96 Viking River Viking Truvor Cruise Reviews

A Russian Adventure The stark white and dark brown of the bark of the birch tree (Russia's national tree) stood as sentinels guarding the towering green pines in the background as we glided along the beautiful and ... Read More
A Russian Adventure The stark white and dark brown of the bark of the birch tree (Russia's national tree) stood as sentinels guarding the towering green pines in the background as we glided along the beautiful and pristine shorelines of Russian rivers. Our Russian adventure began Sept. 15, 2002 in St. Petersburg as we boarded the Viking River Cruise ship "Kirov" with some 130 passengers from United States as well as England. The 400 ft. Kirov is compact but comfortable with all the amenities needed for a pleasant trip including two bars, two dining rooms, a library, beauty salon, gift shop and sauna. Joining Joan and me on this two-week Russian adventure was a couple from Sarasota, Alice and Roger. Our travel agent had introduced us a year ago as we planned a trip through France, departing 9/11. Since then we have become good friends. The Kirov's captain and crew were Russian and the chef Austrian. The food was good and served attractively (about a B+/A-) with red or white wine served at lunch and dinner. However, we think the complimentary wine was a tad above grape juice, about 9% by volume, as after many glasses it had no affect. The open seating policy in the dining room made it easy to get acquainted with fellow adventurers during the cruise. We found this "Waterway of the Czars" attracted a more interesting traveler than you are likely to meet on a 2,000 plus passenger cruise ship. Rain greeted us in St. Petersburg as we toured some of the famous and fabulous sites as the Hermitage Museum, Catherine the Great's summer palace, beautiful Russian Orthodox Churches and a visit to Peter the Great's magnificent summer home, Peterhof. I saw my first ballet, "Swan Lake," in this city. Joan asked me if I would go again? In replying to that request, I said "When you go to an NFL football game, I'll go to another ballet." Our Russian guide, Gennady, spoke excellent English and has visited the U.S. on six occasions. His five years of guiding tours complimented the many attractive sights as he explained in detail the different sites and cities we visited during the two-week trip. Once we left St. Petersburg, the rain stopped, the sun shown and the night skies clear enough to bring on heavy frosts. We layered clothes, shivered and enjoyed this pristine country side and vibrant cities. From St. Petersburg, we stopped at Kizhi Island, a beautiful spot in Lake Onega. The cathedral there is unique. The fairy-tale-like Church of the Transfiguration, built in 1714, is made entirely of weathered wood with more than 20 onion domes that glowed like silver in the cold morning sun. While cruising for six days, including 16 locks, the Viking people introduced us to the history and present economic details of life in Russia. A lady with two doctorates to her name, gave five lectures while our guide Gennady gave two lessons in the Russian language and Cyrillic alphabet. We didn't do well with these lessons! During our last three days of the tour in Moscow, a world class city, we visited inside the Kremlin walls and the Kremlin's Armory museum where we saw incredibly ornate carriages used by the czars for official occasions. Lenin's Tomb was viewed from the outside as it wasn't open during our stay. The sunlight striking the multicolored domes of St. Basil's cathedral in Red Square was an inspiration in itself. Legend has it that, after Ivan the Terrible had St. Basil's built, he had the architect blinded so he could never again create something so beautiful. Following an hour and a half drive through interesting suburbs and countryside, we came to the Trinity Monastery at Sergiev Posad (Zagorsk). This is the famous fortress monastery of St. Seregius. The monastery is best know for the blue-domed Assumption Cathedral, towering in the brilliant sunlight over the white stonewalls of the monastery. Along with hundreds of other visitors, we enjoyed a few minutes of a Russian Orthodox service with beautiful chanting and hymns. After Red Square, we were ready for the fun of Arbat Street, a cobbled pedestrian mall flanked by sidewalk cafes, bars and shops. Scores of vendor stands offered every conceivable souvenir: nesting Matroshka dolls, shawls, lacquered boxes, amber jewelry, fur hats emblazoned with the hammer and sickle. The U.S. currency was welcomed almost every place in Russia with the notable exception of rest rooms. But a few Rubles kept attendants happy. Our last evening in Moscow was spent at the theatre enjoying a folk dance performance of over 100 dance professionals. Their intricate dancing and the various beautiful and ornate costumes was a fitting farewell of our Russian adventure. We found the Russian folks friendly and always willing to help us with most speaking enough English to satisfy our needs. The ship's staff, particularly the dining attendants, were always courteous and well trained. The cities, although drab at times, spoke of a new vibrant Russia. The core city was filled with upscale prestigious international shops offering fashionable clothes and appliances. Everywhere throughout every cruise stop, reconstruction was evident as the Russians brought there buildings into the next century. We did not see any individual homes in the major cities. Rather the nine and one-half million Russians living in Moscow reside in mile after mile of apartment buildings. Traffic jams filled the six-lane streets while people parked their cars on the sidewalks and in the outside driving lanes. Thousands of billboards stood as sentinels every quarter mile on almost every street and building. Someone forgot to enact a sign ordinance and of course, these signs are all in the Cyrillic alphabet! Both our Sarasota friends, Alice and Roger, and ourselves left Russia and the Russian people with a new understanding of a great country and a warm friendly people. Arriving home after 24 hours of travel, we remembered the gleaming domes of the Kremlin, the old ladies in Uglich selling wild flowers and the statue of Mother Volga blessing the river with her arms outstretched. gjm4700@comcast.netDecember 2002 Read Less
Sail Date December 2002
I was one of 50 mostly "seasoned" travelers who signed up with Smithsonian Journeys for a trip from Moscow to Saint Petersburg on the Sergei Kirov (named for a well-liked Communist Party leader) that is now run by Viking River ... Read More
I was one of 50 mostly "seasoned" travelers who signed up with Smithsonian Journeys for a trip from Moscow to Saint Petersburg on the Sergei Kirov (named for a well-liked Communist Party leader) that is now run by Viking River Cruises under a joint venture between a Russian and a Swiss firm. Its sister ship, the Viking Pakhomov, was recently rated by Richard Loehn, who pretty well covered the itinerary, so I will focus more on the voyage itself. The ship, like so many of those now plying the same route (Moscow Canal, Volga River, Lake Rybinsk, Lake Onega, Svir River, Lake Ladoga, and Neva River), was designed and built in East Germany in the late 1980s. It has been refurbished a few times since, and both it and the Pakhomov are marketed solely to the English-speaking market. (The other 150 passengers on our ship were either Brits, or Americans who'd booked their trip directly with the line). All personnel who had contact with passengers spoke at least enough English to handle their jobs. The cruise manager, Michael Bordokoff, is an American of Russian descent, with an ideal personality for that function. The waitresses and female bartenders looked really young, with flawless complexions and most of them with natural blond hair. The ship has three passenger decks, a library, two dining rooms (open seating but you are assigned to either one or the other, and there's just one sitting, with the exact timing adapted to the tour schedule), two bars, a sun deck, and a few other deck areas for sitting or fitness walking. There are NO elevators, which means that people who have trouble climbing stairs should probably not take this trip - also the means of exiting the ship can pose minor hazards - Smithsonian made sure to warn us of all this in advance. The gift shop is barely worth mentioning. There is NO source of between-meal snacks and NO availability at all of news bulletins or even weather forecasts. The satellite phone for outbound calls didn't work. One is truly incommunicado. Most of the cabins are 90 sq. ft., with narrow twin beds covered with a blanket in a spotless white duvet. Many in our group regarded these accommodations as very small - some had tried to obtain larger ones but there are relatively few of them. All cabins are outside, have plenty of storage space, and a small refrigerator. Cabins are immaculately clean, used towels replaced twice daily, and the temperature is individually controlled (the a/c can be deafening, though). The shower system is unique, clever and a source of jokes, and hard for people accustomed to paying for more luxurious quarters to adapt to. It's important to remember that this is a river cruise through a part of the world that has only recently opened up to tourists, and one should not expect a traditional "cruise ship." And, by the way, we almost never felt the motion of the boat. The ship has a draft of only 10 feet, and the waterways were not deep. We truly "glided!" The food was excellent. The executive chef is Swiss, as is the hotel manager. Early continental breakfast in the forward bar, slightly later full breakfast buffet and to-order fare in the dining rooms. Four-course lunches and dinners (salad or salad buffet, soup, entree, dessert). Always two choices of entree and dessert. Portions modest but satisfying, and everything very artistically arranged on the plates. I suppose the only criticism might be that there isn't enough "typically Russian" food. Most passengers get all their meals on board or in a snack box taken on the tours, so there's not much chance to eat a meal in a Russian venue. All passengers go out on shore excursions on buses with good guides provided by the line - often substituted at intervals by guides that must by law be hired locally or at specific sites. The Smithsonian Journeys group had a slightly different itinerary that included three lunches in typical Russian restaurants that cater to tour groups. There is also an on-board lecturer (Russian woman) who was very well liked by all the passengers - a dynamic speaker, covering both history and current Russian politics. Group lessons in Russian were also given. There are a few days "sailing" when no land tours are taken, so these events are welcome. There's some interest in watching the ship go through many locks. In the evenings (except in St. Petersburg when there were tours to ballet, a canal cruise and a folklore show) a combo or pianist played in the bar, or there was a "crew show" and a "passenger talent show" plus a good folklore show. We also had - at extra cost, a caviar tasting and a vodka tasting, on separate nights. The vodka tasting especially was a lot of fun, as a lot of Russian jokes were told (in English). On caviar night - actually held before dinner - we learned a lot about the various types and why they're so expensive. Daily handouts gave full information about the stops we'd make, a detailed schedule for every day. It seemed to me that there should have been more announcements about places of interest that the ship was passing - I can recall only two or three landmarks that were pointed out. We did not see much wildlife at all, and of course we were traveling in some very lightly populated areas so the scenery did not vary much. We stopped at Uglich (home of the famous watch factory - sold for $20 each), Yaroslavl and Kostroma, and Kizhi. The first three are thriving towns/cities in which I'd liked to have lingered a bit to observe the locals after the obligatory visits to churches and monasteries. Kizhi is more of a "museum" and not inhabited except during the tourist season. This was a great way to see some of Russia - I'd recommend a post-cruise or pre-cruise day or two in either Moscow or Saint Petersburg if you really want to see either place more thoroughly. The cruise that starts in Moscow really gives it short shrift, focusing more on three days in Saint Petersburg. The cruise that starts in Saint Petersburg gives two days there and, I heard, a bit more time in Moscow. Always work with a travel agent because of the need to obtain visas that specify EXACTLY the days you will arrive in Russia and leave Russia - also you may have to obtain an "invitation" from a hotel that you plan to stay in before or after your cruise. The "invitation" from the cruise line won't cover those days. Reports I heard indicate this takes some time and effort. Shopping: People seemed to be particularly interested in amber jewelry. There certainly were a lot of beautiful items at varying prices. I bought mainly nesting dolls and Christmas ornaments, plus two watches. Russians haven't yet caught on to Americans' interest in t-shirts and coffee mugs. I also bought the tourist books, beautifully illustrated w/photos of buildings and interiors that one could never take on one's own. Dress: Smithsonian guests, female, were advised to take a skirt and also a head covering in order to visit certain of the churches. The skirts are not really necessary, we found. Pants are OK, as Russians have become resigned to the outfits favored by tourists. The main prohibition is against shorts and short dresses/skirts. Head coverings are needed from time to time. Photography: A modest fee - no more than US$3 and usually less - may be charged for use of your camera in certain churches or museums - your guide will tell you. Make your decision when you enter because it's hard to go back and find the permit-seller after your group has passed through the ticket takers. A higher fee may be charged for videotaping. Just remember these churches need to spend a lot on reconstruction and preservation and the extra money presumably will help. Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
The Viking River Cruise "Waterways of the Czars" (July 31 - August 12, 2009) was our first cruise experience, and will likely be our last. While we enjoyed Russia and its many attractions, we were very disappointed in most ... Read More
The Viking River Cruise "Waterways of the Czars" (July 31 - August 12, 2009) was our first cruise experience, and will likely be our last. While we enjoyed Russia and its many attractions, we were very disappointed in most aspects of the cruise itself. Specifically: • Overall value for money: Most people we met on the cruise paid several thousands of dollars less than we did, and for supposedly better cabins. This knowledge lessened our enjoyment considerably. We advise others to book as late as possible for Viking river cruises, if you must take one, since they discount heavily closer to the sailing date to fill up the boat. • Food quality: Despite claims in Viking advertising, the food was of consistently poor quality, e.g., every fish dish I ate was tasteless, mushy, and obviously frozen not fresh. Other passengers with previous Viking experience agreed with us, but said that Viking cruises in Western Europe have much better food and service. Several other passengers also spoke with the "hotel manager" to note their unhappiness with food quality. • Service: The dining room staff was mostly young Philipinos, who were all eager to please but clearly not sufficiently experienced, properly trained for efficient service, and too few for a fully booked boat. Dinner normally took well over two hours, and we and many others had to cut short dinner in order to attend other scheduled events on board. • Our cabin: The cabin (227) was comfortable enough, except that it seemed to be directly above the engines used to stabilize the boat when going through locks. These engines were so noisy and vibrated so much that when lock passage occurred at night sleep was impossible. Viking should warn potential customers about this noise in main deck cabins, and advise them to bring ear-plugs to cope with the noise or select other cabins. • Doctor: The Kirov's Russian doctor, whose English skills were very limited, had a remarkably diffident manner when my wife banged her forehead on one of the Sky-Bar's glass doors. The clinic had no proper ice-bag, so to reduce the large swelling he recommended using a plastic garbage bag or laundry bag. Given the average age of Kirov passengers, shouldn't an ice-bag or two be among the clinic's supplies? The doctor also failed even to stand up during her visit to his office, declining as unnecessary a suggestion that he examine her forehead. Bottom line: We wrote to Viking about these problems, to which they responded with an offer of a $500 credit for a future Viking cruise. Our response to that will be "nyet." Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
To give some background to our trip - I was born in Odessa Ukraine, and have been contemplating for some time to introduce my wife to the city and the country of which she heard so much. The Odessa-Kiev cruise on Viking Lomonosov provided ... Read More
To give some background to our trip - I was born in Odessa Ukraine, and have been contemplating for some time to introduce my wife to the city and the country of which she heard so much. The Odessa-Kiev cruise on Viking Lomonosov provided a possibility to do so with an added bonus of "highlighting" Crimea as well. The ship is very simple -â€" library, 2 bars (one forward and one aft), 2 restaurants (while we were assigned to Kiev restaurant the seating is open for all meals which gives you a chance to mingle with fellow passengers) and a sun deck -â€" otherwise just a hallways with cabins on both sides (4 decks total). Our cabin (229) was 90 sq.ft -â€" the TINIEST we've ever seen J but we were able to get everything out of suitcases and store them away with no problem so it was quite cozy and comfy (besides its not like we spent TOO much time in it) Actually it turned out to be a good location since all the cabins have a large window but all are overlooking a given deck so one has to be mindful of the situation least some fellow cruisers will catch you de-flagrante J The Main deck is "Crew" deck -â€" so we hardly had anyone moving past our window and we were literally steps away from the Front Desk and the disembarking doors (proves a good thing when the crowds begin to gather to go ashore) BY FAR -â€" it is the most passive cruise EVER! There is no "activities" on board for those mornings\afternoons that you are cruising -â€" I reckon the idea is for you to sit on the deck and soak up the scenery...but then you kinda ease in into this "lazy" lifestyle...and if need be -â€" there are books and games in library, they were showing movies on TV (mostly tapes not live but that's OK) and there were appropriate lectures on Ukraine History in general and ports-of-call when appropriate. Food was AWESOME (surprisingly I did not gain an ounce case you KNOW I was eating like a pig (or make it 2 pigs) J). They are also liberal with that wine that comes as a part of the package -â€" once its starts flowing you can ask for refills and they will give it to you no questions asked. The drinks at the bar are good (the best LIIT I've ever tasted) and they use top shelf brands (drink of the day was about 55 UAH). Draft beer (Slavutitch -â€" Ukrainian Beer) is very good and actually is cheaper than Coke (28 UAH vs 30 UAH for the same size glass) Speaking of Coke -â€" all soft drinks are charged even during the meals. At the same - water and iced tea are available with meals, 4 juices are there for breakfast and there is a coffee machine on Middle Deck that works 24/7 (and like I said -â€" wine is flowing during the dinner) so we were not hurting for soda. They also give you a 1 liter bottle of water in the cabin (if need be -â€" replenished every day). And there is no limit on stuff you can buy while in port and bring back into cabin (there is a small fridge). You KNOW some folks were dragging booze in on daily basis J If you want to serve it at the dinner though -â€" its 80 UAH cork fee charge. The stuff is very friendly and helpful but their English is limited -â€" if you "overstep the boundaries" by asking some unfamiliar question -â€" they will give you a blank look and say Yes (with the same friendly smile.... But that's about it) The weather while in Odessa and Crimea was just perfect! Couple of showers but kinda "passing by" or we hit everything at the right time (rained while we were in transit or inside the building) so that was not an issue aside carting the jackets with us some days and the temps were in upper 70s to upper 80s The 1st days into the river it did change to cooler (upper 50s -â€" mid 60s) but bearable. Unfortunately 1 day was a complete wash out - we were lucky that we just finished watching the Cossack Horse Show when the skies literally opened up and we were shooed-in back onto buses thus cutting short the rest of the visit (kinda was a bummer since this was on Khortitsa Island where Ukrainian (Zaporozhye) Cossacks started from as I was looking forward to view some of the fortifications and such) and the next 2 were kinda gloomy as well (it would periodically drizzle on and off -â€" just enough to be a slight nuisance here-and-there). But by the time we got to Kiev it was all nice and sunny again The "included" tours...well... they just cemented my reason of trying to stay away from organized tours (but then it is exactly the reason why I DO stay away from them). You are assigned the bus in the beginning of the cruise so the same driver and guide will be with you for duration. There were 28 people on our bus (it does not seem like the cruise was sold-out) and most of the folks are in their 70s so... time to get on get off... and pretty much running through museums and other exhibits -â€" not much you can do just go with the flow. (Be prepared to hear & see a lot of WWII (or as they call it The Great Patriotic War) stuff esp. since they are celebrating 65 years of VE Day this year) That said I was only too happy that I hired a private guide for all 4 days in Crimea. He was a great guy, had his own A\Cd little car (which did come handy in some places that the bus would not even DREAM to go through), very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and ... just everything you want to ask for in a guide! To make a long story short -â€" we hit EVERY place that Viking advertized as "optional" tours (even when one had to choose between "tour 1" or "tour 2") and THEN SOME! He got us into places that are closed to tourist crowds and pretty much I got everything I wished for (the only thing that was on my list that I didn't get to do was to take a cable car to the top of Ai-Petri (St Peter's) Mountain but that's only because Viking told me that the ship would be leaving Yalta at 2:00 pm and it actually did at 1:00 pm -â€" which lost us that hour and is not in any way Sergey's (the guide's) fault). All in all I paid him $510.00 $50.00 of which was a tip and was also paying whatever the entry fees to places were. So maybe the whole experience ran me $600-650 (tops) but again it was well worth it for me because of what we saw & did vs what the rest of the crowd did (or, obviously -â€" didn't). If you are interested -â€" contact him at sergo22yalta at gmail.com (again his name is Sergey). You most certainly can tell him that I recommended J To highlight one examle of what I just told you -â€" I have photos of me sitting in Stalin's cabinet behind his desk and Sergey and I in Molotov's quarters - both are taken at Yusupov's Palace which was where Russian Delegation was HQ'd during Yalta Conference (US Delegation was at Livadia (White) Palace (included in Itinerary) and Brits were at Vorontzov's (Alupka) Palace -â€" optional tour). The place originally belonged to Prince Felix Yusupov's parents and the big claim to fame here is that Price Felix is the one who murdered Rasputin In any case -â€" nothing that any other fellow cruiser even dreamt of remotely seeing.... There is not much to see & do in Dnepropetrovsk and Kremenchug -â€" they are just "1/2-dead monuments" to Soviet industry and I honestly have no idea as to why they are on the itinerary (I'd much more to skip one or both of them and spent that time in Kiev) but I'm not the one who makes the itinerary. No matter what -â€" the time in Kiev is simply NOT ENOUGH so make the best of what you'll see on organized tours! The ship arrives in Kiev shortly after lunch and you practically immediately carted off onto the tours of St. Sophia Cathedral and the Kiev_Pecherskaya Monastery of the Caves (once more - NOT ENOUGH TIME AT ALL!!!!) Upon the reurn - you have a choice -â€" either free time (shopping etc) or take a Jewish Kiev tour (to Babi Yar and the Main Synagogue). The tour is not advertized in Viking brochures and is 330 UAH pp; lasts approximately 2 hours and is a somber experience if you are familiar with the Babi Yar (done with a very knowledgeable English speaking local guide) I spent about $300.00 in tips all around (ship personnel and local guides) and ran up perhaps a $150.00 bill on board which included the above tour and some souvenirs. -â€" again PITTANCE since it was all in Hrivnas I also have to mention that they take away your passports for the duration of the cruise (no reason to make any scenes or protests as that wont help any) they give you some tail of a whale about customs but it's a lie -â€" probably a left-over appendix from "good old" Soviet times. In any case -â€" they give you a card (one per person) with your name, cabin # and bus # instead and it serves as your ID and also a "whereabouts" tool inasmuch as that you have to give them your cabin key for these cards every time you go ashore and thus exchange back upon return -â€" so they can see if anyone is "still out". They are not computerized at all in that sense -â€" all on board stuff is still done via signing individual purchase receipts. Once your bill is settled (last "cruising" morning on the way to Kiev) -â€" you get the passports back. At the last day I simply decided not to go through the hustle of haggling with either cab drivers or hackers about the fare to Borispol Airport and just let the Front Desk order me one of their "affiliate" cabs. The taxi was there 10 mins before the scheduled time - nice, clean & comfortable car. The trip took about 40 mins and the fare was 300.00 UAH (+ 30 UAH tip). Thus - as far as my "transfers" go I think I beat the Viking price hands down.... So in conclusion -â€" there are some setbacks but on the overall -â€" a very worthy experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This was our first big river cruise and we are so happy that we chose Viking. Our cabin was small, but adequate. We had a wonderful view of the river (unless we were tied up next to another ship in port). I brought my computer and internet ... Read More
This was our first big river cruise and we are so happy that we chose Viking. Our cabin was small, but adequate. We had a wonderful view of the river (unless we were tied up next to another ship in port). I brought my computer and internet access, though spotty, was adequate. Meals were fabulous. Each one was a winner, some better than others. The restaurant staff, all Filippino, were excellent. We loved Mary Jane, our waitress. The ship staff was pleasant, though not all spoke English and sometimes I met a blank stare when I attempted to get information at the front desk, but someone else was along soon enough to answer my question. There were varying degrees of competence among the tour guides. Some were excellent performers, others were not, though they had great command of the information. (Sadly, we did not have one of the better performers). There were several activities, including lectures, Russian lessons, a Gershwin concert, a talent show, a couple of special dinners, lessons on buying gifts, and of course the vodka tasting. Special notice must be given to Victoria's lecture on Gorbachev...best lecture of the whole trip. Material I read before the cruise said there were spa and massage (and hairdressing) facilities on board. We never saw sign of those, but the ship had been recently renovated and perhaps those were eliminated with the remodeling. Most of the optional excursions were well worth the money, though Moscow by night was less spectacular than I expected. I loved the opportunity for all the musical performances. This was our first trip with Viking and from reports I have read, people are not all satisfied with it. If this is one of their "less satisfying" cruises, I look forward to one that gets high marks from everyone, because I certainly give this one high marks. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Our cabin was a good size and the bed was comfortable; linked twins, with 2 duvets. The shower room was small, but reasonable and there were good sized fluffy towels and also face towels. Storage space in the cabin was adequate, with ... Read More
Our cabin was a good size and the bed was comfortable; linked twins, with 2 duvets. The shower room was small, but reasonable and there were good sized fluffy towels and also face towels. Storage space in the cabin was adequate, with sufficient hangers. A large bottle of water was provided every day. We had a 'fridge and a safe. We were glad to have a cabin in the bows of the ship as it was further away from the engine. The curtains were heavy and kept out the light. There was air conditioning, but it found it difficult to cope in the heatwave. The laundry service was very expensive. The lunches and dinners were excellent and consisted of several courses. Breakfasts were good but we would have liked more low cal. choices. The Philippino waiting staff were friendly, spoke good English and could not have been more helpful. There was 'free seating' in the restaurant. House wine was included, but was not very good. We opted for the drinks package; money paid up front to include cocktails, a choice of good wines, spirits and juices, water and soft drinks. Excursions were well organised and our guide, who spoke excellent English, was very good. Earphones were provided. these enabled us to hear everything said by the guide. The more popular sights were very crowded and very hot in the heatwave.Smaller events were unexpectedly fun, like Russian doll painting classes and a cookery lesson. On-board lectures were excellent. The staff were friendly and helpful at all times. The port of Moscow where we docked was rather a surprise at first, located by a semi-derelict building which sometimes had music blaring from it. However a park was behind this and there was easy access to the Metro for the brave! The Metro is worth seeing, as it contains a variety of art and some wonderful sculpture. Red Square and the Kremlin are sights not to be missed. The Kremlin is best visited with a group, otherwise the queues to get in can be horrendous. Lenin's tomb can be visited at times and it is free. It felt rather spooky. One is forbidden to show any sign of amusement and we were told to take passports, as an involuntary giggle can result in police questioning. The big department store, GUM, was a disappointment to most people, except possibly the very rich. It was not like stores in the West. However the building was worth seeing. There was an underground shopping mall opposite which was more user friendly and air conditioned. We went to an evening performance of folk music, showcasing Russian instruments and everyone loved it. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Being children of the cold war, we had mixed feelings about visiting Russia. Needless to say, our concerns were unfounded. Not only did we have a great time on the Viking Kirov, but we updated our image of Russia and the Russian people. ... Read More
Being children of the cold war, we had mixed feelings about visiting Russia. Needless to say, our concerns were unfounded. Not only did we have a great time on the Viking Kirov, but we updated our image of Russia and the Russian people. Plus, we met may wonderful people on the cruise some of whom we'll add to our friends list. As for the ship and the crew, they were very professional and accommodating. The food and service were excellent with plenty of variety including local dishes. The guides were exceptional, all native Russians, mostly from St. Petersburg. Their English was excellent and, along with local guides, they provided us with reams of information about Russian history up to the current day. They were open about their recent history and the transition from Soviet to modern day Russia. After may years of propaganda on both sides of the Iron Curtain, it was refreshing to experience the openness. We were impressed with how clean and friendly both Moscow and St. Petersburg were. You've read about the heat and the smog. That was a challenge but we worked around it, thanks to an air conditioned boat and tour buses. This is an education trip, not one that you kick back and snooze ... although you can to that, but you would miss the best parts. When the trip is over, you brain is full and needs a rest. At least mine does. Not everything was perfect. Viking advertises WiFi. It worked sporadically and when it did, the bandwidth was very narrow. I took my new iPad which does not have an Ethernet connection, which was a problem so I had less access than those with net books or laptops. I wish Viking was fix the connectivity or set expectations better. Several people complained of feeling ill. Nothing serious but certainly took the fun out of the trip. We're not sure if someone brought a virus on board or maybe the ships water wasn't purified enough. Although hand cleansing stations were available, Viking was not as diligent as other lines in encouraging their use. I don't know if that would have helped. All in all, the experience was well worth the money. It gets four thumbs up from us. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Our twelve day cruise aboard the Viking Kirov was enjoyable. Traveling with friends, we made many memories to share. Our flight to St. Petersburg from Southern California arrived at 10:30 PM, long after our fellow cruisers had retired ... Read More
Our twelve day cruise aboard the Viking Kirov was enjoyable. Traveling with friends, we made many memories to share. Our flight to St. Petersburg from Southern California arrived at 10:30 PM, long after our fellow cruisers had retired for the nite. The first morning, we were up and on the road, off to The Hermitage. Exhausting day with time change, etc. Would suggest that first day in St. Pete be a bus tour of the city to get bearings and general orientation, then The Hermitage second day. We were sooo fortunate to have Victoria as our guide. She was sensational!Well spoken, well-informed, never repeated herself. Even read us Pushkin's short stories while coach was trapped in traffic on the way to Moscow. She is a true gem -- and sensational asset to Viking. Loved the lectures and classes. Learned a lot. Leaving early in AMs was described by up the passageway passengers as "oh, my, another forced march." Would appreciate breakfast service until 9:30 a.m.(for those who choose to stay aboard) -- and more food items on breakfast coffee station (juice, fruit, yogurt, pastries) for self-service. The dining room soups were especially delicious. Felt very rushed and set aside on final nite in Moscow. Passengers attending the (optional) Bolshoi excursion dined early and were sent off to the theater in Moscow. We who remained felt rushed and pressured to dine quickly -- this on our last nite aboard, which we hoped to enjoy leisurely.Food was excellent, service attentive and pleasant.Yes, we'd go on another Viking!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We have traveled extensively, but have only started our cruising career. We have had two extensive cruises, one for 26 days, and the other for 30 days. Cruising is our preferred method of travel in the future. Having visited Europe ... Read More
We have traveled extensively, but have only started our cruising career. We have had two extensive cruises, one for 26 days, and the other for 30 days. Cruising is our preferred method of travel in the future. Having visited Europe more than 30 times, I am familiar with Europe and love it dearly. My desire to visit Russia was based on my study of history (I am a retired University VP, amongst other executive career positions in government and industry). My expectations of Russia were mixed, with an expectation of many Stalinist buildings and drab city facilities. My experience was exactly the opposite and the cruise exceeded every expectation. Russia is fantastic. St. Petersburg was a surprise and a delight. The visits to Peterhof, Catherine's Palace, the Hermitage, the Swan Lake Ballet, and the city in general were breathtaking. The quality of life was much better than expected and the Russian people were polite and helpful. Our cruise to Russia and the stops along the way have become life-time memories. Moscow was everything you could hope for and much more. The tours to the Kremlin, Red Square, the Metro, and the folk concert were simply beyond description. Our experience on board the Kirov, our cruise ship was exceptional in every respect. The food was 10 star, the staff were exceptional, the tour guides were first class, and the entire experience was amazing. We have made a movie of our cruise and have now convinced several other couples to go to Russian on Viking River Cruises. My sincere thanks to everyone associated with Viking River Cruises. I could write a book on this trip. Thanks again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We traveled on Viking's Waterways of the Czars river cruise on the Viking Kirov, starting in Moscow June 12th, 2011 and ending in St. Petersburg on June 24th. We have only done one other river cruise, which was on the Danube with ... Read More
We traveled on Viking's Waterways of the Czars river cruise on the Viking Kirov, starting in Moscow June 12th, 2011 and ending in St. Petersburg on June 24th. We have only done one other river cruise, which was on the Danube with another company a couple of years prior, but let me say that Viking really did an outstanding job on this cruise. The ship was first rate, the crew was extremely professional, the food was superb and the tours were well organized. The onboard activities, such as the history and language lectures, were excellent. That's not to say everything was perfect, but rarely is that the case when it comes to travel. Now, let's get into the details. We were not entirely satisfied with the Viking air travel department because they put us on a really tough and tiring itinerary to get over to Moscow, with crack-of-dawn departures, less direct routes and long layovers, which left us pretty wiped out by the time we got there. The lesson here is to stay on top of things and make sure you get the arrangements that work best for you. The pickup and transfer in Moscow was flawless, however, and we got settled on the ship in no time. Even though we arrived well after 9 p.m., the dining room stayed open so we could have dinner before unpacking and getting to bed. One of the drawbacks of the docking locations in both Moscow and St. Petersburg is that they are quite far from the city centers. This is not peculiar to Viking as all the river boats dock in the same area. However, this means most bus tours start and end with almost an hour in horrible traffic moving at a crawl. This also means you will see the outer regions of those cities and their enormous number of dilapidated Stalin-era buildings, thereby providing a very bad first impression. In my opinion, the river cruise lines should put their passengers up at city center hotels to avoid these issues. Having said that, I have to give our guides major kudos for utilizing the travel time to inform and entertain, so it's not just wasted time. I don't mean to harp this, but another drawback of not staying in a downtown hotel is the lack of time for just walking the streets and getting to know the city. We would've loved to have explored more of the area around Red Square. Likewise, in St. Petersburg, there was a great area downtown that offered a much in the way of exploration possibilities. It was ironic that, as much as the river cruise lines tout their ability to dock in the city centers of their various ports of call, in the case of St. Petersburg, it was some of the larger cruise ships that were berthed very close to the downtown area. Of course, those same large ships cannot go to Moscow, so that's the trade-off. Bottom line is that, if your focus is on Russia, then a river cruise is the way to go. This trip is not about seeing great cities, though there are flashes of greatness to be seen, it's really about discovering Russian history, meeting its people and knowing what today's Russia is like. You will learn that Russia is struggling mightily to move from the Soviet era to the modern era and it's going to take a long time. There is great architecture mixed in with some of the most depressing blocks of prefab housing you've ever seen. Keep all this in mind and you will be able to better accept what you are seeing. The Viking guides did an outstanding job of telling it like it is. The thing I liked about this itinerary is that, in between the hectic pace in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, the schedule is more leisurely on the river as you visit the small towns or just cruise the waterways. The scenery was just beautiful, better than I had anticipated. I should mention that, once you select a bus on the first day of tours, you will stay with that bus, and that tour guide, for the rest of your trip. On the Kirov, we had Misha as our guide and he was excellent. On one of the optional tours, where you don't necessarily use your original bus, we had Victoria as our guide and she was absolutely brilliant. Of the optional tours offered, in Moscow we did the Military Museum (good) and Moscow By Night (very good), in Uglich we did the Home Host Visit (very good), and in St. Petersburg we did the Peterhof Palace (excellent). One of the highlights of the trip was definitely Red Square and the Kremlin, part of the included tours in Moscow. Being a baby boomer and having grown up with so many references to that place, it was a thrill to see it in person. Regarding the onboard experience, we thought the Kirov was a much nicer ship in the way of stateroom decor, passenger space, dining room set-up, outdoor deck layout and lounge comfort than the smaller European river ship we were on. All of the ships used on the Russia river cruises are an East German design and many, but not all, of them have been fully gutted and remodeled like those in the Viking line. Just be mindful that all river cruise ships are NOT anything like the large mega-ships cruising the oceans of the world so don't expect fancy. In the mind of most passengers, the quality of the cruising experience is mostly defined by the quality of the food. Maybe the reason we were so impressed with the food on this cruise is because the food on our Danube cruise on another cruise line was so mediocre. However, our friends who traveled with us and who have never been on any river cruise, confirmed our assessment that the food on Viking Kirov was just superb. I will focus on dinner, as breakfast and lunch on most cruise lines is pretty straightforward (usually buffet style with the option of ordering off the menu - all very good). We have never had a selection of soups that was so consistently good, day after day after day. In talking with the restaurant manager, he said they take pride in making their soups from scratch and not re-hydrating powdered soups as some might do and that tells me something. Next, from the appetizer course to the main course to the desserts, the presentations were excellent. And not just at the Captain's Dinner as some cruises do, but every single day. Were there any dishes that just didn't measure up? Sure, but I would say we encountered about a 95% success rate. My understanding is that, after some complaints a while back, Viking now uses beef that exclusively comes from the U.S., and a good tender sirloin steak (as well as salmon and chicken) is always available at every dinner, no matter what else is on the main menu. Without going into too much more detail, let me just say that we were continually amazed at the quality of the presentation being put out by the kitchen for such a large group of passengers. The chef makes it a point to provide a variety of menu themes from various parts of the world, which really makes things interesting. There was never a repeated menu throughout the 13 days of our trip. The dining room staff was consistently good, with some wait staff even exceeding that standard with some of the most attentive table service I have seen. I have to acknowledge the restaurant manager, Gunther, as the driving force behind the dining room performance. Clearly, he has developed a team, one that has stayed on the Kirov for several seasons, that works so well together and respects his leadership. Gunther always had time to stop by your table to see if you needed anything or to explain what goes into various dishes. Now, having said all this, I am realistic to know that it's possible not every dining room in every Viking ship will have the same level of accomplishment. However, I have to believe the basic corporate philosophy that enabled the performance we enjoyed on Kirov would also be in evidence on all their ships. Ok, a just little bit more about our shore experiences. We are very comfortable using public transportation but the couple we were traveling with was a little more apprehensive so we didn't push it. The Moscow dock is at the very end of the Green Line, so it would be hard to get lost, especially if you know the Cyrillic alphabet. The schedule of tours we chose in Moscow, however, did not lend itself to a lot of free time and to using the Metro on our own. We did have a free afternoon but chose to relax back at the ship as we were all still pretty tired after our trip over. So, I used that time to take a nice walk around the park adjacent to the dock, see some of the other ships, have a closer look at the Stalin-era terminal building, etc. In St. Petersburg, you need to take a shuttle bus from the ship to the metro station and then the metro ride itself into the city center. That seemed too complicated to us so, on our free afternoon, we opted for the shuttle bus offered by Viking for $20, which was expensive but included a guide to help you navigate the downtown area if you needed it. I have no idea which method would be faster, the bus fighting the traffic or the metro with the required shuttle. Perhaps the best way to get into the city center is a new water taxi service. There is a pickup point right near where Viking docks and I believe the cost is reasonable. I know there's always the temptation to fill absolutely every minute of every day with some activity because you figure it's your one and only chance to see each destination. For us, however, there is some wisdom to not overdoing it to the point of getting exhausted. I don't much like the feeling at the end of a trip that I can't take anymore and just want to get back home. I think it's best to leave a little something in the tank to prime your next great adventure. One final note, when the Program Director tells you they are taking you to the airport 3 hours early for your flight back home, don't question it. The process through the airport is excruciatingly slow. In summary, the Waterways of the Czars is a great cruise and Viking does an excellent job of taking you there. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
If you enjoy touring but not packing and unpacking then this is the trip for you. Once you have checked in on the boat all your practical needs are taken care off and you can relax and just enjoy the holiday. We were on Viking Kirov, a ... Read More
If you enjoy touring but not packing and unpacking then this is the trip for you. Once you have checked in on the boat all your practical needs are taken care off and you can relax and just enjoy the holiday. We were on Viking Kirov, a modern, clean, well appointed and very well run ship. Organisation is first rate and the food is very good and plentiful. The tours, included and optional, gave a good introduction to the sights of St.Petersburg and Moscow, including poor driving habits (not the coach drivers!) and mammoth traffic jams, and the stops during the cruise provided enjoyable, interesting and occasionally quirky contrasts. The history lectures given by the guides during the cruise were very good and together with the almost impossible language lessons considerably enhanced the Russian experience. The audio system used by the guides was a constant problem. The ear-buds supplied were not as easy to use as the Quietvox earpiece on our Seine cruise in June, and the guides microphones were highly directional and some of the local guides did not understand that if they turned their heads to point out something to either side then the microphone was no longer in front of their mouth and their words were inaudible to many. Other criticisms are minor and refer to the boat. We would have liked an organised option to the 4 course lunch, it was just too much with a 4 course dinner every evening. We did, in fact, emulate the example of another couple and simply make up plates from the buffet starters and take them to the Panorama bar and have them there. As a beer drinker I would have liked a draft beer available rather than just two types of bottled beers. Finally the layout of the lounges and dining room was not as good as our Seine Cruise on the Viking Spirit. The Panorama Bar was very nice, but quite small, while the Sky Bar, which was used for all the lectures was large but had no forward view and this, for me, limited its appeal. The dining room, which was used for all meals, was effectively split in two by the central kitchen and services station and this detracted from the atmosphere and versatility of the space. Do not, however, let these minor criticisms put you off a terrific cruise full of memorable experiences. Viking are a very professional company and the fact that this was our second cruise says it all. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
What a wonderful river cruise in Russia. We started in Moscow, where we lived on the boat for 3 days and did local tours, then cruised for 5 days, with stops each day, then spent 3 days in St. Petersburg with local tours. What a fabulous ... Read More
What a wonderful river cruise in Russia. We started in Moscow, where we lived on the boat for 3 days and did local tours, then cruised for 5 days, with stops each day, then spent 3 days in St. Petersburg with local tours. What a fabulous experience. Room was comfortable, windows open widely to take in fresh air, the beds were a bit hard, WiFi very basic but worked fine for email, TV with news stations in many languages and movies. The ship has two bars, a sun deck, seating on all deck levels outside and inside, a very nice restaurant, 24-hour coffee/tea/hot cocoa bar. But we were so busy, little of it mattered.The first day in Moscow we took a city tour where we were assigned our regular tour guide, and met a local Moscow guide. Wandered Red Square, rode the subway, and got oriented to the city. The boat is docked quite a ways out of town, and we spent a fair amount of time stuck in traffic. But never fear, Maria, our fearless leader, entertained us with Russian language lessons, poetry, history snippets, and always entertaining chatter. Subsequent days took us to the Kremlin (fabulous) and various optional tours. Most of the cruising stops were wonderful. We visited Uglich, a small town; Yaroslavl, a medium sized city; monastery at Kuzino; wonderful wooden historical structures at Kizhi; craftsmen at Mandrogy. It was a good variety of activities to break up the sailing days. And I can't say enough about St. Petersburg. Palaces, art, and canals - an unbeatable combination. Truly an embarrassment of riches. Very difficult to take it all in.Food was generally very good, soups were excellent. Fellow travelers were all delightful and very experienced travelers. Lots of wonderful long mealtime conversations. We spent much of our free time up on the sun deck or seated on the outer deck reading and watching the scenery. Sun didn't set until about 11 p.m., so we had lots of time to look!We had wonderful history lectures, and the guides were very honest and sometimes emotional about their lives in the transition to democracy. A very real, enriching, exhausting experience. We never thought we'd visit Russia. Thanks to Maria and all the Kirov staff for the best trip ever. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
The Moscow to St Petersburg Cruise on Viking Kirov [now called Truvor] which my wife and I took cost us £6000 not including spends. We were impressed that so many excursions were included but these were all to tourist traps apart from ... Read More
The Moscow to St Petersburg Cruise on Viking Kirov [now called Truvor] which my wife and I took cost us £6000 not including spends. We were impressed that so many excursions were included but these were all to tourist traps apart from the optional "home viisit" which sadly we missed but which we were told was superb. 90% of passengers were American which suited me fine better that having 90% Brits in my opinion. many of the problems were not of Vikings making these were mainly caused by traffic particularly in Moscow. Our flight Heathrow to Moscow was 3.5.hrs. Coach from Moscow to Boat 25k or 15 miles took 4 hrs. Again not Vikings fault but not a good start. Traffic in St Petersburg was not so bad. Russia does not have a good tourist infrastructure other that in Moscow and St P. HoweverThe Kremlin and Peterhof were highlights. Along the river there were only touristy villages and towns with endless dolls for sale. There were only churches/monasteries/cemeteries etc to visit along the river. I would have welcomed a trip to an Accountants Office for some light relief. On board it could not have been better. Accommodation/Food/Staff including guides etc were superb. Especially Nadya and Julia but most of all the Cruise Director- a German lady with a brilliant sense of humour.! This cruise is not for the unfit and there were plenty on board who could have benefited by missing out a few meals but the food was so good it was hard to resist. Altogether a wonderful experience but hard work. Certainly bear in mind the Moscow traffic which can add substantially to the length and reduce the enjoyment of excursions. Some of the excursions are (as stated in the brochure which some obviously did not read) over uneven ground with steps. The Cruise was just a bit overpriced considering our Visas cost £125 each and we had to add pre and post flight hotels. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
First time cruising with Viking Cruise Lines. The service was excellent. Food was great. Good variety. (Presentation was superb) Unlimited wine during dinner. Very efficient, cheerful and friendly dining room staff, specially the ... Read More
First time cruising with Viking Cruise Lines. The service was excellent. Food was great. Good variety. (Presentation was superb) Unlimited wine during dinner. Very efficient, cheerful and friendly dining room staff, specially the Filipino crew. Fluency in English and several languages was very impressive. Always helpful and accommodating. Overwhelming positive feedback from our new friends about the service. Viking Senior Staff provides very personal service. Always around when guests leave for day excursions and there again to welcome them back. Daily agenda provided and kept guests informed of what is expected for the day. All the Guides speak good English and very knowledgeable. Living quarters were adequate. Ship activities, e.g., Russian language classes, cooking class, and lectures on Russian history, were good. Filipino pianist and entertainer, Edgar, was very good. We would definitely travel with Viking Cruise Lines again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
My husband and I are usually solo travelers, with a full agenda of art, antiquities and scenic wonders to see, and food to sample, taking photographs as opportunities present. Some places are not so easy for the solo traveler. For two of ... Read More
My husband and I are usually solo travelers, with a full agenda of art, antiquities and scenic wonders to see, and food to sample, taking photographs as opportunities present. Some places are not so easy for the solo traveler. For two of those, Russia and China (so far), we've had outstanding experiences on Viking. Our Waterways of the Czars cruise on the Viking Kirov (now renamed Truvor) was exceptional. The Kirov was very comfortable: not too big, recently updated, good wi-fi reception throughout, and ample seating inside and out; the food was very good with lots of choices; and service throughout was attentive. Ours was the last cruise of the season (October 9 to 22), which gave us stunning foliage, many glorious cool days interspersed with some rain and even some snow, which we could enjoy without the crush of other tourists. There are many treasures to see and much history and culture to absorb in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and at ports in between. Viking seems to attract informed and curious travelers, and it makes every effort to ensure that everyone can do and see as much and as thoroughly as they wish. The guides (there were 6 who accompanied the trip from beginning to end, each responsible for approximately 26 passengers), were well educated and informed, and were refreshingly candid in discussing Russia's recent past and present. The tour director and her staff were very helpful (and quite entertaining). It was a great trip! We look forward to seeing more of Russia on Viking. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I most strongly recommend the Viking experience. The booking process is excellent, staff being friendly and most helpful,everything is taken care of from the minute you leave home to the time you get back. Both the Viking Pride and the ... Read More
I most strongly recommend the Viking experience. The booking process is excellent, staff being friendly and most helpful,everything is taken care of from the minute you leave home to the time you get back. Both the Viking Pride and the Truvor were well appointed,comfortable,friendly and efficiently run, truly a "home from home".I was impressed by the attention to detail which all helps to make the experience a memorable one.Facilities on board were very good and seemed to cater for all requirements.Of course a major highlight was the restaurant,nicely set out, freedom as to choice of seating,so important in the making of new friends,and the standard of cuisine excellent!Even my Granddaughter who is normally quite fussy, thoroughly enjoyed her food, particularly the buffet breakfasts,as did I. The inclusive excursions and the optional ones were interesting and well organised, guides were helpful and imparted their local knowledge well. The on-board information was very good both concerning each day's events and keeping passengers up to date with news from home and abroard. I thoroughly enjoyed both of my trips with you and will join you again,hopefully in the not too distant future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This was a most enjoyable, educational, engaging and yet relaxing cruise. The amazing staff attended to absolutely every want, whim and need..... And always with a smile. The on board guides were particularly effective advocates for their ... Read More
This was a most enjoyable, educational, engaging and yet relaxing cruise. The amazing staff attended to absolutely every want, whim and need..... And always with a smile. The on board guides were particularly effective advocates for their country and never seemed to tire of queries about customs, history or political conditions. While the opulence of the palaces and the grandeur of the churches were most awesome and worthy of extreme photo taking, our highlight were the visits to the homes in the communailka and small village. The hosts were proud to share their life experiences, vodka and treats with us. We plied them with questions, and they did not flinch to give honest responses. The cuisine onboard never failed to tempt, and the servers were attentive and personable. On my return, I made pelmeni for Russian friends with the recipe acquired at the session with the chef. They were impressed and said it tasted just like their mother's pelmeni. A gem of a vacation. Most memorable. Viking excelled on all accounts. We'll be back for more. Dona & Bob, Ottawa, Canada Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My husband and I are both retired, and enjoy traveling frequently. The ship we were on this time, the Truvor, was an older type river ship, but was in excellent condition and appeared recently refurbished. Our room, with a veranda, had ... Read More
My husband and I are both retired, and enjoy traveling frequently. The ship we were on this time, the Truvor, was an older type river ship, but was in excellent condition and appeared recently refurbished. Our room, with a veranda, had enough room to be comfortable. We sat out on the veranda often to watch passing villages, towns and sunsets. Viking offered lectures about the country every day. The lecturers were Russian who spoke well and were easily understood. We learned about the places we were to see and visit, but also about the history and political aspects of different historical eras. It was all fascinating and well presented. We also had two classes to help us understand how to speak Russian. I spent a lot of time sounding out signs in the cyrillic alphabet that is used. On many occasions, the words I sounded out turned out to be English words we shared! We were well taken care of onboard - as is usual on Viking cruises, we seldom had to actually ask for help, it was always there with a smile. On shore excursions, we were accompanied by at least one Russian guide from the ship, and a local Russian guide to help us learn and understand about all the local history. Our guide through the Hermitage was especially adept. The beautiful museums, churches, architecture, cities, villages, and countryside were amazing - and much of it was so different from expectations. The Russian people were friendly and slightly curious about us also, since tourists are still a new thing there. We liked to go shopping in the local businesses, and many tours were able to give us free time to visit the shops on our own. Many people took advantage of this as it gives a chance to see what the local shops are like away from the 'tourist' places. There actually aren't very many 'touristy' places yet, which is very refreshing since what you see and purchase is different in each place you visit. On this trip, we did not 'eat out' very often since Viking provided Russian cuisine onboard, and sent a packed lunch when our tours took us past the lunch hour.As for embarkation and disembarkation - these times always involve a little waiting for buses to the airport, but Viking handles it all very well and with as little standing in line as possible ( in our experience) and the buses are always first class. We have our next Viking cruise already planned - the Viking Star cruise in the Mediterrean, and we can hardly wait! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
The cruise was great fun and the positives were: 1. Staff friendly 2. Tours were on the whole good value for money 3. Cabin was clean and comfortable 4. Free water was very welcome Negatives: 1. Food was hit and miss especially the ... Read More
The cruise was great fun and the positives were: 1. Staff friendly 2. Tours were on the whole good value for money 3. Cabin was clean and comfortable 4. Free water was very welcome Negatives: 1. Food was hit and miss especially the captain's dinner when being allegeric to fish i ended up eating cheese and biscuits as no alternatives could be found. 2. Waiting staff in the restuarant were also hit and miss. Very slow at time and the same with the bar staff. 3. Pre-cruise - we were not advised of any optional trips. This seemed to be extremely random and not impressed at all with this. 4. Still waiting to find out why we didn't get the direct flight - again this seemed a random allocation and was really not impressed. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We had a fantastic trip filled with memorable experiences. Russia is an amazing country with awe inspiring monuments, museums, culture and heritage. The people are proud of their country and welcome visitors. They are shaped by many ... Read More
We had a fantastic trip filled with memorable experiences. Russia is an amazing country with awe inspiring monuments, museums, culture and heritage. The people are proud of their country and welcome visitors. They are shaped by many appalling events in their history. I think Moscow to St Petersburg is the best way to do it as I would not like to face Moscow traffic and travel times at the end of the trip. The crew on Viking Truvor were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, particularly the tour escorts who enhanced the experience. The ship is well appointed and there is no doubt that Viking is the major player in Russia and has preferred access to berths, tour destinations, buses etc. I have some complaints about Viking's organisation. They may seem petty but it is often the small things which make all the difference. I consider this to have been an expensive cruise (£10,000) and do not feel it was good value for money. Consider all the cruise companies who operate in Russia (and there are many) and perhaps these points may help you make up your mind. The deposit seems very high: £2000 paid over 1 year in advance. The flights are in line with most tour companies, but the transfer time was 1 hour, which is fine if all goes well, but our flight from St Petersburg was delayed (and I got the impression this happens quite often), we made our connection by running through Zurich airport, but our luggage didn't. We were unable to check in online with Swiss.com. The majority of fellow passengers were American and Australian. They seemed to have been offered a range of incentives which were not available to UK guests: 2 for 1, free flight, free gratuities, free premium drink packages, welcome bottle in cabin. So that's all the negatives, now for the cruise itself. Domodedovo airport Moscow is 2 hours from the river port. The traffic in Moscow is horrendous and trips to and from the port take 1 hour on average. We enjoyed all the tours in Moscow, but the Folklore Show was outstanding. The cruise along the waterways is relaxing after all the crowds in Moscow. We saw lots of ospreys but wildlife is not abundant. The ports of call are fascinating although I would have liked more free time to explore independently after the main tour, but the distances travelled are so large I don't think that's possible and of course you don't have to take the organised tour. Dollars seemed to be the preferred currency in most outlets. Life on board ship was very relaxed, the food was excellent and the service was prompt and efficient. The dock at St Petersburg is disappointing. It is not easy to travel into the city independently and there is nothing to explore in the vicinity. There were no tours scheduled for the final day, although you could purchase optional tours. I don't understand why we had 2 very heavy tours the day before. There are huge crowds, but we had early access to St Catherine's palace, although I think a lot of tour companies do this. L'Hermitage, the summer palace and the ballet are all amazing. So, although I have reservstions about Viking, I have no hesitation in recommending Russia as a truly memorable experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Warren and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip from Moscow to St. Petersburg, Russia in July 2014. So much so, in fact, that we put together a booklet containing historical facts, our insights, and pictures of the sites we visited for our ... Read More
Warren and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip from Moscow to St. Petersburg, Russia in July 2014. So much so, in fact, that we put together a booklet containing historical facts, our insights, and pictures of the sites we visited for our friends and relatives. We have heard back from many of them about how they would like to take a cruise with Viking too. We were helped every step of the way, from obtaining our visas to arranging for our airline tickets. We were met by our tour guides at the airport after we had arrived in Moscow, and were assisted by them when it came time to leave. The tours were educational as well as well planned. We not only learned about the history of the places we visited, but gained an appreciation of the culture of the Russian people. The accommodations exceeded our expectations.. The staff were friendly, the rooms were clean and the beds were very comfortable. The food, however, was good enough for royalty!!! Our tour guides not only knew their stuff, they had a sense of humor. That makes touring a real pleasure. We loved our trip so much, we are already planning our next one. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
August last year, perhaps a little late in the season but our fault we chose it. The first couple of days are spent in Moscow, one of those places that not so many years ago was almost impossible to go to. We had a fantastic time, ably ... Read More
August last year, perhaps a little late in the season but our fault we chose it. The first couple of days are spent in Moscow, one of those places that not so many years ago was almost impossible to go to. We had a fantastic time, ably assisted by our very knowledgeable Russian Guide Victoria. She seemed to know everything and used her skills as a guide along with her amazing grasp of the English language and the English sense of humour. The cruise took in some wonderful palaces at which we stopped for a tour and some free time. Uglitch, Kizi Island and it amazing wooden church and several other places. Our destination was St Petersburg, without a doubt the Jewel in the Crown. So much to see and so little time as the saying goes. The Hermitage, Peterhoff Palace, the list could be endless but you must do your own homework. As I said at the beginning August is a little cold but snuggled under a warm (provided) blanket drinking coffee under the ever moving stars was just priceless, (oh and the Vodka Tasting evening is good fun as well). Go you will not regret it. The sail date may be slightly wrong, cant remember the exact date we sailed. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was one of the best cruises we have ever experienced!!! The staff were fabulous!!! Our tour guide, for the whole cruise (Victoria) was extremely experienced and just a wonderful representative of her country!!! Our dining area staff ... Read More
This was one of the best cruises we have ever experienced!!! The staff were fabulous!!! Our tour guide, for the whole cruise (Victoria) was extremely experienced and just a wonderful representative of her country!!! Our dining area staff were wonderful!! We had Vera and Natashya and they would help us with any questions on selections, which were all excellent!!! We always did the quiet upper deck small breakfast which had fruit, yogurt, rolls, muesli, juices, coffee/tea, etc. Dinners usually started at 7pm unless tours arrived late back at the ship. All menu items were delicious! We had a balcony room which was really great for cruising the Volga, etc!!! It may have been slightly smaller than we are used to on Celebrity, but they had so many amenities to compensate that we did not feel the difference!!! The bed was great and the features in the bathroom were excellent. All lectures were on the TV so you would not miss any information. We were taken care of from arrival to departure!!! All tours were very informative and professional!!!! I cannot say enough on this subject!!!! This cruise seems expensive, but it is worth every dollar/euro!!!! It is very inclusive and you just feel you are taken "care of" for the entire experience!!! All ship staff members were friendly and talked with you every day!!! Cruise life does not get any better than this for Russia!!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Our first and last River Cruise with this company, who we have found aggressive in their various commercial dealings with customers. The boat/ship is obviously rather old but has been refurbed, although there is not great sound insulation ... Read More
Our first and last River Cruise with this company, who we have found aggressive in their various commercial dealings with customers. The boat/ship is obviously rather old but has been refurbed, although there is not great sound insulation between cabins. We could even hear a TV blaring from across a corridor. The restaurant service is a bit hit and miss, and there efforts to provide a table service is pretty uneven. Often you will be at a table where you may have to wait for your main course whilst others have finished theirs as the galley is unable to cope with the demands put upon it, so it can be awkward. My wife has a allergy but despite notifying the Maitre D, he just said we should always try to sit on the same table that a waiter would get to know our requirements, but of course this was not always possible. The staff themselves were always courteous and work hard, but the system seems a bit shambolick at busy times. The tours were fine and well run, but if you do this cruise be prepared for some waiting in a bus in traffic jams in the major cities. Not a big problem , but a sad fact of life. To sum up, a curates egg of a cruise with a company whom I doubt will see my custom again Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was our first river cruise and we were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the experience. The tours were fantastic, the tour guides exceptional, and the on-board lectures very informative. The food and the food service was ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and we were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the experience. The tours were fantastic, the tour guides exceptional, and the on-board lectures very informative. The food and the food service was exceptional as well. The time was filled with as many activities as one could manage and any down time was your choice. We will definitely take another Viking cruise. They cost a little more but from what we can tell they are worth a little more. The only negative is the Viking suggested gratuity policy. Several of the passengers had gratuities included in the ticket price but many, including us, didn't. We were never offered the option. And Viking's suggestion was to tip everyone and tip them generously including a healthy tip to a general fund to be distributed to the crew. If we followed their suggestions that meant bring a lot of extra cash (although they offered the option to add tips to your bill). That aside it was a wonderful two weeks and we wouldn't have missed it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Viking Truvor Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.5
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 3.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 1.0 2.8
Family 1.0 2.8
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.6
Enrichment 4.0 4.5
Service 4.0 4.7
Value For Money 5.0 4.2
Rates 3.0 3.8

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