Our cruise from Saint Petersburg to Moscow was an adventure only dreamt of in an earlier time. The exposure to this fascinating nation—her engaging people, her clean and civil cities, her beautiful countryside and historical sites—was an experience to treasure for a lifetime. And this was facilitated by the our crew and tour entourage who made our cruise the most wonderful time. They were engaging and polite, responsive to the most trivial request, thourough and efficient while managing the excursions off the boat, and even had a doctor onboard who helped with an head-cold! Also, we had the misfortune of having our luggage lost enroute from the United States. But the Viking personnel ensured we had the clothes cleaned which accompanied us, provided basic toiletries, and gave assistance to a shopping mall to allow us to purchase items in the event our luggage failed to arrive before we began our cruise. All of this was gratis, and deeply appreciated. (Our luggage arrived!)
The tours which are provided are extraordinary. Apart from the subject matter and focus of the tours, the streamlined efficiency with which they are provided is impressive: no long waits, and no concern about being hurried.
A modicum of preparation for the visit to Russia should be made if one wishes to have a good appreciation of what is seen. We would suggest reading the biographies of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and of Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov. Make an effort to read “War and Peace” (actually six books in one!). It provides a great background to the origin of political difficulties in Europe today. Also, consider reading “Fathers and Sons” and “The House of The Dead.” These books give insightful background to the society of Russia prior to the Communist Revolution. To help us understand much of Russian history, lectures were provided by Russian nationals onboard which were extremely informative.
Of the onshore excursions, the visit to the Hermitage was a dream come true. Consider going on the “behind the scenes” tour as well; there are more phenomenal historical items worth seeing. The tour of the Peter Hof was exquisite, and in our estimation was more impressive than Versailles. Also highly recommended is the Uglich Walking-Tour and Home-Hosted visit. Our hostess was a dear woman, and was proof that people are essentially the same everywhere.
The initial anxiety we had regarding our arrival and departure from Russia was unnecessary as we were met by Viking personnel upon our arrival, and accompanied by them all the way to security during our departure! It could have been no better! Thank you Viking Cruises.
Rooms were very accommodating. Storage of luggage was under the beds; two closets were provided, both sufficient enough for three coats, six slacks and six shirts. Cubby-shelves in closets as well as under wall desk provided extra storage for more intimate attire. Bathroom was larger than expected. Sink, toilet and shower were located together behind privacy door. Rooms were attended to at least twice a day. Bottled water was replenished daily. Private balcony was larger than many hotels!