Time to book your cruise for 2008!
We recently took our first River Cruise in Russia (September 2007) and were amazed at the progress this country has made. Capitalism is taking off.
We traveled with GRAND CIRCLE - Excellent and Outstanding in every way! 4 nites in Moscow at a newer hotel, 7 days on a DELUXE river cruise, and 3 nites in St. Petersburg at another lovely hotel. We expected accommodations to be third world and we were pleasantly surprised. Even the food at all establishments was better than home for the price, especially on their privately owned river boat. Sightseeing in all areas was better than we expected; visiting the palaces of the Czars to the village homes along the river topped off by attending the ballet in St. Petersburg - Swan Lake.
I had posted an earlier trip review on the Russia website and then I discovered perhaps my personal review might reach more interested travelers looking to cruise.
We did learn one thing; you DO NOT want to be only on a cruise ship during your entire visit to Russia. The ports are far from sightseeing and you spend enough time in the worst of traffic. Have a few nights in each city is really nice; especially our hotels were in great locations.
The Cruise itself was our first river boat cruise. We've traveled with Celebrity but those were huge ships. The staff could not do enough for you; they were on duty 24/7. They kept the state rooms immaculate; often we would catch the young little maid on her hands and knees scrubbing our bathroom floor. Have you ever seen that in the states? Everything in the room was new and clean and very roomy. All rooms had large picture windows viewing the passing countryside. Unlimited hot water in the showers and roomy too.
Each day we'd stop and explore a new village and opportunities to see the most remote areas in Russia without going to Siberia.
There was constant and varied entertainment on board and lots of other activities. Painting your own wooden stacking dolls or language classes or cake decorating or napkin folding. For 21 meals on the ship, we never saw a napkin folded the same way!!! It was elegant.
The cuisine on board as well as the hotels was outstanding!!! Multi course dining....all the way!!! When we got home, I was almost assigned my own zip code!!!
Russia is a fascinating country to visit and now there is the opportunity to see it all before it's too crowded (like what happened to China). The traffic in the cities is bad but Grand Circle strives for excellence in every way and makes the journey to the sites of interest worth the drive when necessary.
The tour itself was worth every penny but if you are a shopper, you'll need a fist full of 'rubles'. Prices are high!
We did a lot of research before selecting the company to take us to Russia. We had heard in the past all the ships were pretty bad. When we heard about Grand Circle owning their ships and the level of standards, along with the fact their were very nice hotels in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, we knew it was time to visit Russia.
Also, Grand Circle received two outstanding reviews by fellow travelers in two publications in 2007:
Travel + Leisure "#1 Best Value Cruise Line"
Condé Nast Traveler Gold List — Grand Circle Cruise Line – included in Gold List of world’s 11 best cruise lines (large and small category)
We have been visiting interesting destinations for a long time but only recently discovered Grand Circle. We are also booked with their subsidiary OAT for Thailand, Australia, Egypt and India. Wish we had discovered their unique itineraries earlier.
If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact me direct on my email
Happy traveling!!!! Hope my observations have been helpful to you in making your next vacation.
Russia-Grand Circle River Cruise Review
Time to book your cruise for 2008!
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