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15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We, a mature, well travel-versed, globe-trotting couple, took the Russia, August 26 – September 5 (St.Peterburg to Moscow) “Volga Dream” tour/cruise. The cruise itself (Aug.28-Sept.3) was most definitely a ... Read More
We, a mature, well travel-versed, globe-trotting couple, took the Russia, August 26 – September 5 (St.Peterburg to Moscow) “Volga Dream” tour/cruise. The cruise itself (Aug.28-Sept.3) was most definitely a sub-standard tourist experience, at wide variance from the Volga Dream published itinerary. The ship’s 1959 (yes, you read it right!) vintage and size are sadly inadequate: the vessel did not dock in 3 (St.Petrsburg, Mandrogi and Kizhy Island) out of the 6 ports listed on the company’s site. The two most important ones (St.Petersburg and Kizhy Island) were cancelled due to “inclement weather”, i.e. the ship’s limited capability to navigate the meteorlogic conditions of lakes Ladoga and Onega. The “alternate” destinations (Svirstroy/Lodeinoye Pole instead of Mandrogi, and Kostroma instead of Kizhy Island) were of no turistic/scenic interest whatsoever, in fact (mildly put) rather neglected, totally unintresting localities. But our great dismay was caused by the omission of the world famous Kizhy Island wooden churches, the much praised highlight of the Volga cruise, but also the main reason we booked it in the first place. The other aspects of the tour (St.Petersburg and Moscow hotels, guided tours, transfers, on board meals, service and accomodation on the ship) were satisfactory to excellent, very much in line with the company’s site and documentation. While the “inclement weather” disclaimer may be buried somewhere in the proverbial small print, it was evident that the ship’s vintage and small size severely limited it’s navigation capabilities, and definitely devalued our Volga Dream time and dollar investment (one should also add the Russia return flights cost). Russia travelers interested in the same itinerary (in either direction) will be well advised to investigate the competitors’ offerings, especially the size and navigation capabilities of their larger, more modern vessels! Read Less
Volga Dream, VP Sales & Marketing has responded
Dear Intermonde, Thank you for your comments, we are delighted to read that you have rated the overall standard of our service, accommodation and meals as, “satisfactory to excellent”. Of course, it’s true that our Volga Dream (formerly Komarno) was built in 1959. Her vintage appearance and intimate size are precisely what so many of our passengers love about her. However, don’t be misled by her age, after a recent refit (in fact, an almost total rebuild) she is actually a very modern vessel with new equipment that entirely conforms to strict international safety standards. Passenger safety is, and always will be, our highest priority. Adverse weather conditions such as thick ice, rough water and dense fog are rare on our cruise routes but do sometimes occur. We always do everything we can to fulfil an advertised itinerary, but sometimes, changes are impossible to avoid. Practically we state in our programs and marketing materials that routes can be subject to change if unforeseeable circumstances jeopardise safety, and we always do our best to keep any unavoidable alterations to a minimum. The Moscow to St. Petersburg route requires all ships to sail across two of the largest lakes in Europe. The beautiful Lakes Ladoga and Onega are nearly always tranquil and calm, but on very few occasions each year, they can also be very rough. The Volga Dream is certified to sail with a maximum wave height of 2-meters, any more and passage would be both unsafe and extremely uncomfortable for passengers. Luckily though, waves of more than 2 meters are very rare, and overall, the Volga Dream is not usually forced to skip planned stops more than once or twice a year, and only when safety concerns arise due to adverse conditions. Regrettably, meteorological conditions during your cruise were indeed exceptionally bad – such circumstances arise only once in several years. On that occasion, the region experienced hurricane-force wind, heavy rain and wave height peaking at 3.5 meters. Age was not a factor in the Volga Dream not sailing; severe weather warnings brought navigation to a standstill for two whole days and for EVERY passenger vessel on the lake. Even after the wind had begun to abate a little, it would still have been unsafe to sail to Kizhi Island. The Captain never takes the decision to miss a port lightly, but on safety grounds, he had no choice in this instance. It is regrettable that you did not enjoy the famous Golden Ring city of Kostroma, which many consider a historic gem. Unfortunately, there are very few alternatives along the way. Thank you again for choosing Volga Dream. We do hope your Russian journey was enjoyable and look forward to seeing you again. Sincerely, Volga Dream
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We went on this trip just to see what Russia was like. Overall, you spend 2 nights in St Petersburg in a 5 star hotel, 6 nights on a 5 star boat, and end in a super super 5 star hotel (we were in St Regis) in Moscow. Wow, what a trip! ... Read More
We went on this trip just to see what Russia was like. Overall, you spend 2 nights in St Petersburg in a 5 star hotel, 6 nights on a 5 star boat, and end in a super super 5 star hotel (we were in St Regis) in Moscow. Wow, what a trip! Nice, relaxing cruise. Not a lot to see on the cruise cause this part of Russia is very rural and not many people. Would I recommend this trip to other people? Definitely, you got to see Russia, and this is a great way to do it. Monika at Travel All Russia (TAR) was great in getting it set up for us. I would recommend going from St. Petersburg to Moscow vs the reverse direction. Primarily cause things get better as you head to Moscow and you end on a really high note in a super 5 star hotel in Moscow. We used the airline rebate and made our own plane reservations since we could get a non stop flight on Singapore Air from Houston to Moscow. We flew into Moscow, then to St Petersburg on Siberian Air (counter #106 at the Moscow airport counter). There must 150 counters so make sure you know what counter number your return airline is to make life better when you show up. Even though we made our own air reservations, TAR still met us and shuttled us to the hotel. After a 16 hr flight, that was so great and what a relief! We arrived a day early just to hit some sites, hang out on our own and shop. You start out the tour by spending two nights in a 5 star hotel in St. Petersburg. Cool. You tour the local city sites. The palaces are so beautiful. You have to hit them all. On the second day, you tour the city and a palace and end up at the Volga Dream river boat for dinner. Now this is a really 5 star river boat. It is just so nice. The crew were super service oriented. Ready to help out with anything. Now the food was something else, it was excellent and tasted great (that make sense?). Breakfast was buffet style with the chief cook making country theme omelets to order. A very wide selection of items from pastries to fresh fruit to hot items were available, as you would expect at the 5 star level. Lunch was again had an excellent selection of items with the main course meal choices changing every day and such a selection of deserts to chose from. But, Dinner now that was special. Each entrée was an art presentation. Did I say the food tasted great, well, I will say it again, and the food service was outstanding. Tables were listed by language, English, Australian, German, etc. Dinner always turned out to be such a fun time that it ran exceedingly long as we enjoyed the conversations of people from different countries. Overall, the food had numerous Russian food themes for those who want to eat the local type menus. The days cruising were filled with activities and lectures since Russia is very rural around the river route, not a lot to see. Really enjoyed the Russian history lectures from Professor Ludmilla Selezneva, a very good and energetic speaker. She took each time period starting way back and going all the way to President Putin, explained how it effected the Russian development. Since we were seeing monasteries and churches built by various Kings and Princes, it was nice to know how they fit into the Russian puzzle to enjoy what we were seeing. We also had classes on the Russian Language. I was not a very good student, only learning two words, toilet and thank you, but did learn to sing a song, well sorta. I found our stop at KirilloBelozersky Monastery was interesting in that we got to see the “lake of youth”. Washed my face in the lake but it did not help, still look old and it sure didn’t help the ducks in the lake either. They looked pretty old. My favorite city tour on the cruise was Yaroslavi City. Just a lot there to see. The guided tour of the Governor’s house was very enjoyable. Don’t want to miss that. I was not too interested in the other stops Our last night on the cruise, we entertained the rest of the passengers with our song, sure not going to win any awards. At Dinner, we danced around the tables after a vodka tasting session. Did we ever have a good time! We departed the ship on the last cruise morning for a tour of Moscow, the Kremlin and Red Square….. ending at a super 5 star hotel. We were in the St Regis. Wow. Now that is a real uptown hotel. Well naturally, it was at the Red Square! The next day consisted of continue touring the highlights of Moscow. The following morning ended a very enjoyable 5 star Russian adventure. The first night in Moscow, we were given the opportunity to see a great Russian dance show “Kostroma” listed as the Folk Show. It was a “Vegas” quality show in their main musical auditorium. That alone is something to experience. I highly recommend attending whatever Folk show is on when you are in Moscow. Notes. I would advise bringing medicine for a head cold and cough. There are no ATM machines between St Petersburg and Yaroslavl. You may not have time to utilize it. There is one computer on board with WiFi capability for free. There was free WiFi at Yaroslavl square that I logged in to send some emails. Read Less
Volga Dream, VP Sales & Marketing has responded
Dear Kleincruiser, We just wanted to say thank you for such a detailed review, we always appreciate it when guests take the time to share their impressions of our ship and the service we offer. Most of all we appreciate your kind comments about our superb staff, it makes all the hard work worthwhile when their efforts are recognised. You have encapsulated just about everything that we try to achieve with our cruises, and we’ll be sure to let our resident professor know how much you appreciated her talks, and you are right of course, hearing the history right in the heart of where it happened brings it all to life! That’s one of the many reasons that we do it! Thank you once again, and we are so happy to hear how much you enjoyed it, and we hope one day to welcome you aboard again. Yours, Volga Dream
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 ... 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
Volga Dream, VP Sales & Marketing has responded
Dear Remo_cruiser It’s always wonderful to read such enthusiastic comments; we very much appreciate the time you’ve taken to share your experience with others. Most of all, we love it when our staff members are singled out for praise, as you know they work very hard and it’s great to see their effort recognised. We’ll be sure to pass your comments on to both Olgas and of course Lyudmila. You’ve picked out all the highlights beautifully but most of all we try to make the Volga Dream a sociable and friendly place, and it sounds as though that really worked for you. We’d like to say we’re sorry about the after-effects of all that great food that our chef produces but to be honest, we’re really just glad you enjoyed it so much! We’re very proud of our chef and his team! Thanks again and of course you will be welcome back any time at all! Yours, Volga Dream
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