So let me begin by my impression of Russia, at least cruising from Moscow to St. Petersburg, stopping at several towns on the way. My fourth river cruise, but none so beautiful as the rivers between Russia’s two largest cities. We found Russia impeccably clean, their population friendly, St. Petersburg an incredible beauty and Moscow, as my title suggests, enchanting. Tagging (wall art/graffiti) visible in only a few small areas. I would strongly encourage everyone to visit this country if your are able. What has always been clear is that once governments are removed from the equation, we are all the same.
Now as to our 13 day Viking cruise. The ships are not the usual long ships owned by Viking but rather vessels leased from Russia. They are very clean, but devoid on any luxury. Our staff was cordial, a few members exceptional, the food good (not great) and the shore excursions generally well managed. I realize you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but a few less palaces, monasteries, etc., and more occasion to mix with the population would be vastly more appealing to us. As usual, almost all passengers were from America so ones horizons are not much expanded by interactions.
There are other cruise lines that have the same or similar itineraries, so I look over the reviews carefully before making a decision. The guides that Viking uses are almost to a person bright and learned.
Very small, but space utilized wisely.