From the moment I contacted Vodohod to book this cruise to the time we were dropped off at our hotel in St. Petersburg, we were pleased. Customer service was great. My emails to the company were responded to within a day. All my questions were clearly answered and the company sent me a letter of invitation for the entire pre and post cruise time we spent in Russia (so we could get our visas).
We were picked up at our hotel, the Leningradskaya Hilton in Moscow, by a car and driver, and delivered to the cruise ship. Check in was a breeze. Our balcony cabin was very nice. The bed was comfortable. The bathroom was fine. Everything was clean and we had room to hang, place or store items.
During our tour in Moscow, we were taken to a centrally located, very lovely historic hotel for lunch. It was quite nice with linen tablecloths and attentive waiters dressed in suits. The food was delicious.
The young lady assigned to the English speaking group, of which we were a total of 10 independent travelers, was Zhenya (Jane). She was great. She spoke English well, came to our table each night and left a flyer that listed the following day’s activities. She answered all our questions and was always positive. What a warm and wonderful person she was. She accompanied us on all our excursions. I found her very helpful when I had a problem with my Russian SIM card. They kept sending me texts in Russian and I didn’t know what they wanted. Seems like I owed another 8 cents for the plan I chose. Zhenya paid the money using her cell phone and wouldn’t take compensation from me.
We were never bored. The ship had separate activities for all language groups (English, Russian, French, Chinese, etc.). We had a retired professor lecturing on Russian history and he did a great job. We enjoyed painting a matryoshka doll. Some joined in a Russian singing and dancing activity. We had a vodka and caviar tasting session. We were entertained by the ship’s staff and entertainers with music and songs. We had a guests’ talent show which was quite good. They played videos on the tv covering parts of Russia—like a travelogue of sorts. We went through a number of locks; one in particular was quite picturesque.
We thought the riverside was quite beautiful. Everything was so green. The trees looked very healthy.
We enjoyed the towns where we stopped. We were assigned local guides and Zhenya accompanied us. There was time to shop if desired. The best shopping was at the port where I left my money onboard. So, take money with you because you never know where you’ll find great opportunities to buy souvenirs or trinkets to take to those back home.
We missed two port calls in Europe’s largest lake, Ladoga. It was very windy and the waves were high so a number of river boats missed the two ports associated with that lake. We were a bit disappointed but there’s not much you can do when the weather becomes adverse. To make up for the missed ports, we were treated to a Cossacks show when we arrived in St. Petersburg. It was excellent and we all were very happy with this surprise.
We thought the food was very good. Breakfast and lunch were buffet and we chose to eat at the same table where we were assigned for dinner. You select your dinner the night before so our table always forgot what we had ordered. But, it was all delicious. There were no complaints at our table at all.
We thought the organization and management of the ship was excellent. Everything was planned in advance and well thought out. There were no glitches.
We can’t say enough positive things about our experience. We absolutely loved this ship, its staff and the cruise in general. We’d do it again. Maybe some day...