We just returned from Waterways of the Tsars and fell in love with St. Petersburg and the Russian countryside. Our cabin was on the highest cabin deck, and we enjoyed sitting on our veranda during the cruising portion of the trip. Our room was a good size for us, but there are many public areas to sit if you prefer. The ship is attractive, and up to date, and always spotlessly clean. The meals are great. I cannot speak of ocean cruising, where I believe the eating options are much more varied, but we are not river cruising primarily for the meals. That said, the choices pleased us and everyone we talked to on the ship. There were almost always Russian specialties as an alternative to more common common dishes and we loved that. We thought the food was delicious and imaginatively prepared.
The staff was amazing! I really cannot think of a single staff member who was not professional and at the same time friendly. Our steward, Elena, kept the cabin immaculate. The wait staff, including Anna, was wonderful. The maître'd Sophia was adorable and kept the dining room running beautifully. The hotel manager was charming and extremely competent. He literally took care of any problems immediately, though the ship was run so well there were few issues. The on shore excursions were great, although we always preferred the on board tour escorts, Sasha and Alexey, to the local tour escorts whose command of English was not as good. Still, many of those tour escorts were good as well. The tours were superb, and there were also many on board lectures to acquaint you with Russian history and culture. All in all, we enjoyed this cruise much more than we had expected to, given the political situation. We have travelled with Viking before and knew they were excellent, but were a bit unsure about going to Russia at this time. We are certainly glad we went.
Our cabin was at very close to the elevator, which was great for my husband, as the stairs are steep we loved the veranda. We got almost no noise where we were, only very distant music from the bar on a few occasions. Bathroom was fine, and the room spacious enough to move around in.