My river cruise in Russia

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Jul 14th, 2002, 06:07 AM
  #41
Redrox
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Weather report: daughter emailed us today from Uglich saying weather has been unexpectedly hot on her way to Moscow. In the 80s. Reports having a wonderful river cruise.
 
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Jul 17th, 2002, 06:30 AM
  #42
Mimi
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Rudy: Thanks again for the valuable tips. Must impose on you once again -- help! We're leaving in 9 days and still have not received our Visas (sent to Visa service recommended by Viking on 6/17) or our travel documents and airline tickets from Viking!!! I'm trying not to panic, but it's not easy. Did you have a similar experience? I also wanted to ask about lunches -- did you have the sit-down meal or the salad/sandwich buffet? Where is the buffet served? If it's in one of the dining rooms, are there restrictions on wearing shorts for lunch? How are the amenities on the sun deck? Hope to hear from you soon.
 
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Jul 17th, 2002, 08:15 AM
  #43
rudy
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Mimi:

We received our documents from Viking at least two weeks prior to departure. If I were you, I'd call today. I don't want to worry you, but that seems awfully close to me. As for the visas - - - did you purchase from the Generations Visa Service that Viking uses? We did, applying about three months prior to departure. As I recall, we received them about three weeks prior to leaving. I really hope I'm not giving you more stress, but I'd check on that, too. Good luck, and try not to worry. It's probably just a lot busier in the summer months than when I sailed. Viking won't let you down.

As for lunches, they were served in the same dining room where dinner is served. They are sit-down, and informal. Nobody wore shorts when I traveled, but remember that I was there in May, and it was still very cool outside. In fact, some days were even cold. Though the lunches were sit-down and served to us, there was always a salad buffet in the dining room, and we served ourselves. Most of us ate from both the salad bar and from what was served to us. Some just opted for salad on certain days.

The sun deck has umbrella tables and chairs, and lounge chairs. You will enjoy sunning out there and watching the sights as you sail. It's especially fun going through the locks.

I won't be able to write back until tomorrow if you have any further questions, and will be very happy to do so. Please let me know (if you have any time) how your visa and documents "problem" works out.
 
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Jul 17th, 2002, 11:44 AM
  #44
Mimi
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Rudy: Whew! One problem solved. My travel agent just called to tell me that the travel documents and airline tix just came in. Yes, we used Generations, but because we were kind of late to book this trip (about 7 weeks lead time) we had to wait for the info from Viking before mailing away for the Visas via certified mail on 6/17. My husband has now called Generations and they said not to worry, they expected to receive them on Friday and we would have them on Monday. (Not to worry?) But at least one problem is taken care of. We're flying on Lufthansa with a stop in Frankfurt. Including waiting time at the airport, travel time and time zone changes, it'll be about 24 hours from our house to the ship. Once again, thanks for everything. Will update you next week when (if) my Visa arrives.
 
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Jul 18th, 2002, 01:54 PM
  #45
rudy
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Mimi: Sounds like it's all working out for you. But, if you're anything like me, you won't feel perfectly secure until you have all your documents in hand.

We also flew Lufthansa, Dulles to Frankfurt (only forty minutes turn-around time there, giving me a "little" stress), then on to St. Petersburg. It's a long, tiring trip, but well worth it. Lufthansa did a nice job. Everyone whom we saw from our cruise who flew Lufthansa had no lost baggage, and everything was there at the airport upon arrival. We also arrived on time.

I'm getting excited for you!
 
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Jul 18th, 2002, 06:04 PM
  #46
Mary Ann
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Rudy,

I really enjoyed reading every detail of your trip. We are doing the reverse, from Moscow to St. Petersburg on the Viking Pakhomov, leaving on July 26th. We still have not received our plane tickets or itinerary. My husband called Viking and they promised we'd have them within 3 days. I sure hope so!

From what you've written, the trip sounds super and we're really looking forward to it. We travelled with Viking last summer, from Nuremburg to Budapest, and found that they provided wonderful guides, just as you mentioned. Thank you for a really well-written and informative narrative.

Mary Ann Duke
 
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Jul 18th, 2002, 08:52 PM
  #47
rudy
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Hi Mary Ann:

Thank you for the kind comments. After having cruised with Viking in Russia, we are now very interested in the Nuremburg to Budapest cruise that you took. In fact, I recently requested more information from Viking about the cruise. Would you recommend it?

Have a great trip to Russia! You will love it.
 
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Jul 18th, 2002, 09:56 PM
  #48
rudy
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I just recalled something that I wanted to mention to those of you traveling to Russia: none of our postcards made it to the recipients (so far!) and we've been home for about two months. I don't know if this is an aberration, but I thought I'd mention it.
 
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Jul 19th, 2002, 06:52 PM
  #49
Mary Ann
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Rudy,
I definitely would recommend the Viking River cruise from Nuremburg to Budapest! Our trip started with three days in Prague, Czech Republic, which was a great beginning. We travelled by bus via Pilsen (and the Pilsner Urquell brewery) to Nuremburg, where the cruise began. The ship we travelled on, Heinrich Heine, was smaller than the Pakhomov. There were only 71 passengers on board. All meals were open seating, the ambience was casual, and the staff was friendly. We felt as though we knew everyone on board ship! Tours were well planned and guided by experts who were fluent in English. This trip motivated us to travel with Viking to Russia. Enjoy!
 
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Jul 21st, 2002, 11:42 AM
  #50
Jan
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Re the POSTCARDS: have patience, they WILL arrive! I mailed from the Tolstoy (Uniworld) docked in Moscow on 5/23 -- and everyone received them this weekend! Hearing "thanks for the card" from many friends during the last 2 days has been a great "P.S." to the trip !!
 
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Jul 21st, 2002, 08:35 PM
  #51
rudy
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Jan: Mine arrived this weekend too! I always send one to myself from wherever we are, so that I have one more item for the memory book. What a nice surprise to have a postcard arrive, along with all the wonderful memories.
 
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Jul 22nd, 2002, 08:26 AM
  #52
Shirley Binder
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Thanks, Rudy, for such a comprehensive journal of your Viking Waterways of the Czars cruise. I started keeping journals of my cruises about five years ago, and I am so sorry that I didn't start much sooner than that! I recommend it to everyone who travels--a great way to keep the memories alive!

We've only sailed one Viking cruise to date, and I did keep a detailed journal of our wonderful sailing through Provence this past spring. (If any Fodors readers would like a copy, send request by e-mail; it will be a while before I can get it posted on this Forum.) We are booked for Viking's Grand European (Amsterdam to Budapest) in late September, and I will certainly keep a journal.

Thanks, Mimi, for bringing Rudy's cruise jounal to my attention. I've read it twice and am now printing it out so that I can have it to refer to when we take our Waterways of the Czars cruise on Viking--hopefully in 2003.

I hope that by now you have all your documents in hand and you can relax.
Have a great cruise, Mimi! Bon voyage!

Shirley B
 
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Jul 23rd, 2002, 09:50 AM
  #53
Suzanne
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Thank you, Rudy, for your very detailed journal, I am just starting to keep a journal and it is nice to look back on, especially 6 months or so down the line. I usually take a lots of pictures so that also help to remember. Last summer we took a cruise on REN from Stockholm to Dover and spend 2 days in St. Petersburg. Your journal brought back many wonderful memories. We are hoping to take this cruise, Moscow to St.Petersburg in 2003.
We are going our first river cruise with Viking in Sept (Amsterdam to Vienna) and we are so looking forward to it. We will spend an extra 3 days in Vienna.
So thanks again and I am keeping your journal for future reference.
Suzanne
 
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Jul 28th, 2002, 09:10 PM
  #54
Terri
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We just returned from the Grand European cruise, from Budapest to Amsterdam on the Viking line 6/22 to 7/7. It was a most rewarding experience that I am sure anyone would enjoy. There is a lot of walking on cobblestone streets so have good walking shoes.

The only thing I wished we had done was take a few extra days in Amsterdam. We were only there one day and from the bus tour I could see there were many things we would liked to have spent more time visiting.

The crew on the Viking was wonderful. Gunther was the Tour Director and very knowledgeable of the history of the countries we traveled through. They even had a special 4th of July celebration as well as a Canada day.

We were told no shorts in the dining room but this was only true for dinner as most mornings we were leaving early on tour and then back to the ship for lunch. The brochure had said that lunch was buffet, however, that was changed in the last year and along with a very good salad bar the also had a menu selection.

We decided that river cruises are the way for us to go rather than the large cruise ships. It was very relaxing and we met some wonderful people. We are already thinking of next year and after reading the account of your Russia trip it it is put at the top of our list.
 
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Jul 29th, 2002, 03:12 PM
  #55
Terri
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Wowee - we leave on August 23 St. Pete to Moscow and am very excited. Must tell you that we have done the Grand Circle Riverboat Concerto Amsterdam to Vienna and really really enjoyed. River travel is for me....
BIG QUESTION - Rudy's review said there was a doctor on board. When I called Viking KD in NY they said no. Does anyone know whether there is always a doctor on board?
 
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Jul 29th, 2002, 04:02 PM
  #56
Terri
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P.S. - I didn't mention in my post just now that we will be on the Viking Kirov. Also - wanted to ask whether you know anything about bugs, mosquitoes??? One friend said that on the islands they can be really annoying. When/What are the White Nights Festivals? Thanks so very much. As I mentioned, we were on the 2-wk Grand Circle trip on the Rhine, Main, and Danube and thought it was terrific. There's something so very nice about 'cruising down the river.....' and slowing down and enjoying. The lack of tv/internet will probably be a bit daunting at first (sigh, it's come to that...) but I suspect will be very very nice. I'm hoping to get our visas fairly soon - used Russian National Group and the Fed ex tracker says that they at least got the applications! We'll see. Terri
 
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Jul 30th, 2002, 10:36 AM
  #57
rudy
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I'm having a great time reading everyone's responses. Though the Russian cruise was the only time we've ever taken a cruise anywhere, reading the comments of others' river cruises in Europe has convinced us to take another cruise, probably with Viking, which was a first-rate experience.

Shirley, I'd love to read your comments about your cruise in Provence with Viking. We're now looking into the Nuremburg to Budapest cruise.

Terri, we were on the Viking Kirov, and there was a doctor on board throughout the entire cruise. We were told that it was a necessity to have one on board, because while cruising we would be far from any medical care. As it turned out, several people needed to see the doctor, most of them with bad colds, but I do remember that one gentleman became very ill (no idea what was wrong) and the doctor visited him daily in his cabin. Are you traveling with Viking River Cruises? I'm not sure what "Viking KD" is, but all boats cruising in Russia with Viking River Cruises definitely have an on board doctor.

We didn't have a problem with mosquitoes because we traveled in May, but I understand that they can be quite a problem during the summer months.

We were not there during the White Nights festivals because that occurs during the weeks (I think in June) when the sun never sets. During May, we only had about three hours of darkness. You probably will have a similar experience in August, but I'm not sure.

Our visas were through Generations, which is recommended by Viking. Did you receive yours from Russian National yet? August 23rd will be here before you know it, and you'll have a wonderful cruise! Wish I could join you.

I wonder how Mimi and Mary Ann are doing now? They are currently cruising in Russia. I hope they write in after returning.

I, too, am now hooked on the idea of river cruising!
 
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Jul 30th, 2002, 11:50 AM
  #58
Gary
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Orthodox Cruise Line, a cruise line that is used by many cruise companies, has just released it's schedule for 2003. As well as its Moscow - St Petersburg and Volga River/Don River cruises it is introducing a number of new cruises among them St Petersburg to Constantsa (Romania) and Kiev to Constantsa.
For more information see: http://www.cruise.ru/
 
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Jul 30th, 2002, 12:50 PM
  #59
Terri
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Thanks for the info re the doctor, Rudy. Actually when we were on our 2wk Amsterdam to Vienna cruise several people got sore throats -- I think it's just a lot of people in small spaces....but there was no doctor on board. But of course we weren't as out of the way as we will be in Russia.
Viking KD is the relatively new union of Viking and KD. KD stands for Koln-Dusseldorf - Cologne to Dusseldorf German ships. We booked through an outfit in New York - is that who you went through? We really went through a travel agent since we wanted to pay with credit card.
Will be in touch afterward. Thanks for all your input! When we were on our other river cruise we docked several times near Viking ships and toured each others ships. The concensus was that the decor on Grand Circle was comfier looking but passengers on both ships loved the trips. Haven't heard anyone complain. Terri
 
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Jul 30th, 2002, 07:16 PM
  #60
Linda
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Thanks to Rudy and his wonderful descriptions. I am also going on a river cruise starting in Moscow and ending in St. Petersburg, departing on Sept. 9. I'm using a company called Unique World Cruises and am on the M/V Leonid Sobolev, which hasn't been mentioned anywhere. The price of this cruise/tour was extremely reasonable, which has me wondering about the quality of the ship. I'm usually a budget traveler anyway, so spartan accommodations don't bother me. I'm just looking forward to soaking up the culture.

Of course, if anyone has been on this ship, I would love to hear about their experiences. Does anyone have any idea what the weather will be like in Sept. and if the mosquitos will still be a problem.

Thanks.
 
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