|Moscow is a river city, making it easy to navigate its attractions.|
For the adventurous river cruiser, perhaps the one who has played out the more traditional Rhine and Danube itineraries, we suggest testing the waters in Mother Russia. Most river cruises are sure to either begin or end in St. Petersburg and Moscow. While itineraries tend to do an overview of these imperial cities, we suggest taking some extra time for your clients to be sure they absorb all that these cities have to offer.
Note: River cruise boats are able to sail directly into the heart of European cities, making it easy for guests to hop off and into the action.
While in Moscow, a visit to the Kremlin is a must. This 15th-century city is chock-full of palaces, armories, cathedrals and a Medieval fortress. Tip: Be sure to visit The Armoury Chamber to get a glimpse of some truly imperial paraphernalia (think Fabergé eggs and the czar’s coronation robes).
Recommend that your clients make a stop at the Bolshoi Theatre and Red Square. Cool Touch: From Red Square, visitors have a perfect view of the bubble domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral. Tip: Book your clients a lunch reservation at 1 Red Square. We hear that the restaurant has sweeping views of Moscow’s main plaza. The restaurant sits on the top floor of the National History Museum so diners can gaze across at St. Basil’s. Try the koulebiaka, a dish of sturgeon with rice, cream and spices baked inside a pastry.
If culture is your thing, we suggest carving out a few hours to visit Sergiyev Posad, a Golden Ring city that is home to one of the four most important Russian Orthodox monasteries. Novodevichy Convent, one of Moscow’s most renowned cloisters, is also an enlightening side trip.
When visiting St. Petersburg, a trip to the Winter Palace to see the State Hermitage Museum is a must. Cool Touch: New in 2012, Viking River Cruises will give passengers a behind-the-scenes look at the art vaults in the museum.
Be sure to visit St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress and Nevsky Prospekt. Of course, no trip to St. Petersburg is complete without an excursion to Pushkin to take in the rococo splendor of Catherine Palace.
Travelers with a passion for the arts will swoon over the Russian ballet at the Alexandrinsky Theatre. Other highlights include the Church of the Resurrection and Palace Square.
Want to splurge on a meal? Palkin (011-812-703-5371) is the place to do it. We hear the original restaurant opened its doors in 1785 as a haven for intellectuals. The modern restaurant debuted in 2002 and continues to pull in the well-heeled elite. Tip: We hear the dish to try is the starlet baked in white wine with cepes and crayfish.
American citizens still need a visa to travel to Russia. Viking River Cruises provides visas to its guests through an independent third party upon request. Cruisers can obtain their visas on their own through Viking’s partner, as well. Uniworld gives ZVS service to its customers in order to obtain a visa. AMA Waterways does not partner with a visa service, but travelers can obtain visas through their local consulate.