My husband and I are taking our first river cruise. Will be going to Russia. Any advice from other river-cruisers would be appreciated, especially on what to pack. We have previously taken 2 Mediterranean cruises and 1 Caribbean cruise on both small and large ships and know that the ambiance on a river cruise is very different. Has anyone sailed on the Viking Pakhomov? Thanks. Mimi
I haven't been on a river cruise yet either but we will be on the August 27-Sept 7 sailing. I'm preparing for possible rain and cool weather. We were on a Baltic cruise a couple of years ago and went to St. Petersburg. On one of the evening excursions, to the Yusupov Palace for an opera recital, all the men wore either a tux or a coat and tie. Of course we were served complimentary champaign and caviar so dressing up wasn't too much to ask.
We've done one Viking sailing (Provence in April) and we have another one booked for September (Amsterdam to Budapest in September).
I'd be happy to send you a copy of my journal of our Provence cruise. Lots of details--everything you wanted to know about Viking river cruises! Let me know if you'd like a copy by request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are thinking about the Moscow-St. Peter'g for next summer. Like you, have never done a small ship.
If you don't mind, please let us know how you liked it. Also, what agency did you use?
Thanks and bon voyage.
I mentioned previously that we did a river cruise through Provence that we really enjoyed. We also have cruised to St. Petersburg on Renaissance (now out of business), and it is a fabulous city--breathtakingly beautiful palaces, gardens, etc. Don't miss it! I've never been to Moscow, but I am certainly looking forward to someday taking a Waterways of the Czars river cruise on Viking River Cruises. Love the small boats and the smooth sailings!
Patt: This is a trip I have wanted to take for a few years. We got a brochure from Viking offering a terrific price on selected sailings this summer and decided spur of the moment to take advantage of it. I just went to my local travel agent and he made the booking for me. However, he is not familiar with Viking and with river cruising, so I have many unanswered questions. Getting Visas has been problematic. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they will arrive soon. Will post a review of the trip on my return mid-August. Mimi P.S. Read Shirley's trip log of her Viking River Cruise to Provence (see 6/25 post)
We are seriously considering the Best of Europe cruise from Amsterdam to Vienna on the Viking Europe and have many unanswered questions. We have cruised on big ships in the past but this would be our first river cruise experience. We would love to read your journal if possible even though the itinerary is not the same.
We called our travel agent this week and discovered we were up against a couple of deadlines we weren't previously informed about. The most immediate involved filling out a form and sending it to Viking by last Friday so they would make the air arrangements. The form required passport info and emergency contact names and addresses. Someone dropped the ball and didn't send up the form. The other involved obtaining Russian visas. We did not get visa application forms and instructions until we prompted the travel agent. Of course the full payment for the trip was made about a month ago.
My advise to anyone taking this type of trip is stay in close contact with the travel agent beginning eight weeks prior to departure and keep inquiring about flight reservations and visa applications.
Besides recommending Shirlry's wonderful trip log (see message 6/25/02) for the river boat experience, there is also a terrific trip log of the Viking River Tours "Waterways of the Czars" on fodors.com posted by a gentleman named Rudy. Get to their forums page, then search for keyword Russia or Russian River Cruise. His log is very detailed and he very kindly answers questions. Mimi
Glen: Just returned and all I can say is, it was WONDERFUL! Hope by now all your paperwork is in order -- we only received our Visas two days before our trip. The itinierary was so intense that we actually had to make time for shopping and in fact I'm having a little "buyers regret" at the many things I passed up. Take plenty of film. Please send my best regards to the Maitre 'D, Andrey. I told him to expect to get a "hello" from another passenger in a couple of weeks. If you have any specific questions, contact me directly at email@example.com. If I don't hear from you, have a great time. We're already pouring over the brochure to pick our next Viking vacation.
Shirley, We are going on the Sept 1 trip from Amsterdam also.
What to Pack?????
Any other tips?? How did you handle money exchanges?? etc etc etc.
Hope the rivers are back to norm and that the tours are also. See you on the boat and look forward to hearing from you.
We took the Viking Kirov last summer. It was the best cruise that we have taken! (and we have been fortunate enough to have taken 80+ cruises on most lines.) You can read my complete cruise review on Londa Coffman's web site. <www.cruisediva.com>
We took the Viking Kirov last summer and it was the greatest cruise that we have ever taken. The Russian people are very warm and love Americans. I wrote a complete trip report that you can eventually find at Linda Ciffman's web site <www.cruisediva.com>. Just work your way through the cruise reviews and you will find it. One piece of advice, take cash instead of travelers checks. There were no ATM's that we could find and the only bank that will cash travelers checks takes a couple of hours while a special manager drives in to approve the transaction. Our whole tour had to wait on the bus so that one couple could get some money. Don't plan on converting much money to roubles. Everything on the ship goes on your account to be settled by credit card. Ashore, most if not all of your purchases will be at street vendors or little shops. They would rather have dollars than roubles. The exchange rate today is 31.5 roubles to the dollar. Coincidentally, everything that you would want to buy costs multiple of 30 roubles, so conversion to dollars is easy. I suggest that you take the time to learn a few words of Russian. (Please, Thank You, Hello, Good-Bye, How much does this cost, etc.) We did with a local Russian lady, but you can also learn from the cruise ship staff on the first day. It breaks the ice with the people and you will find that many speak some English and with gestures, a conversation can be made. They are very interrested in our economy as they are in the process of transition. Have a wonderful trip! You may e-mail me with any questions.
Gary: I enjoyed reading your trip log from your 2001 cruise. I recently returned from the Moscow/St. Petersburg cruise on the Viking Pakhomov and would have to agree with most of your comments about the Viking line and the trip itselt. You mentioned in your log that you intended to take another river cruise this year. Did you do so? We hope to take another river cruise next year and would be anxious to hear about other itinieraries.
We haven't taken another river cruise, yet. We are looking at Amsterdam to Budapest for next summer. I would hve liked to have taken the Siberian river cruise, but it looks as if Viking has dropped it due to low bookings. Right now, both my wife and I are dealing with some health issues and that has to take precedance.
Gary: I can certainly understand that since I'm dealing with a severely sprained shoulder myself. I, too, was interested in the Siberia trip, but it didn't appeal to my husband. Earlier today, I downloaded the itinerary for the Amsterdam to Budapest trip because my husband experssed an interest in it. Anyway, best wishes for speedy recoveries to you and your wife. Please keep posting on this board or on Fodors.com travel talk when you start planning next year's trip.
Thanks Gary for your detailed journal. I enjoyed it very much. We are also thinking of doing this cruise at a future date. We were in St. Petersburg last summer for 2 days during a cruise from Stockholm to Dover on the R7. We enjoyed our tours of St. Petersburg very much. I had organize a private tour for 4 couples so we were able to visit quite a lot. I am still in contact with the person that organized our tours.
We know what it is like to have health problems, we also had to cancel a Tahiti cruise in Dec 2000. We will be leaving on a Viking riverboat cruise on Sept 26 from Amsterdam to Vienna and we are looking forward to this cruise very much.
Take care, Gary and maybe our paths will cross one day.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Viking River Cruise - Russia
I've just been surfing for info on Russian River Cruises and noticed you are considering the Amsterdam to Budapest cruise. My wife and I took this cruise in summer of 2001 and found it to be wonderful in all respects. The Viking crew were "special", and the itinerary itself both educational and fun -- perhaps a few too many castles and cathedrals, but one has to expect that in Europe, I guess!! We highly recommend this cruise.
regarding your intending to travel to Russia in 2004, 3 friends and I took the trip from Moscow to St. Petersbourgh on the last sailing with The Viking Pakhomov, the trip itself was great, lots to do and see. One word of advice if you can get there a couple of days earlier to spend more time in Moscow would be better , we only had a day and half there. Then St. Petersbourg the stay is definitely not enough . Another advice you dont have to dress up very much at dinner either. Being only 200 passengers is great you get to meet lots of people from all over. The staff went overboard ( excuse the quip) to please us and attend to all our needs. An extension cord would come in handy because the plug in you have to use for the hair dryer is nowhere near a mirror unless you have a suite , in that instance it might be. the guides are excellent . you do not really need to change your money into rubbles. there is not that much time for shopping. we had a half a day. there are optional excursions , also the Faberge factory is a place you can go on your own. which we found about too late. An other word of advice if you see something you like , in the town where it is made, buy it there. you might find it later but for more. The cabins on board are not too large. the food is adequate, unlike other cruises its a set menu with two choices. they also made a great effort to accomodate our diet. There is entertainment on board,. Be prepared to participate one night when the passengers are expected to put on a show. So if you have some talents come prepared.. Should you go you May give our regard to Andrei, the restaurant manager, from his friends from Edmonton Canada. He was a wonderful host. We went in the fall and the weather was great. No sea sickenss because of the river travelling. The ship is your hotel in both Moscow and St. Petersbourgh. If you have any more questions please contact me. Thank You.
Thanks so much for the information/tips/suggestions for Moscow/St. Petersburg, based on your recent Viking cruise experience. A group of close to 30 of us will be sailing on the June 30, 2004, sailing, and I will distribute a copy of your posting to all of them.
I especially appreciated your mention of the Faberge tour. Do you have any further information about it? How long is the tour? Best way to get to it from the ship? Faberge's address or website?
Mimi, a frequent contributor to this message board, had already mentioned to "buy it when you see it"--with regard to purchasing items in Russia. She especially made reference to the items for sale in Uglich--the first stop after Moscow. She told me she made the mistake of deciding to wait until further into the cruise before purchasing, but she never again saw the same items or the same quality throughout the voyage.
I also appreciate advice about not having to exchange American dollars for rubles...really not necessary. That's helpful information!
We'll be on the June 24th sailing of the Pakomov from Moscow to St. Petersburg. I've been told that it is an awesome itinerary and a memorable trip. The boat itself is not as new as most of the other vessels in Viking's fleet, but the shore excursions, the crew, and the experience itself are all said to outstanding.
It is my understanding that the trip from the airport to the pier takes 35 to 40 minutes in "normal" traffic. Unfortunately, no one can precisely define "normal"! And coincidentally, takes about the same time to get from riverboat to airport in St. Petersburg as well.
I highly recommend acquiring some rubles upon arrival at the airport, either at the ATM or currency exchange window. Note that the ATM dispenses only large bills, so request an odd amount (1490, for example) to get some smaller bills. Larger bills are difficult to use, even in the metro. Though we were taken by Viking to exchange money, it was not until late the second or third day. The currency exchange window at the hotel did not reopen for a half hour or so, and some folks were not successful with the ATM there. You generally do not need rubles for souvenir purchases. But, you DO need rubles for incidentals (a bottle of water, the occasional rest room, specifically). And, you DO need rubles if you plan to venture out on your own via the metro or visit museums on your own. You also need rubles at many of the places visited with Viking if you plan to use your camera inside (as there in an extra charge for this).