River Cruise St. Petersburg – Moscow, 10 nights

  • Day 1: Saint-Petersburg (arrival)

    • Arrival to Saint-Petersburg
    • Transfer to the cruise ship and accommodation
    • Dinner on board (depending on arrival time)
    • Overnight on board
  • Day 2: Saint-Petersburg

    • Breakfast
    • Panoramic tour of St. Petersburg
    • Visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress
    • Lunch on board 
    • Dinner on board
  • Day 3: Saint-Petersburg

    • Breakfast
    • Visit to the Hermitage Museum
    • Lunch in town
    • Dinner on board
  • Day 4: Mandrogi

    • Breakfast
    • Free time
    • Typical Shashlik barbecue in Mandrogi
    • Dinner on board
  • Day 5: Kizhi

    • Breakfast
    • Visit to the wooden architecture outdoor museum Kizhi
    • Lunch on board
    • Free time
    • Dinner on board
  • Day 6: Goritsy

    • Breakfast
    • Visit to the Kirillo-Belozersk Monastery
    • Visit to the Museum of Icons
    • Lunch on board
    • Free time
    • Dinner on board
  • Day 7: Yaroslavl

    • Breakfast
    • Panoramic tour of Yaroslavl
    • Visit to the former Governmental Offices building
    • Visit to the local market
    • Visit to the Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker
    • Lunch on board
    • Dinner on board
  • Day 8: Uglich

    • Breakfast
    • Panoramic walking tour
    • Visit to the Uglich Kremlin
    • Lunch on board
    • Free time
    • Dinner on board
  • Day 9: Moscow

    • Breakfast
    • Panoramic tour of Moscow
    •  Lunch on board
    • Dinner on board
  • Day 10: Moscow

    • Breakfast
    • Visit to the Kremlin
    • Lunch on board
    • Dinner on board
  • Day 11: Moscow (departure)

    • Breakfast
    • Transfer to the airport

DETAILED PROGRAM

Day 1: Saint-Petersburg (arrival)

Arrival to Saint-Petersburg

Transfer

Accommodation on board

Traditional Ceremony “Bread and Salt”

Dinner on board (depending on the time of arrival on board)

Information Meeting

Day 2: Saint-Petersburg

Breakfast on board

Panoramic tour of St. Petersburg. A guided tour completely in English, this tour is ideal for getting the feel of the city, and in particular its historical center and major monuments. Participants will enjoy Nevsky Prospect along with its most prestigious buildings: the Anichkov, Stroganov, and Belozersky Palaces; Lutheran, Catholic, and Armenian churches; the orthodox Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, the Eliseev, Singer, and Mertens buildings, and many others. We will cross the Fontanka, the river that, along with the Moika River and Griboedov Canal, formed the border of the city center. The banks of Griboedov Canal are home to the well-known Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, built in the so typically Russian style with its multicolored cupolas and gold onion domes. The former Winter Palace, once a residence of the tsars and now the Hermitage Museum, dominates the northern bank of the Neva River, while on the opposite bank the silhouette of the Peter and Paul Fortress and its high spire command the skyline. We will stop by the Aurora Cruiser, whose guns opened the Russian revolution, followed by the House of Peter the Great it was from this modest residence that the Tsar personally kept an eye on the construction of “his” city between 1703 and 1708. On Vasilievsky Island we will see the Strelka, the Menchikov palace and a historical building which is part of the State University. We will pass by the Admiralty with its imposing gold broach, a symbol of the Russian navy on which Peter the Great wanted to base his empire. His equestrian statue is erected in front of the Senate building and St. Isaac’s Cathedral with its impressive columns made from Finnish red granite. Then there are the buildings of the Conservatory and Mariinsky Theatre on Theater Square, after which the tour will conclude with a visit to the St. Nicolas Naval Cathedral, surrounded by canals.

Visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress. Located on a small island opposite the winter palace and dominating three branches of the Neva River, the Fortress was intended to protect the city from a naval assault. It was the city’s first building and is considered the foundation of St. Petersburg, while the tsars also used it as a political prison for their main opponents. Now it is a museum and one of the best spots in the city to enjoy magnificent panoramic views of the Neva’s southern bank. One of the guns on the top of its bulwarks is even fired every day at noon, and what was initially a small wooden church built inside the big fortress was eventually expanded and improved on, becoming the current cathedral, both hits with visiting tourists. There we will take in the graves of all the tsars of the Romanov dynasty and their families, including the grave of Peter the Great, founder of the city, and those of Nicholas II and his family, killed during the Bolshevik revolution of 1918. Their remains were buried in the cathedral in 1998.

Lunch on board

Optional (in the afternoon):

– Visit to the Yusupov Palace

– River and canal cruise

Optional (in the evening):

– Russian Folk Show

– Ballet the theatre

Dinner on board

Day 3: St. Petersburg

Breakfast on board

Visit to the Hermitage Museum. The magnificent Hermitage Museum is the most important sight in St. Petersburg, occupying the Winter Palace, former residence of the Russian tsars, and three more adjacent buildings overlooking the Neva River. The Hermitage is Russia’s biggest museum and one of the most important in the world. It was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and it grew richer through the centuries as tsars purchased entire art collections abroad. Today it is home to more than three million masterpieces and hosts invaluable collections of sculptures, pictorial art, crystals, porcelain, carpets, jewellery, engravings, antiques from the classical era, modern art, weapons, medals, coins, precious books, and many more. It is well known all over the world for its collections of Italian, Flemish, French, and Spanish pictorial art, and particularly for its paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Rembrandt; impressionists such as Gauguin, Matisse, and Van Gogh; and such geniuses of modern art as Picasso. Its sumptuous interiors, richly decorated by the most talented artists, are a marvellous frame for this unique collection.

Lunch in town

Optional (in the afternoon):

– Transfer to Peterhof by hydrofoil

– Excursion to Peterhof and visit to the Grand Palace and its park

Transfer to the cruise ship

Captain’s Cocktail recipe including background music and a glass of champagne

Departure to Mandrogi

Dinner on board

Day 4: Mandrogi

Breakfast on board

During the day on board the ship there will be activities devoted to the culture and history of Russia.

Visit of Mandrogi. Mandrogi is a village situated 260 kilometers northeast of St. Petersburg in a picturesque nook on the banks of the Svir River, which connects Onega and Ladoga lakes. The village, destroyed during World War II, was restored in 1996 with care taken to preserve the traditions of old Karelian village architecture. Many houses from the region have been brought here, forming a true open-air museum of wooden architecture for tourists. The village is inhabited by about 50 people who work in the tourism industry performing traditional jobs and activities such as the production of typical handcrafts. With its brightly colored wooden houses, Mandrogi recreates the atmosphere of old rural Russia in its natural environment.

Typical Shashlik barbecue in Mandrogi. We will be able to taste Shashlik, a Russian culinary specialty that comes from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Cooks skewer beef, lamb, pork, or chicken that has marinated all night in a sour sauce made from vinegar, wine, or fruit or vegetable juice, along with herbs and spices. The skewers are cooked on a grill called a mangal over wood or charcoal.

Dinner on board

Day 5: Kizhi

Breakfast on board

Navigation on Lake Onega

Arrival to Kizhi

Visit to the Kizhi Island. Kizhi Island (seven kilometers long and 500 meters wide) is one of many islands on the northern end of Onega Lake in a region of Karelia whose cultural heritage has traditionally been shared by Finland and Russia. Kizhi is full of architectural treasures, a feast for the eyes and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Russia. Kizhi is world-renowned because of its parish area (pogost) with two wooden churches from the 18th century and an octagonal bell tower surrounded by a wooden enclosure. It is an open museum of wooden architecture whose jewel is Transfiguration Church, a wooden building crowned with 22 silver wooden domes that form a sort of pyramid. The Church of the Intercession of Mary is next to it, having been built in 1764, complete with nine domes. All of the buildings are made from wood and have been assembled without using nails or screws. We can also see other religious buildings, a windmill (the oldest in Russia), and typical wooden houses and barns, along with even a traditional Russian bath house, or banya. Kizhi is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Lunch on board

Free time

Dinner on board

Day 6: Goritsy

Breakfast on board

Activities on board

Visit to the Kirillo-Belozersk Monastery. Goritsy is a small village on the banks of a Volga tributary with a little river port that serves as the access point to Kirillov, home of the Kirillo-Belozersk Monastery. This is one of the oldest monasteries in Russia, dominating the lake from the heights of its impressive fortress. On your way to the monastery you will admire the magnificent landscapes of Northern Russia with its hills, forests, and lakes. The monastery was founded by St. Cyril of Belozersk at the end of the 15th century as one of the main religious, economic, and cultural centers of Northern Russia and became rich thanks to the tsars and Russian princes donating to the handcraft and trade industries. It is divided into three parts: the oldest is the Monastery of the Dormition, the location of the Cathedral of the Dormition and most of its churches; the second is named after St. John the Baptist; and the third is called the New City, having been built during the fortification of the monastery along with its impressive walls and towers during the second half of the 17th century. The reforms of Peter I and Catherine II ended the monastery’s economic boom and in 1924 it was closed by the Soviets and became a museum.

Visit to the Museum of Icons. It is located within the monastery, occupying several of its ancient rooms. The museum features one of the world’s best collections of icons, as well as graphic arts, stone exhibits, documents, manuscripts, and books.

Lunch on board

Free time

Dinner on board

Day 7: Yaroslavl

Breakfast on board

Panoramic tour of Yaroslavl. Located at the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl rivers, Yaroslavl was founded in 1010 by Prince Yaroslavl the Wise on the site of an ancient Viking settlement. It grew rapidly as a major trading center due to its position on the Volga River, in 1218 becoming a principality, and in 1463 merging with Moscow. In the 17th century it was the second most important city in Russia, even serving as the provisional capital during the Polish occupation of Moscow. Yaroslavl enjoyed a second commercial revival thanks to being situation between Moscow and the sea port of Arkhangelsk, and in the 18th century Catherine the Great laid out a new urban plan for the city, stimulating a surge of industrialization that carried into the 19th and 20th centuries. This rich historical past has produced a great cultural heritage: Yaroslavl is an architectural gem boasting monasteries and churches among the finest in Russia and even featuring a unique, local architectural style that has expanded all over the country: so-called “Yaroslavl style” red brick churches are coated with bright tiles and decorated with colorful frescoes. Yaroslavl is one of the cities of the Golden Ring and is a member of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

We will see the city center laid out according to the urban plan and developed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries: here are the Gostinny Dvor main commercial galleries (1818), the Governmental Offices building (1785), Vakromeyev House, the State University—formerly the House of Charity (1786)—and the Fire Department, occupying a 1911 Jugendstil building. We will also encounter Volkov Theatre, the oldest founded in Russia (1750), though the actual building dates back only to 1911, along with many neoclassical private residences, administrative buildings, and the promenade by the Volga River. The kremlin was located at the fork where the Volga and Kotorosl rivers meet, called the Strelka, until it burned down in 1658. On its location, dominating both rivers, was erected the magnificent Dormition Cathedral, demolished by the Soviets in 1937 and restored and reopened in 2010 to celebrate the city’s millenary. The beautiful Epiphany Church with its 5 domes is also laid out nearby, an excellent example of a medieval Russian church. The Church of St. John the Baptist is one of the best models of a “Yaroslavl style” church, with its exterior coated in richly glazed tiles. We will then admire the main jewels of Yaroslavl: the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour and the Church of Elijah the Prophet.

Visit to the Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker. This small temple is one of the oldest stone churches in the city, funded by a rich merchant and dedicated to St. Nicolas, protector of boatmen, traders, and travellers. It opened in 1622 and features the typical Yaroslavl style that was then in use all over Central Russia. The rich frescoes that decorate its interiors were painted in 1640 by masters from Kostroma and depict scenes from St. Nicholas’ life as well as his miracles, and the beautiful carved baroque iconostasis dates back to 1751.

Free time in the local market

Navigation

Lunch on board

Dinner on board

Day 8: Uglich

Breakfast on board

Activities on board

Visit of Uglich. Situated on the banks of the Volga River 92 kilometers north of Moscow, legend says that the city was founded in 937 by Jan Pleskovich, though the first written reference to the town dates back to only 1148. In 1238 it was destroyed for the first time by the Mongols of the Golden Horde, after which it was rebuilt and destroyed several more times. The city is known for having been the location of the assassination of Tsarevich Dmitry, the only descent of Ivan the Terrible and thus the last heir of the Rurik dynasty. Boris Godunov, the Tsar’s favourite, was immediately accused of the killing, which triggered a bloody period in Russian history referred to as the “Time of Troubles,” rife with fratricide and terrible dynastic wars. Uglich is one of the cities of the Golden Ring and offers marvellous examples of traditional Russian architecture.

Visit to the Uglich Kremlin. The kremlin (“fortress” in Russian), situated on the banks of the Volga River, is the place where most of the city monuments are concentrated. Its walls were destroyed more than a century ago, but we can still see the moat that surrounded them. In the kremlin’s interior we will see the Prince’s Chambers, its oldest part, and the Transfiguration Cathedral, with its richly decorated interiors and belfry, as well as the Duma building and its most famous building, the Church of St. Demetrios on the Blood.

Visit to the Church of St. Demetrios on the Blood. It was built on the very place where, according to legend, Tsarevich Dmitry fell mortally wounded. The red-painted walls evoke the spilled blood, while inside the church we can admire the oldest icon of its iconostasis: the 17th century Virgin of Smolensk, a gift from the Romanovs.

Lunch on board

Captain’s Gala Dinner including a glass of champagne

Day 9: Moscow

Breakfast on board

Panoramic tour of Moscow: the ideal way to get in touch with the city, including its historical center and major monuments. We will stroll along the broad avenues, making our way though famous Tverskaya Street to the top of Sparrow Hills, under the imposing stare of Lomonossov University, one of the Stalin-era skyscrapers scattered throughout the city. From there we will admire an impressive panorama of the city, followed by a stop at Victory Park and another in front of Novodevichy Convent and its lake, the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. We will approach the historical center from the banks of the Moskva River, coming out near the White House, location of the siege of the Russian Government. We will also stop at Arbat Street, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare nicknamed the “Moscow Montmartre” because of the artist that used to live in the area and the painters that nowadays populate the street. We will pass in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the Parliament Building (Duma), Bolshoi Theatre, and the imposing facade of Lubyanka, headquarters of the KGB. We will continue through the alleyways of the ancient merchant district Kitai-Gorod, which contains numerous small churches, finally arriving at Red Square, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in the world and designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It was named Red, or “Krasnaya” in Russian, which in Old Russian was a synonym of “beautiful.” Now the square is surrounded by the famous buildings of the Russian Historical Museum, the Kremlin, and Saint Basil’s Cathedral with its gorgeous onion domes, built by order of Ivan the Terrible. Red Square is also home to Lenin’s Mausoleum and features Russian Army parades on various holidays throughout the year.

Lunch on board

Optional (in the evening):

– Visit to the Moscow metro

– Moscow at night

Dinner on board

Day 10: Moscow

Breakfast on board

Visit to the Kremlin and its cathedrals. The word “Kremlin” in Russian means fortress, and in early Rus every important town had a fortress encircled by a wall where the main buildings, churches, and cathedrals were located and protected. The Moscow fortress, the cradle of the city, is the main fortress in the country and has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Built in the 12th century, it took the form we know today in the 15th century. It is an excellent reflection of the different stages of Russian art; a single monumental center of architecture, painting, and decorative and applied arts. The best craftsmen and artists worked on its churches, cathedrals, and palaces, bequeathing to us their priceless work framing the power and fame of Russia that is concentrated in its unforgettable alleyways and different sections. The Kremlin is even today the seat of some of the main political and religious government bodies: the President’s Palace, different administrative and military buildings such as the Senate and Armoury, and also numerous churches and cathedrals. Its walls, 19 meters high and 2235 meters long, tower above the Moskva River and Red Square and are made from eight kilogram bricks. We will visit the fortress, enjoying the view of the world’s biggest “tsar bell”, forged in 1733, and the “tsar cannon”, one of the biggest guns ever made in the entire world. Forged in 1586 by Andrew Chokhov, its purpose was to defend the gate of the Spasskaya tower, though it has never been used. The Cathedral Square is an architectural jewel, flanked by the Dormition Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Annunciation, and the Cathedral of the Archangel.

Optional:

– Visit to the Kremlin Armoury

Lunch on board

Optional (in the afternoon):

– Visit to Novodevichy Convent

Optional (in the evening):

– Ballet in the theatre

Dinner on board

Day 11: Moscow (departure)

Breakfast on board

Transfer to the airport

HOTELS

Accommodation on board: four-deck vessel (type 301/302)