65 St. Petersburg River Cruise Reviews

This is not a first cruise for anyone. It's a cruise for people who've seen a lot, and want more. The "river" between St. Petersburg and Moscow is a combination of lakes, rivers, and canals. Near St. P, it's ... Read More
This is not a first cruise for anyone. It's a cruise for people who've seen a lot, and want more. The "river" between St. Petersburg and Moscow is a combination of lakes, rivers, and canals. Near St. P, it's mostly uninhabited area. Near Moscow, it's more inhabited. Of the 5 stops on the "river," only two (Yaroslavl and Uglich) are real towns. Kizhi is fabulous, as a recreated ancient community. Mandrogy is an artisan village, and fun (and expensive if you shop), but for tourists. The monastery stop was interesting, but due to fog, we were shepherded past any vendors and didn't see a real town. St. Petersburg and Moscow were fabulous - and exhausting! You walk your feet off. It's worth it, but just be warned. The worst crush was The Hermitage in St. Petersburg - and I was there in a shoulder season! But the fabulous art is incredible and not to be missed. As are any of the St. Petersburg tours, and definitely Moscow by Night. The Kremlin (included) tour was very good, but I wish I'd done the optional tour that included the carriages, jewels, dresses, etc. We saw St. Basil's in the afternoon, which will NOT get you good pictures. You need to be there in the morning. Best souvenirs: Uglich. We skipped the tour and just shopped for 3 1/2 hours. Do not try to buy souvenirs in Moscow; for some reason, they are scarce and expensive. At the St. Petersburg port, there is a souvenir shop, which is better than nothing. Do not bring rubles; banks charge too much. I got rubles 4 times at ATM's, with a charge of $1 each withdrawal, and the best rates. Dollars are almost universally accepted, too. Though outside of vendors, very few people speak English. On the ship, we were coddled by the staff. In the dining room, Jeremiah, Mikey and Dino took fabulous care of us, including telling us to wait til Uglich to shop. In the bar, Dasha and Egor were attentive and helpful. Sasha (from Russia) was a terrific tour director. Andrey was a terrific tour guide. Daniel was the M'd with a sense of humor! Don't miss the pelmini cooking demo, or the vodka tasting! Russia has changed incredibly in the past couple of decades. Not a complete capitalist country, but growing so! The people were warm and friendly (they want our dollars). If you go, you'll love it. I wish you good cheer! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We were invited to join friends on this cruise and are so glad we did. Our cabin was on the lower deck (230) and was very comfortable. It was above the water level and had a full picture window, unlike the standard cabins on the Rhine and ... Read More
We were invited to join friends on this cruise and are so glad we did. Our cabin was on the lower deck (230) and was very comfortable. It was above the water level and had a full picture window, unlike the standard cabins on the Rhine and Danube. No complaints at all. The food was excellent as was some of the local Russian wine. Our somewhat complex travel arrangements were expertly handled by the Viking travel desk. The only negative was that two of my flights in Europe were booked in basic economy class so I got hit with two unexpected baggage charges, but when I complained to Viking they refunded the amount of the charges. You can see photos and some background on our cruise at tsarwaterways.shutterfly.com but here are some additional comments. Our cruise began in St. Petersburg and ended in Moscow - I think that's probably the best direction to do it. We had spent two days in St. Petersburg in 2009 and were happy to repeat some experiences and add new ones. Repeat visits to Catherine Palace and Peterhof were excellent and I would highly recommend visiting these places. The canal cruise was most enjoyable and really showed how St. Petersburg was designed and built around the canals - an appreciation one doesn't get from driving around. An evening at the ballet was most enjoyable even though the performance wasn't by the Mariinsky as they were on tour for the summer. The folkloric show was totally geared to tourists but good fun and well done. The middle section of the cruise on the waterways took us through remote countryside. Because of this, most of the excursions required a bus ride to get to the site of interest and in some cases the amount of time to explore was less than one wanted. However, the quality of the guides was very good. Three (Russian) Viking guides accompanied the cruise from beginning to end and they were excellent in explaining the historical and cultural background to what we were seeing as well as in general organization (including locating one traveler who got lost in Moscow!). Yes, one sees a lot of churches but their beauty is outstanding. Despite the distance from towns of any size, the ship was adequately provisioned with fresh and plentiful food and even fresh flowers every day. We opted for the extension in Moscow and easily filled the extra days: there is so much to see. After being shown the ropes we became quite adept at traveling on the metro. It's really not that difficult, though it helps if you have learned the Russian alphabet (there are a few lessons on that on board the ship). While we didn't speak any Russian, I was glad I had taught myself the alphabet and a few words in advance. Most of the museums we visited had some English language displays and audio guides in English. The hotel in Moscow, the old Soviet Ukraina, was great: luxurious and centrally located. One thing that was different from our previous Viking river cruises was that we had to select most excursions before departure and many of them involved an additional charge. I imagine this is because the logistics of running such excursions is so much more complex in Russia. The main negative on this cruise, which is out of Viking's control, is that the ships have to dock far out of the center of St. Petersburg and Moscow so getting into the city involved a bus or metro ride. All in all, the few negatives were minor while the positives were huge and I have no hesitation in recommending this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Have just returned from the most amazing trip just wish I had read more history books before I left!. Our first, and most certainly, not the last trip with Viking River. Russia has always had a mystery about it and the treasures of ... Read More
Have just returned from the most amazing trip just wish I had read more history books before I left!. Our first, and most certainly, not the last trip with Viking River. Russia has always had a mystery about it and the treasures of the Hermitage and The Armory in the Kremlin certainly highlighted those mysteries. From our two pre-cruise days in St Petersburg to the ride to the airport in Moscow, it was gold service all the way. They say a ship is " only as good as its captain" an in the case of Akun I firmly believe that. What an amazing young man is Captain Vladamir and Karolina, the hotel manager, waiting on the chilly deck for our safe return from shore excursions with hot towels at the ready, became Mother Hen. The ship is kept extraordinarily clean by a team of housekeepers, the cabin was bright and airy although the very cold days didn't allow time on the verandahs. The option to do as little or as much as you wanted was there for the taking, the lectures on Russia and its history by the 3 tour directors was fantastic. Travelling through 17 locks was a wonderfully new experience and to think they were all done before google and computers!!! Could go on forever but congratulations to the fantastic Akun staff, nothing ever a trouble, and I do miss my hot green tea, followed by a double shot coffee at 6 am in the Panorama Lounge and the warm smiles and hugs from Jefferina, Dasha and Gabriel. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
My room was beautiful as was the ship's decor. On a river cruise your stateroom is smaller than on an ocean cruise because the ship has to fit in the locks. But they built amazing functionality into the room. It was also nice that ... Read More
My room was beautiful as was the ship's decor. On a river cruise your stateroom is smaller than on an ocean cruise because the ship has to fit in the locks. But they built amazing functionality into the room. It was also nice that they supply robe, slippers, and hair dryer - a few less things to pack. I had plenty of room to unpack and be comfortable. Each room has its own climate control to keep the temperature to your liking. The shower was big enough to bath comfortably. For women there is a lighted makeup mirror. The selection of TV channels was interesting. CNN International or BBC kept me updated on what was going on in the world. The bed was very comfortable and they will give you the kind of pillow you favor. Towels were always clean and refreshed. Stateroom was always cleaned by the time I returned from the morning excursion. I often took a nap in the afternoon and my bed was remade when I returned from dinner. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We had a very positive experience on the Waterways of the Tsars river cruise, which is consistent with our prior cruises with Viking. First of all the level of service from the front desk to the restaurant workers to the shore excursion ... Read More
We had a very positive experience on the Waterways of the Tsars river cruise, which is consistent with our prior cruises with Viking. First of all the level of service from the front desk to the restaurant workers to the shore excursion staff and the cabin stewards were all top notch. These people could not do enough to make our trip comfortable and enjoyable. For example, during one shore excursion, front desk staff accompanied us to a small shopping area and brought our purchases back to our rooms for us so that we did not have to make a trip back to the ship before boarding our buses for the tour! The food at all 3 meals was excellent and very nicely presented, a nice blend of familiar favorites along with Russian regional specialties. Please try one (or all) of the homemade soups offered at lunch/dinner. These were especially delicious! The shore excursions were nicely paced and very interesting. To see examples of Russia's glorious architecture was spectacular. We had the good fortune of having 3 of the tour guides on board with us for the entire cruise; during "down" times, they gave Russian history presentations starting from the era of the tsars all the way to the present leader, Vladimir Putin. All well done. We do want to give a heads up to expect a lot of vehicular traffic in St. Petersburg and Moscow, especially at commuting times. It could take 45 minutes to an hour to reach the city centers. Also expect crowds at the most popular sites. For example, the included tour for the Hermitage required us to wait in line to enter (about 20 minutes) and once inside, it was so crowded we could not get close enough to any of the artifacts to see or take pictures. (Hint: If you purchase the optional tour to the Hermitage, you get to enter a couple of hours earlier thus beating the crowds). Also be aware that if you sign up for any of the optional boat tours, they operate rain or shine. We had signed up for the Moscow By Night excursion and was disappointed that the evening was cold and rainy. Not good conditions for sitting outside and seeing anything. All in all, it was a great trip and we are glad we went. Looking forward to our next adventure! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Scenic Tours are to be thoroughly applauded for their excellent service, from our departure, throughout our tour, to our return home to Melbourne! On our arrival in St Petersburg, we were met by our Tour Guide and were escorted to our ... Read More
Scenic Tours are to be thoroughly applauded for their excellent service, from our departure, throughout our tour, to our return home to Melbourne! On our arrival in St Petersburg, we were met by our Tour Guide and were escorted to our cruiser, "The Scenic Tsar". For the next 4 days, we were expertly guided through the wonderful city of St. Petersburg, including; Peterhof's Grand Palace, Yusupov Palace (where Rasputin was murdered), The Hermitage Museum, St Catherine's Palace, and finally, an exclusive Ballet performance for all guests. For the next number of days, we sailed the canals, lakes and rivers on our way to Moscow. Many historic villages. churches and museum sites were visited during our voyage. Finally, in Moscow, Scenic took us around some amazing sights, including; Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, the Museum of Astronautics and the famous Kremlin. A ride on the Moscow Metro was an eye-opener for fast, efficient, inexpensive and ultra-clean public transportation. Whilst in Moscow, we were treated to evening's entertainment at the world famous Moscow Circus, and the legendary Russian National Dance Show. During our two weeks with Scenic, our impressions of Russia exceed all of our expectations! The service provided by the staff and crew of the Scenic Tsar was exemplary, as were the meals. All meals included drinks. Our cabin was always kept impeccably clean Lastly, it was a relief that all tips, side trips, drinks during meals and special performances were all paid for in advance. This made life much simpler! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
All we can say after experiencing our first river cruise with Viking is WOW! The ship had about 200 passengers, which made the sailing more comfortable and relaxed. Our cabin with balcony was enjoyed, especially while sailing on the ... Read More
All we can say after experiencing our first river cruise with Viking is WOW! The ship had about 200 passengers, which made the sailing more comfortable and relaxed. Our cabin with balcony was enjoyed, especially while sailing on the river with the beautiful scenery. There were several included tours in St. Petersburg, along the river and Moscow. We found all of them interesting and enjoyed a few optional tours as well. The ship's tour guides spoke English and were able to fully explain what we were seeing and answer questions. The service on board was very good, and we found the food to be of excellent quality. Must tell you Jan, the restaurant manager, and Chef Danilo, along with their staff, run the best restaurant of any cruise we've been on. Our cabin steward kept everything ship-shape, and the bartenders were very capable of making us whatever drinks we wanted. Service with a genuine smile and friendliness by every staff member was awesome. Small issues, like a too hot cabin, were addressed immediately, and laundry was returned folded and hung up within 3-4 hours of dropping it off. We met many nice, interesting fellow travelers and other ship staff, along with experiencing the beauty of the country, which made this vacation one of our best ever! We will travel with Viking again and can heartily recommend them to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose this cruise because we wanted to see Russia and the Ocean cruise visits are restricted by virtue of being visa free - this means that you are 'herded' in organised groups; counted off and counted on. Vikings cruise from ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to see Russia and the Ocean cruise visits are restricted by virtue of being visa free - this means that you are 'herded' in organised groups; counted off and counted on. Vikings cruise from St Petersburg to Moscow was with Visa and meant that you had free time to visit as you pleased. The ships, Ingvar was ours, are larger than Vikings normal European river fleet. Wider and longer, giving an Ocean cruise feel. Beneficial because the lakes in Northern Russia are like seas. Vikings standards of cleanlines, service and cuisine are very high and the overall quality of the cruise was superb. Individual requirements for breakfast, lunch and dinner were catered for with the standard of presentation of dinner really good. Complimentary wine and beer served at lunch and dinner. The red wine was ok, but only just. You could, as we did on one occasion, select a different wine at extra cost. Sparkling wine was always available, which pleased my wife. The excursions that were included in the price were excellent and we saw all of the major attractions in St P and Moscow within the price of our cruise - no essential extras. There were optional visits at the usual £70 plus and we did pay to 'queue bust' at one notable location; the Peterhof Palace. We had been warned that queues could be as long as two hours for entrance; paying for this paid off as we were first in at 09:30 and out in time for the fountain show. That was the only thing we paid extra for. There are no gym, pool, sauna, solaria etc on board so typical river cruising. Compared with the Danube and Rhine we had done previously the Rivers of the Tsars cruise exceeded our expectations. So much so we would like to do it again but the other way round. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Outstanding crew and service - our cruise was simply magical! The guides were exceptional - highly knowledgable and always went out of their way to accomodate special needs. Great variety of shore excursions or delightful to simply stay ... Read More
Outstanding crew and service - our cruise was simply magical! The guides were exceptional - highly knowledgable and always went out of their way to accomodate special needs. Great variety of shore excursions or delightful to simply stay aboard ship and relax. Of course the dining experiences were extraordinary, food always exceptional and waiter staff superior. We would definitely go again and recommend highly to our friends. Viking gave us great value and we look forward to many more cruises with them. A highlight of our cruise was meeting new friends that share our interests and love of traveling. We've already planned to cruise again with delightful couple from British Columbia we met on board this cruise. Again I can't say enough about the "above and beyond" level of service, friendliness and professionalism of the entire crew - Viking indeed absolutely spoiled us and set the bar higher other cruises. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
AS this is my second Viking Cruise I had high expectations and once I got to St. Petersburg and on the boat everything was excellent. The Boat, the crew, the food, the drinks, the entertainment... it was all top notch. I'll get back ... Read More
AS this is my second Viking Cruise I had high expectations and once I got to St. Petersburg and on the boat everything was excellent. The Boat, the crew, the food, the drinks, the entertainment... it was all top notch. I'll get back to that later as I want to tell everyone about the hassles with booking flights. Viking offered 'free airfare' and I politely refused, but they insisted the free airfare was wonderful. I said I normally upgrade, and they told me that once an airline was assigned I would be able to upgrade with no problems. So 30 days before our sailing date I called Viking and was told that I was assigned to Aeroflot and I could call them to upgrade or use the Viking partner link to do the upgrade online. I went to the Viking link page and guess what. Aeroflot was not even listed as a partner of Viking on that page. So I called Aeroflot and they said it would cost $385.00 per segment to upgrade, but only my travel agent, in this case Viking, could do it. So I called Viking back and said that Aeroflot had it all wrong and that they could not upgrade me. I called Aeroflot again and they confirmed everything I had been told earlier and I called Viking and they insisted they could not upgrade me. Sooo.. I wrote a letter to Viking headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. They faxed my letter back to the California office of Viking and I received a call from the travel manager. She said in fact I could upgrade for $3800. So for a total of $7600 I could upgrade my flights. I politely said no and asked to cancel the trip. I was told there would be sever financial penalties and I pointed out that I was lied to when I booked. Guess I should have had Viking sign something. I grudgingly traveled with my nose up against the seat in front of me for 10 hours, cursing the trip, the cruise, the flight and Aeroflot. I was glad to arrive in Moscow to get the short hop to St. Petersburg. I met other people on board, and they had no problems upgrading with American airlines companies, the problem was just Aeroflot. OK, now to the actual cruise. It was wonderful, much more than my wife and I expected. The Hotel Manager, Wilheim was great, entertaining, and quick to react to anyone's problems. Jeffrey and Elvira were great in the restaurant. As I said the food was great, and on my wife's birthday I spoke to the chef about a surprise cake and said it was all taken care of. I guess they looked at the passports to get her birthdate. The most tasty cake was prepared, and the 6 people at our table each got a piece. My wife and I learned more about Russia, it's history and it's language in those 12 days then we ever could have imagined. We also visited a Russian commune and we surprised at how they lived. We were glad to hear that they were being phased out. We also visited a Russian home in Yaroslavl and it was very much like an American home. Conversations with the Russian people shower we had the same interests, a happy life, good and smart children who are successful, and a long life. Saint Petersburg was beautiful and the museums, cathedrals, and canals were all noteworthy. Moscow was also wonderful. It was clean, seemed safe, and Red Square (Red means beautiful by the way), was very impressive. I would definitely go back to Russia to learn more.... But I would NOT book or accept free airfare from Viking. They treat you like cattle to get to the ship and to get home. That kind of degrades from the rest of the trip. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
In Australia, we were happy to pay the $11,000 per person (excluding airfares) based on the fact that everything you could possibly need or want on tour was included in the tour price - "a five star, once in a lifetime luxurious ... Read More
In Australia, we were happy to pay the $11,000 per person (excluding airfares) based on the fact that everything you could possibly need or want on tour was included in the tour price - "a five star, once in a lifetime luxurious experience!" is what we were sold. This was supported by advertising propaganda provided to our travel agent, inserts in their Scenic Russia brochure and on-line advertising which states "travel without your wallet"! and shows pictures of a butler cleaning shoes, etc. On boarding the ship the story is very different, with passengers being asked to sign paperwork for their "on-board account" as soon as they board the ship. Nothing is at request, with access to food and drink only at meal times unless you pay. The only exception being tea and coffee which can be obtained from a machine at any time. Dispite being asked to provide dietary requirements months in advance, these are only catered for as an after-thought by removing what can't be eaten (no special meals) and if it can't be removed, expect to be offered very little to eat. There is no butler, no assistance for elderly passengers, no laundry, a Dr is on board but all medical services must be paid for. Rooms are modest. The fitness centre is a walking machine and a bike in the upstairs bar. Live entertainment is rare, most evenings this will entail the sad sight of a member of crew DJing. In no way the five star, once in a lifetime luxurious experience it was billed as being. In the very least, knowing the truth would have allowed us to pack and budget differently. But in reality had we known the truth about what was on offer, we would not have taken this tour. To say we are dissappointed is an understatement. 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
We just returned from Waterways of the Tsars and fell in love with St. Petersburg and the Russian countryside. Our cabin was on the highest cabin deck, and we enjoyed sitting on our veranda during the cruising portion of the trip. Our room ... Read More
We just returned from Waterways of the Tsars and fell in love with St. Petersburg and the Russian countryside. Our cabin was on the highest cabin deck, and we enjoyed sitting on our veranda during the cruising portion of the trip. Our room was a good size for us, but there are many public areas to sit if you prefer. The ship is attractive, and up to date, and always spotlessly clean. The meals are great. I cannot speak of ocean cruising, where I believe the eating options are much more varied, but we are not river cruising primarily for the meals. That said, the choices pleased us and everyone we talked to on the ship. There were almost always Russian specialties as an alternative to more common common dishes and we loved that. We thought the food was delicious and imaginatively prepared. The staff was amazing! I really cannot think of a single staff member who was not professional and at the same time friendly. Our steward, Elena, kept the cabin immaculate. The wait staff, including Anna, was wonderful. The maître'd Sophia was adorable and kept the dining room running beautifully. The hotel manager was charming and extremely competent. He literally took care of any problems immediately, though the ship was run so well there were few issues. The on shore excursions were great, although we always preferred the on board tour escorts, Sasha and Alexey, to the local tour escorts whose command of English was not as good. Still, many of those tour escorts were good as well. The tours were superb, and there were also many on board lectures to acquaint you with Russian history and culture. All in all, we enjoyed this cruise much more than we had expected to, given the political situation. We have travelled with Viking before and knew they were excellent, but were a bit unsure about going to Russia at this time. We are certainly glad we went. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was one of the best cruises we have ever experienced!!! The staff were fabulous!!! Our tour guide, for the whole cruise (Victoria) was extremely experienced and just a wonderful representative of her country!!! Our dining area staff ... Read More
This was one of the best cruises we have ever experienced!!! The staff were fabulous!!! Our tour guide, for the whole cruise (Victoria) was extremely experienced and just a wonderful representative of her country!!! Our dining area staff were wonderful!! We had Vera and Natashya and they would help us with any questions on selections, which were all excellent!!! We always did the quiet upper deck small breakfast which had fruit, yogurt, rolls, muesli, juices, coffee/tea, etc. Dinners usually started at 7pm unless tours arrived late back at the ship. All menu items were delicious! We had a balcony room which was really great for cruising the Volga, etc!!! It may have been slightly smaller than we are used to on Celebrity, but they had so many amenities to compensate that we did not feel the difference!!! The bed was great and the features in the bathroom were excellent. All lectures were on the TV so you would not miss any information. We were taken care of from arrival to departure!!! All tours were very informative and professional!!!! I cannot say enough on this subject!!!! This cruise seems expensive, but it is worth every dollar/euro!!!! It is very inclusive and you just feel you are taken "care of" for the entire experience!!! All ship staff members were friendly and talked with you every day!!! Cruise life does not get any better than this for Russia!!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
My first river cruise easily won me over to this type of travel. As a former independent, backpacking traveler, I was skeptical taking a "tour package". Viking River Cruise offered me beautiful accommodations, dining options ... Read More
My first river cruise easily won me over to this type of travel. As a former independent, backpacking traveler, I was skeptical taking a "tour package". Viking River Cruise offered me beautiful accommodations, dining options throughout the day, scheduled tours throughout Russia with plenty of flexibility to explore on our own. Viking provided seamless travel arrangements from takeoff to boarding and disembarking to takeoff afterward. As we toured Moscow worry free, Viking rebooked our flight home when Air France cancelled our original flights due to the pilot's strike. We enjoyed the open seating concept that allowed us to dine alone or freely make new friends by joining a table with open seats. As a life long learner I found the shore excursions informative and enjoyed the local guides at each port. Pre-port lectures on the ship prepared us in an entraining and informative way regarding history, ports, and current events in Russia. Entire crew gets an "A+". Friendly, professional, attentive, and accommodating. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was our first river cruise and we chose AMAWATERWAYS AmaKatarina after discussions with our travel agent. We were very pleased with our holiday and would certainly travel with AMA again and we would absolutely recommend their Russian ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and we chose AMAWATERWAYS AmaKatarina after discussions with our travel agent. We were very pleased with our holiday and would certainly travel with AMA again and we would absolutely recommend their Russian Waterways Cruise. We understood that there had been quite a few cancellations on this particular cruise as people were concerned about the political situation in the Ukraine. At no time did we feel any such concern and we met tourists from all over the world. The AmaKatarina is an older ship, leased by AMAWATERWAYS from a Russian company. It is by no means luxurious but it is comfortable and certainly ‘home’ for this trip. WEATHER: We were fortunate and had good weather the entire cruise. It did look like rain a couple of days but we always travel with rain gear and travel umbrellas. The ship had umbrellas for any passenger that needed them. As this was September, cooler weather clothes were the norm. PORT TRANSFERS: We chose on this trip to book the AMA transfer. A representative met us at the St. Petersburg Airport (Pulkovo) and escorted us (and many other passengers) to 2 modern, clean buses. A guide accompanied each bus to the ship. Our luggage was loaded on the bus for us and also delivered to our shipboard stateroom very quickly. When we ended our cruise in Moscow (we were able to work with the ship’s Cruise Director to get the departure time that we wanted) an AMA guide accompanied us to the Sheremetyevo Airport. She was with us throughout the check-in procedure. Another couple took a taxi to this airport and they did, in this instance, have a cheaper fare. If the traffic had been bad it could have cost them more. This is a chance you take. The ride was 7-8 kilometres in length and took 35 minutes for us. CHECK-IN: Upon arrival at the start of our cruise we were directed to the Reception Desk and were very quickly processed. Our passports and Russian arrival cards were kept by the ship while we were docked in St. Petersburg. CABINS: Our room was on the second floor, starboard, and mid-ship. The cabins are compact. There is 1 closet for hanging clothes and some shelves for storage. There is a safe which had the capacity to hold 2 iPads, a camera, wallets, etc. There is a small fridge in the room. Although we did not spend a lot of time on our balcony we did enjoy having it, being able to enjoy the fresh air and sitting outside when we could. The bathroom shower stall is small but the water pressure and temperature were great. We were given bottles of water each evening and toilet paper/toiletries were replaced as needed, without having to request them. The first night we did request extra pillows and blankets and they were provided promptly. There is no alarm clock so bring a travel alarm clock with you if this is important to you. There was only 1 electrical power plug in our cabin so that made it difficult to charge the camera batteries, iPads, etc. Bringing a power bar would take care of this issue. MEALS: There are 2 dining rooms on board. At each entrance you were expected to use hand sanitizer. A great idea! There could have been more of this throughout the ship; but the passengers certainly needed to be more aware of basic hand hygiene to prevent disease contamination! Breakfasts were buffet style and there was plenty to choose from. Lunches were also buffet style and there were always options for vegetarians, meat and fish eaters. Soup, salad, cheeses, breads, crackers, fruits, desserts, tea, coffee (including brewed decaf) and water were always offered. Dinner was a sit down/served on the 2nd floor dining room while the 3rd floor restaurant remained buffet style. The food offered was the same. We liked to eat on the 3rd floor as we liked to choose what and how much we were eating. The staff members in both restaurants were all very friendly and tried very hard to please. They quickly learned the likes and dislikes of the passengers. The food was well cooked but basic, not gourmet--always plentiful and always options for everyone. My husband has a severe food allergy and the Restaurant Manager checked the food to be served daily (and when we ate off the ship on excursions) and made sure that we were aware of any potential food dangers. My husband was given a laminated card to be shown to wait staff that had the allergy written in English and in Russian. We were given excellent care and attention. Beer and Wine was provided at dinner. At lunch you had to pay for this and for soft drinks. STAFF: The staff were very friendly and tried very hard to please the guests. The Tour Guides were students or graduates of the linguistics program at University. All staff were employed by the Russian Cruise Ship Line with the exception of the Hotel Manager and the Cruise Manager who were employees of AMAWATERWAYS. Most staff had some English language, some more than others of course. We were always greeted with a smile. In summary, we were very pleased with the staff on this cruise. Every evening a newsletter, the Daily Cruiser was left in the cabins with details of the next day’s itinerary and any information that the passengers needed to have. EXCURSIONS: The tours were well organized and a ship tour guide was always with each group along with the local guides at most places we visited. Our favourite tour guide, Maxim was excellent and managed to keep track of wandering tourists – not an easy task! Personal audio devices and headsets were provided for each excursion so that it was very easy to hear the guide as you toured. In St. Petersburg we chose to take the free shuttle provided into the City rather than sign up for an optional tour. We enjoyed walking the Nevsky Prospect, (twice) visiting the Church of Our Saviour on the Spilled Blood and wandering on our own. There were organized walking groups for several styles of passengers—those who wanted to sleep in and join the group part way through the day, the gentle walkers, the regular walkers and the fast walkers. This certainly was advantageous for those with different tour needs. We always chose the fast group as we felt we did see more and also had free time to further explore. You chose the group the night before at the Reception Desk. Using hydrofoils in St. Petersburg meant more time at the tourist site, less time sitting in traffic. Moscow traffic is bumper to bumper, 24/7. This added to the time on the bus and took away from time we could have been sight-seeing. Another day in Moscow would have been appreciated. Because of fog on the river the ship could not travel and we arrived quite late into Moscow. Although we saw the Kremlin we were rushed and did not get to truly see and appreciate major landmark. The second day in Moscow was busy with too many activities. We left the ship at 9 a.m., returning at 11 p.m. Although we had a free hour in Red Square, there is so much to do there as we could not see St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Tomb, etc. We ran out of time! We had chosen the extra tour to the Russian Circus in the evening (which I would not do again as this show was long, including a 45 minute intermission so that the children could go on stage and get pictures with the fountains and was a show of skaters, acrobats, a comedian). This is the only extra tour that we paid for. When we returned to the ship we were given dinner but, as everyone had to disembark the next day, starting in the early morning hours for some, this day was just too long. In retrospect we should have booked a couple of days in Moscow after the cruise ended. Those passengers that we have stayed in touch with and who did this all reported that they enjoyed their extra time and saw the same and different sights with lots of time to explore. SUMMARY: We truly enjoyed our first ever river cruise and we were happy to have done this with AMAWATERWAYS. We highly recommend their Russian Waterways River Cruise. We will certainly travel with AMAWATERWAYS again.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was my second Viking River Cruise, and it was just as well-run as the first. The staff was amazing - I can't say enough about them, from the cleaning people to the restaurant staff to the guides to the cruise director. Perfect. I ... Read More
This was my second Viking River Cruise, and it was just as well-run as the first. The staff was amazing - I can't say enough about them, from the cleaning people to the restaurant staff to the guides to the cruise director. Perfect. I do wish the ship had a fitness center, and I find the food on the ships perfectly fine but unexciting. I realize you've got all kinds of constituencies to please so it's probably the best it can be, but I'm from New Orleans where we like every meal to be thrilling! That said, I have no complaints about the food; I just find it somewhat bland and boring. My only other suggestion would be to include more, even if it bumps up the price, in the offshore activities. For example, I'd have liked to have had the option to spend more time at the Armoury, and found what we did see in our brief visit there to be something that should have been included for everyone. I'm so glad I went and hate to think how many people missed out on it because it was an add-on. Oh, and I do have one more suggestion - the music in the Skybar was way too loud and intrusive and repetitive! It would be great if it changed more often and I think would have felt less obtrusive if it had been quieter, and/or all classical. Much of it was pretty lounge-lizard/cheesey! All this said, I had a wonderful time and think Viking really knows how to run things. I'll do another cruise for sure! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Make sure your passport is good for at least six (6) months after dates of travel. This is required by Russia for Visa as well as Viking. Visa for Russia is a pain and needs to be taken care of well in advance. It is meticulous and EXACT. ... Read More
Make sure your passport is good for at least six (6) months after dates of travel. This is required by Russia for Visa as well as Viking. Visa for Russia is a pain and needs to be taken care of well in advance. It is meticulous and EXACT. Use a service unless you are an expert and do it well in advance. You cannot change dates once you get the Visa. This was our first River Cruise with any line. Viking knows how to do a river cruise and do it very well. Passport Control in St, Petersburg took over 2 hours, Customs was a walk through. Viking met us at the exit from Customs in St. Petersburg and everything was great from there until we were flying out in Moscow. Luggage was taken by the crew from the airport to the ship and delivered to our cabin, in Moscow we did have to drag our suitcases from the bus to check in, but... Flights arranged by Viking were very tight for us and we missed our last flight on return home by less than 5 minutes. On return home you wind up going through TSA Screening leaving Moscow, leaving Zurich, and leaving the airport in the USA. Between Customs and TSA, you may miss your flight in the USA of you have an hour or less. OKAY, the cruise itself! Fantastic is too gentle a word. We have traveled extensively on Ocean Cruises on HAL (3 star), NCL, Carnival, and Princess. None of the ocean cruises treat you as good as this. The cabins are much smaller in each class than on an ocean liner, but still large enough to be comfortable and larger than some of the interior cabins on some Ocean Liners. Bathrooms are the same as any Ocean Liner - Control central - you can reach everything while sitting on the commode - yet 2 sinks, not one. Shower only in most of the cabins. Balcony, not just a French Balcony on this ship. Meals: Our chef was from Germany and made very memorable meals. Breakfast and lunch were Buffet, but you could also order special items from the waiters. Dinner was sit down and menu items, always special meals every night and changing every night. If you did not like the special offerings, there were standard items which included Salmon, steak, salads, etc. Salmon was fresh, not frozen, or seemed to be. Steak was cooked to perfection. Wine, Beer, and Soft Drinks (unlimited) were available at lunch and dinner- and I do mean unlimited and you were encouraged to have as much as you wanted of any or all of them. The days in St. Petersburg were wonderful, only optional tour we took was the "Storage" of the Hermitage and well worth it. We also attended the Cossack Show, where Vodka flowed freely during intermission and they tried to sell us souvenirs at 4 to 10 times the price of the other shopping areas. But the show was great fun. All other tours were included and really good to take. Viking did it right here. As we went down the river we stopped at different ports and had tours in each. The ships tours were well worth doing and we did not bother with optional tours at all until we got to Moscow. the regular tours kept us busy and informed. Each little town had it's own charm and just like Ocean Cruises, we could have spent a lot more time in each town. I am not going to spend a lot of time oin the towns because the Viking site does a good job. Moscow. Once again most of our tours were the standard ships tours during our three days. Let me say something about our "three days" in Moscow. The third day is actually departure day and most flights leave in the early morning so there is no third day. We actually left the ship at 0200 - yes 2:00 am for our 6:00am flight. The reason for this is because the airport is an 1.5 hours away and Moscow Traffic is atrocious - traffic ams almost 24/7 is the norm. In fact our plane left over an hour late because our Swiss Flight Crew was late due to traffic. Tours of the Kremlin, Kremlin Armory (optional and worth it) and other ships tours were so good, do them all if you can. One of the best was also the tour of the Metro, WOW!. Shopping at GUM. Let me know if you find the DOWN escalator, please. By the time you return home you will be ready for your net river cruise. We are and Viking is the first one we will be looking at for our next. YOU DO NOT NEED SUITS OR JACKETS - I had a sweater and that was more than enough.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We spent twelve days & nights crusing the Russina waterway from St. Petersburg to Moscow. I enjoyed each of the guided tours from The Hermitage , the Peterhof, the summer Palace to the Kremlin and St Basil's church. Viking managed ... Read More
We spent twelve days & nights crusing the Russina waterway from St. Petersburg to Moscow. I enjoyed each of the guided tours from The Hermitage , the Peterhof, the summer Palace to the Kremlin and St Basil's church. Viking managed to make me feel at home. Each guide, both the tour escorts andlocal guides spoke very good english and were very knowledgeable. The guides managed to make history very relavant and interesting. The mechanics of the cruise were fine. our room had plenty of space , housekeeping did a wonderful job of keeping our room clean and organized. The staff were friendly and always helpful. The food was great! Each day there were many choices that were regional specialties and of course there were also the always present "american menu items available at every meal. This was certainly a "trip of a lifetime" for me and my husband. It was fun to realize that the Russian people and very much like us! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was our first river cruise and we were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the experience. The tours were fantastic, the tour guides exceptional, and the on-board lectures very informative. The food and the food service was ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and we were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the experience. The tours were fantastic, the tour guides exceptional, and the on-board lectures very informative. The food and the food service was exceptional as well. The time was filled with as many activities as one could manage and any down time was your choice. We will definitely take another Viking cruise. They cost a little more but from what we can tell they are worth a little more. The only negative is the Viking suggested gratuity policy. Several of the passengers had gratuities included in the ticket price but many, including us, didn't. We were never offered the option. And Viking's suggestion was to tip everyone and tip them generously including a healthy tip to a general fund to be distributed to the crew. If we followed their suggestions that meant bring a lot of extra cash (although they offered the option to add tips to your bill). That aside it was a wonderful two weeks and we wouldn't have missed it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
After a stress free flight from London Heathrow my wife and I enjoyed 12 days of luxury cruising between St Petersburg and Moscow. The ship was very well appointed and spotlessly clean. The on board staff were very friendly and very ... Read More
After a stress free flight from London Heathrow my wife and I enjoyed 12 days of luxury cruising between St Petersburg and Moscow. The ship was very well appointed and spotlessly clean. The on board staff were very friendly and very helpful especially as my wife was disabled, they were always there to assist. The food was excellent with a wide variety of choice. The Viking Daily was very informative giving details of what was happening the following day. Having 4 days in St Petersburg at the beginning of the cruise and 3 days in Moscow at the end gave us ample time to see the main attractions. The organised excursions were well planned and had excellent guides, nothing was rushed. We will have no hesitation in booking another Viking Cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We started with 3 days in Helsinki, then took the high-speed train to St. Petersburg for 3 days followed by 7 days on the Volga River and canals with fascinating stops along the way to Moscow for 3 days. This was our second Viking River ... Read More
We started with 3 days in Helsinki, then took the high-speed train to St. Petersburg for 3 days followed by 7 days on the Volga River and canals with fascinating stops along the way to Moscow for 3 days. This was our second Viking River Cruise, having taken the Grand European Cruise the year before. Viking does a terrific job all the way with all arrangements including flights, meeting us at the airport, shuttle to the boat and back. Great food with wine. Fascinating tours with excellent local guides speaking English along the way. Most of the things you want to see are included in the tour package. There are a few special tours that you pay extra for, but you are not nickle dimed all along the way as some do. Excellent written material is left at your room every night describing what you will see the next day, when the meals will be served, the weather, etc. Condensed USA and other national news letters are available daily. Boat has fairly good wifi. It worked better in Europe last year than in Russia this year. Special speakers are brought aboard to give talks on things of interest from the Russian Revolution to present day Russian politics. The boat had a piano player and singer for lounge entertainment. Food was excellent with both local food choices and American choices. I don't see how they could have done a better job. Next year we have booked our third Viking Cruise, this time through France and Paris. St. Petersburg has got to be one of the jewels of the world with the 18th century palatial palaces that were destroyed in WWII and then meticulously restored. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Russia was the first item on my bucket list and this trip met all my expectations. Meeting Russia and the Russians through local guides, no-line cultural events, and on-board language and cooking lessons gave me the trip of a lifetime. No ... Read More
Russia was the first item on my bucket list and this trip met all my expectations. Meeting Russia and the Russians through local guides, no-line cultural events, and on-board language and cooking lessons gave me the trip of a lifetime. No going from hotel to hotel, no looking for tours, and no restaurant searches is my idea of the ideal vacation. The bonus, a glass of wine or beer for lunch and/or dinner without a bar tab. When Viking says all-inclusive meals, they meant it. Our cabin was small but held all the clothes of two women with large suitcases with ease. Guides were very understanding about the weirdness of aging and nary an eye roll to be seen or impatient scowl to be seen, a huge bonus for us elderly travelers. The only change I am making for 2015 is upgrading my seat on the plane to give me room to wiggle and setting a flight plan without a 5 a.m. departure time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I returned on 7/5 from a 12 night cruise on the Viking Ingvar from St. Petersburg to Moscow. This was the worst cruise I have ever been on for a variety of reasons. Viking's ads look so wonderful and tempting, so four of us signed up ... Read More
I returned on 7/5 from a 12 night cruise on the Viking Ingvar from St. Petersburg to Moscow. This was the worst cruise I have ever been on for a variety of reasons. Viking's ads look so wonderful and tempting, so four of us signed up for the cruise. Unfortunately, reality doesn't jive with their ads. Our ship looked like a dinner cruise, not a high end cruise. Our cabins were very nice. However, our balcony was next to the public access door, and there was no way to lock the divider to keep people from coming on to our balcony. The lock was on the side of the public access door. I asked for a top sheet for my bed, because sometimes the duvet is too heavy. I received the sheet, but I had to make my bed to add the sheet in the beginning of the cruise and when they did a sheet change. Bathrooms and showers were nice size. We had some air conditioning issues and a night stand fell off the track. Maintenance fixed the problem quickly. Viking advertises restrooms on their coaches, but what they don't tell you is that they are locked and you can't use them. This caused several people significant discomfort. We dehydrated ourselves because we never knew when we would have an available restroom. When we expressed our displeasure with this, Alina, the program director, told us that she couldn't speak to the driver because he had driven off. I mentioned Viking's Service Guarantee to her and to the Stephan Busch, the Hotel Manager. Viking's Service Guarantee gives passengers 24 hours after boarding the ship to inform them of a problem and then they have 24 hours to rectify the problem and if they don't, passengers receive 100% of the cruise fare returned, but must arrange for their own transportation home. Neither on of them rectified the situation or even mentioned it to us again, so much for offering a guarantee. The lack of bathroom availability and lack of follow up from anyone on the shop is inexcusable and ruined the cruise for us. The food on the ship was awful. There was no creativity and not much choice on entrees. Omelets and jams were excellent. The fruit selection was sparse with a wide range of ripeness. Lunch and dinner entrees were horrible. If we ordered off the everyday options, which were salmon, chicken or filet, all three entrees came with the same three sauces on your plate, two zucchini slices, a small dollop of mashed potatoes, which were like lead, and caramelized onions. We would have appreciated more steamed vegetables and a wider variety of sauces. The chicken was frequently dry and rubbery. The filet was a great piece of beef, but lacked flavor. After speaking with the maitre d' Nik, our food prep was no longer over cooked. Nik bent over backwards to try and make us happy. However, corporate sets the menu, so there isn't room for creativity. The omelets, soups and some of the salads were good. The desserts were pathetic. The ship has a complimentary coffee, hot chocolate and tea station offering a very low end type of tea. It would have been nice to have complimentary soft drinks also available. The Filipino wait staff were excellent, especially Joey, Joanne, Darryl and Christopher. Nik, Joey, Joanne, Darryl and Christopher are too good to be working on a ship of this caliber. I asked one Russian server Vayla for a Diet Coke twice and she told me "No" twice. On another day, I asked her if one of the salads had fish and she told me that it didn't, when in fact it did, and I don't eat fish. Would it be so hard to put a sign next to the salads on the buffet line? Pasta selections were horrible. The ship has cookies available in the afternoon. The cookies were Otis Spunkmeyer cookies that you can buy at a 7 Eleven store. I would be embarrassed to serve them and the majority of the food on the ship, especially at a cruise of this price point. I had better food on my flight on Delta from Moscow to JFK. We even ate at McDonald's three days in a row and we never eat there when we are home. St. Petersburg and Moscow are beautiful cities, but I would skip going to the other ports and have more time in each city. The days cruising down the river were boring with not much entertainment on the ship. There was no gym, no DVD players in the cabins. The movies the ship showed on two channels didn't air at the same time as indicated on the TV sheet. How hard is it to get that right? The lectures by the tour guides were excellent and would be nice if they were recorded and could be viewed in the cabin. My roommate got sick and wanted some cough drops. She went to the ship's store and was told by Anastasia "She was done for the day, and were the cough drops and emergency?" My roommate waited until the next day to purchase them. Is this the definition of good customer service? I don't think so. I dropped my guidebook on the gangway and not one crew member standing there offered to help. If you asked on of them a question, they responded, "Don't speak English". I don't have a problem having Russian crew members, but they shouldn't be in an area where passengers are looking to them to answer questions. Christina and Elena at Reception were very nice and helpful in explaining how to get to the subway station. The city tours drove my sites, but you couldn't go into them. Since we had already been to Peterhof on previous trip to St. Petersburg, we took the Metro on our own one day to see the Faberge Museum, St. Issac's Cathedral and the Church of Our Savior of the Spilled Blood. These places are must see destinations. I thought the ballet was going to be at the Mariinsky. Had I known the ballet wasn't there, I would have booked a tour just to see the theater. I also wanted to see the ballet at the Bolshoi, but unfortunately, the ballet wasn't performing that night. I thought about going to the opera, but another late night with a long flight home kept us from going. The Catherine Palace tour was good and so was the Hermitage Tour. However the Privileged Tour of the Hermitage was a disappointment and a waste of money. We had expected to see some restoration in progress and not just a warehouse. The lunch they served was even worse than the food on the ship. The stop in Mandrogy was a waste of time. It was man made tourist attraction for cruise ships. The Kizhi Tour was good. The Krillo-Belozersky Tour and a visit to a local school were a waste of time, especially the visit to the school. The tours in Yaroslavl and Uglich were nice. The Kremlin Armory Tour and the Moscow at Night Tours were great. We added on the Diamond Fund tour on our own and it was spectacular. Given the cost of the cruise, we had expected a quality product, which we did not receive. If the cruise had been in $1000 range, we would not have had such high expectations. If the corporate office is setting the menus, there is nothing the crew can do to improve on the food. I would not recommend Viking Cruises to anyone. We have traveled frequently, I worked in the travel and hospitality industry, the only quality I saw in Viking were the following employees, Nik, Joey, Joanne, Daryl, Christopher, Christina, and Elena. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Having read the reviews, I went with low expectations for the ship. I was pleasantly surprised in many ways. First, the staff onboard were friendly and anxious to please and be helpful. The AMA guides were very, very good at their jobs - ... Read More
Having read the reviews, I went with low expectations for the ship. I was pleasantly surprised in many ways. First, the staff onboard were friendly and anxious to please and be helpful. The AMA guides were very, very good at their jobs - most knowledgeable and ready to answer questions as well as being masters at keeping up with tourists who tend to wander from the group. We were herded through the most crowded and challenging circumstances (for them) with much skill. No one ever got separated unless they chose to go off on their own. The dining rooms on board - and there are two, surprised me with the variety of food available at all meals. Some of the dishes cooked were better than others, but never did I feel underfed. I could have lived off the wonderful soups, the various salads offered and the fresh bread. Luckily I didn't have to do that, as there were many other dishes to choose from. Waiters and waitresses were young - many college students at summer jobs - and made up for their occasional lack of serving skills with many smiles, much attention to diners' needs and a great desire to please. I heard some passengers, who had cruised with AMA to other European ports and were disappointed with the style and luxury level of the ship, say that the cabins were like a Motel 6. I really can't argue with that, but the cabins were cleaned daily, the beds were comfortable and the water pressure in the showers was fantastic. Frankly, that suited the two of us. Luxury is nice, but in order to see a good bit of Russia and not have to pack and unpack, I found the cabin to be a good trade-off. All the cruise ships are Russian owned - the cruise companies can refurbish the interiors. There was no feeling of discomfort for us due to the political situation in the Ukraine. There had been a fair amount of cancellations on the ship, but everywhere we went was packed with tourists from all over the world. The tourist industry in Russia may be suffering this year, but it was surprising to me how many tourists were there (we all go to the same ports) on the river cruising and in the cities. We never felt unsafe in any way, except from being trampled by tourists in the Hermitage. We had a wonderful time. AMA Katerina is a good choice for this trip.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014

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