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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Scenic Tsar – Imperial Russia Moscow to Volgagrad 30th Sept – 14th Oct 18 Deluxe Balcony Suite #305 Expectations Checking the previous reviews for the Scenic Tsar, we were somewhat worried. We had been prewarned that the ... Read More
Scenic Tsar – Imperial Russia Moscow to Volgagrad 30th Sept – 14th Oct 18 Deluxe Balcony Suite #305 Expectations Checking the previous reviews for the Scenic Tsar, we were somewhat worried. We had been prewarned that the Tsar was NOT a Scenic SpaceShip. Indeed it is not even owned by Scenic and only has 3 Scenic staff members on board. We knew when we booked about the ‘buy your drinks outside of mealtimes’ policy, the size of the cabins etc. The ‘actuality’ far exceeded our expectations. I should mention that there were only 85 guests aboard compared to the 115 capacity. Good mix of nationalities although obviously a significant number of Australians (Scenic is an Australian Tour Company) Ages were pretty much exclusively 60s or 70s. This is NOT a trip for those with walking difficulties. It is not only the walking but the many, many steps and uneven surfaces encountered. Food The food was excellent. Eggman at breakfast. Buffet lunch but with a la carte choices too. I had a wonderful fresh trout one day. Dinner had at least three choices for each course. All very well presented. Service was very efficient – no waiting. There was a good variety of wines served, including, some from Eastern European countries. Staff The non-Scenic staff were excellent – well up to Scenic standards. Service in restaurant was extremely efficient and fast. Scenic’s own staff – the 3 Cruise Directors – were not only very good but extremely knowledgeable. Special namecheck to Svetlana Armstrong - the Cruise Director - who really made the holiday. A real gem/star. Suite The main/bedroom part of our suite was perfectly satisfactory. Long worksurface to accommodate our laptop and other devices etc. Comfortable beds and all the furnishings were to a good standard – indeed looked pretty new. Very quiet. Loved having a kettle. Air Con could be switched off which is a rare boom for people like us who hate sleeping with the aircon on. Minor complaints would be no drawers – just shelves – and a wardrobe where the hangers were parallel to the doors rather than perpendicular – which made selecting your clothes a bit difficult. Main issue was the bathroom. DO NOT BRING YOUR CAT – because you certainly would NOT be able to swing it here! The space between the shower, wash basin and WC was so limited that you had to move about sideways. Having said that everything was clean and maintained that way throughout the trip. The shower itself was both powerful and hot. Itinerary We came not for the ship but to visit Russia. It did not disappoint. I understand that this was the first time that Scenic had done Moscow to Volgograd. All their other trips are between St Petersberg (which we had visited before) and Moscow. In many places you got the impression that the locals saw very few visitors from ‘the west’. Everyone seemed friendly and the locations felt safe. The day in Moscow was exhausting but we ‘hit all the high spots’. Traffic was horrendous but Scenic’s organisation and local guides were excellent. Could have spent much longer there. Although I enjoyed the second day trip to the SpacePark, my wife took the metro to visit the art galleries in Central Moscow instead. Several other guests, like us, would have preferred a second trip into Moscow. BTW – The Scenic Tsar was moored in the river beside a very quiet park about 1km (c 20 minute) walk from the nearest metro station with a direct journey into central Moscow. Costs 55 roubles a trip. BTW – Moscow dispelled my preconceptions. It is probably the cleanest city I have visited. No litter. No beggars either. Indeed it all oozed prosperity. Also seemed v safe. The stops along the Volga were all good with excellent guides. Lots of locks to navigate which added to the interest of the trip. The high spots were: - Yaroslavl where the recreation of a ball at the Governor’s House is not to be missed. - The visits to the Russian Dance School and Military Band Concert in Kostroma. Indeed I reckon there were more performers that day than Scenic Tsar guests! But almost every stop had some kind of entertainment – be it choirs in the churches or folk singing/dancing. - Lovely walk on our own in Pylos looking at the multimillion dollar dachas and the views as the trees put on their autumn colours. - Day in Volgograd/Stalingrad and the visit to the Memorial Park was extremely moving. A definite ‘must do’/high spot. The excursions (all included in the cost) were run extremely efficiently. We love the audio kits. Only criticism was that a few of the guides could not speak English well and had to have translators. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
The Good: The destinations were what decided us to do this trip and they certainly did not disappoint. We were blown away by most of the venues we visited in Russia, before continuing on a land tour of the Baltic States, ending in ... Read More
The Good: The destinations were what decided us to do this trip and they certainly did not disappoint. We were blown away by most of the venues we visited in Russia, before continuing on a land tour of the Baltic States, ending in Berlin. The staff and guides were mostly all excellent, their English and local knowledge remarkable. The Bad: We were not at all happy where the boat had to dock in both Moscow and St Petersburg, in the middle of nowhere, hours by bus to and from all the venues visited in the respective cities, and nowhere to wander in the surrounding port areas in our free time.The trip would have been greatly enhanced if we could have stayed in inner city hotels in each place. Food was plentiful during the fixed meal times, although not much choice or local flavour. The wine provided (meal times only) was of a very poor quality. I was surprised there was no food provided - like a 'cafe' eg - as is normal on other Scenic ships, outside of the regular meal times. Majority of guests caught a debilitating stomach bug which continued on into the following land tour. I have enlarged on the cabin in a separate area below. The Sun Deck has no shade, just bare, uncushioned chairs, and is not at all welcoming. We never saw any one up there the few times we ventured up. With a bit of extra money spent on shade and other decorations, this would be a popular area. Entertainment was virtually non-existent - just the crew and passengers making their own. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We were interested in seeing Russia and mixing either people, learning there culture, and to see the famous landmarks that we see on the TV and in brochures. To visit Moscow and St Petersburg plus a few rural villages/communities along The ... Read More
We were interested in seeing Russia and mixing either people, learning there culture, and to see the famous landmarks that we see on the TV and in brochures. To visit Moscow and St Petersburg plus a few rural villages/communities along The Volga too intrigued us. The ship is not Scenic owned and we knew that from the beginning, but we have done several Scenic trips and were disappointed that the service was not the same. I don’t believe that the service model could not be replicated on the Scenic Tsar. The atmosphere in the lounge is really non existent as people hear back to there cabins rather than stay for a night cap and mingle not sure if people don’t like to pay for their drinks after dinner. The entertainment was also not inviting as it was mostly piano and lots of classical. Also there was a bug on board which would have affected at least 80% of the boat at some stage. All in all destination was great but experience was average. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
This is the best way to see the two major cities of Russia, Moscow and St.Petersburg and enjoy the ability to unpack, cruising through the countryside and lake/river/canal systems seeing some unique places and have specialist tour guides ... Read More
This is the best way to see the two major cities of Russia, Moscow and St.Petersburg and enjoy the ability to unpack, cruising through the countryside and lake/river/canal systems seeing some unique places and have specialist tour guides explaining it all. Four full days in the major cities gave time to see all the special places, plus the lunches provided downtown avoided wasted travel time back and forth from the vessel. Several evening entertainment programs were included like the Ballet and Moscow Circus. Comfortable coach transfers to all venues and guides who added to the valuable information The variety of food on offer at all meals, including late suppers was amazing and always fresh fruit to take anytime and a coffee/tea station on two levels. I suggest this cruise had more to offer than most other river options and being fully inclusive of everything except gift shop purchases meant very good value Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this cruise because we had always wanted to see Russia and the cruise had the added bonus of Andrew Davis and John Simpson to talk to us. The whole event more than exceeded our expectations. The accommodation was great, the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had always wanted to see Russia and the cruise had the added bonus of Andrew Davis and John Simpson to talk to us. The whole event more than exceeded our expectations. The accommodation was great, the food ample and delicious and the service on board was exceptionally attentive and kind. Our tour directors worked tirelessly during the excursions to ensure that we had all the information we needed to get the most out of the places we were seeing. The program of events and excursions was extensive. A real highlight was attending the performance of Swan Lake in the Kremlin which was quite wonderful. We also enjoyed seeing so much of St Petersburg and Moscow with several points in between. The barbeque on Mandrogi was great fun - the entertainment in particular. We can certainly recommend this trip to anyone who would like to explore Russia. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Rural look at Russian interior. Paid for transfer package - Our flight was late so we were left our own to get to the ship from St Petersburg. We gave advance notice of the delay. Some of the bus versus walking excursions were more ... Read More
Rural look at Russian interior. Paid for transfer package - Our flight was late so we were left our own to get to the ship from St Petersburg. We gave advance notice of the delay. Some of the bus versus walking excursions were more walking than desired or anticipated. Talks on board should be recorded and streamed so passengers can watch in their cabin at a better time. Sometimes there were not enough seats. Sophia, our stewardess, was particularly good. We have traveled with Viking 5 times and she is the best so far. The Truvor is tasteful considering its age but the public seating area is not at all cozy. All the couch/seating areas feel like you are sitting in the hallway. On the whole, the trip was very good and all bu one of the local guides were excellent. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We wanted to go to St Petersburg and Moscow and we researched the variuos options. Scenic seemed to tick all the boxes since it was not to big a boat and seemed to have an excellent and comprensive itinerary. We also liked the look of the ... Read More
We wanted to go to St Petersburg and Moscow and we researched the variuos options. Scenic seemed to tick all the boxes since it was not to big a boat and seemed to have an excellent and comprensive itinerary. We also liked the look of the cabins and other areas on the boat. Despite the efforts of BA we were only a few hours late getting on board and had our first experience of the superb tour guides, in this case Arty. It just went up hill from thenon. The food was good (especially the Russian and Georgian white wine!) both on board and on the various excursions. The cabin was all we could have asked for and was kept spotlessy clean just like the rest of the boat. The excursions were exhausting for a couple in their late seventies but back on board and after a quick rest we were ready to go! Russia itself with all the various sights was awe inspiring and always an excellent choice . The special tour guides for each visit were excellent. The evening entertainment off board was superb, the ballet, the circus and the Folk Evening.. As for the on board entertainment wow! I hope i get the chance to sing in Russian again!..and as for Arty's pantomine- we split our sides....the vodka tasting evening touched all the right places as well. And now the staff - From the Captain down they were without exception fantastic. ...above all the four tour guides literally made the trip, From the lovely Diana in charge, to Svetlana who taught me some Russian, then Vadim the historian who was so enthusiastic about his country (as they all were )and last but not least Arty, whose self deprecating humour kept us in stitches. Thank you Scenic Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
The staff on the boat was excellent and very courteous. Olga, the hotel manager was very helpful and attentive. The course director Olga was nice and tried hard to accommodate everybody. The maître d’ was especially nice and came to me ... Read More
The staff on the boat was excellent and very courteous. Olga, the hotel manager was very helpful and attentive. The course director Olga was nice and tried hard to accommodate everybody. The maître d’ was especially nice and came to me for every meal pointing out what food I should not touch because of garlic. I really appreciated this. The food without exception was outstanding and the accommodations very comfortable, given the limited space on a boat. Unfortunately I have to go on a diet now because all this great food settled around my waist! The programs also were interesting and Ludmilla was a highlight for us. Her lectures were excellent (we are aware that the Russians did not care for her Gorbachev talk!). We learned a lot more about Russia, its people and politics, which was very helpful. We had no idea that Stalin destroyed so many churches during his time in power. Also her lectures on realistic Russian art were excellent. She is very enthusiastic and also very good at mixing with guests. We had her on our table several times and enjoyed her company. I am certain other English-speaking people on the tour enjoyed her as well. We loved to sit on the deck and watch the scenery. Some of the locks were very impressive and we were astonished how overall smooth the ride on the boat was. All the excursions to shore were interesting and instructive. We enjoyed going on our own through the village of Mandrogi and buying a few souvenirs for our friends. We loved Kizhi with its old wooden houses and the wonderful Transfiguration church. I was expecting to see snakes but luckily none showed up. The small village of Goritsy was not really worth visiting but the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery was. On this warm day, a lot of Russian people were enjoying themselves bathing in the lake next to the monastery. The church treasures impressed us. We enjoyed visiting Yaroslavil with its various churches and the visit to the governor’s house. We found the visit to a private home informative. We assumed this was staged for us but interesting nevertheless. We always like to see how people live in other countries and this was such an opportunity for us. All in all it was a great experience and I would come back any time. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
I enjoyed this cruise very much. I had been to St, Petersburg before and did not mind returning as there is so much to see, one visit is not enough and Moscow was always on my wish list as I have read many books about Russia and the ... Read More
I enjoyed this cruise very much. I had been to St, Petersburg before and did not mind returning as there is so much to see, one visit is not enough and Moscow was always on my wish list as I have read many books about Russia and the history of the Tsars. From start to finish the trip was excellent with everything going like clockwork. It was impossible to do all the excursions but the ones we did were excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed the Ballet and the Cossack Folk Song and Dances which gave you a real insight to the people of Russia with their talent. The Kizhi walking tour,Yarolavl city tour and Governor's Residence tour and the home-hosted visit in Uglich were all worth seeing and were both very interesting and entertaining. The only disappointment was the vessel used for the Moscow at night tour. This was a very old small boat. We were fortunate with the weather but if it had rained we would not have been able to see much as downstairs was too low and would have been cramped. Also the toilet was not working and the captain just shrugged his shoulders as if he could not care less. I think this was known about beforehand. This to me did not meet with the Viking standards we are used to. It goes without saying that all the palaces and churches we visited were exceptional. An added bonus to this trip was having our stateroom upgraded as a large company had apparently cancelled. This started our holiday on a high. Thank you. Brilliant staff. We were spoiled with their friendliness and attention. Nothing was too much bother. Our stateroom and the ship itself were kept spick and span and we always received a warm welcome when returning to the ship. This was our second Viking river cruise. We like your service and attention to detail. So much that we have already booked another two cruises in 2017. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
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

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