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34 Moscow to Europe - River Cruise Reviews

Wanted to visit Russia and see the magnificent art works and learn its history. The daily tours were very good and informative. Viking did an outstanding job of setting them up. Spent an afternoon with a Russian family in a rural area. ... Read More
Wanted to visit Russia and see the magnificent art works and learn its history. The daily tours were very good and informative. Viking did an outstanding job of setting them up. Spent an afternoon with a Russian family in a rural area. Very nice people. Vodka definitely flowed freely! The tours of the Kremlin and Red Square was excellent. We rode the Metro which was amazing in itself with the artwork in the stations. Did not expect to cross such large lakes as we thought it was a river cruise. No problem, but the lakes were huge. St Petersburg was wonderful. Catherine's Palace, St. Petersburg city tour,, the Hermitage and last but not least Peterhof Palace.. The magnificent art works was unbelievable. The food and service on board was excellent. Very good breakfast buffet with some dishes prepared per your order. Lunch on the upper decks were fun, especially when we went through locks.. Glad we took this cruise, highly recommend it to any age. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
This is our second Viking cruise. Loved 'Waterways of the Tsars' cruise. We loved the entire cruise, and all the tours. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. Viking also had three tour guides who traveled with ... Read More
This is our second Viking cruise. Loved 'Waterways of the Tsars' cruise. We loved the entire cruise, and all the tours. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. Viking also had three tour guides who traveled with us for the entire duration of the cruise. Andrei,Valeria and Dmitri are excellent tour guides. Their presentations on Russian history were excellent. The cabin was spacious and very clean. Would have loved if there was a walking track on the sun deck like in the long ships in Europe. We were very impressed with Moscow. Loved all the towns (Uglich, Yaroslavl, Kuzino, Kizhi, Mandrogy) we visited on our way to St. Petersburg. Liked how we sailed on canal, river, lakes and finally river again to get to St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is beautiful and also has so much history. Loved Swan Lake ballet. Food was excellent, waiters were wonderful and courteous. Got to taste Russian specialties. Maitre D was very nice and welcoming. I preferred to sit in the same area of the restaurant most of the time and so got to know our waitress Helga. She is so pleasant and accommodating.The pelmini cooking demonstration was funny! Our tour director Sasha was wonderful and has a good sense of humor. Daniel- the ship's manager was also wonderful and very funny. All in all it was a wonderful trip. Looking forward to more trips with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We had taken 4 Viking River cruises previously, but we had never been to Russia. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting Russia, and learning about the history of that country. We especially enjoyed the concerts and dance performances, and the ... Read More
We had taken 4 Viking River cruises previously, but we had never been to Russia. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting Russia, and learning about the history of that country. We especially enjoyed the concerts and dance performances, and the on-board seminars about the history of the country and the present life in Russia. We also enjoyed the on-board entertainment very much, especially the opera singers from the Marinsky Theater. As always, the food selection at the buffets was very extensive, and complemented the menu listings. The food was well prepared and we were happy to see some Russian foods listed on the menu, and also available on the breakfast and lunch buffets. We enjoyed all of the included and optional excursions that we took. We were really enthralled with the performance of "Swan Lake" at the Hermitage. That is a show that is not to be missed. We were happy to see that in addition to the walking tours of cities, a "Panoramic" bus tour was also available, for those of us who need a more leisurely sightseeing adventure. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We wanted to see Russia and felt that a river cruise was the best way to see a lot of the country in a relatively short period of time. We selected Uniworld as the company was highly recommended by experienced travelers we met. Note - ... Read More
We wanted to see Russia and felt that a river cruise was the best way to see a lot of the country in a relatively short period of time. We selected Uniworld as the company was highly recommended by experienced travelers we met. Note - this was our first river cruise and the only other cruises we had enjoyed were on the 98 passenger Celebrity Xpedition in the Galapagos Islands, and a Windjammer cruise in the Caribbean. So, we're not experienced cruisers. This cruise met my expectations and I was quite pleased with what we saw, what we learned, and the service that was provided to us. Using our travel agent, we easily made reservations for both the cruise and flights - Denver to Munich direct, then to Moscow. Our departure was St. Petersburg to Frankfurt, then direct to Denver. All flights were on Lufthansa. The check-in process for Lufthansa was horrible, in Denver we had to wait more than 1 1/2 hours just to check our baggage, and about 45 minutes in St. Petersburg upon departure. Once in the air, both directions, the flight was as pleasant as you can expect in coach for such a long flight. The flight crew were very accommodating, the food good and the provided entertainment/TVs were very good. Arriving in Moscow was a real treat, as the "lines" for Passport Control were extremely long. Apparently 9 international flights landed about the same time. It appears to me that certain ethnicities of people do not respect lines, as they swarm like a hive of little bees to the front of the line while pushing and shoving without respect for anyone else. It took us 1 1/4 hours just to get through passport control, then through customs where the lines were horrible too. Finally got through all of this and were met by an English speaking Uniworld representative. He said the bus ride would be 2 hours to the ship, so we should probably use the restroom while we could. (Just a note, restrooms in Russia are few and far between, limit your intake of fluids during any drive or excursion!) We arrived at the dock and had to go through security again as we approached the River Victoria ship. No big deal here, as I wonder whether the scanner was even plugged into electricity. We were warmly greeted at the entrance to the ship and promptly provided guided to our stateroom (309). Our luggage arrived within minutes. The stateroom was immaculately clean and well equipped. The room was what we expected but unfortunately we were docked for 4 days and the even number staterooms face the shore. This is great if you want to people watch, but not a scenic as the river side. Within a short period of time, all passengers (144) met in the lounge for a formal welcome and safety briefing. Then downstairs to dinner. Service for all meals was outstanding, the dining room well-furnished and the wait staff all young students (most studying languages in college) were all very professional and spoke relatively good English. Meals included unlimited wine followed by a 4 course meal. I am a really fussy eater and for 12 days, I found something on the menu that was delicious and well-prepared. The chef, restaurant manager and all wait staff did an excellent job. The wait staff is sometimes too efficient cleaning the plates and silverware, so my wife and I or other folks at the table were asked to "guard" our silverware. The tours were all very good and the guides outstanding. HOWEVER, traffic in Moscow in particular but also in St. Petersburg is horrible. We were often told our trip in the bus would take 20 minutes and it was over an hour. Be prepared! My wife and I are in our 60's and in very good physical condition. We were surprised by the number of passengers who were relatively immobile and had difficulties walking steep steps into the buses, on cobblestone streets, or anything that was not smooth and flat. There were a number of experienced river cruisers (older rich people) who were chronic complainers and whined about the cruise, the ship, the food, the staff, etc. Their comments usually were related to this cruise not meeting their lofty expectations and was not comparable to other Uniworld (or other high-end) river cruises they had been on. The Uniworld brochure clearly states that this cruise ship is owned by the Russian government and the crew is all Russian. Not having any other cruise to compare this one with like many of the other passengers, my wife and I were really pleased with just about everything. If I had a complaint, which I have a couple, 1) I'd suggest Uniworld invest in better headsets for listening to our tour guides. The sets often malfunctioned and it took too long to program them each trip wasting valuable time. 2) Less mobile people should travel together so that they can travel at a slower pace, and 3) I suggest Uniworld install a TV in the tiny gym that is located on the first floor of the ship. In conclusion, the trip was great, the Uniworld employees were outstanding, the food was excellent, the professor who provided Russian history and culture lectures was very informative, and the bus drivers very brave. I highly recommend this trip. I would suggest paying extra for a cabin with a balcony, although we didn't use it due to cool weather and rain reserve an even number cabin so you have the river view in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. You don't need dress-up clothes, some folks dressed up for the captain's dinner, I just wore dress slacks and dress shirt with no tie and my wife a nice dress. Take mosquito repellent with you as at one stop they were pesky. Tips are suggested and happily received by the drivers, guides and at the end of the trip by the staff. Face the facts, this is not an inexpensive trip and if you can afford to be on this trip, you can afford to tip. Many of the complainers (often folks who like to let you know how wealthy they were) failed to tip. And for the folks who are only happy if they are discontent, read the Uniworld brochure which specifically says that this ship and tour is different from all others, as it is Russian controlled. I hope you enjoy Russia as much as we did! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We absolutely loved this cruise. We have done 5 cruises with Uniworld and they are exceptional. Port and shore excursions were fantastic so were the staff on all levels .Entertainment was very good always something to keep you busy if you ... Read More
We absolutely loved this cruise. We have done 5 cruises with Uniworld and they are exceptional. Port and shore excursions were fantastic so were the staff on all levels .Entertainment was very good always something to keep you busy if you wanted to. Food was excellent with plenty to choose from. If you are expecting the same standard of ship as the cruises in Europe you will be a little disappointed as this is not as luxurious but this does not detract from the amazing time we had. It is still very comfortable and all the other wonderful things that Uniworld are renowned for. This ship is not owned by uniworld. This not a negative just pointing this out. We did 2,300 kilometres on the rivers and through the lakes and stopped at some gorgeous places along the way. Many locks and beautiful scenery. Moscow and St Petersburg were stunning. Russia is a must. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Truvor Waterway of the Czars-Fantastic cruise, boat and staff. Several tips and tricks you need to know before booking and while on board. These were learned from experience! Given a choice, Moscow to St. Petersburg direction is ... Read More
Truvor Waterway of the Czars-Fantastic cruise, boat and staff. Several tips and tricks you need to know before booking and while on board. These were learned from experience! Given a choice, Moscow to St. Petersburg direction is better. • Reservations and getting ready 1. Often they offer two for one sales on these cruises in January of each year and they include airfare on some packages. We had Delta over and Lufthansa back. 2. You have to have a visa for Russia and to get one you need a letter of invitation from the tour operator (Viking). The Viking literature says that once you have filled out the paperwork they will furnish you with the letter of invitation to fit your schedule (a necessity since you have to send your passports and the letter into the agency you have chosen to apply for your visa and your passports are unavailable for international travel while they are in the hands of the visa agency). In my experience, they would not deviate from their schedule to fit mine. I had 4 international trips scheduled and only a small window to give them my passports. The invitation letter division of Viking would not send me the letter prior to their 90 day schedule. Luckily I found that the Caring-Hands-services (caring-hands-services.com) could get the visa done with short turnaround and no additional charge. I would highly recommend them. Faster turnaround is available for extra but not needed as their standard service is fast and excellent. Beware, when you get your visa back, check it carefully for accuracy. One lady had two numbers transposed on the visa and it took her hours at the airport to get it corrected. 3. The package we purchased included airfare and airport transfers. Unfortunately, Viking did not notify me of the reserved air tickets until it was too late for me to upgrade. Since Viking gets low fares as a tour operator or consolidator, the fares they supply are the lowest and cannot be upgraded once they are issued, therefore it is important to address upgrading your tickets as soon as you can. The buses and people used for transport are great and efficient. Best way to go if you can. 4. Once you have booked, Viking will send you a marketing pep talk email every day telling you all sorts of information about the trip. Unfortunately, the essential stuff is included in these pep talks and if you opt out of them you could miss information or deadlines. 5. Note that your passport has to be valid long past the end of your trip and have two blank pages for the visa. 6. Once you obtain your ticket data you need to contact the airlines to reserve a seat. 7. There are several River Cruise schedules to choose from and the one starting in Moscow and ending in St. Petersburg gives you time to recover from jet lag in Moscow (where there are fewer treasurers to explore) and more time at the end of the trip in beautiful St. Petersburg where you need it. The Truvor was the ship we were on and I believe it is the best choice (based only on conversations with other passengers). Viking runs 5 ships on this route (perhaps more) and each sailing has different options. • On Board: 1. The food is excellent! Breakfast and lunch both have buffets and a fixed choice menu is also available. Chefs on the buffet prepared dishes to order. Breakfast is probably the best meal (which we routinely slept through), offering standard fare too plentiful to list here. Lunch was varied and similar to breakfast choices but often with themes such as Russian fare, etc. Dinner was from a menu that changed daily and you could substitute if the offering didn’t conform to your taste exactly. Several items were always available such as filet with mashed potatoes, salmon, etc. Be prepared to put a new hole in your belt when you return! 2. While there are coffee machines available full time, there is little provision for taking coffee and cookies to your cabin in the morning (obviously I missed breakfast!). I learned to hide a dinner plate in the room refrigerator and use it as a tray to carry several cups of coffee and goodies back to the cabin. 3. The staff is unbelievable in their desire to help and fulfill your every need. Don’t even think hard about something you want while on board, because if you do, one of the crew will get it for you! The crew is attractive, well dressed, motivated, competent, extremely well trained, honest, and just plain nice. American HR could take a lesson from Viking. 4. Our cabin was located near the stern of the ship and, as such, we could feel the vibrations caused by the shafts when operated at high speed (12-15 MPH for Truvor). From my experience, this is usually caused by one of the shafts being bent or out of balance, and/or improper synchronization of the engines. Since the vibration came and went with a cycle of about 5-7 seconds, I believe is it more of a synchronization problem they could correct without great effort. When the vibration was present, it would rattle the mirrors, doors and ceiling panels. I overheard an interview with one of the ship’s officers and when asked about the problem he was unaware of the vibration. 5. The staterooms are laid out very well and are roomy. Soundproofing between cabins is almost non-existent and if you have noisy neighbors you get to know their business in great detail. Soundproofing in the bathroom is almost complete (so why couldn’t they have done the same with the cabin?). Be sure to let them know the desired bed configuration before the trip (the beds are very comfortable). 6. If you need Rubles once you are there for souvenirs or tips, a debit card used at a bank ATM will give you a good rate of exchange and the fees are often reimbursed by the larger banks if your account warrants it. 7. Charges on the ship can be paid in Rubles or Dollars. If you pay with a credit card they first convert the dollar cost to Rubles (at a rate advantage), then make the charge to your card in Rubles which your card company then converts back to Dollars (at their rate advantage) plus charges a foreign transaction fee for most cards. We purchased the Silver Spirit Beverage plan (highly recommended if you plan to drink even moderately) and it was $550 for two. I calculated a savings of almost $100 by paying in cash dollars rather than putting it on my American Express. Bring some cash to settle on board charges. 8. A number of people appeared surprised and irritated when they got their final bill from the ship as they hadn’t understood that the ship supplies beverages only at mealtime (except for coffee or tea). They found that they were paying for cola, drinks, and house wine when ordered outside of dining hours. Again, the Silver Spirit package covers all beverages, all of the time with the exception of vintage wines. This means you can drink single malt scotch, Limoncello, or rotgut of your choice all day without incurring additional charges. On the other hand, a Coke in the afternoon costs dearly if you are not on the plan. 9. The internet access is terrible but I hear this is universal with all of the ships on river cruises in Russia. I had an access point with me (T-Mobile) and often had good service with that when the ship’s system was down. • Tours and shore: 1. Being in crowds is not my forte, and thus, going on the shore excursions in a group was painful, especially when they moved like a sloth. The guides are good but in my personal opinion they continue to patter on even when stuck in traffic or waiting for the next phase of the tour. A little silence would be golden. 2. The Hermitage was far too crowded to appreciate the offerings. The Catherine Palace was fantastic. Not too crowded and well maintained. Get Helen as a guide if possible (based in St. Petersburg). She speaks English without a heavy accent, is funny, knowledgeable, and irreverent. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I had been to St. Petersburg before and consider it the most beautiful city I've visited. I wanted to see more, though, so I chose a Viking River Cruise and traveled from Moscow to St. Petersburg and everywhere in-between. This was ... Read More
I had been to St. Petersburg before and consider it the most beautiful city I've visited. I wanted to see more, though, so I chose a Viking River Cruise and traveled from Moscow to St. Petersburg and everywhere in-between. This was a truly fantastic trip -- very educational, informative, and beautiful in every way. The food onboard was terrific, and the whole experience gave me a lasting memory of this beautiful country. The room was comfortable, the beds small but comfortable, and plenty of storage. What I liked the best were the excursions. The ones provided as part of the cruise were top rate and provided much more education and information than I expected, with a nice mix of music, dance, art, and history. The extra excursions I added were exceptional as well. A hightlight of the trip was the Faberge museum, with the thousands of exquisite gems and, of course, the faberge eggs. If you're thinking about taking this cruise, by all means TAKE IT! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Viking's "Waterways of the Tsars" cruise is a good way to see Moscow, St. Petersburg and some of the countryside in between. The Viking Ingvar is clean and attractive; service and food are excellent. The crew was highly ... Read More
Viking's "Waterways of the Tsars" cruise is a good way to see Moscow, St. Petersburg and some of the countryside in between. The Viking Ingvar is clean and attractive; service and food are excellent. The crew was highly attentive and accommodating. Our Veranda cabin was spotless and comfortable, but due to the ship's design had a support pole in the middle of the room. Except for the chef's hilarious cooking demonstration the activities consisted mostly of lectures on Russian history by the on board tour guides. Musical entertainment was disappointing at best. The tours Viking includes in Moscow and SPB are a convenient way to see the major sights but lack any depth (ship docks are quite a ways from the city centers and a lot of time is spent busing to and from the docks). Viking tours at stops while cruising between the cities are really the only option and were well done. However, for any in-depth touring in either Moscow or SPB I would recommend hiring a local guide for one or more of the days the ship is in those ports. The cost will be less than any of the Viking "Optional" tours and you will see much more. We arrived in Moscow two days before embarking with Viking and stayed an additional four days in SPB after the cruise. We toured on our own in Moscow but hired a local guide in SPB. Highly recommend Irina with Muse Tours in SPB; excellent English, knowledgeable, very accommodating and includes transportation which is a plus due to location of Viking's dock outside the main city area. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Read biographies of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great and became very interested in Tsars and the history of Russia. Had no idea what to expect from the cruise, since it was our first. It far exceeded anything we had hoped for. ... Read More
Read biographies of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great and became very interested in Tsars and the history of Russia. Had no idea what to expect from the cruise, since it was our first. It far exceeded anything we had hoped for. Wonderful staff. Very friendly and well trained. Service was excellent. Delicious food. Many choices and staff were very helpful in explaining what all the dishes were. Excellent shore tours. Far more options than you can fit in. Days were filled with interesting and educational experiences. Plus a number of evening experiences such as ballet in Catherine's theater, traditional Russian instrument concert, male choruses, etc. Viking was exceedingly well organized, from meeting our flight into Moscow, to getting people on and off the boat and onto the correct buses for the various tours. Everything went very smoothly. I would highly recommend both Viking in general and the Waterways of the Tzars cruise. Planning on taking more Viking cruises as soon as we can get the time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We choose this river cruise as a 40th wedding present for ourselves, and anticipated it with excitement for months. We did not know what to expect, coming from the Midwest USA, and traveling to Russia, but it would be impossible for us to ... Read More
We choose this river cruise as a 40th wedding present for ourselves, and anticipated it with excitement for months. We did not know what to expect, coming from the Midwest USA, and traveling to Russia, but it would be impossible for us to leave the experience more pleased! Travel from Chicago to Moscow was grueling, but we expected that. What we did not expect, to this level, was the exceptional attention to detail when we arrived at Moscow airport, and for the next 13 days. EVERYTHING, (yes, everything) was designed to give the traveler every opportunity for the best experience ever. From the handling of our luggage, our boarding experience, the large and wonderfully appointed cabin, the excellent food (every meal!!!), to attentive housekeeping, and wait staff, both kitchen and the lounges, were magnificent. A sidebar about our luggage: one piece was lost by British Airlines, arriving to our room 48 hours later. The Helgi front desk pestered the airport/airlines several times each day, nagging, I think, like a grandmother whose child lost her doll, to make sure that it was found and delivered before we left Moscow. In the meantime, we received toiletries, robes and clothes, and free 3 hour laundry service. I believe that it is through adversity that the excellent prevail, and the Helgi crew did just that. Everyone had a smattering of the English language, with most speaking better than me. Absolutely no communication issues. The extra, unexpected events, like champagne in the hall to meet the captain and our new, temporary neighbors, to the daily briefings, cocktail hours was amazing. The exceptional service of Frank, the hotel/ship manager, Roland, the maître d'hôtel, Natred, our exceptional waitress whom we would have adopted in a heartbeat, to my new Siberian best friend Demetri, to Alvin, Jay, Tin, the excellent musicians, and others of whom I have forgotten their names but not their service, I tip my fedora. The vetting process of the Viking HR to find and retain such incredible staff (read: Family) must be outstanding, as they have employed the best of the best. While accommodations are important, it is the people who make the trip, and these folk certainly did this for us. We have traveled rather extensively over our many years, but this trip and experience climbs to the top of the list. Thank you, thank you!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We had taken two previous Viking cruises and knew the quality would be wonderful. Also loved the opportunity to meet other guests which is impossible on the ocean cruises. It is a joy to be part of a ship's cruise that you are able to ... Read More
We had taken two previous Viking cruises and knew the quality would be wonderful. Also loved the opportunity to meet other guests which is impossible on the ocean cruises. It is a joy to be part of a ship's cruise that you are able to meet, tour and have meals with folks that you get to know. We loved Russia. We loved the tours, the tour guides were wonderful. The Russian food on the menu was wonderful, the staff is fabulous. All the food was terrific. The only down side for us was a guest (80 yr old man and his wife) who could not stop talking, loudly during the bus rides while the tour guide was speaking. Several folks asked him to stop, but he just did it anyway. Extremely rude. And interfered with the atmosphere aboard the buses. Unfortunately we were assigned a bus for all the tours and he was with us always. And I'm 75. By this age one should know better how to behave. If I start doing this at 80, please stop me!! But Viking is extraordinary. We loved it. Thank you!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
The Viking Ingvar has simple modern design, ample public spaces, excellent food, and a caring, competent staff. Cabins were, as expected, small but very well designed and the veranda cabin is worth the added cost. The ports were all ... Read More
The Viking Ingvar has simple modern design, ample public spaces, excellent food, and a caring, competent staff. Cabins were, as expected, small but very well designed and the veranda cabin is worth the added cost. The ports were all interesting, and the onboard guides were knowledgable and personable. The tours in the two large cities (Moscow and St Petersburg), however, tended to involve long bus rides from the ship to the tour sites, followed by fast-paced walking, sometimes over uneven ground. In two river locations, a "leisure" option was offered and much enjoyed by those who chose it. Too bad there were no leisure options in the cities. Also, the scheduling of tours was very tight, with barely time for lunch or dinner between tours. On one occasion, the evening tour (a ballet) returned to the ship after 11:00 pm and the tour the next morning departed at 7:45 am. I found the pace in the cities to be extremely tiring. The three full days on our own in St. Petersburg after the cruise (not a Viking extension) were so much more pleasant. We made all of our own flight arrangements and were very glad we had, especially after listening to other passengers whose Viking flight schedules were highly inconvenient (for example, arriving after dinner the first night or having to leave the ship at 2:00 am for return flights). Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
From the moment we stepped aboard the Viking Ingvar we felt at home. We were made to feel a welcome friend and nothing was too much trouble for the crew at whatever level from tour director to waiting or cabin staff. The food and service ... Read More
From the moment we stepped aboard the Viking Ingvar we felt at home. We were made to feel a welcome friend and nothing was too much trouble for the crew at whatever level from tour director to waiting or cabin staff. The food and service was excellent. Our stateroom was clean and comfortable, smallish but perfectly formed as a base. You do not spend much time there except to sleep! The talks were very informative and formed a crucial background to our excursions. The entertainment on board was good. The excursions, included and optional suited all needs. They were made even better by the guides who travelled with us and by the knowledgeable local guides. The visits to a Russian home was a very different experience to the normal coach tour around the sights! Between my husband and I we took well over 1 000 photos of wonderful buildings - palaces, churches, etc, both interior and exterior. This trip will stay with us for many, many years as a truly wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This review is about our river cruise in Russia aboard the Viking Akun. If you've ever thought about going to Russia--or even if like us, you hadn't, we want to encourage you to go now. Russia proved to be so much more and so ... Read More
This review is about our river cruise in Russia aboard the Viking Akun. If you've ever thought about going to Russia--or even if like us, you hadn't, we want to encourage you to go now. Russia proved to be so much more and so different from what we thought, and the cruise was an ideal way to see and learn about Russia. We cruised on the Viking Akun (which isn't listed as a choice here), and everything about the trip was way beyond our expectations. We decided to go when one of those Viking brochures arrived, offering us too good a deal to pass up. Knowing what we know now, we'd go even without a good deal. We spent three days in Moscow, two seeing the city by foot or bus with Viking tours and one with a private tour we had arranged with TJ Tours (more about that great company below). Moscow was an eye opener. It was beautiful, clean, safe, and so much different from what we had expected. We thought it surpassed St. Petersburg. The Russians have done a remarkable job since the fall of Communism. Everyone on the cruise was amazed by what we saw and learned and kept saying, "This is so different from what I expected!" In Moscow we attended a concert of traditional Russian folk instruments that just blew us away. The next 5 days, we cruised and visited places we’d never heard of. First, in a village called Uglich, we had a brief vocal concert (excellent voices) and visited in the homes of locals. We were divided into groups of about 14-16 to visit a local home. There the host or hostess served us typical Russian moonshine with pickles and rye bread and later served tea and cake. Each one described his/her life and showed off the garden. Wow! We had felt uncomfortable about visiting in a home, but it proved to be one the trip's highlights. Next, a small city, Yaroslavl, where we saw an example of a formal ball and heard another brief vocal concert in the formal governor’s mansion. We also visited a school and learned lots about the Russian system, part from a ninth-grader (who had been studying English since the fifth grade and had just picked up her 14 textbooks for the coming school year). Some of the students did a traditional performance and showed off their crafts. The next day, we toured the Kirillo-Bolozersky Monastery, founded in 1397 and still functioning. It happened to be a special feast day, so we got to see the priests and congregates leaving the church service in a formal procession. Another day we visited a UNESCO heritage site, Kizhi, with a collection of Russian wooden buildings. These gave us a sense of how Russians lived and what they produced centuries ago. The enormous wooden cathedral (still under reconstruction) was especially impressive. The final stop before St. Petersburg was Mandrogy, a recently developed site for Russian artisans and the best place to buy real Russian crafts and watch the craftsmen make them. (Souvenirs in the cities are much more expensive and often are made in China.) St. Petersburg was our last stop. There we also had three days, with excellent walking and bus tours. Like friends who had visited from sea-going cruise ships, we thought it was beautiful, safe, and fascinating. We spent one day by ourselves, just sightseeing and shopping. But we were even more impressed with Moscow. Viking arranged our air transportation (with Delta partners KLM, Aeroflot, Rossiya, and Air France). The flights with KLM and, especially Air France, were more pleasant than can be expected these days. The food on Air France was especially good and very plentiful. Flying Aeroflot and Rossiya was typical of flying feeder airlines. Our layovers were just long enough. The Viking representative was waiting for us when we got through baggage claim and took us directly to the Akun. The ship is sparkling clean and very attractive. It was renovated in in 2013. Our room was small but plenty roomy for the two of us. Suitcases fit under the beds, the closets held what we'd brought, etc. And there was an American style plug at the vanity so we could charge all our devices easily. The staff and tour guides were excellent. They made us feel that they cared about us and about our seeing Russia. On board were three tour guides who led a number of the tours and provided daily lectures. They were great. In most ports, there were also good local tour guides. The food was good and plentiful. Of course, there weren't as many offerings on each menu as on a ship with 3,000 passengers, but there was always enough to choose from. We enjoyed the open seating which gave us a chance to meet and eat with a variety of different passengers. One day lunch was a buffet of traditional Russian dishes, served on the open-air upper deck. At some other meals, we had Russian dishes, but never too much that was unfamiliar. Breakfast was served in the dining room, and continental breakfast was also available in the bar upstairs, which offered a wonderful view of the river. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate were available all day, with cookies and pastries available for snacks. White and red wines flowed freely at meals along with tea, coffee, and soft drinks. (I'm almost certain the coffee is instant, so serious coffee drinkers may want to bring their own coffee and French press coffee maker. Decaf. coffee was available only at meal times or in the bar. I bought a jar of instant in Moscow and was perfectly happy making it with the hot water provided for tea.) There were plenty on-board activities during the sailing times—Russian teas three afternoons, sailaways when we left several ports, evening dancing and a singing duo, a cooking demonstration, and two Russian language lessons, for example. The best part for us was the daily presentations about Russian history. Each presentation was clear and thorough. We liked them so much that we watched each one twice. (All presentations were given in the lounge area and were also carried live on in-room tv) Lots of our fellow passengers really enjoyed the optional vodka tasting event, featuring at least seven different types of vodka. Everyone seemed to enjoy sitting on their private balconies. We aren’t exaggerating when we say that the only negative about the whole trip was one optional event, a Cossack Folk Songs and Dances show. Don’t waste your time or money on it. Now about TJ Travel. We chose them for a tour of Moscow based on the positive reviews we’d seen. And like almost everything on this trip, they surpassed our expectations. They tailored our tour to our interests and even took us to a supermarket because we needed a couple items. Tatiana, the owner, was our driver and amazed us with her skill in some very confusing and congested traffic. Irene, our guide, was also superb. The first thing she showed us was worth the price of the whole day, a temporary collection of jeweled Russian icons. (BTW, we took a private tour because that’s what we’ve always done when cruising on ocean cruises; the ships’ tours always seem over priced and too crowded. The Viking tours were so good that we didn’t really need a private tour to learn about Moscow, but we are glad we chose the tour and TJ Travel.) We hope this review will encourage people to visit Russia. There are Viking tours available Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We were first-time river cruisers and had such a good time that we already have booked another one. We like the more intimate feeling of a longship, especially the open seating at meals. Informative lectures helped us understand more about ... Read More
We were first-time river cruisers and had such a good time that we already have booked another one. We like the more intimate feeling of a longship, especially the open seating at meals. Informative lectures helped us understand more about Russia, and the articles in the daily paper let us know more about the things we were seeing. The tour leaders are exceptionally trained and were able to answer any question from the group. Viking is well organized for on- and off-boat routines, tour bus numbers and groups, and keeping things moving. Do pay attention to the codes for levels of walking in the itinerary if you have any problems (knees, hips), and ask the tour director or guide before setting off about the distances and restroom availability (one on our bus was on water pills). Staff hands out bottles of water every time you leave the boat for a tour. Excellent! Do not miss the home visit in Uglich; it was the best stop on the trip. Wonderful homemade vodka, brown bread and dill pickles, followed by apple cake and tea, then a visit to their backyard to see a huge garden with nary a weed in it. The food was exceptional with many choices at every meal. Big buffet for breakfast with hot and cold choices. Buffet including salads, and a printed menu for lunch. Printed menu with many choices for dinner. Most nights there was a Russian specialty among the dinner choices. Also, we enjoyed the Russian dumpling class and the tea session with a samovar and platefuls of pastries. My husband liked the trip as the dress is casual. No suit, no tie. Yes, some people had a jacket for the welcome and farewell dinners, but most men were in khakis or slacks with a collared shirt or sweater. Women wore pantsuits, skirts, a few sparkly blouses, but no cocktail or formal dresses. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg provided the opportunity to see urban Russia in the post-Soviet era. It also allowed a glimpse of the lives of the residents of the rural areas along the waterways. The best part was a chance to ... Read More
This cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg provided the opportunity to see urban Russia in the post-Soviet era. It also allowed a glimpse of the lives of the residents of the rural areas along the waterways. The best part was a chance to peer into the past and imagine the lives of the czars - their palaces, their art collections and their obscene wealth. The ship is not up to the standards of the new longships now in use elsewhere in Europe. Cabins are tiny and difficult for two people to share. The bathroom is ridiculous! Food is adequate, but nothing special. Perhaps provisioning is Russia is difficult. Service in the diningrooms was spotty. Some servers seemed much better than others. Many on the buffet line spoke little English. The simple query, "what's in this salad?" is met with a blank stare. Was it tuna? Perhaps it was chicken? Then again, it could have been chopped apple. If you have food allergies, that could be an issue. On several occasions, we watched servers reset vacated dinner table for the next monrning's breakfast by simply covering the food stains on the tablecloths with the colored runners used at the morning meal. Would you like to dine at a table with the remnants of others' meals right in front of you? I wouldn't take this cruise again, but I'll remember it for a long time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
I was thoroughly impressed with Viking River Cruises, from the cleanliness and comfort of the stateroom (which we weren't in very often) to the on-board and local tour guides, to the food and service, and the overall value. I had a ... Read More
I was thoroughly impressed with Viking River Cruises, from the cleanliness and comfort of the stateroom (which we weren't in very often) to the on-board and local tour guides, to the food and service, and the overall value. I had a wonderful vacation and learned a lot. The weather was gorgeous throughout the trip, although since we traveled in October, it got a bit chillier than expected as we neared St. Petersburg. Viking was very attentive and provided detailed daily itineraries explaining in advance which tours were included or optional. All of the tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and enjoyable. Our favorite part of the trip was the home visit in Uglich-- connecting one-on-one with ordinary people like us. The only thing I can complain about is that we didn't receive many communications in advance of the trip, which would have been nice for first-time travelers (and had been mentioned, so we were expecting that), but it is easy enough to read up on the places you'll visit and make your own plans, I guess. I traveled with my mother, who used a walker. She found most of the tours to be physically challenging, and the gangway(?) from the ship to the pier in St. Petersburg was very steep and slippery. Otherwise the ship was great. Viking staff were very helpful, but it was still not very comfortable for her, and she declined to take part in some tours. Russia is not set up to accommodate disabled people; we didn't see anyone else with a walker the entire time we were there. There aren't curb cutouts in big cities, for example. So beware this fact if it applies to you or your traveling companions. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We took the Waterway of the Tsars cruise on the Viking Ingvar in October of 2014. We were met at the airport by Viking staff and very efficiently whisked to a bus, but then it took 3 1/2 hours in horrible Moscow traffic to go the 15 miles ... Read More
We took the Waterway of the Tsars cruise on the Viking Ingvar in October of 2014. We were met at the airport by Viking staff and very efficiently whisked to a bus, but then it took 3 1/2 hours in horrible Moscow traffic to go the 15 miles to the boat. Once we got to the boat we found it immaculately clean and well-furnished. Both Moscow and St. Petersburg are beautiful cities. We enjoyed the tours of Red Square and the Kremlin. We took the Moscow by Night excursion, and the lights were lovely. However, when we returned to the boat, we had to descend two flights of unlighted steps to get down to the dock, which was very difficult for me as I was in a boot from a pre-cruise broken ankle. When I reported the problem to the front desk, I was met with complete disregard. The Hotel Manager and the Dining Room director were both very friendly and helpful. Our waiters were very good and the food was excellent. Our cabin was kept very clean as well. One negative was that nightly we had to complain that we could hear the music in the bar in our cabin, as could our co-travelers in the adjacent room. Strange, as we were 2 floors below the bar! Something needs to be done to correct this problem. We did not enjoy the small towns in between Moscow and St. Petersburg as much. In fact, one is just a cluster of wood buildings that were moved in as a shopping opportunity. As it was the last cruise of the season, some of them weren't even open. I would loved to have had more local talent onboard in the evenings, as we had on a previous Budapest to Bucharest cruise. We found the Russian people to be very unfriendly and solemn. Never once could I get a Russian to smile back at me. Sad... St. Petersburg was definitely the highlight. We talked our tour guide into letting us spend some time in the Church of the Spilled Blood, which was scheduled only as an outside visit. I would recommend that this be included as part of a standard tour, as it is the jewel of St. Petersburg. The day we visited the Catherine Palace it was cold and nasty, yet we were forced to walk around the grounds in 30 degree weather for 1 1/2 hours before we could get in for the tour. Maybe that's a good plan in August, but in late October, the plan should be changed in freezing weather. Finally, we were hit with a Lufthansa pilot's strike the day before we were to leave. Many passengers were told that morning that our tickets had been cancelled, and we would have to be rescheduled. That evening we were handed new tickets before bedtime. However. we were called at 3 a.m. and told that the second tickets had been cancelled! We were taken to the airport at 5 am. only to learn that they were not cancelled at all. We then had to wait at the very uncomfortable St. Petersburg for 9 1/2 hours until our flight departed. Obviously, there was some serious glitch in communication by Viking Travel that resulted in many people being quite inconvenienced. In all, this was our least favorite of the cruises we have taken with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our second experience on a Viking River Cruise and once again, I am happy to report, the experience exceeded our expectations. Our timing may have been a little late in that the weather was less than favorable, but we were ... Read More
This was our second experience on a Viking River Cruise and once again, I am happy to report, the experience exceeded our expectations. Our timing may have been a little late in that the weather was less than favorable, but we were prepared for that eventuality., Our first impression of our ship, The Ingvar, was it appeared a tad tired. We understood that this was its final cruise of the season and attributed those minor imperfections to the conclusion of a busy season. Our cabin was adequate, but if I were king I would make the balcony smaller or even eliminate it in favor of a more spacious cabin. The fact that the sliding glass door opens would be ample for me. That again is just a personal observation The food was excellent if anything there may have been too much of it. On some days we barely finished breakfast and lunch was about to be served. The lunches could be lighter, but no one was forces us to eat. I thought our cruse director, Alina, was an empty uniform. Perhaps I do not have a complete understanding of her duties, but compared with the cruise director we had on an Avalon Trip from Basel to Amsterdam (we could not get on Viking). there was no comparison. We had a man named Dragan who was omnipresent and far more involved with the passengers. He personally led many of the tours and was a veritable mountain of information. On the tour of the bridge the Captain was nowhere in sight, and delegated that duty to the first mate. There may have been a reason for this, but it was not explained to the guests.. Our cabin was always cleaned nicely and the wait staff was courteous, cooperative, cheerful and attentive. In particular Rica and Antonio stood out as superior employees. After experiencing the trip I understand why so much time is spent in Moscow and St. Petersburg. There is simply little of interest between the two cities. Viking did an excellent job in adjusting to the low water situation by arranging to bus us to Yaroslavl. I was unimpressed with Mandrogy which came off as little more than a tourist trap selling authentic Russian Rubbish. Kizhi as an opportunity to walk in the fresh air. The visits to the school and the home also seem contrived. Some folks seemed to enjoy them and I may be a bit cynical, but they did little for me. The piano player and the singer became a little tedious by the 5th day. It would seem to me that an organized sing along or even an impromptu amateur hour have added some variety or spontaneous guest involvement. In summary, while I have offered some critical observations, I remain very pleased with our experience and have become an unpaid sales person for Viking by encouraging others to enjoy river travel. The fact that you only unpack and repack once is marvelous. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being perfect, I would rate our trip a 9.5. . Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Our first and last River Cruise with this company, who we have found aggressive in their various commercial dealings with customers. The boat/ship is obviously rather old but has been refurbed, although there is not great sound insulation ... Read More
Our first and last River Cruise with this company, who we have found aggressive in their various commercial dealings with customers. The boat/ship is obviously rather old but has been refurbed, although there is not great sound insulation between cabins. We could even hear a TV blaring from across a corridor. The restaurant service is a bit hit and miss, and there efforts to provide a table service is pretty uneven. Often you will be at a table where you may have to wait for your main course whilst others have finished theirs as the galley is unable to cope with the demands put upon it, so it can be awkward. My wife has a allergy but despite notifying the Maitre D, he just said we should always try to sit on the same table that a waiter would get to know our requirements, but of course this was not always possible. The staff themselves were always courteous and work hard, but the system seems a bit shambolick at busy times. The tours were fine and well run, but if you do this cruise be prepared for some waiting in a bus in traffic jams in the major cities. Not a big problem , but a sad fact of life. To sum up, a curates egg of a cruise with a company whom I doubt will see my custom again Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
I am not easily impressed, but our first river cruise (Moscow to St. Petersburg) was just great! Russia was so surprising - I grew up thinking that all buildings in Russia were old and gray. Just the opposite: Moscow was very modern. In ... Read More
I am not easily impressed, but our first river cruise (Moscow to St. Petersburg) was just great! Russia was so surprising - I grew up thinking that all buildings in Russia were old and gray. Just the opposite: Moscow was very modern. In St. Petersburg, we found beautiful 17th / 18th century buildings. For me, the most amazing part of Russia was the churches. I thought that the socialists there had destroyed all the churches, and they did do that to many, but there were a lot of beautiful Russian Orthodox churches throughout our trip. Beautiful icons covered the walls of the churches, some of which were 500 years old. While we saw many sites, Peter the Great's Palace and Catherine the Great's Palace were fantastic. Secondly, no trip is enjoyable if the boat and the crew are not of high quality. The Rurick had been renovated a year ago, so it was like new. While our room was small, we had no problems with it. The Veranda was great to watch the scenery as it went by . The restaurant was very nice with good food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Maybe most important was the crew. They were great! 100%. They learned our names in a day. They solved any issues we had. When we stopped on the river, the crew would tell us exactly where to go to buy items and where not to go. In the restaurant, the waiter and waitress we had (we sat with others at a corner table) would essentially "reserve" our table by serving the drinks that we liked before we even got there. There was always something to do on the boat. I really liked the afternoon talks we had about the history of Russia. They were not political - mostly just the facts, I understand a lot more about Russia now. Because this river cruise was so good, we are taking another river cruise in Europe in 2015. The cruises aren't cheap, but you get your money's worth. And as they say, "You can't take it with you". Nick G.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We both really enjoyed this cruise. It was to celebrate our Silver Anniversary and lived up to our expectations. The junior suite was lovely and all the staff were excellent. All the trips and events were fabulous and the arrangements to ... Read More
We both really enjoyed this cruise. It was to celebrate our Silver Anniversary and lived up to our expectations. The junior suite was lovely and all the staff were excellent. All the trips and events were fabulous and the arrangements to visit made it all so easy. The food was excellent too. We would say that it would have been good to have had more free time, perhaps fewer events would be better. Sometimes, our free time was taken up waiting to get to toilets. The cathedrals were all spectacular, but maybe there were too many visits to such religious sites. The boat trip in St Petersburg was a bit rough and ready, not quite Viking standard, We were also concerned that one older lady fell getting off the bus for this but our guide was already away out front and had to be called back. Guides should check everyone is ok before setting off. However, the whole experience was excellent and we would defrinitely go Viking again - if we can afford it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We had never been on Viking River Cruise previously, but the line was highly recommended by our travel agent as well as a friend who has been on a Viking river cruise previously. We cannot fault the line, staff or the tour guides. It was ... Read More
We had never been on Viking River Cruise previously, but the line was highly recommended by our travel agent as well as a friend who has been on a Viking river cruise previously. We cannot fault the line, staff or the tour guides. It was an amazing trip and very enjoyable and enlightening. The Rurik has been updated apparently, and the only challenge are the steep stairs. There is a lift (elevator) but only one at the back of the boat. We had a fantastic trip and the staff were excellent. The local tour guides were very helpful and went out of their way to ensure that questions, comments and information were addressed. The only challenge we had was at Peterof, but that was our fault. We did not listen to information where the bus would be parked. The Cruise Director, Christopher, went out of his way to help us and gave us information on St Petersburg which was invaluable. We are looking at other Viking Cruises for future trips. Hope they pick up Amazon cruises on their list.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We had a fantastic trip filled with memorable experiences. Russia is an amazing country with awe inspiring monuments, museums, culture and heritage. The people are proud of their country and welcome visitors. They are shaped by many ... Read More
We had a fantastic trip filled with memorable experiences. Russia is an amazing country with awe inspiring monuments, museums, culture and heritage. The people are proud of their country and welcome visitors. They are shaped by many appalling events in their history. I think Moscow to St Petersburg is the best way to do it as I would not like to face Moscow traffic and travel times at the end of the trip. The crew on Viking Truvor were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, particularly the tour escorts who enhanced the experience. The ship is well appointed and there is no doubt that Viking is the major player in Russia and has preferred access to berths, tour destinations, buses etc. I have some complaints about Viking's organisation. They may seem petty but it is often the small things which make all the difference. I consider this to have been an expensive cruise (£10,000) and do not feel it was good value for money. Consider all the cruise companies who operate in Russia (and there are many) and perhaps these points may help you make up your mind. The deposit seems very high: £2000 paid over 1 year in advance. The flights are in line with most tour companies, but the transfer time was 1 hour, which is fine if all goes well, but our flight from St Petersburg was delayed (and I got the impression this happens quite often), we made our connection by running through Zurich airport, but our luggage didn't. We were unable to check in online with Swiss.com. The majority of fellow passengers were American and Australian. They seemed to have been offered a range of incentives which were not available to UK guests: 2 for 1, free flight, free gratuities, free premium drink packages, welcome bottle in cabin. So that's all the negatives, now for the cruise itself. Domodedovo airport Moscow is 2 hours from the river port. The traffic in Moscow is horrendous and trips to and from the port take 1 hour on average. We enjoyed all the tours in Moscow, but the Folklore Show was outstanding. The cruise along the waterways is relaxing after all the crowds in Moscow. We saw lots of ospreys but wildlife is not abundant. The ports of call are fascinating although I would have liked more free time to explore independently after the main tour, but the distances travelled are so large I don't think that's possible and of course you don't have to take the organised tour. Dollars seemed to be the preferred currency in most outlets. Life on board ship was very relaxed, the food was excellent and the service was prompt and efficient. The dock at St Petersburg is disappointing. It is not easy to travel into the city independently and there is nothing to explore in the vicinity. There were no tours scheduled for the final day, although you could purchase optional tours. I don't understand why we had 2 very heavy tours the day before. There are huge crowds, but we had early access to St Catherine's palace, although I think a lot of tour companies do this. L'Hermitage, the summer palace and the ballet are all amazing. So, although I have reservstions about Viking, I have no hesitation in recommending Russia as a truly memorable experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Uniworld's river Victoria and their staff did a very nice job even though they are not as good as the other Central European cruises. The food and service were excellent; rooms were very nice; the tours need to be organized little ... Read More
Uniworld's river Victoria and their staff did a very nice job even though they are not as good as the other Central European cruises. The food and service were excellent; rooms were very nice; the tours need to be organized little better. All the cruise ships go to the hermitage in the morning and at the same time and it's packed even though the crowds are much less in the afternoon. Their trip to the Russian ballet swan lake is very average. The dining room and front desk staff as well as the hotel manager were outstanding and everyone was trying their best to do a great job. We took subway in Moscow by ourselves. With very minimal Russian, we could manage without any problems. The ship is old and there were some smells periodically. I would recommend the cruise to anyone interested in going to Russia Read Less
Sail Date July 2014

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