Envision Peter the Great luxuriating in massive Peterhof Palace, then see how multiple families shared living space at a Soviet-era kommunalka. Soak up the steam in a traditional banya in riverside Mandrogy village. Share stories at the kitchen table of an Uglich family. Savor Russian caviar with your blini pancakes. See the swirling onion domes and stout towers of Moscow's Red Square. From St. Petersburg to Moscow, this 13-day voyage reveals the real Russia as never before.
Arrive in St. Petersburg, 'The City of 300 Bridges,' then transfer to your ship.* After boarding, you have free time to relax before dinner. (D)* Ground transfers are included with Viking Air purchase.
This morning, proceed to the Winter Palace to visit the legendary Hermitage Museum, where you can marvel at the vast collection of art, antiquities, jewelry and sculpture. Return on board for an early dinner, followed by an evening performance of traditional Russian ballet. (B/L/D)
Today's excursion goes to the Pushkin area where you visit Catherine Palace, the elegant rococo 18th-century summer residence of the Russian tsars named for Catherine I (widow of Peter the Great). Tour its various halls, including the storied Amber and Agate Rooms, and see the ornate decor throughout. After lunch, embark on a city tour; see noted sights including St. Isaac's Cathedral, Peter & Paul Fortress and Nevsky Prospekt. Dine on board and enjoy an optional Russian folkloric performance this evening. (B/L/D)
Most of the day is free to see the sights that interest you. Visit one of the many palaces, churches or museums, or take an optional morning tour to Peterhof Palace, admiring its landscaped gardens and beautiful fountains. In the afternoon, you may choose to join an optional kommunalka visit to get a glimpse of these communal living spaces or take an optional tour of St. Petersburg from the water. Lunch and dinner are served on board as we depart early this evening. (B/L/D)
Spend a relaxing day cruising Russia's intricate waterways. Sail the Neva River, then cross Lake Ladoga, Europe's largest lake. Cruise the Svir River to Mandrogy where you have some time to explore this museum village. Visit the Vodka Museum or shop for handmade Russian craft items. For a truly immersive experience, try an optional visit to a banya, a traditional Russian sauna. Or, on board your ship, take the opportunity to witness and participate in the art of matryoshka doll making. Continue along the Svir's 139-mile 'Blue Route' toward Lake Onega. (B/L/D)
During breakfast, dock at Kizhi Island, located on Lake Onega, Europe's second largest lake. Set out on a walking tour through the Open Air Museum of Architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, see a collection of wooden houses, windmills and churches representing ancient Russian architecture, highlighted by the famous 3-tiered Preobranzhenskaya (Transfiguration) Church, a fairy-tale-like structure built in 1714 without a single nail. Depart Kizhi in the late morning and enjoy the scenery as you continue cruising through the rest of the day. (B/L/D)
We continue cruising along the Volga–Baltic Waterway. This system of rivers and canals, spanning 229 miles and seven locks, links the Volga River with the Baltic Sea. Arrive in Kuzino, a typical Russian village. Take a guided walk through the historic Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, founded by Saint Cyril in 1397. See several small wooden chapels, the Assumption Cathedral and a museum. You will also have the opportunity to visit a children's school in Kuzino or the local Merchant House. Return on board for an afternoon departure. (B/L/D)
Arrive midafternoon in Yaroslavl, one of the Golden Ring cities that preserves the memory of Russia's historical events. Tour this ancient town rich in monuments and visit the covered food market, where you may shop for handcrafted souvenirs. During your free time, you may visit the Church of St. Elijah the Prophet, featuring detailed frescoes and icons. Return to your ship for dinner and an evening departure. (B/L/D)
After breakfast, disembark for a walking tour through the provincial village of Uglich, another Golden Ring city. See the former Kremlin of Uglich and visit the Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood, built on the site where Ivan the Terrible's son Dmitry was mysteriously killed. Then a local family invites you into their home for tea and friendly conversation. Lunch is served on board the ship; cruise through the night. (B/L/D)
This morning, cruise along the Moscow Canal, approaching Moscow during lunch. Disembark for a half-day city tour. See the famed Bolshoi Theater and stop at Red Square for a view of the brightly colored St. Basil's Cathedral. You also get the chance to explore the famous GUM Department Store and experience the city's Metro. Enjoy an evening performance of traditional Russian folkloric music followed by a late onboard dinner. (B/L/D)
Today you have a full day to further explore Moscow's many buildings, parks and monuments. This morning, you may want to join a half-day optional excursion to Tretyakov Gallery, the world's foremost museum of Russian fine art. Lunch is served on board the ship. This afternoon you may choose to take an optional Jewish Moscow tour, visiting key sites within Moscow that illustrate the history and spirit of the Jewish people who settled there. Dine on board, then relax, or take an optional Moscow by Night tour. (B/L/D)
After breakfast, travel to the city's famous red brick enclosure known as the Kremlin. Go behind its walls to see historic gems like Tsar's Cannon and Tsar's Bell, and tour inside two cathedrals. The afternoon is free to relax and explore. Perhaps join an optional tour of Moscow's oldest museum, the Kremlin Armory, which originated as the royal arsenal in 1508. Or, you may wish to spend some time people watching in Red Square or visit Lenin's Tomb. You may also choose to visit the Cosmonaut Museum to see displays about the history of space exploration. Return to your ship for a farewell dinner. (B/L/D)
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* Or take some extra time in Russia with a 2-night Moscow extension. (B)* Ground transfers are included with Viking Air purchase.
Russian Surprise 0Ian & Barbara, SA , Australia, Aug 2019
The booking procedure was seamless from selecting our holiday to the receipt of our travel documents. The airfares were organised by Viking Cruises as part of the package we chose. The major problem being the inability to pick our own seats on the plane.
The Waterways to the Tsars tour was well thought out and provided an extensive look into the past and present life of the Russian people. The local guides provided well thought out information, although we became a little tired of the Romanovs by the end of the cruise.
The on board staff were exemplary going about their tasks with a smile on their faces and were always helpful. A tremendous little touch was the gift of chocolates and a personal note from our cabin steward on the last day. The meals were OK and the ability to eat local food was a good touch. The only downside as far as the cruise was concerned was, free soft drink and alcohol was limited to meal times only and the local red wine was almost undrinkable. I was too tight to buy wine from the wine list.
The major downside happened on our way home. The plane from Moscow was an hour late leaving and we missed our connecting flight from Frankfurt to Singapore even though the plane was still in the terminal and the ground staff knew we were coming. This lead to extremely basic accommodation and meals and resulted in us having to halve our stay in Singapore and was a significant reason for our jetlag when we came home. All in all it was a good experience that could have been great if the air component had been better. I have grave doubts if I would ever fly with Lufthansa again.
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Note Tour & cruises prices are per person. Prices shown have savings applied, are subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Prices and trip information are correct at the time at this point in time, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking and are subject to change by Viking.