The first question is easy to answer – that was Patty’s dream. Maybe it was because Shaun was passionate about Russian history, about Kings and Queens, Russian fairy tales and the Russian military. Patty became interested when Shaun bought books on Russia, St Petersburg and Moscow and on Russian art and architecture.
Why a river cruise?
I’m going to quote Howard Shernoff here again. “You cruise Russia because no other way of touring the country comes remotely close to providing the comprehensiveness, depth and convenience of overall travel.”
- A river cruise is like being on a floating hotel. You only unpack once and stay in the same room for nearly 2 weeks.
- The cruise personnel transfer you from airport to boat and back again at the end of the cruise.
- You have three meals a day, free tea,coffee, hot chocolate etc all day, cocktail hour, 5 star cuisine and complimentary wine at dinner.
- The cruise includes land excursions to many places of interest, with an experienced guide.
- You visit places on islands not reached by car or train.
- You don't have to stand in queues for tickets, tour groups are often ushered through without having to wait too long.
- You are offered optional guided excursions.
- You are offered lectures on Russian history, language lessons, vodka tasting etc.,
- You are treated like a special guest.
Many people asked why we didn’t go by train. Patty and I did think about the famous Siberian Express but were warned that many trains have only basic facilities, small compartments, inaccessible for wheelchairs, getting on and off the train would be difficult so that wasn’t really an option. And besides, unless you are fluent in Russian, can read Cyrillic and know exactly where you are going and how to get there, I think sightseeing by train would present the same problems as going by road.
There are hundreds of River Boats cruising between Moscow – St Petersburg – Moscow, from 1 star to 5 star. We originally booked on the Rus – a 3 star boat - but had to change when we found that it didn’t have a lift and there was no way Patty would’ve been able to climb up and down those steep, spiral stairs to dining rooms and bars.
I Googled “Russian river boats with elevators” and discovered the Viking Cruise boats. They have been recently refurbished and now offer 5 star accommodation and cuisine.
We would highly recommend a river cruise in Russia (but not if you are disabled – read the previous post.)