By Boat & Ferry
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By Boat & Ferry
Moscow has two river ports: Severny Rechnoy Vokzal (Northern River Terminal; used for long-distance passengers), on the Khimki reservoir, and Yuzhny Rechnoy Vokzal (Southern River Terminal). However, international cruise lines offering tours to Russia usually disembark in St. Petersburg and continue from here by land.
It is possible, however, to book river cruises which run between Moscow and St. Petersburg, making a detour down the Volga canal en route. More ambitious cruises that go from Moscow to the southern city of Astrakhan or even to Perm in the Urals are also offered. Both foreign and local companies run cruises aimed at Western travelers. Due to the incredibly cold temperatures in the winter (not to mention the freezing of the rivers), crusies only run from May to September.
All the companies listed here use Russian ships, but these vary greatly in standard from adequate Soviet-style accommodation to luxurious renovated cabins on high-end cruises. If you're sailing between Moscow and St. Petersburg, the cruises tend to have similar stop-offs, but the top lines offer more onboard activities and more varied excursions.
Smithsonian Journeys, the most expensive company listed here, has completely refurbished its ship, which has a wood-paneled lounge, a fitness center, and flat-screen televisions in each cabin. The company arranges behind-the-scenes museum visits and onboard lectures by top statesmen. It offers cruises from Moscow to St. Petersburg and vice versa as well as a Baltic cruise that calls at Moscow and St. Petersburg.
In a slightly lower price bracket, Amadeus Waterways offers a cruise on a ship with an indoor swimming pool that was built for top Kremlin officials. Each cruise only has 160 passengers and services include onboard Russian languagae classes. Uniworld provides a similar standard of comfort on a refurbished ship. It has a 16-day tour from St. Petersburg to Moscow and a 14-day tour from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The cruises on the Russian-owned ship call at Kizhi and go down the Volga to Yaroslavl and Uglich. If you just want to visit Moscow, the company has a tour that starts in Rostov-on-Don, takes in major Volga cities such as Volgograd, and goes as far east as Kazan. Passengers are flown to and from Moscow.
Viking River Cruises owns several ships, all with English-speaking crew, offering a choice between luxury and a more economical trip. They run a 13-day cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg and vice versa, calling at the historic towns of Yaroslavl and Uglich as well as at the wooden church complex of Kizhi. A longer tour from St. Petersburg to Moscow goes down the Volga canal to Samara and Volgograd.
California company Cruise Marketing International is the most affordable option, although its ships have been renovated. It offers river cruises from Moscow to St. Petersburg and vice versa.
The Russian-owned Orthodox Cruise Company, which has offices in Moscow and Rostov-on-Don, runs regular trips for English speakers. Its routes include Moscow to St. Petersburg and vice versa, a round-trip from Moscow to Perm, and from Volgograd to Moscow.
Vodokhod runs a weeklong cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg or vice versa and an 11-day two-way cruise between the cities and six-day two-way cruise from Moscow to the lovely Volga village of Plyos, which inspired a famous Russian artist of the 19th century, Isaak Levitan. Mosturflot is another Russian company that runs both one-way and two-way cruises from Moscow to St. Petersburg. It also puts on a 19-day cruise from Moscow to the mouth of the Volga at Astrakhan and back.
Cruise Marketing International. 3401 Investment Blvd., Suite 3, Hayward, CA, 94545. 800/578-7742. www.cruiserussia.com.
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