from Moscow to St Petersburg
Absolutely the best way to see Russia
The fountains at the
magnificent Peterhof summer palace of the Tsars, a highlight
of our time in St Petersburg
Join a small group of
'Travel Insiders' and share the enjoyment of a very
different style of vacation on a custom built river boat.
Glide by picture
postcard scenes and enjoy the best of Russia's big
cities and small towns, all from the comfort of your 'traveling hotel' cruiser.
Unless you're unusually
adventurous, there's really no other safe or comfortable way to
venture out of Russia's two major cities of Moscow and St
Petersburg, other than by cruise ship.
Happily these two cities are
joined by a series of rivers, canals and lakes, giving you a
chance to see parts of Russia that regular tourists never get to
visit, plus giving you a full experience in both Moscow and St
Note : We can offer you
an across the board 5% discount on all cruises operated by
Amadeus Waterways. So if this special
tour doesn't suit,
have us arrange whichever other cruise you'd prefer.
skip down to the booking form
About the Cruise/Tour
You should depart the US on
or before Thursday 5 July 2007, to join the vessel in Moscow on
Friday 6 July. The cruise ends on Wednesday 18 July in St
Like a traditional cruise,
this is a fully inclusive cruise, and - better than a
traditional cruise - it includes a generous amount of shore
touring as well, at no extra cost. You won't have to pay extra for your
shore touring as we visit the lovely towns along the
canals, rivers and lakes that take us between Moscow and St
The cruise of course
includes three great meals a day, plus various other snacks,
free wine with dinner and on-board entertainment, as well as generous opportunities to
sightsee, both from the boat as it cruises along, and while
ashore during the many stops. You typically have time to
both participate in a provided tour and also to sightsee on your own.
Why this cruise is the best
way to see Russia
I've been wanting to offer a
summer tour to Russia for years, but have never been able to
satisfactorily arrange guaranteed high quality and reasonably
priced hotel rooms, charter coaches, tour guides, etc.
There are just too many things that can go wrong when organizing
group tours to Russia, and I wasn't prepared to personally
endorse anything unless I could be close to 100% certain that
the quality and experience would be of assured and high quality.
And, even if I had succeeded
in arranging a land based tour, it would only be to the two
major cities of Moscow and St Petersburg. There's no way
to take a group of people to small towns - many times the road
access is very poor, and there's nowhere suitable to eat at or
stay in once getting there.
I wanted to be able to offer
a multi-dimensional full Russian experience, but couldn't see
how to do this.
And then I discovered the
wonder of cruising style itineraries. All of a sudden, all
the things I'd worried about were resolved, and all the
impossible things I'd wanted to include because conveniently
possible. Accordingly, I took a group on this cruise in
2006, and based on our very positive experiences, am pleased to
repeat it again in 2007.
This cruise takes you way
off the beaten track and shows you both the stereotypical Russia
as seen in Moscow (and, in a more distinctive fashion, in
glorious St Petersburg too) plus also shows you the amazingly
different life outside of the major cities. And, all the
while, you're always assured of your comfortable bed back on the
boat, and of three good meals every day.
In total, you cruise for
more than 1300 miles through Russia, giving you a great range of
experiences, sights and sites.
Truly, this cruise on the
rivers, canals and lakes between Moscow & St Petersburg makes
Russia much more conveniently accessible than any other form of
Why choose this cruise on
Based on our experience on
the 2006 cruise and on traveling to Russia very many times over
the last decade and longer, we feel this is the best time
to visit Russia, when the weather is warm to hot and the days
very long and pleasant.
We also feel the cruises
traveling from Moscow to St Petersburg give a better overall
experience than the cruises traveling in the opposite direction.
Experience of the 2006 cruise
took a small group of Travel Insider readers on a 'beta test'
cruise in July 2006. This was to evaluate the suitability
of the ship, the itinerary, and the overall experience - river
cruises in Russia are of a much more variable quality than they
are in western Europe.
The bottom line? The
experience exceeded expectations in all respects. The boat
was comfortable and spotlessly clean, the food was good, the
itinerary was interesting, the weather wonderful, and the
shipboard crew were the friendliest nicest people I've ever met
on a cruise, anywhere in the world (see picture above).
Overall it was an extremely
pleasant experience, and so with a great deal of personal
anticipation and pleasure, I'm delighted to more widely offer
the cruise in 2007. You can confidently choose to join
Travel Insider Exclusive Extras
If you join our special
Travel Insider group, you'll get extra experiences that no-one
else on board will share :
Russian visa assistance
Afternoon shopping tour in
Afternoon walking tour and
optional dinner in St Petersburg
Two private cocktail
receptions on board the vessel
Optional extra day of guided
sightseeing in St Petersburg and overnight sleeper train
back to Moscow at end of cruise
Information about Amadeus
This will be our third group
cruise with Amadeus. We took a group on the same Russian
in 2006, and have another group traveling with us on a Christmas
Markets cruise in December 2006. We'd earlier taken a
group on a cruise with Viking River Cruises in 2004. The
Viking experience was excellent in almost all
respects, but we believe Amadeus is better. This is not because we dislike
Viking at all, but simply because, based on our experiences and
expectations, Amadeus offers a
better itinerary, on a better ship, and is a better value product.
This perception isn't just a
coincidence. The founder and head of Amadeus, Rudi
Schreiner, first worked for Uniworld (another fine cruise
company) and then was President of Viking River Cruises from
2000 until the end of 2002, when he left to found Amadeus, with
Amadeus first appearing on the market in 2003, and growing
steadily every year since then. Rudi was largely
responsible for the excellent operations at both Uniworld and
Viking, and now he is taking everything he has learned and
applying it in his own company, with - so far - outstanding
His ships are as good or better
than any others you'll find on the rivers and canals of Europe,
and are (of course) also very new. As the new company in
the market, he is having to work harder to win business, and is
doing so by offering great itineraries, lots of inclusions, and
great values. I've spoken with Rudi and he impresses as a
sensible and perceptive gentleman.
In 2004, Amadeus was still new
and largely unproven, so we chose the safer option of Viking. Nowadays,
Amadeus is a proven quality
operator we're pleased to partner with. We are
confident you'll agree with us that Amadeus Waterways is an
Because Amadeus is relatively
new, there are few independent reviews of their cruises. Here
are three :
Reviewer 'Wasatch' writes of his
May 2006 Tolstoy cruise
Tolstoy’s crew went above and beyond. They were cheerful and
friendly without being pretentious about it. There were
enough very good English speakers around that language was
never a problem....
After what we had read on the Internet about the food on
Russian river cruises, we were more than pleased with the
food quality. No doubt to give us taste of the country, the
chef programmed a number of Russian dishes, which tend
toward the bland– there is just so much that can be done
with cabbage, beet soup, and boiled potatoes. That aside,
food was generally prepared very well, and include the best
prepared pork and chicken I have ever eaten. There was a
tender and juicy pork cutlet, ½ inch thick, that was easily
cut by fork. Try that at Denny’s.
Soups were uniformly outstanding.
Tom Ogg writes about his
experience with Amadeus on a different itinerary and says in his
conclusion (I agree with everything but wonder how they managed
to get 11 hours sleep a night!)
Joanie and I didn’t know if
we were going to like our river cruise or not. Many of our
friends told us that we wouldn’t for a variety of reasons.
They were too structured for us (we are well known for our
aversion to structured events), there is nothing but older
folks on a river cruise, or we would be bored out of our
minds. One friend that has taken several groups on river
cruises warned us against taking off on our own.
Here is the bottom line. We
liked it a lot….and here are the reasons. First, we went our
own way on purpose and no one said anything to us
whatsoever. We knew where the boat would be and when to be
there and that is all that counted. In fact, the cruise
manager would tell us special things we could do in some of
the towns that turned out great. Don’t discount river
cruises if you are the type that likes to go your own way.
Second, we loved the intimacy of the ship. With only 120
passengers we got to know quite a few people very well.
Joanie and I met a couple from Vail, Colorado that were
wonderful people that I am sure we will evolve a friendship
with. We were going to meet them for dinner in Paris, but
Joanie became ill and couldn’t make it. Folks that like
river cruising are well traveled, successful, bright and
interesting people and Joanie and I enjoyed the people we
met…all of them. I can’t say I have ever had the same
experience on a larger ship. Third, we loved the uniqueness
of the ports. About the only way to see the same ports would
be via a motor coach tour. Which would you rather do? Sit in
the sun on the river drinking a glass of wine while the
scenery drifts by, or sit in a motor coach trying to catch a
glimpse of that castle that is hiding behind the trees.
Finally, yes, it was boring.
There were no discos, no casino, no theme parties, no
production shows, no tender tickets, no lines, no bar
hopping, none of that. It was so boring that Joanie and I
got more rest than we have ever had. We averaged almost 11
hours of sleep a night. The entire cruise was so relaxing,
that we are having a hard time reentering our normal lives.
I will take boring any day! If you haven’t considered a
river cruise, take another look, you might just find it as
enjoyable as Joanie and I did.
Connie and Darwin write of their cruise
If you have never been to Europe, or even if you have, a
river cruise is the way to go. Your hotel travels with
you. It is so relaxing and you really get caught up in
the atmosphere and are intoxicated with the scenery, even
without beer or wine. We have been back a few weeks
now, and I still have vacation head. I would go back
in a heartbeat. During our cruise we celebrated our
anniversary and I whispered to my husband during the
fabulous sparkler-laden layer cake that paraded out, “How
are we ever going to top this?”
Our cruise ship for this
cruise is the ms Tolstoy (the picture shows that it actually is
named, in Russian, the Lev Tolstoy), named after the famous
Russian author and poet, Lev (Leo) Tolstoy. (You can click
the image for a larger picture of the ship).
Unlike most of the vessels
on Russia's waterways, this one was constructed in Austria,
using much higher quality materials than the standard level of
Russian shipbuilding. This is because the ship was
originally intended to be used by high ranking Kremlin officials
and the visiting foreign dignitaries they wished to impress.
Its cabins are larger than on other Russian cruise ships, the
vessel has been recently renovated and everything is very clean
and in good condition.
The Tolstoy has a capacity
for 150 passengers, unlike some of the other Russian vessels
which can hold sometimes as much as twice this number.
This means the Tolstoy gives much more personal service, unlike
the larger boats which often suffer from a very institutional
feeling (this is not a good thing in Russia!). The crew
recognize you and look after you personally, and you form one on
one friendships with them and with fellow passengers.
The ship has generously
sized public areas, including your choice of lounges, and a
single seating restaurant where nearly all tables are next to
windows for great views of the passing scenery. There are also outdoor areas,
and with our cruise being in mid-summer, you're sure to enjoy
the open outdoors as well as the inside areas.
More details about the Tolstoy can be seen on the
Amadeus Waterways website.
There is quite a range of
different cabin types on the Tolstoy. Standard cabins are
a fairly compact 110 sq ft each - however, while this is not
spacious, it is still 20% larger than is found on most other
Russian vessels. There are also junior suites (220 sq ft)
and massive full suites with 330 sq ft of space.
Cabins are on three decks,
and have large openable picture windows, and all come with
private bathrooms having
separate shower areas (a unique feature not found on other
We'd recommend the C or B
category cabins as being the best value. The D & E cabins
suffer from being too close to the water line, with appreciably
The junior and full suites are of course very much nicer,
especially for the twelve days/nights you'll be spending on
board, but they have an appreciable extra cost associated
with them. However, if you can justify the extra cost,
you'll love the huge increase in space, and the couple who took
a full suite on the 2006 cruise were delighted with it.
Tip : If still
available, choose the
least expensive cabin type on the deck you'd rather be on.
There is no added value in choosing a D cabin in favor of an E
cabin, or a B cabin in favor of a C cabin.
The cruise commences in
Moscow on Friday 6 July 2007. If you're traveling from the
US, you should leave on Thursday 5 July (or earlier) to
arrive into Moscow on the 6th (or earlier).
The cruise finishes in
St Petersburg on Wednesday 18 July. You can then either return
home that day, extend your stay in Russia (perhaps spend some
more time in St Petersburg and then return back to Moscow by
overnight sleeper train and fly home again from Moscow), or
travel elsewhere as you wish.
Optional Overnight Train
Return to Moscow
We are offering an optional
night train return to Moscow on the night of 18 July. This
option proved very popular with our 2006 cruise participants -
it gives us another full day in St Petersburg (we provide a good
coach, driver, and guide for the day), and then late that night
we take an overnight sleeper train back to Moscow, arriving into
Moscow at about 8am and in time to then transfer back to the
airport for flights back to the US or elsewhere.
The price of this option is
not yet known, but is estimated to be between $250 and $300 per
person, including a full day of sightseeing in St Petersburg,
transfers in St Petersburg, and the overnight sleeper train to
Moscow in a first class share twin compartment, with a breakfast
on board the train.
Consider Arriving a Day Early
You might want to consider
arriving into Moscow a day early. This gives you an
'emergency' day in case of flight delays or luggage problems or
anything else, and also gives you a day to
'de-jetlag' before the cruise gets underway.
The following lists the
rates per cabin type for this cruise. Click
here for more information about deck plans.
Cruise and Air
(est ex NYC)
D : 1 remaining
C : sold out
$3198 sold out
$4298 sold out
Jr Suite : 1
$5398 sold out
$6498 sold out
Extras and Inclusions
Port Taxes are $96 per
Single rate is 150% of the
above per person share twin rates for cabins or 200% for a
suite, except for the two special single cabins which have
Air rates are estimates and
airline taxes and surcharges are extra (approx $200 - 300).
Air fares can be quoted from most cities in the US.
Special free Visa offer and
sleeper train option is exclusively limited to people
booking their cruise with The Travel Insider
You can pay for your tour using a
credit card with no credit card surcharge.
A $200 per person
non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your participation
and to hold your preferred grade of cabin on
this cruise, and the balance is due
90 days prior to the cruise starting.
What about the Air Fare?
If you buy the Amadeus
airfare, they include transfers from the airport to the cruise
ship when you arrive into Moscow, and from the ship back to
the airport at the end of the cruise in St Petersburg. These transfers
are convenient, but require you to arrive on the exact day the
cruise starts and leave on the exact day the cruise ends.
Taxi rides to/from the airports are easily arranged but are
moderately expensive (about $50).
We suggest you check to see
if you can use any frequent flier miles you might have for this
travel, and/or check to see what the best fare you can get on
your favorite airline is, then compare it to the Amadeus rate
and make your decision then.
You are therefore free to make your
own arrangements, any way you wish, to travel to Moscow and home again from St Petersburg, and you can of course make extra
stops and arrive earlier or stay longer. You can choose whichever
carrier has the best fare and the best schedules for you, and
you can also choose a carrier that you wish to earn miles with.
We'll be pleased to answer
any questions you might have about arranging your air
transportation, of course.
Note : You can
sometimes get a better airfare - and have a wider choice of
airlines - by booking a simple roundtrip to Moscow rather than
by flying in to Moscow and out from St Petersburg. This is
one of the reasons we offer our optional sleeper train back to
Moscow at the end of the cruise.
Tip : Ask for an
air included quote when you know your travel dates. Then with
that space held, see if you can get a better deal or more
convenient flights, or perhaps frequent flier tickets. As
long as you cancel your Amadeus arranged flights before you send
in final payment, you can do this without penalty.
Which cities to fly in and out
This might seem like an
obvious issue, but you might want to also consider flying both
in and out of Moscow if your preferred airline doesn't offer
service to St Petersburg as well. Note that even if your
preferred airline does offer service to St Petersburg, sometimes
it doesn't operate flights every day of the week.
There is regular train
service between the two cities, and our optional overnight sleeper train
back to Moscow
might be a fun way to end your Russian adventure.
We generally recommend you
should protect against the various types of losses that may
occur while traveling.
Amadeus Waterways offer a
policy that covers you for trip cancellation and interruption
costs, medical costs, trip delay, and baggage delay or loss.
This is $199 per person. The premium is payable with your
To add an extra trip
cancellation premium that will allow you to cancel for any
reason at all, add another $30. With this add-on premium,
if you cancel for a reason not covered by the main policy,
Amadeus will refund you as much of your payment as is covered by
their usual policy, and give you a voucher to be redeemed
against future travel any time in the next year for the balance.
If you would like to add
this protection, we'll send you a copy of the terms and
conditions so you understand exactly what is covered.
All visitors to Russia need
to have a visa issued prior to their travel commencing.
The cost of a Russian visa
varies depending on the type of visa and how quickly you need it
issued. Most standard tourist visas cost $100, but in
addition to the cost of the visa itself, you also need a letter
of invitation from Russia (= extra cost), and then to have your
visa registered upon arrival in Russia (= still more cost).
Due to the complexity of
getting a Russian visa, most people end up paying for a
commercial visa service to do this for them. We are offering, as an
exclusive benefit to Travel Insider readers (and assuming you
are traveling on a US passport), to arrange a single entry
tourist visa at
no extra cost to you (above the Russian Consulate's $100
We will arrange the necessary support
documentation; you simply fill out the application form and send
the form, a photo, and your passport to us. We'll get the
visa approved and entered into your passport and return your
passport to you via insured priority mail.
This is both a great
convenience and also a substantial saving.
Tour Terms and Conditions
standard terms and conditions
apply to this tour.
In addition, please note
these extra terms :
1. The 90 day
payment due date is deemed to be Friday 6 April 2007.
2. US citizens require
current passport that will not expire for at least six months
after the date of their planned return back to the US in order
to be admitted to Russia plus also a Russian visa (see Visa
section above). Citizens of other countries should check with the
airline that will transport them to Europe to determine what
passport and visa requirements may apply.
3. Tour price is
subject to change prior to full payment being received.
4. Terms and
conditions of the cruise line (Amadeus
Waterways) also apply.
The Travel Insider is
licensed by the State of Washington as a seller of travel -
registration number 602 036 247.
21 July 2006, last update
08 Jan 2013