We had always wanted to travel to Russia and so pleased we finally did. Our cruise was the first of the season which was lucky in so many ways. The crew and guides were so enthusiastic and welcoming. The slight inexperience on the first couple of days quickly improved as they became more confident.
Our waitress, Diana, was an absolute delight, remembering our names and preferred teas after only one breakfast. She looked after us superbly at breakfast, lunch and inner. Aileen was another waitress who also looked after us very well and also remembered our names. Food was plentiful, great choices for every meal, changing daily and with always a Russian specialty included in the dinner menu. The chef, Visil, even prepared two curry dinners for new Indian friends who invited us to share with them. That is indeed exceptional as there were about 180 people on board to feed. Little extras were provided such as Russian snacks one day on the sundeck, a full Russian lunch, with plenty of delicious choices, even a snack bag for one day when we left the ship early and didn’t return till 9pm, even then there was full dinner service. So impressed.
We bought the Silver Spirits drink package which was well worth it as we enjoyed beautiful wines from around the world, including some excellent Russian ones and many cocktails in the Panorama Bar, where Jay and Chaze provided excellent and friendly service. This is also a great spot to enjoy a lighter breakfast or lunch as you are at the front of the ship with great views. Wifi is a little better there as well.
We booked as many tours as possible as we knew we wouldn’t have the chance to visit Russia again. All the tour guides on board were so knowledgeable and interesting, especially Natasha and we were indeed fortunate to be in her group quite often. Every tour was so well organised and the new audio systems worked well. Highlights were Peterhof Palace, Hermitage and the canal trip in St Petersburg. All other tours were very good.
Cruising to Moscow was great and although we missed KIzhi because of ice we were treated to a champagne and vodka party with music on the sundeck. What fun. Yaroslavl was one of the many highlights. Very relaxing during this time as more sailing and less sightseeing. The villages we did visit were delightful.
Moscow was such an unexpected delight. So clean, tidy and modern, but still with plenty of old buildings and museums. The Cosmonaut Museum was definitely a must for us and we weren’t disappointed. The home visit to a private family home is not to be missed, we were made to feel so very welcome and it was special. Be prepared for traffic in Moscow, it lives up to its reputation as the worst in the world, but the guides know this and plan accordingly.
Would we recommend this trip? Definitely. Would we recommend travelling on the first trip of the season? Again, definitely as there are less crowds, everyone is fresh and the weather was perfect, sunny and warm (about 24deg) except for when we sailed through ice on Lake Onega, but that was fun.
Spotlessly clean, thanks to Irina. Shower is quite small, but good quality fittings, towels and toiletries - which were always replaced and plentiful. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion. We did read previous reviews about the walls being thin and being able to hear the adjoining cabin and this is true. As we were in an end cabin we only had one adjoining wall. Took earplugs just in case but they weren’t needed. Doubt anything can be done about this. Our verandah was a great little spot while cruising to enjoy the sun, view and peace. There was a blanket in our wardrobe to use there when it was a bit chilly. Yes, the cabin is quite small, but plenty of room under the bed for luggage and plenty of wardrobe and cupboard space. Just remember, you don’t spend a lot of time in your cabin.
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