Despite some political and social instability surrounding Russia, the region remains a popular and exciting river cruise destination. Tensions have led to a reduction in the number of cruise companies operating in the area, but some, most notably the world-leading Viking River Cruise line, still maintain a significant presence in the market. Their established Waterways of the Tsars is a 13-day tour from Moscow to St.Petersburg, or vice-versa, attracting adventurous travellers seeking to combine a safe and relaxing holiday with education and cultural interest.
A Viking cruise on the Volga, which is Europe’s longest river (3,690km) and Russia’s main waterway, reveals the real country, weaving together the authenticity of traditional villages and fairy-tale churches with bucket-list icons such as the Kremlin and Catherine Palace. This particular itinerary offers plenty of time in each of these magnificent cities, along with the option of pre/post cruise extension stays.
Viking, who started sailing in Russia in 1997, have a wealth of experience in the area and own their four vessels outright. The 204-passenger Akun, Helgi, Ingvar and Truvor are identical luxury vessels, refurbished to a high standard with a mix of stateroom classes and suites. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows offer panoramic river views. As expected of the largest river cruise line in the world, the Viking experience is exemplary with wonderful food and wine, elegant surrounding and discerning service. Of special note is the inclusion of shore excursions, ensuring guests have the fullest experience on their voyage, with a great choice of curated trips and unique opportunities.
As well as visiting the main sights of Moscow and St.Petersburg, highlights on the Waterways of the Tsars include tea in the home of a Russian family in Uglich, a trip on the Moscow Metro, bathing in a traditional ‘banya’ Russian bath house and an evening of spellbinding Russian ballet.
Photos courtesy of www.vikingrivercruises.co.uk