Russian River Cruises: Comparison

Dec 19th, 2006, 11:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
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Russian River Cruises: Comparison

We are planning on a Russian River cruise in fall of 2007. We have seen reviews here on the Viking Cruise. We have been looking at Amadeus and Grand Circle (OAT). Does anyone know anything about these, how they compare? Any others to look at? Important things to us are: small ships, native guides and decent food. Anything else we should be considering? Thanks for any help and advice.
gbs is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 04:51 PM
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What have you learned about river cruises in Russia? I'm just starting my search as we would like to go Sept. 2007. I'm getting worried. No one sounds too excited about Russia. I'm hearing how dirty and poor it is. Any goo information you can pass on I would love. We just returned from our trip of a lifetime from Africa and everyone is excited about that. Betty
betharwein is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 10:54 PM
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If you've been to Africa and back, I think you'd be prepared for Russia. I'm not a local (From malaysia), but while studying in Russia, I've spent a lot of time travelling outside of my town. Been to Moscow more than a handful of times, St petersburg twice (once in winter, once in the mid-summer, during the white nights), Volgograd, and a few other mini-cities. Out of all of them, other than the former two, forget about the rest.

But I believe the river cruises take you to St. Petersburg? Or to Moscow? It would be great if you were to stop at St. Petersburg.

I replied to another question similiar to this, too lazy to have to retype what I wrote, so here's the link to another question asked by a Fodorer.

Russia isn't full of poor people, not in the capitals anyway (not many that I've seen), but where I live, an outskirt about 10 hours away from Moscow... it's another story. Sad how there's such a big gap between the people.
Aleckii is offline  
Jan 20th, 2007, 04:44 AM
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We took the Grand Circle Russian Waterways cruise in September of 2004 and thouroughly enjoyed it. The ship was dated but kept spotlessly clean. It has since been replaced by two newly refurbished ships that appear to meet Grand Circle's standards for its Western Europe river cruise ships. Another significant improvement is that hotels are used in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as opposed to staying on the boat. Due to heavy traffic and congestion, much time can be lost getting from the river port to the center of the cities.

The program directors, who had about 40 travellers each were excellent and very open about the Russian culture. In addition, in each city, local guides were used, again for each 40 travellers, giving 1 guide to 20 travellers.

The river cruise is an excellent way to see the country, as you get to visit smaller cities as well as the major ones.

Granted Russia is not as affluent as the US or Western Europe, but was much better than many people paint it. The people were well dressed, the stores well stocked and cell phones were as common as here. In our two weeks, we saw only three people begging. Try that in London, Paris, New York or San Francisco. Street vendors spoke English, took US Dollars, Euros and Rubles, giving change in whatever currency you gave them, with no ripoff in exchange rate. They were also friendly and not agressive.

The feeling to be standing in the Hermitage, Red Square, the Kremln, etc. was amazing.

Travelling by river boat gave time for language lessons, lectures on Russian history and culture, folk music, etc.

We would be glad to answer any questions either in this forum, by Email or by phone. The trip is not one that should be missed.

Jack and Ann
jackandann is offline  
Feb 9th, 2007, 11:04 AM
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How would a river cruise be for 2 50 something adults and a 6yo child? I like the idea of it for us, but wonder about how it would work with a child in tow? ( She is use to adult only venues, but does need some fun too).
WTnow is offline  
Feb 9th, 2007, 11:19 AM
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Regarding the young child, I wouldn't recommend it. Even a teen would be better suited for these trips. The ships and their activities aren't set up for a child (even one who is mature), and the children of families who have insisted on going have been quite bored by the trip.
Marc_David_Miller is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 03:00 AM
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Thanks Marc!

Could you suggest another way for a family to see Moscow and St Petersburg?

I have been to both and all over Russia ( 1988) and just want to take a easy and quick trip into those two cities from Eastern Europe.

I just want to give my husband and child a taste of Russia on our world tour.We do have a friend in St Petersburg who could show us around.

Are there any good sites for ideas for families visiting Russia? I only want to spend about a week there and reasonable sum, but would love to find something special like that cruise.


WTnow is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 05:39 AM
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Often we work with families wanting to see Moscow and St Petersburg. Although a week is a little quick for both cities, probably 4 days in Moscow and 3 days in St Petersburg would be OK, and hiring a private guide in both cities for at least 2 days. There are many sights which would interest a child (a cat performance center, ballet, military hardware, Pavlov's dog).

All recommendations would depend on your budget, but I highly value the point of a private guide and a driver in such situations. As you know from traveling previously in Russia, there are many challenges (few really speak English, distances can be long, tourist infrastructure is far less developed than London or Paris or Prague). As parents or guardians of a six year old, you don't want to have to look around aimlessly for, for instance, an entrance to a smaller museum, or a suitable restaurant with an English language menu; such delays will be very frustrating for all concerned, and a guide will overcome many of these challenges.
Marc_David_Miller is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 02:31 PM
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Thank you! I enjoyed looking at your website. Yes,from my experience, a guided tour would be important in Russia. It was very rough when we visited the USSR in 1988, luckily we had some native Russians with us.

One of the things that appealed to me about the cruise was not packing, the tours and seeing the country side by boat.

Are there any smaller boats available that might work with a family? ( ie like places in Europe where you can rent a boat or hire one to tour).

Probably not, but the image of being safe on a boat while enjoying the good things of Russia is tempting.

WTnow is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 04:56 AM
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We've chartered boats which follow the cruise route for small groups, but they are usually very expensive. For several years a cruise company has claimed to also have a small (20 passenger) boat, but they never have enough demand.
Marc_David_Miller is offline  

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