Cruise Ratings
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We wanted to see Russia and felt that a river cruise was the best way to see a lot of the country in a relatively short period of time. We selected Uniworld as the company was highly recommended by experienced travelers we met. Note - ... Read More
We wanted to see Russia and felt that a river cruise was the best way to see a lot of the country in a relatively short period of time. We selected Uniworld as the company was highly recommended by experienced travelers we met. Note - this was our first river cruise and the only other cruises we had enjoyed were on the 98 passenger Celebrity Xpedition in the Galapagos Islands, and a Windjammer cruise in the Caribbean. So, we're not experienced cruisers. This cruise met my expectations and I was quite pleased with what we saw, what we learned, and the service that was provided to us. Using our travel agent, we easily made reservations for both the cruise and flights - Denver to Munich direct, then to Moscow. Our departure was St. Petersburg to Frankfurt, then direct to Denver. All flights were on Lufthansa. The check-in process for Lufthansa was horrible, in Denver we had to wait more than 1 1/2 hours just to check our baggage, and about 45 minutes in St. Petersburg upon departure. Once in the air, both directions, the flight was as pleasant as you can expect in coach for such a long flight. The flight crew were very accommodating, the food good and the provided entertainment/TVs were very good. Arriving in Moscow was a real treat, as the "lines" for Passport Control were extremely long. Apparently 9 international flights landed about the same time. It appears to me that certain ethnicities of people do not respect lines, as they swarm like a hive of little bees to the front of the line while pushing and shoving without respect for anyone else. It took us 1 1/4 hours just to get through passport control, then through customs where the lines were horrible too. Finally got through all of this and were met by an English speaking Uniworld representative. He said the bus ride would be 2 hours to the ship, so we should probably use the restroom while we could. (Just a note, restrooms in Russia are few and far between, limit your intake of fluids during any drive or excursion!) We arrived at the dock and had to go through security again as we approached the River Victoria ship. No big deal here, as I wonder whether the scanner was even plugged into electricity. We were warmly greeted at the entrance to the ship and promptly provided guided to our stateroom (309). Our luggage arrived within minutes. The stateroom was immaculately clean and well equipped. The room was what we expected but unfortunately we were docked for 4 days and the even number staterooms face the shore. This is great if you want to people watch, but not a scenic as the river side. Within a short period of time, all passengers (144) met in the lounge for a formal welcome and safety briefing. Then downstairs to dinner. Service for all meals was outstanding, the dining room well-furnished and the wait staff all young students (most studying languages in college) were all very professional and spoke relatively good English. Meals included unlimited wine followed by a 4 course meal. I am a really fussy eater and for 12 days, I found something on the menu that was delicious and well-prepared. The chef, restaurant manager and all wait staff did an excellent job. The wait staff is sometimes too efficient cleaning the plates and silverware, so my wife and I or other folks at the table were asked to "guard" our silverware. The tours were all very good and the guides outstanding. HOWEVER, traffic in Moscow in particular but also in St. Petersburg is horrible. We were often told our trip in the bus would take 20 minutes and it was over an hour. Be prepared! My wife and I are in our 60's and in very good physical condition. We were surprised by the number of passengers who were relatively immobile and had difficulties walking steep steps into the buses, on cobblestone streets, or anything that was not smooth and flat. There were a number of experienced river cruisers (older rich people) who were chronic complainers and whined about the cruise, the ship, the food, the staff, etc. Their comments usually were related to this cruise not meeting their lofty expectations and was not comparable to other Uniworld (or other high-end) river cruises they had been on. The Uniworld brochure clearly states that this cruise ship is owned by the Russian government and the crew is all Russian. Not having any other cruise to compare this one with like many of the other passengers, my wife and I were really pleased with just about everything. If I had a complaint, which I have a couple, 1) I'd suggest Uniworld invest in better headsets for listening to our tour guides. The sets often malfunctioned and it took too long to program them each trip wasting valuable time. 2) Less mobile people should travel together so that they can travel at a slower pace, and 3) I suggest Uniworld install a TV in the tiny gym that is located on the first floor of the ship. In conclusion, the trip was great, the Uniworld employees were outstanding, the food was excellent, the professor who provided Russian history and culture lectures was very informative, and the bus drivers very brave. I highly recommend this trip. I would suggest paying extra for a cabin with a balcony, although we didn't use it due to cool weather and rain reserve an even number cabin so you have the river view in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. You don't need dress-up clothes, some folks dressed up for the captain's dinner, I just wore dress slacks and dress shirt with no tie and my wife a nice dress. Take mosquito repellent with you as at one stop they were pesky. Tips are suggested and happily received by the drivers, guides and at the end of the trip by the staff. Face the facts, this is not an inexpensive trip and if you can afford to be on this trip, you can afford to tip. Many of the complainers (often folks who like to let you know how wealthy they were) failed to tip. And for the folks who are only happy if they are discontent, read the Uniworld brochure which specifically says that this ship and tour is different from all others, as it is Russian controlled. I hope you enjoy Russia as much as we did! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2017
We absolutely loved this cruise. We have done 5 cruises with Uniworld and they are exceptional. Port and shore excursions were fantastic so were the staff on all levels .Entertainment was very good always something to keep you busy if you ... Read More
We absolutely loved this cruise. We have done 5 cruises with Uniworld and they are exceptional. Port and shore excursions were fantastic so were the staff on all levels .Entertainment was very good always something to keep you busy if you wanted to. Food was excellent with plenty to choose from. If you are expecting the same standard of ship as the cruises in Europe you will be a little disappointed as this is not as luxurious but this does not detract from the amazing time we had. It is still very comfortable and all the other wonderful things that Uniworld are renowned for. This ship is not owned by uniworld. This not a negative just pointing this out. We did 2,300 kilometres on the rivers and through the lakes and stopped at some gorgeous places along the way. Many locks and beautiful scenery. Moscow and St Petersburg were stunning. Russia is a must. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
this is my 8th river cruise w/uniworld. I was picked up at the airport and whisked to the ship in time for dinner. I realize river Victoria was rented, but from experience I expected better experience. the dining room staff didn't ... Read More
this is my 8th river cruise w/uniworld. I was picked up at the airport and whisked to the ship in time for dinner. I realize river Victoria was rented, but from experience I expected better experience. the dining room staff didn't speak English yet a server told me they were all students picked because of their English language skills then trained to serve. the dining room manager told me they were difficult to supervise because they were not a team. dinner usually took 3 hours due to the very slow service and complaining to the manager didn't help. it was also difficult to get needs met when no one but the manager spoke English. the food was ho-hum. the menu had one meat, one fish and one vegetarian whereas the cruises in Germany also had a 'healthy choice' and if you didn't like anything on the menu there were also steak, chicken, caeser salad etc. offerings. Uniworld had brought a senior chef from Germany, but that didn't help. still mediochre fare. I always get a class 2 or 3 cabin and I was pleased to have a balcony, but when we cruised north from Moscow it was too cold and rainy to sit there. big disappointment since one of the pleasures of river cruising for me is having my morning espresso on the balcony and watching the sunrise. as well as the cold we sailed on two lakes in northern Russia where the wind blew so hard the shipped rocked. one of the reasons I river cruise is to avoid seasickness. it's the first time on any river cruise I had to take Dramamine. the itinerary was too exhausting. the first day we left the ship at 8:30 and returned at 5 pm. unpleasant after a long plane ride and jetlag. besides the length half the day was spent in gum mall and Ararat shopping street. boring. on cruises in france or Germany uniworld only spent half day touring and then you could return to the town for the rest of the day or relax on the ship. besides the shopkeepers in the mall didn't speak English and souveneer stands had limited and standard items always offering nesting dolls, fridge magnets, postcards etc. the next day was just as long and since I do not believe 'more is better' I don't even remember what we did after the kremlin museum, I enjoy museums and art galleries, but over the yrs I have learned cramming too much into a day brings info overload and I don't retain what I saw in the museum. when we cruised north the days were either too long or spent shopping. arriving in st. Petersburg there were morning tours w/ optional tours in the afternoon. the cruise manager pushed the options on me, but I don't push easily. I took one option, the peter and paul fort, because I chose not to attend the ballet in the evening. the highlight for me was 'the hermitage w/ the option to return to the ship at 3 or 4 pm. i signed up for 4 and returned at 3 pm., tired but happy. the cruise ended poorly for me. I had arranged my own transfer to stay in a hotel near the hermitage and half way there realized we had not received notification to pick up our passports so i had to return to the ship. up until then I found the front desk staff helpful. part of my disappointment was cold and rainy Russia which is not uniworld's fault. the other half was I had come to expect excellence from uniworld (i've tried Viking) not exhausting itineraries and poor food/dining service. on the whole the front desk staff were helpful and courteous as was the dining room manager, the hotel manager and cruise manager. I cannot, however recommend this tour and it has soured my impression of uniworld. my eighth cruise may be my last. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014

Uniworld's river Victoria and their staff did a very nice job even though they are not as good as the other Central European cruises.

The food and service were excellent; rooms were very nice; the tours need to be organized ... Read More

Uniworld's river Victoria and their staff did a very nice job even though they are not as good as the other Central European cruises.

The food and service were excellent; rooms were very nice; the tours need to be organized little better. All the cruise ships go to the hermitage in the morning and at the same time and it's packed even though the crowds are much less in the afternoon. Their trip to the Russian ballet swan lake is very average.

The dining room and front desk staff as well as the hotel manager were outstanding and everyone was trying their best to do a great job.

We took subway in Moscow by ourselves. With very minimal Russian, we could manage without any problems.

The ship is old and there were some smells periodically.

I would recommend the cruise to anyone interested in going to Russia

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27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013

A few years after my wife and I had a very positive experience on a Uniworld River Cruise ' we did Amsterdam to Budapest on the Rhine and the Danube on the River Princess in 2008 ' we decided to try it again, this time on Russia's ... Read More

A few years after my wife and I had a very positive experience on a Uniworld River Cruise ' we did Amsterdam to Budapest on the Rhine and the Danube on the River Princess in 2008 ' we decided to try it again, this time on Russia's waterways linking Moscow to St. Petersburg. Uniworld has only one ship running this schedule ' the River Victoria ' and you can either choose to go from Moscow to St. Pete's or the reverse. In its brochure, Uniworld warns would be customers that since they don't own the ship and are not in total control of how some of the activities are conducted, travelers may find that the amenities 'may differ from those of a Uniworld company-owned ship'. Our experience from this cruise, however, is that in terms of comfort and services, the River Victoria meets and even surpasses the levels of comfort and quality of services on other cruise ships. For one, the River Victoria is considerably larger than most cruise ships on the Rhine and Danube ' there are no low bridges to deal with on the Russian waterways ' which provides more comfort and room to move around (for example, the tables in the dining room are not so tightly packed on the River Victoria); the ratio of staff to guests is almost double on the River Victoria compared to the other Uniworld cruise ships (110 staff to 202 guests on the River Victoria vs. 41 staff to 130 guests on the other ships). This, of course, reflects on the level of service provided. The staterooms are not larger on the River Victoria than on the other ships, but where there is a difference is that on the two upper decks, the Volga and the Neva, the staterooms come with oversized (about 12 x 8 ft) private balconies. These balconies were originally part of the public decks and were divided up into private balconies when the ship was remodeled in 2011.

It is hard to imagine a cruise that would offer better food in terms of variety and taste than what was provided for us on the River Victoria ' we were even served caviar and Champagne for breakfast! It is true that many of the menu items are prepared with plenty of cream, which is great for the palate, but perhaps not so great for the rest of the body ' but it's only for two weeks! The quality of the service in the dining room is also worth noting. The staff is made up of young Russian college students who are mostly studying languages; they are well trained, always very polite and extremely keen to provide the best service possible. They seemed to work 24 hours a day but they were always smiling and very cordial.

As for the cruise itself, spending three days visiting the two mega cities at each end, Moscow and St. Petersburg, certainly makes the entire trip worthwhile. However, guests should not expect the same spectacular scenery along the Imperial Waterways of Russia that one finds along the Rhine or the Danube. Northern Russia is flat and mostly undeveloped with a relatively low population density. The waterways run mostly through pristine forest with little sign of human activity. There are a few villages along the way but most are uninteresting and appear rather run down. There are a few exceptions, including the city of Yaroslavl on the Volga and Kizhi Island on Lake Onega. These are real gems; both places are important historical centers with spectacular architecture, including colourful onion-domed churches, and represent the two most interesting shore excursions along the waterways. The other three stops, Uglich, Kirillov and Mandrogi, are interesting but not nearly as attractive as the two mentioned above. Some visitors regard Mandrogi as a tourist trap due to the large number of souvenir shops, while others complain about the rainy weather that often prevails here as well as the abundance of mosquitoes. We were blessed with perfect weather on the day we went and not a single mosquito (this was in late August which may be the best time to go to avoid the bugs). I should add that the tour guides, all Russians, were very knowledgeable about the history and other facets of what they were guiding us through. All spoke English well and with the Quietvox Transmitter System provided, it was very easy to follow what was going on even at a distance.

In addition to the numerous cruise ships that sail these waterways ' cruise ships that all look alike, at least on the outside ' you will see many other types of ships including tankers and bulk carriers. These waterways constitute a major commercial artery linking the Baltic and St. Petersburg with Moscow and all the cities and towns along the Volga as far south as the Caspian sea. So, if you enjoy watching large ocean-going ships up close, it may compensate for the lack of great scenery.

 

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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013

We are a retired married couple who has been on about 6 cruises, both river and ocean. We have traveled extensively.

Precruise information: This was our first cruise with Uniworld: we had heard nothing but raves about Uniworld, ... Read More

We are a retired married couple who has been on about 6 cruises, both river and ocean. We have traveled extensively.

Precruise information: This was our first cruise with Uniworld: we had heard nothing but raves about Uniworld, but the experience was very disappointing.

Pre-trip information was inaccurate as given by their polite phone staff.

Not only does the cruise line not exchange currency on board like other cruises we have taken, but it is Impossible to use debit card in Russia. They gave us no advice on the best way to handle money in Russia.

They told us we couldn't tip on the boat in U.S. money only Rubles, but when we got there we were told U.S. money would have been OK.

They told us the cruise line didn't arrange private tours or make any arrangements for us, but they cheerfully did so.

Uniworld's Russian boats are staffed by Russians and the USA office has no idea what happens on board so as to give future travelers accurate information. Drivers representing Uniworld who met us at airport didn't speak any English.

Ship info/Stateroom: This was our first cruise with Uniworld. The boat was ok, but we should have believed their disclaimer that their Russian cruise versus all their other Uniworld cruises was not up to their usual standards. The boat holds about 250 people and everything is clean and adequate. There is no around the boat promenade for walking. Most of the time when the boat is docked, it is next to one or two other boats (so that our balcony room had the view of another boat most of the time). Our Stateroom was small, but adequate

Cruise itinerary: Started in Moscow and ended in St. Petersburg (+ other small villages along the way). Docking spots for boat in Moscow and St. Petersburg (3 nights each) were noisy and far from the cities. Cruising route was not very scenic and went through some uninteresting lakes. One stop en route was just a "recreated" village for tourist purposes only, not a genuine village. Other stops were so so.

Activities/Shore Excursions: The shore excursions are mostly included, plus some optional ones. They used mostly excellent local guides with headsets provided so that we could hear everything. The tourism is Russia is so intense that everywhere we went there were many, many tour groups, so that these headsets saved the day There was an excellent instructor on board (College Professor) who told us all about Russia in about 6 lectures (very light and informative). Also, there were presentations on Vodka, Caviar, and Bellinis (Russian pancakes).

Service: Excellent staff. Friendly, cheerful and helpful. Top rating.

Travel to port of Embarkation: We had Uniworld schedule our air and we arrived way too late on boat departure day. By the time we got to the boat it was 11 pm and there was very intensive touring for the first 3 days which was challenging because of the long travel day and jet lag. Anyone reading this should plan to get there a day before boarding the boat.

Dining: We liked the food, although, we don't know why, some fellow passengers were not happy with the food. They had lots of Russian specialties. There was always a large buffet at breakfast and lunch. The only negative was the way too leisurely dinners, lasting up to two hours. The dining room staff was very friendly, especially the head of the department. The hours changed to accommodate touring schedules, which was very helpful.

Children: no children on this cruise.

Disembarkation: very organized. We had them order a taxi for us to go to a hotel, but the taxi came 45 minutes late. Uniworld gave the taxi driver our exact hotel name and he took us to the wrong hotel and we had to pay extra to go to the right one. We do not believe this is the cruise line's fault, but beware before you go into any taxi that the driver knows exactly where you are going and what you are going to pay.

Summary: Generally, we were disappointed with our Russia experience, more so because of the inaccurate information we were given by the Uniworld Staff. A few more disclaimers would have gone a long way to give us more realistic expectations. Did not live up to the primo experiences we have had all over the world. We rated this trip as one of our least favorite.

 

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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013

This was our first cruise with Uniworld  our expectations due to the purchase price of the cruise was very high..our experience was however very disappointing.the disclaimer Uniworld uses in describing the Russian cruise verses ... Read More

This was our first cruise with Uniworld  our expectations due to the purchase price of the cruise was very high..our experience was however very disappointing.the disclaimer Uniworld uses in describing the Russian cruise verses their other all Uniworld cruises is ridiculously inappropriate.

The boat was nice but looked nothing like the boats on the Uniworld website.the food was good for the most part but far below the quality we expected.many of the passengers became ill with food poisoning to the extent the buffet was converted to a serving line which was backed up on a continual basis..the service however was very good to excellent.

It was like being on two cruise ships at once..everything the Russian crew did was very good.everything the Uniworld guides did was second rate at best..let me give you several examples.

We finished a tour of the Armory at Red Square at 4:50 pm..we waited an hour in the hot sun before the bus could come to pick us up.when it did come.we had to detour to drop off several passengers at the Circus which was in the opposite direction of our ship.we finally got back to the ship at 7:16 pm..over two ours after the tour was over.leaving us 14 mins. to get ready for dinner

The same thing occurred the very next evening when our bus was routed to a dance tour to let of a few passengers.two hours later were back at the boat.

Any one could have loaded one bus.we had four.with the optional tour group and sent the rest of us back to the boat.

All of the Uniworld activities lacked organizationresulting in rushed, hurried, hectic tours.

The beds were listed as King Size but in fact were two small singles (not twins) pushed together.resulting in a small and extremely hard sleeping surface.

Two of the tours Uniworld took us on were nothing but tourist traps of little or no interest to anyone.the tour groups were so bigmany times the tour leader would be in another room from many of us talking about something we couldnt even see.

The area we were docked in at St. Petersburg was extremely unappealing and actually felt unsafe.certainly no place for a high end cruise to stay for several days and nights.it also was very far from anything you would want to see in St Petersburg

Then there was the actual cruise down the River????? This cruise should be listed as a lake/canal/lots of locks cruise..after we left the short portion of actual river..we pretty much saw nothing but birch tree forest for three days and nights.interrupted by four stops.two worth while and two which should be deleted from the itenarary.

Vacation time is precious.taking two weeks off.traveling half way around the world.spending a lot of money is not the same as a three night cruise to Cancun...this cruise is not worth the time and or the money.

 

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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013

We sailed for 13 days from Moscow to St Petersburg in mainly beautiful sunshine. Moscow and St Petersburg were busy ports and there were sometimes 20 buses waiting to transport tourists from the port to the sights in both cities. ... Read More

We sailed for 13 days from Moscow to St Petersburg in mainly beautiful sunshine. Moscow and St Petersburg were busy ports and there were sometimes 20 buses waiting to transport tourists from the port to the sights in both cities. Uniworld pre-booked early entry to The Hermitage so we toured freely until the general public were admitted an hour later. Tour guides were exceptional at every point except one who took us to every souvenir seller in Goritsky so we missed out on free time walking the main street to enjoy the atmosphere. This was annoying as souvenirs were always more expensive at the places the buses stopped than elsewhere and we were sick of the stuff sold after a week or so.

The ship staff were wonderful and although they did not understand much English, they tried so hard to please and were genuinely helpful and friendly.

Kizhi Island and the ballet in a palace in St Petersburg were highlights for us and we feel privileged to have seen them all. The lecturer on the boat was remarkable - Dr. Inna G. with a PhD in Russian history/politics/geography/life, etc was so inspiring. Her love of Russia and openness and huge intellectual capacity had everyone hanging off their chairs.

The cabin was tiny which ensured it had to be kept clean and tidy. The beds were super-comfortable and the rooms and bathrooms were cleaned perfectly every day. The food was wonderful and over-plentiful; caviar and champagne for breakfast one morning a lovely surprise. Regional food was offered every day to sample and the chefs and staff were happy to take any special requests that anyone wanted. We met lovely people on board and thoroughly enjoyed this cruise.

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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2012
In spite of Uniworld's caveat that the River Victoria is not quite up to Uniworld's standard, we found it to be comfortable, staffed by Russians who are friendly and anxious to please and a great way to see not only Moscow and St. ... Read More
In spite of Uniworld's caveat that the River Victoria is not quite up to Uniworld's standard, we found it to be comfortable, staffed by Russians who are friendly and anxious to please and a great way to see not only Moscow and St. Petersburg but also to explore 5 small ports as we cruised through canals, rivers and large lakes. In fact, it is unique to most river cruises as the pace, except for in the two cities, was relaxed, with more time spent cruising day and night than on most river cruises because of the distance to be covered, with walking visits of about 3 hours in the small ports. As with any riverboat, except for the suites, the rooms are small & compact. The beds are super comfortable. There is good storage except for in the bathrooms, where shelves would be appreciated. There are 220 and 110 electrical outlets at the desk area; however, we did need to use a multisocket converter as our 110 did not work. Pants hangers did not allow slacks to hang fully; you might want to bring your own. The balconies are quite large as they were added by partitioning walking decks. The Victoria is the only ship on the river with balconies. We used ours frequently. The public areas were popular, too. There are two outside decks -- one in the prow and the sun deck uptop. The lounge was used for programs during the day and a dance combo at night. Free wi-fi was available throughout the ship but at times didn't work and was always very slow. The dining room was larger than it looks in Uniworld's brochures. There are 8 tables for two, which filled quickly, a few for four and the rest for six. Breakfast and lunch buffets had a good variety of food. The four-course dinners offered variety of choice as well; at least one Russian dish was offered, and one night featured a delicious all-Russian menu. Complimentary wine, iced tea and sodas are always available at lunch and dinner. On-board activities included lectures on Russian history and politics, Russian language lessons, a local little folklore orchestra one night, concerts by on-board accordion and balalaika players, vodka tasting and a blini making and tasting session. The order of the excursions in the cities was changed from what was advertised, so be aware of that if booking local guides for free time. Our Uniworld local guides were for the most part very good & used the QuietVox system so we could hear well and move away from the groups of about 30 to take photos or look at something of interest. After each tour, we had free time to explore or shop. There were 1 ½ days of free time in Moscow and 3 afternoons in St. Petersburg, which could be used for optional tours or exploring on your own. Travel to the city center by bus in Moscow took 45 minutes to an hour; in St. Petersburg, half an hour. During that time the guides commented on what we were going to see that day, described sites that we were passing and told us about life in Russia. Travel to the port of embarkation in Moscow takes about 3 hours from Domodedovo Airport all the way across city. We were met there by the Uniworld representative, and for disembarkation, transported by Uniworld to the St. Petersburg airport, which is only a half hour from the river port. Both processes were smooth as far as Uniworld's complementary transport is concerned. Traffic is another story! This was an absolutely fabulous trip, due to the itinerary and the comfort of the River Victoria. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2011
Impressions of the ship: It is brand new inside - refurbished from head to toe. The outside, however, is the same (oldish) ship that every other tour company uses. It seems that the Russians built one basic hull for this purpose, and there ... Read More
Impressions of the ship: It is brand new inside - refurbished from head to toe. The outside, however, is the same (oldish) ship that every other tour company uses. It seems that the Russians built one basic hull for this purpose, and there are many in service on the rivers. I didn't feel that any of the Viking or Grand Circle ships that we saw docked alongside ours were nicer in any way. One advantage of the Uniworld redo is that the outside decks were converted into large balconies on the top two levels by cutting the windows into a large sliding door. These are the only Russian river cruise ships with a balcony. Except for the large balcony, the cabins are smallish, about 2 1/2 feet longer than the length of the bed. This is on a par with other river cruise ships, as the size of the ship is limited due to the width of the locks it must pass through. The cabins are spotlessly clean, very white, and decorated simply. There is a small desk and chair in the standard balcony cabins. The bedding is very high-end and comfortable. Cabins contain a hair dryer, small safe, and 2 US 110v outlets, so there is no need to bring a converter unless you are using a high voltage curling iron, for example. All floors, except the Onega deck, are accessible by elevator. Otherwise, the stairs are steep. The public areas of the ship are also spotless, clean, and comfortable. The staff is charming and helpful. On our cruise there were 162 guests and 100 staff! Food was generally good. Breakfasts were a buffet that included European meat and cheese selections, cereals, breads and jams, at least three types of eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon, and either French toast or pancakes. Lunch was also a buffet, including soup (usually excellent) sandwiches, salads, a choice of several hot dishes, and desert. Dinner consisted of appetizer, soup or salad, a choice of two main courses, desert and cheese, coffee or tea. Unlimited beer, soda or wine was included with dinner. Sometimes the main course was not on a par with the other meals (or with high-end big cruise ships); however, the service was absolutely first-rate! The scenery between St. Petersburg and Moscow was spectacular - a surprise to me. We used the balcony most nights to view the passing villages (actually, in late June, there really wasn't any "night" to speak of). Tours were generally good; however the tour guides use the ships headsets which didn't work very well. A combination of poor fidelity on the sets along with the Russian accents of the guides when speaking English made it often difficult to understand what they were saying. Hopefully, Uniworld will remedy this in the future. I thought one stop was a dud, but it was more of an excuse to offer souvenirs and have a picnic lunch. The others were wonderful. If a "glitzy" cruise ship impresses you, go on a big cruise liner. Keep in mind, however, that there will be no access to the smaller cities and towns, and sightseeing would be rather limited. Otherwise, the ship and the tour were a wonderful experience, and I recommend it highly for those whose primary focus is sightseeing. Read Less
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