We were offered a very good deal by Viking. We assumed the deal was special because ours was the next to last cruise of the season and they wanted to ensure a full ship.Several years ago we were scheduled for another cruise with Viking which was cancelled due to a flood in Europe.
Our expectations were high based on testimonies from people we know who have taken Viking cruises. Our expectations were met and exceeded. From the moment we landed in Moscow, Vikings expert staff met us and took care of our every need. They were professional, personable, and knowledgeable. The aboard ship cultural lessons were valuable, interesting, and entertaining. Our local tour guides were excellent and passionate about their locations and topics. One of our concerns having never been on a cruise before was whether or not we would get a real feel for the Russian people and their lives. We needn’t have worried. The people we met were very candid about their lives, their culture, their politics, and their history.
The excursions were spectacular from Red Square, the Kremlin, Moscow by night, a delightful evening of Russian folk music, Sergiev Posad (Russia’s greatest monastery), the Uglich walking tour and visiting the Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood, touring Yaroslavl (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, Kishi Island at the north end of Lake Onega (second largest lake in Europe) with the largest wooden church in the world and an outdoor museum of peasant life, Mandrogy which is an outdoor museum of a Russian village with artisans and craftsmen. And then there was St. Petersburg! Moscow is this incredible, modern mega-metropolis, the largest city in Europe. St. Petersburg is like an extreme northern Venice. It is a beautiful city and we saw it by boat, by bus, and on foot. Amazing architecture and cultural sites awaited us, The Hermitage, one of the greatest, if not the greatest museum in the world, is an amazing experience and our tour guide had it down cold. The same was true of the Peterhof Palace and fountains. The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the most amazing works of art inside and out. Magnificent mosaic icons grace every surface in the sanctuary. Being in Peter and Paul Cathedral surrounded by the tombs of the Romanov Dynasty gave me chills. Along with all of this there were concerts, a performance of Swan Lake, and on and on, including shopping opportunities. With all this, you might think we were rushed or exhausted. Not the case! If anything it seemed leisurely.
On the ship, there was beautiful scenery, music and dancing, opportunities to visit with the other passengers, and cultural and historical lessons. There were roughly a 2-to-1 ratio of passengers to crew. The ship itself was immaculate. The food service was excellent. There was always a traditional Russian entree on the menu, if one so wished. The dining room staff was warm, engaging and very professional. We would recommend Viking to anyone and this particular cruise to all with a desire for the ultimate Russian experience.
The cabin was spotless. If we left it for a few hours, it had been cleaned when we returned. The bed was very comfortable and larger than queen. The room was well configured helping to make the cabin seem larger than it actually was.