We just returned from Waterways of the Tzars with Viking and although the trip was enjoyable there were several problems with the cruise. The boats in Russia are not nearly as nice as the Longships Vikings uses in Europe. They need to be updated and reconfigured. The public spaces are tiny and bar area are so small that they cant hold everyone during lectures and briefings. The outside common area on the back on the boat is allowed for smoking, that is to say they can smoke anywhere outside so non smokers really could not enjoy the back of the boat...which was a shame because we had incredible weather. Viking should rope a particular area off or allow smoking on the outside of the side of the ships or better yet say no smoking at all! There is really no place to exercise or walk and while you do walk on the excursions it isn't enough for people who are fit.
The food was great and as always the crew does there best to keep you happy. We did notice that most of the servers where much younger than on other Viking cruises and while they worked hard the service was not up to what you experience in Europe. Communicating with some was nearly impossible.
Wine and beer choices were limited mostly to Russia even with the Silver package. And we were told that some beer would be available on tap, this was not the case. Again, just little things that start to add up when you are on a cruise for two weeks.
The Russian escorts were incredible and really made the tours and excursions interesting.
On board entertainment was wonderful we really enjoyed Anthony and Joanna's music. A special should out to Lubov our stewardess, she was UNBELIEVABLE. Also enjoyed getting to know Calvin and Tina at the back bar.
It is very easy to use the Metro in St Petersburg and Moscow so don't be afraid to explore the big cities on your own. The maps on board show you how and we had no problems. The Metro is clean and safe. Be aware that the Hermitage is warm and crowded. One couple from our cruises was pickpocketed there.
This cruise could have been outstanding but unfortunately the boat and some of the service was not what we had expected from Viking. WE will carefully decided whether to continue to cruise with Viking or begin to explore other lines.
The cabins on this boat was much smaller compared to the ones of the longship. The bathroom was extremely tiny and you could only have one person in the bathroom at a time. We didn't mind the tiny space but the exhaust fumes in this room were horrible. Several times we had to leave the room because the odor was so strong and at night the fumes would wake us up. We had a balcony but like on the rivers in Europe you could not use it when you were in the main cities such as St Petersburg and Moscow because you were always tied up with other ships. This was upsetting to us as I specifically mentioned this problem when I booked the room and was told it wasn't as issue in Russia...WRONG.