Montara, California
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote

We cruised from St. Petersburg to Moscow at the start of White Nights in mid-June. Can't say enough good things about the ship and the staff. This was our first cruise so we had no expectations. If you like ocean liners, this cruise is not for you. The ship is small and the food is not five-star.

We booked a room on the third deck, which is one upgrade. Everything was extremely clean and was kept that way the entire trip. The furnishings are well-maintained, no shabby upholstery or worn areas. We had a window that opened out on to the deck. There are chairs and tables on the deck, and we could sit outside our room and watch the scenery.

Our Gate1 tour guide, Tanya, gets 10 stars. From getting our lost luggage delivered to the ship before sailing, to putting up with a lot of crabby Americans with dumb questions, she stayed upbeat and smiling throughout. Her two Vodohod assistants, Irina and Karina, were lovely young ladies who spoke very good English.

The cruise line gave our group of 57 English-speaking passengers from Gate1 our own dining room, and we had two buses on shore at every stop where we were being driven to our tours. The guides spoke good English also and were very knowledgeable. The tours seemed hurried but we understand that's the nature of cruise tours. Just makes us want to go back on our own.

The UNESCO sites were incredible. We had rain and chilly weather in St. Petersburg but were extremely lucky the rest of the cruise. Sunny days and warm temps. We're told the best time to go is June and July for good weather.

The food was OK, not excellent, but there was plenty of it and they gave us good options. Breakfast is buffet, and lunch and dinner assigned seating with menus from which you choose your items the day before. Gate1 includes a beverage at dinner, and fruit at breakfast as part of the buffet.

They arranged a special surprise for my birthday at dinner one night. The entire restaurant was involved and it was something to remember.

The ride was extremely smooth, even on the big lakes. We did have one thunderstorm and some rain one evening, but it did not affect the cruising. We slept like babies, but we do wish they had blackout curtains. The sun didn't set until 10:30 pm and was back up by 3 a.m. Bring sleep masks.

The ship gives you a credit card to charge to your room for drinks, souvenirs, etc. They also take rubles. You are also expected to tip the crew and your tour director at the end. The average is $8-$10 per day per person for the entire crew, and $7-$9 per day per person for the director. We used the ATM's in Moscow as it has to be in cash.

We got a daily itinerary with all the tours, meal times and shipboard activities. There are Russian lessons. vodka tasting (a big party!), a talent show, a good History Channel program about the tsars in four parts, piano recitals, a fairy tale presentation -- lots of stuff to keep you busy.

We're very glad we went. We would never have seen some of the remote places in Russia that are World Heritage sites if we had not.

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