We originally selected this cruise because it offered more time in the large cities (Moscow & St. Petersburg) than did several other cruise lines, and my husband needed a slightly larger bathroom because of a disability. Boy, were we glad that we went with Scenic! It was outstanding!! The itinerary was full of just the things that you want to see and experience in Russia--with lots of extras along the way.
First, let us tell all potential Russian cruisers that you will not be staying in the city center on any of the Russian cruises (as you may be used to on most European river cruises). There is a Russian law that the riverboats must stay in port areas that are outside the downtown areas. This can result in up to an hour bus ride when getting into the downtown areas. It is a toss up as to just being in a downtown location, not having to pack and unpack so much, and seeing all the wonderful things along the river. Although Russia is obviously SO much bigger than this cruise, you will feel like you have seen a good deal of it by the time you finish this trip. The river sites and packing and unpacking (and all things arranged) won for us. The buses were comfortable and the cruise folks used the time wisely to let us know so very much about their country. Also, you may want to come a few days earlier and leave a few days later to "see it all" (like the Bolshoi), as even with the extra days, it may not be enough.
The boat itself was really nice. Our cabin on the second level was roomy and always spotless, the food was really good to fantastic, the tour guides (both local and from the cruise line) were extremely knowledgable and honest with responses to questions, and the activities were very special along the way (both in port and along the river). Due to the distance from the boat during some tours, the lunch restaurants were upscale and provided a good experience. Service in the ship's restaurant and other areas was always with grace and a smile (which smiling to strangers, by the way, is not always cultural for Russians...and not smiling was seen as unwelcoming on other cruise lines by some Western colleagues who reported this on other cruise lines in the past). We thought that all service in all areas was superb on this ship.
We had the cabin which was a large suite, so it had plenty of space both in the bathroom and the room itself. The view was from right at the front of the ship, so cruising down the river was truly fantastic. At times, the cabin got a bit warm, as windows surround the whole suite, but opening the balcony door brought one up close and personal to the river and the Russian countryside and cooled things off quickly. The very best cabin might be directly opposite to this one because of the afternoon sun during the hottest summer months. The cabin service was flawless, and the cabin was tended several times a day.