We landed in St. Petersburg and were met by the Viking rep who gathered us and got us on the bus. We arrived on our ship and were in our room very quickly. The ship was older then the other Viking ships we were on. The layout was similar, but noticeably different, and clearly older. All of the same services were available.
Russia was more amazing then we had imagined. The museums, cathedrals and palaces were stunning beautiful, extremely ornate and richly decorated. Daily we toured about with our mouths hanging open in awe of the workmanship and materials. Gold, amber, tile, woodwork, carvings, art, marble, jewels - different design periods. One of our co passengers described it later as Opulence Fatigue. We went places we never could have dreamed of being allowed to go, having grown up in Canada and learning in school of Communism and the Soviet Union. To think as adults we might actually visit Russia as tourists was pretty far fetched back then.
We visited both St Petersburg and Moscow and small towns on our cruise in between. The small towns were interesting. We visited a real school with children in attendance. One of those kids acted as our tour guide through the school, speaking to us in English and answering our questions with a little help from our ships quide. In wild contrast to the wealth this village was modest, and at least here where we live that school would have been torn down; and the people lived in mostly small houses with large greenhouses and gardens. On the ship, we attended talks on the politics of the last 100 years, learned the history of the Tsars of Russia and their families, got a couple language lessons, stood in Red Square, toured the Kremlin, rode the Moscow subway (Moscow has one of the most efficient public transportation systems in the world) and visited a real home and ate real family food and drank her moonshine. It was all quite an experience.
The food on the ship was delicious, with a local food choice and those good old North American standbys available every night.
We probably wont go to Russia again, only because there are so many other countries to see in the world. Were just pondering where to go next.
If you decide to go, and it is well worth it, check into the Russian visa process and the expected costs before making your deposit. For us, Canadians, the cost of the visa was over $1,000 and should be considered in your travel budget. It may be cheaper through a Russian embassy here in Canada.
The ship was older. The stateroom was not as up to date as the newer ships. It was still a generous size, clean and well decorated. Only one North American 110 outlet. The shower in the bathroom was not as well done as the newer ships. The housekeeping staff was meticulous, as we've come to expect.