11 St. Petersburg Family Cruise Reviews

We boarded in St. Petersburg after a 4 day stay in town. Wonderful visit and nice, safe place, with friendly people. Lots to see and do, and cabs are cheap. The terminal experience was very unusual however. We expected the regular ... Read More
We boarded in St. Petersburg after a 4 day stay in town. Wonderful visit and nice, safe place, with friendly people. Lots to see and do, and cabs are cheap. The terminal experience was very unusual however. We expected the regular crush of hundreds of other passengers, but there were fewer than a dozen that we saw during our processing. The Medallion system isn't really much of a benefit under these type situations. The ship is in good condition, I didn't see any wear and tear anywhere, and the crew keeps it quite clean. The décor is a little boring except in a few spots like the central atrium. That said, the layout is peculiar in that there are parts of the ship that are difficult to reach, and not in the typical locations. For instance, the rear set of elevators ends at deck 6, but you need to go up a level to actually get anywhere except cabins on that deck. The buffet has somewhat narrow passages on each side and this causes a lot of bumping and confusion, particularly at peak meal times. Smoke from the open ceiling casino vents into the shops above and became an issue for passengers. My biggest disappointment with the entire cruise is the food in the buffet. The selection and availability is good, HOWEVER it is never hot! I mean it's barely warm. All the toasted items like bagels English muffins, French toast, etc. will not even begin to melt butter. Eggs are fried in batches and put out 20 or so at a time and also lukewarm. By the time you get to your table with your meal, everything is usually at room temp. The scrambled eggs taste like they began as powdered, and the omelets seem to be made from the same mix. The pastry selection is usually good for every meal in the buffet I must say. The highly touted "Highest Speed WiFi At Sea" was practically unusable for a full 5 days while crossing the Atlantic. Speeds typically were between 50-150kbps, similar to dialup or DSL speeds over 10 years ago. The Captain apologized, announcing it was the lack of satellite coverage, but it should have been no secret that over 25% of our 19 day cruise would encounter such poor service. The gym is sparsely equipped with basic machines like curls for instance. It's also small, and at the rear of the ship, unlike most I've seen. The main theatre does not have enough seating for anywhere near 1/2 the passengers, so you'll need to arrive 30-45 minutes before a show to get a few decent seats. Entertainment was average with the usual mix of entertainment. The dining room anytime dining is good, and we ate there about half the time. Alfredo's pizza on deck 6 is great and I highly recommend it for a quick, good individual pizza. The Calzones also looked good, but I didn't try one. I doubt I'd book this cruise again mostly because of the buffet food temps and the poor WiFi at sea, but overall, it wasn't a bad experience, just not great either. The standard balcony cabins are small compared to Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, with no couch and tiny bathrooms. The balcony was only about 4 feet deep it seemed, barely enough room to have a chair face out to sea. The Medallion feature turned into a major yawn for us. It only was used to unlock our door and check in and out in port. NO ONE used the public panels to navigate the ship or anything else that I noticed. There are at least 5 different Princess apps to download if you want to bother, but they are confusing and do very little easily. I've been on over 50 cruises, and I walked away slightly disappointed in this one. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We were very impressed reading the itinerary and all the trip offered. It was our first river cruise with scenic. The daily programs are explained every evening, before dinner. Svetlana armstrong, our cruise director was wonderful! Her eye ... Read More
We were very impressed reading the itinerary and all the trip offered. It was our first river cruise with scenic. The daily programs are explained every evening, before dinner. Svetlana armstrong, our cruise director was wonderful! Her eye for detail is exceptional, there was never a time she wasn't there for the guests: ensuring all understood the guidelines of what to do, where to meet, along with all the historical places we would be visiting. Every day was a wow! vadim palchun, our historian, program director, and guide was beyond an a++. Vadim"s intellect surpasses any historian we have ever met. Vadim greeted us every day with humor, patience, knowledge and passion for russia as he guided us thru his homeland. The palaces, the cathedrals, the museums, (don't miss the world war 11 museum) the ballet, the rivertours, the folklore show, & the phenominal old moscow circus!!! Was outstanding!!! Truly, surpassed our expectations! the only significant problem involved the limo service from home: to and from the airport, would not want to deal with this limo company again.. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Very large ship, very beautiful, lots of people. Many changes, including Medallion requirements. Change is good, I hope. After several days, was able to maneuver around the ship without getting lost. Art auction was very ... Read More
Very large ship, very beautiful, lots of people. Many changes, including Medallion requirements. Change is good, I hope. After several days, was able to maneuver around the ship without getting lost. Art auction was very disappointing and we felt like we were being pressured to hold up our numbers. Left before it was done along with many others, and never went back. Bingo rules have changed and the money prizes are much lower which makes me rethink whether I will play Bingo on my next cruise at $59/game for a tablet and I only win $118. Made reservations at Sabatini's and told only could go at 5:30 or 8:00 so chose 8:00 because it was my birthday. Got to the restaurant and it was empty so don't know why they told us it was sold out. Food was delicious and service was good. Still don't understand the empty restaurant and why we could not have gone earlier. Left a pashmina by mistake at Bingo and the Casino guy told me he saw it and told the operations manager to send it to Lost and Found. Never got there so guess someone else is enjoying the pashmina, but not me. Went to Lost and Found 2 to 3 times a day until the end of the cruise. Think the Pursers desk was tired of seeing me. Overall, really like the cruise ports and will probably enjoy the Royal Princess much better the next time I cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We took this cruise to see places we never thought we would see. The excursions were very good, but the excursion to the northern island, while interesting, was a long way there and back. My major complaint was the lack of shipboard ... Read More
We took this cruise to see places we never thought we would see. The excursions were very good, but the excursion to the northern island, while interesting, was a long way there and back. My major complaint was the lack of shipboard entertainment. The piano player and singer were okay. The trivia contests were okay. All together, there was very little evening entertainment. The daytime education sessions on Russian history periods were okay, but were the only entertainment outside of the excursions. There should be a fitness room. While the age of the passengers seemed to be older than my wife and I, I think a lot of people would have used a fitness center to some extent if available. The number of TV channels needs to be expanded. The choice of movies definitely needs to be expanded. The food and food service were excellent, although Western name brands of sugar and artificial sweeteners should be available. The cabin service was fine. I think the excursion to the ballet should have been optional. Our primary tour guide was excellent; because he spent 10 years in the USA, he spoke with very little accent, understood USA customs and expressions, and was very entertaining. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I took this cruise with my sister and six other family members including my 80 and 82 year old parents. We flew KLM to St. Petersburg Russia. The flight was excellent, we were in the lap of luxury being fed every two hours and enjoying ... Read More
I took this cruise with my sister and six other family members including my 80 and 82 year old parents. We flew KLM to St. Petersburg Russia. The flight was excellent, we were in the lap of luxury being fed every two hours and enjoying our own personal entertainment systems with free headphones. The plane was not full and there was room to stretch out and lay down on vacant rows. On arrival, we were met by the red jacketed Viking tour guides who quickly organized our luggage and escorted us onto nice buses for the ride to our ship. Embarkation went smoothly and we were escorted to our cabin by a cheerful Russian girl. All tips were handled at the end of the cruise so we were spared the hassle of tipping on board. Cabins Our cabin was very nice with adequate room for our belongings. We were situated on the lowest deck right outside the library. The ship is much smaller than a normal cruise ship. It is long and narrow and easy to remember where everything is on board. Our room had two twin beds, a desk with drawers and cupboard, bathroom and a tall closet to hang clothes in. Suitcases were stored under each bed. Storage was not a problem as the room had plenty of cupboards to put our belongings away. We decided to store our dirty laundry in our empty suitcases under our beds and that worked out well. There were not enough outlets for all the things I wanted to plug in and I was glad I brought a small outlet adapter to expand the number of devices I could plug in. The beds were very comfortable with the best comforter ever. Linens were plush and comfy. Towels also great. Our cabin had glasses and an ice bucket for bringing ice from the hallway ice machine. The bathroom is well stocked with shower cap ,shampoo, conditioner, bar soap, lotion, q tips and cotton squares.The shower has a clothes line you can pull out to hang anything wet. My sister washed some undies and hung them up to dry and that worked out fine. For our wet coats, scarves etc...we hung them in the closet and they were dry the next day. We also sent clothes out to the laundry and they were returned the same day. The cost was about $20 for two pairs of pants and three shirts-well worth the money. One of the best features of the cabin was that the window opens! We enjoyed opening the window to get the fresh breeze as we watched the beautiful scenery slip by. The window opens onto a passageway on the outside of the ship and sailors do walk by often so we learned early on to keep our curtain closed when dressing! Our next door neighbors watched TV constantly at a loud volume (remember the passengers were almost all the 70 and older set). I can't imaging what they were watching as the TV choices were terrible. There was nothing worth watching other than the dancers up in the lounge. If you plan to entertain yourself in your cabin, bring your own device and watch Netflix. Dining Room The dining room is at the end of the ship and it was up one floor from our cabin. An elevator is conveniently located right next to the dining room and my parents used it daily. Tables are not assigned and seating is first come, first served. There were only two tables large enough to seat all eight of us, and we found out that we had to get to the dining room early to get one of the large tables or we had to break up into small groups. One of my family members volunteered to go to meals early to reserve our table. It was irritating that we had to plan how to get our table for every meal. The atmosphere in the dining room was wonderful. The waiters were friendly and attentive. The room is spacious but intimate with comfortable lighting and real linens. Mealtime was so much fun for us as we could plan our day, rehash what we saw that day, joke around and just enjoy being together. Library/Computers/Wifi The library is small with a couch, small table and a couple of chairs. Most of the books are coffee table type books on Russia. The ship could provide a leave and take shelf for passengers to donate a book or take one. The computers were in the hall by the library. Two computers with a printer and chairs were available with wifi. I am a college professor and I was teaching my online classes while on the cruise so the computers and wifi were very important to me. The computers were rarely being used and the internet service was very good. Paper and printing were free as well as the internet access. I took my laptop just in case but I didn't need it. I tended to wake up early and go online to do my work before the start of the day. I was worried that I would not get good internet but it turned out fine. I did struggle with the wifi while we traveled through the many locks we encountered on the river. The locks have tall cement walls and as the ship moves into a lock, the wifi is interrupted until the ship rises and moves out of the lock. It was difficult to get any work done at certain places as we encountered lock after lock along some stretches. Lounge/Entertainment On top of the ship above the dining room is a lounge with drinks and snacks. This is where the entertainment takes place along with lectures and games. The passengers were almost exclusively senior citizens so not too many late night activities were going on up here. All of the lectures were broadcast on board into our cabins so we could watch in bed if we wanted to. The couple who provided music every night in the lounge were good. My sister and I enjoyed watching the feed from the lounge at night when passengers danced, not knowing they were on camera. It was strange that we could see them dancing but we could not hear any music (it was still fun to watch them dancing even without music!). The lectures held here were very good. A lot of history and culture discussions. The last lecture was on Russia today and the tour guides answered questions at the end. I was surprised at their candid answers to some hard questions about Russian culture. They were very open and honest about life in Russia under communism and the way Russians live today. The lectures were definitely worth attending or watching in your cabin. There were also games and karaoke in the lounge and we attended some. It is available if you get tired of being in your cabin and decide to mingle a bit. Gift Shop The ship has a small gift shop on board selling Russian items like amber jewelry, stacking dolls, hats, Christmas ornaments, chocolate and other trinkets. The gal who runs the shop was very friendly and helpful. We stopped at her shop almost every day and she was always happy to pull items out of their cases so we could look. My Dad bought me an amber ring at the shop to remember our trip. It is silver with a large amber stone. I love it very much but, alas, it has begun to turn pink as the very thin layer of silver is wearing off. It was not expensive, $30, so I didn't expect it to be the best quality but have only had it two months and it is already failing. It is disappointing that Viking is selling such cheap jewelry on board. You might want to ask the tour guides where to get good silver jewelry rather than purchase it on board. Food Breakfast was a buffet or we could order off a menu. The buffet did not change from day to day. It offered sliced cold cuts of unknown meats (nothing was labeled), breads, eggs, potatoes, meats such as sausage/bacon, omelet station, oatmeal, cold cereal, fruit and drinks. I tired of the choices after a few days and got creative with the offerings, a BLT worked well. Berry smoothies and baked goods were passed at our tables by a charming Russian girl carrying a large basket of baked goods. The pastries looked great but were more bread like than pastry. As in many countries, the pastries were not very sweet which was fine with me. I was on Weight Watchers the entire cruise and I was able to make healthy choices and stay on my meal plan mostly. I only gained three pounds in the two weeks so I was very happy. At lunch we were given 3-4 choices usually a soup, sandwich and a hot meal with of course, dessert! Dinner was the highlight of the day. Appetizers, entrees, fruit and cheese plates and dessert. There were always available chicken breast and a steak if you didn't like the entrees offered. One of my family members ordered two entrees for every dinner meal and that was no problem at all. Our waiters were happy to oblige any request. One night my mother asked for a fruit plate and our waiter brought a lovely plate with the fruit artfully arranged and carved. My sister is a vegetarian and there were always choices for her. After meal times snacks were available upstairs in the lounge with coffee, tea and water always provided in the hall outside the dining room. If we got a very late night craving, there was no food to be found. We were glad we brought some granola bars and nuts with us. Staff I can't say enough about the staff on board. They were patient, friendly, accommodating, funny, charming and entertaining. They were the best part of our on board experience. The tour guides were with us most days and they got us where we needed to be and answered endless questions with enthusiasm. It can't be easy to guide a large group of older people but they know what they are doing. Excursions were just the right length and speed for this crowd. Except for my parents, our group was probably the youngest on board (50-60), It did get frustrating at times to be with such an older group. When we would arrive at a destination, there would be time set aside for the bathroom, leaving coats at the coat room and then the tour would begin half an hour later. It was perfect for my parents but some of my family members got antsy waiting. For them, the tour guides were always happy to help them work out a plan to take the subway on their own and explore the city at their own pace. Excursions On this cruise you will see a lot of palace museums and churches. Take every opportunity to go on excursions and see everything but build some down time into your schedule too. Here is my take on the excursions: Hermitage: talk about drinking from a fire hose! So much beauty in one place! So much art work and the building itself is a work of art. The Russians loved to decorate with gold. The museum was busy but we were able to see everything. There is a lot of walking with no benches to sit until the very end. I think my parents would have liked a small folding stool so they could sit down once in a while. We did not buy the early access and I am glad we didn't, the included tour was plenty. Catherine's Palace: Really beautiful. Take time to go outside and explore the gardens and fountains which were running even in October. The amber room is amazing. So many beautiful photo opportunities. Bring a selfie stick, you will tire of asking people to take your picture. Peteroff Palace Probably my favorite of all the palaces. Peteroff is a beautiful town about a half hour outside St. Petersburg. The bus ride was interesting and the town is so pretty and normal. We saw kids playing in the school yard, people walking to the shops and to work. It was nice to get out of the big city. Faberge Museum We had a private tour of this museum, there were about 30 of us and we were in the museum all alone. That was great. We were able to view everything easily. Our guide was very knowledgeable in fact, she gave too much information for me. I found a bench and sat for a bit after looking. I was overloaded with information. The museum is in a beautiful building which was a home. It was well done and modern. Khizi Walking tour Definitely a highlight of the trip. This is fascinating. Loved the old home tour, the church and the bell ringing. The scenery is so beautiful and it was good to get outside and walk around even though it was cold. We dressed for the cold and it was fine. The old church sells icons and it was fun to buy from them. There was some shopping by the dock but not much-save that for Uglich. Yurislaval It rained very hard this day so it was difficult to walk around but we did go to a market where the chef from our ship offered samples of Russian produce, nuts, meats etc... There was a sort of outdoor market there with goods and local people were shopping there. My sister bought a lovely coat for a good price. We also saw a church (of course) and a highlight for me-a group of teenagers in military uniform marching and singing in the park. It seemed to be a youth military group and they were cute. We visited a bank to get money out of an ATM then exchange it for rubles. That was an experience as they did not speak English. Uglich This is the place to shop! The souvenirs are plentiful and the prices are the best. Take a large shopping bag to put it all in or you will have to carry multiple bags. There is a watch shop on the pier with reasonable prices and nice choices. I bought army watches with a Russian tank and red star-great gift for a man, for about $30. Uglich has the best variety of Russian hats in all colors but check the sizes, some are smaller than others. Great Wooden Christmas ornaments, nativities, Santa etc... But buy them on the way back to the ship as they are heavy to carry around. It was raining again so we didn't see much of the town other than the shops close to the pier. Moscow I can only say: Amazing! Red Square is the best. The Kremlin is a lot of walking but so much to see. On our second day in Moscow, some of our group took the subway into town early to see Lenin's Tomb. All of the guidebooks say to skip it but, it was one of my favorite things, so bizarre, so quirky and hey, you just have to see it. I don't understand the desire to keep a man who died 70 years ago on permanent display. Riding the subway was great too. Easy to navigate, safe and clean. The Jewish Museum was the best. New, modern and interesting. Loved being there. Take a minute to order a pastry from the cafe and sit down at a table. Lovely quiet moments there. Leaving Russia was difficult. The entire ship full of passengers arrived at the airport at once and the lines were so long and unorganized with piles of luggage everywhere. Our Viking Guides stepped in and after a couple of shouting matches with the airline reps, we all got where we needed to be. Advice Here is my random advice for anyone on this trip. 1, Take Medication. We got sick with cold/flu. I mean the entire ship got sick, even some of the staff. Take meds like Nyquil, antihistamine, nasal spray, Tylenol whatever you need to feel as good as you can if you get sick. We had to see the on board doctor and pay $50 for what would cost less then $5 at home. If anyone is sick on board, it quickly spreads like wildfire. 2. Take a selfie stick for great pictures with people in them. Much better than just pictures of things. Keep the daily newsletters placed in your cabins, they are a great summary of what you did every day. 3. Try to go out on your own in Moscow if you are up to it. Its fun to mingle with the locals. 4. Try the horse meat. One dinner is Russian food and horse meat is offered. Hey, where else are you going to get a chance to do that? 5. Tip your staff well. Most of them are away from their families trying to earn enough money to get ahead in their home country. Our waiters were both married with children from the Philippines. They were so cute and helpful. One was trying to earn money to buy a mini bus so he could run a business at home. We have so much and they have so little, plan to tip them well but put it into an envelope and give it to them-do not drop it into the Viking tip box at the front desk if you want to be sure they get it. 6. Ask a lot of questions. The tour guides are very helpful and willing to answer anything. 7. Buy Red October Chocolate. It is in a yellow wrapper with a baby on the front wearing a scarf. Delicious and a really great cheap gift for those at home. 8. Don't worry about what you wear. Be super casual and comfortable. No one cares about your wardrobe. 9. Be patient in traffic. St. Petersburg and Moscow have the worst traffic I have ever seen. You will spend a lot of time on the bus stuck in traffic. Take an audio book and headphones on your ipod or phone or some music to pass the time. I enjoyed sitting up front and watching our bus driver navigate around the road rage but you might want something less stressful. Many of our older passengers slept. I hope this is helpful. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
it was a wonderful experience and i would recommend the Vodohod cruise line to any one. the beds are narrow. i was travelling as a solo - so one bed for sleeping and one for putting stuff on. the referigerator in the room worked ( I did ... Read More
it was a wonderful experience and i would recommend the Vodohod cruise line to any one. the beds are narrow. i was travelling as a solo - so one bed for sleeping and one for putting stuff on. the referigerator in the room worked ( I did not use it). the meals are generous. you do have to order a couple of days in advance and you are expected to sit at the same table and place during the trip. the crew are russian with limited english , german french etc so they know place the ordered meal in number place on the table. six to most tables. four courses for lunch and dinner, Big range for buffet breakfast, from cold meats cheeses to hot dishes, cereals, sweet cakes. The tables are with marked signs ie english speaking or french speaking or the name of the tour company. on my trip there were tour group from Austria, italy and Iceland as well as the above mentioned ones. you will need all your own lotions and potions, shampoos ( one cake of soap provided). rooms cleaned daily, towels in line with green policy, sheets replaced every 3/4 days. suggestion take a thermos / insulated cup and your tea bags if you like a cup of tea. dining room is only open at meal times, there is a hot water tap on one floor - but unlike more expensive Viking no biscuits or cafe machine. no cups - thats why you need your own insulated mug. wifi seems to work well early in the morning only at the one place place on the ship. If you come from australia i would say its shaped. guides speak excellent english french german etc and are allocated to each group of passengers, they are also called upon to sort out the issues when people dont understand the instruction to sit in the same place for each meal. bar / drinks they are not out to make a fortune from selling alcohol. unlike Viking there are no flags red carpets crew to find you on land and guide you to the boat - you have to find it yourself. just a matter of reading the name. the russian name is in big letters and the english above the door. make an effort to recognise or write the russian name - then it will be easy to find the boat. warm musical welcome on board. great places to see as you cruise along - lots of information. there is walking on the daily trips - so come fit, no lift on the ship there are steps to climb. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
The staff on the boat was excellent and very courteous. Olga, the hotel manager was very helpful and attentive. The course director Olga was nice and tried hard to accommodate everybody. The maître d’ was especially nice and came to me ... Read More
The staff on the boat was excellent and very courteous. Olga, the hotel manager was very helpful and attentive. The course director Olga was nice and tried hard to accommodate everybody. The maître d’ was especially nice and came to me for every meal pointing out what food I should not touch because of garlic. I really appreciated this. The food without exception was outstanding and the accommodations very comfortable, given the limited space on a boat. Unfortunately I have to go on a diet now because all this great food settled around my waist! The programs also were interesting and Ludmilla was a highlight for us. Her lectures were excellent (we are aware that the Russians did not care for her Gorbachev talk!). We learned a lot more about Russia, its people and politics, which was very helpful. We had no idea that Stalin destroyed so many churches during his time in power. Also her lectures on realistic Russian art were excellent. She is very enthusiastic and also very good at mixing with guests. We had her on our table several times and enjoyed her company. I am certain other English-speaking people on the tour enjoyed her as well. We loved to sit on the deck and watch the scenery. Some of the locks were very impressive and we were astonished how overall smooth the ride on the boat was. All the excursions to shore were interesting and instructive. We enjoyed going on our own through the village of Mandrogi and buying a few souvenirs for our friends. We loved Kizhi with its old wooden houses and the wonderful Transfiguration church. I was expecting to see snakes but luckily none showed up. The small village of Goritsy was not really worth visiting but the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery was. On this warm day, a lot of Russian people were enjoying themselves bathing in the lake next to the monastery. The church treasures impressed us. We enjoyed visiting Yaroslavil with its various churches and the visit to the governor’s house. We found the visit to a private home informative. We assumed this was staged for us but interesting nevertheless. We always like to see how people live in other countries and this was such an opportunity for us. All in all it was a great experience and I would come back any time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
First and foremost, the crew was fantastic. The wealth of knowledge that everyone has on the ship in their respective areas is astonishing. Together they definitely made the trip that much more amazing. Our tour guide Sasha was hands down ... Read More
First and foremost, the crew was fantastic. The wealth of knowledge that everyone has on the ship in their respective areas is astonishing. Together they definitely made the trip that much more amazing. Our tour guide Sasha was hands down the best tour guide I have every had. The food was unreal. Michelin quality meals every night with a menu that would satisfy even the pickiest eater. As for the deserts, you had a choice from 4 different things every evening. If you upgrade to the Silver Beverage Package (which I highly recommend) you can drink top shelf liquor and wine when you please. Pays for itself very quickly. Although the cabin was not very large, the chamber maids cleaned and organized anything left out to help maximize what space you had. The guests on the ship were so much fun. Everyone was there to have a great time. Overall, I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone that wants to have a trip of a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
A tour of St. Petersburg, RU was the only item on my bucket list and I was delighted to have accomplished my longtime goal. It was an excellent cruise including the accommodations on board the ship, the food, the chef, the servers and the ... Read More
A tour of St. Petersburg, RU was the only item on my bucket list and I was delighted to have accomplished my longtime goal. It was an excellent cruise including the accommodations on board the ship, the food, the chef, the servers and the tour guides. All were very friendly and knowledgeable. Some didn't hesitate to go out of his/her way to provide service beyond the expected or to share information that made the trip so interesting. The ports of call were very interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed learning the history of the region and hearing first hand descriptions of life during the Soviet era. The on-board lectures were well organized and informative. My greatest reward was touring the many churches and palaces and viewing the art and architecture. My only disappointment was the modern/interpretive dance ballet on the first night. I was expecting to see a traditional, classical ballet. But I will not judge my entire experience on that one night. Overall, Viking more that met my expectations and would would not hesitate to book with Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was my first cruise experience and it was a blast. Hats off to Viking Cruises for the very efficient handling of everything: from the flight bookings, to airport transfers, embarkation and disembarkation to and from the ship, the ... Read More
This was my first cruise experience and it was a blast. Hats off to Viking Cruises for the very efficient handling of everything: from the flight bookings, to airport transfers, embarkation and disembarkation to and from the ship, the tours, the accommodations. The staff was just great, from the kitchen, restaurant, housekeeping, entertainment to the tour guides. I have spread the word to family and friends that if they want a great cruise experience, they should try Viking first. There is nothing like a river cruise vs. an ocean cruise. It just makes a difference having a few hundred people to thousands of people traveling with you. I cannot say enough of the guides who were very knowledgeable and just a fountain of information. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
VIKING RIVER CRUISE WATERWAYS OF THE TSARS This was a holiday which included some unforgettable experiences; not only in St Petersburg and Moscow, but also in places like the delightful Yaroslav and Uglich which we visited en route. But ... Read More
VIKING RIVER CRUISE WATERWAYS OF THE TSARS This was a holiday which included some unforgettable experiences; not only in St Petersburg and Moscow, but also in places like the delightful Yaroslav and Uglich which we visited en route. But there were some disappointing elements too. Overall we thought the cruise provided relatively poor value for money. Although some of the cruising along the Volga, particularly on the approach to Moscow, was very enjoyable more of it, near to St Petersburg, was monotonous with little to see other than miles and miles of unchanging birch forest. The fare we paid would have allowed us instead to stay in very good St Petersburg and Moscow hotels and travel between the cities on the vary fast (4 hour) express train. The Ship (Viking Ingvar) Although being recently modernised with the additions of balconies this is still an old ship. Built in 1989 it shows its age, not least in the considerable vibration to be felt, even on the upper deck, in the rear of the boat. It's terribly bland with the public areas more closely resembling a decent cross channel ferry than a cruise liner. It's also very small and those who aren't happy reading or otherwise making their own entertainment will sometimes be bored, particularly when poor weather forces you in from the sun deck or balconies. There are two bars - one generally open during the day and the other during the evening. They're functional but dull. There's no gym and nowhere to walk (the decks having been given up to accommodate balconies). The rooms are fine, albeit small. There are no stewards and no room service although the housekeeping is of a very high standard. We would have found the journey altogether too claustrophobic without a balcony and it was significant that those in rooms only with windows struggled to find somewhere quiet and comfortable to sit during the day. It's important to be aware that the boat is a riverboat, certainly not equipped for poor weather. Unfortunately, crossing Lake Lugado (the biggest lake in Europe) at night we met a strong wind hitting the port side and waves of about two metres. The boat pitched from side to side in dramatic fashion and a number of people were ill and quite a lot of damage occurred in the kitchen. The Captain told us that such weather was not particularly exceptional and they cross the lake even when the waves hit three metres. Dining The food ranges from the very good to the mediocre. Breakfasts are generally excellent with eggs and omelettes cooked to order as well as a full range of bacon, sausage and so on along with continental alternatives. Lunches and dinners were variable. Salads were somewhat monotonous and the fish generally uninspiring. But the steak -available every day - was very good indeed. In comparative terms we would place the standard of food as significantly below, say, Cunard or Holland America and a little below Princess. There is no fixed seating which we regretted. It meant that waiters did not generally have the opportunity to get to know us, and us them. The service was generally very willing but inconsistent and it was sometimes necessary to be very assertive to get a waiter's attention. Obtaining anything out of the ordinary took some patience (initially, about fifty per cent of our requests for hot milk to be served with our coffee were unsuccessful). Other facilities The library was very poor indeed amounting to no more than a single bookcase of books almost all left by previous customers. In addition there was a selection of board games. The shop was worse, selling almost nothing other than the usual Russian souvenirs (stacking dolls and Amber jewellery) all extravagantly priced. Excursions These were mixed. Stops in Yaroslav and Uglich, both "Golden Ring" cities were particularly good and with the visit to a Russian home in Uglich, for breakfast, particularly fascinating. The island of Khizi with the Church of the Transfiguration - a World Heritage site - was also really worth seeing. But Mandrogy is no more than an entirely synthetic tourist market with innumerable stalls selling the same mass-produced trinkets, which they pretend to manufacture in various faux craft rooms. It's pretty insulting. And a visit to a school at another intermediate stop just seemed like laziness on Viking's part when the visit was on a Saturday in August and to a school more or less deserted other than for builders. Excursions in St Petersburg and Moscow were variable. We found many of our fellow passengers - particularly the Americans - to be very nervous travellers and so, for example, we spent quite a lot of time near Red Square waiting for fellow passengers to pay a visit to the bathroom. Some of them needed the guide to provide them with the necessary Roubles, being surprised that the attendants were not much interested in accepting US dollars for their admittance. But it's generally easy to detach yourself from the guides - essential at places like the Hermitage - and the transport to and from the various venues was very good with lots of coaches and lots of space. In Moscow, a folkloric concert - of which we expected very little - turned out to be outstandingly good with talented and skilled young people playing Russian instruments both individually and in orchestra. But the visit to the Ballet in St Petersburg - an expected highlight of the trip for my wife - was very disappointing. My own experience of ballet is extremely limited but even I could see that some of the performers were past their best and much of the dancing of the corps de ballet poorly synchronised. The only other customers at this performance (in a Theatre you will not find listed in any St Petersburg guide book) were other River Cruise and Ocean Cruise customers. There were no Russian spectators. Entertainment and Lectures There's a singer in the evening bar after nine and she was quite good although generally ignored by the handful of customers. On one evening there was a brief and enjoyable operatic performance by visiting singers and on another one of the cleaners gave an enjoyable if somewhat hesitant piano recital. Lectures - which used to be delivered on Viking Cruises by experts in their field - were delivered by the three resident tour guides. They were poor and characterised by some tendentious interpretation of recent Russian political history. Conclusion Overall, this represented poor value for money. Those who enjoy the relative luxury and facilities of a mid range cruise liner will find the accommodation and facilities on the Viking ships to be very basic and, in poor weather, claustrophobic. We will be most unlikely to use Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013

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