Has anyone reading this been on the St. Petersburg-Moscow cruise or the other direction? How were the water levels, the hospitality of local guides, the food? I'm thinking of next July, would this be a good time (barring political upheavals of course)?
I've heard only praise for the Waterways of the Czars sailings. I have never heard of problems with river levels in Russia either. I understand that the Russian boats are not as modern as the other vessels in Viking's fleet and that the food may not be up to the standard of its other riverboats. Apparently the cultural and educational aspects of the itinerary more than compensate for such shortcomings.
Mimi, who contributes to this CruiseMates message board every once in a while, raved to me about her Russian river cruise experience. You might want to search through Mimi's messages for a more complete report. In one posting she referred readers to a wonderful highly detailed cruise journal that was posted on Frommers.com, if I remember correctly. (Mimi, if you are reading this posting, please let us know how and where to find that review, ok?)
Hello all: We took this trip Moscow/St. Petersburg in 2002 -- our first river cruise, and loved it. While the menu is not as diverse as on other Viking routes, the food was delicious and included many regional specialties. You consult with the Maitre' D on the first day re: special diet and also daily to discus the evening menus. He will make suggestions if you don't care for the choice du jour. The wonderful cruise report Shirley referred to above is on the Fodor's travel talk board titled My River Cruise in Russia, part 1 and (when the board got too crowded) part 2. It's found under the main topics of Cruises - River Boats and Barges, and under the country heading of Russia. Just scroll down till you find it, or search by title. There are terrific tips in that discussion re: packing, dressing, currency, shopping, etc. Have fun!!! P.S. It's a trip I plan to take again in the future, along with the trip through the Ukraine. Mimi
Mrs. Hall and I have traveled extensively for the past fifteen, and are approaching our 58th anniversary, June 16th.
we want to make just one more overseas trip in July of 2006, and it was suggested that to take a cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and would appreciate hearing from whomever you feel is the way to go, and cost for a good but inexpensive tour that would let us experience the wonderful sights of such a trip. Many thanks for sharing your exdperiences. Don Hall
Wwe went on the Viking River Cruises Pakhomov from Moscow to St. Petersburg in May 2003 and thought it was FABULOUS. I read the review by someone in "Cruise Addicts" and I am not sure what the problem was unless the person thought she was going on a Carnival Cruise or a Princess, etc. There is no television and no "entertainment" and no casino, but they took us to the Russian Ballet, to the Hermitage, to the Moscow Circus, folklorico etc. etc, etc. It was absolutely wonderful.
Our experience with Viking River Cruises was very memorable with the staff more than willing to accomodate us and our guide Valera being absolutely exceptional. I must admit that the food on board was not 5 star, but they always would make you a chicken breast and vegetables if you didn't like the entrees. We didn't go on this for the food. We went to see a different culture and learn about a place that we had never been. I wouldn't do this kind of cruise if I were looking for food or entertainment or people who speak perfect English. If I wanted all of that, I would stay home or go on one of the "big ships"!!!!
Viking River Cruises had a great trip to Russia and that is why we are choosing to do China with them. Viking River Cruises is a good line to book with as long as you realize that you aren't going on a big cruise ship!
I don't know how the river will be in July, but it was wonderful in May. I think July will be quite hot and humid - so be prepared for that! The standard cabins are very small so don't bring a lot of luggage!!! It doesn't matter the size because they keep you so busy that you eill be happy to get back to your cabin to go to sleep!!!!! It's a great, great trip! I hope you go and enjoy it. Just remember, yiu are in Russia...not the U.S.A.
P.S. We liked Viking River Cruises so much that we are going to do one thir china trip in November.
Sorry to say we had a bad experience with this trip on the Pakhamov. There was a horrid odor in the cabin's toilet and after three tries asking that something be done we were finally moved to another room, thanks to the hotel manager. The tour director said it would go away but after a few days it did not go away and she was not interested in our problem only to send a can of room spray which was of no use. A few others complained about this but ours seemed to be the worst. Food was tolerable. The crew was great and the shows and optionals were fantastic. My husband was very sick on the last day and for three days after returning home with "Stalin's revenge" so they call it. There is water where you can fill up your bottle that they said was safe. We recently learned that you should not keep that water in the bottle too long, maybe just the day. You cannot drink the tap water at all. I am convinced that something with the odor in the toilet and room had made him sick. We found the rooms where they shows were held were entirely too small. There were not enough seats to fit everyone and some just turned around and left. Next time it is Uniworld river cruise for us, no more Viking. Don't want to burst your bubble but be aware and be safe.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Judy, I can't say anything about Uniworld as I have never used them. However, I have been on two river cruises with Grand Circle and was most pleased with their service. I am a little disappointed that they have started adding "optional at extra cost" tours on their cruises. One of the benefits as recently as two years ago was that ALL shore excursions were included in the base price which is NOT cheap to begin with. I have not been on a Russian river cruise but a number of people have posted here and on Cruise Critic BB indicating that you cannot compare the Russian ships to the other river ships on either cabin size, food or service. I would think that a careful reading of those posts would be most informative. Clarence
A couple of nights ago, I saw a documentary about the Moscow Canal. It was built by Stalin in 4-1/2 years. He used up to 200,000 slave laborers, with many dying. Many small villages were destroyed. It provides most of the drinking water for Moscow. The cruise line will probably NOT even mention the background of the building of this canal. Of one point, you will see a church spire rising out of the water. It was left to be used as a light house. The village was flooded around the spire.
When my wife and I were in Moscow's Red Square in 2000, I saw in my mind's eye the huge military parades, and the communist leaders on top of Lenin's tomb. If you visit the tomb, NO photography, and it is very dark. You can stumble if you are not careful!
There are several great little coffee shops/cafes in the GUM department store across from the tomb. Also, make sure you visit St. Basil Cathedral inside. But dop not get lost in the 8 chapels!