Viking River Cruise to Russia?

Jun 25th, 2009, 03:29 PM
  #1  
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Viking River Cruise to Russia?

Anybody ever take the Viking RIver Cruise "Russian Rhapsody"? It's a 16 day cruise.
kenav is offline  
Jun 26th, 2009, 03:40 AM
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No one??
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Jun 27th, 2009, 12:40 PM
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Hi Kenav:

In our long and extensive traveing lives, we have been fiercely independent, preferring to drive everywhere. Only one cruise ("freebie" to Mexico) where I was a guest lecturer...and one wonderful barge trip in Alsace (2006) whch we also enjoyed. However, to return to Russia last October (where I had already been twice during the middle of the so-called, faux "cold war", as far east as Uzbek SSR) we opted to take a Viking Volga Cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg (before embarking once again on our own to Belarus and The Ukraine...).

The entire 3 and 1/2 weeks were exceedingly satisfying, and Roz and I absolutely loved the Viking 12-night portion. All the rooms were hotel size with hotel-sized large beds and private bathrooms. Very comfortable....the shore excursions were delightful, guides were most professional (cold in October, but better than the heat and mosquitos).

The northern part of the Volga cruise is duplicated by the Rhapsody, which goes further south into the Ukraine (requiring those few extra days). We were lucky enough to get a 2-for-1, since October is the end of the season, and we grabbed it right here on short notice in nearby Woodland Hills which is headquarters for Viking...very convenient, I'd say!

I would highly recommend Viking...everything was done with class and care.

Here are my pics of the Moscow-St. Pete-Volga cruise portion. (can be best viewed by either "slide show", or to be sure the descriptive captions show, they can be perused as individual pix...either way should give you a good feel for the cruise).

http://picasaweb.google.com/stuarttower/Russia2008#

Stu Tower (L.A.) [email protected]
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Jun 27th, 2009, 12:51 PM
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Kenav...p.s.

I should mention we were on one of the recently renovated Viking ships..The Surkov..they now have three or four fully renovated...be sure to check that out...all rooms on the renovated shps are large and roomy with hotel beds..if I recall, our room was 139 sq ft..plenty of room to put away everything.

stu
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Jun 27th, 2009, 02:59 PM
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Hi Stu -

Thanks so much for responding to my query.

I had gotten a message from another Fodor on another forum and she told me she just got an e-mail from Viking (she had gone with them previously) for the "Russian Rhapsody" tour (16 days) for $1999 per person!! So I called VIking and told my "friend" was quoted that price and could I get it. Well, yes, I could! Of course it was the smallest room (90 sq ft.) in one of the non-renovated ships, but still the price was amazing. I really didn't know if we could do it, as we have a sick cat and can't leave her for that long - too much care needed. But I made a reservation (no deposit) as Viking would hold it for 24 hours.

When my husband came home from work that day I told him all about it. Unfortunately, we decided this wasn't the time to go - cat problems - and so I never confirmed the reservation. Sigh.

Seems the tour "Russian Rhapsody" is being eliminated - not enough interest I guess. One thing I liked about it was that when you got to St. Petersburg, they put you up in a hotel in the city for 3 nights. No busing from the ship to the city in the mornings.

I've heard the traffic into St. Petersburg is a nightmare. What was your experience? If we had gone, it would have been in August - hot and mosquitos you say? We usually go on vacation in Sept/Oct to beat the crowds and the heat.

Good pix. Had no idea there was actually a new synagogue in Moscow. Which city did you like the most? Were the towns on the Volga really touristy?

Thanks again.
kenav is offline  
Jun 27th, 2009, 08:00 PM
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I keep getting in the mail 2 for 1 offers from Viking
Dayenu is offline  
Jun 27th, 2009, 08:08 PM
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Kenav:
So sorry you have to miss out. Hope cat recovers well.
If you still decide to take a river cruise to Russia, Viking's "Waterways of the Czars", the one to which I referred, does not use hotels..I found this no problem...rather liked unpacking once for 12-13 days.

Getting into Moscow from the boat dock was no more than a nice walk to the nearest metro..then about four stops into central Moscow. We only had to do it once (I read cyrillic and can get by passably in the language)...consequently, I usally had an entourage of ten Viking people following me. I didn't mind...fellow passengers were a fine group of folks anyway (all ages from 30's to my esteemed 70', 80's)...
While docked in Moscow, most of the day tours went into town, so there was no problem getting there. The traffic was no worse than L.A., so we didn't mind..you can see a lot from the bus.

In St. Pete, same modus operandi...easy metro/bus route to town..but again, most activities were while on a bus. I'd have to say that I was enamored with St. Pete even during grim Soviet days...and on this trip I would have to say it was our favorite. Moscow has made the most astounding changes since my last series of SSR visits...some for the good, many for the worse.

En route, on cruise, every town/village/city where we stopped was very interesting...I would not classify any of them as touristy, per se. We were the only river ship at most of them...and with only 140 passengers, we had four busses assigned (in some cases we could walk to town)....no, the word "touristy" which is far too overplayed on these pages , did not occur to me...I've been a "tourist" in 70+ countries and will continue to be...won't we all? So what?

On your observation of the new synagogue in Moscow...aside from the classic Archipova Street and the new Bronnaya (pictured in my album) there are four others these days...and two in St. Pete. By the way, if this interests you, I've compiled a Worldwide List of Synagogues I have Visited... a fascinating list which I've shared with quite a few Fodorites. There are over 100, entries, some in fairly remote places. Write if you'd like the list.

Hope you get a chance to experience the river trip.

stu [email protected]

Heres's a look at some scanned pics of some of my earlier visits, including Uzbek SSR (Uzbekistan now):

http://picasaweb.google.com/stuarttower/MapUSSR#

http://picasaweb.google.com/stuartto...raSamarkand85#
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Jun 28th, 2009, 07:39 AM
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You've traveled to over 70 countries? Wow. Was any of this for business, or completely for leisure?

The Bukharan pix were interesting. There is a large Bukharan population in my neighborhood here in New York CIty (Queens).

I'd be delighted if you could send your list of the synagogues you've seen from around the world. [email protected]

Diane
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