- May 15 - May 25
- June 5 - June 15
- June 26 - July 6
- July 17 - July 27
- Aug. 7 - Aug. 17
- Sept. 18 - Sept. 28.
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: St. Petersburg City Tour and the Hermitage
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 our exploration from visiting the Palace Square and the Hermitage. We will then go on a bus tour of the city 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: 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 3: St. Petersburg / Catherine's Palace
Free day. You can either explore the city on your own or take an optional tour of Pushkin (also known as Tsarkoe Selo which translates to Royal Village), and the Catherine's Palace. Tsarskoe Selo is a gorgeous town on the outskirts of St. Petersburg filled with beautiful green parks and intricate alleyways, it was here that Russian emperors spent their summers.
Tip: 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: 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 5: 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 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: 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 8: 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 9: Moscow City Tour
Welcome to Moscow, Russia's largest city, its political and economic capital which emerged from the kingdom of Moscovy. In the late 14th century Moscovy was an economic and political stronghold. While the Mongols burnt capitals of all major Russian kingdoms including Yaroslavl, Kiev and Tver, Moscow, through diplomacy and coercion unified the remnants of those kingdoms and eventually harnessed enough resources to challenge the Mongols. Having ended the Mongol dictate, Moscow imposed one of its own, gradually enhancing its empire to the Baltic Sea in the North (17th century), the Black Sea in the South (15th century) and to Siberia and the Far East (19th century). For this day we have planned a comprehensive Moscow city tour that will take you to the Red Square (the word Red is a homonym in the Russian language being both the word for the color and “beautiful”), Central Tverskaya Street, the Novodevichiy Convent (exterior only), the KGB headquarters (exterior only) and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
Optional tour: Moscow Lights: A Tour of Moscow in Late Evening.
Tip: We suggest that you see an opera or ballet performance at the world-renown Bolshoi Theater. Ask your tour manager for the play bill.
Day 10: 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 11: 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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