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Volga River Cruise - Moscow to St. Petersburg

Denver, Colorado
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Volga River Cruise - Moscow to St. Petersburg

I am confused about all the various companies offering cruises on the Volga River - they all seem to offer pretty much the same activities and itinerary. How do I select a good one - recommendations anyone? I do not think I am interested in Uniworld just because of the price, but what does anyone know of Scantours, Vantage Travel or Beyond Travel? I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks.

Moscow, Russia
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1. Re: Volga River Cruise - Moscow to St. Petersburg

How about browsing through dozens if not hundreds of reviews posted in this forum?

Edited: 01 August 2012, 16:30
San Francisco...
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2. Re: Volga River Cruise - Moscow to St. Petersburg

Hi. I'm in the process of posting trip reports about my recent trip on a Smartours organized cruise. You might want to check the report out. BTW, Smartours and Gate 1 in the US are a lot cheaper than Uniworld and Royal Viking, for example.

Denver, Colorado
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3. Re: Volga River Cruise - Moscow to St. Petersburg

Does anyone know about Vanguard Travel or Scantours Russian river cruises?

Auckland, New...
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4. Re: Volga River Cruise - Moscow to St. Petersburg

You might find something on Cruise Critic

www.cruisecritic.com/…

DCtheKiwi

San Francisco...
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5. Re: Volga River Cruise - Moscow to St. Petersburg

The British people on the same boat as myself toured with a group called Saga. If you're traveling from the UK, you might want to check them out.

Adelaide, Australia
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6. Re: Volga River Cruise - Moscow to St. Petersburg

The main thing you need to research is which ship the tour uses. The ships all take the same route and visit the same towns probably for the same amount of time and using the same local guides. Some have more inclusions than others and a few (uniworld and AMAKaterinka) have been totally stripped and upgraded leading to a much higher price. The bathroom description is the giveaway.

We travelled on the Russ and although we had booked with Gate 1 and had our own cruise director there were other groups with different CDs.

It boiled down to the fact that we had all booked with different agencies and paid varying amounts for pretty much the same experience. Some paid for a cabin upgrade which was`nt necessary as the cabins were all identical just on different levels that really didn`t make any difference to the experience.

There were quite a few Aussies on our tour. Some had booked with Beyond Travel and other consolidators in Australia and at times we swapped groups and travelled with them to make the numbers even on the tours. Everyone just worked together and apart from the CD the entire ship was run and staffed by Vodohod who own just about all of the ships in Russia. The season is too short to outlay huge sums on upgrades.

The boats all moored together and we quite often had to pass through the different ones to reach our own so we could see there wasn`t much difference.

If you post a specific enquiry we can help you.

Edited: 03 August 2012, 04:06
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Columbus, Ohio
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7. Re: Volga River Cruise - Moscow to St. Petersburg

My 14 year old son and I took the 12 day Volga River cruise on the Tolstoy in June and booked through Travel All Russia. There are multiple posts detailing the trip itself, so I'll try to limit my comments to my experience/opinions.

1. Travel All Russia (TAR) - my experience was very good and I would not hesitate to use them again to assist me in various arrangements for Russian travel.

2. Our cruise included only 7 nights on the boat and 4 nights (2 each) in hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS PLAN. First our hotels (Assemblaya in Moscow, Rossi in StP) were wonderful and well located. We walked everywhere which not only saved time, but also gave us a much better experience.

3. During the 4 days we were in hotels we were with the other 5 who had booked with TAR. We had private guides who were wonderful and accomodating and we enjoyed our new Canadian friends. In Moscow our guide, Elena, added a tour of the Metro for us and in StP, Victoria, arranged for us to stop at a large mall on the way back from Catherine's Palace.

4. On the ship dinner seating was assigned and the 7 of us were at an end table 6 (blocked on three sides). THIS WAS A MAJOR NEGATIVE. We were cramped and if someone had to go to the restroom everyone had to get up... Other than the seating, my son and I both felt the food was good. You get a glass of wine with every meal. Breakfast and lunch are both buffets and we liked the food. NOTE: You do not have to arrive at the start of the meal period and I recommend going a little later.

They replensih the food regularly and there are no lines. The restaurant staff was very pleasant and efficient.

5. Make sure you eat at meals, there is not food available otherwise! No vending machines or snack bars. Before you get on the boat you may want to pick up some snack items to keep in your room. If you have a regular cabin there will be no refrigerator so keep that in mind.

6. Cabin - we opted for the lowest price cabin on the first level. This was fine and in some ways preferred since there is no sun deck on the first floor passengers don't walk by your window. Also a plus was that our cabin was listed as a triple, which means that a fold down upper bunk is in the cabin. we folded up a lower bunk and my son used the upper. this gave us a lot more room and we used it to keep a suitcase out. the cabin and closet are very small. Our cabin and the boat in general were very clean.

7. Laundry - i thought the prices were very high. I think i estimated about $3 to wash a pair of underwear. I would compare prices to similar to a hotel service. We hand washed small items.

8. Water - at least one bottle of water per person is placed in your room each day. We had more than enough.

9. Tours- we were in the English speaking group which included our seven plus others from Great Britain and Australia. The local guides were hired by the boat (not TAR) and were adequate. On board (and tours) our English coordinator, Marina, was wonderful. She taught the Russian language classes. We cut out of some of the local tours early and walked around.

10. WifI - The tolstoy does not have wifi and although they had one laptop you could rent, it never worked the week we were on board. free wifi was available in our hotels and we enjoyed skyping family back home (for free). It appeared that the Viking ship had wifi

Overall -

The boat and cabin were as we expected from our research

We had not problem communicating with hotel and boat staff

3 key criticisms:

- the boat should have multiple dinner seatins so you are not cramped

- other than the initial welcome from the captain, programs/classes should be done for each language group. they only had one session of each and every phrase stated in Russian was translated into English, Spanish, French and Turkish.

- the StP tour of the Hermitage was too short and the guide spent a long time giving an elaborate history of each painting. We did not make it to the impressionists, which was the main thing I wanted to see.

each port stop had an interesting element, but in general remember you are on the boat about 22 hours a day and off for 2.

* we took an ipad and downloaded movie rentals before we left. we also used the ipad for skyping.

* we took clothes pins to keep curtains closed and they also came in handy for laundry

In general taking the cruise was a good way to visit Russia for the first time, especially since we were inexperienced at foreign travel and speak only English. We felt it was a good price/value experience and had many positive atrributes, but we preferred the larger cities to the port towns so for our next trip we will use trains. If you are looking into a river cruise, here are my suggestions:

- Work with a travel agent that specializes in cruises

- Look for a cruise where on-board programs are in one language. We enjoyed traveling with passengers from other countries but would have liked the classes to be translated only once

- See if you can find out about dinner seatings. If they only have one seating you will be cramped.

- Look into hiring a private guide for your time in Moscow and StP you will have more flexibility in what you see.

- Look for a tour that includes hotel stays in Moscow and StP versus all 12 nights on the boat.

- try to get a phone Sim card that will work on the boat. we were not successful with this, but one of the Canadians was and she was able to text home from the boat.

- the Russian show option in StP was good. you can book that on board. get tickets for the ballet before you leave on your trip.

- smile when you are on the port tours! someone will be taking your photo and they turn it into a video.

I'll post separate reviews for our hotels and experience in Moscow, Vladimir and St. Petersburg.

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Vladimir
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8. Re: Volga River Cruise - Moscow to St. Petersburg

Thanks that was very useful 918 bridgeman

9. Re: Volga River Cruise - Moscow to St. Petersburg

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10. Re: Volga River Cruise - Moscow to St. Petersburg

We are booked on a Uniworld Moscow to St Petersburg river cruise in May 2013 on the Victoria. We would be really interested in any feedback from people who have done the cruise and also maybe catching up with people who are also on it before departure.

Joe & Chris

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Moscow
Central Russia, Russia
St. Petersburg
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Northwestern District, Russia