73 Viking River Viking Helgi Cruise Reviews

We had travelled this cruise a few years ago and wished to revisit the sights because there is so much to take in. Our friends joined us on this cruise as they had heard so much about it from us over the years that they wanted to see the ... Read More
We had travelled this cruise a few years ago and wished to revisit the sights because there is so much to take in. Our friends joined us on this cruise as they had heard so much about it from us over the years that they wanted to see the sights of Russia themselves. As we have all travelled with Viking before we are familiar the standard of service, food and entertainment, hence our reason for travelling with them. The ship although not built to the same standard as the river cruises of Europe and ocean cruises, was exceptionally well maintained and catered for all our needs. The ship being slightly smaller means that you got to know your fellow travellers quite easily together with the staff. The cabin met all our needs and was easily accessible. Our only preference would have been to have a slightly more modern shower facilities, perhaps matching those of the other boats and ships. Dining was up to the excellent standard that we expect and receive of Viking. However, we would not travel on the last trip of any cruise again. The reason being that on the last but one day and the last day a number of items were not available, e.g. white toast for breakfast and the wine that we had enjoyed throughout the cruise had run out. Entertainment was very good and the different talks given about the places we visited were extremely interesting and informative. The excursions were excellent and the information and knowledge that the individual guides had was amazing they included very detailed information along with their views. The service we received from staff throughout was as always excellent. When we arrived at Moscow we waited for our luggage which did not arrive. Also my husbands wheelchair was badly damaged. The reception staff on the ship did everything they could to help and support us in trying to get our luggage back and complete claim forms. Our only disappointment was that of travelling with the airline Aeroflot, the service was not as good as other airlines and they damaged beyond repair my husband's wheelchair and to date have still not settled, some 2.1/2 months later. Would not recommend flying with them, we will not. Unfortunately, travelling on the last trip of the season, some of the items on the menu were not available for the last but one and last day of the holiday. The staff were extremely apologetic but there was nothing they could do. A great pity. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
I wanted to visit St.Petersburg and Moscow, and wanted to avoid a bus tour, valuing the chance to stay in the same place and not have to re-pack. I also looked forward to the lectures-which were excellent- and the walking tours. All our ... Read More
I wanted to visit St.Petersburg and Moscow, and wanted to avoid a bus tour, valuing the chance to stay in the same place and not have to re-pack. I also looked forward to the lectures-which were excellent- and the walking tours. All our tour leaders were very well educated, knowledgeable, and professional. The ship was quite comfortable, the meals were delicious , offering buffet and menu items that featured local offerings, and the daily tours were excellent. Staff was uniformly proficient and friendly. We enjoyed the journey down the Volga waterways and the visits to villages and cities en route. The distance between the Moscow mooring and the sites we went to see was significant, and the traffic was thick, but we managed. Highlights were walking tours in St.Petersburg, the Peterhof Palace, the village of Kizhi, the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and the Treasures of the Kremlin Gallery. This was a remarkable chance to understand Russia’s past and how people there feel about its present. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We wanted to see more of Russia than just Moscow and St. Petersburg, so we looked at the inland waterway between those cities. Most river cruise companies on this route stop at the same places but we chose Viking as it was the first ... Read More
We wanted to see more of Russia than just Moscow and St. Petersburg, so we looked at the inland waterway between those cities. Most river cruise companies on this route stop at the same places but we chose Viking as it was the first foreign company to develop the route and operates its own boats, giving it greater control. The cruise includes three days in both Moscow and St Petersburg. In both cities Viking docks some way (around 20 km - 12 miles) from the city centre, so if you want to explore those cities on your own be prepared to use the Metro. In Moscow this is easy as the dock is a 10 minute walk from the Metro Station but in St Petersburg you need to take a public bus to the Metro station. This is easier than it sounds as route 119 (every 5 minutes) starts close to the dock and terminates at the Metro station. Details (including map) available at Helgi reception. Tip – buy stored value cards (Troika and Podorozhnik) to save messing with small change Viking offer a number of included and additional shore excursions. We took the Catherine Palace tour in St Petersburg (as this is difficult by public transport), the Moscow up close walking tour (as this starts with a good introduction to the Metro), the Kizhi walking tour and the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery bus tour (as the dock is some way from the monastery.) Viking gave us our tickets for the St.Petersburg Ballet performance in advance and we met the group at the theatre. If you are interested in the visual arts buy tickets on line and visit The Hermitage, General Staff Building and the Pushkin on your own. The Hermitage is worth a day and the other two half a day each. The include tours spend less than four hours at the Hermitage and do not cover the other two (although the extra paid excursions do.) The ports in between provide just the experience we were looking for. The visit to the Kirillov monastery was a high point of the trip and included a school visit hosted by a final year student (doing it as a summer vacation job). Having had school visits on tours to China in the early 1980s I was slightly cynical beforehand but this visit seemed genuine and was interesting. Other points: If arriving by train from Helsinki, the fare we paid from the station to the Viking wharf was RUB 2,500 A two day combined ticket for the Hermitage and General Staff building costs $24 on line; A one day Pushkin ticket including special exhibitions was RUB 1000 Viking offer a one day excursion to Sergiev Posad near Moscow. We did this ourselves by suburban train from the Yaroslav Station (the ticket machines speak English and tell you the time of the next train. On the platform indicator look for trains to Сергиев Посад or Александровка Try and learn the Cyrillic alphabet before you go. Viking provides excellent beginners classes on the boat - worth attending. Food on board was pretty good. German chef. Menu had local as well as international dishes. Bread could have been better Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Chose this cruise for the opportunity to visit St. Petersburg and Moscow, and points in between. The excursions to visit all the cities and sites were wonderful. Everything was fascinating, and pleasantly surprising. Much better than ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the opportunity to visit St. Petersburg and Moscow, and points in between. The excursions to visit all the cities and sites were wonderful. Everything was fascinating, and pleasantly surprising. Much better than expected. The ship was great. Our cabin was more than adequate and comfortable. The dining areas were very pleasant and well organized. The food was very satisfactory. Those crew members with whom we interfaced directly were very professional. The cruise director presented professional port briefings. The cabin steward did a great job. The staff in the dining room and lounge were courteous and professional. The transportation to and from the excursions was very satisfactory. The excursions were very educational, and both the Viking and destination guides were knowledgeable and professional. The 3 ladies serving as guides and providing educational presentations were absolutely outstanding. The on-shore entertainment was great - Cossack dance, ballet and orchestra - was entertaining and professional. All-in-all, it was a great cruise and well worth the time and expense. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Viking River Cruises have never let us down. Service, cuisine, expeditions! I won't ever cruise with anyone else! My husband loves banana splits. This was not on the menu, but they found or purchased all of the ingredients to ... Read More
Viking River Cruises have never let us down. Service, cuisine, expeditions! I won't ever cruise with anyone else! My husband loves banana splits. This was not on the menu, but they found or purchased all of the ingredients to make him a banana split. I got sick and the doctor on board was so helpful and made sure that I was taken care of and explained how to administer the meds. The entertainment even performed a song that they did not know but researched, learned and played especially for me. The excursions were so enjoyable. The guides were first rate and would answer any questions we had. Our cabin steward was amazing. He made sure we had everything we needed and keep our room so clean and well stocked. All of the crew was fantastic. Helpful. Made sure we understood where we were and that we had everything we needed. I'm a Viking forever. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
My wife and I have recently returned from our Russia river cruise via Viking. We actually sailed on a combination of canals, rivers, and lakes from Moscow to St Petersburg on the Viking Helgi. The Helgi is larger than the ... Read More
My wife and I have recently returned from our Russia river cruise via Viking. We actually sailed on a combination of canals, rivers, and lakes from Moscow to St Petersburg on the Viking Helgi. The Helgi is larger than the “longboats” we’ve sailed in previously on the Danube. Though longer, they have two decks, while the Russian river boats have four. The Russian boats are certified to sail in the ocean—but not too far from land. This was good, because some of the lakes we crossed were enormous. There are quite a few of these boats, all based on the same design. The Helgi was built in 1984. Viking acquired five of the boats in 2008 and completely stripped the interiors and rebuilt them to reflect the standards that Viking passengers are familiar with. The difference between the Viking ships and the other Russian boats is very apparent. The boats frequently dock side by side—you often have to walk through one or even two boats to get to yours, especially in the larger cities. There’s a dramatic difference when first walking through a Russian boat then onto ours. The Russian boats are quite drab. All in all she’s a beautiful and comfortable ship. One thing Viking didn’t do when they redid the interiors was improve the sound baffling between the cabins. There doesn’t seem to be much. We could clearly hear conversations and other sounds (use your imagination) from the cabins next to us. The first night aboard, exhausted from long flights, I had to politely ask our neighbor if he’d please turn down his TV, which he quickly did. Otherwise our veranda cabin was great with a very comfortable bed, pillows, linens, etc. The bath was small, but worked well and had a surprising amount of storage. The food was wonderful—every meal was great. Dinner each night featured a menu of different Russian specialities: appetizer, entree, and dessert. There are more “continental” offerings on each menu as well. The chef onboard the Helgi is German—Herr Benjamin. Though not identified as such, many meals have featured German specialties (krautwirkel—cabbage rolls; pflaumen kuchen—plum cake). They and the Russian offerings have been delicious. We looked forward to every meal. Viking offers wine or beer with lunch and dinner with no charge. I was a bit skeptical when it was clear that the only wine and beer was going to be Russian. The beer is actually excellent. Wine (red and white) is surprisingly good too, although not as good as Washington state, Oregon, or California wines typically are. Servers aboard don’t like to see empty glasses; they keep refilling your glass until you ask them to stop. Service aboard was absolutely amazing. Our cabin was kept spotless. But most impressive was the service in the bars and dining room. Servers are a combination of Russian and Filipino. They were all very friendly and extremely attentive. By the third day aboard every server was calling us by name. We’re not special, they seemed to know every passenger’s name. It was pretty amazing. Our fellow passengers were all very much like us—all older, and frequent travelers. We started with three days in Moscow. We were surprised at how much we liked the city. It was safe, extremely clean, with parks and extensive gardens everywhere. We had a pretty hectic schedule for the three days we were there, but were grateful we saw as much as we did. The next five days we cruised making stops at various cities, towns, and UNESCO heritage sites. The Russian countryside we cruised by was beautiful. We selected this cruise because of the number of days it offered in St Petersburg—three with the boat as our hotel. We opted to add the extra two days in a hotel offered through a Viking post cruise extension. Even five days wasn’t enough for this beautiful city. We’d highly recommend this cruise. All in all Viking did everything extremely well. The only thing that could have been better was the transfer from our post cruise extension hotel to the airport. Ours from the hotel was a little... um ... undersupported. We were told to be in the lobby at 2:45 am where a Viking rep would meet us. We’re there on time (5 couples) and waited. There was a Viking shuttle out front but no one in it. When someone checked again after 10 minutes the driver was sitting in it and indicated he was waiting for us. So we all boarded and he drove us to the airport and dropped us with our luggage in front of a terminal. We stood and looked at each other wondering where to go. Someone asked the driver; he pointed in a direction, shut the door and drove off. We all struggled a bit to figure out where exactly we should go to check bags etc., but eventually figured it out and helped each other out each step as we learned something useful. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We took our very enjoyable 1st ever river cruise - Viking’s River of the Tsars. The quality of accommodation, services, food, and tours was in all cases very good. Our chief disappointment was their disregard for a very simple way ... Read More
We took our very enjoyable 1st ever river cruise - Viking’s River of the Tsars. The quality of accommodation, services, food, and tours was in all cases very good. Our chief disappointment was their disregard for a very simple way to operate in a more environmentally sustainable way by reducing their use of single use water bottles which they pass out by the hundreds daily. Despite repeated efforts after our return to learn why they choose not to provide reusable water bottles and water, we have been unable to get an explanation, in part perhaps because they seem to have no department to which environmental performance/sustainability is assigned. If attention to environmental protection/sustainability is important to you, please bring a reusable water bottle. The water on board is perfectly safe to drink, and is served at meals and in the bars. Also please REPLY TO THIS POSTING indicating if you too would be happier as a Viking customer if they provided a reusable water bottle and water refilling stations, so that their corporate decision makers can see that this is something that their customers value and want. Food service was very attentive and meals were tasty and well presented. The wine and beer served with lunch and dinner were of good quality. The tour guides provided from the ship were very well versed in information of interest, and their English was easy to understand. Some of the optional tours especially in Moscow could easily be done at substantially lower cost on one’s own using the very efficient and low cost subway system. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We enjoyed the cruise, despite the flights arranged by Viking. The flights home were particularly difficult - two layovers, not sitting together on 2 flights, chosen seats not provided - despite having paid for Premium Economy and Viking ... Read More
We enjoyed the cruise, despite the flights arranged by Viking. The flights home were particularly difficult - two layovers, not sitting together on 2 flights, chosen seats not provided - despite having paid for Premium Economy and Viking Air Plus. The ship's crew were wonderful, helpful, friendly and extremely attentive. The food was good and the service on board was excellent. The best aspects of the trip were Moscow and St Petersburg - they are fascinating cities and well worth visiting. However, the traffic in both cities was horrific. In both cities the ship docked far outside of the city centres, and too much time was wasted stuck on the bus in terrible traffic. We often spent as much time on the bus travelling to and from destinations as we did at the destinations themselves. The Hermitage in St Petersburg was a wonderful excursion, but marred by the time getting there and getting back, and by the lineups and crowds at the site. All in all, despite the glitches, it was a memorable trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Was looking to visit/travel Eastern Europe as we’ve traveled in every country of Western Europe, but never anywhere in Eastern Europe. This trip dovetailed perfectly into a transatlantic cruise we wanted to be on. As it turned-out ... Read More
Was looking to visit/travel Eastern Europe as we’ve traveled in every country of Western Europe, but never anywhere in Eastern Europe. This trip dovetailed perfectly into a transatlantic cruise we wanted to be on. As it turned-out Viking is heads-above ocean cruises we’ve taken (primarily on Celebrity). Typically we’d be referring to food and service staff, but Viking really understands what we as travelers are looking for. Their tours (all included) and related education gave us a rich cultural experience; education onboard about the country and its history and the local tour guides giving us their life’s personal experiences as well as information about the sites we visited. We gained a great appreciation for Russia; the country’s evolution, the people and their history, and their quality of life. On top of that, yes Viking’s food and service staff were superlative. The service staff was constantly going our of their way to make sure we were taken care of; on and off the ship. Regarding the dining experience, we enjoyed each days offering of dishes typical of the areas we were in Russia; always an extremely gourmet presentation and rich in flavors. One of the best experiences regarding the food was the demonstration of preparing Pelmeni; a traditional Russian staple. The wait staff always wanted to be sure we were enjoying the food and brought alternative choices if we weren’t overjoyed with our initial selections. In addition, and this really impressed us, was the assistant mater deli was constantly caring for my wife’s food allergies/sensitivities. She was like a little mother. Finally, we also very much enjoyed two other events in which we participated; a wine tasting and a vodka tasting. The ship’s hotel manager was previously a sommelier on other cruise ships and he was a vodka officionado. He gave the greatest and extremely knowledgeable presentations. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We took this cruise as an anniversary present and it was the best thing we could have done. The entire cruise throughout Russia was beautiful and always exciting. The museums and the palaces were truly awe inspiring. The professionalism ... Read More
We took this cruise as an anniversary present and it was the best thing we could have done. The entire cruise throughout Russia was beautiful and always exciting. The museums and the palaces were truly awe inspiring. The professionalism of the Viking crew and guide specialists was without equal. All of the towns and cities we visited on shore excursions had their particular charm and interesting history. The Swan Lake opera, my first ever, was simply awesome. The Russian symphony was unbelievable. Don't miss it. As for the ship Helgi, it was a total positive experience. The cabin was comfortable ands provided all of the room we needed. The dining experience was exceptional each and every day. Wonderful, perfectly prepared food was served at each meal. Our servers, Nastia, Chazie, and Jill made certain we were happy. Visiting Moscow and St.Petersburg for 3 days each taught us much about the citizenry. Take the trip, you'll not regret it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I wanted to see Russia and thought this would be a good way. I would definitely recommend the Viking cruise. The dock in St Petersburg is out in an industrial area so if you want to explore on your own you will need a taxi. I ... Read More
I wanted to see Russia and thought this would be a good way. I would definitely recommend the Viking cruise. The dock in St Petersburg is out in an industrial area so if you want to explore on your own you will need a taxi. I believe it is possible to take a city bus to the Metro station on the other side of the river. There is an ATM in a souvenir shop on the dock if you need Rubles. In Moscow the Metro station is closer to the dock if you want more free time in town. We were able to see a lot in St Petersburg and Moscow, but the river trip between them really gave me a change to see more of Russia. Unlike the western Europe trip there was more time spent on Russian History, the Russian language and showing us a Russian home, which I found interesting. I was surprised at how open and honest our guides were. They did a great job showing us their country. I returned with a better understanding of Russia and its people than I had before. I felt safe everywhere we went, and really enjoyed the trip. The ship and cabin were very nice but the ships on the Rhine had a better layout. The food was very well prepared and I really liked that a lot of the staff were Russian. On our Rhine cruise there was one management level person who was Austrian, the rest were from the Philippines. They were all competent on both trips, but it was great to interact with the people from the country you are visiting. One mistake we made was not taking the optional tour of the Hermitage. The museum was extremely crowded and difficult to see much. Skip one of the other optional tours in St Petersburg but take the optional Hermitage tour and also Peterhof Palace and garden. We had a great time in Russia. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
So let me begin by my impression of Russia, at least cruising from Moscow to St. Petersburg, stopping at several towns on the way. My fourth river cruise, but none so beautiful as the rivers between Russia’s two largest cities. We ... Read More
So let me begin by my impression of Russia, at least cruising from Moscow to St. Petersburg, stopping at several towns on the way. My fourth river cruise, but none so beautiful as the rivers between Russia’s two largest cities. We found Russia impeccably clean, their population friendly, St. Petersburg an incredible beauty and Moscow, as my title suggests, enchanting. Tagging (wall art/graffiti) visible in only a few small areas. I would strongly encourage everyone to visit this country if your are able. What has always been clear is that once governments are removed from the equation, we are all the same. Now as to our 13 day Viking cruise. The ships are not the usual long ships owned by Viking but rather vessels leased from Russia. They are very clean, but devoid on any luxury. Our staff was cordial, a few members exceptional, the food good (not great) and the shore excursions generally well managed. I realize you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but a few less palaces, monasteries, etc., and more occasion to mix with the population would be vastly more appealing to us. As usual, almost all passengers were from America so ones horizons are not much expanded by interactions. There are other cruise lines that have the same or similar itineraries, so I look over the reviews carefully before making a decision. The guides that Viking uses are almost to a person bright and learned. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This is our 2nd cruise with Viking. We had taken the Grand European Cruise the summer before and fell in "love" with the way Viking does cruises and does business. The cabins are awesome, we always get a veranda so we can sip ... Read More
This is our 2nd cruise with Viking. We had taken the Grand European Cruise the summer before and fell in "love" with the way Viking does cruises and does business. The cabins are awesome, we always get a veranda so we can sip wine and watch the world go by - so much fun. The cabins are well appointed. The food is fabulous and the choices are just right. The ability to choose which trips outside of the cruise - every day was just so nice and the things we could do were so educational and culturally appropriate for Russia. We learned so much - more than you could ever learn in a book, you have to live it. The entertainment was fun on board and on the excursions!!!! Oh....And the service was so nice, our cabin was always neat and clean and the staff was ALWAYS very attentive to our needs. We fell in love with Russia and St. Petersburg in particular. We stayed there a few days in advance of the cruise and someday we hope to return. We would love to return on another cruise in Russia and maybe we will. There is still a lot of the Viking World to explore and return trips will have to wait until we do some more of the "Viking World." The one thing we would re-do is take the advice and do the "Special" tour of the Hermitage - it is 8 hours. We did the regular tour - 4 hours, and were disappointed that we could not stay longer. You could visit there for years and not see all of the Hermitage. We also like the fact that there are NO children on board. We are adults and prefer the company of like minded adults for culture, education, and cruising in no smoking and no gambling. IF we wanted to do that we would go on a cheap ocean cruise with another company. We like Viking on both the Helgi and Baldur River Boats. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This seemed like a great opportunity to get to know the Russian people and tour Western Russia. Previous experience with Viking indicated we would be well cared for and have great tours aside from the cruise itself. The major drawback for ... Read More
This seemed like a great opportunity to get to know the Russian people and tour Western Russia. Previous experience with Viking indicated we would be well cared for and have great tours aside from the cruise itself. The major drawback for us was that the ship used on this tour was older than those of our previous tour and the cabins were smaller. We were not as comfortable and we spent more time on our veranda...roomier than the main cabin. The crew was wonderful and we continue our contact with some. Some off-ship tours were better than others, but all offered opportunities to experience Western Russia. One problem was that many stops along the way were "tourist" destinations and lacked actual Russian social contact. The highlights were in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In-between, experiences were highly variable between great and subpar. My husband has limited mobility, and most tours required walking distances beyond his ability. We did not participate in some tours because of this and since we had scheduled them, we were still charged even though we could not participate. Viking's rating of tour levels of difficulty did not adequately allow us to make choices appropriate to our abilities. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
My wife Vika is Russian. She has wanted me to see St Petersburg for our whole marriage. Finally we decided because Viking offered a river cruise that would let us see so many places including St Petersburg. We loved everything about ... Read More
My wife Vika is Russian. She has wanted me to see St Petersburg for our whole marriage. Finally we decided because Viking offered a river cruise that would let us see so many places including St Petersburg. We loved everything about our cruise! While Viking Helgi isn’t a new ship, they did a great job making everything nice. The crew was incredibly friendly and helpful. And our cabin was always very clean and fresh. The food was also very good. I especially liked that everything was included. From the wine at dinner to the excursions. One thing we especially liked was how being in a group we weren’t stuck in hour long lines to get entrance to our venues. We were really treated like VIP guests. Everywhere we went, Viking had things covered. We especially loved the balet and the music show with traditional Russian instruments. One highlight in both Moscow and St Petersburg were the boat rides by night through the canals and rivers of both cities. We would recommend the 2 day extension in St Petersburg to have time to explore and take in everything. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We just returned from Waterways of the Tzars with Viking and although the trip was enjoyable there were several problems with the cruise. The boats in Russia are not nearly as nice as the Longships Vikings uses in Europe. They need to be ... Read More
We just returned from Waterways of the Tzars with Viking and although the trip was enjoyable there were several problems with the cruise. The boats in Russia are not nearly as nice as the Longships Vikings uses in Europe. They need to be updated and reconfigured. The public spaces are tiny and bar area are so small that they cant hold everyone during lectures and briefings. The outside common area on the back on the boat is allowed for smoking, that is to say they can smoke anywhere outside so non smokers really could not enjoy the back of the boat...which was a shame because we had incredible weather. Viking should rope a particular area off or allow smoking on the outside of the side of the ships or better yet say no smoking at all! There is really no place to exercise or walk and while you do walk on the excursions it isn't enough for people who are fit. The food was great and as always the crew does there best to keep you happy. We did notice that most of the servers where much younger than on other Viking cruises and while they worked hard the service was not up to what you experience in Europe. Communicating with some was nearly impossible. Wine and beer choices were limited mostly to Russia even with the Silver package. And we were told that some beer would be available on tap, this was not the case. Again, just little things that start to add up when you are on a cruise for two weeks. The Russian escorts were incredible and really made the tours and excursions interesting. On board entertainment was wonderful we really enjoyed Anthony and Joanna's music. A special should out to Lubov our stewardess, she was UNBELIEVABLE. Also enjoyed getting to know Calvin and Tina at the back bar. It is very easy to use the Metro in St Petersburg and Moscow so don't be afraid to explore the big cities on your own. The maps on board show you how and we had no problems. The Metro is clean and safe. Be aware that the Hermitage is warm and crowded. One couple from our cruises was pickpocketed there. This cruise could have been outstanding but unfortunately the boat and some of the service was not what we had expected from Viking. WE will carefully decided whether to continue to cruise with Viking or begin to explore other lines. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We wanted to do something different. All of our friends are going to Europe ie Italy, Greece Germany. We wanted to learn more about how the average Russian people live, eat & work. The guides were Russian and their English was ... Read More
We wanted to do something different. All of our friends are going to Europe ie Italy, Greece Germany. We wanted to learn more about how the average Russian people live, eat & work. The guides were Russian and their English was excellent. One of them described her family life as a child growing up in Russia. The meals were excellent and we got to taste many Russian meals. One day they set up stations which had various Russian dishes. The names of each dish was typed and labeled beside each dish. Our room was always clean and refreshed every day. We were celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary. Viking left us a bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates in our room wishing us a Happy Anniversary. We asked if it was possible to visit one of the oldest synagogues in Europe which was in St Petersburg. They happily set us up with a very knowledgeable guide and private tour of the synagogue to include transportation to and from the synagogue. All of the Viking personnel on board the ship treated us as though we were special guests. This made our trip special. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I can't imagine a better way to experience Russia than on a Viking River Cruise. We visited the big cities as well as the smaller towns along the river, we welcomed into private homes, saw some of the most amazing architecture and ... Read More
I can't imagine a better way to experience Russia than on a Viking River Cruise. We visited the big cities as well as the smaller towns along the river, we welcomed into private homes, saw some of the most amazing architecture and learned so much from the knowledgeable tour guides. We are able to learn about the history, customs and culture of Russia every day, both on and off the ship. One of the best aspects of the river cruise is that you never have to change hotels. Once you unpack on day one you don't have to touch your suitcases again until it's time to go home. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, and loved the fact that they took the time to learn our names and understand our individual needs and preferences. The food is superb and the ship is extremely comfortable. We can't wait to take our next river cruise with Viking! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I wanted to see Russia and this cruise offered a 2 week onboard stay that covered a lot of area. The ship, service and food were all excellent, typically Viking. Excursions and guides were also excellent. And Russia exceeded our ... Read More
I wanted to see Russia and this cruise offered a 2 week onboard stay that covered a lot of area. The ship, service and food were all excellent, typically Viking. Excursions and guides were also excellent. And Russia exceeded our expectations. If you like history, arts and music this is a great cruise. The last couple of days in St Petersburg included a fantastic ballet and onboard opera experience. My criticisms are: - we booked thru Viking, which was a MISTAKE, always use a trusted knowledgeable travel agent. Our cruise was during World Cup and the cities were unusually crowded with many of the prime sites closed:( An experienced agent would have warned us and we would have changed our dates. - Viking has Dock locations a long way out of the main cities, so we were riding buses a lot. This was a bit disappointing for a river cruise where you expected to be closer to town. - the majority of the time our nice balcony stateroom was facing another boat at dock, so we would have to close the curtains during the day, forget having a nice view or using your balcony much. - I think it’s great that older less mobile seniors can enjoy cruising, but Viking could do a better job of organizing excursions by mobility, we ended up in some really slow groups for included tours. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We were invited to join friends on this cruise, it being our first with Viking. We enjoyed everything about it. Tours interesting and well organized. Rooms wonderful with nice sized bathrooms. The ship was clean and looked well maintained. ... Read More
We were invited to join friends on this cruise, it being our first with Viking. We enjoyed everything about it. Tours interesting and well organized. Rooms wonderful with nice sized bathrooms. The ship was clean and looked well maintained. Loved the food selections and were so happy that portion sizes were smaller than typical AMERICAN size. We could try everything and not feel stuffed. We made new friends in the dining room since we could sit wherever we pleased, either with a group or by ourselves as a couple. We particularly liked the lectures on Russian history on the days we were cruising the river. Moscow and St Petersburg were busy but clean cities. Have never sat in a port for three days like we did at the beginning and end of this particular cruise, but it worked well giving us plenty exposure to Russian culture. After three days in Moscow we were ready for the cruise down the river visiting smaller towns and seeing some of the countryside and especially enjoying the school visit and home visit for tea and cake. Then we were geared up again for city life at the end of the cruise in St Petersburg though passengers were obviously getting tired by the last day, just in time to return home. We probably shouldn’t have done the 5 hour walking tour the last day. We never felt ill at ease anywhere in Russia because of the staff. They met us at the airport, frequently counted the numbers in our entourage when off the ship and even took us thru security in the airport at our departure. We will definitely travel with Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We had always wanted to travel to Russia and so pleased we finally did. Our cruise was the first of the season which was lucky in so many ways. The crew and guides were so enthusiastic and welcoming. The slight inexperience on the first ... Read More
We had always wanted to travel to Russia and so pleased we finally did. Our cruise was the first of the season which was lucky in so many ways. The crew and guides were so enthusiastic and welcoming. The slight inexperience on the first couple of days quickly improved as they became more confident. Our waitress, Diana, was an absolute delight, remembering our names and preferred teas after only one breakfast. She looked after us superbly at breakfast, lunch and inner. Aileen was another waitress who also looked after us very well and also remembered our names. Food was plentiful, great choices for every meal, changing daily and with always a Russian specialty included in the dinner menu. The chef, Visil, even prepared two curry dinners for new Indian friends who invited us to share with them. That is indeed exceptional as there were about 180 people on board to feed. Little extras were provided such as Russian snacks one day on the sundeck, a full Russian lunch, with plenty of delicious choices, even a snack bag for one day when we left the ship early and didn’t return till 9pm, even then there was full dinner service. So impressed. We bought the Silver Spirits drink package which was well worth it as we enjoyed beautiful wines from around the world, including some excellent Russian ones and many cocktails in the Panorama Bar, where Jay and Chaze provided excellent and friendly service. This is also a great spot to enjoy a lighter breakfast or lunch as you are at the front of the ship with great views. Wifi is a little better there as well. We booked as many tours as possible as we knew we wouldn’t have the chance to visit Russia again. All the tour guides on board were so knowledgeable and interesting, especially Natasha and we were indeed fortunate to be in her group quite often. Every tour was so well organised and the new audio systems worked well. Highlights were Peterhof Palace, Hermitage and the canal trip in St Petersburg. All other tours were very good. Cruising to Moscow was great and although we missed KIzhi because of ice we were treated to a champagne and vodka party with music on the sundeck. What fun. Yaroslavl was one of the many highlights. Very relaxing during this time as more sailing and less sightseeing. The villages we did visit were delightful. Moscow was such an unexpected delight. So clean, tidy and modern, but still with plenty of old buildings and museums. The Cosmonaut Museum was definitely a must for us and we weren’t disappointed. The home visit to a private family home is not to be missed, we were made to feel so very welcome and it was special. Be prepared for traffic in Moscow, it lives up to its reputation as the worst in the world, but the guides know this and plan accordingly. Would we recommend this trip? Definitely. Would we recommend travelling on the first trip of the season? Again, definitely as there are less crowds, everyone is fresh and the weather was perfect, sunny and warm (about 24deg) except for when we sailed through ice on Lake Onega, but that was fun. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Sorry I am late posting this, but we were on the Viking Helgi for the first cruise of the season, which left St Petersburg (SPB) at the beginning of May. We also took Viking’s hotel extensions, in both SPB and Moscow and flights were ... Read More
Sorry I am late posting this, but we were on the Viking Helgi for the first cruise of the season, which left St Petersburg (SPB) at the beginning of May. We also took Viking’s hotel extensions, in both SPB and Moscow and flights were included (as they are when booking in the UK). Our flight out was OK and the transfer driver was waiting to pick us up on arrival in SPB. The hotel used in SPB was the Corinthia, were we stayed there for two nights. It is in Nevsky Prospect and very near the Faberge museum and the start point for Anglo Tourismo canal boat tour of St Petersburg, which meant it was very easy for us to ‘do’ those things independently. The museum was very good and it was easy to visit in the evening, when it was very quiet, and we saw a lot of very interesting Faberge eggs. It was easy to tour the museum without a guide as there were booklets in each room which described the eggs and the reason they were made. The canal boat tour was the one which was recommended to me as it has a good English commentary, not multi lingual. As it is run on a hop on hop off basis we were able to leave the boat on the Neva River by The Hermitage and get on another boat at a later time. We used the time there to just walk along the banks of the Neva, taking in the beautiful view of Peter and Paul Fortress on the other side and having a drink in one of the cafes by a boat pier. The canal cruise was really good and the weather dry and sunny, so we could sit outside on the boat, which gave better visibility then inside. The hotel was also near a number of other tourist places. As we walked down Nevsky Prospect and along side roads from there we saw a lot. There was also a metro station about 5 minutes walk in the out of town direction, which could take us anywhere else in the city very quickly. We were extremely impressed with the hotel itself. The room could not have been better and was very quiet as it was in the inside well of the hotel (we had asked for a quiet room). The room was well furnished, had a very big, comfortable bed and a good bathroom, all of which were in very good condition and spotlessly clean. We only had Breakfast in the hotel, but again, that could not have been better, with excellent food and service. For dinner we went to a restaurant opposite, which served Russian food and again that was very pleasant and served good quality food at a reasonable price, so we returned the next day. There was also a small supermarket opposite were we could easily pick up drinks and some snacks as required. The hotel reception was always quick, efficient and very helpful, as was the Viking concierge (Maria). This hotel could not have been better for our St Peterburg stay. There was an included walking tour with the hotel stay and that took us on the metro, which gave us the confidence to use the metro on our own after that. My husband had learned the Cyrillic alphabet before we left home, so it made it easier to recognise names of metro stations. The tour took far longer than it should have done as the hotel base had been changed, but not the tour, so unfortunately, we returned incredibly tired. Our transfer to Helgi was delayed as there had been an error and another person who needed to be transferred with us had been put on the wrong tour that morning and had not returned to the hotel. This was not good as we had been asked to be ready for the pick up quite early anyway, so we could have had longer exploring SPB, rather than waiting around in the hotel, then being taken to Helgi so early. These two problems were added to the next day when we were taken on a Hermitage excursion and were left waiting outside for the return coach in the cold wind for a whole hour, because the rehearsal for the May parade stopped our coach arriving. This rehearsal is an annual thing on the preceding Sunday to the parade and was scheduled, so our arrangements should have been made around it. That was not a good start, but I must say that after that Viking’s planning worked very well, for the time on the boat. Hopefully those problems we encountered will have been sorted for later cruises (there is always a risk when on the first cruise of a season). Regards the boat, it was in very good condition, the food was good and luckily the boat was quiet as there was very little sound insulation between the cabins. Our cabin (304) was one with a post, which in itself was manageable, but what was not manageable was a very stupid item of furniture that was placed next to it. This item looked like a stool with a padded top, but was about 2 foot square and was of no use nor ornament, and made it extremely difficult to move round the cabin. I had tried leaving it on the balcony, but it kept re appearing in the cabin, then I asked reception for it to be removed a few times, to no avail. Eventually I raised my voice on the phone to reception telling them I was leaving it out in the corridor and wanted it taken away. At that stage they got the message (that was 2 or 3 days after we embarked and several bruises on my legs later). The cabin was fairly small and not well designed so there really was no space for a useless item. After that things improved and the cruise generally went as planned, though we became increasingly annoyed that information which needed to be passed on to us was not written down and delivered to our cabin as has always happened on ocean cruises we have experienced. Instead we were expected to go to a bar about half an hour before dinner time and be ‘talked at’ by the cruise director. No need at all for this as the schedule of the cruise was quite rushed anyway, so it would have been much better if we had been allowed to get ready for dinner or have a peaceful pre-dinner drink. We only did the included trips and used the ‘free days’ docked in SPB and Moscow for independent travel or free time. The docking locations for both SPB and Moscow was quite a long way out of the city centres, but it was possible to go in on public transport. In SPB we got a local bus to a metro station, and then the metro, whilst in Moscow a longer walk across a park took us to a metro station. Reception provided details of both those routes, along with maps of the cities. They were also very helpful with information of how to get to specific locations using the Metro. The staff on board were good, as were the tour guides, who also gave some interesting talks during the cruise, though a combination of their accents and the speed of speaking, it was difficult to follow everything that was said. Some of the younger restaurant staff were not very fluent with English, but we could normally make ourselves understood. As previously mentioned the trips went well after the first day, so we saw and did a lot, but were left quite tired at times. We enjoyed all the ports, though we could not go to the first one as the ice had not melted nearby. We had drinks included with the meals as standard and apart from that we largely just drank the self service tea/coffee, which was very well placed near our cabin, so easily taken back to the cabin. We had gone to the observation bar one night only to find that it was closed after dinner - strange. So we are extremely glad we had not paid for a drinks package as the house wine/beer/soft drinks were fine. The post cruise stay was in The Marriot Grand in Moscow. This was also fairly well placed and very near a metro station, but there was a lot less that was walkable. We had some problems with the hotel Concierge who were far from good, but I will not dwell on that as the hotel sufficed in other ways. One more snag was Viking’s return transfer to the airport as they took us there to arrive more than five hours before the flight time, yet the people form the boat which was departing that day, were only taken to the airport about 3 hours or less before the flight. Again, we were able to do/see a lot independently when in Moscow and we are convinced the cost of the hotel package was a much better spend than the very high prices that Viking were asking for their optional trips. The entrance charges and cost of the canal cruise in SPB was very little. It was great to be able to go into the centre at night and see Red Square lit up, for instance and after being ‘tripped’ and talked at by guides for so long, it was great to just be able to go to places like The Armoury or quieter churches and view them at leisure. Overall, we took a lot of memories home from the cruise and it was very worthwhile, but we are very glad we also had some free time when we could do our own thing at a slower pace and had the chance to have a number of Russian meals. We particularly loved the beautiful city of SPB and have already arranged a return on a Baltic cruise next summer. I have said below we have been on more than 10 cruises, but this was only our second river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We landed in St. Petersburg and were met by the Viking rep who gathered us and got us on the bus. We arrived on our ship and were in our room very quickly. The ship was older then the other Viking ships we were on. The layout was ... Read More
We landed in St. Petersburg and were met by the Viking rep who gathered us and got us on the bus. We arrived on our ship and were in our room very quickly. The ship was older then the other Viking ships we were on. The layout was similar, but noticeably different, and clearly older. All of the same services were available. Russia was more amazing then we had imagined. The museums, cathedrals and palaces were stunning beautiful, extremely ornate and richly decorated. Daily we toured about with our mouths hanging open in awe of the workmanship and materials. Gold, amber, tile, woodwork, carvings, art, marble, jewels - different design periods. One of our co passengers described it later as Opulence Fatigue. We went places we never could have dreamed of being allowed to go, having grown up in Canada and learning in school of Communism and the Soviet Union. To think as adults we might actually visit Russia as tourists was pretty far fetched back then. We visited both St Petersburg and Moscow and small towns on our cruise in between. The small towns were interesting. We visited a real school with children in attendance. One of those kids acted as our tour guide through the school, speaking to us in English and answering our questions with a little help from our ships quide. In wild contrast to the wealth this village was modest, and at least here where we live that school would have been torn down; and the people lived in mostly small houses with large greenhouses and gardens. On the ship, we attended talks on the politics of the last 100 years, learned the history of the Tsars of Russia and their families, got a couple language lessons, stood in Red Square, toured the Kremlin, rode the Moscow subway (Moscow has one of the most efficient public transportation systems in the world) and visited a real home and ate real family food and drank her moonshine. It was all quite an experience. The food on the ship was delicious, with a local food choice and those good old North American standbys available every night. We probably wont go to Russia again, only because there are so many other countries to see in the world. Were just pondering where to go next. If you decide to go, and it is well worth it, check into the Russian visa process and the expected costs before making your deposit. For us, Canadians, the cost of the visa was over $1,000 and should be considered in your travel budget. It may be cheaper through a Russian embassy here in Canada. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This is my sixth Viking Cruise and the 22nd cruise Viking Cruise I have personally paid for (children, parents, in-laws) and it was a complete and total disappointment. The ship's Cruise Director and his staff were completely ... Read More
This is my sixth Viking Cruise and the 22nd cruise Viking Cruise I have personally paid for (children, parents, in-laws) and it was a complete and total disappointment. The ship's Cruise Director and his staff were completely disorganized and when politely and confronted after several inexcusable mistakes, responded with, " this is our first cruise of the season and we're having to work out the kinks". Housekeeping was excellent and the food was acceptable. We enjoyed Russia so very much and I feel that the trip could have been comparable to many of the other Viking cruises we have taken but because of the lack of professionalism and attention to detail demonstrated by the cruise director and his staff, it was a very bad experience. I'm sure that there were those that thought that the cruise was great but with my wife and my seventeenth cruise, we are fortunate to be able to have many experiences to use as a comparison. We doubt will travel with Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
The last time i was in Russia, it was the USSR and I was 20 years old. This was our second river cruise, the first on AMA Vietnam/Cambodia and service wise, that was my reference point. Russia of 2017 is an entirely different country with ... Read More
The last time i was in Russia, it was the USSR and I was 20 years old. This was our second river cruise, the first on AMA Vietnam/Cambodia and service wise, that was my reference point. Russia of 2017 is an entirely different country with a developing middle class, outrageous traffic in Moscow and a renewed sense of nationalism and attachment to the Russian orthodox church. Surprisingly - given the current political climate, our trip 9/26-10/8 was a shipload of mostly older Americans with a few Canadians and Australians mixed in. The Viking Helgi is an older ship, Russian owned which has been refurbished every so often. It is basically plain, functional and as I learned can even navigate through one foot of ice which sometimes occurs in their early Spring river cruises. The Viking Russia trip was as advertised an excellent introduction to Russian culture and history. Starting out in St Petersburg you visit major sites such as the Hermitage and spend a number of days visiting smaller towns/villages on the way to Moscow where you see more culture and history. On the plus side, the service on the boat is excellent and the boat is kept clean. Food in the restaurant is mostly western style, somewhat sophisticated with a few Russian items showing up mostly at dinner. There is plenty of bottled water and I am unaware of any participants suffering stomach ailments. There are televisions in the rooms but the offerings are sparse and the wifi is poor so streaming is difficult to impossible.The boat has NO sound proofing so if you are a light sleeper, be forewarned. Some complained on noise from adjoining rooms or the music in the bar above their staterooms. Russia has excellent cell phone coverage so you almost always have service. You do a lot of walking so the lack of fitness facilities is not missed. Most of the touring is done at a relatively slow pace so participants with physical limitations did pretty well although the tours of Moscow and St Petersburg using Metro required much more walking, about 5 miles over several hours. we were a bit surprised by the weather in late Sept early October, expected 50 and received low 40s with rain the last few days, weather that caused many to develop respiratory colds.There is a doctor on the boat who had plenty of business toward the end of the cruise, cost about $100 including meds. Many folks wore winter coats. The tour guides were almost all outstanding professional, well informed and protective of cruise participants. The guides also offer lectures on russian history which were entertaining. They did not spend much time discussing Russian interference with the American election in 2016. There were 2 highlights of this trip for me, one a visit to a Russian school english language class with a student presentation and an opportunity to peruse a Russian english language text book. The opportunity to meet the 8th grade students was wonderful. The other highlight was a musical performance in Moscow which was enervating and excellent. Viking partners with various cultural and history venues along the route who benefit by having the opportunity to sell their wares to participants. My criticism of Viking is their endless marketing of options and add ons.. The cruise director essentially functioned as the chief salesperson. My AMA Vietnam/Cambodia cruise had none of this and I very much dislike this Viking practice which leaves holes in the itinerary so that participants can spend additional funds, in our case about $600 more for assorted tours which should have been included in the price of the cruise, but were not. In the case of Russia, Viking is the only major international river cruise company doing this tour. My concern was that I needed the organization and safety that being on a tour would bring. As it turned out, a number of participants did well on their own in Moscow and St Petersburg taking in sights or even a hockey game with no issues. Nevertheless this itinerary which required complex logistics justified using Viking, but I would look carefully at their competition on other routes. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Viking Helgi Ratings
Category Editor Member
Rates 3.0 3.4

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