River Cruise St. Petersburg – Moscow, 10 nights

  • Day 1: Saint-Petersburg (arrival)

    • Arrival to Saint-Petersburg
    • Transfer to the port
    • Welcome ceremony «Bread and Salt»
    • Accommodation
    • Dinner and night on board (in case of late arrival picnic dinner will be served)
  • Day 2: Saint-Petersburg

    • Breakfast on board
    • Complete panoramic city tour of Saint-Petersburg
    • Visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress and its cathedral, pantheon of Romanov Tsars
    • Lunch on board
    • Dinner and night on board
  • Day 3: Saint-Petersburg

    • Breakfast on board
    • Visit of the Hermitage Museum
    • Lunch on board
    • Captain Cocktail
    • Dinner and night on board
  • Day 4: Mandrogi

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

    • Breakfast on board
    • Lunch on board
    • Visit of the Open Museum of wooden architecture
    • Dinner and night on board
  • Day 6: Goritsy

    • Breakfast on board
    • Lunch on board
    • Visit of the monastery of Kirilo-Belozersk
    • Visit of the Museum of Icons
    • Dinner and night on board
  • Day 7: Yaroslavl

    • Breakfast on board
    • Lunch on board
    • Complete panoramic city tour of Yaroslavl
    • Visit of the local market
    • Exterior visit of the Church of Prophet Elias
    • Visit of the Church of Saint Nicolas the Miracle Worker
    • Interactive visit of the ancient house of Governor
    • Dinner and night on board
  • Day 8: Uglich

    • Breakfast on board
    • Lunch on board
    • Visit of the Kremlin of Uglich
    • Visit of the Church of Saint Demetrius on Spilled Blood
    • Visit of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration
    • Farewell dinner of the captain on board
    • Night on board
  • Day 9: Moscow

    • Breakfast on board
    • Complete panoramic city tour of Moscow
    • Lunch on board
    • Dinner and night on board
  • Day 10: Moscow

    • Breakfast on board
    • Visit of the Kremlin and its Cathedrals
    • Lunch on board
    • Dinner and night on board
  • Day 11: Moscow (departure)

    • Breakfast on board
    • Transfer to the airport

DETAILED PROGRAM

Day 1 / Saint-Petersburg (arrival)

Arrival to Saint-Petersburg.

Transfer to the port.

Welcome Ceremony «Bread and Salt».

Accommodation.

Dinner on board (in case of late arrival, a picnic dinner will be served).

Day 2 / Saint-Petersburg

Breakfast on board.

Complete panoramic city tour of St. Petersburg. “Russia’s window to Europe”, the “Northern Venice”, the “Museum City” – regardless of the alias it goes by, St. Petersburg is a must-see. Built on mud and water in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great, this magnificent city in northern Russia captivates, highlighted by its stately palaces, elegant bridges and majestic granite embankments flanking the river and canals crisscrossing the city. Its beauty and richness will leave you utterly spellbound.

When Peter the Great wanted to push Russia toward European standards, judging his country underdeveloped and its nobility and institutions out-dated, he decided to move the capital from Moscow and build a new one from scratch closer to northern Europe, which he admired. The location seemed to be poorly chosen – a marshy land in the Great North, plagued with malaria in summer and a harsh climate in winter where thousands of forced labourers would die building the city. However, it soon began to grow rapidly, becoming a magnet for architects and artists from all over Europe who built avenues, parks, churches, palaces, canals, bridges, schools, a University, and the Academy of the Arts, and embellished the city to a degree previously unimaginable. The luxury and technical sophistication used during the construction and the wealth of the tsar’s court can be seen in the numerous palaces and theatres, as well as the luxurious facades decorating the broad avenues, called “Perspectives” (Prospects) in the native Russian. The numerous canals, islands, and bridges that were built to drain the marshy soil and the impetuous Neva lent St. Petersburg its unique character. All of this led to the city being designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

St. Petersburg remained the Russian capital for more than two centuries, from 1712 to 1918. After the Russian revolution, the capital was moved back to Moscow, after which the city endured a period of decline. The communists even changed its name twice, first to Petrograd and then to Leningrad. After the fall of the Soviet Union, St. Petersburg recovered its name and, thanks to significant reconstruction and restoration, has been restored to its past glory and splendour.

Today St. Petersburg is a vibrant, dynamic city with five million inhabitants and is the fourth largest city in Europe. It is the most visited city in Russia and, in addition to its wonderful cultural heritage, offers visitors an impressive palette of recreational activities all year round.

A guided tour completely in English, this tour is ideal for getting the feel of the city, and in particular its historical centre and major monuments. Participants will enjoy Nevsky Prospect along with its most prestigious buildings: the Anichkov, Stroganov, and Beloselsky-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 Griboyedov Canal, formed the border of the city centre. The banks of Griboyedov Canal are home to the well-known Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, built in the so typically Russian style with its multi-coloured 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 Vasilyevsky Island we will see the Strelka, the Menshikov 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 Theatre Square, after which the tour will conclude with a visit to the St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral, surrounded by canals.

Visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress and its cathedral, pantheon of Romanov Tsars. 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.

In option (afternoon): Visit of the Yusupov Palace; river and canal cruises.

In option (at night): Russian Ballet; Russian Folk Show.

Dinner on board.

Day 3 / Saint-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, and 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. Its sumptuous interiors, richly decorated by the most talented artists, are a marvellous frame for this unique collection.

Lunch on board.

In option (afternoon): Excursion to Peterhof and visit of the Grand Palace and its park.

Captain cocktail including musical accompaniment and a glass of champagne.

Day 4 / Mandrogi

Breakfast on board.

Arrival to Mandrogi. Mandrogi is a village situated 260 km 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 coloured wooden houses, Mandrogi recreates the atmosphere of old rural Russia in its natural environment.

Free time in the village Mandrogi.

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.

Lunch on board.

Arrival to Kizhi. Kizhi Island (seven km long and 500 m 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.

Visit of the open Museum of wooden architecture. 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.

Dinner on board.

Day 6 / Goritsy

Breakfast on board.

Lunch on board.

Arrival to Goritsy. 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 Kirilo-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 centres 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.

Dinner on board.

Day 7 / Yaroslavl

Breakfast on board.

Lunch on board.

Arrival to 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 centre 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 colourful frescoes. Yaroslavl is one of the cities of the Golden Ring and is a member of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Complete panoramic tour of Yaroslavl. We will see the city centre 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 of the local market.

Exterior visit of the Church of Prophet Elias.

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.

Interactive visit of the ancient house of Governor.  

Dinner on board.

Day 8 / Uglich

Breakfast on board.

Lunch on board.

Arrival to Uglich. Situated on the banks of the Volga River 92 km 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. Demetrius on the Blood.

Visit to the Church of St. Demetrius 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.

Visit of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration.

Farewell dinner of the captain on board.

Day 9 / Moscow

Breakfast on board.

Complete panoramic city tour of Moscow. Vibrant, modern, and oh-so–fashionable, the Russian capital rivals the world’s best cultural destinations. The thriving metropolis is home to famous Bolshoi Theatre and the impressive Kremlin. Theatres, concert halls, chic stores, hip restaurants, and trendy clubs abound along the Moskva River.

Moscow is the biggest Russian and European city, with more than 12 million inhabitants. It has been the capital of Russia since the 15th century, except from 1712 to 1918, when the capital was transferred to St. Petersburg. The city was founded in the 12th century and the Kremlin, its main fortress, was erected in 1156. Moscow rapidly gained importance and the Duchy of Moscow became the main political centre among the principalities of central Russia before Ivan III, Grand Prince of Moscow, united most of these states under his control. He liberated central Russia from the Mongol and Tatar invaders, expanded the Russian state, and was named Grand Prince of Rus, with Moscow as its capital. The city has been destroyed by invaders several times throughout its history: the Mongols, Crimean Tatars, Poles, and Swedes have all occupied the city, and even Napoleon remained here for six weeks before beginning his catastrophic retreat during the Russian winter. During World War II, the German armies were stopped only 20 kilometres from Moscow. These events have shaped the city’s landscape and architecture, making it extremely eclectic: medieval fortresses neighbour Stalinist skyscrapers and beautiful baroque and neoclassic churches are located next to Art Nouveau buildings. Moscow is therefore a great centre of cultural life and arts, with several monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage List, many first-class museums, and some theatres ranked among the best in the world. It is a dynamic, always-on-the-move city which in the past few years has reinvented itself as a tourist attraction.

The ideal way to get in touch with the city, including its historical centre and major monuments. We will stroll along the broad avenues, making our way through the famous Tverskaya Street to the top of Sparrow Hills, under the imposing stare of Lomonosov 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 centre 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.

In option (afternoon): Visit of the Novodevichy Convent and its famous “Swan lake”.

Dinner on board.

In option (at night): Visit of the Moscow Metro and visit of Moscow “By Night”.

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 centre 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.

In option: Visit of the Kremlin Armoury.

Lunch on board.

In option (afternoon): Visit of the Tretyakov Gallery.

Dinner on board.

Day 11 / Moscow (departure)

Breakfast on board.

Transfer to the airport.

HOTELS

Accommodation on board: four-deck vessel (type 301/302, 3 anchors)