Russia: The Volga (Moscow-St Petersburg) - River Cruise Routes
Here is a typical itinerary for a river cruise on the river Volga in Russia, in this case on the Kazan with INTRAV. Most of these cruises last from 9 - 16 days, often with a couple of days spent in Moscow at the start and/or St Petersburg at the end. INTRAV uses the Kazan and the Novikov Priboy. Trafalgar uses the Litvinov, and Uniworld the Litvinov and the Yesenin. Avalon uses the Anastasia on a similar trip. Viking uses the Viking Kirov, Viking Pakhomov or the Viking Surkov.
When you check out the different tour aggregators' or agents' websites, you'll notice that many of them use the same copy, this is usually because they're taking it direct from the riverboat operator's brochure. In fact, I've noticed that even the different operators have very much the same information, so to some extent it's a case of read one, read 'em all (the links go to photos in our Destinations Gallery):
|Day 1-3 — Moscow (embark), Russia
Upon arrival, board the Kazan, your floating hotel for the next 10 nights. This afternoon, your exploration of Moscow begins. Moscow has been Russia’s capital since the reign of Ivan the Great (1462-1505), and you owe it to yourself to experience this city so steeped in history.
In Red Square, possibly the most famous central square in the world, lies Lenin’s Tomb. Inside, visitors file around the embalmed body of Vladimir I. Lenin, leader of the Russian Revolution. See the onion-domed magnificence of St. Basil’s Cathedral. Russia’s walled fortress, the Kremlin, contains much of the country’s history, politics, and religion.
Your tour takes you to Tretyakov Art Gallery, with its collage of Russian painting and sculptures as well as jewelry and art from the 12th through 20th centuries. In your free time, shop at Russia’s famous GUM department store, a maze of imported and Russian goods. Also attend the world-renowned Moscow Circus, whose company numbers more than 1,000 people.
On Day 4, meet your shipmates at the captain’s welcome reception before dinner. We will cruise overnight.
|Day 4 — Uglich, Russia
Relax this morning as we cruise the Volga, passing medieval villages a world away from modern Moscow. Enjoy language lessons or discussions by a guest speaker. Following lunch aboard ship, have your cameras ready when we pass the “sunken” Church of Kalyazin. Approaching Uglich, you will see the cathedral and churches rise up from the horizon, and this has made Uglich one of the most beloved cities in Russia. It was here that Ivan the Terrible’s son, Dmitry, was murdered in 1591, and the city built the magnificent Church of St.-Dmitry-on-the-Blood on the spot where the murder took place. We will also visit the Cathedral of the Resurrection and St. John’s Church, as well as a vodka museum. After dinner on board, we will cruise overnight.
|Day 5 — Yaroslvl, Russia
The historic city of Yaroslavl sits at the meeting of the Volga and Kotorosi rivers and is renowned for its numerous 17th-century churches. Tour the Church of Elijah the Prophet with its impressive frescoes and icons. Spend some free time in the marketplace before returning to the ship for lunch. The afternoon can be used for chatting with fellow passengers, or just relax with a book on the open deck, watching the scenery slide past.
|Day 6 — Goritzy, Russia
Spend a relaxing morning as we cruise to Goritzy. A typical Russian village, Goritzy is home to the 16th-century Monastery of the Resurrection, where Ivan the Terrible’s first and fourth wives were exiled. This village is also home of the famous Kirillov Belozersky Monastery, now a museum, founded by St. Kirill in 1397. Stroll through the peaceful grounds, which feature small wooden chapels. Dinner will be aboard ship tonight.
|Day 7 — Kizhi Island, Russia
We enjoy the morning cruising beautiful Lake Onega, Europe’s second-largest lake. After lunch, arrive at Kizhi Island, home of the Open-Air Museum of Architecture with its dozens of buildings, wooden houses, windmills, and churches. Few of Russia’s wooden churches remain, but two are on Kizhi. The Church of the Transfiguration, built in 1714, Russia’s largest wooden church with its walls and 22 aspen cupolas, was constructed without the use of nails. The other is the adjacent Church of the Intercession, where Orthodox services are still held. Enjoy this peaceful island with a walk along the paths, where you might find some native birds. Board the ship in time for dinner.
|Day 8 — Mandrogi, Russia
Following a relaxing breakfast, arrive in Mandrogi, located in the middle of the final locks leading to St. Petersburg. More of a tourist attraction than a regular village, it features a collection of wooden houses, but the main activity is making crafts, such as lace, ceramics, matroshkas, and other souvenir items, for visitors. There is also a Vodka Museum that features hundreds of different brands and kinds of Russia’s favorite drink. Spend a few hours at your leisure. Tonight is the captain’s farewell reception before dinner. Spend the night cruising the Neva River.
|Day 9-10 — St. Petersburg, Russia
After breakfast, arrive in magnificent St. Petersburg, where you will have two days to explore this charming city. Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, the city is a treasure trove of history and culture. We take advantage of a special early opening at the Hermitage Museum, which features one of the world’s greatest collections of fine art. The museum is located on the extensive grounds of the Winter Palace, home of the last six czars. Our next stop is the Peter & Paul Cathedral with its lovely golden spire. You get a chance to sample St. Petersburg cuisine during lunch at a local restaurant, and then it’s off for more exploring. Following dinner aboard ship, attend a ballet performance at the Hermitage Theatre.
The next day, travel by hydrofoil to Petrodvorets Grand Palace, with its lavish rooms, intricately patterned parquet floors, and galleries. It also features extensive parks and gardens with an array of gilded statues and fountains. After lunch at a local restaurant, our tour takes us to opulent Catherine’s Palace, a royal residence of lavish baroque architecture. We will dine aboard ship, then enjoy a folkloric show at Anitschkow Palace.
|Day 11 — St. Petersburg (Disembark)
As you can see, the descriptions are a bit florid, but they give a pretty fair idea of the kind of experiences you can expect.
OUR ADVICE: concentrate on the ship you want to travel on and the route you want to travel, rather than the tour aggregator (of course, there's also price!). Be sure to check out our "Things to watch for" page too!
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