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Moscow River Cruise
The Volga River is the longest river in Europe and it's so important to the Russian psyche that it is often referred to as the Mother Volga. Its majestic waterways wind through some of Russia's most scenic and historical cities, passing golden onion domes of centuries-old monasteries and white brick walls of kremlins that once held equal power to Moscow's.
Exploring the heart of Russia on a river cruise is a memorable—and relaxing—part of any trip to the region—and it's an excellent alternative to train or plane travel between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Cruises are usually eight to 14 days long, working their way along the Volga and Neva Rivers and their tributaries, and making stops along the way for guided tours of the sites.
Whether you start in Moscow or St. Petersburg, your cruise is likely to make the same stops and will include some of Russia's most impressive countryside scenes and classic architectural gems. Many of the cruise lines offer elaborate meals and accommodations, but the scenery is sure to be the highlight of the cruise.
Uglich. This Golden Ring city was once a small princedom of its own until it was sold to the Duchy of Moscow in the 13th century. Today it's most famous as the site of the mysterious murder of Ivan the Terrible's son inside the kremlin walls. Apart from the kremlin, there are several other stunning examples of medieval Russian artchitecutre, including the Assumption three-tented church.
Yaroslay. One of Russia's most well-known Golden Ring cities, Yaroslav was founded in the 11th century by its namesake, Yaroslav the Wise. It is now a World Heritage Site known for its impressive examples of old Russian church architecture.
Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery. Saint Cyril founded this spectacular structure in the 14th century. It was once the largest monastery in Northern Russia.
Kizhi. This island in Lake Onega is famed for its breathtaking wooden churches with silver domes.
Planning Your Cruise
Most cruise lines offer tours between May and October. Prices range between $1,500 and $10,000, depending on the length of the cruise and the level of luxury. Most cruises can be booked directly through the cruise company or by a travel agent. Either way, plan well in advance since trips in high season can get booked up as much as a year in advance.
Viking Cruises and Volga Dream are two of the better known companies operating the Moscow-St. Petersburg route. Contact the companies or a travel agent for booking information and availability.
Viking Cruises (855/338-4546. www.vikingcruises.com.)
Volga Dream (703/763-4614. www.volgadream.com.)
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