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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
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