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13 Russia River First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

We wanted to do a safe mother daughter trip in Russia. We started In Moscow and ended in St. Petersburg. We loved the trip. The included tours and lectures were great. The local guides were wonderful. Our ship guides, Alexei, Vadim, and ... Read More
We wanted to do a safe mother daughter trip in Russia. We started In Moscow and ended in St. Petersburg. We loved the trip. The included tours and lectures were great. The local guides were wonderful. Our ship guides, Alexei, Vadim, and Sasha were wonderful, knowledgeable, and open to any questions. They made the trip. We paid extra for a behind the scenes trip to The Hermitage that was well worth the money. All the workers on board were helpful and friendly. Constantine, the videographer, did a super job. We enjoyed all the stops along the river, especially Uglich and Kizhi. We were glad to be on the right side of the ship as we were able to see many of the stops as we approached them. Viking took care of us when our luggage was two days late. The Viking Doctor took good care of my daughter when she was ill. Be sure to go the ballet. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This was my first Viking river cruise and it did not disappoint in any way. Russia was nothing like we expected. It was warm and friendly, with culture coming from all sides. The architecture and places we were escorted to. The food ... Read More
This was my first Viking river cruise and it did not disappoint in any way. Russia was nothing like we expected. It was warm and friendly, with culture coming from all sides. The architecture and places we were escorted to. The food on the ship along with the whole layout of the dining arrangements. The knowledgable guides who not only escorted us and had an incredible knowledge of all aspects of Russia but gave lectures (talks) on the history of Russia. The entertainment delivered on the ship by the most experienced and caring hotel staff. The cleanliness and the care of the cabin by the cleaning staff was brilliant. All of the above plus more made this holiday one of the best we have taken. I could not recommend it highly enough. Although this holiday was not cheap, it was worth every penny we spent. Saw some amazing places and met some lovely people from all over the world. Will definitely be going on another Viking cruise soon. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I thought the Waterway of the Tsars cruise was excellent! Everything was done to make passengers feel comfortable and we had so many interesting experiences I am still in awe thinking about it. I also enjoyed talking to the tour ... Read More
I thought the Waterway of the Tsars cruise was excellent! Everything was done to make passengers feel comfortable and we had so many interesting experiences I am still in awe thinking about it. I also enjoyed talking to the tour guides and other people who worked on the ship, which I felt gave me more of an idea of what life is really like in Russia. Of course this cruise was just a brief overview, and life on a daily basis is much different from a short ship adventure, but I was impressed at the intelligence of the guides, the quality of the food, the service, and the helpfulness of most everyone on board. It must be a bit like herding cats to deal with such a large group of people, and I thought that every attempt was made to make it a great experience. You could opt for whatever extras you wanted, or just opt to hang out on the ship and do as you pleased. Several people on this cruise especially impressed me. These included Kathrin, the Program Director, Alexei Kostukov, one of the guides, and another guide, Misha Ryabokorov. I didn't get to talk to the third guide as much, Andrej, but he was also very helpful. I also enjoyed two of the wait staff and thought they were very helpful, a young woman from Siberia named Anastasia, and a man from the Phillipines, Rommel. I am still in a state of shock at how wonderful the culture of Russia is and how different and yet the same life there seems to life here. I only knew of Russia from books, movies and music, and seeing and experiencing it in person gave me more of a sense of the place as it really is. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was my aunt's cruise and I was accompanying her to help her as she is elderly. I was pleasantly surprised with the help we received although we were very self sufficient. The advice that we received regarding where we were able ... Read More
This was my aunt's cruise and I was accompanying her to help her as she is elderly. I was pleasantly surprised with the help we received although we were very self sufficient. The advice that we received regarding where we were able to go with her walker was excellant and they accomodated us where possible. Viking cruises was very helpful with information prior to the trip and we were not dissapointed when we arrived. The crew was very friendly and the program director was very organized and everything was on time. The shore excursions were excellent, well thought out, and very informative. I wish we could have taken in all of the optional excursions but there were too many to fit in and we had to have some rest time! Dining was excellent, we always had a choice of local offerings, but if you wanted to stick to the basics, they were on the menu as well. The only downfall of the Russian cruise is that we were not docked within easy access of the cities. We were well out of town and had to do the shore excursions. It limited our freedom, but since the shore excursions were great, it was not a deal breaker. The entertainment on ship was not top class and therefore we didn't go into the lounge at night. I loved the Panorama bar during the day as it gave us the opportunity to sit in an area that had the perfect view of the landscape while sailing while you played cards, downloaded your pictures on your computer, or enjoyed a leisurely drink. I also liked the Russian language lessons and the lectures about the history and culture and also the meetings in the evening before then next day's excursions. It really brought the whole experience together. I met a lot of wonderful people and would definitely recommend Viking Cruises to anyone who is interested in a river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our first cruise of any sort, but hopefully will not be our last. Wonderful experience, staff at all levels were superb. Plenty to do and see every day. Our stateroom was bigger than we expected and the bed really comfortable. ... Read More
This was our first cruise of any sort, but hopefully will not be our last. Wonderful experience, staff at all levels were superb. Plenty to do and see every day. Our stateroom was bigger than we expected and the bed really comfortable. The excursions were on the whole really good and very interesting and the guides both from the boat and the local ones were excellent. The daily newspapers and the daily information sheets were really helpful. Wifi connection was much better than expected. The restaurant was great, especially liked the no reservation policy. It was nice not always to have a buffet in the evening. Sometimes the wine service was slow. The only reason we have not given it 5 stars is the tipping problem. Not only having to worry about it, but also we did find the guidelines given to us quite confusing. We would like to either have it included in the price or the guidelines made more simple. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
The cruise was amazing, and the service superb. They were very accomodating to my dietary needs (vegetarian), and even made special Indian dishes each night for an Indian family on board. The maitre d' would meet with me each day to ... Read More
The cruise was amazing, and the service superb. They were very accomodating to my dietary needs (vegetarian), and even made special Indian dishes each night for an Indian family on board. The maitre d' would meet with me each day to discuss the meal options, and they were very helpful in changing dishes to accomodate. We towed along our ten-year-old, despite their age limit, and although this isn't exactly a ship designed for kids (no water slides!), he was nonetheless engaged. He loved the tours and the presentations, and he is very mature. He was a bit of a celebrity on the ship! Culture was one thing I was worried I wouldn't get on my cruise, as it was my first time ever cruising, but they made sure through language lessons, historical presentations, and even home visits, that we were introduced to every aspect of the culture. They even included cooking lessons and local food each day and night for us to enjoy. The only thing lacking were the extra excursions, which meant nickel-and-diming us for each thing we wanted to do that wasn't included, including vodka tasting and afformentioned cooking lessons. For the amount we are paying I feel as though they should have given those free of charge. Nonetheless, I would definitely go on another Viking River Cruises. Maybe the Yangtze next? :) Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
First I have dreamed of going to Russia all my life and here I went. The country is spectacular with wonderful culture, architecture and history. The Viking tour guides were Russians and knew their areas perfectly. They provided great ... Read More
First I have dreamed of going to Russia all my life and here I went. The country is spectacular with wonderful culture, architecture and history. The Viking tour guides were Russians and knew their areas perfectly. They provided great care for our personal needs and had as all the information we could want to know about their country. Food and food service was the best. The crew was wonderful. I couldn't have picked a better company to provide me with everything I ever dreamed about Russia. My little maid was delightful too and the gift shop hostess went above and beyond to help with with some items. I especially loved the way they escorted us to the airport and stayed until everyone made it though customs rather than just dumping us off at the curb. Rooms are small, but all cruise ship rooms are small. Loved it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We'd never been on a cruise before as we like to travel independently, but were converted after this wonderful trip. The destination - Russia - is not an easy one to organise with all the visa issues but once we arrived at the ... Read More
We'd never been on a cruise before as we like to travel independently, but were converted after this wonderful trip. The destination - Russia - is not an easy one to organise with all the visa issues but once we arrived at the airport in St Petersburg and were met by one of the three fantastic on-board guides and taken to the Ingvar, our home for the next couple of weeks. all those stresses fell away. Our cabin was small but beautifully formed. I'd only experienced ship life in the early 70s on ocean liners with 4 berth cabins, shared bathrooms (the usual Australian/UK pilgrimage) so to me the room was heaven. There was a place for everything and it was incredibly quiet especially since we were very close to the main desk. The food was excellent and all the entertainment, informations sessions etc were great. I loved the small size of the Ingvar as we were able to meet so many wonderful people. I needed to do a bit of work in the cabin at times but now regret that I spent so much of my 'free' time there because I missed the opportunity of mingling in the public spaces with so many interesting and fun people. Sitting on the outside decks watching the world Russian countryside go by, chatting with whoever was there at the time or going on one of the many tours meant our trip was rich in so many different experiences. The tours could be hectic but as everyone we spoke to said, you only do this once and you have to make the most of every moment. If we wanted a relaxing holiday we'd have gone to a resort and spent our time sitting by the pool! As we like to be active, it was great to have the chance to go on a couple of walking tours in Moscow and St Petersburg, use the metro system and see these cities up close. I can't speak more highly of the staff who never seem to run out of energy especially the tour guides who had to deal with a few difficult situations. The only negative comment I'd make is about the tipping. When local guides are used there is the constant need to be tipping, and then there are the end of cruise tips. Americans are probably used to this but for others, it's not part of our culture as we expect personnel to be paid adequately upfront by the company so this detracted from the cruise experience. However, this was one of those trips we'll always remember and would recommend it to others who want to get a good insight into Russian life but from the comfort of a well designed floating boutique hotel. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
My husband retired this year and He wanted a slightly different Holiday, so we choose the Viking, St. Petersburg to Moscow cruise, Waterways of the Tsars. This Holiday cruise will stay with us for the rest of our lives. The ship ... Read More
My husband retired this year and He wanted a slightly different Holiday, so we choose the Viking, St. Petersburg to Moscow cruise, Waterways of the Tsars. This Holiday cruise will stay with us for the rest of our lives. The ship (Ingvar) was in perfect condition, clean, well appointed with a staff level that was high and all high calibre staff. We paid for the up grade to a veranda suite and this was well worth the additional money. Our room was very clean nicely laid out, albeit a tad small but very well maintained and the lady that looked after the room was nothing less than perfect. Likewise the crew, especially the guys and girls that waited on us made the day to day living absolutly effortless. As has been suggested by some others the initial tours were quite hectic BUT what else could you do, if you want to see as much as possible. The tour guides were marvalous and very very knowledgable. All I can say is that if you would like a holiday where you feel that you are the only person on the vessel this is for you. Thank you VIKING Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
In Australia, we were happy to pay the $11,000 per person (excluding airfares) based on the fact that everything you could possibly need or want on tour was included in the tour price - "a five star, once in a lifetime luxurious ... Read More
In Australia, we were happy to pay the $11,000 per person (excluding airfares) based on the fact that everything you could possibly need or want on tour was included in the tour price - "a five star, once in a lifetime luxurious experience!" is what we were sold. This was supported by advertising propaganda provided to our travel agent, inserts in their Scenic Russia brochure and on-line advertising which states "travel without your wallet"! and shows pictures of a butler cleaning shoes, etc. On boarding the ship the story is very different, with passengers being asked to sign paperwork for their "on-board account" as soon as they board the ship. Nothing is at request, with access to food and drink only at meal times unless you pay. The only exception being tea and coffee which can be obtained from a machine at any time. Dispite being asked to provide dietary requirements months in advance, these are only catered for as an after-thought by removing what can't be eaten (no special meals) and if it can't be removed, expect to be offered very little to eat. There is no butler, no assistance for elderly passengers, no laundry, a Dr is on board but all medical services must be paid for. Rooms are modest. The fitness centre is a walking machine and a bike in the upstairs bar. Live entertainment is rare, most evenings this will entail the sad sight of a member of crew DJing. In no way the five star, once in a lifetime luxurious experience it was billed as being. In the very least, knowing the truth would have allowed us to pack and budget differently. But in reality had we known the truth about what was on offer, we would not have taken this tour. To say we are dissappointed is an understatement. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Viking was highly recommended to us by friends who have done several Viking cruises. We did like the river cruise and will most likely do another one but on a different line as we'd like to compare Viking's offerings. The ... Read More
Viking was highly recommended to us by friends who have done several Viking cruises. We did like the river cruise and will most likely do another one but on a different line as we'd like to compare Viking's offerings. The rooms were cleaned daily. Food was wonderful. The hotel and restaurant managers went above and beyond to make our experience memorable. The laundry service was first rate. Negatives included the fumes from the boat on the Moscow by Night tour. Some people got very nauseous. Many on our boat were unable to do so much walking so they remained on the boat. There was nothing for them to do. It would be wonderful if some activities could be done on board. Why not do the doll painting on board instead of making it a field trip? How about some dancers or musicians? More cooking demonstrations? Movies? The bus drivers did not get us very close to our destinations. We had to walk quite a way to get where we needed to be; not easy for some of us. Perhaps doing more two levels of walking (leisurely vs active) would have worked for more people. The folklore concert in Moscow one night was fantastic but we had to travel quite far to get there. We had been out all day, driven back to the boat for dinner, and then re-boarded the bus for the trip to the concert. We were told we'd have to walk over the bridge and several blocks to the concert hall. No one on the bus was happy about that so, after some discussion with the guide and driver, we were able to get a couple of blocks closer. Better but not great. The wait to get into the Hermitage in St. Pete was terrible. Raining; no cover. Because it was a holiday weekend (70th anniv. of the defeat of the Germans by the Russians), the town was overcrowded; lots of cruise ships in town. We thought Viking should have known that there would be an extraordinary number of people and rescheduled our Hermitage visit. The onboard history lectures were much too long. I would much more enjoyed two hour-long lectures and then on other days have presentations on Russian culture, music, etc. As another reviewer wrote, the stairs between decks were not easy to navigate. It was a memorable trip and I would recommend Viking to others. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was my first cruise experience and it was a blast. Hats off to Viking Cruises for the very efficient handling of everything: from the flight bookings, to airport transfers, embarkation and disembarkation to and from the ship, the ... Read More
This was my first cruise experience and it was a blast. Hats off to Viking Cruises for the very efficient handling of everything: from the flight bookings, to airport transfers, embarkation and disembarkation to and from the ship, the tours, the accommodations. The staff was just great, from the kitchen, restaurant, housekeeping, entertainment to the tour guides. I have spread the word to family and friends that if they want a great cruise experience, they should try Viking first. There is nothing like a river cruise vs. an ocean cruise. It just makes a difference having a few hundred people to thousands of people traveling with you. I cannot say enough of the guides who were very knowledgeable and just a fountain of information. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
The cruise and excursions were excellent. The schedule at times was tiring, but there was so much to see. We would have loved more time at the Hermitage and Peterhof and again in Moscow, especially at the armoury. Home and school visits ... Read More
The cruise and excursions were excellent. The schedule at times was tiring, but there was so much to see. We would have loved more time at the Hermitage and Peterhof and again in Moscow, especially at the armoury. Home and school visits were very enjoyable. Banya was fun!! In terms of the ship the stairs were steep for older people. The public rooms used for presentation were too small for all on board. The weather could have been kinder, the snow in Moscow was an experience! Guides on the boat and on excursions were very knowledgeable and entertaining. Their English was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010

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