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243 Russia River Cruise Reviews

We (2 couples) took the Sept-5-17 Volga Dream Cruise with 4 nights at Moscow and 4 nights at St Petersburg, with cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg for 6 nights. We wanted to stay at Moscow and St Petersburg for the city visits and ... Read More
We (2 couples) took the Sept-5-17 Volga Dream Cruise with 4 nights at Moscow and 4 nights at St Petersburg, with cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg for 6 nights. We wanted to stay at Moscow and St Petersburg for the city visits and Volga Dream Cruise program provides this. For most cruise lines, you need to stay in the ship and have to be transported to the cities daily for the tours. The Volga Dream hotels in both cities are outstanding (5 Star) and the guides were terrific. We stayed additional night in St Petersburg and Moscow - we saw few more museums/palaces. So much to see, so the additional days are worthwhile (we stayed at different hotels for the additional 1 night -otherwise the additional cost was much more). Moscow and St Petersburg are very beautiful and interesting cities. Everything went smoothly and our guides were great guiding with a large group of 25 people. We signed up for the Gold program which has clearly stated a much larger tour group. You do need to walk 3-5 km for some days, since many sights are not accessible to vehicles or tour buses. The in-cruise programs were very educational, interesting and well organized. Professor lectures on Russian history and arts were informative and her enthusiasm, interest in sharing were well appreciated. Food in-cruise was very good - high quality, tasty and wide varieties of salads and hot entries. Shore excursions were well managed, prompt and interesting. Due to strong wind/waves, we had to miss Kitzhi Island. Instead we arrived at St Petersburg half-day earlier. Kudos to Volga Dream to pack additional Hermitage museum tour to compensate. I really appreciate this focus/value from operator, for giving the customers as much as they can. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We wanted to see more of Russia than just Moscow and St. Petersburg, so we looked at the inland waterway between those cities. Most river cruise companies on this route stop at the same places but we chose Viking as it was the first ... Read More
We wanted to see more of Russia than just Moscow and St. Petersburg, so we looked at the inland waterway between those cities. Most river cruise companies on this route stop at the same places but we chose Viking as it was the first foreign company to develop the route and operates its own boats, giving it greater control. The cruise includes three days in both Moscow and St Petersburg. In both cities Viking docks some way (around 20 km - 12 miles) from the city centre, so if you want to explore those cities on your own be prepared to use the Metro. In Moscow this is easy as the dock is a 10 minute walk from the Metro Station but in St Petersburg you need to take a public bus to the Metro station. This is easier than it sounds as route 119 (every 5 minutes) starts close to the dock and terminates at the Metro station. Details (including map) available at Helgi reception. Tip – buy stored value cards (Troika and Podorozhnik) to save messing with small change Viking offer a number of included and additional shore excursions. We took the Catherine Palace tour in St Petersburg (as this is difficult by public transport), the Moscow up close walking tour (as this starts with a good introduction to the Metro), the Kizhi walking tour and the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery bus tour (as the dock is some way from the monastery.) Viking gave us our tickets for the St.Petersburg Ballet performance in advance and we met the group at the theatre. If you are interested in the visual arts buy tickets on line and visit The Hermitage, General Staff Building and the Pushkin on your own. The Hermitage is worth a day and the other two half a day each. The include tours spend less than four hours at the Hermitage and do not cover the other two (although the extra paid excursions do.) The ports in between provide just the experience we were looking for. The visit to the Kirillov monastery was a high point of the trip and included a school visit hosted by a final year student (doing it as a summer vacation job). Having had school visits on tours to China in the early 1980s I was slightly cynical beforehand but this visit seemed genuine and was interesting. Other points: If arriving by train from Helsinki, the fare we paid from the station to the Viking wharf was RUB 2,500 A two day combined ticket for the Hermitage and General Staff building costs $24 on line; A one day Pushkin ticket including special exhibitions was RUB 1000 Viking offer a one day excursion to Sergiev Posad near Moscow. We did this ourselves by suburban train from the Yaroslav Station (the ticket machines speak English and tell you the time of the next train. On the platform indicator look for trains to Сергиев Посад or Александровка Try and learn the Cyrillic alphabet before you go. Viking provides excellent beginners classes on the boat - worth attending. Food on board was pretty good. German chef. Menu had local as well as international dishes. Bread could have been better Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
A lot of friends asked us why we chose a Russian cruise as a destination, as if saying Why go there? I was apprehensive given all the stereotypical images portrayed in all the media and films over the years while my husband was more ... Read More
A lot of friends asked us why we chose a Russian cruise as a destination, as if saying Why go there? I was apprehensive given all the stereotypical images portrayed in all the media and films over the years while my husband was more familiar with Russian history and had no such concerns. This was also our first cruise so we were prepared to allow the tour to unfold and didn't have a long list of must see destinations. The Tours selected for us were exceptional. There was a lot to see. On some tours there was a lot of walking which really helped with controlling the extra weight that the copious amounts of delicious food served at every meal might cause. The tour was so well managed from the beginning to the end, with great care and precision. The Cruise Director and his team were exceptionally professional as well as entertaining and happy to engage with everyone on the cruise. They said the ship would be our home and we would all be treated as family and they truly delivered. All of the ship staff were accessible, friendly, and very professional. The rooms were kept spotlessly clean and were very comfortable. The bed and pillows were excellent and the room had thoughtful details like rugs to use if you wanted to sit out on the balcony and watch the forest and sights unfold as we sailed by. The ship was big enough and well thought out in layout to give everyone enough space to not feel crowded, there were over one hundred guests on our cruise and 65 staff and it was surprising how uncrowded and quiet the ship felt. The food was varied and excellent throughout the trip. The only issue we had was the tables at the rear of the dining room were quite noisy whenever the ship was underway. The lounge and bar areas were comfortable and well stocked. We were consulted and included in briefings that were informative and funny. On board activities were varied and engaging when under way. This was our first cruise and it wont be our last. Russia is an amazing place, it is so diverse and this cruise gave us an opportunity to see the beauty, the culture and the community while still providing an opportunity to relax and meet interesting people from diverse backgrounds. I cant say which bit was best because it was all great. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose Volga Dream over other cruises as the nights in both Moscow and Saint Petersburg were spent in 5* hotels in the city centres. We opted for the Platinum package for the smaller tour group and extra visits such as Faberge Museum and ... Read More
We chose Volga Dream over other cruises as the nights in both Moscow and Saint Petersburg were spent in 5* hotels in the city centres. We opted for the Platinum package for the smaller tour group and extra visits such as Faberge Museum and Gold Room in Hermitage. The sight seeing tours in both Moscow and St Petersburg were excellent. Both our guides were excellent and being in a small group we often had priority over larger groups visiting museums and palaces. The provided lunches on the city tours were very good with one exception. Transportation in the minivan was always door to door. The sightseeing days did involve up to 8-9km of walking in total. The cruise ship although an old has been well modernised and is a pleasant environment. The staff without exception were a delight, helpful and charming. The food was very good and served dinners were beautifully presented and the wine flowed. Professor Ludmila was brilliant giving interesting relevant lectures each day with such enthusiasm and was very interesting to chat to at mealtimes. Other on board activities such as language lessons and cooking class were fun. The excursions were well organised with local guides who were generally excellent. Sadly we missed our first stop at Uglich due to fog preventing navigation for some hours Airport transfers went smoothly and we had an amazing time. Thank you Volga Dream. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
i chose to book with a Russian company as I felt we would have a more authentic Russian experience. It was excellent! Each day we stopped and had a tour of a different town/city. We had sufficient free time which was much ... Read More
i chose to book with a Russian company as I felt we would have a more authentic Russian experience. It was excellent! Each day we stopped and had a tour of a different town/city. We had sufficient free time which was much appreciated. The tour guides were absolutely fabulous. Their knowledge was encyclopedic. Many, if not all, were university professors during the school year - it certainly showed. They were so informative and enthusiastic. The food was very good and there was a good deal of selection. There was plenty to eat if you were a vegetarian as well. The pianist was unbelievably good. The ship was spotless and very well maintained. Marina was excellent in dealing with the bookings. I would very highly recommend this cruise with this family-owned company. They bent over backwards to accommodate us and were very attentive to all of our questions. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We were very impressed reading the itinerary and all the trip offered. It was our first river cruise with scenic. The daily programs are explained every evening, before dinner. Svetlana armstrong, our cruise director was wonderful! Her eye ... Read More
We were very impressed reading the itinerary and all the trip offered. It was our first river cruise with scenic. The daily programs are explained every evening, before dinner. Svetlana armstrong, our cruise director was wonderful! Her eye for detail is exceptional, there was never a time she wasn't there for the guests: ensuring all understood the guidelines of what to do, where to meet, along with all the historical places we would be visiting. Every day was a wow! vadim palchun, our historian, program director, and guide was beyond an a++. Vadim"s intellect surpasses any historian we have ever met. Vadim greeted us every day with humor, patience, knowledge and passion for russia as he guided us thru his homeland. The palaces, the cathedrals, the museums, (don't miss the world war 11 museum) the ballet, the rivertours, the folklore show, & the phenominal old moscow circus!!! Was outstanding!!! Truly, surpassed our expectations! the only significant problem involved the limo service from home: to and from the airport, would not want to deal with this limo company again.. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We have traveled with NatGeo/Lindblad on several occasions, Galapagos, Iceland, Africa (NatGeo solely), Alaska and now Wrangel Island. I had looked forward to this trip for almost 2 years. My expeditions were not met however. Food: ... Read More
We have traveled with NatGeo/Lindblad on several occasions, Galapagos, Iceland, Africa (NatGeo solely), Alaska and now Wrangel Island. I had looked forward to this trip for almost 2 years. My expeditions were not met however. Food: Plentiful and good as always. Alcohol: Free flowing (I'm not a drinker, but it appeared it was free flowing). Excursions: Not so great. Our first stop was Provideniya. This town is ominous. There is nothing to see (building that have been deteriorating since WWII perhaps) and nothing to do. There are no shops or souvenirs to be had. We had some local townspeople put on a dance show, but that was it. The streets are dirty and it is depressing place to be. Uelen: Ditto. VERY ominous and dirty. The ivory museum was interesting. However, despite promoting the ivory on their website and in their handouts as well as the pre-trip briefing for this town visit, you cannot LEGALLY purchase these wares because the individuals who carve these brilliant pieces do not abide by the parameters set by CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species C.I.T.E.S.) which regulates same. Walrus, Mammoth and other ivory wares are BANNED. Basically, you are perusing carvings that are illegal in their derivation. Villagers put on another dance for us. Lorino: Ditto. Ominous, poverty stricken town. Under Russian law, they are allowed to hunt whales and fox. Thankfully, while we were there. . . . all of the 1500 fox cages were empty. And the only remainders of a whale were there blood/blubber covered bones that their dozens of dogs were eating (yes . . . gross). Nothing to see. Nothing to buy, except for one villager had ivory and pelts for sale, which again . . . are illegal to purchase. We did have a tug of war with the local villagers, which was interesting. Several men from our cruise volunteered and went against several men from the village who haul whales from the ocean for a living. When our guys won . . . the villagers were angry and stormed off. Wrangel island: Saw 80+ polar bears at about 3/4 mile to a mile away from the ship. We only did 4 zodiac runs the entire trip. Once to Wrangel Island to walk the tundra for 2 hours (looking at plants). No wildlife. Some geese. Old broken down buildings. LOTS of mud. Saw 1 polar bear from a zodiac run, but with 10 other people in the boat, the waves and the driver instructing us to sit down, don't move, don't get up and don't switch places . . . was nearly impossible to get a picture. When I came home from my Africa trip . . . I had over 8,000 pictures. Iceland and Galapagos over 5,000 pictures each. I have 7 pictures of "wildlife" from this trip. Geese flying overhead. 1 of a polar bear from 1/4 mile away. 1 of 2 polar bears 3/4 mile away and some other birds. That's the extent of my photos. I got tired of taking photo of ominous places. And plants just aren't my thing. NatGeo's photogs (as usual) were allowed to head out in zodiacs on their own to hunt down subjects for their photos, while passengers were boarded into a single zodiac 10-12 at a time. They do whatever it takes to get their shot. Sometimes I feel like I am paying for them to get their shots . . . shouldn't the passenger be the one able to take advantage of getting great photography and not the NatGeo photog who is there because you are paying for him to be there? The age demographic for our particular trip was much older than most NatGeo trips. We are 60 and 61 years of age . . . and we were the youngest by several years. It appears that NatGeo is moving towards Viking type trips . . . where there are less adventurers and more travelers who are completely satisfied with eating, drinking, napping and being entertained by a singing / dancing crew than head out in search of wildlife. A good portion of the passengers could not even get into a zodiac without the help of 4 people. At one point it became dangerous because passengers were either not listening, unable to listen or didn't care to listen to zodiac disembarking instructions . . . and 2 people in the back got hammered by the sea. And . . . many of them slowed us down during the 2 (yes . . only 2) outings that took place. So . . . is NatGeo becoming an extensive, expensive, dinner cruise? Is money the bottom line for them and the adventuring spirit has taken a back seat to wining and dining the older demographic? So . . . Waitstaff go out of their way to please you; ditto for housekeeping. Despite the brochure indicating that tips are NOT necessary or expected . . . a huge tip box is visible in the reception area on the last day. Photographers - you are paying for their adventure . . . so they get their shots . . . and as such try to be as personable as possible during the trips. What continues to happen though on these trips is that the photographers have their "help" session the very last day . . . so basically they are saying "if you photographed landscape in the dim light we had last Tuesday, then your settings should have been 'x'". What they don't do is help you PRIOR to encountering such conditions. So - basically, they are helping you after the fact, but they still get THEIR shots. Landry service - we used them 3 times and clothes came back in great order. Mud room - on our cruise the mud room was turned into a staff lounge and thus unusable by passengers. After excursions to the disgustingly and questionably dirty villages and the like, your boots go back into your rooms with you. There is a brief opportunity to wash them off after disembarking the zodiac, but there is usually a line to do so. When we arrived back home . . . I hot water soaked and disinfected all of our shoes. Wellness - I had a massage every other day with Allison. I love deep tissue massage . . . and she was very well trained and wonderful. Note: the small exercise room is just outside of the massage room door . . . so if someone is working out . . . you will hear them. A few sites claim that there is room service 24/7 on this cruise . . . that is absolutely not the case. The cruise never used the: ROV kayaks underwater camera video microscope crow's next camera hydrophone The staff divers were not allowed to diver purportedly due to military restrictions set by the Russians, but we heard that it was because the administrative staff forgot to file the necessary paperwork. Panoramic views from the lounge. Dining room is oddly situated on only the port side of the ship . . . almost like an afterthought. If you want a trip where you can eat as much as you like and socialize - this is the trip for you. If you want to drink as much as alcohol as you like and socialize - this is the trip for you. If you enjoy viewing plants - this is the trip for you. If you are in search of wildlife - do not take this trip. If I had known what this trip would be like . . . I would not have taken it . . . because the cost vs the experience was absolutely not worth it. What NatGeo and Lindblad are advertising is not what you get. We did not see hundreds of polar bears (at least within viewing range - maybe with a binoculars - 3/4 mile to a mile away), we did not visit the whale bone alley and despite Wrangel Island being touted as the most bio diverse island full of a plethora of wildlife (their words not mine), we saw nothing but birds. . . . and very few of them at that. For the cost . . . absolutely not worth it . . . and we could have gone to Africa 3 times for what it cost to go to Wrangel Island. Such a disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Russia was a total unknown to us - an eye opener of its people and lifestyle in Moscow and St Petersburg. The three Russian Tour Leaders employed by Scenic were superb - their command of the English language was superb and their ... Read More
Russia was a total unknown to us - an eye opener of its people and lifestyle in Moscow and St Petersburg. The three Russian Tour Leaders employed by Scenic were superb - their command of the English language was superb and their presentations were with a great sense of humour. The ship staff were friendly and helpful making the trip a very positive experience. The day excursions were of great interest and the fact that Scenic managed to get early access to the various musea, churches, castles etc before the crowds was greatly appreciated. The tour buses were modern and comfortable with good PA systems and efficient drivers. A good effort was made to drop us off and collect us later at the various point of interest without nearby parking facilities. The staff on-board were friendly and efficient and their English was remarkably good as they were all young Russians. The food was varied, well presented and very good with good wines to choose from. Breakfast and lunch were good occasions to move around the buffet and dinner was sit down a la carte with personalised service at the table. The pianist was very good and played the entertainment, mostly provided by the 3 Tour Leaders were great. The talks about the Russian political history was frank, honest and very detailed and gave me a better understanding of how Russia arrived where it is now. Because of the unseasonable cold weather, we did not make much use of the balcony or the outside areas. We were efficiently collected from the airport in Moscow at the start of the cruise and delivered to the airport in St Petersburg at the conclusion of the trip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
From the moment I contacted Vodohod to book this cruise to the time we were dropped off at our hotel in St. Petersburg, we were pleased. Customer service was great. My emails to the company were responded to within a day. All my ... Read More
From the moment I contacted Vodohod to book this cruise to the time we were dropped off at our hotel in St. Petersburg, we were pleased. Customer service was great. My emails to the company were responded to within a day. All my questions were clearly answered and the company sent me a letter of invitation for the entire pre and post cruise time we spent in Russia (so we could get our visas). We were picked up at our hotel, the Leningradskaya Hilton in Moscow, by a car and driver, and delivered to the cruise ship. Check in was a breeze. Our balcony cabin was very nice. The bed was comfortable. The bathroom was fine. Everything was clean and we had room to hang, place or store items. During our tour in Moscow, we were taken to a centrally located, very lovely historic hotel for lunch. It was quite nice with linen tablecloths and attentive waiters dressed in suits. The food was delicious. The young lady assigned to the English speaking group, of which we were a total of 10 independent travelers, was Zhenya (Jane). She was great. She spoke English well, came to our table each night and left a flyer that listed the following day’s activities. She answered all our questions and was always positive. What a warm and wonderful person she was. She accompanied us on all our excursions. I found her very helpful when I had a problem with my Russian SIM card. They kept sending me texts in Russian and I didn’t know what they wanted. Seems like I owed another 8 cents for the plan I chose. Zhenya paid the money using her cell phone and wouldn’t take compensation from me. We were never bored. The ship had separate activities for all language groups (English, Russian, French, Chinese, etc.). We had a retired professor lecturing on Russian history and he did a great job. We enjoyed painting a matryoshka doll. Some joined in a Russian singing and dancing activity. We had a vodka and caviar tasting session. We were entertained by the ship’s staff and entertainers with music and songs. We had a guests’ talent show which was quite good. They played videos on the tv covering parts of Russia—like a travelogue of sorts. We went through a number of locks; one in particular was quite picturesque. We thought the riverside was quite beautiful. Everything was so green. The trees looked very healthy. We enjoyed the towns where we stopped. We were assigned local guides and Zhenya accompanied us. There was time to shop if desired. The best shopping was at the port where I left my money onboard. So, take money with you because you never know where you’ll find great opportunities to buy souvenirs or trinkets to take to those back home. We missed two port calls in Europe’s largest lake, Ladoga. It was very windy and the waves were high so a number of river boats missed the two ports associated with that lake. We were a bit disappointed but there’s not much you can do when the weather becomes adverse. To make up for the missed ports, we were treated to a Cossacks show when we arrived in St. Petersburg. It was excellent and we all were very happy with this surprise. We thought the food was very good. Breakfast and lunch were buffet and we chose to eat at the same table where we were assigned for dinner. You select your dinner the night before so our table always forgot what we had ordered. But, it was all delicious. There were no complaints at our table at all. We thought the organization and management of the ship was excellent. Everything was planned in advance and well thought out. There were no glitches. We can’t say enough positive things about our experience. We absolutely loved this ship, its staff and the cruise in general. We’d do it again. Maybe some day... Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Our expectations were constantly exceeded by a company that really takes their client's best interests to heart! Our itineraries every day were designed to minimise the crowds and maximise the impact. For example we were almost the ... Read More
Our expectations were constantly exceeded by a company that really takes their client's best interests to heart! Our itineraries every day were designed to minimise the crowds and maximise the impact. For example we were almost the first group into the Armoury in the Kremlin and were definitely the first group into the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg on the days we visited them. And friends who've been before say on seeing our pictures "but we never saw those beautiful floors!" or "but where are the crowds?" The only scrum was the Summer Palace. Our groups were small, max 15, and our guides were superb. How they retain the freshness of their stories and their sense of humor amongst ignorant but interested tourists is a wonderful quality. Our accommodation everywhere was excellent and it was lovely to have the space and central location of the hotels in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. On board our cabin was more spacious than expected and the bathroom was perfect. The food was full of choice, delicious, and always enough to go round. The complimentary wines were great but never ending! We slept very well, even the locks didn't disturb us. The excursions and on board entertainments kept everyone's interests up and many new friends were made. But best of all was Russia. What a beautiful country Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We have travelled much of the world over the last 25 years, but had never yet been to Russia. We chose a river cruise from St Petersburg to Moscow in high season. The price was very reasonable, so we did not expect a 5+ star level of ... Read More
We have travelled much of the world over the last 25 years, but had never yet been to Russia. We chose a river cruise from St Petersburg to Moscow in high season. The price was very reasonable, so we did not expect a 5+ star level of service and care. However, from the moment we boarded until our final disembarkation, we were both enraptured and enthralled with every facet of the cruise. The ship is very long, accommodating about 240 passengers. There are several dining rooms, lounge areas, bars, meeting rooms, large wide decks and even a shop. The suites are small, yet comfortable with large windows, cupboards and a small bathroom with sink, toilet and shower. Our bags fitted perfectly underneath the beds. We hung all our clothes in the wardrobe. The many staff are efficient, caring and professional. They all go the extra mile. Nothing was ever a problem to any of them. The meals were exceptional and abundant. Our Cruise Director, Victoria, was the best ever! She genuinely cared for her team of passengers and went way above and beyond all expectations. She taught us so much Russian history, while she made the cruise exciting and fun for everyone. Her assistant, Daria, was also exceptional in every way.The shore excursions were well organised and informative, with a broad variety of options. We enjoyed an amazing folk show in St Petersburg and another in Moscow. Victoria and Daria took us on a night tour of the amazing Moscow underground Metro. We went inside the Kremlin and enjoyed some amazing night shopping. There was no shortage of entertainment on board for everyone, while the land excursions took us to some of the most amazing palaces and places in the world. This was clearly one of the great highlights of our entire lives! Gary & Debbie Martin. Australia Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We had dreamed of visiting Russia and decided to go with another pair of friends . We found The Volga Dream Program: 3 days in St. Petersburg, 6 days on board and 3 days in Moscow. Everything was perfect: the five-stars hotels, Grand ... Read More
We had dreamed of visiting Russia and decided to go with another pair of friends . We found The Volga Dream Program: 3 days in St. Petersburg, 6 days on board and 3 days in Moscow. Everything was perfect: the five-stars hotels, Grand Hotel Europe in St.Petersburg and The Ararat in Moscow, both are excellent and located in the best place of the each city. The boat was very good, the itinerary was varied. We visited small towns like Svirstroy where we were at old lady, who told us about Russian lifestyle and traditions and the unforgettable time we passed at the primary school and beautiful cities like Yaroslavl and Uglich. Time on board was very well planned: Russian and cooking lessons but the Prof. Ludmila Selezneva´s lectures were outstanding. I realized about my ignorance about the different topics of the Russian History, Art and Politics. I learned a lot thanks to Prof. Selezneva. The service was impeccable, our cabin was always clean and tidy on time and at the dining-room we've had the best waitress in the world: Luzmila. Congratulations to the Cruise Director Catherine Panfilova. Special mention deserve all the local guides; well prepared, high English Level and very helpful ladies. I recommend Volga Dream experience widely!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We surveyed a number of possibilities before settling on the Volga Dream for our trip from Moscow to St Petersburg on the Volga River. We wanted a small ship--the Volga Dream accommodates 100 passengers although we had fewer on our ... Read More
We surveyed a number of possibilities before settling on the Volga Dream for our trip from Moscow to St Petersburg on the Volga River. We wanted a small ship--the Volga Dream accommodates 100 passengers although we had fewer on our voyage. We were intrigued by the fact that the ship is owned by a Russian family and has a Russian crew. We also noted that many Volga cruises sleep on the ship while visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg and we preferred to stay in centrally located hotels instead so that we could more easily have some time and access to independent exploration. After reading about the Volga Dream our only concern was that it was an older ship and we wondered if it would be in good condition. No worry! It was evident that the ship has received consistent TLC! All facilities were in excellent condition. Our cabin was comfortable, housekeeping was efficient, and we had two nice large windows through which to admire the views! The meals aboard were excellent and provided plenty of options including vegetarian ones. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style while dinners were served from a menu. Wine and beer were complimentary (and generous) for lunch and dinner. In addition to the interesting shore excursions there were a variety of cultural activities to participate in...or not Just relaxing and enjoying the view was quite acceptable! All shore excursions were included as well as city touring, There were some optional evening excursions in Moscow and St. Petersburg at an additional cost. I did not participate in any of them (and there was no pressure to do so) so I'm unable to evaluate them Overall, service was excellent! Embarkation and disembarkation were handled smoothly and efficiently at ports and for shore excursions. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We took our very enjoyable 1st ever river cruise - Viking’s River of the Tsars. The quality of accommodation, services, food, and tours was in all cases very good. Our chief disappointment was their disregard for a very simple way ... Read More
We took our very enjoyable 1st ever river cruise - Viking’s River of the Tsars. The quality of accommodation, services, food, and tours was in all cases very good. Our chief disappointment was their disregard for a very simple way to operate in a more environmentally sustainable way by reducing their use of single use water bottles which they pass out by the hundreds daily. Despite repeated efforts after our return to learn why they choose not to provide reusable water bottles and water, we have been unable to get an explanation, in part perhaps because they seem to have no department to which environmental performance/sustainability is assigned. If attention to environmental protection/sustainability is important to you, please bring a reusable water bottle. The water on board is perfectly safe to drink, and is served at meals and in the bars. Also please REPLY TO THIS POSTING indicating if you too would be happier as a Viking customer if they provided a reusable water bottle and water refilling stations, so that their corporate decision makers can see that this is something that their customers value and want. Food service was very attentive and meals were tasty and well presented. The wine and beer served with lunch and dinner were of good quality. The tour guides provided from the ship were very well versed in information of interest, and their English was easy to understand. Some of the optional tours especially in Moscow could easily be done at substantially lower cost on one’s own using the very efficient and low cost subway system. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We enjoyed the cruise, despite the flights arranged by Viking. The flights home were particularly difficult - two layovers, not sitting together on 2 flights, chosen seats not provided - despite having paid for Premium Economy and Viking ... Read More
We enjoyed the cruise, despite the flights arranged by Viking. The flights home were particularly difficult - two layovers, not sitting together on 2 flights, chosen seats not provided - despite having paid for Premium Economy and Viking Air Plus. The ship's crew were wonderful, helpful, friendly and extremely attentive. The food was good and the service on board was excellent. The best aspects of the trip were Moscow and St Petersburg - they are fascinating cities and well worth visiting. However, the traffic in both cities was horrific. In both cities the ship docked far outside of the city centres, and too much time was wasted stuck on the bus in terrible traffic. We often spent as much time on the bus travelling to and from destinations as we did at the destinations themselves. The Hermitage in St Petersburg was a wonderful excursion, but marred by the time getting there and getting back, and by the lineups and crowds at the site. All in all, despite the glitches, it was a memorable trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
The Waterways of the Tsars is definitely the best way to see Russia. Viking knows how to pay attention to every detail! The service on the ship was excellent! Luigi and Rey in the dining room were perfection; they knew our names by the ... Read More
The Waterways of the Tsars is definitely the best way to see Russia. Viking knows how to pay attention to every detail! The service on the ship was excellent! Luigi and Rey in the dining room were perfection; they knew our names by the second day and had our drinks ready when we sat down. Valeriya kept our stateroom so neat and tidy - it made us feel comfortable after our busy days in the different ports. We like to stay active and were happy with the number of shore excursions. It was unusually hot when we visited; Viking had water bottles for us every time we left the ship and another beverage available when we returned. It was nice while in port in both Moscow and St. Petersburg to be able to walk off the ship and experience everyday Russian life. tWe loved the experience so much we booked another Viking cruise a week after returning from Russia! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Volga Dream has a huge advantage over other Russian river cruises because the passengers stay in luxury hotels in the heart of St. Petersburg and Moscow. The days spent in these two major cities can begin early because there is no wasted ... Read More
Volga Dream has a huge advantage over other Russian river cruises because the passengers stay in luxury hotels in the heart of St. Petersburg and Moscow. The days spent in these two major cities can begin early because there is no wasted time being driven in from the dock. Also, it is easy to walk to restaurants and other places after a day of touring; many special memories were made in the evening as we explored on our own. Beginning with securing a reservation, all of the Volga Dream team gave us excellent service. On board the ship, the meals were varied and always delicious. Our cabin and the rest of the ship was always clean. Our cabin was quite small because we chose the least expensive option. However, we did so in order to be part of the Platinum level tour group. It was well worth it to be in a smaller group and to receive some meals and other perks in the two major cites. On board, my wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. We were recognized and presented with a special gift. Other highlights on the ship involved taking Russian language lessons and attending each of the Professor's lectures. And, of course, seeing the beautiful countryside from the ship. We hope to return to Russia again one day. If we are able to do so, we will certainly be back on the Volga Dream! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I sailed on the Zosima Shashkov with Gate 1 from May 18-28, 2019 on a 10-night river cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow. The word, Zosima, means “full of life” and this cruise was just that. A river cruise was a bucket list trip ... Read More
I sailed on the Zosima Shashkov with Gate 1 from May 18-28, 2019 on a 10-night river cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow. The word, Zosima, means “full of life” and this cruise was just that. A river cruise was a bucket list trip for me and Gate 1 delivered again. After 8 trips, I have confidence in their product and had no hesitation in booking this trip despite the complex Russian visa process. I will echo the comments of those who praise the ship. She is immaculate. My roommate and I often strolled Deck 3 early in the morning. Without fail, a ‘sailor’ (the term used) was swabbing and cleaning the deck every morning. I didn’t see how any paint could be left on the railings or deck floor with his diligent work. Our cabin was also kept spotless thanks to our cabin attendant. Each passenger is issued one small/hand towel, one large/bath towel and one bar of soap. The small towel is exchanged every day; the large towel and bed sheets are changed every three days. I always bring my own toiletries including hand soap. There are no tissue boxes in the cabin. While basic, the cabin is comfortable and functional. The beds are narrow and tall people may have a little trouble stretching out but I had no discomfort in sleeping, although I bring my own pillow. One side of the bed has a bolster-type cushion; the other bed has several shelves and cabinets above it. The cabin has one electrical outlet; we brought a charging base with multiple outlets (available from Brookstone) and USB ports to charge our devices. All we needed was a 2-prong converter to plug into the outlet and we were set. We also brought our own small travel hairdryer (Amazon) rather than having to depend on borrowing one from Reception. There is a decent-sized refrigerator and ‘radio’ in the cabin designed to transmit internal communications such as announcements, route information and wakeup calls. Bathroom: The bathroom design has some wondering about Gate 1’s terminology: “a unique combination.” To use the shower, you pull the curtain around the bathroom on a track until it stops at the sink. The toilet, shelf, clothing hooks and toilet paper are protected from water. The water temperature is regulated from the hot and cold faucets on the sink. When the desired temperature is reached, pull the knob to activate the shower head which also can be removed from the bracket to rinse off. The water drains into the floor; you stand on a blue mat (housekeeping cleans it daily). Bring shower shoes. The water pressure and temperature were excellent; however, sometimes the water became hotter when someone elsewhere had the water on. Push the knob down to flush the toilet; pull up on the knob to stop the water once the bowl is cleared. Cabin Storage: I was concerned about luggage storage in such a small space since I usually travel with a large pullman. I needn’t have worried since there was room for it to stand upright next to the closet. Instead, I managed perfectly with a carry on and roller board which fit inside my half of the closet (with 4 provided hangers) and out of the way. Each person is issued a room key with a typical lock: no magnetic keys. When leaving the ship, you must stop at Reception and exchange your room key for a laminated ‘boarding card’ which identifies you. This is the method used to monitor who is on and off the ship. The key is returned when you re board and the boarding card is put into your room slot. Each person is given a ship ‘credit card’ used to purchase drinks, gifts, optional tours and services. The exceptions are pictures and the cruise video which must be paid in cash. On the last day, your personal credit card is used to settle the onboard account. (No AMEX) Speaking of cash. There is conflicting information on social media about gratuities. Gate 1 travel documents say gratuities can be paid in USD, rubles and Euros. This is true. I prepared my own envelopes prior to departure. Our tour manager, Katya, confirmed on Day One that gratuities can be paid in USD with absolutely no problem. Two days prior to the end of the cruise, gratuity boxes were placed at both Reception and at the dining room entrance for the crew. It is expected that you personally give your gratuity to your tour manager. However, we tipped extra to our waitress, Vodohod on-board guide, and housekeeper. We also were surprised to be able to pay for souvenirs with USD in many of the larger ports. Smaller bills ($5s and $1s are appreciated). Depending on using USD, I made only one ATM withdrawal of 5,000 rubles and came home with one 50-ruble note (less than $1.00). I made a small chart with dollars-rubles conversion which helped with shopping. $1USD = 65 rubles. Onboard: Our cabin was perfectly situated on Deck 3-“Main Deck Outside Cabin with Window.” We were close to the “Small Bar” where we had coffee (biscuits available) early in the morning after walking the deck. At the other end of the hallway was the stairway to the Panorama Bar on Deck 4, the MOST coveted area of the ship where WiFi was only available. It is a great gathering place for drinks, surfing and conversation. Speaking of WiFi: We had a strong signal for the two days we were in St. Petersburg. As we entered the hinterland, however, there was no signal. We are all spoiled and depend on WiFi as a given. Considering we were in northern Russia, I was grateful for the service when we had it. I would estimate we were without a signal for 3-4 days. When we reached Moscow (our last 2 days) the signal was excellent and I caught up with posting my photos. I called my husband using WhatsApp each day we had a signal. He could have been in the next room. There is a nice gift shop with local, authentic gifts. I did not purchase anything but it was always busy. Activities: Some of the enrichment and fun things to do: metroyshka doll (nesting dolls) painting; Russian tea ceremony; Russian dance and folk song classes; roundtable discussions with the tour managers about culture, life, customs, etc; vodka tasting; Russian language class; talent show showcasing learned dances and folk songs; nightly evening dancing; 3-part video on the Russian czars; Pirate’s dinner; Captain’s dinner; port talks and orientation; video on Putin; wonderful entertainment by “Kalinka:” the onboard pianist/Vladimir, folk singer/Zoya and outstanding balalaika player/Vladimir. Vladimir, the pianist’s repertoire, was simply incredible. He entertained often in the Panorama Bar. He also played the bayan (accordion). In prior reviews or information, we read there was a treadmill. While at one time there may have been one, there is no treadmill now. Dining: Breakfast was the only buffet meal; all others were plated and served. For the first two days, you could sit wherever you wanted. Then, you sat at the same table for the duration of the cruise. There is a reason for this: each day at lunch, the menu for the next day’s lunch and dinner was given. You pre-order each course: salad, soup (lunch only), entrée and dessert. There were 6 to a table on the 3rd floor dining room. Breakfast was typically European: different egg dishes; cereal; oatmeal, yogurt; cucumbers and tomatoes; cheeses, breads, breakfast meats; belini (Russian pancakes); fruit cocktail; pastries; juices; coffee and tea. I thought the food for lunch and dinner was very good and plentiful but I am not a picky eater. My roommate is vegetarian (not vegan) and her entrees were primarily pasta. More variety would be welcomed. Water: While we brushed our teeth with ship water, it was recommended that we not drink it. Two bottles of water per cabin were provided each day in addition to one bottle of water per person at both lunch and dinner. A bottle of water also was provided most touring days on the bus. This is a discrepancy in the Gate 1 travel documents which state water must be purchased: it does NOT. We left about 8 full bottles of water in our cabin. Optional Tours: Prior to departure, we purchased two optional tours: the Kremlin Armory Tour and the Pushkin Palace and Park and Peterhof Lower Park. Some of the optionals described in the pre-printed tour information were unavailable, specifically the ballet and the Novodevichy Convent. However, once on board, more options were available: Moscow by Night+Metro+Panorama 360 observational platform; boat ride; folk show; St. Petersburg by Night. Tour Managers/Local Guides: We had two Gate 1 groups that traveled together; red and yellow. Both tour managers, Katya and Kateyrina were outstanding. Both spoke exceptional English, were experienced and knowledgeable and went above and beyond to be available and helpful. We had a local and/or step-on guide at each port. Each was knowledgeable, interesting and spoke excellent English. I felt very safe everywhere we went. The trip was a delightful combination of big city and ancient towns. I learned so much about the history and culture of the biggest country in the world. ‘Full of life’ truly describes my experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We have wanted to visit Russia for a long time, but were a bit concerned about going independently due to potential language barrier, safety, etc. Viking took care of all of the details and we were able to just enjoy the experience. ... Read More
We have wanted to visit Russia for a long time, but were a bit concerned about going independently due to potential language barrier, safety, etc. Viking took care of all of the details and we were able to just enjoy the experience. There was a nice mix of planned excursions and free time. We enjoy some exploring on our own and the staff was so helpful in providing maps, directions, and helpful tips. The crew on the ship were delightful and we felt we got to know many of them. They remembered our preferences and were always welcoming and friendly. Our room was nice, although there was a slight musty odor at times. The bathroom was very adequate and we loved having the private balcony, which we used often. The excursions were extremely well organized and led by wonderful Viking tour guides or local guides. We enjoyed all of the excursions, although the Hermitage museum was so crowded (not Viking's fault) it was difficult to get to see everything we would have like to see. Our Viking guide at the Hermitage guided us expertly to all of the "must-see" masterpieces and we made the best of a packed museum. We found the Russian people friendly and hospitable and interested in talking with us. The post trip to Helsinki was wonderful and we highly recommend a visit to beautiful Helsinki. Viking thinks of everything and leaves no detail unattended. This was our 2nd Viking river cruise and won't be our last! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Provided everything I wanted from the tour. Places and excursions were all the things I wanted to see and do at a pace I was happy with and not too rushed. All trips really well organised with knowledgable guides. Everything ran to time ... Read More
Provided everything I wanted from the tour. Places and excursions were all the things I wanted to see and do at a pace I was happy with and not too rushed. All trips really well organised with knowledgable guides. Everything ran to time and appeared smooth and effortless. Ship provided everything required. The attention to detail and service was far better than I anticipated as this was my first time with Viking. Cabin was lovely, balcony was great as allowed private relaxation when cruising. Cabin staff discreetly attentive. Food was wonderful. Different menu every night with lovely regional dish options. For me the entertainment was more than sufficient as had not gone on this trip for lively evening entertainment. Gentle live lounge music and some quizzes which were fun. Can not fault this trip or the ship at all. Would definitely use again and recommend Viking to others. Testament is that most passengers had previously sailed with Viking, many more than once. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We loved both Moscow and St. Petersburg and all the little stops along the cruise. Food was very good. We enjoyed the regional choices available. Waitstaff was top notch. Tour director did a great job. We enjoyed the Russian ... Read More
We loved both Moscow and St. Petersburg and all the little stops along the cruise. Food was very good. We enjoyed the regional choices available. Waitstaff was top notch. Tour director did a great job. We enjoyed the Russian language lessons and the games. We liked the history lectures. We enjoyed all of the tours. But it is tough when you have to choose between 2 at the same time. All of the tour guides did a great job. I did do one comment card about the Moscow subway for I felt that the directions should have been given above ground where you could hear. You could not hear on the whisperers down in the station and I felt that some of our group were very uncomfortable. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to go on the Moscow subway so please keep that in. We enjoyed the ballet in St. Petersburg but would have also liked to see the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. Loved the Cossack show. Enjoyed the vodka tasting. Thought that the meet your neighbor was a great idea--did not have that on a previous Viking Cruise. Loved the balloons when we left Moscow. It was a really great cruise and I have told many people about it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We took this cruise as an anniversary present and it was the best thing we could have done. The entire cruise throughout Russia was beautiful and always exciting. The museums and the palaces were truly awe inspiring. The professionalism ... Read More
We took this cruise as an anniversary present and it was the best thing we could have done. The entire cruise throughout Russia was beautiful and always exciting. The museums and the palaces were truly awe inspiring. The professionalism of the Viking crew and guide specialists was without equal. All of the towns and cities we visited on shore excursions had their particular charm and interesting history. The Swan Lake opera, my first ever, was simply awesome. The Russian symphony was unbelievable. Don't miss it. As for the ship Helgi, it was a total positive experience. The cabin was comfortable ands provided all of the room we needed. The dining experience was exceptional each and every day. Wonderful, perfectly prepared food was served at each meal. Our servers, Nastia, Chazie, and Jill made certain we were happy. Visiting Moscow and St.Petersburg for 3 days each taught us much about the citizenry. Take the trip, you'll not regret it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Scenic Tsar – Imperial Russia Moscow to Volgagrad 30th Sept – 14th Oct 18 Deluxe Balcony Suite #305 Expectations Checking the previous reviews for the Scenic Tsar, we were somewhat worried. We had been prewarned that the ... Read More
Scenic Tsar – Imperial Russia Moscow to Volgagrad 30th Sept – 14th Oct 18 Deluxe Balcony Suite #305 Expectations Checking the previous reviews for the Scenic Tsar, we were somewhat worried. We had been prewarned that the Tsar was NOT a Scenic SpaceShip. Indeed it is not even owned by Scenic and only has 3 Scenic staff members on board. We knew when we booked about the ‘buy your drinks outside of mealtimes’ policy, the size of the cabins etc. The ‘actuality’ far exceeded our expectations. I should mention that there were only 85 guests aboard compared to the 115 capacity. Good mix of nationalities although obviously a significant number of Australians (Scenic is an Australian Tour Company) Ages were pretty much exclusively 60s or 70s. This is NOT a trip for those with walking difficulties. It is not only the walking but the many, many steps and uneven surfaces encountered. Food The food was excellent. Eggman at breakfast. Buffet lunch but with a la carte choices too. I had a wonderful fresh trout one day. Dinner had at least three choices for each course. All very well presented. Service was very efficient – no waiting. There was a good variety of wines served, including, some from Eastern European countries. Staff The non-Scenic staff were excellent – well up to Scenic standards. Service in restaurant was extremely efficient and fast. Scenic’s own staff – the 3 Cruise Directors – were not only very good but extremely knowledgeable. Special namecheck to Svetlana Armstrong - the Cruise Director - who really made the holiday. A real gem/star. Suite The main/bedroom part of our suite was perfectly satisfactory. Long worksurface to accommodate our laptop and other devices etc. Comfortable beds and all the furnishings were to a good standard – indeed looked pretty new. Very quiet. Loved having a kettle. Air Con could be switched off which is a rare boom for people like us who hate sleeping with the aircon on. Minor complaints would be no drawers – just shelves – and a wardrobe where the hangers were parallel to the doors rather than perpendicular – which made selecting your clothes a bit difficult. Main issue was the bathroom. DO NOT BRING YOUR CAT – because you certainly would NOT be able to swing it here! The space between the shower, wash basin and WC was so limited that you had to move about sideways. Having said that everything was clean and maintained that way throughout the trip. The shower itself was both powerful and hot. Itinerary We came not for the ship but to visit Russia. It did not disappoint. I understand that this was the first time that Scenic had done Moscow to Volgograd. All their other trips are between St Petersberg (which we had visited before) and Moscow. In many places you got the impression that the locals saw very few visitors from ‘the west’. Everyone seemed friendly and the locations felt safe. The day in Moscow was exhausting but we ‘hit all the high spots’. Traffic was horrendous but Scenic’s organisation and local guides were excellent. Could have spent much longer there. Although I enjoyed the second day trip to the SpacePark, my wife took the metro to visit the art galleries in Central Moscow instead. Several other guests, like us, would have preferred a second trip into Moscow. BTW – The Scenic Tsar was moored in the river beside a very quiet park about 1km (c 20 minute) walk from the nearest metro station with a direct journey into central Moscow. Costs 55 roubles a trip. BTW – Moscow dispelled my preconceptions. It is probably the cleanest city I have visited. No litter. No beggars either. Indeed it all oozed prosperity. Also seemed v safe. The stops along the Volga were all good with excellent guides. Lots of locks to navigate which added to the interest of the trip. The high spots were: - Yaroslavl where the recreation of a ball at the Governor’s House is not to be missed. - The visits to the Russian Dance School and Military Band Concert in Kostroma. Indeed I reckon there were more performers that day than Scenic Tsar guests! But almost every stop had some kind of entertainment – be it choirs in the churches or folk singing/dancing. - Lovely walk on our own in Pylos looking at the multimillion dollar dachas and the views as the trees put on their autumn colours. - Day in Volgograd/Stalingrad and the visit to the Memorial Park was extremely moving. A definite ‘must do’/high spot. The excursions (all included in the cost) were run extremely efficiently. We love the audio kits. Only criticism was that a few of the guides could not speak English well and had to have translators. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018

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