CRUISE THE DNIEPER RIVER FROM KIEV TO ODESSA OR ODESSA TO KIEV:
The Dnieper River, the third largest river in Europe, flows 1,370 miles from the heart of the Ukraine to the Black Sea. When we did this cruise in 2009, Viking River Cruises was the only English language cruise company covering the Dnieper, there are now others, as well as some local options if you’re feeling adventurous!
The Ukraine as a nation dates back to the days when the Vikings, locally known as the Rus, arrived and conquered local Slavic tribes. Centred in Kiev, these tribes then spread their influence north into Russia and reigned supreme until Genghis Khan’s Golden Horde poured out of Asia, conquering all in its path.
After the retreat of the Asian invaders, the legendary Cossacks re-established the Ukrainian state and after the Soviet disintegration it regained an uneasy independence.
Dnieper River Cruises
Most Dnieper River cruises start in Kiev (Kyiv) and finish in Odessa, or vice versa. Kiev is the Ukraine’s capital city, and if your cruise starts from here, you’ll visit some of the capital’s sights before setting sail, including a visit to the Monastery of the Caves. Founded by St. Anthony of the Caves in the mid-11th century, this religious complex was built above an underground network of tunnels and caves excavated by monks; fortunately, these are not too claustrophobic (unlike those Vietnamese tunnels). On the Dnieper cruise there’s also the chance to see a folkloric performance in Nova Kachovka or a Cossack horseman show in Zaporozhye.
Dnieper River Towns
Most Dnieper River cruises also sail to Yalta (of WWII conference fame and where Chekov spent his last days) which gives you the chance to visit palaces like the White Palace and Aloupka Palace, tour the Tsar’s Imperial winery at Massandra and visit the botanical gardens. The White Palace was built as a summer residence for Tsar Nicholas II.
In the Footsteps of the Cossacks
Although the Dnieper River is not as scenic as the Rhine or the Moselle rivers, this is certainly a Ukrainian tour with a difference; Viking calls it “Footsteps of the Cossacks” which is rather romantic. One thing to remember is that this is the Ukraine and smoking is allowed in some public areas. The river boats plying the Dnieper River are older than the ones you see on the Rhine or Danube and although they are comfortable, they are not as luxuriously fitted out. As we understood from the tour manager, due to some local regulations, river boat operators are not allowed to bring in brand new river boats. The need to get to Kiev or Odessa may require you spend an extra night in a hotel before or after the trip.
OUR ADVICE: On a Dnieper River cruise, you do not have much choice in respect of the ship, but we recommend that you go with a reputable company or tour aggregator (of course, there’s also price!). Be sure to check out our “Things to watch for” page too!
You may prefer to read our account of our Odessa-Kyiv trip here:
Itinerary, comments and Photos of the cruise we took from Odessa to Kiev