A group of 34 of us just returned from an 11-day Russia river cruise on Viking from Moscow to St. Petersburg, and we all had a wonderful, awesome, memorable experience on the Pakhomov. What a crew! What an itinerary! We couldn't have asked for better weather! The glorious sunsets at 11:30 p.m. were nothing short of sensational! The White Nights were just that--with pink and blue skies until the wee hours of the morning.
The tours were outstanding, with guide Valera "as good as it gets." The crew, including Dieter (hotel manager) and Biggy (tour director), seemed to be omnipresent...and they went above and beyond the call of duty on many occasions. The entertainment, the vodka-tasting and the caviar-tasting optionals seemed to be enjoyed by all who attended.
If you're a seasoned traveller looking for new experiences and new venues, this itinerary is the perfect choice! Please write to me privately (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have further questions or concerns.
Charlotte and I just returned Sunday night from a 12 day visit to Russia through Viking River Cruises. We flew from Atlanta to Paris and connected with Air France to Moscow. Boarded a large Viking Russian river cruiser, MS Pakhomov and spent three nights on board as a hotel in Moscow. Spent our anniversary in Red square. We got to see Putin and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch as they came out of a Kremlin church. The churches are magnificent - covered with icons. People are very friendly.
Traffic in Moscow worst that Atlanta, LA, etc. City of 25 million who are now buying autos on roads built in the 30's. The Moscow subway carries 9 million people daily and the stations are like art museums with marble statues, paintings, frescos - and they are spotless! People were very nice. Saw the Moscow circus, KGB headquarters, Kremlin, St. Basil, palaces, palaces, palaces.
The biggest surprise - the young women - they are gorgeous. Then cruised up the Volga River visting, the small towns of Uglich, Yaroslavl, and Kostroma, and Kizhi were we saw the wooden church built with out nails on 1 mile bt 4 mile island. On the way I made my Russian singing debut, singing "Some Enchanting Evening" during passenger night. Cruised up the Neva River and then the Svir into St. Petersburg. Saw Peter and Catherine's castles. the Hermitage the gold, amber, and Wedgwood on the walls, ceilings, staircases is incredible. Went to the Marinsky Opera house where we saw "Samson and Delila" and to the St. Petersburg theater and saw "Swan Lake".
We had lunch with a very modest Russian family in their small flat on the 4th (walk up). Grandma was a big women. Her daughter a beautiful blue eyed blond who dances in the Bolshi ballet, and her 18 year old daughter who is studying ballet. It was a wonderful meal and a memorable experience. This and many other optional tours were arrange by our travel agent and dear friend Shirley Binder. She gave us a completer turn-key package on several trips. You will be pleased with her service – her e-mail is email@example.com
St. Petersburg is the Venice of the north with canals throughout the city. Gets to -40 F in the winter. More that 30%of the land in Moscow and St. Petersburg is devoted to parks. Many statues of Lenin... Stalin nowhere to be seen. Of the 200 passengers on board and we have traveled with 34 of them before on other Viking Cruises, so it was like a big family reunion. More churches in Russia (and they are active) than Italy.
I purchased the new Sony DCRDVD camcorder that writes directly on DVD. The pictures and color are fantastic. Have 9 1/2 hours of video plus over 450 digital stills.
The crew and staff on board could not have been nicer.
Would be our number 1 recommendation to anyone traveling to Europe for the first time or considering going back again.
In response to your posting...my husband and I just returned from Viking Pakhomov's 11-day Russian river cruise, and I would like to share with you the letter I just sent to the members of "our" group--those on Bus #1 for the daily Viking shore excursions:
Thank you all for creating memories for a lifetime! What a wonderful group we had...and what wonderful times we enjoyed together! The experiences were awesome--even overwhelming at times. I think we enjoyed the best of the best...
What an itinerary! We started out thinking that nothing could
really be more spectacular than Red Square, the Armory, and
the subway in Moscow...but St. Petersburg proved us wrong--it was
even more spectacular!
Valera was a wonderful guide, as were Elena and Helen...
Who could possibly outdo Dieter and Biggy and Andrej and the
rest of the excellent Pakhomov crew?
Who can ever forget...
Alex and Katchya reacquainting themselves with their heritage...
Reuniting with old cruising buddies, and making new friends, too...
Russian language lessons, Russian history lessons, days filled with
sunshine, the White Nights phenomena, amazing sunsets, many
varieties of locks and lakes and marshland...
A stunning performance of Swan Lake, and an eye-opening totally
contemporary performance of Samson and Delila...
the Amber Room and gardens at the magnificent
Catherine's Palace, the fountains at Peterhof, the tale of
Rasputin at Yusupov Palace, the girls spinning yarn and stringing
beads at Kizhi, the carriages and jewels of the czars at the
Armory in Moscow, the phenomenal mosaics at the Church of the
Spilt Blood, the awesome golden domes and pillars of St.
Isaacs, the magnificent quartet at the Ipatievsky Monastery in
Kostroma...and the moving experience of dining in a private home
and getting first-hand look at how Russian families are
coping with the traumatic conversion from a paternalistic social
system to a capitalistic society is forever engraved in our
WOW!!! Just the thought of it all leaves me breathless! I'm delighted to have the video to document the amazing experiences. If any of you have kept journals that you'd be willing to share with me, I'd be most appreciative!
I want to thank you for being part of this very special Russian cruise group in 2004!
p.s. Won't you join us for the 14-day China cruisetour from Beijing to Shanghai next April?
I would warn you not to take a cruise from brendan tours.
I did and it was a fiasco. we were booked on the vladimir mayakovski riverboat
It is a russian boat so we expected the food to be a little different,but
we got food poisoning and missed the island of kizhi as they had to get theboat inspected by a health doctor.
On the optional tour to the armory we had to wait over an hour as the tour guide
forgot to get the tickets to get in. This is only part of the problems we had.
The tour was booked from Brendan tours. We had exoected brendan tour guides, but the tour guides were Global river tours.
Hope you have a good trip
We also are expecting to do this cruise in the spring of 2005. Have done a lot of research and are very excited about it. We have travelled in Russia before, back in the 80's and again in the 90's and are anxious to see what changes have been made. Will be the first time for a river cruise there. Would like to hear from others who have done this.
Took the Viking River Cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg last in May. I recommend finding another cruise line. The cabins were very small, cot-like beds and the toilet and shower was a hand held -over-the-toilet one. We had a room with a very bad odor from the toilet and after three complaints and three days and nights they finally moved us to another room. Tour director just told us to keep "running the water" .They sprayed the toilet also to no avail. Food was edible but nothing sensational. My husband was very sick the last day and for four days after returning home and needed medical care. We think the water was unsafe altho they said it was. They said to refill our water bottles from a special faucet but I have since learned this is not a good thing to do. The plastic bottles should not be refilled as they can develop bacteria. I also think the odor from the toilet had something to do with making my husband so sick. It was horrible! We hated to stay in the room.
We had taken a river cruise with Uniworld last year to Holland and loved it. Food was wonderful. Our room was large with two beds. The bath was nice with an enclosed shower . There was plenty of closet space. I highly recommend this tour. Of course you have to go at tulip time.
Very disappointed in the Viking Russia tour and would not recommend it. I hope i did not burst your bubble but before booking look into some other companies and also check the cabin sizes.
Russia was not what I expected but it was an experience I will never forget.
About the cabin sizes on Viking's Moscow to St. Petersburg ships.
Their brochure clearly provides the sizes of the cabins on the Kirov and Pakhomov - the Standard Cabin (Cat B & C) being 90 sq.ft. and their Delux Cabins (Cat AX & BX) are 204 sq.ft. - quite a difference. Yes, the Cat B & C cabins are VERY small, but I would suggest that most, if not all, the other Company's ships on this route are the same in the lower categories.
I have been on 4 Viking itineraries (different vessels) and yes, the cabin on the Kirov (Cat B) was, by far, the smallest, but don't let this detract you from Vikings' Waterways Of The Szars.
Viking is a CLASS ACT and provides a superb product for the price.
We are planning a trip to Russia for the end of May, 2005 and looking at the Waterways of the Czars cruise through Viking from Moscow to St. Petersburg. I have looked at the Viking itinerary and ship and also the Peter the Great cruise. Has anyone taken the Peter the Great trip? It appears to be less expensive and to provide the same itinerary. I am especially leary of the tiny cabins on the Viking ships; the upgrade to a deluxe is very expensive. I would appreciate your comments. Beverly