We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

River cruise ship: MS Russ

Ventura, CA
Level Contributor
175 posts
31 reviews
Save Topic
River cruise ship: MS Russ

I have looked up and down the threads for pertinent information on the MS Russ. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any real information on anyone's experience on the ship. Does anyone have concrete feedback, i.e. what were the food, service, and tours like? How was getting to the boat? How was the reservation & boarding experience?

Thanks in advance to anyone to may be able to shed any light.

Sydney
Level Contributor
2,894 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: River cruise ship: MS Russ

Yes, we took the Russ about four months ago, and, really, we couldn't have been happier. It seems to me, however, that just about all these boats are more-or-less the same, so I couldn't sit here and tell you that the Russ was any better or any worse than any of the others.

I can tell you that the food was mainly western -- we did have borscht on one special day -- and that it was varied and plentiful (buffet for breakfast, three course of other meals, choose from usually three alternatives for each course). The girls serving you are generally University students on their summer holidays earning a bit of extra money, and they are, without exception, delightful. The beds are bunk beds and the cabins are of roughly the same standard whichever level you choose to stay on (after one night on the middle-deck, they upgraded us to boat deck, but the only difference, really, was the size of the window and the uninterrupted view.). The shower was very pleasant with tons of hot water... someone on one of the other boats wrote in a few weeks ago saying they couldn't fit into the shower and that the beds had chamber pots under them.... sounds bizarre, and I don't know which boat he was talking about, but it certainly wasn't the Russ. The Russ (and the other Vodohod vessels I saw) is geared towards making western visitors feel at home... everyone speaks English almost as well as they speak Russian, and standards of hygiene, etc, are excellent.

The very best thing -- for us -- about the Russ was the on-board cruise director. Of course, he may have left by the time you get there, but when we went on, it was Anton (about 22 or 23 years old), and he was so nice and so helpful that he made the trip twice as pleasant as it would otherwise have been... you are quite at liberty to tell him we said so, if you see him... I actually tried to write to the company at their email address to praise him, but I don't think the email was successful (or maybe it's just that no one in the head office reads English!)

The clientele on the Russ is mainly American, Italian, French, German, and Russian... no other Aussies on our trip, and the only Asian, if I recall, was my own wife. You will be grouped, for dining and tours, with people from your own country -- or, at least, speaking the same language; we were lucky, as we got an American and Belgian couple who became fast friends..There is entertainment nightly, and lessons in Russian language, dancing, crafts, etc. The Russ has a small library, and I finally got to read "Crime and Punishment" ( I attended the first Russian language lesson, but didn't do my homework, so I decided to skip the rest).

All these ferries -- and there are two or three an hour plying this route in the middle of the (very short) summer, stop at the same ports for approximately the same length of time and do the same shore cruises. The Russ actually skips one port and makes up a few hours on the other VODOHOD boats. There are also shore cruises at each end, but you can save a lot of money by booking the cruise without these (and the extra nights on the ferry) and doing the two major cities yourself. This is more efficient, as well as cheaper, because shore cruises in major cities invariably waste a great deal of time driving through peak-hour traffic and herding people in and out of venues. Naturally, none of the cruise liners have jetties in the centre of the city, so you will have to travel out to the ferry where the boat leaves. In St Petersburg (where we departed) this means taking a bus from the centre of town to a major bus interchange where Vodohod has a shuttle service waiting to take you to the ferry. (We couldn't find the shuttle bus, but, luckily, there's a public bus that does the same route and stops about 200 meters from the wharf, and it costs only a few roubles).

In Moscow, the ferry wharf is just a few hundred metres from the Metro, and, as you will already know, the Moscow Metro is fantastically good... you'll be in the centre of town in a few minutes. So transport to and from the ship is only a problem if you happen to be on one of their shore cruises, and you're stuck with two hours of sitting on a bus to get one-and-a-half hours in the Hermitage, or something similar.

Shipboard life is very relaxing, and, while these are such small craft as to really be better-classified as "ferries", I actually preferred the week on the Russ to the one or two experiences I have had on an ocean-going liner, because river scenery is ever-present and ever-changing. The shore excursions en-route are all included, but you don't really need to go on more than one or two, as the ports are generally small villages which are easily-walkable.

I can't think of any real negatives, except for the waste of time on the buses for major-city shore cruises, so I think you will be happy with your booking. If you haven't seen the Vodohod Facebook page, this might be a good next stop in your search for information. It's facebook.com/pages/…

Have a great time, and tell Anton that those two crazy Aussies said hello!

Edited: 25 September 2010, 02:00
Banbury, United...
Level Contributor
1 post
4 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: River cruise ship: MS Russ

Very interested in your report as have just booked for August 2011 cruise on MS. Russ. Should be some British on board next year as 23 August departure being sold by The River Cruise Line in the UK.

Baton Rouge, La
Level Contributor
4 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: River cruise ship: MS Russ

Does the Russ offer transportation from the airport to the boat?

If so, once you are on the boat can you come and go all hours of the day and night?

How easy is it to get back into the city center once onboard?

How do you get back to the city center once you're onboard, and does that transportation stop at a certain hour in the night?

Thanks in advance for all the help

Ventura, CA
Level Contributor
175 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: River cruise ship: MS Russ

Things came up and we were unable to make the trip. So any information on this thread will be helpful to us in the future. Thanks everyone.

gainesville, Florida
Level Contributor
2 posts
1 review
Save Reply
5. Re: River cruise ship: MS Russ

I'll be awaiting your review as I'll be on the MS Russ at the end of September.

gainesville, Florida
Level Contributor
2 posts
1 review
Save Reply
6. Re: River cruise ship: MS Russ

I'll be awaiting your review as I'll be on the MS Russ at the end of September.

London, United...
Level Contributor
8,023 posts
525 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: River cruise ship: MS Russ

I am also looking forward to reports .. Thanks

Long Island, NY
5 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: River cruise ship: MS Russ

Thank you for the detailed information. We are going this June with Gate 1 Travel. We did sign up for the various excursions, however. My questions are: Do you know anything about the canal tour in St. Petersburg? Is it worth taking? Also the nightime trip in St. Petersburg from 11:30 pm- 2:00pm? Can you see the bridges opening from the pier where the boat is? Instead of the tour?

Also, we are flying with Aeroflot. Should we just use carry-on luggage for the trip, since we have to gather our bags and transfer in Moscow to another airport on the way home? (We are starting in Moscow on our cruise)

Any other information and comments would be appreciated.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
84 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: River cruise ship: MS Russ

Hi, I'm going with Gate 1 Travel also, but in Sept. I'd appreciate hearing about your experience with the ship and the ports.

By the way, when did you get your visa support docs from Gate 1?

Standish, Michigan
Level Contributor
1 post
11 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: River cruise ship: MS Russ

Thank you so much for all that wonderful information. We hope that we will have a great experience as you. We have cruised many times but never a river cruise. What about attire on he ship? Do we need fancy dress for dinners? Does my husband need a sport jacket? We are goind May 20, 2011.

Thank you again.

Gerry