The staff on the boat was excellent and very courteous. Olga, the hotel manager was very helpful and attentive. The course director Olga was nice and tried hard to accommodate everybody. The maître d’ was especially nice and came to me for every meal pointing out what food I should not touch because of garlic. I really appreciated this. The food without exception was outstanding and the accommodations very comfortable, given the limited space on a boat. Unfortunately I have to go on a diet now because all this great food settled around my waist! The programs also were interesting and Ludmilla was a highlight for us. Her lectures were excellent (we are aware that the Russians did not care for her Gorbachev talk!). We learned a lot more about Russia, its people and politics, which was very helpful. We had no idea that Stalin destroyed so many churches during his time in power. Also her lectures on realistic Russian art were excellent. She is very enthusiastic and also very good at mixing with guests. We had her on our table several times and enjoyed her company. I am certain other English-speaking people on the tour enjoyed her as well.
We loved to sit on the deck and watch the scenery. Some of the locks were very impressive and we were astonished how overall smooth the ride on the boat was. All the excursions to shore were interesting and instructive. We enjoyed going on our own through the village of Mandrogi and buying a few souvenirs for our friends. We loved Kizhi with its old wooden houses and the wonderful Transfiguration church. I was expecting to see snakes but luckily none showed up. The small village of Goritsy was not really worth visiting but the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery was. On this warm day, a lot of Russian people were enjoying themselves bathing in the lake next to the monastery. The church treasures impressed us. We enjoyed visiting Yaroslavil with its various churches and the visit to the governor’s house. We found the visit to a private home informative. We assumed this was staged for us but interesting nevertheless. We always like to see how people live in other countries and this was such an opportunity for us.
All in all it was a great experience and I would come back any time.