In September 2017, I chose a Russian cruise line deliberately, knowing it would be a more authentic experience than the more luxurious western style river cruise ships. Also Vodohod's Zosima Shashkov had single cabins at a sensible price.
I had realistic expectations of the 3-star experience: small cabins, plainer cuisine, etc.
My cabin turned out to be on the top deck, next door to a bar and the wireless router. I had internet for the whole cruise, but most of the 298 pax did not. Although a small space, I had plenty of storage, A huge window with a good view, a small fridge, AC/heat, and a flap that lifted up under the window for a desk. As the cabin was at the bow, I never heard any engine noise - a big plus as we sailed every night.
Russian beer was good and cheap, but the wine and champagne should be avoided.
Shore excursions were many and long in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Led by local guides who were experts, I was fascinated. Very interesting, excellent English, and I loved the earphones and receivers that allowed me to wander away and still hear the commentary. Tour organization was efficient, though in mid-September the crowds at popular sites were troublesome.
Food onboard was plentiful and well cooked, but quite plain in comparison to western cruise ships.
Some of the crew spoke English, but many did not. Thus customer service suffered on occasion. Everything was spotlessly clean on board.
I have rated the cruise as a 3-star ship, not in comparison to the 5-star western ships. So, for example, my small cabin was "very good" meaning it was more than adequate as a 3-star.
My wife and I have just done the Volga river cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg which started on the 23rd of September , we just wanted to say thank you for one of the most memorable trips we have done , the facilities , day trips and food were amazing BUT the crew are what made this trip so spectacular, from the moment we arrived we felt like royalty, every single member from the captain to the chambermaids were fantastic, Professor Vladamir was informative and our group guide Alonya were absolutely fantastic, Andrey who gave the Russian language lessons made it fun and informative , you should be very very very proud of every single crew member aboard this ship....thank you so much.Anthony Camilleri, travelling on board MS Mstislav Rostropovich
Our 12 day First Class Russian River Cruise with St. Petersburg to Moscow on “Mstislav Rostropovich” in July 2017 went exactly on schedule. We were lucky to have warm, dry, and sunny weather, with low wind, and no river or lake storms. The ship glided smoothly through the water with barely noticeable noise, and there was no seasickness. On board there were 7 or 8 tour groups totalling about 200 tourists from USA, Belgium, Israel, Australia. The presentation where the captain gave a warm and witty speech and every crewmember was introduced by their first name united all people on board and created a relaxed and family-like atmosphere that lasted to the end of the cruise. The crewmembers looked very young but they had already completed their education and received their credentials and were very well trained. They were native Russian speakers but they seemed to be fluent in different languagesNina Klein, travelling on board MS Mstislav Rostropovich
My husband and I were very comfortable in the standard room. The light shower curtain made the shower cabin more spacious and showering more comfortable than we had on an American cruise. Our room and the entire ship were immaculately clean. The dinner menu was fancy. The breakfast and lunch food were more like homemade but with a twist, also beautifully arranged, with varieties. There was no shortage of bottled drinking water, and we even used it to brush our teeth as it was not recommended to drink the tap water on the ship.
Russia attracts lots of visitors especially in tourist season. The tour was very well organized and we did not waste time in long lines or in traffic jams. We were well guarded and protected by the Vodohod and our company staff and felt safe everywhere. There were no incidents of pickpocketing although we received numerous warnings.
On-board entertainments included intellectual activities such as Russian language classes and lectures in Russian history. Crew member Alyona is a professional Russian language teacher for foreign students. She gave her numerous students homework assignments, quizzes and even a final test J. Vladimir is a University professor and a professional translator and was our lecturer on Russian history. We liked his visuals from YouTube, TEDs TV, pieces of music, songs and lyrics that he included in his lectures. He gave us a strong taste of Russian character and gave an overview of the Russian history linked to the events in the country after the 90’s and current international events.
The ship’s small gym had a treadmill and stationary bicycles and was good enough for cardio. Adding rubber floor mats and a yoga mat would make yoga and other floor exercises more comfortable and steady. It is too slippery to do it on the gym or hallway carpet. Another nice piece of equipment to have would be a foam roller.
The local tour guides were generally very good. The St. Petersburg and Hermitage tours were conducted by Elena and she was terrific. She not only told us about the sights but also talked in a very informative way about life under Communism. The Moscow tour guide was also very good. The only guide were disappointed in was Marina in Goritsy. Her English was poor. The shortage of local guides with good English in the busy summer tourist season is easily understood. But Russia is a big country with well-established international ties should not compromise and disappoint visitors.
We enjoyed especially Kizhi, the northernmost point of the tour. In July the weather was perfect, though at other times Kizhy can be pretty cold. We also enjoyed Uglich and were lucky to have Vladimir, an English language schoolteacher, as our tour guide. Uglich is his native city and his broad knowledge of its history was delivered in excellent English. Uglich was a real highlight of the cruise. In one of the churches there was an interesting presentation of handpainted lacquer boxes with four types of paintings. In another church we heard a chorus. I would recommend requesting the chorus to sing two songs. Russians like to do things in pairs and the chorus may agree to sing two songs for you, not just one. For those who sail from Moscow to St. Petersburg shopping in Uglich could be a relief after high prices in the capital. For those who sail from St. Petersburg to Moscow it could be the last and probably the best opportunity to buy affordable souvenirs. The price would be good, especially after negotiations with the very nice local people. I found that many souvenirs in Uglich were distinguished by their authenticity, beauty, and practicality. I wish we had more time to walk around the historic part of this quiet, clean and perfectly maintained city.
Along the way from the balcony and decks the views were stunningly beautiful and peaceful. The must-see Kaliazin flooded bell tower looked even more beautiful from the ship at a distance than in the famous photos. Do not miss it!!!
The cruise director, Nadya, was on the top of everything onboard and off. She has a great deal of experience working for foreign tourists. It made our cruise very well organized, uneventful, and comfortable.
The ship's doctor gave to me very effective and safe medications that helped to heal my cold in a day or two -- Гексорал аэрозоль and Тантум верде аэрозоль, Отривин nasal drops, and Стрепсилс in the local pharmacy. Amoxicillin capsules, which we take for sinuses and are by prescription only in the USA, I bought in the local pharmacy over-the counter.
Nikita, our company group manager, distinguished himself by his Russia-bashing attitude that he expressed at any opportunity. His opinion was always based on his personal bad experiences and not on broad knowledge of Russian life. His comments were not well-rounded and objective. Russians are famous for being very patriotic. So we were very surprised and annoyed with Nikita’s attitude. Perhaps he was trying to please a crowd that he perceived as anti-Russian, though that was not our perception of our fellow passengers. Nikita, were you looking for an escape from Russia, may be in one of our suitcases? Or were you trying to please the crowd and earn more tips? So, who are you, Mr. Nikita? Sorry for my rhetoric.
Очень довольны путешествием и всеми службами. Каждый день слушали классическую музыку в исполнении пианиста Веры Авровой. Приятная дама, замечательно подобранная программа, тонкое профессиональное исполнение на фоне проплывающих берегов оставляут неизгладимое впечатление.Лев и Лидия Кучерские , travelling on board MS Nikolay Chernishevsky
Благодарим руководителей "Водоходъ" за прекрасно организованный отдых,
особенно капитана корабля Владимира, директора круиза Ксению и всю команду за приятный незабываемый круиз. Лев и Лидия Кучерский
The ship Rostropovich is really a beautiful ship. It has really wide and comfortable cabins. Lisa dealt with us nicely and she also showed me the other cabins that were empty at the ship and gave information. Although common areas at the ship are not so wide, the designed them in a maximum.Neslihan AKKUŞ TÜRKARSLAN , travelling on board MS Mstislav Rostropovich
Restaurant & Food; The food at the restaurant were so delicious and plates designed nicely. The service at the same time good and presentation of the food plate was amazing. Having an alternative main course option would be better for lunch and dinner served outside of the ship.
All staff including receptionists, onboard guides ..etc. were sympathetic, energetic and helpful J Land tours/city visits were organized well. The social activities arranged on board was really fun and enjoyable.
Dear Vodohod staff member,Maria Todaro , travelling on board MS Georgy Chicherin
I just left today the "Chicherin" a fabulous cruise and would like to send the Captain of the Chicherin a thank you note and compliment him for his excellent team.
We absolutely enjoyed everything and hope to come back soon ... please convey to the whole staff and crew our deepest gratitude.. remarkable team.. polite, caring.. and we particularly appreciated how safe the crew made us feel..
15-22.07.2017 tarihinde Rostropovich gemisi ile Volga Turuna katıldık. Harika bir rotada yapılan huzur dolu keyifli yolculuğumuzda tüm personelin ilgisi, kibar ve güleryüzlü tavrı bizi son derece memnun etti. 8 günlük tur esnasında gemide Rus kültürünü tanıtan farklı etkinliklerin yapılması, seyahatin sadece görsel açıdan değil aynı zamanda kültürel ve sanatsal açıdan da dolu dolu geçmesini sağladı. Yemek sofralarının düzeni, her gün farklı bir konseptle yapılan yemek sunumları ve bir sonraki akşamın yemek seçimlerinin yapılma fırsatının sunulması kayda değerdi. Kaptanın vermiş olduğu kokteyller ve gemi içindeki çeşitli aktivitelerle -kaptan köşkü turu, yetenek gecesi, Rus dansları dersi, Rus el sanatları semineri vb.- gemideki misafirlerin birbirleri ile kaynaşma ortamı oluşturulması sonucu zihnimizde hoş anıların kalmasını sağladı. Gemi ve oda temizliğine verilen önem, gerek gemi içinde gerekse gemi dışında her dakikasında misafirlerin keyif içinde mutlu olabilmesi için hazırlanan ortamlar, böyle bir gezi için bu geminin doğru bir seçim olduğunu bize bir kere daha kanıtladı. Tur süresince bizlere öncelikle saygısı, kişiliği, mesafesi, derin bilgisi, donanımı ve ilgisi ile eşlik eden rehberimiz Eren Yaralı'ya ayrıca teşekkürlerimizi sunmak istiyoruz. Kendisinin bir rehber olarak bilgisini paylaşmasının yanı sıra tur boyunca birtakım istek ve dileklerimizin de gerçekleştirilmesindeki katkısı ile bizlere rehberden öte arkadaşça/dostça yaklaşımı, bu tur şirketini seçmekle doğru bir iş yaptığımızı göstermektedir.Ceyla İnmeler, travelling on board MS Mstislav Rostropovich
I just returned from my trip to Russia this week. The ship MS Chernyshevsky was comfortable. The journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow was fantastic and unforgettable. My friends and I had a very pleasant time on board.Amy Tu, travelling on board MS Nikolay Chernishevsky
The room was clean. Shower system very nice, with nice hot water, which was very important considering the low temperature during the journey.
A variety of great activities organised on board was quite entertaining, yet not exhausting, which presented Russian culture in an easy-to-understand way to aliens not familiar with the country. I personally enjoyed the Russian folk music presented by professional on-board musicians throughout the journey. Alexander with his balalaika was impressive.
The excursions were also interesting, showing the rich culture of the country. I couldn't appreciate more about the beautifulness of this lovely country.
Meals on boards was pleasant, despite the fact that cauliflower and broccoli were not as good as other veggies. We had many great choices. Every meal was hearty and I really enjoyed the dairy products provided.
Staff were efficient and friendly. Elena was so adorable.
I appreciated this memorable journey. I would like to extend my appreciation to all the staff. I've already been looking forward to another trip in the near future.
C’était sympa et reposant. Les prestations sont très correctes. Vodokhod maitrise bien son activité. Les excursions notamment sont parfaitement organisées et la nourriture très acceptable. Les voyageurs étaient satisfaits.Franziska Ruess and Gilles Chenesseau, travelling on board MS Nikolay Chernishevsky
Hi, just to say thank you for all arrangements for our cruise to Russia. Every thing, all small details were taken care of. Two senior citizens like us were very comfortable and safe at all the places we visited. I would really recommend this wonderful holiday, even to seniors and singles. Thank you once again!Mrs. Uttara Gopaldas and Mrs. Sudha Munshi , travelling on board MS Nikolay Chernishevsky
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,Dagmar Haarhaus, travelling on board MS Konstantin Fedin
vom 25.07. bis 05.08.2017, waren wir mit MS Fedin von Moskau nach St. Petersburg unterwegs.
Wir sind fasziniert von der Reise, zumal die ausserordentlich gute Besatzung, freundlich und kompetent, sogar deutschsprechend, uns den Aufenthalt an Bord so angenehm wie möglich gestaltete.
Ebenfalls möchten wir die Köchin und ihre Crew loben, die uns mit russsischen Spezialitäten verwöhnte.
Hervorheben möchten wir die Kreuzfahrtleiterin von Vodohod, Viktoria Gorban und ihr ein sehr großes Kompliment aussprechen, da sie zu jeder Zeit für ihre Gäste als Ansprechpartnerin zur Verfügung stand.
Wir hatten eine wunderbare Reise. Zu jeder Zeit fühlten wir uns sicher und aufgehoben auf der MS Fedin.
Wir hatten zwar einen Anfängerkursus in Russisch an Bord. Aber leider bin ich trotzdem nicht in der Lage, meinen Dank in der russischen Sprache zu verfassen. Das bitte ich zu entschuldigen.
Der Reederei Vodohod mit Ihren Mitarbeitern wünsche ich alles Gute und danke Ihnen sehr herzlich.
I was recently on the Nicolay Chernishevsky on the river boat cruise from St Petersburg to Moscow from 15 July to 25 July.Sue-Ann Mary Mathews, travelling on board MS Nikolay Chernishevsky
I had a wonderful time and would like to pass on my thanks to you and your staff.
In particular I was most impressed by the friendliness and goodwill of your tour guides. I would especially like to commend Oksana and Anastasia.
Firstly, Anastasia deserves much praise for her help to us. After disembarking on the last day of the boat cruise I found I had left my walking shoes on the boat. Anastasia, who was our guide, went out of her way to make sure I got them back. After completing her duties for the day she returned to the boat to pick up my shoes and then delivered them to our hotel, at the Best Western Vega. By this time it was about 9pm. She must have been tired and it entailed a lot of extra work for her.
I was so grateful to her as my shoes were necessary for the last part of our trip.
Oksana was helpful to everyone in her charge. While we were in Yaroslavl my sister and I were unable to find the meeting spot to return to the bus. Oksana came looking for us and we were most thankful when she located us. The other Australians on our table were also “blown away” by the friendliness and helpfulness of Oksana and all the young staff on board.
We have many beautiful memories of the activities and fun we have had on board the Nicolay Chernishkevsky.
Last night our second group arrived and everything was fine and all were satisfied. Our tour guide points out the very good cooperation with Anton the guide on bord.German group, travelling on board MS Lev Tolstoy
Overall very good and enjoyable, the boat was good value for money, the food very good and the staff were a delight nothing was too much trouble. It was definitely sightseeing at speed the guides were excellent very knowledgeable. The highlight for me was the Moscow by Night tour I would highly recommend it.Mrs. McKean, travelling on board MS Nikolay Chernishevsky
Fantastic cruise St Petersburg to Moscow. The ship was comfortable but cabins could do with new soft furnishings. Food good on the whole. Excursions were excellent and well organised. Cruise staff polite, friendly and helpful. The onboard entertainment was well organised and varied. We would use this company again.Mr. Fairclough, travelling on board MS Nikolay Chernishevsky
I've just landed and am in the cab heading to my mums before going home on Monday.Ben Weald, travelling on board MS Nikolay Chernishevsky
If it's possible, can you please on my gratitude to everybody for an excellent cruise.
Katya is a legend and so organised as are everybody I came into contact with.
I'd like if possible to say thanks to Katya, Anna who worked with her, Kate from the gift shop and also oskanna.
They were superb as were all the local guides.
Also the lady who led the singing to teach us Russian songs and the lady who ran the mafia game too, plus the young girl who served our tables with food and a smile each and every time.
The places we went to were beautifull and the ppl awesome.
Such friendly ppl and also to yourself for your help and organisation skills putting it together.
My next job is to attemp to learn Russian so I can hold a conversation in it.
I will be going back, I promise especially if katya is the boss again.
Also can you pass on my thanks to the cruise director who although did not speak much was always around and I think it shows she ran a good team as I did not see any problems and if there were I would imagine they would be sorted.
When I was at work I jokingly said I'd come back with a Russian bride , I didn't but I loved them so much I'd consider moving there if I found the right lady.
Anyway thankyou kindly.
The ship was really lovely, our cabin (307 the junior mini suite) was lovely had everything we needed and more...Rob and Anne Bareham, travelling on board MS Nikolay Chernishevsky
We were so surprised on many occasions at the things that were included and the way the services on board were handled it was excellent.
Our on board guide Irina was a little inexperienced, being new to the job but was learning every day, and did her best, and was always eager to help and was always available if we needed her. (She really spoilt us on our birthdays (7 /12 June,) with cards and cakes etc:
The restaurant food was stunning and far exceeded our expectations. The restaurant staff were excellent, our waitress Aliona was so charming happy and attentive, bar staff too, always cheerful and eager to help.
Our cabin maid Rina was so efficient and friendly.
Excursions: With the exception of the 'St Catherine Palace / Peterhof Tour', we thought the extra excursions were very well priced and value for money.
We didn't do the St Catherine's tour as we felt R7800 Rubles per person extremely excessive and that and the ballet tour being cancelled were the only disappointments for us on the whole holiday.
We especially had intended to go on the ballet excursion which was cancelled for some reason, that was very sad for us, and my dream was to see the Palace and Peterhof, but at 7800 Rubles pp that price it was a little out of reach for us compared to the other tours, and by some accounts from fellow travelers it was a little excessive in price for what was given on the day.
However, we will defiantly try to use your company again as we do want to return to Russia to see more of this fascinating country.
A HUGE thank you from Rob and I for the most wonderful holiday.
Best regards to all
I am responding on behalf of my husband, Rami Amit, and myself. We were delighted with our cruise and thank you so much. The whole experience far exceeded our expectations.Mr. and Mrs. Amit, travelling on board MS Nikolay Chernishevsky
Our suite on board was very comfortable, the maintenance of the ship and the cabins and all public areas was impeccable. The crew seemed to be cleaning non-stop!
We enjoyed the meals, though some more than others, which is to be expected. Our on-board guide was professional, likeable, and gave us all the information we needed.
We were also impressed with the local guides when visiting various ports of call. There were plenty of activities to keep us busy if we so chose, which was nice.
The only thing that never functioned was the wifi, even when in port and not at distant locations. It would have been nice to have been able to have that, but for us it was not a serious drawback.
…Thank you so much for arranging everything for us. Considering we had only a day in Moscow we had a superb guide who helped us make the most of the day, finishing at the Kremlin.Godwin John Christopher & Godwin Margaret Louise, travelling on board MS Mstislav Rostropovich
The cruise was affected by ice on Lake Onega and the crew could not have been more assiduous in rearranging the schedule to the maximum advantage of everybody, which must have made for a great deal of work (and stress) for them.
Due to the delay we were flying out of St Petersburg on the same afternoon we arrived, but they arranged a half day touring the city with an excellent guide again, finishing at the airport in time for our flights. Nothing but praise is due to the staff of M S Rostropovich.
The ship MS Chernyshevsky, was comfortable, and thankfully not as “WHA-WHA” as the cruise ships around the Americas, which can be very noisy and organised with entertainment beyond endurance
We had time to relax and not be “entertained” all the time, which was great. The only complaint was that the wifi on the ship hardly ever worked, which is understandable in way-off places, but even in the cities, it was not viable. The company should invest in satellite wifi.
The meals on board were really beautifully presented, but I found the portions far too big for a normal person – not something to complain about , is it? The staff were always helpful and friendly.
We had a young guide for the 12 English passengers, Konstantin, very quiet but efficient young man, who looked after us well, and got us at the right places at the right times, every time.
The local English speaking guides we had at the locations en-route where we had excursions, were really fantastic. Not only did they speak very good English, but they were excellent guides, telling us the most interesting bits of knowledge to give us an understanding of the Russian history, architecture, arts and crafts, and way of thinking.
Having been a South African tour guide myself some years ago, I really appreciated how excellent they were, especially the little lady on Kizhi. I could listen to her for days!
It was quite amazing that even though we were a small group of English speakers, the company still gave us a huge bus for about 40+ people, to take us to the sights. The staff was always so helpful, and all in all, the trip was lovely…
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