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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Scenic Tsar – Imperial Russia Moscow to Volgagrad 30th Sept – 14th Oct 18 Deluxe Balcony Suite #305 Expectations Checking the previous reviews for the Scenic Tsar, we were somewhat worried. We had been prewarned that the ... Read More
Scenic Tsar – Imperial Russia Moscow to Volgagrad 30th Sept – 14th Oct 18 Deluxe Balcony Suite #305 Expectations Checking the previous reviews for the Scenic Tsar, we were somewhat worried. We had been prewarned that the Tsar was NOT a Scenic SpaceShip. Indeed it is not even owned by Scenic and only has 3 Scenic staff members on board. We knew when we booked about the ‘buy your drinks outside of mealtimes’ policy, the size of the cabins etc. The ‘actuality’ far exceeded our expectations. I should mention that there were only 85 guests aboard compared to the 115 capacity. Good mix of nationalities although obviously a significant number of Australians (Scenic is an Australian Tour Company) Ages were pretty much exclusively 60s or 70s. This is NOT a trip for those with walking difficulties. It is not only the walking but the many, many steps and uneven surfaces encountered. Food The food was excellent. Eggman at breakfast. Buffet lunch but with a la carte choices too. I had a wonderful fresh trout one day. Dinner had at least three choices for each course. All very well presented. Service was very efficient – no waiting. There was a good variety of wines served, including, some from Eastern European countries. Staff The non-Scenic staff were excellent – well up to Scenic standards. Service in restaurant was extremely efficient and fast. Scenic’s own staff – the 3 Cruise Directors – were not only very good but extremely knowledgeable. Special namecheck to Svetlana Armstrong - the Cruise Director - who really made the holiday. A real gem/star. Suite The main/bedroom part of our suite was perfectly satisfactory. Long worksurface to accommodate our laptop and other devices etc. Comfortable beds and all the furnishings were to a good standard – indeed looked pretty new. Very quiet. Loved having a kettle. Air Con could be switched off which is a rare boom for people like us who hate sleeping with the aircon on. Minor complaints would be no drawers – just shelves – and a wardrobe where the hangers were parallel to the doors rather than perpendicular – which made selecting your clothes a bit difficult. Main issue was the bathroom. DO NOT BRING YOUR CAT – because you certainly would NOT be able to swing it here! The space between the shower, wash basin and WC was so limited that you had to move about sideways. Having said that everything was clean and maintained that way throughout the trip. The shower itself was both powerful and hot. Itinerary We came not for the ship but to visit Russia. It did not disappoint. I understand that this was the first time that Scenic had done Moscow to Volgograd. All their other trips are between St Petersberg (which we had visited before) and Moscow. In many places you got the impression that the locals saw very few visitors from ‘the west’. Everyone seemed friendly and the locations felt safe. The day in Moscow was exhausting but we ‘hit all the high spots’. Traffic was horrendous but Scenic’s organisation and local guides were excellent. Could have spent much longer there. Although I enjoyed the second day trip to the SpacePark, my wife took the metro to visit the art galleries in Central Moscow instead. Several other guests, like us, would have preferred a second trip into Moscow. BTW – The Scenic Tsar was moored in the river beside a very quiet park about 1km (c 20 minute) walk from the nearest metro station with a direct journey into central Moscow. Costs 55 roubles a trip. BTW – Moscow dispelled my preconceptions. It is probably the cleanest city I have visited. No litter. No beggars either. Indeed it all oozed prosperity. Also seemed v safe. The stops along the Volga were all good with excellent guides. Lots of locks to navigate which added to the interest of the trip. The high spots were: - Yaroslavl where the recreation of a ball at the Governor’s House is not to be missed. - The visits to the Russian Dance School and Military Band Concert in Kostroma. Indeed I reckon there were more performers that day than Scenic Tsar guests! But almost every stop had some kind of entertainment – be it choirs in the churches or folk singing/dancing. - Lovely walk on our own in Pylos looking at the multimillion dollar dachas and the views as the trees put on their autumn colours. - Day in Volgograd/Stalingrad and the visit to the Memorial Park was extremely moving. A definite ‘must do’/high spot. The excursions (all included in the cost) were run extremely efficiently. We love the audio kits. Only criticism was that a few of the guides could not speak English well and had to have translators. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
The Good: The destinations were what decided us to do this trip and they certainly did not disappoint. We were blown away by most of the venues we visited in Russia, before continuing on a land tour of the Baltic States, ending in ... Read More
The Good: The destinations were what decided us to do this trip and they certainly did not disappoint. We were blown away by most of the venues we visited in Russia, before continuing on a land tour of the Baltic States, ending in Berlin. The staff and guides were mostly all excellent, their English and local knowledge remarkable. The Bad: We were not at all happy where the boat had to dock in both Moscow and St Petersburg, in the middle of nowhere, hours by bus to and from all the venues visited in the respective cities, and nowhere to wander in the surrounding port areas in our free time.The trip would have been greatly enhanced if we could have stayed in inner city hotels in each place. Food was plentiful during the fixed meal times, although not much choice or local flavour. The wine provided (meal times only) was of a very poor quality. I was surprised there was no food provided - like a 'cafe' eg - as is normal on other Scenic ships, outside of the regular meal times. Majority of guests caught a debilitating stomach bug which continued on into the following land tour. I have enlarged on the cabin in a separate area below. The Sun Deck has no shade, just bare, uncushioned chairs, and is not at all welcoming. We never saw any one up there the few times we ventured up. With a bit of extra money spent on shade and other decorations, this would be a popular area. Entertainment was virtually non-existent - just the crew and passengers making their own. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
The crew on board Scenic Tsar were fantastic. Nothing was too much trouble for them. Arty our tour director was funny, informative and a joy to be around. His knowledge of Russia and willingness to share his country and life with us in ... Read More
The crew on board Scenic Tsar were fantastic. Nothing was too much trouble for them. Arty our tour director was funny, informative and a joy to be around. His knowledge of Russia and willingness to share his country and life with us in such an entertaining manner was awesome. Vadim and Lena were equally as informative and fun. All staff on board were Russian and most spoke adequate English (we were in their country after all). The dining experiences included lots of Russian specialty meals which were delicious. The vodka tasting was not only very funny but tasted surprisingly good. The day trips with local guides into the beautiful cities and country side will stay with us forever. Lufthansa managed to lose our luggage on the way but to be greeted by the hotel manager Anna with toiletries and the offer to get clothes to the laundry as a priority made this so much easier to deal with. A great trip that we highly recommend. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We were interested in seeing Russia and mixing either people, learning there culture, and to see the famous landmarks that we see on the TV and in brochures. To visit Moscow and St Petersburg plus a few rural villages/communities along The ... Read More
We were interested in seeing Russia and mixing either people, learning there culture, and to see the famous landmarks that we see on the TV and in brochures. To visit Moscow and St Petersburg plus a few rural villages/communities along The Volga too intrigued us. The ship is not Scenic owned and we knew that from the beginning, but we have done several Scenic trips and were disappointed that the service was not the same. I don’t believe that the service model could not be replicated on the Scenic Tsar. The atmosphere in the lounge is really non existent as people hear back to there cabins rather than stay for a night cap and mingle not sure if people don’t like to pay for their drinks after dinner. The entertainment was also not inviting as it was mostly piano and lots of classical. Also there was a bug on board which would have affected at least 80% of the boat at some stage. All in all destination was great but experience was average. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
This is the best way to see the two major cities of Russia, Moscow and St.Petersburg and enjoy the ability to unpack, cruising through the countryside and lake/river/canal systems seeing some unique places and have specialist tour guides ... Read More
This is the best way to see the two major cities of Russia, Moscow and St.Petersburg and enjoy the ability to unpack, cruising through the countryside and lake/river/canal systems seeing some unique places and have specialist tour guides explaining it all. Four full days in the major cities gave time to see all the special places, plus the lunches provided downtown avoided wasted travel time back and forth from the vessel. Several evening entertainment programs were included like the Ballet and Moscow Circus. Comfortable coach transfers to all venues and guides who added to the valuable information The variety of food on offer at all meals, including late suppers was amazing and always fresh fruit to take anytime and a coffee/tea station on two levels. I suggest this cruise had more to offer than most other river options and being fully inclusive of everything except gift shop purchases meant very good value Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
We originally selected this cruise because it offered more time in the large cities (Moscow & St. Petersburg) than did several other cruise lines, and my husband needed a slightly larger bathroom because of a disability. Boy, were we ... Read More
We originally selected this cruise because it offered more time in the large cities (Moscow & St. Petersburg) than did several other cruise lines, and my husband needed a slightly larger bathroom because of a disability. Boy, were we glad that we went with Scenic! It was outstanding!! The itinerary was full of just the things that you want to see and experience in Russia--with lots of extras along the way. First, let us tell all potential Russian cruisers that you will not be staying in the city center on any of the Russian cruises (as you may be used to on most European river cruises). There is a Russian law that the riverboats must stay in port areas that are outside the downtown areas. This can result in up to an hour bus ride when getting into the downtown areas. It is a toss up as to just being in a downtown location, not having to pack and unpack so much, and seeing all the wonderful things along the river. Although Russia is obviously SO much bigger than this cruise, you will feel like you have seen a good deal of it by the time you finish this trip. The river sites and packing and unpacking (and all things arranged) won for us. The buses were comfortable and the cruise folks used the time wisely to let us know so very much about their country. Also, you may want to come a few days earlier and leave a few days later to "see it all" (like the Bolshoi), as even with the extra days, it may not be enough. The boat itself was really nice. Our cabin on the second level was roomy and always spotless, the food was really good to fantastic, the tour guides (both local and from the cruise line) were extremely knowledgable and honest with responses to questions, and the activities were very special along the way (both in port and along the river). Due to the distance from the boat during some tours, the lunch restaurants were upscale and provided a good experience. Service in the ship's restaurant and other areas was always with grace and a smile (which smiling to strangers, by the way, is not always cultural for Russians...and not smiling was seen as unwelcoming on other cruise lines by some Western colleagues who reported this on other cruise lines in the past). We thought that all service in all areas was superb on this ship. We would definitely go again with this cruise line. In fact, Scenic is offering another cruise south from Moscow that will extend their season into October (when the northern route begins to freeze over) which we will take at some point. Let me say some things about the tours and activities. Some are just what you want and expect (city tours, etc.), but DO NOT go to Moscow without seeing the circus and the folk show in Moscow--both are fantastic, especially the circus!! We can't say enough about both of them. If you can't see the Bolshoi in Moscow (which we do recommend as the finest on earth and as a "whole story"), Scenic's offering of ballet "highlights" in St. Petersburg with a reception in an old palace was also very great in terms of the artistic expertise. Simple but fun things along the way on the river really made this cruise unique...Russian language lessons, learning Russian songs and "a concert" to fellow travelers, vodka tasting, painting dolls, a participatory Russian play, etc., etc., made for a good time. Scenic is an Aussie company, and you can count on the Aussies (who made up the majority of the guests) to be lots of fun! Finally, this cruise ran like a fine-turned machine. Every single thing fell into place perfectly. If they said that someone would be at your hotel to transfer you, they were there on the dot! They provided us with everything we could have wanted. It was not an all together cheap date, but we had an excellent cabin and felt that we got the cream of Russia. Finally, the cruise director and other two cruise guides were professional to the highest degree. They made a fantastic team (Svetlana in organization, Arty in keeping us laughing, and Valdim in knowledge). Scenic's extra care and attentiveness allowed my husband (who has a slight disability) to see and do every single thing. We truly felt like we left family when we left this ship at then end of our time. Book without hesitation!! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our 50th Anniversary trip (of a lifetime) and our 2nd Scenic River Cruise. I was somewhat disappointed with the young lady who greeted us at the airport... no 'welcome to Scenic'.. no conversation on the bus... but ... Read More
This was our 50th Anniversary trip (of a lifetime) and our 2nd Scenic River Cruise. I was somewhat disappointed with the young lady who greeted us at the airport... no 'welcome to Scenic'.. no conversation on the bus... but found out she worked for the ground operator not Scenic. The 'official welcome' started right away as soon as we departed the bus at the ship. The greeting was so warm and welcoming.... dispelled any misgivings on the bus. The front desk crew, under the direction of Anna were excellent. Within a day they knew our cabin number and simply handed us the key without asking. Always a welcoming smile and greeting! I cannot speak high enough about the Cruise Director and staff. Their knowledge, their openness, their story telling ability and their care about quality was outstanding. The food, produced under a young but very talented Chef was outstanding. We both enjoyed a massage ..and would recommend it as a perfect way to really get into the vacation mode. The Dining Room staff were amazing. Scenic trained (although not actual Scenic employees) they seemed to love their job. So personal. Greetings with such warm smiles. They bent over backwards to ensure your dining experience was a total pleasure. Our cabin was excellent. A workspace with ample plugs (bring adaptors) for my computer etc. The bed was too comfortable (didn't want to get up some mornings).... the bathrooms equipped with excellent bath and hand towels, good shampoo and conditioner and a hook for my shaving kit. I should add, a GREAT shower! The blackout curtains were so appreciated, since the sun doesn't really set until about 2am and stays dark for all of 90 minutes. The beauty of Scenic, there are not really any decisions to make. ALL of the tours are included. All of the tips are included. The wine etc at meals (this is the only difference we experienced from our previous Scenic cruise where the bar seemed to be free 24/7). My personal gripe was that my wife could drink all the wine she wanted at dinner but I had to pay for my non-alcoholic beer). A small gripe but we were warned that th Russia Cruise was a little different from the regular Scenic offerings. I can't say enough about the included tours.... everything from the Moscow Circus to a private reception with a 4-piece orchestra and amazing Champagne / vodka buffet of canapés and caviar. We adjourned to a theatre that sat our 90 fellow Scenic travellers very comfortably... a FULL orchestra and a 60 minute presentation of various famous ballets. An evening never to be forgotten. When asked about our impression of Russia... all we can say is how open and honest the people are about the changes that they are experiencing under the Federation. All preconceptions about Russia were dis-spelled. An awesome trip that I cannot recommend highly enough. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose this cruise because It covered our required itinerary at that time of the year and followed on to an extension in Scandinavia. We liked the idea of being settled on the ship in Moscow and St. Petersburg for four days each with ... Read More
We chose this cruise because It covered our required itinerary at that time of the year and followed on to an extension in Scandinavia. We liked the idea of being settled on the ship in Moscow and St. Petersburg for four days each with a nice river cruise in between. The shore tours in both Moscow and St. Petersburg were excellent (although a little tiring in the unusually hot weather) and covered just about all the sites we wanted to see. The Volga cruise also had excellent shore excursions with local guides who provided all the information you could want. The organisation of the shore excursions from the ship of the 97 passengers was outstanding and the tour director/guides were very professional and entertaining. The ship staff were fantastic: friendly, competent and very attentive to all our needs. The food onboard was plentiful and good (not fantastic), the wine at meals was good and plentiful. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this cruise because we had always wanted to see Russia and the cruise had the added bonus of Andrew Davis and John Simpson to talk to us. The whole event more than exceeded our expectations. The accommodation was great, the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had always wanted to see Russia and the cruise had the added bonus of Andrew Davis and John Simpson to talk to us. The whole event more than exceeded our expectations. The accommodation was great, the food ample and delicious and the service on board was exceptionally attentive and kind. Our tour directors worked tirelessly during the excursions to ensure that we had all the information we needed to get the most out of the places we were seeing. The program of events and excursions was extensive. A real highlight was attending the performance of Swan Lake in the Kremlin which was quite wonderful. We also enjoyed seeing so much of St Petersburg and Moscow with several points in between. The barbeque on Mandrogi was great fun - the entertainment in particular. We can certainly recommend this trip to anyone who would like to explore Russia. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2017
Cabin was fine, the same size as other cabins but this ship is not a spaceship and has been renovated and converted so the cabin is nowhere near as good as the other scenic ships. The staff on board are great, very helpful and ... Read More
Cabin was fine, the same size as other cabins but this ship is not a spaceship and has been renovated and converted so the cabin is nowhere near as good as the other scenic ships. The staff on board are great, very helpful and accommodating the best staff we have ever had on a cruise, they were wonderful. The food was fair only, drinks were only offered free with meals and often hard to get. The scenic Booking office here in Australia is woeful,they were of little help if you ask a question, I received a response to my question three days after I had boarded the cruise and this morning Scenic rang me to advise my wait list for the same cruise was now available,I explained I finished this cruise 10 days ago! Scenic booked our flights, we were taken from the ship way to early for our 1.5 hr flight resulting in a wait of 4.5 hrs wait at the airport. We then waited another 6.5 hrs in Frankfurt for our Singapore connection. If I had booked myself I would have selected connecting flights which were available. Read Less
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