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Sail Date: October 2017
We travelled as a group from Hawaii. There were 24 people in our group. A few were not from Hawaii, but they all had Hawaii '"connections". Our group leader was Deanne Horie. The staff of the Ingvar was outstanding. ... Read More
We travelled as a group from Hawaii. There were 24 people in our group. A few were not from Hawaii, but they all had Hawaii '"connections". Our group leader was Deanne Horie. The staff of the Ingvar was outstanding. "Sasha from Russia" was so informative but also very entertaining. Also, the dining room crew took care of our group like family. They saved off a couple of tables for us so that we could enjoy our meals together. This made the trip more enjoyable for us. I enjoyed rehashing the day's activities with friends over a nice dinner. This was my first experience in going through locks. I had read about locks and how they work, but had never actually gone through one. It was quite an experience for me. Glad I was able to experience it while I'm still able to travel. I was surprised to learn that most of the Russian people actually hate communism more than Americans do. We know about communism intellectually, but they had to actually live through it. Our visit to a Russian family in their own home was an unforgettable experience for me. That visit to the local school was also quite impressive. Our guide was an eighth grade student. I was blown away with how smart and confident she was. Their school system allows students to decide on how they want to spend their remaining three school years. They can prepare for university, or they can start learning a trade. Most kids in the US wouldn't have a clue after the eighth grade on what they want to do with the rest of their lives. I wonder how this is working out for the Russian kids? Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
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
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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
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 ... 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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Rural look at Russian interior. Paid for transfer package - Our flight was late so we were left our own to get to the ship from St Petersburg. We gave advance notice of the delay. Some of the bus versus walking excursions were more ... Read More
Rural look at Russian interior. Paid for transfer package - Our flight was late so we were left our own to get to the ship from St Petersburg. We gave advance notice of the delay. Some of the bus versus walking excursions were more walking than desired or anticipated. Talks on board should be recorded and streamed so passengers can watch in their cabin at a better time. Sometimes there were not enough seats. Sophia, our stewardess, was particularly good. We have traveled with Viking 5 times and she is the best so far. The Truvor is tasteful considering its age but the public seating area is not at all cozy. All the couch/seating areas feel like you are sitting in the hallway. On the whole, the trip was very good and all bu one of the local guides were excellent. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 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
My first Viking cruise. I'd heard so many good things about Viking and I was not disappointed. I thought Russia would be interesting. The staff and guides made it so much more than interesting. I was impressed by the amount of education ... Read More
My first Viking cruise. I'd heard so many good things about Viking and I was not disappointed. I thought Russia would be interesting. The staff and guides made it so much more than interesting. I was impressed by the amount of education and training required for the tour guides and that they were people who actually lived in the area where we went. Everyone was so well informed and very willing to answer questions about the living in Russia now. They knew so much history. The Walkie Talkies were a great feature. We learned so much, were treated like royalty, everything was arranged for me and they knew my name as if sailed with them regularly. Everything was so clean, it felt like new. I loved that there was always a choice of local foods as well as foods with which we were familiar. We always chose the local food. Not the usual cruse entertainment, but passenger involved games, education and shows. We could be busy every minute, and since we chose to be, we came home exhausted but happy. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2017
We received outstanding service in the dining room....personalized. friendly, caring staff. Our cabin was comfortable and clean. However, we had some complaints about this cruise; *One of the included shore excursions was a ... Read More
We received outstanding service in the dining room....personalized. friendly, caring staff. Our cabin was comfortable and clean. However, we had some complaints about this cruise; *One of the included shore excursions was a ballet performance. I was excited when I found out we had box seats...but that excitement faded when my husband had to STAND FOR THE WHOLE SHOW...because he could not see when sitting down. Others in our group also had to stand to see the performance! Very upsetting and unfair! *In Moscow and St. Petersberg, the boat was docked so far from town that we spent so much time, on the bus going to and from the places we were visiting....hours and hours and hours on the bus! *We enjoyed many of the shore excursions, and most of them included visits to a church or two. However, when we wanted to go to visit the Jewish Museum, in Moscow, we had to pay extra for that. I consider that an anti-Semitic decision by the Viking Cruise Company. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
I chose thiis cruise because I have always wanted to see St. Petersburg because of the history of the Romanov dynasty. I was not disappointed. Embarking and disembarking was smooth and efficiently handled. We were greeted promptly at ... Read More
I chose thiis cruise because I have always wanted to see St. Petersburg because of the history of the Romanov dynasty. I was not disappointed. Embarking and disembarking was smooth and efficiently handled. We were greeted promptly at the airport and traveled by bus to the ship where we were greeted with a typical Russian beverage and shown promptly to our cabin, The Helgi,a large but homey ship, had several cozy areas where one could sit by a window on the landings of each staircase. In addition, there were 2 gathering areas (each with a bar and tables): a nice cozy cafe where one could grab a quick continental breakfast in the fore of the ship and a larger area in the aft where the talks and nightly entertainment were held. The duo piano player and female singer were a highlight of the evening and played a variety of music that we could dance to. The staff were exceptionally attentive to our needs for the entire cruise.The restaurant staff were friendly and catered to our needs.One of the nice surprises was a luncheon party on the large outdoor deck where the crew served typical Russian food and drinks including beer and vodka. The Hermitage Museum, the winter palace of the Romanovs, was an included tour not to be missed as was the Peterhof Palace, Moscow also exceeded my expectations. Don't miss the night tour of the city. It was amazing. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 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
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