25 Viking River Viking Helgi Russia River Cruise Reviews

We wanted to see more of Russia than just Moscow and St. Petersburg, so we looked at the inland waterway between those cities. Most river cruise companies on this route stop at the same places but we chose Viking as it was the first ... Read More
We wanted to see more of Russia than just Moscow and St. Petersburg, so we looked at the inland waterway between those cities. Most river cruise companies on this route stop at the same places but we chose Viking as it was the first foreign company to develop the route and operates its own boats, giving it greater control. The cruise includes three days in both Moscow and St Petersburg. In both cities Viking docks some way (around 20 km - 12 miles) from the city centre, so if you want to explore those cities on your own be prepared to use the Metro. In Moscow this is easy as the dock is a 10 minute walk from the Metro Station but in St Petersburg you need to take a public bus to the Metro station. This is easier than it sounds as route 119 (every 5 minutes) starts close to the dock and terminates at the Metro station. Details (including map) available at Helgi reception. Tip – buy stored value cards (Troika and Podorozhnik) to save messing with small change Viking offer a number of included and additional shore excursions. We took the Catherine Palace tour in St Petersburg (as this is difficult by public transport), the Moscow up close walking tour (as this starts with a good introduction to the Metro), the Kizhi walking tour and the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery bus tour (as the dock is some way from the monastery.) Viking gave us our tickets for the St.Petersburg Ballet performance in advance and we met the group at the theatre. If you are interested in the visual arts buy tickets on line and visit The Hermitage, General Staff Building and the Pushkin on your own. The Hermitage is worth a day and the other two half a day each. The include tours spend less than four hours at the Hermitage and do not cover the other two (although the extra paid excursions do.) The ports in between provide just the experience we were looking for. The visit to the Kirillov monastery was a high point of the trip and included a school visit hosted by a final year student (doing it as a summer vacation job). Having had school visits on tours to China in the early 1980s I was slightly cynical beforehand but this visit seemed genuine and was interesting. Other points: If arriving by train from Helsinki, the fare we paid from the station to the Viking wharf was RUB 2,500 A two day combined ticket for the Hermitage and General Staff building costs $24 on line; A one day Pushkin ticket including special exhibitions was RUB 1000 Viking offer a one day excursion to Sergiev Posad near Moscow. We did this ourselves by suburban train from the Yaroslav Station (the ticket machines speak English and tell you the time of the next train. On the platform indicator look for trains to Сергиев Посад or Александровка Try and learn the Cyrillic alphabet before you go. Viking provides excellent beginners classes on the boat - worth attending. Food on board was pretty good. German chef. Menu had local as well as international dishes. Bread could have been better Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We took our very enjoyable 1st ever river cruise - Viking’s River of the Tsars. The quality of accommodation, services, food, and tours was in all cases very good. Our chief disappointment was their disregard for a very simple way ... Read More
We took our very enjoyable 1st ever river cruise - Viking’s River of the Tsars. The quality of accommodation, services, food, and tours was in all cases very good. Our chief disappointment was their disregard for a very simple way to operate in a more environmentally sustainable way by reducing their use of single use water bottles which they pass out by the hundreds daily. Despite repeated efforts after our return to learn why they choose not to provide reusable water bottles and water, we have been unable to get an explanation, in part perhaps because they seem to have no department to which environmental performance/sustainability is assigned. If attention to environmental protection/sustainability is important to you, please bring a reusable water bottle. The water on board is perfectly safe to drink, and is served at meals and in the bars. Also please REPLY TO THIS POSTING indicating if you too would be happier as a Viking customer if they provided a reusable water bottle and water refilling stations, so that their corporate decision makers can see that this is something that their customers value and want. Food service was very attentive and meals were tasty and well presented. The wine and beer served with lunch and dinner were of good quality. The tour guides provided from the ship were very well versed in information of interest, and their English was easy to understand. Some of the optional tours especially in Moscow could easily be done at substantially lower cost on one’s own using the very efficient and low cost subway system. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We enjoyed the cruise, despite the flights arranged by Viking. The flights home were particularly difficult - two layovers, not sitting together on 2 flights, chosen seats not provided - despite having paid for Premium Economy and Viking ... Read More
We enjoyed the cruise, despite the flights arranged by Viking. The flights home were particularly difficult - two layovers, not sitting together on 2 flights, chosen seats not provided - despite having paid for Premium Economy and Viking Air Plus. The ship's crew were wonderful, helpful, friendly and extremely attentive. The food was good and the service on board was excellent. The best aspects of the trip were Moscow and St Petersburg - they are fascinating cities and well worth visiting. However, the traffic in both cities was horrific. In both cities the ship docked far outside of the city centres, and too much time was wasted stuck on the bus in terrible traffic. We often spent as much time on the bus travelling to and from destinations as we did at the destinations themselves. The Hermitage in St Petersburg was a wonderful excursion, but marred by the time getting there and getting back, and by the lineups and crowds at the site. All in all, despite the glitches, it was a memorable trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We took this cruise as an anniversary present and it was the best thing we could have done. The entire cruise throughout Russia was beautiful and always exciting. The museums and the palaces were truly awe inspiring. The professionalism ... Read More
We took this cruise as an anniversary present and it was the best thing we could have done. The entire cruise throughout Russia was beautiful and always exciting. The museums and the palaces were truly awe inspiring. The professionalism of the Viking crew and guide specialists was without equal. All of the towns and cities we visited on shore excursions had their particular charm and interesting history. The Swan Lake opera, my first ever, was simply awesome. The Russian symphony was unbelievable. Don't miss it. As for the ship Helgi, it was a total positive experience. The cabin was comfortable ands provided all of the room we needed. The dining experience was exceptional each and every day. Wonderful, perfectly prepared food was served at each meal. Our servers, Nastia, Chazie, and Jill made certain we were happy. Visiting Moscow and St.Petersburg for 3 days each taught us much about the citizenry. Take the trip, you'll not regret it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I wanted to see Russia and thought this would be a good way. I would definitely recommend the Viking cruise. The dock in St Petersburg is out in an industrial area so if you want to explore on your own you will need a taxi. I ... Read More
I wanted to see Russia and thought this would be a good way. I would definitely recommend the Viking cruise. The dock in St Petersburg is out in an industrial area so if you want to explore on your own you will need a taxi. I believe it is possible to take a city bus to the Metro station on the other side of the river. There is an ATM in a souvenir shop on the dock if you need Rubles. In Moscow the Metro station is closer to the dock if you want more free time in town. We were able to see a lot in St Petersburg and Moscow, but the river trip between them really gave me a change to see more of Russia. Unlike the western Europe trip there was more time spent on Russian History, the Russian language and showing us a Russian home, which I found interesting. I was surprised at how open and honest our guides were. They did a great job showing us their country. I returned with a better understanding of Russia and its people than I had before. I felt safe everywhere we went, and really enjoyed the trip. The ship and cabin were very nice but the ships on the Rhine had a better layout. The food was very well prepared and I really liked that a lot of the staff were Russian. On our Rhine cruise there was one management level person who was Austrian, the rest were from the Philippines. They were all competent on both trips, but it was great to interact with the people from the country you are visiting. One mistake we made was not taking the optional tour of the Hermitage. The museum was extremely crowded and difficult to see much. Skip one of the other optional tours in St Petersburg but take the optional Hermitage tour and also Peterhof Palace and garden. We had a great time in Russia. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
So let me begin by my impression of Russia, at least cruising from Moscow to St. Petersburg, stopping at several towns on the way. My fourth river cruise, but none so beautiful as the rivers between Russia’s two largest cities. We ... Read More
So let me begin by my impression of Russia, at least cruising from Moscow to St. Petersburg, stopping at several towns on the way. My fourth river cruise, but none so beautiful as the rivers between Russia’s two largest cities. We found Russia impeccably clean, their population friendly, St. Petersburg an incredible beauty and Moscow, as my title suggests, enchanting. Tagging (wall art/graffiti) visible in only a few small areas. I would strongly encourage everyone to visit this country if your are able. What has always been clear is that once governments are removed from the equation, we are all the same. Now as to our 13 day Viking cruise. The ships are not the usual long ships owned by Viking but rather vessels leased from Russia. They are very clean, but devoid on any luxury. Our staff was cordial, a few members exceptional, the food good (not great) and the shore excursions generally well managed. I realize you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but a few less palaces, monasteries, etc., and more occasion to mix with the population would be vastly more appealing to us. As usual, almost all passengers were from America so ones horizons are not much expanded by interactions. There are other cruise lines that have the same or similar itineraries, so I look over the reviews carefully before making a decision. The guides that Viking uses are almost to a person bright and learned. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This seemed like a great opportunity to get to know the Russian people and tour Western Russia. Previous experience with Viking indicated we would be well cared for and have great tours aside from the cruise itself. The major drawback for ... Read More
This seemed like a great opportunity to get to know the Russian people and tour Western Russia. Previous experience with Viking indicated we would be well cared for and have great tours aside from the cruise itself. The major drawback for us was that the ship used on this tour was older than those of our previous tour and the cabins were smaller. We were not as comfortable and we spent more time on our veranda...roomier than the main cabin. The crew was wonderful and we continue our contact with some. Some off-ship tours were better than others, but all offered opportunities to experience Western Russia. One problem was that many stops along the way were "tourist" destinations and lacked actual Russian social contact. The highlights were in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In-between, experiences were highly variable between great and subpar. My husband has limited mobility, and most tours required walking distances beyond his ability. We did not participate in some tours because of this and since we had scheduled them, we were still charged even though we could not participate. Viking's rating of tour levels of difficulty did not adequately allow us to make choices appropriate to our abilities. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
My wife Vika is Russian. She has wanted me to see St Petersburg for our whole marriage. Finally we decided because Viking offered a river cruise that would let us see so many places including St Petersburg. We loved everything about ... Read More
My wife Vika is Russian. She has wanted me to see St Petersburg for our whole marriage. Finally we decided because Viking offered a river cruise that would let us see so many places including St Petersburg. We loved everything about our cruise! While Viking Helgi isn’t a new ship, they did a great job making everything nice. The crew was incredibly friendly and helpful. And our cabin was always very clean and fresh. The food was also very good. I especially liked that everything was included. From the wine at dinner to the excursions. One thing we especially liked was how being in a group we weren’t stuck in hour long lines to get entrance to our venues. We were really treated like VIP guests. Everywhere we went, Viking had things covered. We especially loved the balet and the music show with traditional Russian instruments. One highlight in both Moscow and St Petersburg were the boat rides by night through the canals and rivers of both cities. We would recommend the 2 day extension in St Petersburg to have time to explore and take in everything. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We wanted to do something different. All of our friends are going to Europe ie Italy, Greece Germany. We wanted to learn more about how the average Russian people live, eat & work. The guides were Russian and their English was ... Read More
We wanted to do something different. All of our friends are going to Europe ie Italy, Greece Germany. We wanted to learn more about how the average Russian people live, eat & work. The guides were Russian and their English was excellent. One of them described her family life as a child growing up in Russia. The meals were excellent and we got to taste many Russian meals. One day they set up stations which had various Russian dishes. The names of each dish was typed and labeled beside each dish. Our room was always clean and refreshed every day. We were celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary. Viking left us a bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates in our room wishing us a Happy Anniversary. We asked if it was possible to visit one of the oldest synagogues in Europe which was in St Petersburg. They happily set us up with a very knowledgeable guide and private tour of the synagogue to include transportation to and from the synagogue. All of the Viking personnel on board the ship treated us as though we were special guests. This made our trip special. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I can't imagine a better way to experience Russia than on a Viking River Cruise. We visited the big cities as well as the smaller towns along the river, we welcomed into private homes, saw some of the most amazing architecture and ... Read More
I can't imagine a better way to experience Russia than on a Viking River Cruise. We visited the big cities as well as the smaller towns along the river, we welcomed into private homes, saw some of the most amazing architecture and learned so much from the knowledgeable tour guides. We are able to learn about the history, customs and culture of Russia every day, both on and off the ship. One of the best aspects of the river cruise is that you never have to change hotels. Once you unpack on day one you don't have to touch your suitcases again until it's time to go home. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, and loved the fact that they took the time to learn our names and understand our individual needs and preferences. The food is superb and the ship is extremely comfortable. We can't wait to take our next river cruise with Viking! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I wanted to see Russia and this cruise offered a 2 week onboard stay that covered a lot of area. The ship, service and food were all excellent, typically Viking. Excursions and guides were also excellent. And Russia exceeded our ... Read More
I wanted to see Russia and this cruise offered a 2 week onboard stay that covered a lot of area. The ship, service and food were all excellent, typically Viking. Excursions and guides were also excellent. And Russia exceeded our expectations. If you like history, arts and music this is a great cruise. The last couple of days in St Petersburg included a fantastic ballet and onboard opera experience. My criticisms are: - we booked thru Viking, which was a MISTAKE, always use a trusted knowledgeable travel agent. Our cruise was during World Cup and the cities were unusually crowded with many of the prime sites closed:( An experienced agent would have warned us and we would have changed our dates. - Viking has Dock locations a long way out of the main cities, so we were riding buses a lot. This was a bit disappointing for a river cruise where you expected to be closer to town. - the majority of the time our nice balcony stateroom was facing another boat at dock, so we would have to close the curtains during the day, forget having a nice view or using your balcony much. - I think it’s great that older less mobile seniors can enjoy cruising, but Viking could do a better job of organizing excursions by mobility, we ended up in some really slow groups for included tours. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We were invited to join friends on this cruise, it being our first with Viking. We enjoyed everything about it. Tours interesting and well organized. Rooms wonderful with nice sized bathrooms. The ship was clean and looked well maintained. ... Read More
We were invited to join friends on this cruise, it being our first with Viking. We enjoyed everything about it. Tours interesting and well organized. Rooms wonderful with nice sized bathrooms. The ship was clean and looked well maintained. Loved the food selections and were so happy that portion sizes were smaller than typical AMERICAN size. We could try everything and not feel stuffed. We made new friends in the dining room since we could sit wherever we pleased, either with a group or by ourselves as a couple. We particularly liked the lectures on Russian history on the days we were cruising the river. Moscow and St Petersburg were busy but clean cities. Have never sat in a port for three days like we did at the beginning and end of this particular cruise, but it worked well giving us plenty exposure to Russian culture. After three days in Moscow we were ready for the cruise down the river visiting smaller towns and seeing some of the countryside and especially enjoying the school visit and home visit for tea and cake. Then we were geared up again for city life at the end of the cruise in St Petersburg though passengers were obviously getting tired by the last day, just in time to return home. We probably shouldn’t have done the 5 hour walking tour the last day. We never felt ill at ease anywhere in Russia because of the staff. They met us at the airport, frequently counted the numbers in our entourage when off the ship and even took us thru security in the airport at our departure. We will definitely travel with Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We had always wanted to travel to Russia and so pleased we finally did. Our cruise was the first of the season which was lucky in so many ways. The crew and guides were so enthusiastic and welcoming. The slight inexperience on the first ... Read More
We had always wanted to travel to Russia and so pleased we finally did. Our cruise was the first of the season which was lucky in so many ways. The crew and guides were so enthusiastic and welcoming. The slight inexperience on the first couple of days quickly improved as they became more confident. Our waitress, Diana, was an absolute delight, remembering our names and preferred teas after only one breakfast. She looked after us superbly at breakfast, lunch and inner. Aileen was another waitress who also looked after us very well and also remembered our names. Food was plentiful, great choices for every meal, changing daily and with always a Russian specialty included in the dinner menu. The chef, Visil, even prepared two curry dinners for new Indian friends who invited us to share with them. That is indeed exceptional as there were about 180 people on board to feed. Little extras were provided such as Russian snacks one day on the sundeck, a full Russian lunch, with plenty of delicious choices, even a snack bag for one day when we left the ship early and didn’t return till 9pm, even then there was full dinner service. So impressed. We bought the Silver Spirits drink package which was well worth it as we enjoyed beautiful wines from around the world, including some excellent Russian ones and many cocktails in the Panorama Bar, where Jay and Chaze provided excellent and friendly service. This is also a great spot to enjoy a lighter breakfast or lunch as you are at the front of the ship with great views. Wifi is a little better there as well. We booked as many tours as possible as we knew we wouldn’t have the chance to visit Russia again. All the tour guides on board were so knowledgeable and interesting, especially Natasha and we were indeed fortunate to be in her group quite often. Every tour was so well organised and the new audio systems worked well. Highlights were Peterhof Palace, Hermitage and the canal trip in St Petersburg. All other tours were very good. Cruising to Moscow was great and although we missed KIzhi because of ice we were treated to a champagne and vodka party with music on the sundeck. What fun. Yaroslavl was one of the many highlights. Very relaxing during this time as more sailing and less sightseeing. The villages we did visit were delightful. Moscow was such an unexpected delight. So clean, tidy and modern, but still with plenty of old buildings and museums. The Cosmonaut Museum was definitely a must for us and we weren’t disappointed. The home visit to a private family home is not to be missed, we were made to feel so very welcome and it was special. Be prepared for traffic in Moscow, it lives up to its reputation as the worst in the world, but the guides know this and plan accordingly. Would we recommend this trip? Definitely. Would we recommend travelling on the first trip of the season? Again, definitely as there are less crowds, everyone is fresh and the weather was perfect, sunny and warm (about 24deg) except for when we sailed through ice on Lake Onega, but that was fun. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Sorry I am late posting this, but we were on the Viking Helgi for the first cruise of the season, which left St Petersburg (SPB) at the beginning of May. We also took Viking’s hotel extensions, in both SPB and Moscow and flights were ... Read More
Sorry I am late posting this, but we were on the Viking Helgi for the first cruise of the season, which left St Petersburg (SPB) at the beginning of May. We also took Viking’s hotel extensions, in both SPB and Moscow and flights were included (as they are when booking in the UK). Our flight out was OK and the transfer driver was waiting to pick us up on arrival in SPB. The hotel used in SPB was the Corinthia, were we stayed there for two nights. It is in Nevsky Prospect and very near the Faberge museum and the start point for Anglo Tourismo canal boat tour of St Petersburg, which meant it was very easy for us to ‘do’ those things independently. The museum was very good and it was easy to visit in the evening, when it was very quiet, and we saw a lot of very interesting Faberge eggs. It was easy to tour the museum without a guide as there were booklets in each room which described the eggs and the reason they were made. The canal boat tour was the one which was recommended to me as it has a good English commentary, not multi lingual. As it is run on a hop on hop off basis we were able to leave the boat on the Neva River by The Hermitage and get on another boat at a later time. We used the time there to just walk along the banks of the Neva, taking in the beautiful view of Peter and Paul Fortress on the other side and having a drink in one of the cafes by a boat pier. The canal cruise was really good and the weather dry and sunny, so we could sit outside on the boat, which gave better visibility then inside. The hotel was also near a number of other tourist places. As we walked down Nevsky Prospect and along side roads from there we saw a lot. There was also a metro station about 5 minutes walk in the out of town direction, which could take us anywhere else in the city very quickly. We were extremely impressed with the hotel itself. The room could not have been better and was very quiet as it was in the inside well of the hotel (we had asked for a quiet room). The room was well furnished, had a very big, comfortable bed and a good bathroom, all of which were in very good condition and spotlessly clean. We only had Breakfast in the hotel, but again, that could not have been better, with excellent food and service. For dinner we went to a restaurant opposite, which served Russian food and again that was very pleasant and served good quality food at a reasonable price, so we returned the next day. There was also a small supermarket opposite were we could easily pick up drinks and some snacks as required. The hotel reception was always quick, efficient and very helpful, as was the Viking concierge (Maria). This hotel could not have been better for our St Peterburg stay. There was an included walking tour with the hotel stay and that took us on the metro, which gave us the confidence to use the metro on our own after that. My husband had learned the Cyrillic alphabet before we left home, so it made it easier to recognise names of metro stations. The tour took far longer than it should have done as the hotel base had been changed, but not the tour, so unfortunately, we returned incredibly tired. Our transfer to Helgi was delayed as there had been an error and another person who needed to be transferred with us had been put on the wrong tour that morning and had not returned to the hotel. This was not good as we had been asked to be ready for the pick up quite early anyway, so we could have had longer exploring SPB, rather than waiting around in the hotel, then being taken to Helgi so early. These two problems were added to the next day when we were taken on a Hermitage excursion and were left waiting outside for the return coach in the cold wind for a whole hour, because the rehearsal for the May parade stopped our coach arriving. This rehearsal is an annual thing on the preceding Sunday to the parade and was scheduled, so our arrangements should have been made around it. That was not a good start, but I must say that after that Viking’s planning worked very well, for the time on the boat. Hopefully those problems we encountered will have been sorted for later cruises (there is always a risk when on the first cruise of a season). Regards the boat, it was in very good condition, the food was good and luckily the boat was quiet as there was very little sound insulation between the cabins. Our cabin (304) was one with a post, which in itself was manageable, but what was not manageable was a very stupid item of furniture that was placed next to it. This item looked like a stool with a padded top, but was about 2 foot square and was of no use nor ornament, and made it extremely difficult to move round the cabin. I had tried leaving it on the balcony, but it kept re appearing in the cabin, then I asked reception for it to be removed a few times, to no avail. Eventually I raised my voice on the phone to reception telling them I was leaving it out in the corridor and wanted it taken away. At that stage they got the message (that was 2 or 3 days after we embarked and several bruises on my legs later). The cabin was fairly small and not well designed so there really was no space for a useless item. After that things improved and the cruise generally went as planned, though we became increasingly annoyed that information which needed to be passed on to us was not written down and delivered to our cabin as has always happened on ocean cruises we have experienced. Instead we were expected to go to a bar about half an hour before dinner time and be ‘talked at’ by the cruise director. No need at all for this as the schedule of the cruise was quite rushed anyway, so it would have been much better if we had been allowed to get ready for dinner or have a peaceful pre-dinner drink. We only did the included trips and used the ‘free days’ docked in SPB and Moscow for independent travel or free time. The docking locations for both SPB and Moscow was quite a long way out of the city centres, but it was possible to go in on public transport. In SPB we got a local bus to a metro station, and then the metro, whilst in Moscow a longer walk across a park took us to a metro station. Reception provided details of both those routes, along with maps of the cities. They were also very helpful with information of how to get to specific locations using the Metro. The staff on board were good, as were the tour guides, who also gave some interesting talks during the cruise, though a combination of their accents and the speed of speaking, it was difficult to follow everything that was said. Some of the younger restaurant staff were not very fluent with English, but we could normally make ourselves understood. As previously mentioned the trips went well after the first day, so we saw and did a lot, but were left quite tired at times. We enjoyed all the ports, though we could not go to the first one as the ice had not melted nearby. We had drinks included with the meals as standard and apart from that we largely just drank the self service tea/coffee, which was very well placed near our cabin, so easily taken back to the cabin. We had gone to the observation bar one night only to find that it was closed after dinner - strange. So we are extremely glad we had not paid for a drinks package as the house wine/beer/soft drinks were fine. The post cruise stay was in The Marriot Grand in Moscow. This was also fairly well placed and very near a metro station, but there was a lot less that was walkable. We had some problems with the hotel Concierge who were far from good, but I will not dwell on that as the hotel sufficed in other ways. One more snag was Viking’s return transfer to the airport as they took us there to arrive more than five hours before the flight time, yet the people form the boat which was departing that day, were only taken to the airport about 3 hours or less before the flight. Again, we were able to do/see a lot independently when in Moscow and we are convinced the cost of the hotel package was a much better spend than the very high prices that Viking were asking for their optional trips. The entrance charges and cost of the canal cruise in SPB was very little. It was great to be able to go into the centre at night and see Red Square lit up, for instance and after being ‘tripped’ and talked at by guides for so long, it was great to just be able to go to places like The Armoury or quieter churches and view them at leisure. Overall, we took a lot of memories home from the cruise and it was very worthwhile, but we are very glad we also had some free time when we could do our own thing at a slower pace and had the chance to have a number of Russian meals. We particularly loved the beautiful city of SPB and have already arranged a return on a Baltic cruise next summer. I have said below we have been on more than 10 cruises, but this was only our second river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We landed in St. Petersburg and were met by the Viking rep who gathered us and got us on the bus. We arrived on our ship and were in our room very quickly. The ship was older then the other Viking ships we were on. The layout was ... Read More
We landed in St. Petersburg and were met by the Viking rep who gathered us and got us on the bus. We arrived on our ship and were in our room very quickly. The ship was older then the other Viking ships we were on. The layout was similar, but noticeably different, and clearly older. All of the same services were available. Russia was more amazing then we had imagined. The museums, cathedrals and palaces were stunning beautiful, extremely ornate and richly decorated. Daily we toured about with our mouths hanging open in awe of the workmanship and materials. Gold, amber, tile, woodwork, carvings, art, marble, jewels - different design periods. One of our co passengers described it later as Opulence Fatigue. We went places we never could have dreamed of being allowed to go, having grown up in Canada and learning in school of Communism and the Soviet Union. To think as adults we might actually visit Russia as tourists was pretty far fetched back then. We visited both St Petersburg and Moscow and small towns on our cruise in between. The small towns were interesting. We visited a real school with children in attendance. One of those kids acted as our tour guide through the school, speaking to us in English and answering our questions with a little help from our ships quide. In wild contrast to the wealth this village was modest, and at least here where we live that school would have been torn down; and the people lived in mostly small houses with large greenhouses and gardens. On the ship, we attended talks on the politics of the last 100 years, learned the history of the Tsars of Russia and their families, got a couple language lessons, stood in Red Square, toured the Kremlin, rode the Moscow subway (Moscow has one of the most efficient public transportation systems in the world) and visited a real home and ate real family food and drank her moonshine. It was all quite an experience. The food on the ship was delicious, with a local food choice and those good old North American standbys available every night. We probably wont go to Russia again, only because there are so many other countries to see in the world. Were just pondering where to go next. If you decide to go, and it is well worth it, check into the Russian visa process and the expected costs before making your deposit. For us, Canadians, the cost of the visa was over $1,000 and should be considered in your travel budget. It may be cheaper through a Russian embassy here in Canada. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This is my sixth Viking Cruise and the 22nd cruise Viking Cruise I have personally paid for (children, parents, in-laws) and it was a complete and total disappointment. The ship's Cruise Director and his staff were completely ... Read More
This is my sixth Viking Cruise and the 22nd cruise Viking Cruise I have personally paid for (children, parents, in-laws) and it was a complete and total disappointment. The ship's Cruise Director and his staff were completely disorganized and when politely and confronted after several inexcusable mistakes, responded with, " this is our first cruise of the season and we're having to work out the kinks". Housekeeping was excellent and the food was acceptable. We enjoyed Russia so very much and I feel that the trip could have been comparable to many of the other Viking cruises we have taken but because of the lack of professionalism and attention to detail demonstrated by the cruise director and his staff, it was a very bad experience. I'm sure that there were those that thought that the cruise was great but with my wife and my seventeenth cruise, we are fortunate to be able to have many experiences to use as a comparison. We doubt will travel with Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
The last time i was in Russia, it was the USSR and I was 20 years old. This was our second river cruise, the first on AMA Vietnam/Cambodia and service wise, that was my reference point. Russia of 2017 is an entirely different country with ... Read More
The last time i was in Russia, it was the USSR and I was 20 years old. This was our second river cruise, the first on AMA Vietnam/Cambodia and service wise, that was my reference point. Russia of 2017 is an entirely different country with a developing middle class, outrageous traffic in Moscow and a renewed sense of nationalism and attachment to the Russian orthodox church. Surprisingly - given the current political climate, our trip 9/26-10/8 was a shipload of mostly older Americans with a few Canadians and Australians mixed in. The Viking Helgi is an older ship, Russian owned which has been refurbished every so often. It is basically plain, functional and as I learned can even navigate through one foot of ice which sometimes occurs in their early Spring river cruises. The Viking Russia trip was as advertised an excellent introduction to Russian culture and history. Starting out in St Petersburg you visit major sites such as the Hermitage and spend a number of days visiting smaller towns/villages on the way to Moscow where you see more culture and history. On the plus side, the service on the boat is excellent and the boat is kept clean. Food in the restaurant is mostly western style, somewhat sophisticated with a few Russian items showing up mostly at dinner. There is plenty of bottled water and I am unaware of any participants suffering stomach ailments. There are televisions in the rooms but the offerings are sparse and the wifi is poor so streaming is difficult to impossible.The boat has NO sound proofing so if you are a light sleeper, be forewarned. Some complained on noise from adjoining rooms or the music in the bar above their staterooms. Russia has excellent cell phone coverage so you almost always have service. You do a lot of walking so the lack of fitness facilities is not missed. Most of the touring is done at a relatively slow pace so participants with physical limitations did pretty well although the tours of Moscow and St Petersburg using Metro required much more walking, about 5 miles over several hours. we were a bit surprised by the weather in late Sept early October, expected 50 and received low 40s with rain the last few days, weather that caused many to develop respiratory colds.There is a doctor on the boat who had plenty of business toward the end of the cruise, cost about $100 including meds. Many folks wore winter coats. The tour guides were almost all outstanding professional, well informed and protective of cruise participants. The guides also offer lectures on russian history which were entertaining. They did not spend much time discussing Russian interference with the American election in 2016. There were 2 highlights of this trip for me, one a visit to a Russian school english language class with a student presentation and an opportunity to peruse a Russian english language text book. The opportunity to meet the 8th grade students was wonderful. The other highlight was a musical performance in Moscow which was enervating and excellent. Viking partners with various cultural and history venues along the route who benefit by having the opportunity to sell their wares to participants. My criticism of Viking is their endless marketing of options and add ons.. The cruise director essentially functioned as the chief salesperson. My AMA Vietnam/Cambodia cruise had none of this and I very much dislike this Viking practice which leaves holes in the itinerary so that participants can spend additional funds, in our case about $600 more for assorted tours which should have been included in the price of the cruise, but were not. In the case of Russia, Viking is the only major international river cruise company doing this tour. My concern was that I needed the organization and safety that being on a tour would bring. As it turned out, a number of participants did well on their own in Moscow and St Petersburg taking in sights or even a hockey game with no issues. Nevertheless this itinerary which required complex logistics justified using Viking, but I would look carefully at their competition on other routes. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We chose Viking because we were cruising in a foreign country and wanted the best protection. Viking has an excellent reputation and we thought it would be a good choice. The trip was extraordinary in every sense of the word. Staterooms ... Read More
We chose Viking because we were cruising in a foreign country and wanted the best protection. Viking has an excellent reputation and we thought it would be a good choice. The trip was extraordinary in every sense of the word. Staterooms were well equipped and there was room to move about. Loved the Veranda! It was so nice to sit or stand there and watch our cruising. Every staff member was professional, friendly and helpful. It was great having excursions, wine and beer included in the cruise price. After the initial price of the cruise, our only payment was "IF' we wanted to tip anyone. It was not automatically charged. Loved that. Also, water was given every time we left the ship and there was no charge for it. Another service provided was a brown bag lunch fixed for us if we were on an excursion during lunch time. In fact, the kitchen made us a food bag when we disembarked the ship to fly home at 2:30am. There is no hesitation in recommending Viking cruises to others. We want to do another Viking as soon as possible. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This was our first Viking Cruise and we felt that it would be the best way to experience for the first time, St. Petersburg, Moscow and cities/villages along the way. The time spent in the two major cities was efficiently used; offering ... Read More
This was our first Viking Cruise and we felt that it would be the best way to experience for the first time, St. Petersburg, Moscow and cities/villages along the way. The time spent in the two major cities was efficiently used; offering comprehensive opportunities. Excursion descriptions were accurate. We were given adequate time to explore some areas independently. On board lectures were outstanding. Local guides were, in general, outstanding. Embarkation and disembarkation logistics were smooth and "well oiled". The cabin was relatively small and there weren't too many quiet places on the ship to sit and read, but it was too cool (late September) to spend much time on the veranda. The ship was clean and the staff, accommodating. In addition to the standard menu, there were usually both starter and entree items of Russian origin. The front desk staff members were in general very helpful. It seemed that every member of the ship's staff did what (s)he could to make the trip enjoyable for everyone. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Although my husband and I are not cruisers, we thought it was the best way to see Russia and we were right. The itinerary and the excursions offered were outstanding. We had opportunities to see other places that were not included by ... Read More
Although my husband and I are not cruisers, we thought it was the best way to see Russia and we were right. The itinerary and the excursions offered were outstanding. We had opportunities to see other places that were not included by taking the subway in St. Petersburg and in Moscow. The crew was superb and the guides Viking selected were very knowledgeable and helpful. We loved the trip and even if we still don't like to cruise, we recommend this cruise to see Russia. Chef Marcel was amazing and the food was incredible. Andre and Micha were fantastic waiters. Paulina, our guide for most of the excursions, was incredibly knowledgeable and generous with her answers. The local guides were equally knowledgeable. The tour director, Douglas, did everything to make our cruise fun and the excursions worth our while. We also appreciated the history lectures on board, as well as the language lessons. The itinerary was perfect because the villages we visited were all unique and different from one another which provided us with a remarkable experience.. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Have traveled the world during 27 years in the Us Navy. Never been to Russia before. Not only were we shown the country, our Viking guides provided us with in-depth political and social background to better understand the mind set on the ... Read More
Have traveled the world during 27 years in the Us Navy. Never been to Russia before. Not only were we shown the country, our Viking guides provided us with in-depth political and social background to better understand the mind set on the Russian people in 2017. We sometimes were breasted outboard of other cruise boats. On every such occasion, I noticed that our Viking staff manning the quarter deck were more attentive, better dressed and the gangway cleaner than those on the other boats. My wife has celiac disease and therefore allergic to gluten. We explained that to the chef when we embarked, then never had a problem with the food. At each and every meal, special tension was given to my wife’s meals to ensure nothing served to her contained wheat. The was a huge relief ot her and greatly appreciated by me. Because our initial experience aboard Helgi was so positive, we are sailing with Viking again next spring to Eastern Europe. Four of our friends are joining us!. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We chose Viking on the recommendation of a friend who had done the Waterways of the Tsars some years ago. It was everything that we had hoped that the cruise and experience in Russia would be and a whole lot more. The country is changing ... Read More
We chose Viking on the recommendation of a friend who had done the Waterways of the Tsars some years ago. It was everything that we had hoped that the cruise and experience in Russia would be and a whole lot more. The country is changing so rapidly. The grey impression of the Soviet Union is gone and in its place is a vibrant country that will challenge your perception of it. We elected to pay a bit more to get a cabin with an outside deck and would recommend it if you can. The public areas in the ship are a little limited in size and we would have felt a little claustrophobic after 13 days if we hadn’t had our small private balcony. That said, the Panorama Bar in the front of the ship was always a little quieter. The ships are comfortable and the food and bar service excellent. We also chose to purchase the add-ons in St Petersburg and Moscow. As Russia and the cruise are such a full-on experience, we’d recommend doing this if you can afford the time. While a little pricey, having the extra two days in both cities allowed us to explore a few more places in both cities at our pace and get a better feel for them. We would have missed the Faberge museum in St Petersburg, the Tretyakov Gallery and Pushkin Institute of Fine Arts in Moscow without them. And being in the hotels in town gave a different perspective from being out of town on the ship. We’d recommend the cruise and Viking as a great way to see Russia.. They literally took care of everything from the moment we arrived at Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg and were met even though the flight was two hours late to the dropoff at Domodedovo in airport. In addition to the two amazing cities the cruise visits parts of Russia you’d never otherwise see such as the wooden churches in Kizhi, the home visit in Uglich or the school and monastery at Kirillo-Belozersky. The banya experience at Mandrogi is authentically Russian. The crew on board were fantastic and part of the experience. We got to know the Russian stewards in the restaurant well and learnt something of the Russian we came from.. The three on-board guides who were with us from the time we joined the ship were knowledgeable. We’d heard that their lectures were a highlight and they did not disappoint.. They were joined by local guides at each stop along the way which added to the experience and the range of views. We hadn't know what to expect in terms of the meals but were very happy. With somewhat simple tastes, the menus offered enough choice with Russian components. The service was attentive and quick and the three Russian stewards in our part of the dining room really made the experience. There are a couple of things to look out for. While the ships were modernised about five years ago and are comfortable, the cabins are not well sound or light insulated. A number of passengers had to move cabins to counter noise so we’d recommend having effective earplugs and light masks – especially if your visit as we did during the “White Nights” period of summer. Also, the traffic in both St Petersburg and Moscow is wildly congested so expect to spend a lot of time in the buses getting to and from town. The ships berth some distance out of both town centres but the days are planned to take account of this. Also note there are no fitness facilities on the ship but you're active enough in the day this should not be an issue. And finally, do as much as you can in terms of the excursions and trips. You’ll meet more Russians that way and that is such a part of the whole experience. Russia has so much to offer. It has a rich history and the combination of the contrasts of St Petersburg and Moscow set against a country reinventing itself is fascinating. There’s something for everyone. But you get the most by meeting the people, and Viking offers a great way to do it. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, finding Russia fascinating. The ship and cabins were, as usual, excellent, and the on-board Vodka tasting is definitely not to be missed. You learn more than you ever knew there was to know about vodka, ... Read More
I thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, finding Russia fascinating. The ship and cabins were, as usual, excellent, and the on-board Vodka tasting is definitely not to be missed. You learn more than you ever knew there was to know about vodka, and you don't get drunk. (They show you how to avoid it. :-) ) (Really!) The excursions included all the big sights - giant palaces and museums - but I really enjoyed that several excursions got you out more into the country, meeting people who live there, in their schools and their homes. It would be for that very reason, meeting some of the people, that I wouldn't do this specific cruise again, myself. Once, yes, wonderful. Other Viking cruises - I'm planning on it. Here, you do see Catherine the Great's palace, the Hermitage, Red square, the Kremlin, ancient churches - those are all magnificent things with no equal elsewhere. (I would call the Hermitage **too** big, myself, but that's me.) (And Catherine's Palace really demonstrates why there was a revolution.) Similarly grand places elsewhere - Rome, Paris, Venice, Austria, China, etc.) I would revisit and have revisited, but a return to Russia is, for me, unlikely. The issue for me is that the Russian people are clearly so very unhappy. They hope to get out of their situation - impoverished, fearful - or at least have their children get out, but that hope is so slim that they are deeply depressed. You can tell that the ones who don't show this overtly are not showing it out of dire fear of the authorities. I thank Viking very, very much for being willing to show us that side of the country. It was a unique experience that was absolutely worth the trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We sailed on the Helgi from St. Peterburg to Moscow in the late Spring. I initially wanted just to visit the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, but was happy that the rest of the trip was completely delightful. The river cruise was relaxing ... Read More
We sailed on the Helgi from St. Peterburg to Moscow in the late Spring. I initially wanted just to visit the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, but was happy that the rest of the trip was completely delightful. The river cruise was relaxing and filled with unexpected stops in small and charming towns along the waterway to Moscow. I especially enjoyed the Banya experience. The Moscow portion of the trip was revelatory. Moscow was not the drab, dreary city that I had imagined. It was beautiful, clean, and filled with history. I was completely amazed by the number of Russian Orthodox churches that we visited from small chapels to large domed cathedrals. I was so pleased that many of the churches are active places of worship available to the people. As for the cruise itself, I enjoyed the itimacy of the river boat which was expertly managed by the chef, the hotel manager, the concierge and the staff. A good time was by my husband and me! Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
This was my first cruise experience and it was a blast. Hats off to Viking Cruises for the very efficient handling of everything: from the flight bookings, to airport transfers, embarkation and disembarkation to and from the ship, the ... Read More
This was my first cruise experience and it was a blast. Hats off to Viking Cruises for the very efficient handling of everything: from the flight bookings, to airport transfers, embarkation and disembarkation to and from the ship, the tours, the accommodations. The staff was just great, from the kitchen, restaurant, housekeeping, entertainment to the tour guides. I have spread the word to family and friends that if they want a great cruise experience, they should try Viking first. There is nothing like a river cruise vs. an ocean cruise. It just makes a difference having a few hundred people to thousands of people traveling with you. I cannot say enough of the guides who were very knowledgeable and just a fountain of information. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Viking Helgi Ratings
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