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25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 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
7 Helpful Votes
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
34 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
this is my 8th river cruise w/uniworld. I was picked up at the airport and whisked to the ship in time for dinner. I realize river Victoria was rented, but from experience I expected better experience. the dining room staff didn't ... Read More
this is my 8th river cruise w/uniworld. I was picked up at the airport and whisked to the ship in time for dinner. I realize river Victoria was rented, but from experience I expected better experience. the dining room staff didn't speak English yet a server told me they were all students picked because of their English language skills then trained to serve. the dining room manager told me they were difficult to supervise because they were not a team. dinner usually took 3 hours due to the very slow service and complaining to the manager didn't help. it was also difficult to get needs met when no one but the manager spoke English. the food was ho-hum. the menu had one meat, one fish and one vegetarian whereas the cruises in Germany also had a 'healthy choice' and if you didn't like anything on the menu there were also steak, chicken, caeser salad etc. offerings. Uniworld had brought a senior chef from Germany, but that didn't help. still mediochre fare. I always get a class 2 or 3 cabin and I was pleased to have a balcony, but when we cruised north from Moscow it was too cold and rainy to sit there. big disappointment since one of the pleasures of river cruising for me is having my morning espresso on the balcony and watching the sunrise. as well as the cold we sailed on two lakes in northern Russia where the wind blew so hard the shipped rocked. one of the reasons I river cruise is to avoid seasickness. it's the first time on any river cruise I had to take Dramamine. the itinerary was too exhausting. the first day we left the ship at 8:30 and returned at 5 pm. unpleasant after a long plane ride and jetlag. besides the length half the day was spent in gum mall and Ararat shopping street. boring. on cruises in france or Germany uniworld only spent half day touring and then you could return to the town for the rest of the day or relax on the ship. besides the shopkeepers in the mall didn't speak English and souveneer stands had limited and standard items always offering nesting dolls, fridge magnets, postcards etc. the next day was just as long and since I do not believe 'more is better' I don't even remember what we did after the kremlin museum, I enjoy museums and art galleries, but over the yrs I have learned cramming too much into a day brings info overload and I don't retain what I saw in the museum. when we cruised north the days were either too long or spent shopping. arriving in st. Petersburg there were morning tours w/ optional tours in the afternoon. the cruise manager pushed the options on me, but I don't push easily. I took one option, the peter and paul fort, because I chose not to attend the ballet in the evening. the highlight for me was 'the hermitage w/ the option to return to the ship at 3 or 4 pm. i signed up for 4 and returned at 3 pm., tired but happy. the cruise ended poorly for me. I had arranged my own transfer to stay in a hotel near the hermitage and half way there realized we had not received notification to pick up our passports so i had to return to the ship. up until then I found the front desk staff helpful. part of my disappointment was cold and rainy Russia which is not uniworld's fault. the other half was I had come to expect excellence from uniworld (i've tried Viking) not exhausting itineraries and poor food/dining service. on the whole the front desk staff were helpful and courteous as was the dining room manager, the hotel manager and cruise manager. I cannot, however recommend this tour and it has soured my impression of uniworld. my eighth cruise may be my last. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
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
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