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My husband and I are in our mid-fifties and wanted to see a lot of Russia but not be packing and unpacking so we thought a river cruise would be ideal. I went on a Viking cruise a few years ago with my Mom and told my husband that it would be a good choice. I booked directly with Viking - not my best move. Once I got on the boat I found that those who booked with a travel agent got some great pointers about rooms (for example if there was a post in the middle or not - we got a post). Even though we were one of the first bookings -- the Viking representative recommended the room - which turned out to be right behind the reception desk and across from the computers - perhaps not the best room as he had promised but on the other hand - although it was the lowest category room - it was very comfortable. The washroom was soundproof and cozy and the room had a very large window that opened which was very pleasant. You could however, hear the goings on in the cabin next door and the one above. We spent so little time in the room that it really was not an issue. The food on the cruise was up to Viking standards and was excellent. We quickly learned to get a seat on one side of the boat in the dining lounge. On the side we declined was a very loud server who huffed about in a show of great speed and importance but it was a show. He had very docile women working with him who consistently got the orders wrong, would not give you a menu in the morning, would not offer juice just coffee and would leave you sitting. We changed over to Bim's side and it was a whole new experience. Prompt, efficient, friendly service. Artemis and Yaroslav were especially dedicated. We attended all but the Russian language lectures (we missed the first one as we were too busy talking on the sundeck - so to go to the rest seemed useless). The lectures were great with a lot of insight. We also learned about making pelmani (or something like that) and it was interesting. We attended the wine tasting and the vodka tasting which were at an extra cost. They were will worth it! We had a riot and really loved the group of British ladies we joined. All of the drinks were paired with food. Damien was very good at the wine tasting (who knew Russia had some very good wines) and Julia and Damien were amazing at the vodka tasting - teaching us the proper Russian way to drink. I was somewhat saddened by the excursions in that they were not all included as was the case when I went on the Danube cruise. I particularly dislike big cruise lines and their propensity to nickel and dime their customers to death and found the extra charges for various excursions to be a sign of Viking going in that direction which is too bad. Overall the excursions though were excellent but Viking needs to take into consideration their passengers level of fitness. They appeared to do this on the Danube cruise but it was not done on the Russia cruise. Multiple times my husband and I were in groups wherein one or more people had a very hard time keeping up. Three times my husband and I either stayed back trying to help an individual catch up or help them carry things (portable chair etc) and missed part of the tours. I understand that the tour guide wants to go fast but to leave behind people is not really acceptable. Only a couple excursions had a gentle group. A few of the people we helped had stated that if they knew there were cobblestones they would have avoided the tour - maybe this should be added to the descriptors. Below I will describe the excursions: Moscow - the traffic, as is stated in multiple posts, is a disaster. Get ready to spend a lot of time trapped on a bus although Viking does use government buses which get a special lane - so they have tried to alleviate it but if your fitness level allows it - try to do the walking tours. Perhaps Viking can make smaller groups and utilize the amazing metro system to move people in and out of Red Square on the other tours. We went on the walking tour of Moscow- it was amazing - the metro is not to be missed - GUM is amazing as is Red Square. it is a great tour. One late afternoon, early evening Viking took us to a surprise folk show - we so enjoyed it- way to go Viking. We also did the Moscow by Night shore excursion (extra cost) - it was breath taking and very good. You do visit Red Square (yes once again) so there is some walking and with a tight time line - this is one where we had to help someone who was having a very hard time keeping up - I would highly recommend it. We also did Sergiev Posad (Monestary) at an extra cost - although relatively close to Moscow we had to go by bus - it took over 3 hours to get there (should have taken about 40 minutes). It was so crowded it was insane and we hardly had any time there - it was pouring rain so everyone was crowding into the buildings - it may have been better if it was a sunny day as more people may have been outside. Our tour guide had to go to battle for us when some other tour groups tried to squish in front of us. it was quite the showdown. We then went to eat from the same kitchen as the Monks. It was fish soup followed by fish stew (we all swore that they just poured out some of the broth and gave us a new bowl - it was pretty funny). We then went to a lookout and had some free time to explore. It was fun - don't buy souvenirs in the tunnel - they just buy them from the souvenir shops above - you will get better prices above. I would re-think this excursion. Word to the wise - use the bathrooms near the restaurant as the ones just outside the gates of the Monestary are squat toilets (I lost my earpiece in the hole!). I really wanted to see the Armoury but it was an additional cost at the same time as an included shore excursion. I wish this outing was available on our free day wherein I did Sergiev Posad. Uglich - Loved it - the home hosted visit was a big hit with us - we thought it was great. Purchased a hand painted box from the Church - it is so beautiful and a beautiful wool and silk shawl for my daughter. Yaroslav - take the walking tour if you are up to it. It is a beautiful walk and it is so pretty. You will not see the inside of the governor's house but you do visit the grounds and it didn't look like you were missing much but not visiting the interior. There is free time at the food market. There is an ATM close by that is in English. At the food market is Red October chocolate that we purchased to take home - good prices. Kirillo Monastery - This was interesting but was too taxing for some people it was one where my husband stayed back with someone while I continued with the tour and then I had to run back and find them and get them to rejoin - the ship's tour guide came upon me waiting for my husband and waited with me. Beautiful icons are for sale in the Monestary itself at this location. There are some cute handmade crafts outside the Monestary where the buses are - many people purchased items from here. Kizhi Island - I was really looking forward to this one and it was interesting but it was really rushed - a couple more hours on the island would have been really appreciated. Some of the people from the boat purchased furs from this location - I think I would be axe murdered if I wore one in Toronto! Mandrology - the boat docks right at this place and you can go out into the area - its like our pioneer villages but more liberty taken on the history aspect - artisans all over doing their crafts in beautiful re-created buildings. Its actually a big resort. Although we did not go to the vodka museum (it was extra) we heard that it was fun. We did however buy some of the glass from the glassblower and some christmas decorations from the birch bark maker. This stop was a lot of fun but I could see it becoming really busy in the summer months. St. Petersburg The Hermitage - absolutely beautiful with an amazing collection of art. It was here that I purchased an amber necklace (with certificates for the amber and the designer - one of the individuals who worked on the amber room). It was really, really busy with crazy crowds. My husband and I opted not to go back to the boat for dinner but to stay and then meet the group at the ballet. We had such a good time. Julia (an amazing program director) showed us a restaurant on the map Katyuska (or something like that) - the food was out of this world. We then decided to walk to the Summer gardens and they were having a classical car show (for Russian cars) - it was great and then we found the classical bus show! it was too funny. We meet everyone at the Pushkin Theatre for the ballet and went home with them. The Ballet was good - although not being a real fan of the ballet I am sure I missed some of the story! Petersburg up close - wow talk about walk! My husband and I loved it but we are walkers. By the end of the 7 miles - yes 7 miles - some people were done. Although it was long it was really really good and gave a good overview of St. Petersburg. Catherine Palace - take your breath away - amazing. Peterhof Palace & Park - Extra cost - this was one of two peterhof exercusions - the other one was behind the scenes and was significantly more expensive - this one was excellent and fully informative - I am really happy I chose this one as it gave me time to do St. Petersburg by Water. St. Peterburg by the Water - Extra cost - I read about this one and someone said don't do it but it was after I booked. I did not have their experience. It was a great tour but the tour guide did mention that it was dependent on the river levels - so maybe the other person had bad levels. Anyway it was really good and my husband and I really enjoyed ourselves. Most of our excursions were done by our shipboard tour guides and we mainly had Misha -- who was very professional and very nice. We did have a retired Viking tour person in St. Petersburg who was excellent although there were some very rude Viking customers who were fairly insulting to her. It was shameful and I was ashamed of their behaviour but it was the end of the cruise and I think some people just wanted to go home. All and all I would recommend Viking - Waterways of the Tsars but I am unsure if I will continue with Viking or try to find a river cruise company more for people our age.

Waterways of the Tsar

Viking Truvor Cruise Review by Allane A

24 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2018
  • Destination: Russia River
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Outside Stateroom
My husband and I are in our mid-fifties and wanted to see a lot of Russia but not be packing and unpacking so we thought a river cruise would be ideal. I went on a Viking cruise a few years ago with my Mom and told my husband that it would be a good choice.

I booked directly with Viking - not my best move. Once I got on the boat I found that those who booked with a travel agent got some great pointers about rooms (for example if there was a post in the middle or not - we got a post). Even though we were one of the first bookings -- the Viking representative recommended the room - which turned out to be right behind the reception desk and across from the computers - perhaps not the best room as he had promised but on the other hand - although it was the lowest category room - it was very comfortable. The washroom was soundproof and cozy and the room had a very large window that opened which was very pleasant. You could however, hear the goings on in the cabin next door and the one above. We spent so little time in the room that it really was not an issue.

The food on the cruise was up to Viking standards and was excellent. We quickly learned to get a seat on one side of the boat in the dining lounge. On the side we declined was a very loud server who huffed about in a show of great speed and importance but it was a show. He had very docile women working with him who consistently got the orders wrong, would not give you a menu in the morning, would not offer juice just coffee and would leave you sitting. We changed over to Bim's side and it was a whole new experience. Prompt, efficient, friendly service. Artemis and Yaroslav were especially dedicated.

We attended all but the Russian language lectures (we missed the first one as we were too busy talking on the sundeck - so to go to the rest seemed useless). The lectures were great with a lot of insight. We also learned about making pelmani (or something like that) and it was interesting.

We attended the wine tasting and the vodka tasting which were at an extra cost. They were will worth it! We had a riot and really loved the group of British ladies we joined. All of the drinks were paired with food. Damien was very good at the wine tasting (who knew Russia had some very good wines) and Julia and Damien were amazing at the vodka tasting - teaching us the proper Russian way to drink.

I was somewhat saddened by the excursions in that they were not all included as was the case when I went on the Danube cruise. I particularly dislike big cruise lines and their propensity to nickel and dime their customers to death and found the extra charges for various excursions to be a sign of Viking going in that direction which is too bad.

Overall the excursions though were excellent but Viking needs to take into consideration their passengers level of fitness. They appeared to do this on the Danube cruise but it was not done on the Russia cruise. Multiple times my husband and I were in groups wherein one or more people had a very hard time keeping up. Three times my husband and I either stayed back trying to help an individual catch up or help them carry things (portable chair etc) and missed part of the tours. I understand that the tour guide wants to go fast but to leave behind people is not really acceptable. Only a couple excursions had a gentle group. A few of the people we helped had stated that if they knew there were cobblestones they would have avoided the tour - maybe this should be added to the descriptors.

Below I will describe the excursions:

Moscow - the traffic, as is stated in multiple posts, is a disaster. Get ready to spend a lot of time trapped on a bus although Viking does use government buses which get a special lane - so they have tried to alleviate it but if your fitness level allows it - try to do the walking tours. Perhaps Viking can make smaller groups and utilize the amazing metro system to move people in and out of Red Square on the other tours.

We went on the walking tour of Moscow- it was amazing - the metro is not to be missed - GUM is amazing as is Red Square. it is a great tour.

One late afternoon, early evening Viking took us to a surprise folk show - we so enjoyed it- way to go Viking.

We also did the Moscow by Night shore excursion (extra cost) - it was breath taking and very good. You do visit Red Square (yes once again) so there is some walking and with a tight time line - this is one where we had to help someone who was having a very hard time keeping up - I would highly recommend it.

We also did Sergiev Posad (Monestary) at an extra cost - although relatively close to Moscow we had to go by bus - it took over 3 hours to get there (should have taken about 40 minutes). It was so crowded it was insane and we hardly had any time there - it was pouring rain so everyone was crowding into the buildings - it may have been better if it was a sunny day as more people may have been outside. Our tour guide had to go to battle for us when some other tour groups tried to squish in front of us. it was quite the showdown. We then went to eat from the same kitchen as the Monks. It was fish soup followed by fish stew (we all swore that they just poured out some of the broth and gave us a new bowl - it was pretty funny). We then went to a lookout and had some free time to explore. It was fun - don't buy souvenirs in the tunnel - they just buy them from the souvenir shops above - you will get better prices above. I would re-think this excursion.

Word to the wise - use the bathrooms near the restaurant as the ones just outside the gates of the Monestary are squat toilets (I lost my earpiece in the hole!).

I really wanted to see the Armoury but it was an additional cost at the same time as an included shore excursion. I wish this outing was available on our free day wherein I did Sergiev Posad.

Uglich - Loved it - the home hosted visit was a big hit with us - we thought it was great. Purchased a hand painted box from the Church - it is so beautiful and a beautiful wool and silk shawl for my daughter.

Yaroslav - take the walking tour if you are up to it. It is a beautiful walk and it is so pretty. You will not see the inside of the governor's house but you do visit the grounds and it didn't look like you were missing much but not visiting the interior. There is free time at the food market. There is an ATM close by that is in English. At the food market is Red October chocolate that we purchased to take home - good prices.

Kirillo Monastery - This was interesting but was too taxing for some people it was one where my husband stayed back with someone while I continued with the tour and then I had to run back and find them and get them to rejoin - the ship's tour guide came upon me waiting for my husband and waited with me. Beautiful icons are for sale in the Monestary itself at this location. There are some cute handmade crafts outside the Monestary where the buses are - many people purchased items from here.

Kizhi Island - I was really looking forward to this one and it was interesting but it was really rushed - a couple more hours on the island would have been really appreciated. Some of the people from the boat purchased furs from this location - I think I would be axe murdered if I wore one in Toronto!

Mandrology - the boat docks right at this place and you can go out into the area - its like our pioneer villages but more liberty taken on the history aspect - artisans all over doing their crafts in beautiful re-created buildings. Its actually a big resort. Although we did not go to the vodka museum (it was extra) we heard that it was fun. We did however buy some of the glass from the glassblower and some christmas decorations from the birch bark maker. This stop was a lot of fun but I could see it becoming really busy in the summer months.

St. Petersburg

The Hermitage - absolutely beautiful with an amazing collection of art. It was here that I purchased an amber necklace (with certificates for the amber and the designer - one of the individuals who worked on the amber room). It was really, really busy with crazy crowds.

My husband and I opted not to go back to the boat for dinner but to stay and then meet the group at the ballet.

We had such a good time. Julia (an amazing program director) showed us a restaurant on the map Katyuska (or something like that) - the food was out of this world. We then decided to walk to the Summer gardens and they were having a classical car show (for Russian cars) - it was great and then we found the classical bus show! it was too funny. We meet everyone at the Pushkin Theatre for the ballet and went home with them. The Ballet was good - although not being a real fan of the ballet I am sure I missed some of the story!

Petersburg up close - wow talk about walk! My husband and I loved it but we are walkers. By the end of the 7 miles - yes 7 miles - some people were done. Although it was long it was really really good and gave a good overview of St. Petersburg.

Catherine Palace - take your breath away - amazing.

Peterhof Palace & Park - Extra cost - this was one of two peterhof exercusions - the other one was behind the scenes and was significantly more expensive - this one was excellent and fully informative - I am really happy I chose this one as it gave me time to do St. Petersburg by Water.

St. Peterburg by the Water - Extra cost - I read about this one and someone said don't do it but it was after I booked. I did not have their experience. It was a great tour but the tour guide did mention that it was dependent on the river levels - so maybe the other person had bad levels. Anyway it was really good and my husband and I really enjoyed ourselves.

Most of our excursions were done by our shipboard tour guides and we mainly had Misha -- who was very professional and very nice. We did have a retired Viking tour person in St. Petersburg who was excellent although there were some very rude Viking customers who were fairly insulting to her. It was shameful and I was ashamed of their behaviour but it was the end of the cruise and I think some people just wanted to go home.

All and all I would recommend Viking - Waterways of the Tsars but I am unsure if I will continue with Viking or try to find a river cruise company more for people our age.
Allane A’s Full Rating Summary
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