We took the Waterway of the Tsars cruise on the Viking Ingvar in October of 2014. We were met at the airport by Viking staff and very efficiently whisked to a bus, but then it took 3 1/2 hours in horrible Moscow traffic to go the 15 miles to the boat. Once we got to the boat we found it immaculately clean and well-furnished.
Both Moscow and St. Petersburg are beautiful cities. We enjoyed the tours of Red Square and the Kremlin. We took the Moscow by Night excursion, and the lights were lovely. However, when we returned to the boat, we had to descend two flights of unlighted steps to get down to the dock, which was very difficult for me as I was in a boot from a pre-cruise broken ankle. When I reported the problem to the front desk, I was met with complete disregard.
The Hotel Manager and the Dining Room director were both very friendly and helpful. Our waiters were very good and the food was excellent. Our cabin was kept very clean as well. One negative was that nightly we had to complain that we could hear the music in the bar in our cabin, as could our co-travelers in the adjacent room. Strange, as we were 2 floors below the bar! Something needs to be done to correct this problem.
We did not enjoy the small towns in between Moscow and St. Petersburg as much. In fact, one is just a cluster of wood buildings that were moved in as a shopping opportunity. As it was the last cruise of the season, some of them weren't even open. I would loved to have had more local talent onboard in the evenings, as we had on a previous Budapest to Bucharest cruise.
We found the Russian people to be very unfriendly and solemn. Never once could I get a Russian to smile back at me. Sad...
St. Petersburg was definitely the highlight. We talked our tour guide into letting us spend some time in the Church of the Spilled Blood, which was scheduled only as an outside visit. I would recommend that this be included as part of a standard tour, as it is the jewel of St. Petersburg. The day we visited the Catherine Palace it was cold and nasty, yet we were forced to walk around the grounds in 30 degree weather for 1 1/2 hours before we could get in for the tour. Maybe that's a good plan in August, but in late October, the plan should be changed in freezing weather.
Finally, we were hit with a Lufthansa pilot's strike the day before we were to leave. Many passengers were told that morning that our tickets had been cancelled, and we would have to be rescheduled. That evening we were handed new tickets before bedtime. However. we were called at 3 a.m. and told that the second tickets had been cancelled! We were taken to the airport at 5 am. only to learn that they were not cancelled at all. We then had to wait at the very uncomfortable St. Petersburg for 9 1/2 hours until our flight departed. Obviously, there was some serious glitch in communication by Viking Travel that resulted in many people being quite inconvenienced.
In all, this was our least favorite of the cruises we have taken with Viking.
The band from the bar could be heard in the cabin each night until about midnight! We had to complain nightly.