the "Evil Empire" to Westerners, still lingers in the minds of many.

Viking strives to make this complex country approachable for its North American, British, Australian and New Zealand audience. With four of its own ships on the Russian rivers -- most of the competitors charter their boats -- the company has made a commitment to this region that's evident in its programming and excursion choices.

Viking Rurik, refurbished in 2012, maintains Viking's signature Scandinavian style with blonde wood, muted colors and simple, attractive design. Because it sails on some of Europe's largest lakes, Rurik is constructed to handle waves so it doesn't appear as "flat" as Viking's European longships. Still, those with sensitive stomachs should bring seasick medication, as waters on Lake Ladoga, the largest freshwater body of water in Europe, can get rough. One aspect of the decades-old ship that couldn't be redone: the stairs, which are among the steepest we've ever seen. (Step angles were 68 degrees, as measured by an iPhone app.) Many people opted for the elevator, which runs to all four public decks.

Another feature that required some adjustment is the ship's main lounge, the Sky Bar. Unlike those on most other European river ships, this lounge is on the Sun Deck level and therefore isn't big enough to handle all 210 passengers at once. Passengers learned to come early for port talks, lectures and enrichment programs, which were often staggered and telecast into the cabins so everyone could hear.

Despite the cramped lounge, Rurik's staff did an admirable job of managing passenger flow, and the ship itself rarely felt crowded. Passengers disembarked in groups, usually without too many complaints or backups. Russian-language posters, evocative photos and artwork throughout the public areas imbued a sense of place, while Russian movies -- both contemporary and classic -- played every day on the in-room TV's. Standout optional excursions, such as a traditional Russian banya (bath), a behind-the-scenes look at the Hermitage vaults and tickets to the Bolshoi Ballet, kept even the most veteran travelers excited and engaged.

All in all, a Russian river cruise on Rurik gives passengers plenty of opportunities to explore the country's elaborate palaces, breathtaking art collections and onion-domed churches. While getting a handle on all things Russian could take a lifetime, 12 days spent onboard provide the perfect beginning.
Viking Rurik Fellow Passengers
The average age of Viking Rurik's passengers has been decreasing every year, according to the ship's hotel manager. While the trip used to draw mostly those in their 70's, passengers are now typically in their late 50's and 60's, with a smattering of younger (for a river cruise) passengers in their 40's. The ship is also drawing more people outside North America, with British, Australian and New Zealand passengers onboard. Most people have taken at least one other river cruise before tackling Russia, and you'll hear stories of China, the Danube and the Rhine at dinner.
Viking Rurik Dress Code
As with most river cruises, the ship eschews formal nights, and onboard dress is casual. Shorts and jeans are not permitted at dinner, however. Russia's weather can be iffy, even during the summer, so layers are a must. While dress at the Captain's Welcome and Farewell dinners seemed no different than it is on other nights, men and women who want to explore the theater scene in St. Petersburg and Moscow might want to throw in a sports coat, a dress or a nicer top and pants. You'll also want comfortable walking shoes for touring, as many towns have cobblestone streets. Women won't need heels.
Viking Rurik Gratuity
The ship's onboard currency is the euro. While the front desk can't exchange money, staff know the locations of ATM's in port so passengers can pick up rubles. (On our cruise, a stop was even made to convert U.S. dollars at the beginning of the trip.) Travelers checks are not accepted; credit cards include Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

Gratuities for the crew are paid at the end of the trip, in cash or with your credit card as an addition to your total bill. The company pools tips, and you can also give individual amounts to waiters or housekeeping staff if you desire. The recommended amount is $15 per person, per day. The tour director receives a separate tip, with a recommended amount of $10 per day. And, finally, you'll want to budget small bills, preferably in local currency, for frequent tips for local guides and bus drivers.
Print the entire ship review


Viking Rurik Member Reviews 8 Reviews
   Eastern European Staff Produces Viking Flop
October 2013

After hearing several favorable reports on Viking River cruises we signed up for the Odessa to Kiev cruise on the ship Lomonosov, now being refitted to look like the Viking Rurik, but with the same staff. Our disappointment cannot be ...continue


Not Rated
   Moscow-St. Petersburg
September 2013

We enjoyed the Russian river cruise on the Rurik in September 2013 from Moscow to St. Petersburg. We were impressed with cruise director Kris and hotel director Caroline and how well they ran the cruise, particularly when nasty weather threw in ...continue


   Viking Rurik Waterways of the Czars
September 2013

I've just returned from the September 17-29 Viking Rurik Waterways of the Czars cruise. The ship was a pleasant surprise, considering some of the reviews I'd read here. It has been remodelled and is more attractive than its sister ship, Viking ...continue


1 - 3 of 8 Reviews


Overview   Cabins   Dining   Activities   Family   Itineraries   More Reviews  
 

Show the Lowest Price
Departure Month
Please select at least one vendor.
Expedia
Avoya Travel
American Discount Cruises
LuxuryCruiseConnections
iCruise.com
CruiseDirector.com
Direct Line Cruises
Cruise.com
Priceline.com
Sponsored Listings:
About UsAdvertisingEditorial DisclaimerPress
PrivacySite MapStoreSubscribe
X

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add news@cruisecritic.com to your address book.

We're committed to protecting your privacy and will not rent or sell your e-mail address. By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.