33 Viking River Viking Ingvar Europe - River Cruise Reviews

This is not a first cruise for anyone. It's a cruise for people who've seen a lot, and want more. The "river" between St. Petersburg and Moscow is a combination of lakes, rivers, and canals. Near St. P, it's ... Read More
This is not a first cruise for anyone. It's a cruise for people who've seen a lot, and want more. The "river" between St. Petersburg and Moscow is a combination of lakes, rivers, and canals. Near St. P, it's mostly uninhabited area. Near Moscow, it's more inhabited. Of the 5 stops on the "river," only two (Yaroslavl and Uglich) are real towns. Kizhi is fabulous, as a recreated ancient community. Mandrogy is an artisan village, and fun (and expensive if you shop), but for tourists. The monastery stop was interesting, but due to fog, we were shepherded past any vendors and didn't see a real town. St. Petersburg and Moscow were fabulous - and exhausting! You walk your feet off. It's worth it, but just be warned. The worst crush was The Hermitage in St. Petersburg - and I was there in a shoulder season! But the fabulous art is incredible and not to be missed. As are any of the St. Petersburg tours, and definitely Moscow by Night. The Kremlin (included) tour was very good, but I wish I'd done the optional tour that included the carriages, jewels, dresses, etc. We saw St. Basil's in the afternoon, which will NOT get you good pictures. You need to be there in the morning. Best souvenirs: Uglich. We skipped the tour and just shopped for 3 1/2 hours. Do not try to buy souvenirs in Moscow; for some reason, they are scarce and expensive. At the St. Petersburg port, there is a souvenir shop, which is better than nothing. Do not bring rubles; banks charge too much. I got rubles 4 times at ATM's, with a charge of $1 each withdrawal, and the best rates. Dollars are almost universally accepted, too. Though outside of vendors, very few people speak English. On the ship, we were coddled by the staff. In the dining room, Jeremiah, Mikey and Dino took fabulous care of us, including telling us to wait til Uglich to shop. In the bar, Dasha and Egor were attentive and helpful. Sasha (from Russia) was a terrific tour director. Andrey was a terrific tour guide. Daniel was the M'd with a sense of humor! Don't miss the pelmini cooking demo, or the vodka tasting! Russia has changed incredibly in the past couple of decades. Not a complete capitalist country, but growing so! The people were warm and friendly (they want our dollars). If you go, you'll love it. I wish you good cheer! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
My husband has been wanting to see Russia for years....I always hedged......but finally agreed to go this summer. Wow! What an eye opener. What was I thinking? Russia is just beautiful! We started our cruise in St. Petersburg where we ... Read More
My husband has been wanting to see Russia for years....I always hedged......but finally agreed to go this summer. Wow! What an eye opener. What was I thinking? Russia is just beautiful! We started our cruise in St. Petersburg where we visited the famous Hermitage, Catherine's Palace, the Marlinsky Ballet (stunning performance of Swan Lake) etc., and made our way to Moscow visiting quaint towns, UNESCO villages, gorgeous churches, monasteries, home visits, and then Moscow. Moscow with its beautiful subway, GUM department store, Kremlin, St. Basil's cathedral and endless other sites. The small boat ride at night was serene and gorgeous. The Viking Ingvar crew was incredible. All of them from Captain Igor, Sasha (our program director) who was organized, always pleasant, with a great sense of humor, Joachim (our executive chef), Daniel (maitre d), witty and talented both, to the crew behind the scenes were without equal. Our sweet waitress Helga and her assistant Yaro made mealtime happy. Valaria, Andrei and Dimitri were our wonderful, knowledgeable escorts. They did a terrific job. I truly believe this has to be the ship with the best crew.... Go to Russia! Go on the Ingvar!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Wanted to visit Russia and see the magnificent art works and learn its history. The daily tours were very good and informative. Viking did an outstanding job of setting them up. Spent an afternoon with a Russian family in a rural area. ... Read More
Wanted to visit Russia and see the magnificent art works and learn its history. The daily tours were very good and informative. Viking did an outstanding job of setting them up. Spent an afternoon with a Russian family in a rural area. Very nice people. Vodka definitely flowed freely! The tours of the Kremlin and Red Square was excellent. We rode the Metro which was amazing in itself with the artwork in the stations. Did not expect to cross such large lakes as we thought it was a river cruise. No problem, but the lakes were huge. St Petersburg was wonderful. Catherine's Palace, St. Petersburg city tour,, the Hermitage and last but not least Peterhof Palace.. The magnificent art works was unbelievable. The food and service on board was excellent. Very good breakfast buffet with some dishes prepared per your order. Lunch on the upper decks were fun, especially when we went through locks.. Glad we took this cruise, highly recommend it to any age. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
This is our second Viking cruise. Loved 'Waterways of the Tsars' cruise. We loved the entire cruise, and all the tours. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. Viking also had three tour guides who traveled with ... Read More
This is our second Viking cruise. Loved 'Waterways of the Tsars' cruise. We loved the entire cruise, and all the tours. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. Viking also had three tour guides who traveled with us for the entire duration of the cruise. Andrei,Valeria and Dmitri are excellent tour guides. Their presentations on Russian history were excellent. The cabin was spacious and very clean. Would have loved if there was a walking track on the sun deck like in the long ships in Europe. We were very impressed with Moscow. Loved all the towns (Uglich, Yaroslavl, Kuzino, Kizhi, Mandrogy) we visited on our way to St. Petersburg. Liked how we sailed on canal, river, lakes and finally river again to get to St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is beautiful and also has so much history. Loved Swan Lake ballet. Food was excellent, waiters were wonderful and courteous. Got to taste Russian specialties. Maitre D was very nice and welcoming. I preferred to sit in the same area of the restaurant most of the time and so got to know our waitress Helga. She is so pleasant and accommodating.The pelmini cooking demonstration was funny! Our tour director Sasha was wonderful and has a good sense of humor. Daniel- the ship's manager was also wonderful and very funny. All in all it was a wonderful trip. Looking forward to more trips with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We sailed on the Viking Ingvar from June 24 to July 6, 2017 from St. Petersburg to Moscow and really enjoyed the trip. Cabin We had a balcony cabin on the 3rd floor, which was fine. While the cabin was under the Panorama Bar, the ... Read More
We sailed on the Viking Ingvar from June 24 to July 6, 2017 from St. Petersburg to Moscow and really enjoyed the trip. Cabin We had a balcony cabin on the 3rd floor, which was fine. While the cabin was under the Panorama Bar, the location did not bother us, as that bar closed by 7:00P. We could occasionally hear some noise, but never enough to be bothersome. However, we heard from people who had cabins on the 4th floor underneath the Sky Bar that it could be loud late at night. The cabin itself was fine, and the heat worked perfectly, which we needed, as this summer has been particularly cold and damp even by Russian standards. There was ample room under the bed for luggage storage. There were hooks on the back of the cabin door, bathroom door and in the bathroom itself, which was great for hanging coats, hats, nightgowns, etc. There was one closet with plenty of hangers and two deep shelves. In addition, there were two cupboards with three shelves each, two bedside tables with an extra shelf underneath, a desk area with a big drawer, and open shelves for our books. The bathroom also had very large mirror-covered vanity with three shelves. We had plenty of storage space. Our only complaint was the door to the balcony. You could open it from the inside, but not from the outside. We accidentally locked ourselves out on the balcony once (having closed the door to prevent mosquitos from entering the cabin) and had to call down to someone in port to ask one of the ship’s crew members to come into our cabin and open the balcony door. Thank God we were in port! The cleaning staff came in twice a day and kept the room very clean. They also replenished bottled water twice a day. Food The food was wonderful. We ate everything, including uncooked fruits and vegetables. We even drank the ships’ water that was poured into glasses. We did not get sick. Our only complaint was the coffee, which was just plain bad. In order to have our caffeine fix, we would have a latte in the Panorama Bar before heading down to the restaurant for breakfast. Beverages My husband bought the beverage package, as the non-ship included wines by the glass or bottle were very expensive. I stayed with the ships’ wine offerings, which were okay. As we were up early every morning, I did not drink that much. I actually liked the Russian sparkling wine, and had a glass every evening before dinner. Excursions Most of the excursions were very good. Several things to note: • The optional excursions tended to be smaller. Groups under 15 are ideal. • The included excursions had a lot more people. Over 15 people is unwieldy and hard to manage, as different people want to do different things. Also, not everyone was able to move at the same pace. It would be nice if they had smaller groups. In some locations they offered a separate group for people who wanted a more “leisurely” pace; they should have done more of this. • It rained a lot. Many of the excursions had 45 minutes to an hour of free walking time after the guided tour. That would have been great in good weather, but was not great during downpours. There should be a “Plan B” for those days with heavy rain and no-where else to go but outside. • The traffic in Moscow is bad. Although the boat was docked near the Metro, we only took it downtown one day. That, in our opinion, was a mistake. It could take two hours each way to get in and out of Moscow by bus. As there was always more than one bus going to the same excursion, we would recommend that Viking offer a “Metro accessible” version of each excursion, for those who would prefer to walk and get downtown in an hour. Staff The staff was friendly, helpful and outgoing. They were thrilled that we came to Russia from the USA and were open to free and frank discussions. They helped make the trip outstanding. At mealtimes, we sat in the same area each day so that we could have the same wait staff. Our waiters were warm, friendly and efficient, at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tipping Tipping was confusing. Although we pre-paid the tips, we were advised to tip the drivers, local guides and tour escorts. However, some of those guides were Viking employees, so we were told we did not have to tip them. Ugh. We ended up tipping each driver $2 per person per trip, and each person who led the tour either $5 per person for a half-day tour or $10 per person for a whole day tour. Bring ones, fives and tens, as there was no way to get change for larger bills, like twenties. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Viking's "Waterways of the Tsars" cruise is a good way to see Moscow, St. Petersburg and some of the countryside in between. The Viking Ingvar is clean and attractive; service and food are excellent. The crew was highly ... Read More
Viking's "Waterways of the Tsars" cruise is a good way to see Moscow, St. Petersburg and some of the countryside in between. The Viking Ingvar is clean and attractive; service and food are excellent. The crew was highly attentive and accommodating. Our Veranda cabin was spotless and comfortable, but due to the ship's design had a support pole in the middle of the room. Except for the chef's hilarious cooking demonstration the activities consisted mostly of lectures on Russian history by the on board tour guides. Musical entertainment was disappointing at best. The tours Viking includes in Moscow and SPB are a convenient way to see the major sights but lack any depth (ship docks are quite a ways from the city centers and a lot of time is spent busing to and from the docks). Viking tours at stops while cruising between the cities are really the only option and were well done. However, for any in-depth touring in either Moscow or SPB I would recommend hiring a local guide for one or more of the days the ship is in those ports. The cost will be less than any of the Viking "Optional" tours and you will see much more. We arrived in Moscow two days before embarking with Viking and stayed an additional four days in SPB after the cruise. We toured on our own in Moscow but hired a local guide in SPB. Highly recommend Irina with Muse Tours in SPB; excellent English, knowledgeable, very accommodating and includes transportation which is a plus due to location of Viking's dock outside the main city area. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Read biographies of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great and became very interested in Tsars and the history of Russia. Had no idea what to expect from the cruise, since it was our first. It far exceeded anything we had hoped for. ... Read More
Read biographies of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great and became very interested in Tsars and the history of Russia. Had no idea what to expect from the cruise, since it was our first. It far exceeded anything we had hoped for. Wonderful staff. Very friendly and well trained. Service was excellent. Delicious food. Many choices and staff were very helpful in explaining what all the dishes were. Excellent shore tours. Far more options than you can fit in. Days were filled with interesting and educational experiences. Plus a number of evening experiences such as ballet in Catherine's theater, traditional Russian instrument concert, male choruses, etc. Viking was exceedingly well organized, from meeting our flight into Moscow, to getting people on and off the boat and onto the correct buses for the various tours. Everything went very smoothly. I would highly recommend both Viking in general and the Waterways of the Tzars cruise. Planning on taking more Viking cruises as soon as we can get the time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We had taken two previous Viking cruises and knew the quality would be wonderful. Also loved the opportunity to meet other guests which is impossible on the ocean cruises. It is a joy to be part of a ship's cruise that you are able to ... Read More
We had taken two previous Viking cruises and knew the quality would be wonderful. Also loved the opportunity to meet other guests which is impossible on the ocean cruises. It is a joy to be part of a ship's cruise that you are able to meet, tour and have meals with folks that you get to know. We loved Russia. We loved the tours, the tour guides were wonderful. The Russian food on the menu was wonderful, the staff is fabulous. All the food was terrific. The only down side for us was a guest (80 yr old man and his wife) who could not stop talking, loudly during the bus rides while the tour guide was speaking. Several folks asked him to stop, but he just did it anyway. Extremely rude. And interfered with the atmosphere aboard the buses. Unfortunately we were assigned a bus for all the tours and he was with us always. And I'm 75. By this age one should know better how to behave. If I start doing this at 80, please stop me!! But Viking is extraordinary. We loved it. Thank you!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
My review tends to compare this trip with our previous Viking cruise on the Danube from Budapest to in November 2013. The high point of both was the Hotel Manager, Rebekka, who had the same role on both. Her brightness and that of her ... Read More
My review tends to compare this trip with our previous Viking cruise on the Danube from Budapest to in November 2013. The high point of both was the Hotel Manager, Rebekka, who had the same role on both. Her brightness and that of her three escorts, Tatana, Polina and Julia, overcame the dullness of the Russian captain and his people and made every day special, even in the rain. I sensed surveillance or direct monitoring only twice. The food on this trip did not match up to the food on the Danube cruise. At most meals, only one of the daily offerings was at all special, whereas on the Danube trip it was almost impossible to decide among the choices. Russian logistics, perhaps. The best entertainment on the Russia cruise was the night that three crew members performed, and at that the best of the three was allowed only one number. The trip quiz was another good touch, as were the Russian history lectures. All seemed designed to deflect from the truly boring piano/singer duo. None of this matched up to the Danube cruise, where there were different entertainers at every stop. I didn't feel like we saw much of Russia, but at the same time it was clear that Viking was doing the best it could under the Russian circumstances. It was a shame that the port facilities in St Petersburg and Moscow were so far from the tour sites. On the Danube we rarely needed buses. Overall, it was a great trip - one that highlighted how superior the Danube cruise was. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Loved it all. Great crew, great food and great ports. Even though we had to change ships. because of a problem with a river lock, the transition was done seamlessly. Viking does a great job with the things it can control and it does an ... Read More
Loved it all. Great crew, great food and great ports. Even though we had to change ships. because of a problem with a river lock, the transition was done seamlessly. Viking does a great job with the things it can control and it does an amazing job controlling issues that are out of its control. The guides that Viking hires are well informed and do a commendable job explaining all the interesting highpoints in each city i..e. museums, buildings, churches, etc. They also touch upon historical and political facts in each location. The cabin was smaller than we expected compared to the cabin we had on the Viking Russian cruise last year, however it had all the amenities that we needed. Our cabin attendant was available night and day and he did an excellent job always with a smile on his face. As far as the entertainment both on the ship and off -- we were pleasantly surprised with the quality of the talent. Another thing of note is that when you are in your cabin, it seems almost soundproof. Each planned meal has a variety of choices from foods of the area to a more standard selection. We can honestly say we have never had a bad meal on board and the incredible staff constantly caters to all your needs. The free beer, local wines and soda are a definite plus. The desserts are amazing and the extras on the buffet table make each meal a wonderful dining experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
The top of my bucket list included Austria, and we had heard that river cruising was the way to go. We were not disappointed. From the moment we were met at the airport to the time we were picked up to leave for home, we were the most ... Read More
The top of my bucket list included Austria, and we had heard that river cruising was the way to go. We were not disappointed. From the moment we were met at the airport to the time we were picked up to leave for home, we were the most pampered: can I get you anything, would you like a warm cloth, the chef has prepared a treat for you and on and on. The tours were excellent and very informative. Each stop had a local guide so you got a close up view from a local's perspective and a quiet box to hear what the guide was saying. Our room was spotless and waiting for us every time we went in. The steward's name was Benjamin and he knew our name the day we checked in and greeted us. From Amsterdam to Germany to Austria to Hungary each day flowed easily into the next. The vessel was so smooth and easy to find your way around. You never got lost. We had good entertainment with a glass blowing demonstration one afternoon, informative talks, apple strudel demo (which was yummy), and entertainment at night in the lounge. We had local students entertain with music, folk dancers, history lessons, and of course the piano man. We paid extra for the Salzburg trip and anyone who loved the Sound of Music would love this activity. The concert was amazing and the Residenz was beautiful. The mineral baths in Hungary (no one was naked as some feared), were so relaxing and invigorating. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Can't wait to do another river cruise. It's the way to go! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
The Viking Ingvar has simple modern design, ample public spaces, excellent food, and a caring, competent staff. Cabins were, as expected, small but very well designed and the veranda cabin is worth the added cost. The ports were all ... Read More
The Viking Ingvar has simple modern design, ample public spaces, excellent food, and a caring, competent staff. Cabins were, as expected, small but very well designed and the veranda cabin is worth the added cost. The ports were all interesting, and the onboard guides were knowledgable and personable. The tours in the two large cities (Moscow and St Petersburg), however, tended to involve long bus rides from the ship to the tour sites, followed by fast-paced walking, sometimes over uneven ground. In two river locations, a "leisure" option was offered and much enjoyed by those who chose it. Too bad there were no leisure options in the cities. Also, the scheduling of tours was very tight, with barely time for lunch or dinner between tours. On one occasion, the evening tour (a ballet) returned to the ship after 11:00 pm and the tour the next morning departed at 7:45 am. I found the pace in the cities to be extremely tiring. The three full days on our own in St. Petersburg after the cruise (not a Viking extension) were so much more pleasant. We made all of our own flight arrangements and were very glad we had, especially after listening to other passengers whose Viking flight schedules were highly inconvenient (for example, arriving after dinner the first night or having to leave the ship at 2:00 am for return flights). Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
From the moment we stepped aboard the Viking Ingvar we felt at home. We were made to feel a welcome friend and nothing was too much trouble for the crew at whatever level from tour director to waiting or cabin staff. The food and service ... Read More
From the moment we stepped aboard the Viking Ingvar we felt at home. We were made to feel a welcome friend and nothing was too much trouble for the crew at whatever level from tour director to waiting or cabin staff. The food and service was excellent. Our stateroom was clean and comfortable, smallish but perfectly formed as a base. You do not spend much time there except to sleep! The talks were very informative and formed a crucial background to our excursions. The entertainment on board was good. The excursions, included and optional suited all needs. They were made even better by the guides who travelled with us and by the knowledgeable local guides. The visits to a Russian home was a very different experience to the normal coach tour around the sights! Between my husband and I we took well over 1 000 photos of wonderful buildings - palaces, churches, etc, both interior and exterior. This trip will stay with us for many, many years as a truly wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was a trip of a lifetime! All we had to do was to get ourselves to St. Petersburg. The flight there on Russian Airlines was an unexpected treat! At the airport, Viking Cruise personnel with warm greetings, took charge of our luggage ... Read More
This was a trip of a lifetime! All we had to do was to get ourselves to St. Petersburg. The flight there on Russian Airlines was an unexpected treat! At the airport, Viking Cruise personnel with warm greetings, took charge of our luggage and travel-tired bodies. Goodbye travel anxiety! We were shuttled to our ship and graciously ushered to our lovely, comfortable cabin. The cruise had begun! Dinner that night confirmed our expectations of a fabulous cruise. Our friendly, conversational fellow passengers, from all parts of the world, were great fun and the dinner and the service first class! The tours of St. Petersburg before we set sail were well-organized and informative, providing us with a well-informed introduction to Russian culture and history. Along the cruise, each port excursion was a new experience. The tours were well-coordinated and conducted by an expert guide who spoke excellent English and to our delight, exhibited that excellent Russian sense of humor. As a result, we returned with lots of Russian jokes and stories that entertained our friends and also sparked their interest in visiting Russia. A treasured souvenir of our travel was the very professional, surprise video provided at our journey's end. We were unaware of the recording of the highlights of the cruise and memorable moments of our fellow passengers having fun. This we have also shared with friends at home. The cabin crew all bear special mention. Without exception, every member of the friendly, well-trained crew went out of their way to ensure that our cruise experience was first class! In retrospect, it all seems like a wonderful dream that all too soon has come to an end. It was an incredible introduction to Russia and her friendly, kindly people - it's the new Russia about which most Americans are sadly uninformed. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg provided the opportunity to see urban Russia in the post-Soviet era. It also allowed a glimpse of the lives of the residents of the rural areas along the waterways. The best part was a chance to ... Read More
This cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg provided the opportunity to see urban Russia in the post-Soviet era. It also allowed a glimpse of the lives of the residents of the rural areas along the waterways. The best part was a chance to peer into the past and imagine the lives of the czars - their palaces, their art collections and their obscene wealth. The ship is not up to the standards of the new longships now in use elsewhere in Europe. Cabins are tiny and difficult for two people to share. The bathroom is ridiculous! Food is adequate, but nothing special. Perhaps provisioning is Russia is difficult. Service in the diningrooms was spotty. Some servers seemed much better than others. Many on the buffet line spoke little English. The simple query, "what's in this salad?" is met with a blank stare. Was it tuna? Perhaps it was chicken? Then again, it could have been chopped apple. If you have food allergies, that could be an issue. On several occasions, we watched servers reset vacated dinner table for the next monrning's breakfast by simply covering the food stains on the tablecloths with the colored runners used at the morning meal. Would you like to dine at a table with the remnants of others' meals right in front of you? I wouldn't take this cruise again, but I'll remember it for a long time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
I was thoroughly impressed with Viking River Cruises, from the cleanliness and comfort of the stateroom (which we weren't in very often) to the on-board and local tour guides, to the food and service, and the overall value. I had a ... Read More
I was thoroughly impressed with Viking River Cruises, from the cleanliness and comfort of the stateroom (which we weren't in very often) to the on-board and local tour guides, to the food and service, and the overall value. I had a wonderful vacation and learned a lot. The weather was gorgeous throughout the trip, although since we traveled in October, it got a bit chillier than expected as we neared St. Petersburg. Viking was very attentive and provided detailed daily itineraries explaining in advance which tours were included or optional. All of the tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and enjoyable. Our favorite part of the trip was the home visit in Uglich-- connecting one-on-one with ordinary people like us. The only thing I can complain about is that we didn't receive many communications in advance of the trip, which would have been nice for first-time travelers (and had been mentioned, so we were expecting that), but it is easy enough to read up on the places you'll visit and make your own plans, I guess. I traveled with my mother, who used a walker. She found most of the tours to be physically challenging, and the gangway(?) from the ship to the pier in St. Petersburg was very steep and slippery. Otherwise the ship was great. Viking staff were very helpful, but it was still not very comfortable for her, and she declined to take part in some tours. Russia is not set up to accommodate disabled people; we didn't see anyone else with a walker the entire time we were there. There aren't curb cutouts in big cities, for example. So beware this fact if it applies to you or your traveling companions. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We took the Waterway of the Tsars cruise on the Viking Ingvar in October of 2014. We were met at the airport by Viking staff and very efficiently whisked to a bus, but then it took 3 1/2 hours in horrible Moscow traffic to go the 15 miles ... Read More
We took the Waterway of the Tsars cruise on the Viking Ingvar in October of 2014. We were met at the airport by Viking staff and very efficiently whisked to a bus, but then it took 3 1/2 hours in horrible Moscow traffic to go the 15 miles to the boat. Once we got to the boat we found it immaculately clean and well-furnished. Both Moscow and St. Petersburg are beautiful cities. We enjoyed the tours of Red Square and the Kremlin. We took the Moscow by Night excursion, and the lights were lovely. However, when we returned to the boat, we had to descend two flights of unlighted steps to get down to the dock, which was very difficult for me as I was in a boot from a pre-cruise broken ankle. When I reported the problem to the front desk, I was met with complete disregard. The Hotel Manager and the Dining Room director were both very friendly and helpful. Our waiters were very good and the food was excellent. Our cabin was kept very clean as well. One negative was that nightly we had to complain that we could hear the music in the bar in our cabin, as could our co-travelers in the adjacent room. Strange, as we were 2 floors below the bar! Something needs to be done to correct this problem. We did not enjoy the small towns in between Moscow and St. Petersburg as much. In fact, one is just a cluster of wood buildings that were moved in as a shopping opportunity. As it was the last cruise of the season, some of them weren't even open. I would loved to have had more local talent onboard in the evenings, as we had on a previous Budapest to Bucharest cruise. We found the Russian people to be very unfriendly and solemn. Never once could I get a Russian to smile back at me. Sad... St. Petersburg was definitely the highlight. We talked our tour guide into letting us spend some time in the Church of the Spilled Blood, which was scheduled only as an outside visit. I would recommend that this be included as part of a standard tour, as it is the jewel of St. Petersburg. The day we visited the Catherine Palace it was cold and nasty, yet we were forced to walk around the grounds in 30 degree weather for 1 1/2 hours before we could get in for the tour. Maybe that's a good plan in August, but in late October, the plan should be changed in freezing weather. Finally, we were hit with a Lufthansa pilot's strike the day before we were to leave. Many passengers were told that morning that our tickets had been cancelled, and we would have to be rescheduled. That evening we were handed new tickets before bedtime. However. we were called at 3 a.m. and told that the second tickets had been cancelled! We were taken to the airport at 5 am. only to learn that they were not cancelled at all. We then had to wait at the very uncomfortable St. Petersburg for 9 1/2 hours until our flight departed. Obviously, there was some serious glitch in communication by Viking Travel that resulted in many people being quite inconvenienced. In all, this was our least favorite of the cruises we have taken with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our second experience on a Viking River Cruise and once again, I am happy to report, the experience exceeded our expectations. Our timing may have been a little late in that the weather was less than favorable, but we were ... Read More
This was our second experience on a Viking River Cruise and once again, I am happy to report, the experience exceeded our expectations. Our timing may have been a little late in that the weather was less than favorable, but we were prepared for that eventuality., Our first impression of our ship, The Ingvar, was it appeared a tad tired. We understood that this was its final cruise of the season and attributed those minor imperfections to the conclusion of a busy season. Our cabin was adequate, but if I were king I would make the balcony smaller or even eliminate it in favor of a more spacious cabin. The fact that the sliding glass door opens would be ample for me. That again is just a personal observation The food was excellent if anything there may have been too much of it. On some days we barely finished breakfast and lunch was about to be served. The lunches could be lighter, but no one was forces us to eat. I thought our cruse director, Alina, was an empty uniform. Perhaps I do not have a complete understanding of her duties, but compared with the cruise director we had on an Avalon Trip from Basel to Amsterdam (we could not get on Viking). there was no comparison. We had a man named Dragan who was omnipresent and far more involved with the passengers. He personally led many of the tours and was a veritable mountain of information. On the tour of the bridge the Captain was nowhere in sight, and delegated that duty to the first mate. There may have been a reason for this, but it was not explained to the guests.. Our cabin was always cleaned nicely and the wait staff was courteous, cooperative, cheerful and attentive. In particular Rica and Antonio stood out as superior employees. After experiencing the trip I understand why so much time is spent in Moscow and St. Petersburg. There is simply little of interest between the two cities. Viking did an excellent job in adjusting to the low water situation by arranging to bus us to Yaroslavl. I was unimpressed with Mandrogy which came off as little more than a tourist trap selling authentic Russian Rubbish. Kizhi as an opportunity to walk in the fresh air. The visits to the school and the home also seem contrived. Some folks seemed to enjoy them and I may be a bit cynical, but they did little for me. The piano player and the singer became a little tedious by the 5th day. It would seem to me that an organized sing along or even an impromptu amateur hour have added some variety or spontaneous guest involvement. In summary, while I have offered some critical observations, I remain very pleased with our experience and have become an unpaid sales person for Viking by encouraging others to enjoy river travel. The fact that you only unpack and repack once is marvelous. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being perfect, I would rate our trip a 9.5. . Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We spent twelve days & nights crusing the Russina waterway from St. Petersburg to Moscow. I enjoyed each of the guided tours from The Hermitage , the Peterhof, the summer Palace to the Kremlin and St Basil's church. Viking managed ... Read More
We spent twelve days & nights crusing the Russina waterway from St. Petersburg to Moscow. I enjoyed each of the guided tours from The Hermitage , the Peterhof, the summer Palace to the Kremlin and St Basil's church. Viking managed to make me feel at home. Each guide, both the tour escorts andlocal guides spoke very good english and were very knowledgeable. The guides managed to make history very relavant and interesting. The mechanics of the cruise were fine. our room had plenty of space , housekeeping did a wonderful job of keeping our room clean and organized. The staff were friendly and always helpful. The food was great! Each day there were many choices that were regional specialties and of course there were also the always present "american menu items available at every meal. This was certainly a "trip of a lifetime" for me and my husband. It was fun to realize that the Russian people and very much like us! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We started with 3 days in Helsinki, then took the high-speed train to St. Petersburg for 3 days followed by 7 days on the Volga River and canals with fascinating stops along the way to Moscow for 3 days. This was our second Viking River ... Read More
We started with 3 days in Helsinki, then took the high-speed train to St. Petersburg for 3 days followed by 7 days on the Volga River and canals with fascinating stops along the way to Moscow for 3 days. This was our second Viking River Cruise, having taken the Grand European Cruise the year before. Viking does a terrific job all the way with all arrangements including flights, meeting us at the airport, shuttle to the boat and back. Great food with wine. Fascinating tours with excellent local guides speaking English along the way. Most of the things you want to see are included in the tour package. There are a few special tours that you pay extra for, but you are not nickle dimed all along the way as some do. Excellent written material is left at your room every night describing what you will see the next day, when the meals will be served, the weather, etc. Condensed USA and other national news letters are available daily. Boat has fairly good wifi. It worked better in Europe last year than in Russia this year. Special speakers are brought aboard to give talks on things of interest from the Russian Revolution to present day Russian politics. The boat had a piano player and singer for lounge entertainment. Food was excellent with both local food choices and American choices. I don't see how they could have done a better job. Next year we have booked our third Viking Cruise, this time through France and Paris. St. Petersburg has got to be one of the jewels of the world with the 18th century palatial palaces that were destroyed in WWII and then meticulously restored. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Russia was the first item on my bucket list and this trip met all my expectations. Meeting Russia and the Russians through local guides, no-line cultural events, and on-board language and cooking lessons gave me the trip of a lifetime. No ... Read More
Russia was the first item on my bucket list and this trip met all my expectations. Meeting Russia and the Russians through local guides, no-line cultural events, and on-board language and cooking lessons gave me the trip of a lifetime. No going from hotel to hotel, no looking for tours, and no restaurant searches is my idea of the ideal vacation. The bonus, a glass of wine or beer for lunch and/or dinner without a bar tab. When Viking says all-inclusive meals, they meant it. Our cabin was small but held all the clothes of two women with large suitcases with ease. Guides were very understanding about the weirdness of aging and nary an eye roll to be seen or impatient scowl to be seen, a huge bonus for us elderly travelers. The only change I am making for 2015 is upgrading my seat on the plane to give me room to wiggle and setting a flight plan without a 5 a.m. departure time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I returned on 7/5 from a 12 night cruise on the Viking Ingvar from St. Petersburg to Moscow. This was the worst cruise I have ever been on for a variety of reasons. Viking's ads look so wonderful and tempting, so four of us signed up ... Read More
I returned on 7/5 from a 12 night cruise on the Viking Ingvar from St. Petersburg to Moscow. This was the worst cruise I have ever been on for a variety of reasons. Viking's ads look so wonderful and tempting, so four of us signed up for the cruise. Unfortunately, reality doesn't jive with their ads. Our ship looked like a dinner cruise, not a high end cruise. Our cabins were very nice. However, our balcony was next to the public access door, and there was no way to lock the divider to keep people from coming on to our balcony. The lock was on the side of the public access door. I asked for a top sheet for my bed, because sometimes the duvet is too heavy. I received the sheet, but I had to make my bed to add the sheet in the beginning of the cruise and when they did a sheet change. Bathrooms and showers were nice size. We had some air conditioning issues and a night stand fell off the track. Maintenance fixed the problem quickly. Viking advertises restrooms on their coaches, but what they don't tell you is that they are locked and you can't use them. This caused several people significant discomfort. We dehydrated ourselves because we never knew when we would have an available restroom. When we expressed our displeasure with this, Alina, the program director, told us that she couldn't speak to the driver because he had driven off. I mentioned Viking's Service Guarantee to her and to the Stephan Busch, the Hotel Manager. Viking's Service Guarantee gives passengers 24 hours after boarding the ship to inform them of a problem and then they have 24 hours to rectify the problem and if they don't, passengers receive 100% of the cruise fare returned, but must arrange for their own transportation home. Neither on of them rectified the situation or even mentioned it to us again, so much for offering a guarantee. The lack of bathroom availability and lack of follow up from anyone on the shop is inexcusable and ruined the cruise for us. The food on the ship was awful. There was no creativity and not much choice on entrees. Omelets and jams were excellent. The fruit selection was sparse with a wide range of ripeness. Lunch and dinner entrees were horrible. If we ordered off the everyday options, which were salmon, chicken or filet, all three entrees came with the same three sauces on your plate, two zucchini slices, a small dollop of mashed potatoes, which were like lead, and caramelized onions. We would have appreciated more steamed vegetables and a wider variety of sauces. The chicken was frequently dry and rubbery. The filet was a great piece of beef, but lacked flavor. After speaking with the maitre d' Nik, our food prep was no longer over cooked. Nik bent over backwards to try and make us happy. However, corporate sets the menu, so there isn't room for creativity. The omelets, soups and some of the salads were good. The desserts were pathetic. The ship has a complimentary coffee, hot chocolate and tea station offering a very low end type of tea. It would have been nice to have complimentary soft drinks also available. The Filipino wait staff were excellent, especially Joey, Joanne, Darryl and Christopher. Nik, Joey, Joanne, Darryl and Christopher are too good to be working on a ship of this caliber. I asked one Russian server Vayla for a Diet Coke twice and she told me "No" twice. On another day, I asked her if one of the salads had fish and she told me that it didn't, when in fact it did, and I don't eat fish. Would it be so hard to put a sign next to the salads on the buffet line? Pasta selections were horrible. The ship has cookies available in the afternoon. The cookies were Otis Spunkmeyer cookies that you can buy at a 7 Eleven store. I would be embarrassed to serve them and the majority of the food on the ship, especially at a cruise of this price point. I had better food on my flight on Delta from Moscow to JFK. We even ate at McDonald's three days in a row and we never eat there when we are home. St. Petersburg and Moscow are beautiful cities, but I would skip going to the other ports and have more time in each city. The days cruising down the river were boring with not much entertainment on the ship. There was no gym, no DVD players in the cabins. The movies the ship showed on two channels didn't air at the same time as indicated on the TV sheet. How hard is it to get that right? The lectures by the tour guides were excellent and would be nice if they were recorded and could be viewed in the cabin. My roommate got sick and wanted some cough drops. She went to the ship's store and was told by Anastasia "She was done for the day, and were the cough drops and emergency?" My roommate waited until the next day to purchase them. Is this the definition of good customer service? I don't think so. I dropped my guidebook on the gangway and not one crew member standing there offered to help. If you asked on of them a question, they responded, "Don't speak English". I don't have a problem having Russian crew members, but they shouldn't be in an area where passengers are looking to them to answer questions. Christina and Elena at Reception were very nice and helpful in explaining how to get to the subway station. The city tours drove my sites, but you couldn't go into them. Since we had already been to Peterhof on previous trip to St. Petersburg, we took the Metro on our own one day to see the Faberge Museum, St. Issac's Cathedral and the Church of Our Savior of the Spilled Blood. These places are must see destinations. I thought the ballet was going to be at the Mariinsky. Had I known the ballet wasn't there, I would have booked a tour just to see the theater. I also wanted to see the ballet at the Bolshoi, but unfortunately, the ballet wasn't performing that night. I thought about going to the opera, but another late night with a long flight home kept us from going. The Catherine Palace tour was good and so was the Hermitage Tour. However the Privileged Tour of the Hermitage was a disappointment and a waste of money. We had expected to see some restoration in progress and not just a warehouse. The lunch they served was even worse than the food on the ship. The stop in Mandrogy was a waste of time. It was man made tourist attraction for cruise ships. The Kizhi Tour was good. The Krillo-Belozersky Tour and a visit to a local school were a waste of time, especially the visit to the school. The tours in Yaroslavl and Uglich were nice. The Kremlin Armory Tour and the Moscow at Night Tours were great. We added on the Diamond Fund tour on our own and it was spectacular. Given the cost of the cruise, we had expected a quality product, which we did not receive. If the cruise had been in $1000 range, we would not have had such high expectations. If the corporate office is setting the menus, there is nothing the crew can do to improve on the food. I would not recommend Viking Cruises to anyone. We have traveled frequently, I worked in the travel and hospitality industry, the only quality I saw in Viking were the following employees, Nik, Joey, Joanne, Daryl, Christopher, Christina, and Elena. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
VIKING RIVER CRUISE WATERWAYS OF THE TSARS This was a holiday which included some unforgettable experiences; not only in St Petersburg and Moscow, but also in places like the delightful Yaroslav and Uglich which we visited en route. But ... Read More
VIKING RIVER CRUISE WATERWAYS OF THE TSARS This was a holiday which included some unforgettable experiences; not only in St Petersburg and Moscow, but also in places like the delightful Yaroslav and Uglich which we visited en route. But there were some disappointing elements too. Overall we thought the cruise provided relatively poor value for money. Although some of the cruising along the Volga, particularly on the approach to Moscow, was very enjoyable more of it, near to St Petersburg, was monotonous with little to see other than miles and miles of unchanging birch forest. The fare we paid would have allowed us instead to stay in very good St Petersburg and Moscow hotels and travel between the cities on the vary fast (4 hour) express train. The Ship (Viking Ingvar) Although being recently modernised with the additions of balconies this is still an old ship. Built in 1989 it shows its age, not least in the considerable vibration to be felt, even on the upper deck, in the rear of the boat. It's terribly bland with the public areas more closely resembling a decent cross channel ferry than a cruise liner. It's also very small and those who aren't happy reading or otherwise making their own entertainment will sometimes be bored, particularly when poor weather forces you in from the sun deck or balconies. There are two bars ' one generally open during the day and the other during the evening. They're functional but dull. There's no gym and nowhere to walk (the decks having been given up to accommodate balconies). The rooms are fine, albeit small. There are no stewards and no room service although the housekeeping is of a very high standard. We would have found the journey altogether too claustrophobic without a balcony and it was significant that those in rooms only with windows struggled to find somewhere quiet and comfortable to sit during the day. It's important to be aware that the boat is a riverboat, certainly not equipped for poor weather. Unfortunately, crossing Lake Lugado (the biggest lake in Europe) at night we met a strong wind hitting the port side and waves of about two metres. The boat pitched from side to side in dramatic fashion and a number of people were ill and quite a lot of damage occurred in the kitchen. The Captain told us that such weather was not particularly exceptional and they cross the lake even when the waves hit three metres. Dining The food ranges from the very good to the mediocre. Breakfasts are generally excellent with eggs and omelettes cooked to order as well as a full range of bacon, sausage and so on along with continental alternatives. Lunches and dinners were variable. Salads were somewhat monotonous and the fish generally uninspiring. But the steak 'available every day ' was very good indeed. In comparative terms we would place the standard of food as significantly below, say, Cunard or Holland America and a little below Princess. There is no fixed seating which we regretted. It meant that waiters did not generally have the opportunity to get to know us, and us them. The service was generally very willing but inconsistent and it was sometimes necessary to be very assertive to get a waiter's attention. Obtaining anything out of the ordinary took some patience (initially, about fifty per cent of our requests for hot milk to be served with our coffee were unsuccessful). Other facilities The library was very poor indeed amounting to no more than a single bookcase of books almost all left by previous customers. In addition there was a selection of board games. The shop was worse, selling almost nothing other than the usual Russian souvenirs (stacking dolls and Amber jewellery) all extravagantly priced. Excursions These were mixed. Stops in Yaroslav and Uglich, both 'Golden Ring' cities were particularly good and with the visit to a Russian home in Uglich, for breakfast, particularly fascinating. The island of Khizi with the Church of the Transfiguration ' a World Heritage site - was also really worth seeing. But Mandrogy is no more than an entirely synthetic tourist market with innumerable stalls selling the same mass-produced trinkets, which they pretend to manufacture in various faux craft rooms. It's pretty insulting. And a visit to a school at another intermediate stop just seemed like laziness on Viking's part when the visit was on a Saturday in August and to a school more or less deserted other than for builders. Excursions in St Petersburg and Moscow were variable. We found many of our fellow passengers ' particularly the Americans - to be very nervous travellers and so, for example, we spent quite a lot of time near Red Square waiting for fellow passengers to pay a visit to the bathroom. Some of them needed the guide to provide them with the necessary Roubles, being surprised that the attendants were not much interested in accepting US dollars for their admittance. But it's generally easy to detach yourself from the guides ' essential at places like the Hermitage ' and the transport to and from the various venues was very good with lots of coaches and lots of space. In Moscow, a folkloric concert ' of which we expected very little ' turned out to be outstandingly good with talented and skilled young people playing Russian instruments both individually and in orchestra. But the visit to the Ballet in St Petersburg ' an expected highlight of the trip for my wife ' was very disappointing. My own experience of ballet is extremely limited but even I could see that some of the performers were past their best and much of the dancing of the corps de ballet poorly synchronised. The only other customers at this performance (in a Theatre you will not find listed in any St Petersburg guide book) were other River Cruise and Ocean Cruise customers. There were no Russian spectators. Entertainment and Lectures There's a singer in the evening bar after nine and she was quite good although generally ignored by the handful of customers. On one evening there was a brief and enjoyable operatic performance by visiting singers and on another one of the cleaners gave an enjoyable if somewhat hesitant piano recital. Lectures ' which used to be delivered on Viking Cruises by experts in their field ' were delivered by the three resident tour guides. They were poor and characterised by some tendentious interpretation of recent Russian political history. Conclusion Overall, this represented poor value for money. Those who enjoy the relative luxury and facilities of a mid range cruise liner will find the accommodation and facilities on the Viking ships to be very basic and, in poor weather, claustrophobic. We will be most unlikely to use Viking again.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
8/9/13 Started at the Star Alliance Business Class Lounge at LAX. Understand that a new lounge will soon open. That's good because the current lounge is shabby. Not much of an upgrade from US airline club lounges. Food consisted ... Read More
8/9/13 Started at the Star Alliance Business Class Lounge at LAX. Understand that a new lounge will soon open. That's good because the current lounge is shabby. Not much of an upgrade from US airline club lounges. Food consisted mostly of bags of chips. Not much else. Lufthansa flight # 457. Upper deck. Business Class. 747-800. Beautiful plane inside. Big screen tv and storage next to the window. Carry on suitcase will not fit into the overhead even though its a standard roller bag. Crew helps store it into a closet. Champagne before takeoff with a refill if wanted.  Bag of cold almonds with a cocktail after takeoff. No warm mixed nuts? Dinner was ok. Beef tenderloin was overcooked. No ice cream sundae for dessert. Pie or cheese. Flight Crew pretty attentive. Seats okay. A little hard. 8/10/13 Arrived on time around 11:00am into Frankfurt. Customs was surprisingly easy to clear. Waited maybe 5 minutes in line and that was it. Because we had 5 suitcases, we needed a mini van taxi which took a little on the bit of hunting. Once we found it, it was an easy ride to downtown Frankfurt. Being a Saturday morning probably helped. Stayed at the Westin on the Executive Floor. Very nice and comfortable room. We wanted to acclimate to the new time zone so we forced ourselves to stay awake. The Westin is in the middle of downtown so you could walk anywhere. Just a few blocks from the hotel were a number of booths set up on the street selling all kinds of food and wares. Bought a grilled sausage sandwich and a beer and sat on a bench and had a nice lunch. Walked around downtown and window shopped for most of the afternoon. Had dinner around 7:00pm at an Italian restaurant next the hotel called Quattro. Shared a Caprese salad which was okay and we each ordered pizzas which were very good. Went to bed by 9:00pm to be picked up at 6:30am by a taxi to take us to the airport for a 9:00am flight. 8/11/13 - Day 1 Lufthansa Business Class Club. Very comfortable and offers free drinks and some food. Great place to wait for a flight. Lufthansa #1432 Frankfurt - St. Petersburg, Russia. Businesses Class uses the same seats as Economy, with the middle seat blocked. No extra legroom, but since it was less than a 3 hour flight, it wasn't a big deal. Breakfast was very good with a lot of food. Slices of ham, salami and cheese along with some fruit, curdled cream (tastes much better than it sounds) a roll and your choice of entree. I had a Belgian waffle along with champagne. Service was very good until after breakfast and then we hardly saw the crew again. They stayed behind the curtain at the galley. We did arrive on time and again, customs was surprisingly easy. Another 5 minute wait and that was it. Greeters were there to get us on the bus to the ship. About an hour bus ride. Check-in was easy. Viking Ingvar was renovated last year and it shows. Very clean and fairly modern. The room is okay sized, although the bathroom is too small. Functional but small. Our bed converts to a double and there is plenty of room under the bed to store big suitcases so the room doesn't feel too cramped. Only one 110 v outlet that I can find. Dinner the first night offered seafood, chicken and beef and they always offer steak, fish and chicken every night if you like. I had the beef stroganoff. It was okay. Average. Dessert was ice cream which was very good. Wine or beer is complimentary with lunch and dinner and the wine is pretty good. 8/12/13 - Day 2 Up by 7:00am for breakfast. Breakfast every day is a buffet with cooked to order eggs, cereal, fruit, etc. You can also order from the menu and get waffles, pancakes, etc. Buses departed at 8:00am for a tour of St. Catherine's Palace. So much to see, it's almost overwhelming. The tour guide was local and very informative. We only saw a portion of the palace, but it was still enough for half of a day. We returned to the ship for lunch and then headed to the city for the optional Walking Tour. Again, we only saw a small portion of the city but we loved what we saw. The city center is vibrant and has many modern stores and restaurants. Very clean and lots of energy. Most signs are in Russian with somewhat limited English, but you can get by. Buses took us back to the ship in time for dinner. St. Petersburg has traffic jams so the drivers watch their GPS's closely to monitor traffic. Even still we got caught in some heavy traffic. The docks are a 30 - 60 minute drive to the city center depending on traffic. 8/13/13 - Day 3 Hermitage Tour. This museum is on a level with the Louvre. Far too much to see. Some people opted for a full day tour and they said they enjoyed it. We stuck with the half day tour and it was a good sample, but only scratched the surface. Very crowded though so you sometimes had to muscle your way through the crowds. Returned to the ship for late lunch or early dinner. Afterwards, you could attend the ballet to see Swan Lake. We chose to take the bus with those going to the ballet to do some sight seeing and shopping. We returned and a late evening snack of goulash and desserts was available if you so desired. 8/14/13 - Day 4 We took an optional trip to Peterhof Palace. Based on the Palace of Versailles in Paris, it is a huge palace with grounds that are as beautiful as Versailles. Again very crowded, especially when the fountains came on at 10:00am. Returned to the ship for lunch and then jumped on a cruise tour bus to the city center to do some more shopping. That evening was the Captain's Welcome Reception and an overview of our cruise. There was free champagne during the presentation which was nice. The ship set sail at 7:00pm and dinner was at 8:00pm. Choices were vegetable lasagna, perch and veal. As always, steak, chicken and vegetarian are available along with free wine and beer. 8/15/13 - Day 5 It was raining during the night and we entered Lake Lagoda. Around 3:00am, the wind and rain kicked up and the ship started rocking. We stayed in bed and for about an hour, the ship rocked quite a bit. We never worried, but it was a rougher ride than we've ever experienced on a cruise ship. After breakfast, we entered the first of 16 locks on the Sivir River as we climb on our way to Moscow. Quite a sight to see. After lunch, we arrived in Mandrogy. It's a replica of an old river town. People are there making and selling hand crafted items. There is a Vodka Museum worth seeing. They have 3,000 bottles of various vodkas on display to look at. It costs 200 rubles (about $6.50 USD) per person to enter and to taste 4 different vodkas each. You can also use one of the 200 ruble tickets to apply toward a purchase of vodka. It was fun and it was interesting to try the different vodkas that they offered. The rest of the village felt like a tourist trap with overpriced goods for sale. The buildings are replicas of buildings from the last century and they are interesting enough to see. 8/16/13 - Day 6 Up early for breakfast. The day started with an 8:00am excursion of Kizhi Island near the center of Lake Onega. The island is beautiful and is located about 300 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The centerpiece of the island is the Church of the Resurrection, the oldest wooden church in Russia. It is currently undergoing complete renovation that will last until at least 2018 so you cannot go inside. It is impressive nonetheless. The Church of the Transfiguration is another wooden church on the island and is worth seeing as well. The tour was led by a local tour guide who spoke excellent English and was very informative. We saw how the island inhabitants lived with working demonstrations of woodworking, farming and embroidery. This tour has a bit of walking involved and Viking had a group tour for those who cannot walk very fast. This helped keep the other tour groups moving along. Not much else to do on this tour so we returned to the ship by 10:30am in time for a sail away party that offered free champagne and some appetizers including caviar. The balance of the day, there were onboard presentations such as Russian language, tour of the bridge, a lecture on the Romanovs and an overview of the next day's port of call. There was also a reception for those passengers who have been on previous Viking cruises. Champagne, wine, Acquavit and appetizers along with a thank you toast from the captain and crew. Very nice. We also traveled through a series of 6 more locks throughout the afternoon and into the night. Those were interesting to experience. Dinner that night offered Russian Deer Loin, Tilapia and Chinese Noodles. As always, steak and chicken were also available. 8/17/13 - Day 7 A lazy morning. We headed into the Volga - Baltic Waterways for an afternoon tour of Kuzino. An early lunch was offered at 11:30am with the tours starting at 1:00pm. The views along the river are beautiful. So many trees and little islands. Surprisingly, we haven't seen many people out fishing but then I don't think the population along these parts of the river is very dense. The tour on this day started in a dirt parking lot where the ship was docked. We took buses for about 20 minutes to a local elementary school in Kuzino. Since it's summer, the school we not in session. It was undergoing a remodel so it was under construction during our tour. We went into a typical classroom where an interpreter spoke on behalf of a teacher who showed off some of the hand made crafts the children made. A young girl and boy dressed in Russian historical clothes sang and played an accordion for us and then we moved to another classroom where the same young girl answered questions from the audience with the aid of the interpreter. After the school tour, we got back on the buses for a short ride to a monastery where we were led on a tour of the building and the artwork. Much of the artwork consisted of paintings of icons and embroidery. It was interesting enough, but not a highlight of the trip. Back on the ship by 5:00pm as the ship set sail.  Dinner this evening was a Russian theme. Borscht, tomatoes and cucumber salad, veal & chicken meatloaf were among the items on the menu. After dinner, you could sign up for a vodka tasting event. We tasted 6 different vodkas and then they took the bottles to the Sky Bar where they were finished off by the participants. It was a lot of fun and a lot to drink. Good times! 8/18/13 - Day 8 A relaxing morning. Nothing major planned until we got to Yaroslavl. Actually a very pretty city. The tour didn't start until early afternoon and we went to an enclosed market with booths set up selling produce, candy and other food items. We got a few free samples. Outside, there were vendors selling all types of souvenirs, but many looked to be made in China. We visited the Church of Elijah which was quite striking and then went to the Governor's Palace which has been pretty much fully restored. We had a tour and a demonstration of music and dancing from that era. It was okay but we would have preferred more time to walk around the city. I could have missed that tour without a problem. Dinner that evening was perch, spring rolls or a breast of duck. Afterward, one of the crew performed a piano recital. We did not see it but heard from other passengers that it was pretty good. 8/19/13 - Day 9 Early breakfast. We arrived in Uglich and the tour started at 8:15am. We actually walked this tour. First stop was two cathedrals, one of which had a service going on when we walked in. Afterwards, we walked to a local house where we were hosted by the owner to a light breakfast. We had some local Moonshine along with pickles, tomatoes and pastries. We had the opportunity to tour this home and have a Q&A with the owner. In this case, she is a widow living with her daughter, son-in-law and grandson. The home had the essentials for a nice life, but is still basic by U.S. standards. We really enjoyed this part of the tour. Afterwards, we had some free time to walk around. We found good prices on vodka in town and scarves and some other souvenirs at booths lining the street toward the ship. Overall, we enjoyed Uglich very much. Returned to the ship n time for lunch. They had the usual lunch in the restaurant and a buffet on the Sky Deck. Since it was a nice day, it was jammed at the buffet. Best to get there early. The food was a mix of grilled chicken and some Russian meat pies, dumplings, rice, etc. They poured free beer along with the very delicious food. It was a very nice lunch. In the evening, they had the Captain's Dinner. It was a multi-course meal with appetizer, soup, sorbet, main course and dessert. Beef Tenderloin was my choice for dinner and it was good. After dinner, they showed a video of the trip thus far taken by the onboard videographer. The DVD is for sale and it shows most everyone on lard at some point during the various tours we took. After that night, he continued to film in Moscow and added that footage to the DVD. It was fun to watch with the friends we made onboard. 8/20/13 - Day 10 Arrived in Moscow. We were delayed in our arrival because the locks were closed due to fog. As a result, we arrived into Moscow about 45 minutes late. Not a big deal. They held a Disembarkation Overview at 10am and a review of the next three days in Moscow. You had to sign up for optional tours back in St. Petersburg which we did. Our first optional tour started around 2:00pm with a walking tour of the city. This tour includes quite a bit of walking and ride on the Metro. The subways are very clean, somewhat old, very fast and noisy. They have a number of stations that are absolutely fantastic. Beautiful architecture with marble, granite and statues. The stations are very clean without any noticeable graffiti or garbage even though you don't see any trash cans around. After taking the Metro, we walked through Red Square and visited the GUM Department Store. Three levels of very expensive stores. The shops we visited had goods that were 2x the prices they would be in the U.S. We then continued to walk around the city until we ended up at the Tretyakov Theatre for a concert by a group of younger musicians. This was one of the best events of the cruise. It was fun, fast paced and very entertaining. Mostly string instruments with a few wind and percussionist thrown in. I would highly recommend this excursion. Back to the ship by 9:00pm for a full dinner. 8/21/13 - Day 11 Since we got in late the night before, we got to sleep in and had a late breakfast. Our tour started after lunch. We took buses to the Kremlin. We toured Red Square, the cathedrals surrounding the Kremlin and ultimately, the Kremlin Armory. The Armory holds many of Russia's treasures including, the jewels, carriages, clothing, armor and possessions of the aristocracy of Russia. It also holds 10 Faberge eggs that are worth seeing. The entire tour was sensory overload with with so much gold, silver and jewels on display. After the tour, we returned to the ship for dinner. The traffic in Moscow is very heavy most of the day, so it took us over an hour to return to the ship. We arrived just in time for dinner and then headed back out for a Moscow at Night tour. Buses took us to Sparrow Hill which looks out at the city skyline. There are also about 300 motorcyclists there enjoying the evening and the view. In the summer, they are there every night. We then headed to the canals for a canal ride to see the lights of the city. Very beautiful and worthwhile seeing. We then went to Red Square to see the Kremlin, St. Basil's and GUM all lit up. As a group, we voted to stay until midnight to hear the bells ring from one of the cathedrals. Really not worth the wait, but it was a democratic vote. Took the bus back to the ship and the driver did it in 20 minutes. The tour guide encouraged us to tip him nicely which we did. Back in our room by 1:00am. 8/22/13 - Day 12 The final full day in Russia. We took the optional tour which consisted of a bus ride to the center of the city and the balance of the day was on our own. So, we used the time to just walk around the city, take pictures and wander around. We had lunch at a McDonalds which for some reason tasted better than the McDonalds in America! Rather than wait until 5:00pm for the return bus ride to the ship, we decided to take the subway on our own so we could start packing for our trip home. We entered a station in the city and weren't sure which track to go to. We stopped a young girl in the station and tried gesturing on a subway map to indicate where we wanted to go in hopes she could point us in the right direction. As it turned out, she spoke perfect English and she insisted on helping us purchase our tickets and pointed us to the right track for our train. We learned that most young Russians speak English and they can be quite friendly. Once we arrived at our stop, there was a very modern market next to the station that sold food of all types from individual booths. This store was very clean and the food selection very broad. Everything from meats and vegetables to pastries and cookies and candy. It was really interesting to just walk around and look at all the offerings. We bought some cookies to eat while we shopped. Dinner was great with the usual wide selection of appetizers and entrees. We sat with three other couples that we had met on the ship and whose company we enjoyed and stayed until we we realized everyone else had left. 8/23/13 - Day 13 Departure day. Our Lufthansa flight departed from Vnukovo Airport at 9:20am. That meant our transportation from the ship left at 5:00am. It was about an hour ride to the airport, but the ticket counter was not open when we arrived. It didn't open until 7:00am so we sat around for an hour waiting to check in. Our Business Class tickets allowed us access to the Executive Lounge which wasn't much to talk about. Free drinks and food, but the food looked leftover from the day before. The cool thing was that the Lounge had its' own dedicated customs officer, so there was no wait to clear customs and head to our plane. We flew back to Frankfurt and because we had a 3 hour layover for our flight to Los Angeles, we again used the Business Class Lounge. As before, they offered hot a cold food and drinks plus free wi-fi, so it was a great way to spend the time waiting for our flight. The flight to LAX was an older 747 where Business Class is on the first level at the front of the plane. The flight itself was uneventful, although the service was uneven. The flight attendants tend to rush around right after takeoff, then they pretty much disappear throughout much of the rest of the flight. We landed on time and faced the long lines at LAX Customs, but were glad to be home again. Summary Overall, I would give the cruise an "A". The staff was terrific, with special recognition to Alla, the guide we tended to gravitate to and Sacha, the Cruise Director. They were both very helpful to us throughout the trip. Alla was very knowledgeable about Russia and the culture so she was able to share many insights into every day life in Russia. Sacha was very attentive and fun to be around. He made it a very comfortable trip for everyone. Russia is a beautiful country with so much history and culture that it was a revelation to us. I would recommend this trip highly to anyone with a desire to see another part of our world that has traditionally been somewhat of a mystery to us. I have an whole different perspective of Russia and its' history as a result of this trip and a new appreciation for what they have endured over the centuries.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Viking Ingvar Ratings
Category Editor Member
Rates 3.0 3.4

Find a Viking Ingvar Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click