Dnieper River Cruise – Footsteps of the Cossacks:
A river cruise in Ukraine means a cruise on the Dnieper River, down to or up from the Black Sea.
Following is the itinerary of the “Footsteps of the Cossacks” Ukraine river cruise that we took in August 2008 with Viking River Cruises. This 12 days/11 nights cruise starts in Odessa and goes up to Kiev. You can also do this in the reverse direction.
[Note: The itinerary for 2011 spends one day less in Yalta and is replaced by a day in Dnepropetrovsk. The General Lavrinenkov, which we travelled on, has been replaced with the Viking Lomonosov, but looks pretty much the same - no full height opening windows.
Wine (2 glasses) is now included at dinner time.]
The Ukraine was a new destination for us and as such there were a lot of unknown factors before the trip. We hope that the day-by-day activities list, coupled with our comments and Ukraine photo galleries will give potential travellers an insight into this interesting country before they leave.
A few key points to note about this cruise:
- If you’ve previously done a Rhine River cruise, the Dnieper River is very different. It is a very wide river and for a lot of the journey you have a very distant view of land.
- A high proportion of the sightseeing are included as ‘optional tours’ on this cruise. You’ll need to consider budgeting for these if you don’t want to miss out on seeing what the Ukraine is like.
- Itineraries change a fair bit, especially in cities where you’re stopping for more than a day, but the nightly information sheet provides the latest programme.
- The standard of meals was rather disappointing and I still have memories of canned fruit and wilted salads. We later learned from the chef that the supplies for the entire journey are trucked in from Kiev at the start of the trip and kept in the freezer. He only purchases small supplies of fruit and salad along the way.
- The time in Kiev is insufficient and it’s worth adding a few more days in this capital city.
- The cruise was lacking in a professional cruise director and professional programme manager and the people who ran the daily activities were the tour guides who spoke English. A highlight of our Kiev stop was supposed to be a visit to St Sophia Cathedral. Three bus-loads of passengers arrive at the Cathedral to find it shut and the square was being closed off for their National Day parade. Mistakes like this should not happen on this rather expensive cruise.
- Special credit go to the restaurant staff. These girls work very hard to earn their tips.