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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Read biographies of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great and became very interested in Tsars and the history of Russia. Had no idea what to expect from the cruise, since it was our first. It far exceeded anything we had hoped for. ... Read More
Read biographies of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great and became very interested in Tsars and the history of Russia. Had no idea what to expect from the cruise, since it was our first. It far exceeded anything we had hoped for. Wonderful staff. Very friendly and well trained. Service was excellent. Delicious food. Many choices and staff were very helpful in explaining what all the dishes were. Excellent shore tours. Far more options than you can fit in. Days were filled with interesting and educational experiences. Plus a number of evening experiences such as ballet in Catherine's theater, traditional Russian instrument concert, male choruses, etc. Viking was exceedingly well organized, from meeting our flight into Moscow, to getting people on and off the boat and onto the correct buses for the various tours. Everything went very smoothly. I would highly recommend both Viking in general and the Waterways of the Tzars cruise. Planning on taking more Viking cruises as soon as we can get the time. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
My wife and I both thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, this vessel, and Russia. We made changes to our Viking-supplied air and had no trouble. (Another review takes great pains to spell out their horrible upgrade process but that's on ... Read More
My wife and I both thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, this vessel, and Russia. We made changes to our Viking-supplied air and had no trouble. (Another review takes great pains to spell out their horrible upgrade process but that's on Aeroflot, not Viking.) We arrived Moscow a couple days early in order to explore on our own. All went well. The cab ride to the port was without drama except for not understanding the driver when he was asking for the name of our ship. The port was LOADED with river cruise ships. I gave him the name when it seemed appropriate and he got happy. Embarkation could not have been easier or quicker: a trailer contained a scanner for our luggage and a security person gave us a look. Done. I think we booked the least expensive cabin class. It wasn't "short" in any way, just typical compared to other cabins we've had on other ships. Bed was comfortable. Electric outlets were plentiful enough. The shower was always hot. The toilet always worked. Your cabin may be more important on this kind of vessel than on ocean cruise ships as the vessel is small. This was our first river cruise. Public areas are limited and do duty for different purposes. You may hole up in your cabin more than on a larger vessel. We always found a good spot out and about. Dining was beyond excellent. Seriously. Food and service were exceptional. Simple lunches could be had in a limited buffet line including salad or sandwich or fruit. Restaurant fare was wonderful every time. On board entertainment and activities were limited as the vessel is small. There was no music review or magic show but that was just fine. Lectures by tour guides on Russian history were interesting. Language lessons by hotel manager were informative. A vodka tasting was entertaining. At ports of call, including Moscow and Saint Petersburg, there were concerts, a folk music and dance review, and a ballet. Viking's excursion descriptions are accurate. Our cabin maid was sweet, discrete, and perfect. She gave US a parting gift. Ports were good and "built-in" tour guides were nice to have all the way on the trip. Besides the obvious allure of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, we thought Kizhi was particularly special. As for our arrival, we stayed a couple days in Saint Petersburg after the cruise to continue some personal exploration. The hotel, restaurants, subway, sites, and cab ride to the airport all worked out fine. Viking and Russia gave us a trip of a lifetime. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We choose this river cruise as a 40th wedding present for ourselves, and anticipated it with excitement for months. We did not know what to expect, coming from the Midwest USA, and traveling to Russia, but it would be impossible for us to ... Read More
We choose this river cruise as a 40th wedding present for ourselves, and anticipated it with excitement for months. We did not know what to expect, coming from the Midwest USA, and traveling to Russia, but it would be impossible for us to leave the experience more pleased! Travel from Chicago to Moscow was grueling, but we expected that. What we did not expect, to this level, was the exceptional attention to detail when we arrived at Moscow airport, and for the next 13 days. EVERYTHING, (yes, everything) was designed to give the traveler every opportunity for the best experience ever. From the handling of our luggage, our boarding experience, the large and wonderfully appointed cabin, the excellent food (every meal!!!), to attentive housekeeping, and wait staff, both kitchen and the lounges, were magnificent. A sidebar about our luggage: one piece was lost by British Airlines, arriving to our room 48 hours later. The Helgi front desk pestered the airport/airlines several times each day, nagging, I think, like a grandmother whose child lost her doll, to make sure that it was found and delivered before we left Moscow. In the meantime, we received toiletries, robes and clothes, and free 3 hour laundry service. I believe that it is through adversity that the excellent prevail, and the Helgi crew did just that. Everyone had a smattering of the English language, with most speaking better than me. Absolutely no communication issues. The extra, unexpected events, like champagne in the hall to meet the captain and our new, temporary neighbors, to the daily briefings, cocktail hours was amazing. The exceptional service of Frank, the hotel/ship manager, Roland, the maître d'hôtel, Natred, our exceptional waitress whom we would have adopted in a heartbeat, to my new Siberian best friend Demetri, to Alvin, Jay, Tin, the excellent musicians, and others of whom I have forgotten their names but not their service, I tip my fedora. The vetting process of the Viking HR to find and retain such incredible staff (read: Family) must be outstanding, as they have employed the best of the best. While accommodations are important, it is the people who make the trip, and these folk certainly did this for us. We have traveled rather extensively over our many years, but this trip and experience climbs to the top of the list. Thank you, thank you!! Read Less
30 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We cruised from Moscow to St Petersburg on Viking Truvor. We had a Verandah A stateroom. Room was very nice, although quite small....which is to be expected on a river cruise. There was adequate storage for all our clothes and other ... Read More
We cruised from Moscow to St Petersburg on Viking Truvor. We had a Verandah A stateroom. Room was very nice, although quite small....which is to be expected on a river cruise. There was adequate storage for all our clothes and other belongings and the room was always spic and span clean. Service onboard was superb....from our stewardess to the waiters in the dining room to the staff in the lounge to the tour escorts to management....all were totally competent, knowledgeable, and attentive. If you're considering a Russia river cruise you need to understand that between Moscow and St Petersburg there's a lot of distance and a lot of nothing! You will be cruising for many hours and spending a short time (usually 2-3 hours) in several different ports....that's just the nature of the geography. This didn't really concern us, though, for two reasons: 1) our main goal was to see Moscow and St Petersburg; 2) the ship is comfortable and the crew was great so cruising time was very pleasant. We took several optional tours and enjoyed them all....especially enjoyed seeing the Faberge Museum and "behind the scenes" at the Hermitage in St Petersburg and the Kremlin Armory in Moscow. The folk music concert in Moscow was great. The young couple who sang and played piano in the bar were excellent. Food onboard was above average....the chef tried to cater to as many different tastes as possible...some hits, some misses, but overall very good. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We took this cruise to see Russia and meet some of the locals. Moscow and St. Peterburgs tours were more then we expected. We had plenty of time to explore the Red Square and the Kremlin tour was excellent. Our contact with the locals ... Read More
We took this cruise to see Russia and meet some of the locals. Moscow and St. Peterburgs tours were more then we expected. We had plenty of time to explore the Red Square and the Kremlin tour was excellent. Our contact with the locals was always positive and we received several helpful hints which made it easy to get around on our own. The cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg took us to very interesting small cities and towns. The sites were amazing and so is the history of Russia. The food on the trip was excellent and we had a chance every night to try a local entree. Service was very good and the Crew was very friendly. Finally, we had a chance to learn how to taste and rate Volka....great night and no hangover. We will travel with Viking again and recommend this cruise. This was our third Viking cruise and all have been great. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
we are always surprised when we travel to find the people and places so different from what we had read, or heard. The people are always gracious, the Viking tours are wonderful, tour guides very knowledgeable, and the dining staff a ... Read More
we are always surprised when we travel to find the people and places so different from what we had read, or heard. The people are always gracious, the Viking tours are wonderful, tour guides very knowledgeable, and the dining staff a delight. This was our third Viking adventure, and we are never disappointed, the lunches with the locals are what we enjoy the most. The care from the time you arrive at the airport to the time you are brought back are orchestrated and flawless, programs on the ships, extra activities we planned and executed, and the food is quite good. the excursion staff did everything to accommodate the guests, and well versed in what we saw and experienced. We rode the subway, mingled on Red Square, visited a huge indoor shopping complex, toured palaces, the Kremlin, Chinese have a proverb: "Better to see something once, than hear it 1000 times", I could not say it better! Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We had wanted to do a Viking river cruise and also Russia was definitely somewhere we wanted to see. So when the offer came through the post for a significant discount we jumped at it. We hadn't travelled with Viking before but ... Read More
We had wanted to do a Viking river cruise and also Russia was definitely somewhere we wanted to see. So when the offer came through the post for a significant discount we jumped at it. We hadn't travelled with Viking before but everything we read about them beforehand was good and that certainly proved to be the case. We can't fault the organisation of Viking - everything ran like clockwork and we were always well informed. The staff onboard were wonderful - very attentive and friendly. Nothing felt like too much trouble. The food was excellent and a very high standard. The only problem was not eating too much! You could have a cooked meal for breakfast lunch and dinner, or a continental breakfast and cold lunch if you preferred. There were always several choices and often a local option. The portions don't seem very generous at first glance but in fact with the number of courses and because you eat three times a day, it is more than enough. The times of the meals were always adjusted if necessary to accommodate the excursions. The Akun was a lovely boat. It was spotlessly clean and well maintained. We were told by the staff that it is their best boat but that might just be banter! There were two bar/lounge areas but one closed at 7 which only left one with music. It would have been nice to have a choice in the evening. The Viking tour guides were outstanding. Their knowledge seemed never ending and their English was excellent. They made sure the tours ran without any problems which is an achievement when taking into account the number of people they had to keep track of and the number of other tourists at each destination. Most of the places visited were quite overwhelming and it was thanks to the guides pointing out selected items and giving information about them that kept you engaged. Viking obviously has very good arrangements with all the tourist attractions and you often go in before its open to the public. Despite the crowds, our groups gained entrance easily with the coaches managing to park in the best spots and tickets having been bought in advance. Some of the excursions used local guides who weren't part of the boat crew. They were also very good. Some of the smaller places visited when sailing between Moscow and St Petersburg did not have a big range of interesting things to see and there was an overload of churches and icons! Some of the guests found it difficult with the amount of walking and steps involved, but if you were reasonably mobile it wasn't too strenuous. Some specific details which we would have found it useful to know in advance are: CURRENCY- it is useful to have rubles for making purchases at markets or from small shops for tipping local guides/drivers. We got through £250-300 worth but you can get currency out from ATMs in the bigger places. (There is one in the gift shop at the pier in St Petersburg which we weren't told about). I believe that it might have been possible to pay in dollars in some places. You can use your ruble notes up by using them as part payment of your final ship's bill. CLOTHES-apart from the captains dinner and the trip to the ballet, no-one was very dressed up. Everyone was casual during the day as comfort is very important- take comfy walking shoes and the weather is unpredictable so warm layers and a rainproof coat are essential. When excursions kept you out late people didn't tend to change for dinner but when sailing most did with smart casual for men and trousers and more dressy tops for ladies. Lots of the attractions didn't allow rucksacks in and they (and often coats) had to be checked in. That was a good thing though as it was usually hot inside. EXCURSIONS-we prebooked optional tours and also where there was a choice of included tours before we left, but you can easily do it onboard. The bus and walking city tours both include a fair amount of walking. The insides of the attractions are visited at great speed and it can feel rushed but you learn a lot and with so many things to fit in it would be hard to take it any slower..In the 2 cities there are bus transfers for every trip as you moor about 45 mins outside the historical area, but the traffic is heavy and it can take longer. There is a day in each place with nothing included although there are optional tours. Some people hired their own private guide on those days to give them a tailored tour. In Moscow there are very luxurious river boats which we didn't get to go on but you can make arrangements with reception for a booking and taxi. On those days it might be worth asking reception and doing something independent. TIPS-we found it a bit confusing despite the info in the Viking book which arrives with your paperwork. Basically local guides (as opposed to those on the boat) and the bus drivers can be tipped in rubles at the end of each trip. They suggest 100 for the driver and 500 for the guide per couple. But it is discretionary and varied quite a bit. The Viking guides however are tipped at the end of the cruise in cash and you are given an envelope for this which is anonymous. They suggest $10 per person per day but again we heard a lot of variations of this being given! The remainder of the crew on board they recommend $15 per person per day but this can be added to your invoice and paid by card. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Chose this cruise to enjoy the wonderful history, architecture, culture and entertainment of Russia. It was so much more than we anticipated. All the shore excursions, those included and those we chose to add on enriched our lives and ... Read More
Chose this cruise to enjoy the wonderful history, architecture, culture and entertainment of Russia. It was so much more than we anticipated. All the shore excursions, those included and those we chose to add on enriched our lives and view of Russia. We couldn't believe the beauty of the churches we visited - even a monastery from the 700s!! Our main reason for booking this trip was to see St. Petersburg with its rich cultural history and palaces. I wondered why we were spending 3 days in Moscow - thought it would be boring. Wow, was I mistaken! Loved Moscow, specially our tour of Moscow at Night and river cruise at night! Dining was fabulous, with Russian specialties offered almost every meal. Entertainment was enjoyable, and we couldn't believe we saw the ballet Swan Lake in St. Petersburg, Russia! We enjoyed the diversity between the large cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg with all the small towns we visited inbetween. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
The cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg gave us the best chance to experience the most of Russia and the two most impressive cities. Everything went smoothly from flights to airport pickup and return, and the excursions were well planned ... Read More
The cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg gave us the best chance to experience the most of Russia and the two most impressive cities. Everything went smoothly from flights to airport pickup and return, and the excursions were well planned and timed for maximum experience and exposure. We especially enjoyed the walking tours through the cities, and Moscow by night. The concerts and ballet that were included for all travelers provided a variety of cultural experiences that made this trip special. The ship was comfortable, and the experience of going through all the locks on the waterway, and being able to disembark at each location right at the city allowed for easy access on each stop. The ships crew were accommodating and attentive, and the dining was enjoyable allowing for us to dine alone or with other travelers as we desired. This was our first experience on a river cruise and with Viking, and we certainly plan to take other Viking river cruises in the future. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We had been looking at Viking Cruises for a year before we went on this cruise and selected Russia because it is a unique destination. It was just my wife and I with no children. The crew was fantastic and we really felt cared for. I ... Read More
We had been looking at Viking Cruises for a year before we went on this cruise and selected Russia because it is a unique destination. It was just my wife and I with no children. The crew was fantastic and we really felt cared for. I particularly enjoyed the various lessons that we had each day on history and the language. That was a great aspect for a country like Russia where we didn't feel we knew a lot about it before going. Now we really would feel a lot more comfortable there if we went back. Food was excellent, in fact better than any ocean cruise we had ever been on. Excursions were very enjoyable and interesting. The Moscow and St. Petersburg excursions are longer and the days more packed with things to do, which was great, but we also very much enjoyed the small town/city visits where we had more relaxation time overall. We would have enjoyed more time to browse the crafts and local items available on many of the excursions but we also felt that if we hadn't been interested, the tour guides were helpful to some degree in keeping us unmolested. The shipboard tour guides were excellent and good people. We had a cabin with a balcony which was a reasonable size. The balcony was very usable for us on this trip because the weather cooperated so well, the temperature was crisp and cool most days and dry. Internet connection was adequate throughout the trip. Overall, we loved the trip. The cruise exceeded our expectations particularly in terms of the service and the food. We will do another Viking Cruise in the future. Read Less
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