- June 22 - July 3
- July 13 - July 24
- Aug. 3 - Aug. 14
- Aug. 24 - Sept. 4
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: Moscow City Tour
Moscow is Russia's largest city, its political and economic capital. The town of Moscow was the center of Moscovy - a small principality that unified the Russian lands against the Mongols in the late 14th century and has ruled Russia ever since. As the Mongols burnt major cities across Russia, refugees fled to smaller principalities like Moscow, Tver and Nizhny Novgorod. Through bribes, diplomacy and coercion, Moscow overcame its two rivals to become "Russia's first city." Moscow's role was briefly challenged when Tsar Peter the Great moved Russia's capital to his new city, St Petersburg, on the shores of the Baltic Sea. This day is dedicated to exploring Red Square, Leningradskaya and Tverskaya streets, Novodevichiy Convent (exterior), KGB (exterior), and Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
Optional: Excursion to Tretiakov Gallery.
Day 3: 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 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: Myshkin. Myshkin is a small town located on the left bank of the Volga River. Myshkin retains architectural features typical for the 19th century Russia. The cruise crew prepared a unique program during your city tour: You will visit the museum of "Russian valenki" with exposition of "Russian Linen" and "Granary mice". You will stop by local history museum. And for desert we will take you to Russian Mill with folklore.
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: St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is Russia's cultural and historical treasure, one of the world's most beautiful cities, and one of its top ten tourist destinations according to "The Forbes Traveler." It is known as the Venice of North thanks to its numerous canals and hundreds of bridges. It is sometimes called Russia's Versailles thanks to dozens of opulent palaces and royal estates. It can be rightly called a living museum - so many of its buildings are part of Russia's history. Again, cruise ship is full of surprises: We going to see this wonderful city at its best colors - at night! See numerous bridges of St. Petersburg in night lights. Discover that Nevsky prospect (main street of St. Petersburg) never sleeps.
Day 9: St. Petersburg. Today we will take you again for a panoramic city tour, this time during the day. We will show you the key landmarks and monuments in the city. You will then visit Peter and Paul Fortress with the burial place of the Russian Emperors located on the Neva River.
Day 10: St. Petersburg
This day we are heading to the very heart of St. Petersburg and its most important sight - the Winter Palace. On one side, the palace is faced by the Palace Square with the Alexander Column in the middle of it. The column was erected to celebrate the victory over Napoleon (what is called in Russia, the First Patriotic War). To its rear, the palace is washed by the Neva River in the middle of which you will find the Peter and Paul Fortress. The Winter Palace is home to the Hermitage Museum - the largest collection of Russian art in the world. The Hermitage started as the private art collection of Catherine the Great and over time became the largest collection of Russian art in the world. These art works are displayed in the Palace's numerous halls, many of which are works of art in themselves.
Optional: Russian Ballet. Rivers and canals of St. Petersburg.
Day 11: St. Petersburg
There is no prearranged tour program for this day, but there are many options how to explore the city. Perhaps the city's best sights are its streets and canals that have inspired many great artists such as Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Pushkin and Stravinsky, Gogol and Mussorgsky. Besides, there is no better way to see the historical part of the city than via canals, on a boat. You could take an optional tour and visit the outskirts of St. Petersburg which have many luxurious palaces. Most notable are the Catherine's Palace in Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin) and Peterhof, the summer residence of the Russian tsars.
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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