Russia: Moscow, St Petersburg, Volga River Cruise: Red Square, Kremlin, Peterhof
Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 7:00 AM to Tuesday, June 9, 2020, 9:00 PM
PASSPORT MUST BE VALID UNTIL DECEMBER 20, 2020 OR LATER
Just a century ago, Russia was still largely an agricultural society. Its cities less worldly than the rest of Europe and relatively insular. Today, there have been multiple cultural and political revolutions that have transformed this nation and changed the course of history. Change your own when you travel with us on our 2020 Moscow to St. Petersburg adventure.
Behold, as Russia’s charms unfold like the myriad layers of a matryoshka nesting doll. Lenin and Stalin will become more than history book figureheads, but living, breathing icons. Gilded religious iconography will gleam at every corner, inside and outside, from sailing along the Golden Ring, to UNESCO-listed Red Square and St. Petersburg’s Church on Spilled Blood. And discover the unorthodox aboard the m/s Crucelake, the most deluxe vessel sailing the Volga River today.
Don’t miss your chance to extend your tour along the Gulf of Finland, with our optional extension to Helsinki. Travel in style on a luxurious train ride before reaching this cultural capital that beckons with dazzling art nouveau architecture and a thriving arts scene — one of Europe’s must-visit cities!
Travel to Moscow on an overnight flight tonight.
We will be greeted in the airport in Moscow after our flight and transfer to the hotel. Enjoy a Welcome Dinner and Briefing at our hotel this evening
Our Russia travel itinerary begins with a grand city tour of Moscow, including the KGB building, Kremlin Towers, and the Arbat, a massive pedestrian thoroughfare filled with many shops that put any Cold War-era memories of bare shelves, well, on the shelf! Plus, we’ll have free time to explore iconic Red Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where colorful St. Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s Mausoleum beckons.We’ll also visit Moscow’s Metro, which serves as a sort of art gallery, a public-works remnant from the 1950s. Some stations even have massive chandeliers! This afternoon, enjoy leisure time for further explorations and dinner on our own, or join us for an optional tour to the World War II Museum and Poklonnaya Hill, where you can enjoy a lovely panorama of the city.
This evening, we’ll admire even more views during an included Moscow by Night tour. We’ll witness New Maidens’ Convent, Victory Hill, and have several photo stops including Red Square with its twinkling lights.
This morning, check out of our rooms so our luggage can be transferred to the m/s Crucelake, and then visit the Tretyakov Gallery — a fascinating introduction to Russian art and culture — with more than 100,000 works charting the development of Russian painting from the 10th to 20th centuries.
This afternoon, after an independent lunch, transfer to our ship for the art of breaking bread served with salt, a traditional Slavic greeting. We’ll savor dinner on board tonight, with live music at the bar.
The mighty Kremlin
Visit Russia’s symbol of might and majesty, the Kremlin, on a guided tour that includes the State Armory Chambers, the repository of the bejeweled Fabergé eggs. Feast on local specialties during an included lunch.
This afternoon, we’ll toast our discoveries in Russia’s capital during a Captain’s Welcome Reception with champagne, then enjoy a lively Captain’s Dinner.
Life on the Volga
Away from the cities, Russia is a land of villages, fields, forests, and lakes, all threaded by rivers such as the mighty Volga, Europe’s longest. Learn about Russian life at an onboard lecture that also includes local handicrafts and enjoy a lively “Russian language for travelers” lesson. Discover Uglich this afternoon, one of the motherland’s oldest cities that is part of the storied Golden Ring along the picturesque Volga. A favorite city of Ivan the Terrible, we’ll learn more about its fascinating history on a walking tour. Immerse yourself in local life here when you visit a local family, where home-hosted tea and tasty pies await.
Toast Goritsky discoveries
Before arriving at our next port of call, enjoy a lecture on the history and production of Russian vodka.
This afternoon, we’ll arrive in Goritsy for a walking tour, and enjoy the tranquil village’s fascinating history as a former home to several monasteries. Visit a local school to learn about day-to-day life, as well as a local home. The Resurrection Monastery awaits us next, and its storied history (founded by one of Ivan the Terrible’s daughters-in-law) is as fascinating as the architecture.
This afternoon, back on board, try your hand at Russian specialties during a cooking lesson, followed by vodka and tea with a blini tasting. These traditional pancakes are usually made with buckwheat flour and garnished with sour cream, butter, or caviar.
Lake Onega & Kizhi Island
After a leisurely breakfast on board and a port talk on the imperial capital of St. Petersburg, we’ll learn more about Russian history during an onboard lecture. Visit the Captain’s Bridge to marvel at views of Lake Onega before arriving at Kizhi Island, whose church and the adjacent clock tower are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This open-air museum of wooden architecture is a true site to behold, and we’ll admire fascinating examples of traditional wooden buildings collected from around Russia. Among the notable structures is the Church of the Transfiguration, an ornate structure with 22 domes, built entirely without nails.
Eats and arts
This morning takes us on an excursion to the village of Mandrogi, where we’ll visit a wooden home and a local handicrafts market, followed by a shashlik (Russian barbecue) lunch. Back on board, learn the art of painting matryoshka (nesting dolls), followed by an onboard lecture on Russian fairytales. Toast our Russian river cruise at the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening.
Welcome to St. Petersburg
Today we’ll begin our discoveries of St. Petersburg, Peter the Great’s “Window on the West,” a dazzling baroque city of white, gold, and pastels — and one of the best reasons to travel to Russia. Enjoy a panoramic tour of the city that’s been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll also admire Church on Spilled Blood, where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881, and Nevsky Prospect, the city’s main thoroughfare that is the focal point of shopping, dining, and nightlife. Its myriad bridges make it a lovely walking path to admire the glistening canals — the reason why this metropolis is often called the “Venice of the North.”
This afternoon, we’ll visit the Hermitage Museum, which features over 3 million works of art collected by Empress Catherine the Great spread out over a complex of five massive buildings. Perhaps we’ll come back and visit in our spare time to see even more than what we’ll admire this afternoon.
Marvel at Peterhof, the “Russian Versailles”
We’ll disembark the ship this morning and then travel a short distance outside of St. Petersburg to visit Peterhof, a UNESCO site often called the “Russian Versailles.” Peter the Great built the splendid palace and elaborate gardens on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. We’ll admire the spray of fountains set to music and the marvelous art collection, including a stunning room filled to the brim with historic portraits.
This afternoon, join us for an optional tour for true insights into a unique facet of life here and architectural style particular to this region: the kommunalka. These communal flats were built in the years following the 1917 revolution to align with new political ideals that brought together all walks of life, from laborers to university professors. We’ll also enjoy conversation and a snack of tea and traditional blini pancakes here.
Follow in the steps of the tsars
This morning we’ll visit Catherine I’s palace, yet another magnificent landmark of the tsarist era and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built for the wife of Peter the Great, the palace is surrounded by serene gardens and once served as the summer residence of the Russian tsars.
St. Petersburg is also lovely for strolling — perhaps we’ll choose to spend the afternoon walking through any number of public parks, taking an independent hop-on, hop-off canal cruise, or visiting the Fabergé museum and marvel at the works of master jeweler Carl Fabergé, who created his famous artisanal eggs and more for the last two Russian tsars.
Alternatively, enjoy an afternoon optional tour to the Cruiser Aurora — considered the cornerstone of the 1917 revolution, where the first shots to set off the conflict were fired — and the Museum of Russian Political History.
The rest of the day is ours to explore, or join us for another optional tour at a lively show of Russian folk music and dance this evening.
St. Petersburg’s “rainbows”
Our included tour today features St. Petersburg’s canals, which are part of the historic group of monuments known collectively as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And besides a storied history, what connects these banks? Beautiful bridges, of course. Adornments include statues, horses, griffins, and sphinxes, and the spans all come in a plethora of hues. See them and Yusupov Palace, legendary site of Rasputin’s slaying. This afternoon and evening will be at our leisure.
Return home or continue on to Helsinki, Finland
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for our return flight home, or begin our optional Helsinki, Finland extension.
Extend our Gulf of Finland discoveries in Helsinki. Check out of our hotel this morning for a train ride to the capital of Finland, where we’ll travel first class and enjoy our choice of cold snacks before arriving at our centrally located hotel to check in and for an orientation walk.
White City of the North
This morning after breakfast in our hotel, depart for an included tour of the metropolis known as the “White City of the North.” Spread across various islands, peninsulas, and hidden coves, Helsinki is an unforgettable tapestry of fascinating architecture, historical treasures, and quirky charm. Perhaps we’ll explore the neoclassical buildings of ornate Senate Square — Finland’s Times Square — or the glittering domes of Uspenski Cathedral.
Then, enjoy the balance of an afternoon and evening at leisure. Stroll through Esplanade Park, flanked by a wide variety of shops, explore the range of Finnish art displayed at the National Gallery, or head for the city’s open-air folk museum. We can also enhance our day with an optional tour to visit with a local family in their home.
Today we have free time to explore Helsinki independently; perhaps we’ll check out nearby Porvoo, a charming medieval town with cobblestone streets that weave between historic wooden buildings. We can also enhance our trip with our optional tour to Suomenlinna, one of the world’s largest historic maritime fortresses. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has a fascinating history dating back to the mid-1700s and is spread out on six islands linked by walking trails
Today we’ll enjoy breakfast before departing for the airport to fly home.
Roundtrip coach airfare, taxes, fees, airport transfers
Bilingual guides/Tour director
Travel insurance (65+ has an additional cost)
Visa and related fees
$7399 ($100 off if you sign up by March 21): Double Occupancy
Single: $1000 (SOLD OUT)
Junior Suite Cabin Upgrade: Add $1400/person
Business Class Upgrade: Add $4300
Premium Economy: add $1700
Helsinki, Finland Extension (4 days): add $1750 (single add $750): ask for info
$2000 DEPOSIT DUE AT BOOKING (monthly payment schedule required)
FINAL MONIES DUE Feb 1, 2020
All monies are non-refundable. A signed waiver is due from all travelers.