We had a very positive experience on the Waterways of the Tsars river cruise, which is consistent with our prior cruises with Viking. First of all the level of service from the front desk to the restaurant workers to the shore excursion staff and the cabin stewards were all top notch. These people could not do enough to make our trip comfortable and enjoyable. For example, during one shore excursion, front desk staff accompanied us to a small shopping area and brought our purchases back to our rooms for us so that we did not have to make a trip back to the ship before boarding our buses for the tour! The food at all 3 meals was excellent and very nicely presented, a nice blend of familiar favorites along with Russian regional specialties. Please try one (or all) of the homemade soups offered at lunch/dinner. These were especially delicious! The shore excursions were nicely paced and very interesting. To see examples of Russia's glorious architecture was spectacular. We had the good fortune of having 3 of the tour guides on board with us for the entire cruise; during "down" times, they gave Russian history presentations starting from the era of the tsars all the way to the present leader, Vladimir Putin. All well done. We do want to give a heads up to expect a lot of vehicular traffic in St. Petersburg and Moscow, especially at commuting times. It could take 45 minutes to an hour to reach the city centers. Also expect crowds at the most popular sites. For example, the included tour for the Hermitage required us to wait in line to enter (about 20 minutes) and once inside, it was so crowded we could not get close enough to any of the artifacts to see or take pictures. (Hint: If you purchase the optional tour to the Hermitage, you get to enter a couple of hours earlier thus beating the crowds). Also be aware that if you sign up for any of the optional boat tours, they operate rain or shine. We had signed up for the Moscow By Night excursion and was disappointed that the evening was cold and rainy. Not good conditions for sitting outside and seeing anything. All in all, it was a great trip and we are glad we went. Looking forward to our next adventure!