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144 Viking River Moscow Cruise Reviews

So let me begin by my impression of Russia, at least cruising from Moscow to St. Petersburg, stopping at several towns on the way. My fourth river cruise, but none so beautiful as the rivers between Russia’s two largest cities. We ... Read More
So let me begin by my impression of Russia, at least cruising from Moscow to St. Petersburg, stopping at several towns on the way. My fourth river cruise, but none so beautiful as the rivers between Russia’s two largest cities. We found Russia impeccably clean, their population friendly, St. Petersburg an incredible beauty and Moscow, as my title suggests, enchanting. Tagging (wall art/graffiti) visible in only a few small areas. I would strongly encourage everyone to visit this country if your are able. What has always been clear is that once governments are removed from the equation, we are all the same. Now as to our 13 day Viking cruise. The ships are not the usual long ships owned by Viking but rather vessels leased from Russia. They are very clean, but devoid on any luxury. Our staff was cordial, a few members exceptional, the food good (not great) and the shore excursions generally well managed. I realize you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but a few less palaces, monasteries, etc., and more occasion to mix with the population would be vastly more appealing to us. As usual, almost all passengers were from America so ones horizons are not much expanded by interactions. There are other cruise lines that have the same or similar itineraries, so I look over the reviews carefully before making a decision. The guides that Viking uses are almost to a person bright and learned. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This seemed like a great opportunity to get to know the Russian people and tour Western Russia. Previous experience with Viking indicated we would be well cared for and have great tours aside from the cruise itself. The major drawback for ... Read More
This seemed like a great opportunity to get to know the Russian people and tour Western Russia. Previous experience with Viking indicated we would be well cared for and have great tours aside from the cruise itself. The major drawback for us was that the ship used on this tour was older than those of our previous tour and the cabins were smaller. We were not as comfortable and we spent more time on our veranda...roomier than the main cabin. The crew was wonderful and we continue our contact with some. Some off-ship tours were better than others, but all offered opportunities to experience Western Russia. One problem was that many stops along the way were "tourist" destinations and lacked actual Russian social contact. The highlights were in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In-between, experiences were highly variable between great and subpar. My husband has limited mobility, and most tours required walking distances beyond his ability. We did not participate in some tours because of this and since we had scheduled them, we were still charged even though we could not participate. Viking's rating of tour levels of difficulty did not adequately allow us to make choices appropriate to our abilities. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This river cruise in July 2018 from Moscow to Saint Petersburg was both our first river cruise and our first holiday with Viking Cruises. We took advantage of Viking’s flexible flight arrangements to fly from our local airport ... Read More
This river cruise in July 2018 from Moscow to Saint Petersburg was both our first river cruise and our first holiday with Viking Cruises. We took advantage of Viking’s flexible flight arrangements to fly from our local airport (Birmingham) to Moscow via Amsterdam. The Viking staff then met us at Moscow airport, where we discovered that over 40 passengers on our flight were on the same cruise. Two coaches then transported us to the ‘Viking Ingvar’. We were very impressed with the quality of the boat and of our cabin (317). Our Travel Agents had forewarned us that many of the cabins on the ‘Viking Ingvar’ had poles in the cabins that supported the upper decks, so we were able to avoid this restricting inconvenience. We found that many of the other cabins had these poles – some even had two – and that they were located near the bed. The cabin was fairly spacious, well designed and equipped, and had a large balcony. Cabin 317 was on the middle deck and very conveniently located for the Neva Restaurant, the Panorama Bar, the Sky Bar, and the hot drinks station where tea and coffee were always available, there being no kettle in the cabin. For those (like us) who prefer a special blend of tea (such as Roobois) it was ideal to take our own tea, obtain hot water at the station, and enjoy it on the cabin’s balcony. The cabin had fairly adequate storage space, and our luggage was easily stored under the bed. The bathroom was well designed, but the small shower area had a weak output. The stairs between decks were extremely steep, but a lift was available. Despite the reliance on a satellite system, the Wi-Fi connection was adequate, and was included in the basic price. The Neva Restaurant was the main eating area, and we used this for our evening meals. We generally preferred the Panorama Bar (located at the bow) for Continental breakfasts and light lunches; this area was generally quiet and had a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere for these meals. The evening meals were often disappointing with a not very exciting menu, and there was little choice. The chicken and steak on the ‘always available’ section of the menu were often the best choices. We discovered in the course of a number of chats with the Austrian maitre d' that the main menu is dictated by Viking's Head Office, and is the same for each cruise and for each of the several boats that are continually spending the summer travelling between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The majority of passengers were Americans, and the boat’s protocols etc seemed to be generally geared to American/Canadian preferences. Sittings in the Neva Restaurant were on a first-come, first-served basis, but many passengers attempted to sit at the same table each evening – this being the only way to establish a rapport with the dining staff. Although most people dressed smartly for dinner, there were quite a number who did not bother. The ‘complimentary’ wine served with meals was very pleasant. The staff were generally very pleasant, enthusiastic, and spoke a good level of English. In addition to the crew, there were a number of tour guides who doubled up on other duties such as giving very interesting lectures on Russian history. There was little forewarning over the boat’s public address system of features that the boat was about to pass – a description of the locks etc that we were about to pass through would have been appreciated, plus some information on how far we had travelled overnight, etc. Surprisingly, the on board doctor had a poor grasp of English. The excursions from the ‘Viking Ingvar’ were very efficiently handled and communication between the tour guide and tourists was enhanced by the efficient Quietvox headsets. Local guides were used extensively and most of these were very good. One coach trip was somewhat spoiled by two Viking staff talking constantly and thus distracting the local guide’s narrative. In Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the quality of coaches used was very good, but the ‘best available’ coaches in the rural areas were often old and not well maintained (eg dirty windows). On all the excursions there was a generous handout of bottled water. We enjoyed all the excursions, some of which were included in the trip’s basic price, and some of which were optional at additional cost. Our three favourite excursions were ‘Moscow by Night’; the trip to Peterhof; and a visit to the Faberge Museum in Saint Petersburg – all of these were hosted by Slava, the best of the Viking guides. We chose the following optional tours: Sergiev Posad (very good – would have been excellent if the guide’s English had been a little better, and two Viking staff had not talked constantly on the coach); Moscow by Night (excellent); The Hermitage Behind Closed Doors (excellent, although tiring and expensive); Peterhof Palace & Park (excellent); Feberge Museum (excellent and amazing). On a previous trip to Saint Petersburg in 2008, we had not felt entirely safe and were not prepared to explore the city on our own. Nowhere on this trip did we feel the same apprehension, even in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. On the whole, the Russians we met were pleasant and friendly, although due to the ongoing Football World Cup there was often a large police/security presence. Tipping on the ‘Viking Ingvar’ was discretionary with a suggestion of $15 per guest per day, but no formal system was offered to do this. Most guests seemed to prefer to tip individual members of staff that they had had personal contact with. Overall, we had a very enjoyable cruise on the ‘Viking Ingvar’ being particularly impressed with the quality of the boat, the range of excursions, the organisation of the excursions, and the evident lack of ‘penny-pinching’ that tends to prevail with some cruise companies, although Viking’s prices are at the top of the range. The most negative aspect was the provision of some distinctly unexciting menus. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We wanted to visit Russia and thought that this would be a good way to see our primary interests. The Viking Cruise had an appealing itinerary at a reasonable cost. The staff was lovely....all of them and everyone. Each day the ... Read More
We wanted to visit Russia and thought that this would be a good way to see our primary interests. The Viking Cruise had an appealing itinerary at a reasonable cost. The staff was lovely....all of them and everyone. Each day the activities were interesting, though we did do quite a few optional tours at an added expense. They were worth the money, and we particularly enjoyed Moscow by night. There were a couple of wrinkles in the trip. First, we went when the World Cup was in Russia. It wasn't Viking's fault, but the Red Square was closed to tours, so we never got to see it. A number of us thought that Viking should have provided shuttle service in so that we could at least walk around the perimeter of the Square, after the group tours were turned away. There was time the next morning to do so, but Viking elected not to. We were in cabin 301 which I would not recommend. Though it was large and well appointed, we were woken most mornings when the staff was refilling the beverage station outside the restaurant doors and/or by patrons gathering in front of the doors before the restaurant opened. (In other words, it was a noisy neighborhood due to being the room next to the elevator where the trays of glassware were transported and being next to the restaurant.) It was a big enough inconvenience that I would not accept either that room or the one across the hall on another trip. The duration was appropriate, the evening activities were fun. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I wanted to see Russia and this cruise offered a 2 week onboard stay that covered a lot of area. The ship, service and food were all excellent, typically Viking. Excursions and guides were also excellent. And Russia exceeded our ... Read More
I wanted to see Russia and this cruise offered a 2 week onboard stay that covered a lot of area. The ship, service and food were all excellent, typically Viking. Excursions and guides were also excellent. And Russia exceeded our expectations. If you like history, arts and music this is a great cruise. The last couple of days in St Petersburg included a fantastic ballet and onboard opera experience. My criticisms are: - we booked thru Viking, which was a MISTAKE, always use a trusted knowledgeable travel agent. Our cruise was during World Cup and the cities were unusually crowded with many of the prime sites closed:( An experienced agent would have warned us and we would have changed our dates. - Viking has Dock locations a long way out of the main cities, so we were riding buses a lot. This was a bit disappointing for a river cruise where you expected to be closer to town. - the majority of the time our nice balcony stateroom was facing another boat at dock, so we would have to close the curtains during the day, forget having a nice view or using your balcony much. - I think it’s great that older less mobile seniors can enjoy cruising, but Viking could do a better job of organizing excursions by mobility, we ended up in some really slow groups for included tours. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We have always wanted to visit Russia and took the plunge. The food was very good with plenty of choice and a chance to taste Russian cuisine as well as fairly standard fare. The 24hr coffee/tea/chocolate station was excellent. I am a ... Read More
We have always wanted to visit Russia and took the plunge. The food was very good with plenty of choice and a chance to taste Russian cuisine as well as fairly standard fare. The 24hr coffee/tea/chocolate station was excellent. I am a discerning coffee drinker and it was of very good quality, better than the coffee served in the restaurant! The staff were all very friendly and the couriers, especially the local ones, were full of interesting information. There were a few concerns though mainly to do with sustainability/environmental policies. We did not require wash cloths to be changed twice daily - we used them and hung them on the pull out line provided but as the room was serviced twice daily, these and the shower mat were changed when not required to be. Also the use of plastic containers for the plentiful toiletries - this approach needs to be reconsidered to cut down on plastic. Also the disposable plastic water bottles handed out before excursions need to be abolished. We had brought our own containers and filled them from the glass water bottles replenished at least once daily. Perhaps Viking could provide reusable bottles and passengers could be encouraged to refill these. The excursions we participated in were all, bar one, excellent and of a very high quality. The one that was disappointing was the Folk Music evening whilst in St Petersburg - not worth the money we paid even if it did include some vodka. The music was OK, it was just the surroundings and the way it was presented after other excursions such as the ballet and music evening in Moscow. Not having been on anything like this before, I did struggle with not having anywhere really to walk so had to make do with going along each deck inside and up/down the stairs. Most days to be fair we had excursions so I tried to walk quickly but sometimes this was not possible as we were ambling in order to view and take photos. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
My husband and I are in our mid-fifties and wanted to see a lot of Russia but not be packing and unpacking so we thought a river cruise would be ideal. I went on a Viking cruise a few years ago with my Mom and told my husband that it would ... Read More
My husband and I are in our mid-fifties and wanted to see a lot of Russia but not be packing and unpacking so we thought a river cruise would be ideal. I went on a Viking cruise a few years ago with my Mom and told my husband that it would be a good choice. I booked directly with Viking - not my best move. Once I got on the boat I found that those who booked with a travel agent got some great pointers about rooms (for example if there was a post in the middle or not - we got a post). Even though we were one of the first bookings -- the Viking representative recommended the room - which turned out to be right behind the reception desk and across from the computers - perhaps not the best room as he had promised but on the other hand - although it was the lowest category room - it was very comfortable. The washroom was soundproof and cozy and the room had a very large window that opened which was very pleasant. You could however, hear the goings on in the cabin next door and the one above. We spent so little time in the room that it really was not an issue. The food on the cruise was up to Viking standards and was excellent. We quickly learned to get a seat on one side of the boat in the dining lounge. On the side we declined was a very loud server who huffed about in a show of great speed and importance but it was a show. He had very docile women working with him who consistently got the orders wrong, would not give you a menu in the morning, would not offer juice just coffee and would leave you sitting. We changed over to Bim's side and it was a whole new experience. Prompt, efficient, friendly service. Artemis and Yaroslav were especially dedicated. We attended all but the Russian language lectures (we missed the first one as we were too busy talking on the sundeck - so to go to the rest seemed useless). The lectures were great with a lot of insight. We also learned about making pelmani (or something like that) and it was interesting. We attended the wine tasting and the vodka tasting which were at an extra cost. They were will worth it! We had a riot and really loved the group of British ladies we joined. All of the drinks were paired with food. Damien was very good at the wine tasting (who knew Russia had some very good wines) and Julia and Damien were amazing at the vodka tasting - teaching us the proper Russian way to drink. I was somewhat saddened by the excursions in that they were not all included as was the case when I went on the Danube cruise. I particularly dislike big cruise lines and their propensity to nickel and dime their customers to death and found the extra charges for various excursions to be a sign of Viking going in that direction which is too bad. Overall the excursions though were excellent but Viking needs to take into consideration their passengers level of fitness. They appeared to do this on the Danube cruise but it was not done on the Russia cruise. Multiple times my husband and I were in groups wherein one or more people had a very hard time keeping up. Three times my husband and I either stayed back trying to help an individual catch up or help them carry things (portable chair etc) and missed part of the tours. I understand that the tour guide wants to go fast but to leave behind people is not really acceptable. Only a couple excursions had a gentle group. A few of the people we helped had stated that if they knew there were cobblestones they would have avoided the tour - maybe this should be added to the descriptors. Below I will describe the excursions: Moscow - the traffic, as is stated in multiple posts, is a disaster. Get ready to spend a lot of time trapped on a bus although Viking does use government buses which get a special lane - so they have tried to alleviate it but if your fitness level allows it - try to do the walking tours. Perhaps Viking can make smaller groups and utilize the amazing metro system to move people in and out of Red Square on the other tours. We went on the walking tour of Moscow- it was amazing - the metro is not to be missed - GUM is amazing as is Red Square. it is a great tour. One late afternoon, early evening Viking took us to a surprise folk show - we so enjoyed it- way to go Viking. We also did the Moscow by Night shore excursion (extra cost) - it was breath taking and very good. You do visit Red Square (yes once again) so there is some walking and with a tight time line - this is one where we had to help someone who was having a very hard time keeping up - I would highly recommend it. We also did Sergiev Posad (Monestary) at an extra cost - although relatively close to Moscow we had to go by bus - it took over 3 hours to get there (should have taken about 40 minutes). It was so crowded it was insane and we hardly had any time there - it was pouring rain so everyone was crowding into the buildings - it may have been better if it was a sunny day as more people may have been outside. Our tour guide had to go to battle for us when some other tour groups tried to squish in front of us. it was quite the showdown. We then went to eat from the same kitchen as the Monks. It was fish soup followed by fish stew (we all swore that they just poured out some of the broth and gave us a new bowl - it was pretty funny). We then went to a lookout and had some free time to explore. It was fun - don't buy souvenirs in the tunnel - they just buy them from the souvenir shops above - you will get better prices above. I would re-think this excursion. Word to the wise - use the bathrooms near the restaurant as the ones just outside the gates of the Monestary are squat toilets (I lost my earpiece in the hole!). I really wanted to see the Armoury but it was an additional cost at the same time as an included shore excursion. I wish this outing was available on our free day wherein I did Sergiev Posad. Uglich - Loved it - the home hosted visit was a big hit with us - we thought it was great. Purchased a hand painted box from the Church - it is so beautiful and a beautiful wool and silk shawl for my daughter. Yaroslav - take the walking tour if you are up to it. It is a beautiful walk and it is so pretty. You will not see the inside of the governor's house but you do visit the grounds and it didn't look like you were missing much but not visiting the interior. There is free time at the food market. There is an ATM close by that is in English. At the food market is Red October chocolate that we purchased to take home - good prices. Kirillo Monastery - This was interesting but was too taxing for some people it was one where my husband stayed back with someone while I continued with the tour and then I had to run back and find them and get them to rejoin - the ship's tour guide came upon me waiting for my husband and waited with me. Beautiful icons are for sale in the Monestary itself at this location. There are some cute handmade crafts outside the Monestary where the buses are - many people purchased items from here. Kizhi Island - I was really looking forward to this one and it was interesting but it was really rushed - a couple more hours on the island would have been really appreciated. Some of the people from the boat purchased furs from this location - I think I would be axe murdered if I wore one in Toronto! Mandrology - the boat docks right at this place and you can go out into the area - its like our pioneer villages but more liberty taken on the history aspect - artisans all over doing their crafts in beautiful re-created buildings. Its actually a big resort. Although we did not go to the vodka museum (it was extra) we heard that it was fun. We did however buy some of the glass from the glassblower and some christmas decorations from the birch bark maker. This stop was a lot of fun but I could see it becoming really busy in the summer months. St. Petersburg The Hermitage - absolutely beautiful with an amazing collection of art. It was here that I purchased an amber necklace (with certificates for the amber and the designer - one of the individuals who worked on the amber room). It was really, really busy with crazy crowds. My husband and I opted not to go back to the boat for dinner but to stay and then meet the group at the ballet. We had such a good time. Julia (an amazing program director) showed us a restaurant on the map Katyuska (or something like that) - the food was out of this world. We then decided to walk to the Summer gardens and they were having a classical car show (for Russian cars) - it was great and then we found the classical bus show! it was too funny. We meet everyone at the Pushkin Theatre for the ballet and went home with them. The Ballet was good - although not being a real fan of the ballet I am sure I missed some of the story! Petersburg up close - wow talk about walk! My husband and I loved it but we are walkers. By the end of the 7 miles - yes 7 miles - some people were done. Although it was long it was really really good and gave a good overview of St. Petersburg. Catherine Palace - take your breath away - amazing. Peterhof Palace & Park - Extra cost - this was one of two peterhof exercusions - the other one was behind the scenes and was significantly more expensive - this one was excellent and fully informative - I am really happy I chose this one as it gave me time to do St. Petersburg by Water. St. Peterburg by the Water - Extra cost - I read about this one and someone said don't do it but it was after I booked. I did not have their experience. It was a great tour but the tour guide did mention that it was dependent on the river levels - so maybe the other person had bad levels. Anyway it was really good and my husband and I really enjoyed ourselves. Most of our excursions were done by our shipboard tour guides and we mainly had Misha -- who was very professional and very nice. We did have a retired Viking tour person in St. Petersburg who was excellent although there were some very rude Viking customers who were fairly insulting to her. It was shameful and I was ashamed of their behaviour but it was the end of the cruise and I think some people just wanted to go home. All and all I would recommend Viking - Waterways of the Tsars but I am unsure if I will continue with Viking or try to find a river cruise company more for people our age. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
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
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
This cruise enabled us to spend 3 days in Moscow and 3 in St. Petersburg and visit several remote locales otherwise difficult to get to. Crew were attentive and helpful. Menu selections were somewhat limited, but food quality was good. ... Read More
This cruise enabled us to spend 3 days in Moscow and 3 in St. Petersburg and visit several remote locales otherwise difficult to get to. Crew were attentive and helpful. Menu selections were somewhat limited, but food quality was good. Cabin was small, but comfortable enough for our short stay. We were happy we made this trip, but unlike several cruises we've done, we will not repeat it. The deck plan shows a 360 degree promenade deck, but it was a working deck and not available to passengers.The cruise would have been better had we had an extra day in both Moscow and St. Petersburg (although we had been to both once before). Apparently Viking counts to and from travel days in the cruise total , even though our arrival was after 9 pm and departure 3 a.m. One surprising thing was that even though all passengers were English speakers, the captain apparently was not. I know this was Russia, but it still seemed odd. It was educational and interesting. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We have sailed with Viking River Cruises four times previously and every trip has been excellent. Their service, food, educational experiences, personnel, ships, etc. are all first class. We have never had a complaint with them. This ... Read More
We have sailed with Viking River Cruises four times previously and every trip has been excellent. Their service, food, educational experiences, personnel, ships, etc. are all first class. We have never had a complaint with them. This cruise went from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The Moscow excursions were very good. Visiting Red Square, St. Basil's, and Lenin's Tomb are all remarkable. The river tour of Moscow at night was beautiful. St. Petersburg was our favorite part of the trip. It is a gorgeous, historic city built on (if I recall correctly) 42 islands. The river trip along the Neva River and the canals was memorable. The Hermitage, Catherine's Palace, so much to see. The week of sailing on rivers and canals between the two cities was not quite the same, but no fault of Viking. The tourist infrastructure in the rural areas between the two major cities is simply not well developed. On previous Viking cruises, we had sailed on the Rhine and the Seine from one charming town to the next. Each one was a new adventure. In several of the Russian towns on this cruise, the only thing to see in the town was their Russian Orthodox church. After five or six of these, after viewing hundreds of icons, even the guides were joking that we were probably "churched out." Some of the stops, however, were interesting. The wooden church, farmhouse, and other buildings in Kizhi were beautiful. Mandgrogy was a fun place to do a lot of easy souvenir and gift shopping. It took a while for us to recognize that sailing through Russia is not the same as cruising in France or Germany. Only 27 years after the end of the Soviet Union, this is what life in Russia looks like. For those of us who grew up during the cold war, it was fascinating to see our old "enemy" up close: the Soviet era apartment buildings, the hammer and sickle and statues of Lenin still on display. A highlight was our visit with a retired Russian couple. They told us, through their translator daughter, about the very difficult transition from the rigid society of the Soviet days to their new life in a market economy. We came to appreciate why so many Russians long for the good old days when they were assured of a job and a place to live. The Russian guides on board were excellent. They did lectures on the Czars; Russian food, art and language; the Soviet years; and modern Russian politics. Their English was excellent and they were always available to answer our questions. The Russian Cossack show was lively and well done, except that it was poorly lit. In summary, this is a fascinating look at modern and historic Russia, just don't expect it all to be as charming and picture-book perfect as Western Europe. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Our lovely fourth Viking voyage was on the Truvor, which sailed July 5, 2016 from Moscow to St. Petersburg. We also did the pre-extension in Moscow and the post-extension in St. Petersburg. We love Viking. This fall we are heading to ... Read More
Our lovely fourth Viking voyage was on the Truvor, which sailed July 5, 2016 from Moscow to St. Petersburg. We also did the pre-extension in Moscow and the post-extension in St. Petersburg. We love Viking. This fall we are heading to Portugal with them, and we are starting to think about which trips of theirs to pick for 2017 and beyond. We are in 60s, which was a typical age for our fellow travelers. We had friends who went a month earlier on the same trip when it was still cold in Russia. July is the perfect month. Except for some sporadic heavy rain, the Russian weather was ideal with highs mainly in the 70s. We had a wonderful time, but there were some things that we wished had been better. I'll break this review into Pros, Cons, and Mixed. PRO One of my hobbies is photography, so one of the most important trip enjoyment metrics is my count of outstanding photo ops. Russia is a cornucopia of colorful images from the many onion-domed churches to the elaborate Moscow subway stations to the people in costumes at the festivals we lucked into seeing. I was like a kid in a candy shop. I got some amazing pictures. Of these, two of my favorites are a glassy blue river picture captured in the early pre-sunrise at 2:25am from our veranda (in early July, it's the time called the "white nights" since it starts lighting up way before the sun rises) and another was a great sunset picture. But my absolute favorite was a picture I took of a young girl in costume at a festival on the island of Kizhi. The best day we had on the trip was our full day in Moscow during our pre-extension. We had a guided tour of about eight or so subway stations, each with unique features (stained glass in one, heroic statues in the second, mosaics in the third, etc.). During our visit to St. Basil's in Red Square, we came upon a men's a Capella singing group in a small alcove. Their deep voices reverberated around the room and gave me goose bumps since their singing was so moving. (We got to hear several more such groups during our trip.) Our Moscow pre-extension hotel was a palatial palace known as the Radisson Royal (which used to be called the Hotel Ukraine). Our room had a great view of the river, which is all lit up at night. But the best part of the hotel was the Italian restaurant on the top. The food was fantastic, and the views in and from the restaurant were gorgeous. All of the lunches and dinners we had on the trip -- on the boat and on the shore -- were great. Usually we find the Viking dinners hit and miss, but our chef on the ship never missed a beat. Almost every course was extremely good. Between lunch and dinner, I liked the lunches a little bit more because of the custom made pastas I got prepared each day by Alexander at the pasta station. Still, our favorite meal of all was the dinner atop the Radisson Royal. The service we got on the boat was absolutely perfect. The waiters and waitresses quickly learned our names and exactly what we liked, in our case -- two diet cokes, refilled frequently and promptly. Half of the wait staff were Filipino and half were Russian. They were all excellent. Our favorite was Elaine, who called me Sir Steve and my wife Ma'am Sally. Personable and hardworking, she could not have been a better waitress. We tipped according and individually to those who really deserved it in addition to the overall recommended gratuity. We really enjoyed the new friends we met, especially Carol and her grown daughter Erica, as well one couple we already knew, Frank and Kay, a couple from our Viking China trip who joined us on this Russia cruise. The musical group we all went to one night in Moscow (balalaikas, singing, humor, etc.) was great. What fun and what lovely music! Our home hosted visit in Uglich was good, as was the fascinating, albeit a bit too long, visit in St. Petersburg to a Kommunalka, a Soviet-era communal style of living that still exists today in ten percent of St. Petersburg. Four to six apartments share a single toilet and a single sink. Yikes! Kizhi Island with its amazing wooden churches and buildings was certainly a trip highlight. Our tour just happened to be at the right place at the right time. On Kizhi and in Uglich, we were there when once-a-year festivals were in progress. The locals were dressed up in traditional Russian garb and were happy to have their pictures taken. There was lots of energetic singing, dancing and performing going on too. My only regret was that we didn't have an extra hour or two in both places to see more of the festivals. Our Veranda B class room was comfortable and well laid out. Rarely felt did we feel we needed more space. Although we used the veranda to stand on to enjoy the views, we never sat outside on it for very long. And, unlike some river "cruises" where you cruise mainly while you sleep, this one did a lot of cruising during the day. But I don't want to oversell this part. It's not the Rhine with stunning mountains. The Volga and lakes are all surrounded by flat land with lots of trees. Still we found the scenery very peaceful and relaxing. Overall, I think I liked Moscow best, but Kizhi was really lovely as were Yaroslavl, Uglich and St. Petersburg. CON My wife has mobility issues. Russia is easily the least handicap friendly country we've ever been to. In some places there were no lifts; in others, like the Faberge museum, you were actually supposed to book the lift a day in advance; and, in some places, like the Impressionist wing of The Hermitage, you have to climb up 30 stairs with no handrail to get to the second floor, since the lifts started at the second floor, which makes no sense whatsoever. The staff and guides were not helpful in letting us know what to expect on the outings. While the bedrooms on the Russian ships are similar to the longships, the public areas have several problems. On the longships, it is easy to meet people because the lounge is large, centrally located, and has lots of comfortable seating areas. On the Russian ship the lounge is too small for talks and daily briefings, so they have reconfigured it into rows of chairs auditorium style in order to pack more people in. This makes it an uninviting and uncomfortable place to hang out. The net result of this is that it makes meeting new people less likely, which is the single best part of Viking cruises. The layout of the restaurant has problems too. Rather than the large, open and airy space of the longships with lots of large tables, the dining room on the Russian ships is broken into three continuous parts because of a room in the middle used by the kitchen staff. The first part is dark and depressing with small windows only on two sides, the second part is the corridor on each side of kitchen room, and the third and only good part is the back which has windows on three sides. The tables, even those for six, are much smaller than normal. If four of you sit at a table for four, you will feel really crowded. There are also many tables for two and four, which discourages people meeting other people. In China, the tables were all round ones for eight. We met many lovely people because of this arrangement. The Hermitage and Tretyakov art museums suffered the fatal flaws of such awful lighting designs that you could see almost none of the paintings because of the horrible glare and the Russian proclivity to put most of the paintings under glass. (The Pushkin Museum was a delightful exception to the lighting problem above, but it had a total lack of lifts, so my wife wasn't able to tour it.) The lack of toilet availability was a needless problem. All of the buses -- which you spend way too much time on, especially in Moscow -- have restrooms, but they keep them locked, which makes no sense whatsoever! You must make a special request to get them temporarily unlocked, but, when I asked, I was told they would unlock it for me but then they didn't. Another time we weren't allowed to use the restroom outside the Kremlin because the bus was coming right away, which it wasn't, as it turned out, as we waited and waited. On our other Viking trips, the toilets on the bus were always unlocked -- why the heck wouldn't they be? -- and the guides went out of their way to make sure we always had restrooms when we needed them. The Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery monetary had a few good views, but mainly it was just a long visit to a boring museum of icons under glass. The day at the touristy Mandrogy was a waste other than a short carriage ride, which was fun. Our Tour director was energetic and easy to understand, but she wasn't very warm and certainly didn't know how to entertain, which is one of the most important parts of her job. While lunches and dinners were uniformly very tasty, every single breakfast on and off the boat was disappointing. Mediocre food with no good bread (or cheese) choices. Eggs usually weren't worth eating. And so on for the rest of the breakfast choices. MIXED While we had one extremely fun game on ship ("Liar" -- where three people explain the meaning of an obscure word but two are lying), there should have been one or two more such games. On our other Viking trips, they have had more than one, and they have turned out to be tremendously fun for all the participants. The staff dressed up somewhat one night in traditional Russian outfits, but only a few really dressed up much. Most had fairly small changes in their outfits. On other Viking cruises, they put a lot more effort into this, making for a colorful and fun time. The school visit was sort of interesting but felt pretty contrived since school wasn't in session and since we weren't given much time to ask our one 10th grader many questions. OVERALL Had a great time, have wonderful memories and got some fantastic photos. I would definitely recommend the trip. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This was our fifth cruise with Viking. We love them and, as usual, they did a great job. The trip began with several days in Moscow at the beginning and several in St. Petersburg at the end. In between, we sailed on rivers and canals ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise with Viking. We love them and, as usual, they did a great job. The trip began with several days in Moscow at the beginning and several in St. Petersburg at the end. In between, we sailed on rivers and canals through rural Russia. Moscow was neat. Seeing places like the Kremlin, St. Basil's, and Lenin's tomb was memorable. The night cruise on the Moscow River with the city all illuminated was a highlight. St. Petersburg is spectacular. It is dominated by the wide Neva River with palaces and government buildings on both sides. Catherine's Palace outside the city is a mini-Versailles and it is incredible to believe it was built twice: The original was destroyed in WWII and completely rebuilt. In between these two cities the sights were, generally, not as interesting. It took a while for us to accommodate to the fact that tourist infrastructure in Russia is simply not nearly as developed as in Western Europe. Whereas in France we sailed from one charming village to another, in Russia we stopped at ports which showed us what they had. And, in many cases that was another Russian Orthodox church. While many of these were really beautiful, after a while we were tired of learning the differences between 16th and 17th century Russian icons. But, it is what it is. This country is still emerging from decades of Soviet rule. Still, in the rural portion of the trip, there were some fascinating things to see, including the island of Kizhi (I recommend readers Google it.) Good souvenir shopping in Mandrogy. We, also, visited a Russian family and, through their translator daughter, heard first hand about life in the USSR and the difficult transition after 1989. They showed great resilience and have done fine. The Viking guides were great and we learned much about Russian history, cuisine, dance, etc., etc. They did extended lectures on the Soviet period, the fall of the USSR, and the last 25 years, including the current regime of Putin. I would have given this an Excellent rating if not for the middle portion of the trip which was not what we have enjoyed on other Viking cruises. But, that is not the fault of Viking, it is simply the current state of this formerly Communist nation. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
My wife and I have sailed with Viking before (on the Danube) and so thought this would be more of the same, just with different ports. Also, our whole lives we have considered Russia to be a dark country, filled with communists and run by ... Read More
My wife and I have sailed with Viking before (on the Danube) and so thought this would be more of the same, just with different ports. Also, our whole lives we have considered Russia to be a dark country, filled with communists and run by dictators, Well, apparently we have always been wrong, it was a most welcoming country (even though we had to pay $500 for visas to get in--this is one of the sanctions that Obama has put into place to punish Russia...) Moscow was a VERY European city and not at all what we anticipated. Lots of fine and expensive cars, well dresses young people--the men and women appear to be in good physical shape, not like the fat-sos we see when we walk the sidewalks of NY. The guides knew the answers to all our questions, and they could name all the leaders starting with the Tsars of the fourteenth century and running right though Puton. Our final stop was St Petersburg and the traffic there is dreadful. Our dock was only about 15 miles from center city, but it was 1.5 hours by bus in the traffic. So on a day when we had a long tour, then back to the ship for a snack, and back on the bus to go to the ballet--that day was 6 hours in a bus. If we had known, we'd have stayed in town and had dinner at a local restaurant before the ballet. We were told that the dock we stayed at was as close as we could get due to the bridges being closed during the day--but really, the capt could have navigated through the bridges when they were open (from 2 AM until 6 AM), and then--like the ocean cruise ships, we'd have been in the downtown, and no need for all the busses. Who makes these plans? Well if it is the Cruise Director, I would say she was not at the top of her game (or if she was, she needs a new assignment). If someone else--they should be told. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
The Russian River Cruise was on sale and was a good value so we booked the cruise. The only thing we were truly upset about was giving a $500.00 tip that was recommended and finding out from some of the wait staff that they have never ... Read More
The Russian River Cruise was on sale and was a good value so we booked the cruise. The only thing we were truly upset about was giving a $500.00 tip that was recommended and finding out from some of the wait staff that they have never gotten a share of the tips that are given to Viking for them. Our personal wait staff weren't the ones who told us that but I asked and was told by four other servers. We would have given our tips directly to the people who helped make our trip more pleasant rather than having Viking decide who received it. That seemed less than honest to us since we were told it would be split among the people who served us. Those monies may have gone to Viking instead of the people who should have received tips. We will allocate tips to whomever we choose and as we see fit from this point on... A few of the tours were extremely rushed and there was too little free time to personally check things out on excursions. Read Less
Sail Date May 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
This was our 3rd Viking cruise and proved to be even better than we expected. The vessel was not quite up to the "Longships" standards, but was quite good. There is only so much you can do with old KGB boats and Viking has done ... Read More
This was our 3rd Viking cruise and proved to be even better than we expected. The vessel was not quite up to the "Longships" standards, but was quite good. There is only so much you can do with old KGB boats and Viking has done everything possible. The staff and service were both excellent; the dining experience quite good. Rommel Jamaquio, our waiter was extraordinary! The enrichment programs and shore excursions were excellent, using well qualified local guides, as has always been our experience with Viking. The Cossack dance program was incredible. The on-board entertainment was probably OK, but we were too busy to notice. The schedule was much busier than on our previous Viking cruises, simply because there is so much to see. Even the short visits to the smaller towns were well planned and very pleasant. We tried to do "everything" and would do everything again if we had the chance. As always, Viking was attentive to every detail. Wilhelm Steinbrunner, the Hotel Manager, could not have been more helpful. All in all, great cruise that gives one a very different view of Russia! Read Less
Sail Date July 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
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
Just Returned We just returned Sunday from the Moscow to St. P on the Surkov and it was a most pleasant, relaxing and enjoyable trip. You do get your fill of churches though, it got to be a bit of a joke...."oh boy more icons." ... Read More
Just Returned We just returned Sunday from the Moscow to St. P on the Surkov and it was a most pleasant, relaxing and enjoyable trip. You do get your fill of churches though, it got to be a bit of a joke...."oh boy more icons." I thought perhaps we could have done with a few less Churches and some more time in Museums. Only spending 3 hours in the Hermitage is ridiculous.....you can't even begin to get a taste of it....more like a lick! I would like to see them offer a full day there and skip the city tour half of the day because you see the city when you are doing other tours like the Peter Paul Fortress or the Canal Tours. - We were in cabin 402 (very near the back of the Upper Deck) It was a very quiet room because the hall is a dead end. We could at times very clearly hear the women in the next cabin talking but fortunately that usually didn't last long as they must have been as tired as we most nights. The cabin looks very nice, window opens and had an unobstructed view. Beds were very comfy, cabin was always clean and no strange smells from anywhere. My only complaint on the cabin is that they need to some how in-corporate another chair. There was only the one straight back at the desk and it would be nice for the other person to be able to sit comfortably (I was usually hogging the desk chair using my lap top.) Other only major complaint was the slow, slow, slow internet connection but when we got to St. Petersburg they worked on it for several days so maybe it will be better. At least it's free and having your own lap top is a good idea as it's hard to get on the ship's two free lap tops. If you are taking this cruise for gourmet food you might be disappointed. That is not to say that the food wasn't adequate and plentiful. The breakfast and lunches are quite good and the dinners were a bit more hit and miss, some strange offerings but nicely presented. My husband opted for the steak about half the nights because he's not a very adventuresome eater and the steaks were well cooked smallish but tasty, always served with a baked potato which I thought they could have varied. I had the steak only one night and one night I choose the chicken breast (both the steak, chicken breast and Caesar Salad are always available.) I tried the other options the rest of the time. Only the Lake Perch was inedible.....the rest were just sort of mediocre but with the salads, soups and desserts you never go away hungry....just not fantastic food. The steak was quite nice the chicken pretty dry and chewy so probably best to not opt for that. I do wish they would be a bit more inventive in the dessert area. The service by the Filipino waiters was fabulous. We usually opted for a table for 2 and were served by Leith and Jun and they were so very very attentive, pleasant and made dining, even with not always such great food fun. Breakfast was probably the best meal of the day, the buffet had lots of wonderful options and you could order omelette's, Eggs Benedict, French Toast, pancakes and hash-browns served to your table. There was always Russian Champagne on the buffet and several options for juice.....it was a great breakfast. Lunch was always green salad with many choices for toppings, several cold salads and sandwiches and two or three hot dishes plus soup and dessert (two options one always being ice cream) was served at the table. The 24 hour coffee and tea bar was really nice as well and was directly below our end of the ship. They serve a light tea most afternoons in the Panorama Bar. The tours were good, we had Tatiana for our guide and she is fabulous. So look for her, pretty blonde lady in her 50's. Whom ever you choose at the beginning is your guide for the whole time and whom ever is on your bus the first day is with your group for the entire time as well.....your new family for the next 13 days. The boat itself is very nicely laid out, good viewing areas on the top deck and in the Panorama Bar on the front of the Upper Deck. It would be nice if there was more comfortable seating somewhere on the boat but I guess you can't have recliners on a vacation ;-) I should add that the dress on the ship was very informal and I probably wouldn't pack a lot of dressy clothes. Men mostly wore jeans, khakis and polo shirts and the woman wore more slacks and jeans than anything else. There were lots of men and woman in jeans at dinner and even some in sweat pants (which I thought was a bit too much) but what ever. I didn't wear about 1/2 of the dressier outfits I brought, because I would have felt over the top except for the Captains dinner and one other night and I really don't bring that fancy of things as dressing up for my husband is nice pants and a sweater he is not a suit guy so if he was comfortable you know it was informal. I think Viking does a good job of making your time as pleasant as possible and I don't have any big earthshaking complaints.....it was an overall success. We were not as taken with Russia as we have been with Asia and New Zealand but it was good to check it off the bucket list. Pictures from the cruise (including room & photo's of food) at http://www.flickr.com/photos/quiltsa...7622305559005/ First stop on the river was Uglich and it was very interesting as well. Toured the Cathedral where Ivan the Terrible's son was murdered. Walked to it from the boat (easy walk through a very good street market.) Unfortunately the guide had told us that their would be better shopping on the last stop of the river cruise portion and wait to buy our souvenirs there.....that turned out to be bad advise unless you were looking for very high quality hand crafted things as every thing at the last stop fell into that category. If you are looking for trinkets for the grandkids or small things for friends...stick to the street markets the prices are much better than the craft shops. The first port was Moscow......what a mess that city is. Absolutely horrendous traffic. Two hours from the airport to the boat dock, and a good hour and a half to two hours into town from the dock (about a 20 min drive in normal traffic I would think.) So for a day trip to town a good 3 to 4 hours or more was in snarled up traffic.....and then if you signed up for a night excursion add another couple of hours. I really think that Viking should feed people at a restaurant in the city on days that their are all day tours and then night events. We skipped the folk music concert because we couldn't face getting in the bus again for yet another drive into the city. We had the opportunity to use the bank ATM in Moscow to get Rubles. We were charged $105 for 3000 Rubles (this turned out to be a much better deal than the next ATM in a smaller city were we were charge $136 for the same 3000 Rubles so plan ahead and get your rubles in Moscow.) We did do the Moscow by night but it was really beautiful seeing Red Square after dark (even though it poured rain, luckily it was only one of two rainy episodes on the whole trip.) We enjoyed the tour of the Armory and the Kremlin and took the optional 1/2 day tour of the New Maiden Nunnery and Cemetery on the day of the Moscow by Night tour. The New Maiden Nunnery was really lovely and the cemetery where Kruschev and Gorbachev's wife were buried was fascinating as well. Yaroslavl was the next port and it had some gorgeous churches and cathedral's as well (go figure) and we were bused into the center of town and did a walking tour from their. After touring the churches we were given about an hour and a half to shop. Very interesting local fruit and food stuffs market that I really enjoyed taking pictures of but we were warned to not eat anything (they offered dried fruit and nuts at the stalls.) The guide said it might be our last place to get Rubles till St. Petersburg so we found an ATM machine and got really taken because of course unless you read Russian you have no idea what it says about exchange rates or fees for using the machine and our guide was off doing her own thing, not where we could ask her to translate. Goritsy was the next stop where we were bused to Kirrilov where we visited the Monastery of St. Cyril. It is known for it's remarkable collection of icons but frankly we were iconed out so we spent the time strolling the grounds which were really beautiful and enjoying the flowers and the local parishioners who were coming out from church services. I wished we had more time to just soak up the ambiance of the little towns and less time being lectured to about the icons and their significance (but that's just me....not very interested in religion.) Then it was on to Kishi Island on Lake Onega. It is the famed open-air Museum of Russian Architecture. The beautiful Church of the Transfiguration an ornate structure of wooden ribbons and 22 domes in 3 tiers built entirely with out nails. It was really cool and the examples of local life from the early 10th century that were being acted out were fascinating as well. Great stop. We also had one more stop on the river the next day and that was Mandrogi which was suppose to be the big place for buying souvenirs but for the most part we all felt it was very expensive although their were some lovely things. Unfortunately it was pouring rain at this stop and not much fun to tromp around and look at the buildings....it is sort of a Russian Epcot Center for life in the olden days. There was a pavilion with berry pies that were quite tasty. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Having cruised with Viking before, we expected the best for our Russian experience, and we were not disappointed, with one notable exception. The Akun is smaller than the Viking Long-ship that we had sailed on before, but accommodations ... Read More
Having cruised with Viking before, we expected the best for our Russian experience, and we were not disappointed, with one notable exception. The Akun is smaller than the Viking Long-ship that we had sailed on before, but accommodations were excellent. The food was well above average when compared to other river and ocean cruises. Our chef stated at the start of the cruise that his objective was to make every passenger gain 5 pounds, and in my case, he succeeded! Dining room servers are in a class of their own. We especially appreciated Alamar, Natalie and Vitalii in the main dining room, as well as Alysa and Jefferina in the Skybar. Housekeeping was absolutely outstanding, and other shipboard personnel were consistently friendly and helpful. Personnel at the desk were also outstanding and eager to help. Local excursion tour guides were generally excellent, with only one exception. That brings me to the one significant problem (for me) on this cruise. There were three Viking tour guides. Two of them were excellent, but my experience with one of them gives me cause to question whether or not I want to cruise with Viking again. Mr. Vadim was our Viking guide for our tour of a Kommunalka communal home. This was an optional excursion that we paid extra for. We were keenly interested in this tour, because promised to offer a glimpse into life during the Soviet era. Seated around a long table in the owner's tiny main living room, Mr. Vadim opened the floor to questions for our host, with Mr. Vadim as the translator. People asked questions for 20 minutes or so without incident. One asked about ghosts in Russia, a question that was dealt with in all seriousness. I had been quiet throughout the session, but I eventually asked a question about income taxes in Russia. When I did so, Vadim threw his hands up in the air, laughed, and loudly stated that he had never heard such a question toward the end of a cruise. Other passengers laughed. He went on to say that he was going back to the ship to tell the other guides that they had failed miserably in their efforts to educate the passengers. He went on and on making fun of my "stupid" question, with other passengers laughing uproariously. So, ghost questions are fine, but tax questions are ridiculed at length. I did not pay $15,000 to be humiliated in front of my wife and other passengers. If you take this tour, I suggest that you avoid any excursions lead by Mr. Vadim, but if you end up on one, keep quiet, and don't ask any questions. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
A fascinating trip taken in mid September and we also enjoyed the pre and post stays in Moscow and Helsinki. Julia the Viking tour manager was a delight and the team of tour guides were very engaging and interesting too. The on-board ... Read More
A fascinating trip taken in mid September and we also enjoyed the pre and post stays in Moscow and Helsinki. Julia the Viking tour manager was a delight and the team of tour guides were very engaging and interesting too. The on-board lectures were well delivered and full of detail. The Russian lessons were fab! We enjoyed the ports of call which were explained in detail on board beforehand and well organised. Traffic was an issue in Moscow. We enjoyed the company of the other guests with whom we shared our travel experiences as they were all English speaking and of a broadly similar age to us. The free dining and quality of meals were excellent. The cabin was of a good size, well appointed and beautifully clean. However, the issue for us was the speed with which a viral illness fell amongst us all. It began when a couple boarded with what was probably flu and this spread through the passengers like wildfire. My partner succumbed on the fourth day but worse than that, by the end of the trip almost every cabin had someone with it - the coughs resounded wherever we all went. We tried on more than one occasion to have in-cabin dining as eating with others when obviously so ill is a 'no no' to all concerned. However this was not possible despite numerous requests to the passenger services manager whose name I have forgotten. Nor was dining later than the majority of others as the kitchens closed. There was nowhere we could eat in relative isolation from everyone else apart from upstairs in the bar area for continental breakfast or a light lunch but no dinner provision. This caused us a lot of distress and embarrassment plus obviously enabled the virus to spread. Sadly the illness which meant many missed excursions and emotional discomfort which greatly detracted from the overall enjoyment. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We wanted to see the inland area of Russia as well as the bigs of Moscow and St P. To that goal- Mission accomplished. You should already know what you are getting when you book a river boat cruise, so if you miss the gym, casino and ... Read More
We wanted to see the inland area of Russia as well as the bigs of Moscow and St P. To that goal- Mission accomplished. You should already know what you are getting when you book a river boat cruise, so if you miss the gym, casino and choice of clubs shame on you. But the whole level of service is just a notch or two below what was expected also. After 12 days I still could not tell you my cabin stewards name although the cabin was cleaned to a satisfactory level. We had a lower level double cabin and except for the toe stubbing pole that ran up the middle of the room it was large enough for the two of us and all our luggage. Bathroom was small, shower was smaller but I am a person of size and again it was to be expected. Hot water never ran out. We were near the main desk and had excellent wi-fi connection most of the trip. A few folks further away from central complained about connection and the connection process was a bit challenging; but once connected I was thrilled that I never had to go to my back-up air card connection. Food is another story. Good points. Chef was a joy to have on the ship for his personality, always around and involved in ships happenings. We found several waiters who were spot on among the very best and we camped at their tables the rest of the cruise. No assigned seating although it did work out that way. We also had a couple of the worst waiters ever in our search for the right table. One while taking dessert orders was ask for coffee and replied "I can't handle that now." and when ask by guest for fresh fruit delivered a banana peeled and cut into slices. Only visit to his table. Certain spots in the dining room were very cool and the only possible adjustment was to close the air vents. Food itself was IMO poor. I knew I was going to be getting Russian fair and was ready for some new taste but very few meals had any entree that received rave reviews from anyone at the table. Exception soups in general and Chicken Cordon Blue which they ran out of. We had an American Hamburger one evening and it was so bad (Meat mixture) that I left it 75% uneaten. Even the server said "Next city has a Burger King - No problem." A few works on the tours. Love bus rides, this is the cruise for you. Love tour guides who are passionate about their country and/or cathedral, this is the cruise for you. Love tour guides who want to hear themselves talk for 3 hrs and 45 min of a 4 hour tour, this is the cruise for you. Most of the included tours were well done and gave you a full flavor of the Russian area we were in. The added (For Cost) tours had some duplication and made for extended days if you did not pass on the included tours to cut back. Tours did start on time but returns tended to be a bit late coming back unless there were more tours to follow. Some of this delay must be attributed to the Moscow traffic which is certainly not the fault of Viking. Unmentioned Viking policy - The ship will gladly arrange a taxi for you in Moscow. That taxi will take you wherever you want to go in the city for $40. There are no other taxis allowed in the port, you have a 10 min walk uphill to get out of the port. Taxi across town for 4 of us to a site not on Viking tour (60 min) was $40 shared fare. Subway most of the way back, $5 total. If we had called the ship for a taxi from the subway, Yup another $40. We negotiated one on our own for $10 with the tip. Did we get the tour we expected? Yes. Do we feel that we got our moneys worth? No Will we take Viking again? Very unlikely Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Arrived in Moscow to be picked up by Viking. Headed out to the boat to eat and sleep. Moscow is a traffic nightmare. The activities were great once you got there. We saw the changing of the guard in Red Square and sampled caviar in GUM ... Read More
Arrived in Moscow to be picked up by Viking. Headed out to the boat to eat and sleep. Moscow is a traffic nightmare. The activities were great once you got there. We saw the changing of the guard in Red Square and sampled caviar in GUM Department Store, the Kremlin, and walking tour. Those were the highlights of Moscow. Cruising down the river, we had plenty to do with touring and classes in Russian and their history. Highlights were Kizhi Island (wooden church) and Mandrogy (vodka tasting and the best shopping on the cruise). Next, we went to St. Petersburg. Pay extra and do the behind the scenes Hermtage. Trust me, it is pricey but so amazing. Also we loved Catherine the Great's Palace (bought some beautiful Champaigne glasses there with her seal, The Fortress, Peterhof, and the Church of the Spilled Blood. The train to Helsinki was only $42, so we added 4 days there, not through Viking, but on our own. The cruise itself was nice, but not the best we have been on. The maid refused to change our sheets as we had moved our bed apart, and she would not do it. The bed was a small queen. My husband and I are king bed people. She did not speak English, and I finally had to go to the head of housekeeping. The food was OK-good, the wine not so great, but the beer was better. My husband got the drink package, and the premier wines were fine. The guides were fun, and the night of the vodka tasting, we were laughing so hard we were crying. I would really give this a 3 1/2 star review, but that was not a choice. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
My Husbands wish was to go to Russia. He loved every minute of the cruise, I was not as thrilled. Service was wonderful, our room was fine and the balcony was excellent. The food was very good. The amenities on the ship were fine. ... Read More
My Husbands wish was to go to Russia. He loved every minute of the cruise, I was not as thrilled. Service was wonderful, our room was fine and the balcony was excellent. The food was very good. The amenities on the ship were fine. The last two days on the ship we were in St. Petersburg, and the disappointing aspect was that I could no longer enjoy the views from my balcony because a ship had docked next to us! This was for TWO days!!!!!! Very disappointing. Tours were fine, people were fantastic. Our trip was not discounted in any way (check what we paid), but the flights over and back were horrible. My husband and I travel often to Europe and the Islands, and would never take another cruise if I could not upgrade my air travel. It was deplorable. We always travel Business Class on vacation, and were told it was not an OPTION!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
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