Viking River Cruise - Russia

Oct 27th, 2011, 12:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
Viking River Cruise - Russia

As am still getting over jet lag, this will be short.

The good, the bad, the great , the annoying

The Good and Great:
The staff was wonderful. Mostly Filipino wait staff who were very friendly, accommodating and professional. The cruise tour leader, Katherine was also wonderful. She's German and has a very dry sense of humor.

Food was very tasty and presentation of same was fab.

Our cabin very comfy and roomy!

The ship and room, were immaculate.

Panorama Bar was just that - Great viewing while cruising on the various rivers.

The surprise a cappella singing group in Uglich was a joy; the folkloric music night also a joy. These were included items.

Nice to have Russian History lectures on board and various other activities while cruising.

The Bad and Annoying -

Don't think there was actually anything "bad". However, the numerous stops in souvenir shops and the two labeled as "art exhibitions" were very annoying to me. I don't need to spend some of my precious time in St. Petersburg or Yarolsavl in a rip-off souvenir place.

Mandrogy - They should cut this out of the cruise and spend one more day in either Moscow or St. Pete. Mandrogy is just a big resort.

We went in October - Most cruisers were in their 70's and 80's so we were youngsters (comparatively). Not sure if it's different in the summer.

Skies grey all the time. We had some sunshine but that was rare. If you go in October bring your warm clothing. We woke up to 32 degrees and temp would go up to 40-something. But, at least we didn't have to deal with mosquitos and heat waves!

Wish we had had more time in Moscow and St. Petersburg. So much to see. We were in each city for 3 days and were given 1- 1.5 days in each city to be on our own. You can buy one of their extra trips, but we went it alone and very very glad we did. We saw things others didn't even know about. And we took our own time about it.

Architecture and food in both cities was wonderful. I was especially amazed as just the massiveness of Moscow. Loved the old Soviet monuments and buildings.

Have never been on a river cruise or a big cruise ship before so can't compare with others.

We got a good price and so we went.

Very glad we did. Russia is wonderful.
kenav is offline  
Oct 27th, 2011, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 13,043
I agree with you, you can never have enough time in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Welcome back
Percy is online now  
Oct 27th, 2011, 02:47 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Dear Kenav,

Welcome home! We’re glad you had such a good time on our Waterways of the Czars tour. We strive to provide our guests with great service and enriching experiences — and we’re glad you enjoyed both! In regards to your stops in St. Petersburg or Mandrogy we would like to hear more of your feedback. We encourage you to contact us directly at [email protected]. We wish you a speedy recovery from that jet lag and hope to hear from you soon.

Warm Regards,
Viking River Cruises
VikingRiverCruises1 is offline  
Oct 27th, 2011, 04:10 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 351
I suppose us old folks - in our 70's and 80's should stay at home. I constantly hear that the presence of old folkss is a real negative on a cruise. On the other hand maybe you youngsters were intruding on our space - and we have been too polite to complain about you being on our cruise. We stay off the party boats. Stay off the seniors' boats.
Aristotle is offline  
Oct 27th, 2011, 04:22 PM
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Aristotle - Sorry that the age thing seemed to be under the "Bad and Annoying" banner. It shouldn't have been. I really meant it as just information. I look forward to living well into my 70's and 80's (and 90's - my mother is 92), and hope I'm in as good shape as some on that trip I just took.

However, I think that just as you might like to know if there are going to be many teenagers or a majority of 20-30 year olds on a cruise you're considering taking, others may like to know the predominant age of the travelers on this particular trip.
kenav is offline  
Oct 31st, 2011, 08:43 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13,280
We went in early July, sunny and warm but never hot. No mosquitos either. Long daylight hours so for others planning this cruise, July has it's benefits.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Nov 1st, 2011, 03:27 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
Great post thanks for the giveback...

"Art" scams are quite common on cruise ships

worldwide russia runs it share pretty corrupt

and quite expensive when I go...

Cruise is a great way to do it Viking gets good reviews

generally here...
qwovadis is offline  
Nov 1st, 2011, 03:32 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
River cruises I have been on everywhere have more seniors

who get that it is a wonderful way to tour compared to

busabout with stale hotel food I like it...

But always wise to read revews

Young all night party types would not feel at home.
qwovadis is offline  
Nov 1st, 2011, 06:43 AM
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Just to let everyone know - I am not a 20 or 30-something and would want to know if the cruise was more geared towards that age group or families. I would never go on a Disney cruise for that reason. (I would never go on a big cruise ship anyway. Not my style.)

I did contact Viking River Cruises after they left the message on this thread. (see above.) They have followed up with me after that to discuss why I don't think Mandrogy should be on the itinerary. I also had a question about recipes and they're even following up on that!

Very good customer service.

Happy Trvir - Glad to hear that July cruise was so nice. My father-in-law and brother-in-law will be going at that time ( July 21st - not exactly early July, though). They're taking a Gate 1 cruise I believe. It's two days shorter than ours was. Their stateroom is about half the size that ours was. But it is a lot cheaper! (Although only a few hundred dollars cheaper than we paid as we got a very good rate.)
kenav is offline  
Nov 18th, 2011, 03:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,319
We were on a Viking cruise once and the beds were so horrible that I hesitate to take another one. This was the Dneiper River Cruise. Beds were the width of a park bench and nearly as uncomfortable!! I am interested in a Russian river cruise so glad to hear the good news about Viking.
JaneB is offline  
Nov 20th, 2011, 07:36 AM
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JaneB -

The beds on our ship (Viking Kirov) were double or queen size and extremely comfortable. I do believe that they are renaming the boats used on the Russia cruise for next year. Something about going back to their Norweigen heritage (??).
kenav is offline  
Nov 21st, 2011, 03:36 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 13
Dear JaneB,

Thank you for joining us in Ukraine. We’re sorry to hear of your disappointment with your sleeping arrangements and ask that you contact us directly at [email protected] so that we may discuss your concerns in detail. We hope to hear from you soon.

Warm Regards,
Viking River Cruises
VikingRiverCruises1 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2012, 09:16 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 52
Read ur trip report on Fodors
We will be doing the cruise end of July Moscow to StPetersburg .
Can you give tips regarding what you did with your free time in Moscow .
Is the port there close to any public transportation ? Did u feel safe going it alone in Moscow? Using the metro?
I understand that the port in St Petersburg is a way out from the city and not close to the metro. Did u also go off on ur own?
We were thinking of taking their opprional tours the canal tour with home (?) visit & the Peterhof Palace tour. Did u happen to take either of these? If so ur comments appreciated .
Also since most everything is paid for we were wondering how much rubles we should exchange?
All tips & comments appreciated.
traveling with Aloha the coconut wireless
coconut_wireless is offline  
Apr 6th, 2012, 12:37 PM
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Hi coconut -

Well, a lot of questions!

I'll do my best.

The dock in Moscow is next to a park through which you walk to get to the metro. About a 15 minute walk. Very nice park. In St. Pete's yes, you have to take a bus to the metro, or I believe we took a Viking jitney to a metro. But on the way back, we got a bus from the metro and took it to the stop nearest the ship. Viking will describe how to do it.

Moscow and St. Petersburg are very clean and felt safe to us. We were there in October and it got dark early (around 6PM). We were a little nervous about having to walk through the park in the dark, but it was just fine.

Did almost everything ourselves. In Moscow I would absolutely recommend the Tretykov Gallery. Russian artists whom I've never seen in the U.S. (I live in NYC and have seen a lot of art). Spectacular art. You can skip the area in the museum with the icons as you will probably be icon-ed out by that time. There is an optional tour to go there, but you can do it yourself with the metro.

In St. Pete's there was a tour of the Hermitage in the AM and then everyone went back to the boat and came back in the city at night for the ballet performance. We thought going back to the boat was a waste of precious time and spent the afternoon on our own in St. Pete's. We met up with the group at the ballet performance.

I should tell you that I learned the Cyrilic alphabet before we left and it really helped on the metro (especially Moscow).

We didn't take the Peterhof tour as the fountains were no longer turned on at the time of year we went and that's what I would have really wanted to see. We spent out time wandering St. Pete's, going to the History Museum, the Alexander Nevsky monastery/cemetery where Tchaikovsky, Dostoyevsky, etc are buried. Loved it and not overrun with tourists. Walked along avenues just exploring.

Did the home visit in one of the towns. That was the only optional tour we paid for- although I'm not sure if it's optional or included now. Highly recommended.

Rubles? Got some at home (about $100 U.S. worth). On the boat you charge everything to your account. There are ATMs in the big cities and some of the river towns you will hit.

Have a fabulous time!
kenav is offline  
Apr 6th, 2012, 12:41 PM
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Oh oh - also went to the All Russia Exhibition Center in Moscow. A real eyeopener. If you like Soviet era monuments and amusements, this is the place. Huge. Takes a bit of time on the metro to get there, but absolutely IMO worth it. We spent about 1/2 the day there.
kenav is offline  
Apr 6th, 2012, 05:40 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 52
Wow! So nice of you to reply and you did a great job on answering my questions. Hope you are up for just a couple more

Did the majority of the folks dress up for the Ballet,? Bolshoi Theater,? Captain's Dinner? My husband is wondering if he needs to bring a sports jacket? Just to let you know, because of where we live, he is not a subscriber to 'GQ magazine' as the dressiest he usually gets is an Aloha shirt and long pants
Also did you feel that $100 rubles was enough to get you buy during your wanderings on your own or did you have a lot left over?

Thanks again we are not usually 'cruisers' and the only other cruise we have done recently (2006) was the Nile River Cruise.
Thanks again for your kindness (kokua)
traveling with the Aloha
the coconut wireless
PS Does anyone know if it is possible to Private Message folks Fodors website? Some forums sites allow you to do the P M
coconut_wireless is offline  
Apr 7th, 2012, 04:26 AM
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HI coconut couple -

Do you mean $100 U.S in rubles? That would probably be enough. But I really don't remember what we took. Again, there are ATMs in the cities and some villages you stop in. We didn't have a lot of money left over - most eating places I don't think take CCs. Whatever money we did have left over I think we spent most of it in the shops in the airports - during our layover at the Moscow airport on the way home.

We didn't go to the Bolshoi. Wasn't open yet. Would think that you would dress up for that as the Russians like to dress up. The ballet evening via Viking- no, no one dressed up. The ballet company that Viking brings you to is hardly the best caliber. But we saw the Nutcracker and it was fun. If you want to see really top notch dancing, yes go to the Bolshoi in Moscow or the Mariinsky in St. Petersburg. (But don't see the ballet "Eugene Onegin" - we saw it here in NYC and it was awful.)

We didn't dress up for the Captain's Dinner either. Some people did. Just a nice sweater and nice pants for us. Some men wore jackets; some women wore dresses. We didn't do either. I'd forget the aloha shirt, though!

We had never been on a cruise before, but I take it that these river cruises are much less formal than the big cruise lines' are.

Hope this helps and if you need have any other questions, feel free to ask.
kenav is offline  
Apr 7th, 2012, 09:01 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 52
Thanks again so much. I think we may opt out of the Sports Jacket and just do shirt, tie, sweater.
Unfortunately we do not go to the Bolshoi Theater (my mistake). I did see on line that there were guided tours but I can't find if you can arrange it at the theater or need to make arrangements with a tour company (not my first choice). If that doesn't pan out we will probably got back to Red square and maybe after take the metro to the Atrium Shopping Mall (just to look). Malls always give you a good 'people watching' experience.
As I mentioned earlier we don't usually do the 'cruise bit' and prefer to kind of wing it on our own. But now that we are in our 70's we sometimes feel a little more vulnerable in countries were there is high crime and I can't begin to even begin to mutilate the local language by attempting to speak it. Hence the cruise this time.
Mahalo once again for your kokua (help)
coconut_wireless is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 06:09 AM
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Don't worry about the crime. You'll be in the center of the cities and they are very busy, lively, and beautiful. We found people always willing to help us. Even when they didn't speak English - or just a little English. The streets of Moscow and St. Pete's are also very, very clean.

I personally would not go to a mall - why see some thing you can see anywhere else in the world? There is so much "real" Russian stuff to see. Viking will take you to Gum Dept. store - really a large upscale mall, and while it was a beautiful structure, did I really need to see a "Timberlands" store? Also, many, many tourists there vs. Russians.

If you would like to see our pictures - provide your email address and I will forward to you the "shutterfly" account that you can go to (no, you don't have to sign up to view the pix).
kenav is offline  
Apr 9th, 2012, 02:23 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 52
Aloha again
is there any way to send you my e-mail privately through this website? If not do you belong to Virtual Tourist or Lonely Planet or Frommers as these websites allow you to send private messages through their websites and then your e-mail is not open to all that can see the posting pages.
A few more questions:
When you went to the Kremlin how much time approximately do you think you spent there discounting the time you spent in GUM?
Did you have time to view Lenin in his tomb or did you need to come back to do that
Did you visit inside the Cathedral Square where the Czar Bell and the Ivan the Great Bell Tower are located? Were you able to go inside the Cathedral of the Assumption?

Mahalo once again
coconut_wireless is offline  

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