Viking River Cruises – Russia River Cruise

St. Petersburg, Mandrogy, Kizhi, Kuzino, Yaroslavl, Uglich, Moscow

Obtaining sailed with Viking River Cruises quite a few periods in past times, we now had pre-conceived Concepts of what to expect on our 13-day Waterways on the Czars cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow. We even did some pre-cruise research on line by reading assessments on other websites from others who had been on this equivalent cruise and ship. The critiques ended up blended, so we had been questioning our anticipations which have been determined by our possess past practical experience with Viking River Cruises.

THE SHIP

Whenever we initially approached Viking Ingvar docked in St. Petersburg, the first thing that struck us was how much bigger it had been than other river boats on which we have sailed. In contrast to Viking River Cruises’ European ships, which typically carry a hundred and fifty attendees (new “longships” have one hundred ninety), Viking Ingvar carries nearly 206 visitors. The ship was totally refurbished in 2011 and they are not kidding whenever they say “entirely”. The ailment of your ship was one of our fears following looking at a number of the opinions. On the other hand, when we stepped aboard Viking Ingvar it seemed like a brand-new ship! You would probably by no means know this ship was launched in 1989. The Scandinavian, contemporary inside with light colored woods could surface sterile to some, but it really oozes modern day and newness.

Ships that sail in Russia ought to be built-in Russia, so Viking River Cruises is rather limited to the Russian-created ship’s first design and style and floorplan. Even so, when this ship was at first manufactured over the Soviet Union period, it had been made to have much more than 424 attendees! Obviously, the Soviets were not big on creature comforts. Here’s what you’ll find on each deck:

Primary Deck: 200-series staterooms, Reception Desk, Library, modest Web Cafe with 2 laptops and printer, and a nice gift store.
Center Deck: 300-series staterooms, Neva Cafe, Coffee station, community restrooms
Higher Deck: four hundred-collection staterooms, Panorama Bar
Sunlight Deck: Sky Bar, Solar Deck
All public Areas, hallways and staterooms had been included in the ship’s current refurb, so all the things looks new and fresh. Stephan Busch, Resort Supervisor, sees to it which the ship is retained spotlessly clean up. You can find just one elevator onboard.

Internet access is complimentary and obtainable 24 several hours a day through the two laptops in the online world Cafe on the principle Deck, or, by using the ship’s Wi-Fi with the have laptop or Wi-Fi able unit. Devoid of query, the net services on Viking Ingvar was palms-down the top I have professional on any river cruise. What a pleasing shock! I was ready to write-up my everyday weblog each day and sustain with e mail, no problem. Obviously, Like several river cruise, there have been times when the service was dropped. Whenever a ship goes by way of a lock, as an example; This really is merely a complex actuality of river cruising. Also, when we were much north on Lake Onega, assistance was unavailable for a long period of time. Aside from that, I don’t have any grievances. Not simply was Online out there all through the ship, even within our stateroom, relationship speeds had been respectable. Good position!

Smoking is just not permitted wherever Within the boat. Smoking cigarettes is permitted in specified parts on the outside decks.

With the popularity of river cruising, it really is not unusual to get quite a few ships dock at exactly the same pier aspect-by-aspect, tying up to each other, making it required to wander from the lobby of one or more other ships to obtain to the shore. So, before you decide to open your curtains, bear in mind that you could be eye-to-eye with the occupants over the ship that is certainly tied up for your ship! Viking Helgi was sailing a similar itinerary we had been so it had been not unusual to own to stroll through her foyer. Considering that she appears to be like practically identical to Viking Ingvar, you needed to listen To make certain you were on the proper ship. At a person area on our itinerary, I feel we needed to stroll via at the very least 4 ships to acquire to your shore and there have been ships on one other facet of us whose passengers needed to walk as a result of much more than five ships!

Lodging

Our category AX Deluxe stateroom #415 is located to the Upper Deck of Viking Ingvar. According to the Viking River Cruises literature, the stateroom has one hundred sixty sq. ft. I forgot to pack my tape evaluate, so I will acquire their phrase for it. The stateroom does experience greater than past Viking River Cruises cabins. Like the remainder of Viking Ingvar, the staterooms underwent total restoration in 2011, and it is clear. The cabin appears to be new. In truth, the photos on their Web site don’t demonstrate The brand new bed linens which consist of relaxed European-fashion duvets.

Due to the ship’s composition, there is a article in the middle of our area. It was odd to view it at the beginning, but after a working day, you don’t even detect it. There is a massive photo window about the back again wall that looks out above a promenade deck. You can in fact open up this window by twisting the take care of at the very best and sliding the window down. This was a fantastic attribute for using shots in the stateroom. Just take into account that your window opens on to a general public promenade! Also, there is absolutely no display screen to the window, so be careful not to Permit any traveling insects in. In 2013, the ship is going to be undergoing additional renovations to transform that promenade into specific verandas to the staterooms.

The 2 twin beds (put together to kind a queen-sized bed within our scenario) are on a single wall with stop tables that happen to be mounted for the wall. Each end table is essentially a little table leading and just one shelf for storage. There are actually mild switches next to every bed to control the individual looking at gentle along with other cabin lighting. There’s also a 220 outlet previously mentioned Just about every evening stand. The beds are business, but comfortable and the new linens, duvets and pillows are really cozy. There’s loads of space underneath the beds to retailer vacant baggage.

Over the wall dealing with the beds is an extended desk/amusement/bar console. You will find there’s wide range of tabletop space to your notebook, cameras, or other individual objects. A bowl of fruit and complimentary bottled drinking water can be found below too. You will also discover a phone and the Quiet Vox charging station Situated right here. A large mirror earlier mentioned the desk will allow this spot for use to be a Self-importance. You will find there’s smaller stool underneath where you can sit and put on make-up, or work on your notebook. Ingvar’s designers did an excellent job of together with plenty of electrical retailers. There are two 220 Euro-design retailers with the desk and a single one hundred ten US-fashion outlet. As long as you pack a couple of Euro-to-US prong adapters, you need to be good to go! Another thing Rickee would have preferred to obtain experienced was a magnifying make-up mirror about the desk. There was a lot of place for it and in many cases stores for the plug if it had been a lighted magnifying mirror. That may be an incredible addition!

As for storage, You will find there’s decent-sized closet to carry your hanging objects and sufficient Area beneath for shoes. A sizable shelf over the hangers is an additional space for storage of items. The only drawer while in the stateroom is the modest drawer underneath the desk. Designers opted for cabinets rather than drawers. You’ll find a few open up cabinets close to the mini-fridge. On either aspect of the desk, There exists a a few-shelf unit at the rear of hinged doors. Using cabinets as opposed to drawers is most probably to keep cabin noise to a least. When you’ve got ever been awakened because of the audio of slamming drawers, you’ll appreciate the use of shelves. You will also find 4 hooks to the again in the cabin doorway, ideal for hanging jackets, caps, backpacks, and many others. Due to publish in our place, there isn’t any other table, but there is a chair.

The lavatory is very standard. You will find there’s nice-sized shower stall with curtain. A small vanity top rated and a three-shelf mirrored drugs cupboard presents a lot of House for some personalized things. There may be also a shelf underneath the sink/Vainness. The sink is large and it has a different, modern faucet. All rest room fixtures glimpse fresh and everything labored flawlessly. And, Ingvar’s engineers have discovered how to generate a ship’s bathroom flush without the audio of the jet engine at full pace! The vacuum system is whisper tranquil. Robes and slippers are available upon ask for. Nice L’Occitane amenities are presented in the bathroom and replenished as needed.

The 26″ flat screen Sony television is mounted superior and might be conveniently noticed within the mattress. There’s also very good programming together with CNN International, BBC Entire world, CNBC, a Motion picture channel, a ship’s channel and several overseas stations. Sad to say, no Fox Information or Sky News on this sailing. There exists a modest electronic Secure under The tv for valuables. There may be enough home involving the end of your bed as well as the desk, to ensure that if one particular particular person is seated at the desk another individual can stroll at the rear of them (we have been in a few cabins wherever You need to crawl through the finish There’s plenty of place between the end in the bed along with the desk, in order that if a single individual is seated for the desk one other individual can wander powering them (we have been in a few cabins in which You should crawl throughout the end of your bed to obtain previous an individual seated with the desk). The bed and bedding are comfy and we really like the pillows and duvets. The cabin is reasonably tranquil, partly on account of the use of cabinets rather than drawers and cabin doors that close quietly without the need of slamming shut. If individuals are standing the hall talking, you can hear them. Luckily, All people on our floor was normally pretty considerate and we experienced no sounds challenges. The A/C method works Incredibly properly and will freeze you out from the place should you crank it up. You will find there’s thermostat to regulate temperature, but no on/off change. The housekeeping providers were pretty much as good or a lot better than any cruise We have now ever been on. Our stateroom attendant, Damira, stored our stateroom Completely spotlessly clear. Rickee accidentally walked in on Damira someday and he or she was in the bathroom on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor! I observed her during the hallway one day basically wiping down the doorway frames. She even cleaned our stateroom window routinely so we constantly had a spot-totally free perspective of your river. Damira didn’t converse Considerably English, but she always greeted us having a heat smile and did her career excellently. Oh, and by the way, she also takes place being an accomplished Classical Pianist!

The everyday e-newsletter, Viking Information, which Damira remaining on our bed Each individual night, introduces the following day’s Places, offers just a little history on a lot of the locations We’re going to check out, and gives ideas, tips and helpful details. What’s more, it has the routine for the next day’s routines and meal periods and notes the opening occasions for the bars as well as the present shop.

As for Over-all consolation, we would charge this stateroom a 4 outside of five stars. Despite the pole, it truly is absolutely Among the most at ease riverboat staterooms We have now at any time occupied, and quite possibly the most at ease Viking River Cruises stateroom Now we have relished to this point.

Foodstuff AND Eating

All comprehensive-company eating aboard Viking Ingvar normally takes put in the Neva Cafe. The restaurant is laid out with a large ahead dining region with tables for 4, 6 and 8. One more eating “home” is located aft with much more tables for four and 6. The two eating rooms are connected by “hallways” on both aspect of the ship using a row of tables for 2. This is when Rickee and I selected to sit every time we dined. We enjoy tables for two and they are uncommon on a river cruise ship. There are 8 two-top tables on Viking Ingvar (4 on Port and four on Starboard).

An early-riser, buffet Continental breakfast service is offered from the Panorama Bar on the Upper Deck Every morning at six:00am. The Panorama Bar is actually a not-so-hidden treasure of the location. This was my favorite weblog spot Every morning as I could get pleasure from my espresso and reduced-carb food bar as I pecked absent on my MacBook Professional. Sukamto or Nicki have been normally available to provide coffee or take care of any other wants. Sukamto would even give to scrub out my French espresso press for me each early morning immediately after I used to be completed downing numerous cups of your darkish master.

A complete buffet-design and style breakfast is served every single day from the Neva Restaurant, ordinarily starting at 7am. Buffet traces are fashioned on equally Port and Starboard sides of your Neva between the ahead and aft eating areas. It is actually among the best layouts We now have noticed for buffet assistance on the riverboat. Having said that, at breakfast, be encouraged there are diverse things served on each side. The Port side buffet line has the scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms, sausages, breads, fruit, cereal, and so on. for a complete breakfast while the Starboard facet only has chilly cuts, cheeses, breads, pastries and an omelet station. Eggs manufactured-to-get is often purchased from your waiter, who will even serve you juice or coffee. Frequently, we found the breakfast to become Great. At some point my poached eggs ended up slightly undercooked, but besides that, everything was place on. The two sausages (pork and hen) had been a few of the greatest I have experienced.

Lunch assistance usually commences at 12 midday and is also a hybrid buffet/created-to-purchase procedure. Several different salads are offered everyday buffet type in addition to a hot dish. There’s also a pasta station wherever a special creation is offered every day. A lunch menu offers a alternative of appetizer, soup, a choice to two main classes and two dessert possibilities. Menu products could be purchased from a waiter and are created to purchase. We observed the salads to become very good day after day. The menu items assorted from just all right to very good, according to the working day. There have been some standout merchandise. Rickee reported the pasta with blue cheese sauce was the best pasta dish she has ever eaten. Which is large praise coming from her due to the fact she’s almost impossible to make sure you when it comes to foodstuff. Don’t forget Mikey?

On most days, You can find an afternoon tea company served within the Panorama Bar with cookies, gentle snacks, and of course, tea. You’ll find, nevertheless, a couple of days where by an extravagant tea is served in the Neva Restaurant. One is the standard Russian Tea wherever the galley prepares a number of Russian dumplings and Peroshky. Fantastic!

Meal is served from 7pm to 9pm while in the Neva Restaurant. There isn’t any established desk assignments, in order to sit where ever and with whomever you want. Many people came to meal if the restaurant opened at 7pm, so it had been typically crowded. If you would like a selected table, you ought to arrive whenever they open. We never had a problem obtaining “our” table (#10) for lunch or dinner. A standard supper menu will give you a preference of 4 First Course goods, 1 currently being a soup. Three Major Course alternatives commonly contain a meat, a fish and also a vegetarian possibility. Several different desserts are available together with cakes, pies, fruit, ice cream, and sorbets. A cheese plate can be provided Each individual night time that has a selection of three cheeses. The cheese plates, Incidentally, were very nicely organized and presented.

Besides the daily menu things, You usually have the selection of a Caesar Salad, Grilled Fillet of Salmon, Pan Roasted Chicken Breast or Charbroiled Steak with herb butter. On quite a few evenings, I ordered the Charbroiled Steak which was a pleasant, thick Lower which was flavorful, but commonly undercooked. I often order Medium, and it appeared to routinely arrive out Rare to Medium Uncommon. I began buying Medium Effectively and that looked as if it would do the trick. I generally will make an effort to consume a really mild supper and should have a Caesar Salad as my principal program. Once i did this, I obtained a bigger part than if requested as a salad dish only. The Caesar Salad was superb: Refreshing Romaine leaves completely wearing a tart Caesar dressing and topped with shaved parmesan cheese. Anchovies are usually extra, but I constantly questioned for them to be withheld, which they were being.

Viking River Cruises serves complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and supper. Marina would come by our desk every day at lunch or meal by using a bottle of white and purple. We generally skip wine with lunch, but enjoyed the purple Just about every night with supper. She generally held our glasses stuffed. High quality wines will also be offered at an additional Value with the ship’s wine listing. A further pleasant perk of the Viking River Cruise is the chance to convey a bottle of your own personal wine to love at evening meal sans corkage charges. So, if you find a local wine in one of several cities you visit that you desire to to try, you are able to!

The assistance within the Neva Cafe considerably exceeded our expectations. Our wait around personnel trio of Tri, Tyo and Marina took exceptional treatment of us for the entire journey. Once in a while, Julia would also prevent by to fill a wine glass if Marina was chaotic elsewhere. Julia, a fiery redhead was generally zipping by our desk when providing meals or consume orders to her tables in the most crucial eating place. We nicknamed her “Flash”. The hold out time to place an purchase, or involving classes, was minimum. If we arrived for supper at 7pm, we could effortlessly be out of the eating space by 8pm. Each individual member with the provider crew we encountered over the thirteen days was friendly, smiling, and extremely pleasurable.

Austrian Chef de Cuisine, Andre Frischmuth, oversees the preparing and shipping and delivery of all foods served onboard. We’ve discovered an enhancement in foodstuff quality on Every and each Viking River Cruises sailing over the years, along with the craze seems to be continuing. Whilst I would not go as far as to state the foods rises to five-star standing on Viking Ingvar, there have been lots more hits than misses. And, the foods and repair were being the top We now have professional on any Viking River Cruises sailing to this point. Rickee even made use of the word “Finest’ to explain two dishes, the aforementioned pasta with blue cheese, plus a Halibut dish served just one evening at dinner. She claimed it absolutely was the top bit of fish she has ever eaten. Obtaining a “Finest” outside of Rickee is similar to a Michelin star!

Amusement

Enjoyment on river cruises is essentially centered within the desired destination rather than onboard pursuits. Ocean cruise ships are much bigger, spend more time “at sea” and have theaters and lounges committed to entertainment. On Viking Ingvar, daytime entertainment usually takes the shape of exciting and enlightening lectures, typically conducted by one of many Russian tour guides. During our excursion, we enjoyed a number of lectures over the heritage of Russia, all of which were being very nicely well prepared and shipped. Tatyana even made an effort to teach the visitors to speak a little Russian. Within the evenings, Eduardo Espinola entertains attendees within the Sky Bar to the piano and a little dance floor is on the market.

1 evening we enjoyed a fantastic classical piano concert done by none besides our great stateroom attendant, Damira Talipova! Yet another evening, we had a passenger “expertise” clearly show during which a few attendees sang and a bunch of volunteer passengers executed a skit directed by guide tour information, Valera. It had been a fairy tale, total with rudimentary costumes, and primarily overacted by Just about every visitor! Rickee aptly served as “Curtain #one” and experienced a good time taking part in the general performance. One more pleasurable night discovered Mirja conducting a “Title That Tune” trivia contest where Just about every group could gain additional factors if somebody from the crew went towards the dance floor and danced to your tunes staying played by Eduardo!

On several evenings, we ended up handled to evening excursions like a efficiency of Swan Lake by a ballet corps in St. Petersburg as well as a Russian folkloric live performance in Moscow. We also experienced the prospect to join optional for-a-price nighttime excursions for instance a Cossack Show in St. Petersburg and also a”Moscow by Evening” tour which involved a canal cruise.

EXCURSIONS

Viking River Cruises contains most excursions during the cruise fare but also offers numerous supplemental excursions that you might invest in for yet another payment. On some times, involved “choice” excursions were made available and you could decide to skip the cathedral check out and opt for another thing. These “substitute” excursions proved for being pretty well known. From time to time, a “leisurely” team was recognized which observed all a similar matters Everybody else observed, just at a little bit slower pace. Bottled water is often available and presented to you personally as you exit the boat. For the duration of our Waterways in the Czars voyage, there were typically six motorcoaches, Every single manned by one of several Russian tour guides, and visitors ended up imagined to journey on the exact same bus for automatic toilet flusher how it works each excursion. At times this was impossible, including if the information assigned on your motorcoach was heading up an optional excursion. This necessitated picking a special bus/information for that working day. In certain spots, Besides our Viking River Cruises’ manual, we also had the providers of a neighborhood guide who realized a specific space fairly well. Just so you may know, Viking suggests that you tip the community guiides and native mentor drivers in income on the day on the tour as you are not more likely to see them yet again. The instructed amount of money is $two for each human being for that guide and $1 per human being for the driving force While I in some cases imagined this was backwards based on just what the drivers had to accomplish, especially in St. Petersburg and Moscow targeted visitors! So, it can be a smart idea to just take lots of a person greenback expenditures along in your trip. The amount for area guides is In combination with the $ten for every man or woman every day they advise that you suggestion your Viking River Cruises’ Russian tour guidebook who’ll be along with you your entire vacation.

When you wanted to acquire off and discover by yourself, maps and details about community attractions have been accessible on the Front Desk. In both equally St. Petersburg and Moscow, a shuttle bus into town was built out there on our “totally free” day for a cost of twenty Euros per individual for the roundtrip ride. One of many Russian guides went With all the shuttle and was available to response queries or give suggesitions on what to determine and how to get there.

Most all excursions made use of the Tranquil Vox audio procedure that’s great for Hearing your guidebook’s details without the need to stay near. Together with the crowds we skilled while in the Hermitage, these Tranquil Voxes have been essential for us to have the ability to hear our guideline.

For any explore what we did every single day during our Waterways with the Czars itinerary, consider our weblog beneath:

TOUR ESCORTS

A novel feature of this Viking River Cruise was the group of Russian tour escorts that were with us for the whole journey. There are actually 6 tour guides, a single for each motor mentor useful for area excursions. Visitors are encouraged to pick one in the team figures and continue to be with that group through the complete cruise. We chose coach/team quantity 4 considering the fact that our stateroom was 415, uncomplicated to recollect. Our escort to the journey was Olga. Olga’s English was difficult to understand at first, but as the days went on, both her English got better, or our capacity to realize it obtained better. In all probability the latter. In almost any circumstance, she did a great position of detailing everything and answering any queries we had. The entire tour escorts ended up incredibly candid and inclined to specific their own thoughts about their region, politics, or another subject. It absolutely was refreshing and interesting. We ended up in a position to invest slightly time with numerous of one other guides on a variety of excursions and found all to get helpful and eager to share their expertise in their native country.

Employees AND CREW

The senior staff members on Viking Ingvar runs the ship with German precision. Potentially that is definitely because equally Hotel Supervisor, Stephan Busch and System Director, Mirja Geertz, are German! Both equally ended up usually visible and accessible to help with visitor requests. Mirja runs a tight ship In regards to timing of tour teams and departures. When she says a tour will depart at 8am, you experienced superior be to the coach by 8am. I really like that! There is nothing worse than creating fifty those who display up by the due date sit and watch for a couple of people who are late. Mirja’s every day speak, normally ahead of supper, lined the occasions developing the next working day. We uncovered her being partaking, enthusiastic plus a fantastic System Director.

The crew customers on Viking Ingvar are a mix of Indonesians and Russians. We haven’t experienced a difficulty with any Viking River Cruises’ crew, although the crew on Viking Ingvar stands out as the best Now we have skilled to this point. All people with whom we came involved was delighted, smiling and pleasurable.

Viking River Cruises implies tipping the crew an amount of $15 for every man or woman each day in U.S. pounds. You can insert your crew strategies to the onboard account if you like and pay back by charge card at the conclusion of the cruise or pay in money utilizing the offered envelopes. The on-board System Director in Russia will not share during the onboard employees gratuities – it truly is customary to idea them independently and in hard cash.

DISEMBARKATION

Given that all payments ended up settled the day in advance of, any purchases built just after Monthly bill settlement needed to be paid for in money or by credit card. All departure instances for airport transfers were posted while in the foyer close to the Reception desk. Baggage have been for being outside the house your stateroom by midnight. Individuals with late departures have been questioned to vacate their staterooms by 10am but could continue to be about the ship and make use of the bar with a income basis. Our transfer left at two:30am and, to their credit history, Viking Ingvar experienced put in place a nice continental breakfast while in the Panorama at that ungodly hour! On the list of Russian guides accompanied us on our van to your airport and assisted us find the right line by which to stand for our flight. Your complete course of action was sleek and effective.

CONCLUSIONS

Russia is a different experience from some other river cruise We’ve expert. The itinerary is rather powerful with a special cease daily and plenty of excursion alternatives. Should you be looking for a soothing, slow speed, this might not be the itinerary for you. There is a good deal to do and see and Viking River Cruises’ tour escorts are exceptional. Viking Ingvar appears like a brand-new ship and, in 2013, she will get personal balconies on the leading Deck and Upper Deck staterooms. The staff and crew are super and also the ship is spotlessly clean. Be prepared to devote a great deal of time in targeted visitors in Moscow and St. Petersburg. And, There exists a good degree of walking about the excursions. The additional price of Russian visas and higher-than-usual encouraged gratuities make this a more expensive trip than a European river cruise. But, if you need to see Russia, there probably is not any far better way than on the Viking River Cruise.

For more, take a look at http://www.CruiseReport.com

It is possible to read the whole review, see photographs from our excursion, study our daily blog site, and check out our video at http://www.cruisereport.com/crReview.aspx?id=2555