- May 4 - May 15
- May 25 - June 5
- July 6 - July 17
- July 27 - Aug. 7
- Aug. 17 - Aug. 28
- Sept. 7 - Sept. 18
Day 1: Arrival. Welcome to Russia! Your driver will be waiting for you at the airport arrivals gate, you will see him holding a sign with your name. He will take you to the port for ship embarkation. There is no special program for this evening. You will have a chance to relax after your flight, to enjoy the dinner on board and to meet your fellow travelers for this extraordinary adventure across Russia.
Day 2: The Kremlin
The tour starts after breakfast and today we will head to the heart of Moscow - the Kremlin. This giant fortress was originally built in 1147. It expanded and enhanced overtime to repel the Mongol hordes eventually becoming one of the world's largest and most unique fortresses. The Kremlin was the center of political power across the Eurasian continent and to this day remains the symbol of Russia. The Kremlin it is a living museum of Russian history. Today half of its territory is covered by government courts and it not accessible to the general public. The other half, however, contains museums and cathedrals. This structure, down to every tower, hallway, the interior of the Kremlin is a part of Russian, European and world history. You will explore this fascinating place with a professional guide as you follow the footsteps (literally) of some of the world's greatest leaders and its most terrible dictators.
Optional: tour of the Tretiakov Picture Gallery; folk show "Kostroma"; tour of the Moscow Subway, evening tour around Moscow.
Day 3: Moscow. Free day. The ship will depart in the evening, so you will have this entire day to explore the city. You can take one of optional tours or explore the city on your own. Optional tours for this day include Tretyakov Picture Gallery, Sergiev Posaad. There will also be a transfer service to the city center and back.
Tip: You can get a private tour with a personal guide and a driver and see more of the city, this way you will not need to wait for the group. Ask your tour manager about details.
Day 4: Uglich
Uglich is a small town located on the banks of the Volga River. It’s tiny by modern standards, but back in the medieval times it was one of the best defended fortresses of the kingdom of Moscovy (the principality of Moscow). Uglich was attacked by many invaders who attempted to rule Moscow such as Mongols, Tatars, Lithuanians, Teutonic knights and Moscow’s neighboring principalities such as Tver. This town, however, is the most known in Russian history as the place where the last heir to the ancient Rurik dynasty was murdered. Most historians agree that it was Boris Godunov who was behind the assassination of 10-year old prince Dimitry. Shortly after the tragedy, Godunov proclaimed himself the tsar of Russia, but he too was soon murdered. These events plunged Russia into three decades of chaos and wars known as the "The Time of Trouble," paving the way for the new dynasty of absolute rules of Russia – the Romanovs. The death of prince Dimitry forever changed Russia’s fate and a small church of St. Dimitry-on-Blood commemorates this turn of events and reminds us about their significance.
Tip: You can be a witness to these events yourself by seeing the opera "Boris Godunov" in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. This classic opera reveals the extraordinary events and human perseverance of this distant but, ever-present epoch in Russian History.
Day 5: Yaroslavl
Everyone has heard of Kiev and Novgorod, these cities are still famous today. Historically these cities were the largest in Eastern Europe. Yaroslavl was comparable to their size and celebrity, but this was before it was completely annihilated (again, by the Mongols). They saw it as the center of power in Russia and raided it every few years to prevent it from recovering. By these day's standards it is rather provincial, but there is still much to see. We will visit the Transfiguration Monastery and Church of Elijah the Prophet, the local food market and the Art Gallery at the Former Governor’s House.
Day 6: Goritsy
Goritsy stands on the banks of the Volga River where it falls into the White Lake. Goritsy is the home to the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery which was built in 1397. This quaint place is most famous for being a safe haven for many noble families during the “Times of Trouble” as they took refuge here from the Polish armies. The monastery continued to exist until early 20th century when the Bolsheviks shut it down and turned it into a museum. In 1998 some of the buildings were returned to the Orthodox Church, while some buildings continue to function as a museum to this day. We will visit the monastery of St. Cyril-on-the-White-Lake and a museum of icons.
Day 7: Kizhi Island
Kizhi is a small and distant island on the Lake Onega. It can only be reached by water and is most famous for its amazing Transfiguration Cathedral. This wooden structure, is truly an architectural wonder, it has 22 domes and was built without a single nail! Originally, the Cathedral was located elsewhere, but the Bolsheviks, who had little or no respect for religion, moved it as far away from people as possible. Luckily the Bolsheviks preserved the magnificent structure, because even they respected the artistic and architectural value of this remarkable Cathedral. We will spend this entire day exploring the Kizhi Island and its amazing ensemble of wooden churches.
Tip: Bring a sweater or a light jacket. It gets a bit chilly in the evening, especially if you sail in May or September.
Day 8: Mandrogi
At first glance Mandrogi is just a small village deep in the northern woods. It has no architectural wonders, gigantic castles or ancient churches. Mandrogi, however, is the ideal place to explore and discover a very unique style and architecture. For centuries this region was occupied by the Northern Tribes which brought with them Scandinavian traditions. Surrounded by the serenity of beautiful landscapes we will have a traditional Russian picnic called Shashlik. This succulent meal has Middle Eastern roots, but has been slightly modified; beef is replaced with pork and meat is marinated for one night.
Tip: Bring a little bit of cash when you step ashore so you can buy a few hand-made souvenirs like authentic Russian matreshka dolls.
Day 9: St. Petersburg City Tour
St. Petersburg is one of the world’s most beautiful places and the crown jewel of Russian cities. This exquisite city is Russia’s cultural and historic treasure, a home to lavish royal palaces, elaborate parks, grandiose fountains and bridges, iconic churches, world-class art, infamous opera and ballet. It is one of the top ten destinations on our planet. St. Petersburg is surprisingly different from Moscow. It is a much younger city “just” 300 years old, also, it borrows the style of every European capital from Amsterdam to Rome, from Paris to Venice, from London to Vienna. St. Petersburg has much to offer, we will start from a city tour by bus visiting St. Basil’s Island, the Nevsky Prospekt, the Peter and Paul Fortress, the St. Isaak’s Cathedral and the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.
Optional for this evening: Opera or ballet at Mariisnky, Mikhailovsky or the Hermitage Theater.
Tip: St. Petersburg is a northern city. Travel to St. Petersburg in June and you will experience the midnight sun.
Day 10: The Hermitage
This day is reserved for the infamous Hermitage Museum, which is to St. Petersburg what the Kremlin is to Moscow. St Petersburg has dozens of beautiful palaces, but the Winter Palace stands above them all. First of all, it has one of the best collections of art in the world. Secondly, this collection is located in the residence of Russian emperors. It is here that Russian nobility rose to power and ruled 1/5 of the world, it is also here that the Bolsheviks overthrew their reign. The Bolsheviks were tempted to destroy the palace, the symbol of tsars, but its artistic value was so immense that they decided to transform it into a museum. They say that if you were to spend three minutes by each of the exhibits in the Hermitage, it would take you three years to see all the works. But not to worry, you will have an experienced guide who will show you the best rooms and halls.
Day 11: Peterhof
This day is reserved for the trip outside of the city, to Peterhof Palace. Russian emperors built numerous summer palaces and two of the most prominent ones are the Catherine's Palace and Peterhof. Unfortunately, they are located on the opposite ends of the city, each an hour away from the center. Located on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, Peterhof is a royal residence which is most famous for its parks and fountains very reminiscent to those of Versailles. Peter designed the fountains of this palace to entertain his noble guests, including you! It was here that Peter the Great spent most of his time due to its proximity to the wharfs where Peter was raising his innovative Russian navy.
Optional: Private tour to Catherine's Palace (ask your tour manager about details).
Day 12: Departure. Your voyage is coming to an end. It is time to say goodbye to this beautiful country, the crew and your fellow passengers. It is time to pack up and to go home bringing unforgettable memories with you. Your airport transfer is arranged.
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