- This was our first European River Cruise, but not our last! The Viking Staff was professional, polite and very responsive to all our requests. As we were coming from the Mountain Time Zone, we decided to take advantage of the Helsinki pre-cruise option. Good Choice. Helsinki is beautiful, the included walking tour was perfect, and we also had an off-day that allowed us to book a day-trip to Tallin, Estonia on our own before we left home. We booked on-line the Tallink Silja line, took the city tram to the dock and back. Very nice day in a 17th Century-preserved central capitol city. A real advantage of starting in Helsinki was the 1st class train ride from Finland to St. Petersburg. When you cross to border, you leave the 21st century Finland and enter the 1950's era Russian country-side. Very revealing.
- St. Petersburg: Perfect first day in Russia -- from the Staff meeting us at the Train station to the evening dinner to the dockside Welcome Show. We took all the tours offered in St. Petersburg, and glad we did. The ship did dock in the city suburbs, so it was a daily 50 minute drive to see anything -- but it was also enjoyable to see the city on our "windshield" tours. The music, the ballet, the Winter Palace, Catherine's Palace and the Peterhof Palace once in a life-time stops
- Down the lakes and river: A chance to unwind and see the beauty of Russia. Highlights: Uglich, Yaroslavl governor's palace, and Kizhi were each beautiful in their own way -- but my favorite was the grade school visit Kuzino. The teachers, the classes, and the layout of the school were "dead-ringer" the a 1950 Midwest grade school -- except of course for the 50 Apples computers.
Superb room. We choose this cabin for the top-level balcony. On the river, it was great to just sit outside your room and watch the vastness of Russia go by. Unfortunately, most nights you dock next to another ship -- so you at looking into the cabin or dining room of another cruise ship.