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10 Scenic Tsar Luxury Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise as it was something outside of "tourists everywhere" which seems to be the case with most popular cruises. We also prefer the intimacy of River Cruising ships with their small number of passengers. WE also ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was something outside of "tourists everywhere" which seems to be the case with most popular cruises. We also prefer the intimacy of River Cruising ships with their small number of passengers. WE also much prefer cruising where ALL excursions, gratuities etc are included in the overall price. We had traveled with Scenic once before and knew they were a high class operator. Whilst the travelling between Australia and Russia (or for that matter, anywhere except SE Asia) is always an issue, the cruise itself (plus the several days in Moscow at the end) was an eye opener. I am not sure just what we expected, but it was not what we got. Friendly, helpful people (particularly those under 40 - we saw only one example of heavy handed officialdom), modern cities (although many had some run down areas) with all levels of shops from basic food shops and local markets through to luxury fashion goods, reasonable public facilities (but nothing at all for those with disabilities ) very efficient and frequent public transport, very good accommodation (we only personally used the higher end (4 star). Costs in Russia were similar to what we would pay in Australia, some a bit higher, some a bit lower eg. petrol started at about $1.15 AU per liter. Moscow Metro is about $1.40 AU per trip (anywhere to anywhere, so long as you stay on the stations), The main problem (particularly along the Volga River) was STEPS, steps and more steps as it seems the cities are almost always built on the "high side" of the river. Not only that, but many of them had no handrails. The (post Soviet) Russian people have a very deep sense of religion - many of the churches and cathedrals destroyed by the Soviets are now being rebuilt), and of their history, particularly the very high human costs in the various wars and conflicts throughout their history. The younger people we spoke to (all in the travel industry) had no hesitations in answering questions truthfully (as far as we could tell) about all aspects of living in Russia, it's more recent history (1900s ) and where they would like to see the future . There appeared to be no restrictions on where we could travel, we were not required to carry any specific documentation (this said, the extent of our (costly) visa was exactly for the time we had pre-arranged, there was no provision for extending our visit. Very few Russians speak English, there is some English on railway station signage etc, but museum explanatory signage etc is only in Russian. We saw very little evidence of the seedier side of life in cities, i.e. homelessness, graffiti, begging, There appears to be a high police (in cars) presence, but we had no first hand experience of dealing with them. One little thing of note - There was a huge variety and price range of "souveniers" almost all of it made in Russia. On the ship, all staff were Russian, those in direct contact with passengers having reasonably good English. The trip included (optioonal) Russian History talks and Introduction to the Russian Language, both presented by the ship's Cruise directorate staff, both were excellent as was the efficiency of excursions etc , passenger welfare and general information provided by the Cruise Director (Arty). All in all, a very enjoyable trip which I would have no hesitation in recommending Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose this cruise as we really wanted to visit Russia and this seemed the perfect way to do it. It was our first experience with Scenic. We went in October for the last cruise of the year from Volvograd to Moscow. We knew the weather ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we really wanted to visit Russia and this seemed the perfect way to do it. It was our first experience with Scenic. We went in October for the last cruise of the year from Volvograd to Moscow. We knew the weather would be colder but with the right clothing it was never a problem and we certainly appreciated the ease of our excursions with the reduced number of tourists. The organisation of the excursions was most impressive. It exceeded all our expectations in every way. Our cabin was ideal with ample room to unpack everything. The on board service was perfect and all the staff were friendly and helpful. The meals offered a wide variety and were all delicious and included lots of Russian selections which were well worth trying. On board talks about Russian history were fascinating and honest. We even had a very fun vodka party. The language classes were an added bonus. We were well informed prior to every shore excursion. These were amazing and extremely well organised and the local guides all spoke good english and were highly informative. The cruise director - Arty was a wealth of information, had a great sense of humour and ensured everything was just right and all activities ran on time. The other guides on the ship were incredible too. We made some friends for life and the entire trip exceeded everything beyond our expectations. Russia with Scenic is a cruise not to be missed. Can't wait for next experience with Scenic. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
A lot of friends asked us why we chose a Russian cruise as a destination, as if saying Why go there? I was apprehensive given all the stereotypical images portrayed in all the media and films over the years while my husband was more ... Read More
A lot of friends asked us why we chose a Russian cruise as a destination, as if saying Why go there? I was apprehensive given all the stereotypical images portrayed in all the media and films over the years while my husband was more familiar with Russian history and had no such concerns. This was also our first cruise so we were prepared to allow the tour to unfold and didn't have a long list of must see destinations. The Tours selected for us were exceptional. There was a lot to see. On some tours there was a lot of walking which really helped with controlling the extra weight that the copious amounts of delicious food served at every meal might cause. The tour was so well managed from the beginning to the end, with great care and precision. The Cruise Director and his team were exceptionally professional as well as entertaining and happy to engage with everyone on the cruise. They said the ship would be our home and we would all be treated as family and they truly delivered. All of the ship staff were accessible, friendly, and very professional. The rooms were kept spotlessly clean and were very comfortable. The bed and pillows were excellent and the room had thoughtful details like rugs to use if you wanted to sit out on the balcony and watch the forest and sights unfold as we sailed by. The ship was big enough and well thought out in layout to give everyone enough space to not feel crowded, there were over one hundred guests on our cruise and 65 staff and it was surprising how uncrowded and quiet the ship felt. The food was varied and excellent throughout the trip. The only issue we had was the tables at the rear of the dining room were quite noisy whenever the ship was underway. The lounge and bar areas were comfortable and well stocked. We were consulted and included in briefings that were informative and funny. On board activities were varied and engaging when under way. This was our first cruise and it wont be our last. Russia is an amazing place, it is so diverse and this cruise gave us an opportunity to see the beauty, the culture and the community while still providing an opportunity to relax and meet interesting people from diverse backgrounds. I cant say which bit was best because it was all great. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Scenic Tsar – Imperial Russia Moscow to Volgagrad 30th Sept – 14th Oct 18 Deluxe Balcony Suite #305 Expectations Checking the previous reviews for the Scenic Tsar, we were somewhat worried. We had been prewarned that the ... Read More
Scenic Tsar – Imperial Russia Moscow to Volgagrad 30th Sept – 14th Oct 18 Deluxe Balcony Suite #305 Expectations Checking the previous reviews for the Scenic Tsar, we were somewhat worried. We had been prewarned that the Tsar was NOT a Scenic SpaceShip. Indeed it is not even owned by Scenic and only has 3 Scenic staff members on board. We knew when we booked about the ‘buy your drinks outside of mealtimes’ policy, the size of the cabins etc. The ‘actuality’ far exceeded our expectations. I should mention that there were only 85 guests aboard compared to the 115 capacity. Good mix of nationalities although obviously a significant number of Australians (Scenic is an Australian Tour Company) Ages were pretty much exclusively 60s or 70s. This is NOT a trip for those with walking difficulties. It is not only the walking but the many, many steps and uneven surfaces encountered. Food The food was excellent. Eggman at breakfast. Buffet lunch but with a la carte choices too. I had a wonderful fresh trout one day. Dinner had at least three choices for each course. All very well presented. Service was very efficient – no waiting. There was a good variety of wines served, including, some from Eastern European countries. Staff The non-Scenic staff were excellent – well up to Scenic standards. Service in restaurant was extremely efficient and fast. Scenic’s own staff – the 3 Cruise Directors – were not only very good but extremely knowledgeable. Special namecheck to Svetlana Armstrong - the Cruise Director - who really made the holiday. A real gem/star. Suite The main/bedroom part of our suite was perfectly satisfactory. Long worksurface to accommodate our laptop and other devices etc. Comfortable beds and all the furnishings were to a good standard – indeed looked pretty new. Very quiet. Loved having a kettle. Air Con could be switched off which is a rare boom for people like us who hate sleeping with the aircon on. Minor complaints would be no drawers – just shelves – and a wardrobe where the hangers were parallel to the doors rather than perpendicular – which made selecting your clothes a bit difficult. Main issue was the bathroom. DO NOT BRING YOUR CAT – because you certainly would NOT be able to swing it here! The space between the shower, wash basin and WC was so limited that you had to move about sideways. Having said that everything was clean and maintained that way throughout the trip. The shower itself was both powerful and hot. Itinerary We came not for the ship but to visit Russia. It did not disappoint. I understand that this was the first time that Scenic had done Moscow to Volgograd. All their other trips are between St Petersberg (which we had visited before) and Moscow. In many places you got the impression that the locals saw very few visitors from ‘the west’. Everyone seemed friendly and the locations felt safe. The day in Moscow was exhausting but we ‘hit all the high spots’. Traffic was horrendous but Scenic’s organisation and local guides were excellent. Could have spent much longer there. Although I enjoyed the second day trip to the SpacePark, my wife took the metro to visit the art galleries in Central Moscow instead. Several other guests, like us, would have preferred a second trip into Moscow. BTW – The Scenic Tsar was moored in the river beside a very quiet park about 1km (c 20 minute) walk from the nearest metro station with a direct journey into central Moscow. Costs 55 roubles a trip. BTW – Moscow dispelled my preconceptions. It is probably the cleanest city I have visited. No litter. No beggars either. Indeed it all oozed prosperity. Also seemed v safe. The stops along the Volga were all good with excellent guides. Lots of locks to navigate which added to the interest of the trip. The high spots were: - Yaroslavl where the recreation of a ball at the Governor’s House is not to be missed. - The visits to the Russian Dance School and Military Band Concert in Kostroma. Indeed I reckon there were more performers that day than Scenic Tsar guests! But almost every stop had some kind of entertainment – be it choirs in the churches or folk singing/dancing. - Lovely walk on our own in Pylos looking at the multimillion dollar dachas and the views as the trees put on their autumn colours. - Day in Volgograd/Stalingrad and the visit to the Memorial Park was extremely moving. A definite ‘must do’/high spot. The excursions (all included in the cost) were run extremely efficiently. We love the audio kits. Only criticism was that a few of the guides could not speak English well and had to have translators. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
The Good: The destinations were what decided us to do this trip and they certainly did not disappoint. We were blown away by most of the venues we visited in Russia, before continuing on a land tour of the Baltic States, ending in ... Read More
The Good: The destinations were what decided us to do this trip and they certainly did not disappoint. We were blown away by most of the venues we visited in Russia, before continuing on a land tour of the Baltic States, ending in Berlin. The staff and guides were mostly all excellent, their English and local knowledge remarkable. The Bad: We were not at all happy where the boat had to dock in both Moscow and St Petersburg, in the middle of nowhere, hours by bus to and from all the venues visited in the respective cities, and nowhere to wander in the surrounding port areas in our free time.The trip would have been greatly enhanced if we could have stayed in inner city hotels in each place. Food was plentiful during the fixed meal times, although not much choice or local flavour. The wine provided (meal times only) was of a very poor quality. I was surprised there was no food provided - like a 'cafe' eg - as is normal on other Scenic ships, outside of the regular meal times. Majority of guests caught a debilitating stomach bug which continued on into the following land tour. I have enlarged on the cabin in a separate area below. The Sun Deck has no shade, just bare, uncushioned chairs, and is not at all welcoming. We never saw any one up there the few times we ventured up. With a bit of extra money spent on shade and other decorations, this would be a popular area. Entertainment was virtually non-existent - just the crew and passengers making their own. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We were interested in seeing Russia and mixing either people, learning there culture, and to see the famous landmarks that we see on the TV and in brochures. To visit Moscow and St Petersburg plus a few rural villages/communities along The ... Read More
We were interested in seeing Russia and mixing either people, learning there culture, and to see the famous landmarks that we see on the TV and in brochures. To visit Moscow and St Petersburg plus a few rural villages/communities along The Volga too intrigued us. The ship is not Scenic owned and we knew that from the beginning, but we have done several Scenic trips and were disappointed that the service was not the same. I don’t believe that the service model could not be replicated on the Scenic Tsar. The atmosphere in the lounge is really non existent as people hear back to there cabins rather than stay for a night cap and mingle not sure if people don’t like to pay for their drinks after dinner. The entertainment was also not inviting as it was mostly piano and lots of classical. Also there was a bug on board which would have affected at least 80% of the boat at some stage. All in all destination was great but experience was average. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This is the best way to see the two major cities of Russia, Moscow and St.Petersburg and enjoy the ability to unpack, cruising through the countryside and lake/river/canal systems seeing some unique places and have specialist tour guides ... Read More
This is the best way to see the two major cities of Russia, Moscow and St.Petersburg and enjoy the ability to unpack, cruising through the countryside and lake/river/canal systems seeing some unique places and have specialist tour guides explaining it all. Four full days in the major cities gave time to see all the special places, plus the lunches provided downtown avoided wasted travel time back and forth from the vessel. Several evening entertainment programs were included like the Ballet and Moscow Circus. Comfortable coach transfers to all venues and guides who added to the valuable information The variety of food on offer at all meals, including late suppers was amazing and always fresh fruit to take anytime and a coffee/tea station on two levels. I suggest this cruise had more to offer than most other river options and being fully inclusive of everything except gift shop purchases meant very good value Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We chose this cruise because we had always wanted to see Russia and the cruise had the added bonus of Andrew Davis and John Simpson to talk to us. The whole event more than exceeded our expectations. The accommodation was great, the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had always wanted to see Russia and the cruise had the added bonus of Andrew Davis and John Simpson to talk to us. The whole event more than exceeded our expectations. The accommodation was great, the food ample and delicious and the service on board was exceptionally attentive and kind. Our tour directors worked tirelessly during the excursions to ensure that we had all the information we needed to get the most out of the places we were seeing. The program of events and excursions was extensive. A real highlight was attending the performance of Swan Lake in the Kremlin which was quite wonderful. We also enjoyed seeing so much of St Petersburg and Moscow with several points in between. The barbeque on Mandrogi was great fun - the entertainment in particular. We can certainly recommend this trip to anyone who would like to explore Russia. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Cabin was fine, the same size as other cabins but this ship is not a spaceship and has been renovated and converted so the cabin is nowhere near as good as the other scenic ships. The staff on board are great, very helpful and ... Read More
Cabin was fine, the same size as other cabins but this ship is not a spaceship and has been renovated and converted so the cabin is nowhere near as good as the other scenic ships. The staff on board are great, very helpful and accommodating the best staff we have ever had on a cruise, they were wonderful. The food was fair only, drinks were only offered free with meals and often hard to get. The scenic Booking office here in Australia is woeful,they were of little help if you ask a question, I received a response to my question three days after I had boarded the cruise and this morning Scenic rang me to advise my wait list for the same cruise was now available,I explained I finished this cruise 10 days ago! Scenic booked our flights, we were taken from the ship way to early for our 1.5 hr flight resulting in a wait of 4.5 hrs wait at the airport. We then waited another 6.5 hrs in Frankfurt for our Singapore connection. If I had booked myself I would have selected connecting flights which were available. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We wanted to go to St Petersburg and Moscow and we researched the variuos options. Scenic seemed to tick all the boxes since it was not to big a boat and seemed to have an excellent and comprensive itinerary. We also liked the look of the ... Read More
We wanted to go to St Petersburg and Moscow and we researched the variuos options. Scenic seemed to tick all the boxes since it was not to big a boat and seemed to have an excellent and comprensive itinerary. We also liked the look of the cabins and other areas on the boat. Despite the efforts of BA we were only a few hours late getting on board and had our first experience of the superb tour guides, in this case Arty. It just went up hill from thenon. The food was good (especially the Russian and Georgian white wine!) both on board and on the various excursions. The cabin was all we could have asked for and was kept spotlessy clean just like the rest of the boat. The excursions were exhausting for a couple in their late seventies but back on board and after a quick rest we were ready to go! Russia itself with all the various sights was awe inspiring and always an excellent choice . The special tour guides for each visit were excellent. The evening entertainment off board was superb, the ballet, the circus and the Folk Evening.. As for the on board entertainment wow! I hope i get the chance to sing in Russian again!..and as for Arty's pantomine- we split our sides....the vodka tasting evening touched all the right places as well. And now the staff - From the Captain down they were without exception fantastic. ...above all the four tour guides literally made the trip, From the lovely Diana in charge, to Svetlana who taught me some Russian, then Vadim the historian who was so enthusiastic about his country (as they all were )and last but not least Arty, whose self deprecating humour kept us in stitches. Thank you Scenic Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Scenic Tsar Ratings
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