Best River Cruise: Russian Volga with Viking

Viking River Cruise Volga Helgi

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 River Cruise Uglich

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.

Viking River Cruise Volga Map
Volga River Cruise

Photos courtesy of





Best River Cruise: Mekong River with Scenic

Scenic Spirit Mekong River Cruise
Scenic Spirit

The Nine Dragons River flows 2,700 miles from the snowy Tibetan Plateau through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam where it disappears into the South China Sea.

Scenic Spirit Mekong River
Mekong River

As one of Asia’s least developed waterways, the Mekong is abundant in wildlife, history and culture. With a biodiversity second only to the Amazon, this precious river is the lifeblood of South East Asia. It is also a place of stark contrasts; bustling cities and rural river towns, royalty and poverty, ancient sacred sites and POW camps.

Scenic River Cruise Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat

Scenic cruises the Mekong river on the luxurious Scenic Spirit. The 13-day Treasures of the Mekong uncovers the best of Cambodia and Vietnam, taking guests to the spectacular ruins of 12th century Angkor Wat, the ancient hilltop monastery of Wat Hanchey where monks offer their blessing, the Royal Palace, the Killing Fields, lively local markets and Ho Chi Min City. Ox carts, rickshaws, sampans and tuk tuks take guests from place to place.

mekong river girl
Mekong River

A Mekong river cruise is an adventure and experience to embark upon sooner rather than later. With China’s dam crisis, environmental concerns and inevitable economic development the Mekong is sure to change over time, perhaps losing some of its authenticity and charm along the way. A journey to this part of the world will likely present challenges for most visitors as local people still bear the scars of war despite their cheerful and welcoming faces. However, there are opportunities for visitors to support local communities and pay respect to their fascinating way of life.

Scenic Spirit Lounge
Spirit Lounge

The Scenic Spirit, introduced in 2016, is an ultra-luxurious ship with 34 balcony suites which, at the gentle press of a button, smoothly convert into a Scenic Sun Lounge by seamlessly sliding away the window glass.

Scenic Spirit Deluxe
Deluxe Room

Each suite has a personal butler and service follows a 1:1 guest-to-staff ratio. The ship itself is tasteful and in harmony with the Asian surroundings. Facilities include a pool, sauna, bar and open-air cinema.

Scenic Spirit Sun Deck
Sun Deck

Custom designed for the Mekong, the Scenic Spirit emulates the cruise line’s high standards in Europe, replicating the style and service they are known for. The all-inclusive fares are comprehensive with everything included – even port charges, bottled water for excursions, Wi-Fi and tips.

Photos courtesy of Scenic