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18 Vodohod Cruise Reviews

We had a brilliant river cruise on the MS Rostropovitch August 2019 from Moscow to St Petersberg. The ship is very clean and the staff are excellent! Our personal cruise girl Zenka (Jayne) looked after our every need from the minute we ... Read More
We had a brilliant river cruise on the MS Rostropovitch August 2019 from Moscow to St Petersberg. The ship is very clean and the staff are excellent! Our personal cruise girl Zenka (Jayne) looked after our every need from the minute we boarded to the second we left. She is only young but seemed very experienced and nothing was too much trouble. She ensured everyneed was taken care of and also accompanied us at every excursion looking after us. We really appreciated the personal service. She is a credit to the company. The barman Anton was so polite and stayed late whenever we wanted. The chef was amazing and went above and beyond to provide wonderful vegan meals for me. all food was beautifully presented and all waiting staff and the maitre d were so accommodating. Wonderful river cruise. Only cons - one of the villages we visited as we had to divert was Vytegra - I would not recommend as we are animal lovers and there was a visit to a museum with stuffed animals plus there were village dogs roaming loosely around village. The restaurant Graf-in that we stopped at for lunch on one of the tours had difficulty catering for vegans. Further, although the restaurant had probably over 100 covers, there was only one shared toilet for men and women, with 3 cubicles, all of which were blocked and the staff did not seem very botheted. Disgusting!! This restaurant should be dropped from the tour. The air conditioning was not working in the bar and so could be quite chilly in the evening. The cabins were quite large (showers small) but the beds were soft and could do with renewing. Shower curtains need renewing as water stained at bottom. Also tea/coffee station should be available much later in the evening - at least to 1am as some people like a nightcap. Read Less
Sail Date July 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
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
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
I recognize that on any cruise there is a risk that bad weather can interfere with the experience. However, when problems occur, a reasonable cruise company is honest about the problems, mitigates the problems to the best of their ... Read More
I recognize that on any cruise there is a risk that bad weather can interfere with the experience. However, when problems occur, a reasonable cruise company is honest about the problems, mitigates the problems to the best of their ability, and takes reasonable action to remediate. On our cruise, high waves prevented our ship from reaching St. Petersburg. This had a major impact on the last two days of our trip. Vodohod chose the handle the problem in the following manner: After a very late dinner, the cruise line announced that all passengers need to be up by 6am so they could be on buses by 7am. We then rode a very cramped bus for 4 1/2 hours to get to St. Petersburg. At 6pm we were told that we needed to get back on that very cramped bus, and ride 5 hours back to the ship. Dinner has not offered until 11:30pm. When we arrived back at the ship at 11:15pm, we were told that we needed to pack, and make sure we were up at 4:45 am, and be completely off the ship by 6am. We were then put on a 4 1/2 hour bus back to St. Petersburg. All communication was delivered by our interpreter who was powerless to do anything other than graciously endure the anger of the passengers. We tried to talk to the cruise director, and she gave us a quick there was nothing she could do, and fled the area. The cruise line did nothing to compensate us, or make the slightest effort to improve our experience. Nor did they give us the opportunity to leave the cruise early, so we could get a good night sleep and avoid two of those miserable bus rides. We later learned that one of the travel agents, who had a representative aboard and has able to learn the truth, got all of their customers off the ship early, and made sure that they spend their last night at a hotel in St. Petersburg. The result of the three long rides on a cold bus, combined with two nights of inadequate sleep, was that my wife became very sick for the 10 days following the cruise. Her sickness would have been avoided if Vodohod, acted like a "five-star" cruise, they claim to be, by being honest about the situation, and having us spend our last night in a hotel in St. Petersburg. A month ago, I filed a formal complaint to Vodohod, though my travel agent, and Vodohod has not even had the courtesy to respond. The positive was that the food was excellent. The dining hall staff went well beyond accommodating allergies; they did their best to accommodate every dining preference. My wife is on a glutton free diet. They custom baked for her real delicious rolls, that were so good that I started asking for them. They also provided very helpful translators that were available the entire day and evening. The tour guides ranged from ok to excellent. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Just came back from this cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg (Sep 4-15 in 2018, on Vodohod Georgy Chicherin, booked through Gate1). Me and my wife enjoyed every minute of the whole experience. The excursions in each port were great (the ... Read More
Just came back from this cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg (Sep 4-15 in 2018, on Vodohod Georgy Chicherin, booked through Gate1). Me and my wife enjoyed every minute of the whole experience. The excursions in each port were great (the places visited, the guide, the logistics, the free time). We only wished we could have more time in Moscow (only 1.5 days as compared to 3 full days in St Petersburg). The on-ship experience was most memorable. The food was delicious at each meal, the service was extremely pleasent and sweet. The onboard activities were wonderful. We especially enjoyed learning Russian songs and singing in a choir. Although this was not a luxury 5-star ship, the cabin and ship facilities were sufficient enough for us, and the onboard services and experience was 5-star to us. We highly recommend this cruise and this ship. The value versus price was way beyond our expectation. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This ship was renovated end of 2017 and beginning 2018. Our cabin all new carpets, bedding, new bathroom, no chipped furniture anywhere. I was worried after previous reviews. Our cost was half the fare on other cruise lines. Cocktails ... Read More
This ship was renovated end of 2017 and beginning 2018. Our cabin all new carpets, bedding, new bathroom, no chipped furniture anywhere. I was worried after previous reviews. Our cost was half the fare on other cruise lines. Cocktails $8.00 aud. We had two English speaking guides, Sasha and Dasha, who were great. They made us laugh and were so helpful. Nothing was too much trouble, even to booking some private tickets to help us off the ship.Only one free drink at dinner(beer, wine soft drink) but costs weren’t very expensive. A couple of optional tours for St Petersburg and Moscow . The ones we chose cost approx $65.00 aud each. There is a great review on trip advisor from July 18. Worth the read. Bottled water and bathroom products replenished daily. I was always able to find food in the restaurant that I likes. As it is Russian style food it seems more basic than on ocean cruises. A tip. If you put Yandex taxi app on your phone, it is far cheaper for transport in both St Petersburg & Moscow. It worked well for us, both for trip from hotel to ship and to Catherine Palace. Unlimited wifi available on the ship and most times good reception. We did not have wifi set up on phone, just used hotspots. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We knew in advance that the cabins would be very small and cramped. However we did not know that the common area rooms were small and overcroweded and the low ceilings enhanced the noise. We were very disappointed that the air conditioning ... Read More
We knew in advance that the cabins would be very small and cramped. However we did not know that the common area rooms were small and overcroweded and the low ceilings enhanced the noise. We were very disappointed that the air conditioning or fan system in each room did not operate properly. And most of us were very upset that the only room on the ship that had WIFI was the bar; no WIFI in cabins. We would caution those who are considering a trip on this boat to recognize that it is old, it is out of date, the cabins are small, there is no WIFI except in the bar and in warmer temperature, the cool air does not circulate properly. Food was good. However organized tours had too many monasteries and convents and did not include the Faberge Museum in Saint Petersburg. Many of the towns/cities that the ship stopped at while saiing to Saint Petersburg were simply tourist traps; recommend some of these be dropped and another day in Moscow be subsituted. What most of us disliked was in our first day in Moscow where lunch was in the city, the tour operator took us to the Hard Rock Cafe - Moscow. Come on now, I did not fly all the way to Moscow to go to a Hard Rock Cafe restaurant. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Itinerary great, view going along the river very nice. She is very clean but most definitely 3 stars. In fact when someone was complaining at the reception desk that is what the reception said " We are a 3 star ship". It is hard ... Read More
Itinerary great, view going along the river very nice. She is very clean but most definitely 3 stars. In fact when someone was complaining at the reception desk that is what the reception said " We are a 3 star ship". It is hard to get use to the cot size twin beds. The company Nexus that i booked with did not have any option to upgrade to a double bed. I think there might just be a handful on the ship. You have to pay for drinking water on the ship only tea or coffee at lunch and dinner. They give you a mini fridge in your room, so on your first jaunt off the boat pick up some bottles of water, juice, pop and liquor to fill the fridge if you like, you are allowed to bring your own drinks to the dinning table. Did not like the entertainment on board( a singer with disco lights and a classic piano player who also plays accordion. Local musicians with costumes. In fairness only saw the first show and my husband and i watch shows on our tablet that we had downloaded before leaving home. WIFI is useless (maybe you sometimes get your email but that is it). Lots of time to read before you get to the shore excursion which can be very intense. Not for people that have mobility issues. No elevator and you are going up and down stairs a lot and a LOT of walking off the ship. I have got problems with my ankle and brought walking sticks that helped a bit but Russia is not Handicap friendly. Very few churches have a place to sit (supposedly people stand in Russian Orthodox churches). It was very hot when we were there and most places are not air conditioned. Make sure you bring your own shampoo and Kleenex, you are only supplied with 2 bars of soap and toilet paper (which i used for Kleenex). Ask for a second pillow when your get on board as you are only given one. Have to go to the reception desk for info as you have no phone in your room to ask questions. There is a intercom in your room just to call you for meals and to get off the boat for shore excursions. Food was okay, you get to chose fish, (lots of small bones in the fish which turn me off) meat or vegetarian for lunch and dinner the day before on a menu check at your assigned table. You will not go hungry but definitely 3 star. Paid $3,800.00 which included flight from Toronto, Canada and back and most shore excursions. Paid a extra hundred for the middle deck(not really worth it as you have to leave keys with reception on the 2nd floor when you get off the boat and you get off on on the boat on the second floor). So I got what a paid for in my opinion. When I priced other ships doing the same itinerary it was more then double. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
I chose a Russian cruise line deliberately, knowing it would be a more authentic experience than the more luxurious western style river cruise ships. Also Vodohod's Zosima Shashkov had single cabins at a sensible price. I had ... Read More
I chose a Russian cruise line deliberately, knowing it would be a more authentic experience than the more luxurious western style river cruise ships. Also Vodohod's Zosima Shashkov had single cabins at a sensible price. I had realistic expectations of the 3-star experience: small cabins, plainer cuisine, etc. My cabin turned out to be on the top deck, next door to a bar and the wireless router. I had internet for the whole cruise, but most of the 298 pax did not. Although small, I had plenty of storage, a small fridge, AC/heat, and a flap that lifted up under a big window for a desk. As the cabin was at the bow, I never heard any engine noise - a big plus as we sailed every night. Russian beer was good and cheap, but the wine and champagne should be avoided. Shore excursions were many and long in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Led by local guides who were experts, I was fascinated. Very interesting, excellent English, and I loved the earphones and receivers that allowed me to wander away and still hear the commentary. Tour organization was efficient, though in mid-September the crowds at popular sites were troublesome. Food onboard was plentiful and well cooked, but quite plain in comparison to western cruise ships. Some of the crew spoke English, but many did not. Thus customer service suffered on occasion. Everything was spotlessly clean on board. I have rated the cruise as a 3-star ship, not in comparison to the 5-star western ships. So, for example, my small cabin was "very good" meaning it was more than adequate as a 3-star. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Our cruise was a relatively inexpensive one through Gate 1. We knew we wouldn't be getting the full luxury cruise ship experience. Having said that, there were both good and not so very good things about this trip. Most could have ... Read More
Our cruise was a relatively inexpensive one through Gate 1. We knew we wouldn't be getting the full luxury cruise ship experience. Having said that, there were both good and not so very good things about this trip. Most could have been eliminated with a little better planning and organization. Our tour leader for Gate 1 was a delightful Russian, Victoria, who was a pleasure to work with. My complaints are certainly not with the staff of the ship or of Gate 1. They were all hard working, quick to help solve a problem and friendly. The ship is large, holding 200 people, depending on who you ask. The cabins appeared to be very similar, regardless of which deck one chose. We were on the 2nd deck, the same as the info desk and the exit doors for land excursions. Our cabin was very clean, maintained well but small. We had one smaller than twin bed with a padded panel which made it serve as a sofa with the panel making the back. The other bed was a strange contraption which was shorter than the first bed, had shelves over it which gave it a closed in feeling and which was too short for me (I'm 5' 9") They were both comfortable and after the first night, we slept well. My bed was impossible to be comfortable on during the day since it had those shelves so you couldn't sit back. The mattress also didn't reach all the way to the wall so I couldn't prop up and read since the pillows disappeared in the void. The cabin had a refrigerator which seemed rather unnecessary. The bathroom was unique but a good use of space. The sink area had a pull around curtain which blocked off the toilet part (I guess to keep the door dry and also to give you the shelf over the toilet to store whatever you didn't want to get wet.) It was large enough, had a showerhead which could be mounted on the wall or handheld. Plenty of hot water and not bad water pressure. The food was ok. I'm not a big gravy and sauce fan and everything was covered with those. The veggies were sometimes pickled and usually included broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini. Salads were good as was the soup. Desserts were so-so. The 1st two nights, one can sit wherever but on the third night you are expected to have found folks to sit with and stay there for ease of being served. We were given a menu a day in advance and picked meals for the next day. The problem with that system is that we, and two other couples that we talked to, had chosen a table, had eaten with those folks for two days and then on the third day, someone else came up and said they wanted to sit there and the ones either already seated or about to be seated, were told to leave. It left us scrambling to find empty seats at tables so we felt like outcasts. It put a damper on the trip. The groups on the boat were divided into color groups and one group ate upstairs in another restaurant/bar. They also rode separate buses (each color group had its own buses) so we never got to see these folks except in the bar which had wifi. I understood there were others from VA on our trip but we never met them. Speaking of wifi, it is almost nonexistent. In Moscow it was at its best but that was still not good. Those with phones could use their data plans and get online but we took an ipad and only had facetime which was terrible to use there. All in all, the ship was fine with us and we would recommend it to others looking for a bargain trip. The itinerary was fine from St. Petersburg to Moscow and gave us a taste of life there. The ship seemed to be pretty much filled with Gate 1 folks so I don't know if the few others who were not with that group had tour guides or shore excursions. There was one seating for lunch and dinner and they only occupied 6 tables. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Vodohod – MS Lev Tolstoy cruise – September 13 to September 24, 2016: We returned home last week and I have a need to write my comments without delay to let people know that we had a fantastic time in Russia despite the cold weather ... Read More
Vodohod – MS Lev Tolstoy cruise – September 13 to September 24, 2016: We returned home last week and I have a need to write my comments without delay to let people know that we had a fantastic time in Russia despite the cold weather and that we greatly appreciate everything Vodohod staffs did to ensure that everything was organized to perfection. Since we took several ocean cruises before, we were therefore not easy clients, but the company responded to all our queries and requests with speed, friendliness and efficiency. Our trip was wonderful and we continue to talk about our experiences often. We were very pleased with all aspects of the trip and enjoyed the boat very much such as Russian music, Russian lesson, dance and songs. We particularly enjoyed our tour guides- Katia & Gregory - they were all excellent. Our local drivers were also very good. The tour guide, Katia was knowledgeable and efficient and a lovely young person. The bad and cold weather contributed greatly to our overall excursion. I know the cruise staffs couldn't arrange the weather, but they arranged everything else and for that we thank them most warmly. We like to extend our appreciation to all local tour guides in Moscow, Uglich, Goritsy, Yaroslavl, Kizhi, Mandrogui to Saint Petersburg who were excellent, some were enthusiastic and knowledgeable. They were very knowledgeable and professional. In addition they were engaging and willing to answer all of our questions. We enjoyed them all and found them very pleasant to travel with. We have traveled a great deal and had many guides over the years and found each of our guides on our trip to Russia were top quality. Despite the last day in Saint-Petersburg with light rain, they gave us an exciting day driving round Saint Petersburg and out to Pushkin and Pavlos for Catherine and Paul Palaces. The food served in the boat was excellent and different every time. The best plates for us were soups, salad, fish and chicken. We knew that beef and lamp might not be the best Russian plates. In the dinning room we like most was the crew dressed up differently almost every night which made the ambiance more cozy and exotic. Please extend our gratitude to Karina who had always smiled when serving us. It was a trip to remember and it was possible because our bus driver and local guide were so good and the Russian scenery was colorful, amazing and very exotic. We would agree to give four star ratings to the Vodohod organization, crew member, bus driver and tour guide, the places visited. However the accommodation was small and the shower was not very convenient for North American customers. Just a note to say thank Vodohod organization for the fantastic river cruise in September from Moscow to St Petersburg. We had an amazing time - enjoyed every minute of our trip. We are recommending the trip to all of our friends in Canada - they have our full endorsement! We will definitely contact Vodohod if we are planning another trip in near future. Two families Nguyen Montreal and Toronto Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We returned home last week and I have a need to write without delay to let you know that we had a fantastic time in Russia despite the cold weather and that we greatly appreciate everything you did to ensure that everything was organized ... Read More
We returned home last week and I have a need to write without delay to let you know that we had a fantastic time in Russia despite the cold weather and that we greatly appreciate everything you did to ensure that everything was organized to perfection. Since we took several ocean cruises before, we were therefore not easy clients, but you responded to all our queries and requests with speed, friendliness and efficiency. Our trip was wonderful and we continue to talk about our experiences often. We were very pleased with all aspects of the trip and enjoyed the boat very much such as Russian music, Russian lesson, dance and songs. We particularly enjoyed our tour guides- Katia & Gregory - they were all excellent. Our local drivers were also very good. The tour guide, Katia was knowledgeable and efficient and a lovely young person. The bad and cold weather contributed greatly to our overall excursion. I know you couldn't arrange the weather, but you arranged everything else and for that we thank you most warmly. We like to extend our appreciation to all local tour guides in Moscow, Uglich, Goritsy, Yaroslavl, Kizhi, Mandrogui to Saint Petersburg who were excellent, some were enthusiastic and knowledgeable. They were very knowledgeable and professional. In addition they were engaging and willing to answer all of our questions. We enjoyed them all and found them very pleasant to travel with. We have traveled a great deal and had many guides over the years and found each of our guides on our trip to Russia were top quality. Despite the last day in Saint-Petersburg with light rain, they gave us an exciting day driving round Saint Petersburg and out to Pushkin and Pavlos for Catherine and Paul Palaces. The food served in the boat was excellent and different every time. The best plates for us were soups, salad, fish and chicken. We knew that beef and lamp might not be the best Russian plates. In the dinning room we like most was the crew dressed up differently almost every night which made the ambiance more cozy and exotic. Please extend our gratitude to Karina who had always smiled when serving us. It was a trip to remember and it was possible because our bus driver and local guide were so good and the Russian scenery was colorful, amazing and very exotic. We would agree to give four star ratings to the Vodohod organization, crew member, bus driver and tour guide, the places visited. However the accommodation was small and the shower was not very convenient for North American customers. Just a note to say thank you for the fantastic river cruise in September from Moscow to St Petersburg. We had an amazing time - enjoyed every minute of our trip. We are recommending the trip to all of our friends in Canada - you have our full endorsement! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
To travel to St.Petersburg. The ship was O.K. The cabin was alright, a few bits of chipped furniture but clean and adequate. The trips were good with very good guides. The staff were very pleasant. The entertainment was mixed but O.K. It ... Read More
To travel to St.Petersburg. The ship was O.K. The cabin was alright, a few bits of chipped furniture but clean and adequate. The trips were good with very good guides. The staff were very pleasant. The entertainment was mixed but O.K. It would have been better if we had stayed in a hotel at the beginning at Moscow and then at St.Petersburg, as the boat is moored quite a distance from the towns, so it would have been nice to be able to go out in the evenings. The thing that spoiled the trip was the food! It was poor. If I had been in a restaurant I would have sent it back to the kitchen.It would have been embarrassing to have made a big fuss as you are still going to have the same chef all the time. The other moan was that we had to buy all the drinking water, as the water was for washing only. It was twice the price on the boat, so we bought it whenever we were out on trips. I do think that it should have been supplied free. The food and water were the 2 things that spoiled the trip. I know of friends who have been with this company Vodohod on a different boat and if was fine, that is why we chose this company. I have written to them but no reply. I suggested that the chef should be sacked!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
it was a wonderful experience and i would recommend the Vodohod cruise line to any one. the beds are narrow. i was travelling as a solo - so one bed for sleeping and one for putting stuff on. the referigerator in the room worked ( I did ... Read More
it was a wonderful experience and i would recommend the Vodohod cruise line to any one. the beds are narrow. i was travelling as a solo - so one bed for sleeping and one for putting stuff on. the referigerator in the room worked ( I did not use it). the meals are generous. you do have to order a couple of days in advance and you are expected to sit at the same table and place during the trip. the crew are russian with limited english , german french etc so they know place the ordered meal in number place on the table. six to most tables. four courses for lunch and dinner, Big range for buffet breakfast, from cold meats cheeses to hot dishes, cereals, sweet cakes. The tables are with marked signs ie english speaking or french speaking or the name of the tour company. on my trip there were tour group from Austria, italy and Iceland as well as the above mentioned ones. you will need all your own lotions and potions, shampoos ( one cake of soap provided). rooms cleaned daily, towels in line with green policy, sheets replaced every 3/4 days. suggestion take a thermos / insulated cup and your tea bags if you like a cup of tea. dining room is only open at meal times, there is a hot water tap on one floor - but unlike more expensive Viking no biscuits or cafe machine. no cups - thats why you need your own insulated mug. wifi seems to work well early in the morning only at the one place place on the ship. If you come from australia i would say its shaped. guides speak excellent english french german etc and are allocated to each group of passengers, they are also called upon to sort out the issues when people dont understand the instruction to sit in the same place for each meal. bar / drinks they are not out to make a fortune from selling alcohol. unlike Viking there are no flags red carpets crew to find you on land and guide you to the boat - you have to find it yourself. just a matter of reading the name. the russian name is in big letters and the english above the door. make an effort to recognise or write the russian name - then it will be easy to find the boat. warm musical welcome on board. great places to see as you cruise along - lots of information. there is walking on the daily trips - so come fit, no lift on the ship there are steps to climb. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We wish to place on record that we were delighted with our cruise on MS Tolstoy. All the staff were professional and accommodating. The Dining room was very good. Breakfasts were top class, with a good variety. The lunch and dinners ... Read More
We wish to place on record that we were delighted with our cruise on MS Tolstoy. All the staff were professional and accommodating. The Dining room was very good. Breakfasts were top class, with a good variety. The lunch and dinners were absolutely fantastic. Despite our dietary issues, the kitchen staff went out of their way to serve food of our choice as we are very fussy with our diet. Nothing was an issue. There was always something on the ship (when we were not docked) to do. We had Russian language lessons and are now using it as much as we can. It is useful indeed when travelling around Russia. The excursions that were offered seemed to be a way to try and please everyone’s interest. Especially we enjoyed Moscow city tour. The excursion buses were always neat and clean. The drivers were professional. We always felt safe in their care. The local tour guides were always informative and interesting. We were provided information in a smooth and relaxing style that made each visit to their city, one that we would be able to appreciate long after we got back home. We have been on many cruises in the past and given the size of the MS Tolstoy, it is world class. At the same time very personal. The cabins were good, considering that we spent little time therein. The maids were very polite and we always found the cabins clean and neat. All in all, the MS Tolstoy compares exceptionally well to the larger 18 storey liners! Next year we're going for a cruise to Astrakhan Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
I chose this cruise because - late at night - I received an email from a travel meetup group with the famous Russian church spires (church of the spilled blood) - saying - come with us to Russia!. I called that morning and signed up - ... Read More
I chose this cruise because - late at night - I received an email from a travel meetup group with the famous Russian church spires (church of the spilled blood) - saying - come with us to Russia!. I called that morning and signed up - seriously, that short of a decision. I had always wanted to go to Russia - my grandparents are from there - and I was going to be on the Volga River - turns out that my grandparents were from about 300 miles away from the cruise. I also liked that we would have rooms with balconies. First off - this isn't like a typical high cost cruise - it's of modest cost. However, I much preferred to hear the local Russian singers (there was a musician who played that Russian guitar-ish instrument and she was amazing) - and see Russian dancers - we were very much steeped into the culture. The same thing with the menu - there was always a fish dish, and fish soup. The food was simple (I could have done without the low grade cavier and vodka at the vodka tasting) - but each night it was a different part of Russia that was being featured - so hints of the Ukraine one night - dorato fish to remind me of the northern part of Russia, and so on. One thing I didn't realize was how many locks there were - must have been 30 of them.... one time there were 6 in a row! I would have preferred that we could have spent more time in the villages. I'm not sure for the reason - because we could have easily stayed longer and still made our timing (I could feel the boat slow down in the evenings). It was wonderful to go during white nights. It became somewhat dusky around 11 PM - but was bright as daylight @ 3 AM. The ship had very good dark curtains on the days we didn't want to be woken up so early. We were on the 3rd floor. The down side of that is that there was only one stairway to get there - at the back of the ship. So, if you're in the bar (the only place with wifi) - and want to go to your room - you have to walk the length of the ship. It only holds a couple hundred people so was not terrible - but I think they should have a second stairway. Oh, and don't get the massages from the doctor - they're very clinical..... Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
My husband and I took a Russian river cruise on the MS Zosima Shashkov from St. Petersburg to Moscow through Gate1 Travel in May 2016 and wanted to share our experiences with other travelers interested in taking a cruise on this particular ... Read More
My husband and I took a Russian river cruise on the MS Zosima Shashkov from St. Petersburg to Moscow through Gate1 Travel in May 2016 and wanted to share our experiences with other travelers interested in taking a cruise on this particular ship. The MS Zosima Shashkov is owned and operated by a Russian river cruise company called “Vodohov”. It is an older ship, certainly not opulent, but very clean, follows International safety standards, and serves its purpose well. Gate1 American customers will need to obtain a Russian Visa for your passport and part of the application for the Visa and a “Visa Support Letter (VSL)”. Gate1 will provide a VSL to you 90 days before the cruise begins but it is actually issued by Vodohov. Gate1 Travel reserves a block of cabins on the ship and has their cruise managers onboard separately from the Vodohov cruise managers. Gate1 customers were the majority of the guests on board and were mostly Americans with a handful of Canadians. The other Vodohov guests were Italian, French, Swedish and Australian customers for other European travel agencies. Gate1 assigns their customers to one of 4 different color groups (blue, green, red or yellow) with a young Russian excursion tour guide for each group and their own tables in the dining room. The green and red groups were assigned to one Gate1 cruise manager, and the blue and yellow groups were assigned to another Gate1 cruise manager. Tanya, an English speaking professor at a Russian university, was our Gate1 cruise manager and she was excellent at prepping our half of the Gate1 customers for upcoming excursions, protocol and disembarkation procedures. I rarely saw the other Gate1 cruise manager and have no feedback to give about him. The other non-Gate1 customers also have their own tour guides, dining room tables and bus excursion groups separately. Yet the Gate1 and Vodohov customers had no problem interacting with each other in the various combined activities such as an onboard treasure hunt, talent show and nightly evening dancing. The ship had a wonderful Russian Folklore Music trio (accordion player, balalaika lute player and singer) onboard who played for us quite often, Russian language classes, Russian song classes and Russian themed movie times. As soon as we boarded the ship we were given one old-fashioned room key for the two of us, and a credit card for each of us to use as an onboard ship account for charging drinks at the bar, extra drinks in the dining room, and excursions to. Russian food was served and we found it to be quite good, especially the chicken dishes. Breakfast was a buffet of hot foods (egg-based dishes, oatmeal/porridge, sausages) and cold foods (cereals, meat and cheese slices, breads, dried and fresh fruits) with free coffee, tea and juice. We could sit at any Gate1 table in the dining room. Lunch was a 4-course meal of salad, soup, entree and dessert with a free bottle of water to drink. Dinner was a 3-course meal of salad, entree and dessert, with a choice of one free glass of wine, beer, soft drink or bottle of water. Entree choices were fish, vegetarian or other meat (chicken/beef/pork). We could purchase more drinks at lunch or dinner. Tap water in Russia is not potable for Americans so bottled water is a must. Beer, wine, soft drinks and ice on the ship are also safe to drink, but do not drink the water from the cabin’s bathroom faucet. The bathroom water is only good for washing or brushing your teeth. Bring an anti-diarrhea medicine like Pepto-bismal in case you accidentally ingest tainted water somewhere along the trip. Gate1 customers are given a choice of tables in the dining room the first two nights, then were expected to sit at the same table at lunch and dinner for the rest of the tour. We had to fill out a form of our desired lunch and dinner selections the day beforehand and the day’s dinner drinks order each morning. This was so the young Vodohov crew who spoke very little English could wait on us effectively. The cabin is narrow with twin sized beds on each side near the window and a large clothes wardrobe near the cabin door. One of the beds has shelves above it and lifts up so you can store two medium sized suitcases under it. The other bed has a small shelf with two life jackets in it so you can only store two small suitcases in it. The window opens up by pulling it down. Each floor has a wrap-around public deck circling it so there are no cabins with their own balcony. We spent very little time in the cabin (sleeping, showering, getting dressed) and got used to its size by the second day of the cruise. The Vodohov housekeeping crew cleaned the cabin every morning, left a chocolate for each of us, and changed the bath towel and sheets every two days or so. There is one socket in the cabin’s bathroom for electric razors only and two sockets above the small refrigerator in the cabin. There is also a dorm-sized refrigerator in the room that takes up one socket, so be sure to bring a typical European power convertor with one or more 2 prong adaptors like you would use for Germany plus a long extension cord to use for charging your American based mobile phone, curling iron, white noise machine, clock (there is no clock in the room), etc. The clothes wardrobe is roomy with a full sized mirror mounted on the wall next to it, but there is no safe in the room to lock up your valuables so bring suitcase padlocks to keep any valuables secure in your luggage. The ship will keep everybody’s passports locked up for most of the cruise except the last couple of nights. We found the bathroom small and unusual but very functional. It has only a sink on one side and toilet on the other. Taking a shower involves standing at the sink, pulling the shower curtain around you to protect the toilet and door from getting wet, turning on the sink hot/cold faucets, then pulling out a knob at the base of the sink faucet to force the water to come through a long, flexible hose with shower head mounted by a bracket above the sink. You can either leave the shower head mounted above and move it sideways over your head to use like a typical shower, or you can take the shower head off its bracket and use it to rinse off a part of your your body at any angle. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, mouthwash, shower cap, sewing kit or shoe polish are not provided so you will need to bring your own. You will be provided with two bars of basic generic soap that last the whole cruise, but if you like using perfumed or moisturizing soap you will need to bring your own. The front desk sells shampoo, razors, etc. and has a few hair dryers to loan out but you will need to bring your own curling or straightening iron. We and other people on the cruise that we talked to were quite impressed with the quality and knowledge of the local guides for both the free excursions and the optional excursions that we took. My husband and I would have liked to have a little more free time on each excursion because the lines at the women’s bathrooms typically ate away at much of our free time. All of the excursions were good but our favorite was the optional Kremlin Armory tour. Gate1 customers are expected to tip both the driver and the local guide for each excursion in American dollars, euros or rubles. In the last 3 days of the cruise, Gate1 customers are expected to tip the Vodohov dining and housekeeping crew in rubles by inserting the money into a wooden box outside of the dining room or at the reception desk. And on the last night or final morning of the cruise, Gate1 customers are expected to tip the Gate1 cruise managers in rubles in person. You can ask for envelopes at the front desk to put your tips in if you so desire. Note that tips cannot be charged to your onboard ship account. There is no wi-fi signal in the cabins or anywhere on the ship else except one of the bars. It was slow during the day due to volume but much faster at night. My mobile phone showed two or more bars for much of the cruise so I used it for limited data access. Be sure to contact your provider to find out how to obtain and set up the least expensive voice and data roaming package on your phone. My husband and I were hoping for an affordable cruise with a heavy Russian influence and this Gate1 tour experience far exceeded our expectations. If you are expecting a luxurious Russian cruise with large rooms and private balconies, or if you need a ship with handicapped accessibility, you would be better off finding a different cruise more suited to your taste. But for everyone else, I highly recommend this cruise! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
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