Sail Date: July 2019
Choose this cruise as it was leaving on date that afforded some of best opportunity for good weather and ability to see marine wildlife and glacier activity. I am more of a casual traveler, not swimsuits but not formal. This was geared ... Read More
Choose this cruise as it was leaving on date that afforded some of best opportunity for good weather and ability to see marine wildlife and glacier activity. I am more of a casual traveler, not swimsuits but not formal. This was geared to the formal experience of dress and meals, relegated to the Buffett most nights. The entertainment at night was less than average when compared to other cruises. Not the large productions that I was used to. The hot tubs and pools were overrun by children who stayed in all day. They now try to hard sell items at dining and other venues which I had not encountered before. It was like a telemarketer. I am sensitive to smoking products so the smile from the open casino often made that part of the ship off limits. The outside smoking was on the back in a prime location which is an area I usually go to. Ironically it was located outside the workout room. The downside of traveling at this time was the 4-5 other cruise ships in the same ports. Completely overwhelms the services in small towns. It was like grand central station at rush hour. There medallion system did not work well and the apps that we attempted to download were problematic or did not work. Those that purchased the WiFi were very disappointed in its performance. I could not believe in this day and age they made u pay for it, and after hearing others, am glad we did not. Days at sea the on board food service is simply not equipped to handle the almost 4000 guests. Personally, we would skip the inside passage cruise and just fly to Alaska next time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this trip since we were interested in doing the route from St. Petersburg to Moscow. It was fantastic. The shore excursions chosen by the ship were amazing. And a big KUDOS to the tour guides both on the ship and privately. ... Read More
We chose this trip since we were interested in doing the route from St. Petersburg to Moscow. It was fantastic. The shore excursions chosen by the ship were amazing. And a big KUDOS to the tour guides both on the ship and privately. Special mention must be made to Valeria. She is first class as a guide and lecturer on Russian history. We had two lectures given by her and it was fascinating. Valeria really took us back in History in such vivid detail that you felt you were living in that era. Her tours especially Moscow by Night was brilliant. Thanks for the chocolate Valeria! Just what the dr. ordered at 100am!! Breakfast and lunches were excellent. But please please do something about dinner. The food was not good and if we had had a buffet with salads and vegetables, that would definitely have been great. The Matre D' Jonathan, is first class together with his staff. The coffee station on the 2nd deck is great and always available 24 7. There were hardly any entertainment activities besides the ship duo who played every night. TV was terrible. What about more movies? Documentaries? One needs that on sea days. Viking is a great company to sail with. They look after you very well and here I would like to give Stephanie Hotel Manager a big Kudos for the outstanding job she is doing. Also we arrived earlier that expected on embarkation day. It was pouring with rain and front desk staff received us very warmly and immediately ushered us to our cabin . They were very kind and in all our dealings with the front desk, service was top class Douglas, Program Manager, is a gem. Always keeping you up dated on your next port, etc. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
My sister and I choose this cruise due to our desire to see Russia. Our other motivation was Viking was offering free airfare in the year 2018 for this cruise. The ship shape is differ from the long ships Viking uses for their other ... Read More
My sister and I choose this cruise due to our desire to see Russia. Our other motivation was Viking was offering free airfare in the year 2018 for this cruise. The ship shape is differ from the long ships Viking uses for their other river cruises. But once the cruise was started and we could feel the open waters we were cruising we understood the reason why. We absolutely loved our cruise. The biggest factor contributing to this result, other than the amazing Russian cites we visited , was the crew onboard the Akun. They went above and beyond to make sure each passenger was enjoying themselves. Those working the front desk went to great extremes to accommodate a special sightseeing request that my sister and I had to tour the Hermitage storage facility. The staff in the dining room were special. Very attentive, engaging and friendly. We developed a fond friendship by the end of the cruise. We hated to say goodbye to "our girls". Some of my fondest memories came from the home hosted visit in Uglich and a tour of the children art center in Kuzino. Although we enjoyed all the tour excursions. We arrived in St. Petersburg a few day prior to departure and the hotel arranged by Viking was centrally located to allow easy touring on our own. Plus there was always a Viking representative available during the day for tips regarding restaurants and sightseeing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
This is our 2nd cruise with Viking. We had taken the Grand European Cruise the summer before and fell in "love" with the way Viking does cruises and does business. The cabins are awesome, we always get a veranda so we can sip ... Read More
This is our 2nd cruise with Viking. We had taken the Grand European Cruise the summer before and fell in "love" with the way Viking does cruises and does business. The cabins are awesome, we always get a veranda so we can sip wine and watch the world go by - so much fun. The cabins are well appointed. The food is fabulous and the choices are just right. The ability to choose which trips outside of the cruise - every day was just so nice and the things we could do were so educational and culturally appropriate for Russia. We learned so much - more than you could ever learn in a book, you have to live it. The entertainment was fun on board and on the excursions!!!! Oh....And the service was so nice, our cabin was always neat and clean and the staff was ALWAYS very attentive to our needs. We fell in love with Russia and St. Petersburg in particular. We stayed there a few days in advance of the cruise and someday we hope to return. We would love to return on another cruise in Russia and maybe we will. There is still a lot of the Viking World to explore and return trips will have to wait until we do some more of the "Viking World." The one thing we would re-do is take the advice and do the "Special" tour of the Hermitage - it is 8 hours. We did the regular tour - 4 hours, and were disappointed that we could not stay longer. You could visit there for years and not see all of the Hermitage. We also like the fact that there are NO children on board. We are adults and prefer the company of like minded adults for culture, education, and cruising in no smoking and no gambling. IF we wanted to do that we would go on a cheap ocean cruise with another company. We like Viking on both the Helgi and Baldur River Boats. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Few people travel to Russia so it gets peoples' attention when you tell them where you have been for the past couple weeks. They sincerely want to see photos and hear about the trip and it is more than just a nice gesture on their ... Read More
Few people travel to Russia so it gets peoples' attention when you tell them where you have been for the past couple weeks. They sincerely want to see photos and hear about the trip and it is more than just a nice gesture on their part. We had to have 5 "gatherings" here at the house to show off the photo album and explain all the educational values from the trip. Things like the population of the cities, where do people live, work and play, the traffic, the airport, cleanliness of the parks, streets and rivers are what I want to learn while there. Those are things I want to learn and the reason for my taking the trip. Then you have the luxury of having many guided tours and events, all of which are very well planned and executed and if you don't learn from them, you aren't listening to your earphones or reading provided material ahead of time. And at the end of the day, you have the pampering from the crew on the ship. All the crew members on this cruise were outstanding from the wait staff to the housekeeping. The food was GREAT, well presented and ample in quantity. Thank you for a great cruise, Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
A comfortable leisurely way to an introduction to Russia, from large cities (beginning & end) to the countryside. We recommend ending in Moscow, making the whole trip a build-up. The ship was very comfortable, the food good, the ... Read More
A comfortable leisurely way to an introduction to Russia, from large cities (beginning & end) to the countryside. We recommend ending in Moscow, making the whole trip a build-up. The ship was very comfortable, the food good, the service impeccable; it was the right size of ship. The excursions were varied, interesting, even intimate, without being overwhelming in number and size; scheduling was excellent. The guides were very professional, informative and friendly, and always available. We picked a time period which was cool / cold (could not really use the outer deck effectively), but this ensured that the places visited on excursions were not over-crowded. Some of the events -- ballet, concerts -- were particularly enjoyable, as was the banya (Finnish sauna & plunge). The embarkation and disembarkation experiences were extremely smooth and easy; Viking was very well organized for a glitch-free entry / exit. We would gladly book with Viking again on another such trip elsewhere; we tend not to repeat trips. Timing is critical on any trip because associated popular excursions can easily be over-crowded, detracting from the enjoyment. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2017
Cabin was fine, the same size as other cabins but this ship is not a spaceship and has been renovated and converted so the cabin is nowhere near as good as the other scenic ships. The staff on board are great, very helpful and ... Read More
Cabin was fine, the same size as other cabins but this ship is not a spaceship and has been renovated and converted so the cabin is nowhere near as good as the other scenic ships. The staff on board are great, very helpful and accommodating the best staff we have ever had on a cruise, they were wonderful. The food was fair only, drinks were only offered free with meals and often hard to get. The scenic Booking office here in Australia is woeful,they were of little help if you ask a question, I received a response to my question three days after I had boarded the cruise and this morning Scenic rang me to advise my wait list for the same cruise was now available,I explained I finished this cruise 10 days ago! Scenic booked our flights, we were taken from the ship way to early for our 1.5 hr flight resulting in a wait of 4.5 hrs wait at the airport. We then waited another 6.5 hrs in Frankfurt for our Singapore connection. If I had booked myself I would have selected connecting flights which were available. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
I chose thiis cruise because I have always wanted to see St. Petersburg because of the history of the Romanov dynasty. I was not disappointed. Embarking and disembarking was smooth and efficiently handled. We were greeted promptly at ... Read More
I chose thiis cruise because I have always wanted to see St. Petersburg because of the history of the Romanov dynasty. I was not disappointed. Embarking and disembarking was smooth and efficiently handled. We were greeted promptly at the airport and traveled by bus to the ship where we were greeted with a typical Russian beverage and shown promptly to our cabin, The Helgi,a large but homey ship, had several cozy areas where one could sit by a window on the landings of each staircase. In addition, there were 2 gathering areas (each with a bar and tables): a nice cozy cafe where one could grab a quick continental breakfast in the fore of the ship and a larger area in the aft where the talks and nightly entertainment were held. The duo piano player and female singer were a highlight of the evening and played a variety of music that we could dance to. The staff were exceptionally attentive to our needs for the entire cruise.The restaurant staff were friendly and catered to our needs.One of the nice surprises was a luncheon party on the large outdoor deck where the crew served typical Russian food and drinks including beer and vodka. The Hermitage Museum, the winter palace of the Romanovs, was an included tour not to be missed as was the Peterhof Palace, Moscow also exceeded my expectations. Don't miss the night tour of the city. It was amazing. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
What a beautiful country to visit. This was our 10th Viking Cruise and as always we had a great time. The boat though ok was NOT up to Viking standards though Russia tells them what boats they can use. The ship was a 90 era boat that was ... Read More
What a beautiful country to visit. This was our 10th Viking Cruise and as always we had a great time. The boat though ok was NOT up to Viking standards though Russia tells them what boats they can use. The ship was a 90 era boat that was updated a couple years ago. But still a 90's boat. The stairways were very steap and hard to go up and down. Only one public bathroom on the whole boat so if you get the urge you could have a long walk. So spending the evening having drinks in the bar or up on deck it can be a long ways back to your room. The other thing I didn't care about was the internet. Good if you were the only one on the boat which I was a couple times but the other times was terrible. One other thing was at lots of ports we had boats tied to us and sometimes on both sides of us which completely blocks your view. When in the 2 main ports at beginning and end of cruise for about 3 days each if you paid big bucks for a balcony you wasted your money if ship next to you within inches. I'm not posting this to talk you out of the trip just in the hope Viking can get a new boat somehow. If I could afford it I'd go again but still have a few other Viking trips to take. We have paid for another one over Xmas and 2vbext year so we love Viking. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We have always wanted to travel to Russia and see the sites, meet the people and learn about this incredible country. We started n St. Petersberg and loved that we didn't have to stay in a hotel, but went straight to the ship and ... Read More
We have always wanted to travel to Russia and see the sites, meet the people and learn about this incredible country. We started n St. Petersberg and loved that we didn't have to stay in a hotel, but went straight to the ship and just had to unpack once. Our tour guides were fabulous and also provided lectures about Russia history on the ship. Each small town we sailed to had its own personality and wonderful souvenirs. There was free time and good free Wi-Fi. The cabins were perfect with comfortable beds and nice size bathrooms. The verandas had comfortable chairs. Food was good and a good variety. The ship staff was remarkable and work so hard. The wait staff knew your name the first day and called you by name immediately, They remembered what you prefer to drink whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic. It was amazing! Moscow was wonderful and we signed up for Moscow at night which was incredible. Red Square and the Kremlin during the day and then at night walking and by boat. This cruise was amazing, informational, and we met great people from around the world. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2017
The experience itself was very good but the trouble I have had dealing with Viking administration before the cruise and then afterwards because I had an injury onboard and having to file a claim has been incredibly difficult. Because of ... Read More
The experience itself was very good but the trouble I have had dealing with Viking administration before the cruise and then afterwards because I had an injury onboard and having to file a claim has been incredibly difficult. Because of their indifference to matters of this nature I would be very careful of dealing with Viking again! The ship was clean and housekeeping was excellent. The cabins are small but adequate and nicely designed. The food was abundant but not as tasty as I would have liked it to be. Everything was presented beautifully but when it came down to was it delicious - no. The excursions were very good but the bus trips to and from were tedious and could have been planned better to avoid so many bus trips in the same day. The entertainment was quite simple - just a piano and a singer, but they were lovely to listen to. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
I wanted to see Russia while I still can. It was amazing, a lot different than we thought it would be. Everything was very clean and safe. Except for a weather problem due to the date that we cruised(ice on the lake), everything proceeded ... Read More
I wanted to see Russia while I still can. It was amazing, a lot different than we thought it would be. Everything was very clean and safe. Except for a weather problem due to the date that we cruised(ice on the lake), everything proceeded without a hitch. The tour guides that accompanied us the ship were very knowledgeable and as were the local guides. The disparity between urban and rural is amazing. The tour of a locals residence is a must. The ship's crew was excellent and very attentive to our requests. The food was great with a lot of regional choices. Our cabin had a veranda which was bigger than our European cruise. We did not sit outside because of the temperature. There was adequate space in our cabin for our belongings and the housekeeping staff kept it very clean. Our cruise actually started in St. Petersburg after a train ride from Helsinki. We would definitely recommend this cruise if you are interested in experiencing Russia. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
This was my Mother's dream to go to Russia. So I went with her, she 80 and at times needs help getting around. She has taken four previous Viking River Cruises and loved them all. I have over 100 cruise days on ocean ships but never ... Read More
This was my Mother's dream to go to Russia. So I went with her, she 80 and at times needs help getting around. She has taken four previous Viking River Cruises and loved them all. I have over 100 cruise days on ocean ships but never a river cruise. My Mother, my girlfriend and four friends have all sailed with Viking in Europe but never Russia. They rave about how great Viking trip are.....I didn't see that in Russia. This may be my first and last river cruise. It started with Viking offering free air. 27 hours from Seattle to St Petersburg with lay-overs in both Washington DC (2.5 hrs) and Vienna (5.25 hrs). We arrived on the boat at 6:30 pm losing the whole first day. Our return air out of Moscow was a bit better only 19 hours, just one lay-over in Frankfort 91.5 hours). However.....our flight left Moscow at 6 am after we were taken off the boat at 2:30 am for the two hour drive to the airport. We tried to get the flights to Russia changes 6 weeks prior to the trip but Viking said nothing was available. Truvor is an outdate boat design that was refurbished a few years ago. The staterooms were small, Mom amd I worked a system when only one of us at a time would move around to get dressed to avoid constantly getting in eachother's way. No drawers except a shallow desk drawer, limited cabinets with selves and a small closest, challenged us to find room for our clothes to avoid living out of a suitcase. These was plenty of room to store our suitcases under the beds. The bathroom was cramped but we managed, one at a time. The common room on the boat were small and space was not available for all the passengers to attend briefing together. They performed two briefing to accommidate their lack of space. We had unseasonably cold weather (first snows in May in St Peterburg in 50 years). Due to the cold weather, it was difficult to use the decks and balconies for very long, forcing everyone to compete for the cramped interior spaces or stay in your rooms. The Russian boat crew was every professional and navigated the waterways and locks expertly. One very seldom noticed the operations crew as they went about their business. This was Vikings first trip of the 2017 season. Over half the bar staff and dining staff appeared overworked and undertrained. When the dining room got busy, passengers often waited for refills beverages and staff was inattentive to anything but getting meals out. Several of the staff were on their first cruise contracts, so the inexperience showed. I have dietary restrictions. Viking had me send a very detailed description of my needs and said the ship staff would be given the details. The ship staff had no idea of my needs, the information was never passed on to the ship, except to say "a diebetic diet". Close but not really. My "diabetic box lunch for an excursion had sugary juice, starchy potatoe chips and white bread comercially mad ham/cheese sandwich....nothing I could eat. Every dinner, I told the wait staff to replace the starches or white carbs with extra vegitables, but 'No carrots".....every meal I got extra vegitables with extra carrots.....10 straight days. Only two of the four or five bartenders knew how to make simple drinks and one of the more experienced bartenders was fired a few days into the trip for too much drinking. I saw one passenger order a "Dirty martini"...the bartender asked what that was and the passenger has to tell him how to make the drink. I've taken Mediterranean Sea cruises three times the length of this trip at half the cost. This was a very expensive trip for very overrated service and ammenities. The free on-board wifi was great in St Peterburg. I could send/recieve e-mails and post social media with or without attachments and photos.Once we left St Petersburg it was terrible. For days we could not send/recieve a thing. At the first stop on the river, Mandrogy, we were rafted against a Russian riverboat company ship. Viking wifi did not work. I could sit on my balcony or stand on the dock and get great wifi from the unsecure Russian ship wifi....for just that day. Once we got closer to Moscow the wifi was sketchy at best but I was never able to send an attachment or photos...just e-mail. The on-board and local tour guides were very knowledgable and entertaining. However, they could coordinate their speaking points a bit, because very day, every tour guild kept repeating the same Russian Royal family histories. Twice would have been ok, but after 5 or 6 times of the same information....I got it. Russia was very interesting and that saved the trip. More importantly, Mom got to go to Russia. St Petersburg was beautiful, by far my favorite city in Russia. Moscow was a modern metroploitan city. Both were very clean and we felt safe traveling about. The river portion was interesting and the small towns were a joy to visit. We missed out on Kizhi because the lake was iced over. Iced over should have been interesting to see. At the briefing, we were told the boat would stop at anchor as we were going to follow an icebreaker through the icefield and it was safer to do during the day. I awoke to find we transbersed the ice during the night, one passenger told me heard the ice hitting the hull and that woke him to go check it out. I'm a sound sleeper and missed the whole thing. The boat docks outside the interesting part of St Petersburg and Moscow. If you are comfortable taking subways, the ship staff has good information on getting to and from the subway and city centers. Traffic in Moscow is so terrible, that bus/taxi travel is time prohibitive. Had Russia not been so interesting. I would have given Viking a much lower overall rating on this trip. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
It was a wonderful exposure to the county of Russia, the history, and the current climate. Having three tour people on the ship full time, really helped. And everything went off like clock work. We were fortunate enough to have one stop ... Read More
It was a wonderful exposure to the county of Russia, the history, and the current climate. Having three tour people on the ship full time, really helped. And everything went off like clock work. We were fortunate enough to have one stop canceled because the ice was too thick, so we followed an ice breaker through the ice. Never expected that and it was quite an experience. Once the Russia security made us line up and wait forever to get OFF the boat, even being there several days. Getting on the boat is one thing, but none of us could understand why we had to wait. And all they had was one "portal" for everyone get off and on to go through. A little thing, but having coffee always available, with cookies!, was really nice. I was very impressed with the way it was all organized. I didnt feel we would be left in Russia, except on the underground Read Less
48 Helpful Votes
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
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We went on this trip just to see what Russia was like. Overall, you spend 2 nights in St Petersburg in a 5 star hotel, 6 nights on a 5 star boat, and end in a super super 5 star hotel (we were in St Regis) in Moscow. Wow, what a trip! ... Read More
We went on this trip just to see what Russia was like. Overall, you spend 2 nights in St Petersburg in a 5 star hotel, 6 nights on a 5 star boat, and end in a super super 5 star hotel (we were in St Regis) in Moscow. Wow, what a trip! Nice, relaxing cruise. Not a lot to see on the cruise cause this part of Russia is very rural and not many people. Would I recommend this trip to other people? Definitely, you got to see Russia, and this is a great way to do it. Monika at Travel All Russia (TAR) was great in getting it set up for us. I would recommend going from St. Petersburg to Moscow vs the reverse direction. Primarily cause things get better as you head to Moscow and you end on a really high note in a super 5 star hotel in Moscow. We used the airline rebate and made our own plane reservations since we could get a non stop flight on Singapore Air from Houston to Moscow. We flew into Moscow, then to St Petersburg on Siberian Air (counter #106 at the Moscow airport counter). There must 150 counters so make sure you know what counter number your return airline is to make life better when you show up. Even though we made our own air reservations, TAR still met us and shuttled us to the hotel. After a 16 hr flight, that was so great and what a relief! We arrived a day early just to hit some sites, hang out on our own and shop. You start out the tour by spending two nights in a 5 star hotel in St. Petersburg. Cool. You tour the local city sites. The palaces are so beautiful. You have to hit them all. On the second day, you tour the city and a palace and end up at the Volga Dream river boat for dinner. Now this is a really 5 star river boat. It is just so nice. The crew were super service oriented. Ready to help out with anything. Now the food was something else, it was excellent and tasted great (that make sense?). Breakfast was buffet style with the chief cook making country theme omelets to order. A very wide selection of items from pastries to fresh fruit to hot items were available, as you would expect at the 5 star level. Lunch was again had an excellent selection of items with the main course meal choices changing every day and such a selection of deserts to chose from. But, Dinner now that was special. Each entrée was an art presentation. Did I say the food tasted great, well, I will say it again, and the food service was outstanding. Tables were listed by language, English, Australian, German, etc. Dinner always turned out to be such a fun time that it ran exceedingly long as we enjoyed the conversations of people from different countries. Overall, the food had numerous Russian food themes for those who want to eat the local type menus. The days cruising were filled with activities and lectures since Russia is very rural around the river route, not a lot to see. Really enjoyed the Russian history lectures from Professor Ludmilla Selezneva, a very good and energetic speaker. She took each time period starting way back and going all the way to President Putin, explained how it effected the Russian development. Since we were seeing monasteries and churches built by various Kings and Princes, it was nice to know how they fit into the Russian puzzle to enjoy what we were seeing. We also had classes on the Russian Language. I was not a very good student, only learning two words, toilet and thank you, but did learn to sing a song, well sorta. I found our stop at KirilloBelozersky Monastery was interesting in that we got to see the “lake of youth”. Washed my face in the lake but it did not help, still look old and it sure didn’t help the ducks in the lake either. They looked pretty old. My favorite city tour on the cruise was Yaroslavi City. Just a lot there to see. The guided tour of the Governor’s house was very enjoyable. Don’t want to miss that. I was not too interested in the other stops Our last night on the cruise, we entertained the rest of the passengers with our song, sure not going to win any awards. At Dinner, we danced around the tables after a vodka tasting session. Did we ever have a good time! We departed the ship on the last cruise morning for a tour of Moscow, the Kremlin and Red Square….. ending at a super 5 star hotel. We were in the St Regis. Wow. Now that is a real uptown hotel. Well naturally, it was at the Red Square! The next day consisted of continue touring the highlights of Moscow. The following morning ended a very enjoyable 5 star Russian adventure. The first night in Moscow, we were given the opportunity to see a great Russian dance show “Kostroma” listed as the Folk Show. It was a “Vegas” quality show in their main musical auditorium. That alone is something to experience. I highly recommend attending whatever Folk show is on when you are in Moscow. Notes. I would advise bringing medicine for a head cold and cough. There are no ATM machines between St Petersburg and Yaroslavl. You may not have time to utilize it. There is one computer on board with WiFi capability for free. There was free WiFi at Yaroslavl square that I logged in to send some emails. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We wanted to see Russia, and Viking River Cruise is the BEST way. EVerything was beyond expectations. The staff was top notch, the food to die for, and room superb and the tours and information excellent. I can't think of any way ... Read More
We wanted to see Russia, and Viking River Cruise is the BEST way. EVerything was beyond expectations. The staff was top notch, the food to die for, and room superb and the tours and information excellent. I can't think of any way they could improve! I have travelled to Russia five previous times, and this was by far the only way to see Russia. You waste no time getting repacked and rushing to trains/planes to your next destination. You see beautiful sights along the way and have excellent guides to prepare you. We were beyond impressed with everything. We had plenty of free time and plenty of tours, which were very well organized. The ambience of the ship was amazing. I would do this again in a heartbeat--well worth the money. My travel partner had never been to Russia and she was also duly impressed with everything. Bravo to all! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
I enjoyed this cruise very much. I had been to St, Petersburg before and did not mind returning as there is so much to see, one visit is not enough and Moscow was always on my wish list as I have read many books about Russia and the ... Read More
I enjoyed this cruise very much. I had been to St, Petersburg before and did not mind returning as there is so much to see, one visit is not enough and Moscow was always on my wish list as I have read many books about Russia and the history of the Tsars. From start to finish the trip was excellent with everything going like clockwork. It was impossible to do all the excursions but the ones we did were excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed the Ballet and the Cossack Folk Song and Dances which gave you a real insight to the people of Russia with their talent. The Kizhi walking tour,Yarolavl city tour and Governor's Residence tour and the home-hosted visit in Uglich were all worth seeing and were both very interesting and entertaining. The only disappointment was the vessel used for the Moscow at night tour. This was a very old small boat. We were fortunate with the weather but if it had rained we would not have been able to see much as downstairs was too low and would have been cramped. Also the toilet was not working and the captain just shrugged his shoulders as if he could not care less. I think this was known about beforehand. This to me did not meet with the Viking standards we are used to. It goes without saying that all the palaces and churches we visited were exceptional. An added bonus to this trip was having our stateroom upgraded as a large company had apparently cancelled. This started our holiday on a high. Thank you. Brilliant staff. We were spoiled with their friendliness and attention. Nothing was too much bother. Our stateroom and the ship itself were kept spick and span and we always received a warm welcome when returning to the ship. This was our second Viking river cruise. We like your service and attention to detail. So much that we have already booked another two cruises in 2017. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2016
We chose this trip to see St Petersburg and Moscow. It was our first sailing with the Viking line and it was of interest to experience a river cruise with the company. The trip was well planned and the trip documentation (information) ... Read More
We chose this trip to see St Petersburg and Moscow. It was our first sailing with the Viking line and it was of interest to experience a river cruise with the company. The trip was well planned and the trip documentation (information) on the various stops was excellent. The river boats were well appointed and well maintained. Food was excellent with authentic dishes provided in a dining room setting. Free wine and beer at the meal times was a nice touch. The support staff was very cordial and eager to help with any assistance. Onboard managers were always visible and involved to welcome the travellers and ensure that the services were provided. The Russian guides were excellent by being well versed with the history their country and current events. They had a good command of the English language and easily understood. They were pleasurable and spoke openly. The excursions in the two large cities were not all included in the initial cost of the cruise. The excursions were very expensive. The Viking tipping recommendations of $25.00 per day per traveller were excessive considering that the average worker in Russia worked for a fraction of that amount. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2016
We knew we wouldn't go to Russia on our own, our usual travel plan. This cruise was ideal, we saw two major Russian cities and a few little villages. We were on board for every night, so no daily packing challenges. AND the Viking ... Read More
We knew we wouldn't go to Russia on our own, our usual travel plan. This cruise was ideal, we saw two major Russian cities and a few little villages. We were on board for every night, so no daily packing challenges. AND the Viking folks really know how to spoil you for any other travel. The meals were delightful with new companions several days. The entertainment was special. Our cabin was always sparkling clean and neat. Excursions were well planned and organized so that 145+ people enjoyed each port and shore visit and didn't have the sense that there were "crowds" - not even once! I can't say enough good about the crew and staffing. Our guides were well-informed and genuine. The crew was friendly and never overbearing. Yes, we would definitely love to do another cruise similar to this one. It was so relaxing and informative. Such a pleasure to travel with Viking. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Great ship, crew and food. Cabin was very comfortable. It was difficult to understand some of the guides because of their heavy accents. Why doesn't Viking use native-Engish speakers? Most of the shore excursions were ... Read More
Great ship, crew and food. Cabin was very comfortable. It was difficult to understand some of the guides because of their heavy accents. Why doesn't Viking use native-Engish speakers? Most of the shore excursions were terrific. Because of the low water level we weren't able to get into one of the stops so we had to be bussed over a terribly pot-holed road. A suggestion for improvement would be to offer activities for folks who choose to stay on board. Most of the passengers were of "advanced age" and couldn't do a lot of walking so they stayed on board. Organized game times, bridge groups, cooking demonstrations, movies, etc., would have been of great interest, I feel, according to the people we chatted with. The staff were all terrific. Very attentive and responsive to our needs. This was our first river cruise and went with Viking based on recommendations of friends. In October we took a second Viking cruise from Istanbul to Venice on the Viking Star. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
I really enjoyed the whole trip and all the places we visited and would recommend it to people. The crew members were amazing and fun. I would have given it 5 stars, but for three things. i think there should b some type of group ... Read More
I really enjoyed the whole trip and all the places we visited and would recommend it to people. The crew members were amazing and fun. I would have given it 5 stars, but for three things. i think there should b some type of group exercise offered since the is no gym on board. Also on the tours I would like to see different levels of walking, maybe a quicker pace for those who like that type of thing. Lastly have the bar at the front of the boat stay open later., maybe til 10. Other than those three things it was a wonderful experience and I am very glad we chose that trip Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
The crew was friendly and always helpful. The guides were very knowledgeable, well spoken and open to all questions. I enjoyed the historical lectures on the ship. Transportation to St. Petersburg for exploration on your own could be ... Read More
The crew was friendly and always helpful. The guides were very knowledgeable, well spoken and open to all questions. I enjoyed the historical lectures on the ship. Transportation to St. Petersburg for exploration on your own could be improved. Lots of time on the river cruising but not enough free time to explore some of the towns. We really enjoyed visiting the school and the home visit. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Russian river cruising is how Viking River Cruises started and as you would expect they have perfected this journey absolutely! The accommodation on board the ship, the food, the itineraries, are all perfect! Everything operates smooth as ... Read More
Russian river cruising is how Viking River Cruises started and as you would expect they have perfected this journey absolutely! The accommodation on board the ship, the food, the itineraries, are all perfect! Everything operates smooth as silk to ensure we as passengers enjoy every minute! As in every other Viking cruise I have taken the outstanding feature was again the staff on board the ship and the local guides they use off ship. What ever they do to have the best staff, keep doing it, they make our holiday experience fantastic! We came away feeling we had a better understanding of Russian history, culture, geography, the people and even the politics. Our visit to a Russian home one morning was a definite highlight! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was our first cruise of any sort, but hopefully will not be our last. Wonderful experience, staff at all levels were superb. Plenty to do and see every day. Our stateroom was bigger than we expected and the bed really comfortable. ... Read More
This was our first cruise of any sort, but hopefully will not be our last. Wonderful experience, staff at all levels were superb. Plenty to do and see every day. Our stateroom was bigger than we expected and the bed really comfortable. The excursions were on the whole really good and very interesting and the guides both from the boat and the local ones were excellent. The daily newspapers and the daily information sheets were really helpful. Wifi connection was much better than expected. The restaurant was great, especially liked the no reservation policy. It was nice not always to have a buffet in the evening. Sometimes the wine service was slow. The only reason we have not given it 5 stars is the tipping problem. Not only having to worry about it, but also we did find the guidelines given to us quite confusing. We would like to either have it included in the price or the guidelines made more simple. Read Less

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