4 DAYS FROM $1,349
Regal and modern, rugged yet refined, the landscape of Russia is as diverse as its political history. You’ll discover each — the glittering waterways of imperial St. Petersburg, Moscow’s Red Square, and the highlights of the countryside when sailing through the Golden Ring — when you travel with Vantage on the ultimate Volga voyage. In small groups of just 26 or fewer travelers, immerse yourself in cultural traditions on a journey that offers up more than just a peek behind the Iron Curtain, but puts you straight in the spotlight of a region that has long gripped the world stage. Enjoy a revolutionary experience in the capital, raise a toast with a home-hosted tea or vodka tasting, or marvel at lesser-known gems such as the UNESCO-designated Transfiguration Church of Kizhi Island, built entirely without nails. Besides four full days exploring St. Petersburg’s artistic treasures — including three million works of art at Catherine the Great’s Hermitage Museum — you can also enhance your tour to the Gulf of Finland with our new optional trip extension to Helsinki.
Fly to Russia
Travel to Russia on an overnight flight tonight.
Arrive in the capital
If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will greet you in the airport in Moscow after your flight and arrange transfer to your hotel. Enjoy a Welcome Dinner and Briefing at your hotel this evening.
Your Russia travel itinerary begins with a grand city tour of Moscow, including the KGB building, Kremlin Towers, and the Arbat, a massive pedestrian thoroughfare filled with many shops that put any Cold War-era memories of bare shelves, well, on the shelf! Plus, you'll have free time to explore iconic Red Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where colorful St. Basil's Cathedral and Lenin's Mausoleum beckons.
Cultural Connection: On today’s tour, you’ll also visit Moscow’s Metro, which serves as a sort of art gallery, a public-works remnant from the 1950s. Some stations even have massive chandeliers!
This afternoon, enjoy leisure time for further explorations and dinner on your own, or join us for an optional tour to the World War II Museum and Poklonnaya Hill, where you can enjoy a lovely panorama of the city.
This evening, you’ll admire even more views during an included Moscow by Night tour. You’ll witness New Maidens' Convent, Victory Hill, and have several photo stops including Red Square with its twinkling lights.
Immerse yourself in the arts
This morning, check out of your room so your luggage can be transferred to the ms Rostropovich, and then visit the Tretyakov Gallery — a fascinating introduction to Russian art and culture — with more than 100,000 works charting the development of Russian painting from the 10th to 20th centuries.
This afternoon after an independent lunch, transfer to your ship for a Cultural Connection on the art of breaking bread served with salt, a traditional Slavic greeting. You’ll savor dinner on board tonight, with live music at the bar.
The mighty Kremlin
Visit Russia's symbol of might and majesty, the Kremlin, on a guided tour that includes the State Armory Chambers, the repository of the bejeweled Fabergé eggs. Cultural Connection: Feast on local specialties during an included lunch.
This afternoon, you’ll toast your discoveries in Russia’s capital during a Captain's Welcome Reception with champagne, then enjoy a lively Captain’s Dinner.
Life on the Volga
Away from the cities, Russia is a land of villages, fields, forests, and lakes, all threaded by rivers such as the mighty Volga, Europe's longest. Cultural Connections: Learn about Russian life at an onboard lecture that also includes local handicrafts — available in the onboard gift shop — and enjoy a lively "Russian language for travelers" lesson. Discover Uglich this afternoon, one of the motherland’s oldest cities that is part of the storied Golden Ring along the picturesque Volga. A favorite city of Ivan the Terrible, you’ll learn more about its fascinating history on a walking tour. Cultural Connection: Immerse yourself in local life here when you visit a local family, where home-hosted tea and tasty pies await.
Toast Goritsky discoveries
Cultural Connection: Before arriving at your next port of call, enjoy a lecture on the history and production of Russian vodka.
This afternoon, you’ll arrive in Goritsy for a walking tour, and enjoy the tranquil village’s fascinating history as a former home to several monasteries. Cultural Connections: Visit a local school to learn about day-to-day life, and a local home. The Resurrection Monastery awaits you next, and its storied history (founded by one of Ivan the Terrible’s daughters-in-law) is as fascinating as the architecture.
This afternoon back on board, try your hand at Russian specialties during a cooking lesson, followed by vodka and tea with a blini tasting. These traditional pancakes are usually made with buckwheat flour and garnished with sour cream, butter, or caviar.
Lake Onega & Kizhi Island
Cultural Connection: After a leisurely breakfast on board and a port talk on the imperial capital of St. Petersburg, you’ll learn more about Russian history during onboard lectures. Marvel at views of Lake Onega before arriving at Kizhi Island, whose church and the adjacent clock tower are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This open-air museum of wooden architecture is a true site to behold, and you’ll admire fascinating examples of traditional wooden buildings collected from around Russia. Among the notable structures is the Church of the Transfiguration, an ornate structure with 22 domes, built entirely without nails.
Eats and arts
This morning takes you on an excursion to the village of Mandrogi, where you’ll visit a wooden home and a local handicrafts market, followed by a shashlik (Russian barbecue) lunch. Cultural Connection: Back on board, learn the art of painting matryoshka (nesting dolls) and attend a presentation on Russian fairytales by the Cruise Director. Toast your Russian river cruise at the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening.
Welcome to St. Petersburg
Today you'll begin your discoveries of St. Petersburg, Peter the Great’s “Window on the West,” a dazzling baroque city of white, gold, and pastels — and one of the best reasons to travel to Russia. Enjoy a panoramic tour of the city that's been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll also admire Church on Spilled Blood, where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881, and Nevsky Prospect, the city’s main thoroughfare that is the focal point of shopping, dining, and nightlife. Its myriad bridges make it a lovely walking path to admire the glistening canals — the reason why this metropolis is often called the “Venice of the North.”
This afternoon, you’ll visit the Hermitage Museum, which features over 3 million works of art collected by Empress Catherine the Great spread out over a complex of five massive buildings. Perhaps you’ll come back and visit in your spare time to see even more than what you’ll admire this afternoon.
Marvel at Peterhof, the “Russian Versailles”
Travel a short distance outside of St. Petersburg this morning to visit Peterhof, a UNESCO site often called the "Russian Versailles." Peter the Great built the splendid palace and elaborate gardens on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. You’ll admire the spray of fountains set to music and the marvelous art collection, including a stunning room filled to the brim with historic portraits.
This afternoon, join us for an optional tour for true insights into a unique facet of life here and architectural style particular to this region: the kommunalka. These communal flats were built in the years following the 1917 revolution to align with new political ideals that brought together all walks of life, from laborers to university professors. You’ll also enjoy conversation and a snack of tea and traditional blini pancakes here.
Enjoy a fascinating glimpse inside the life of a Russian family post 1917 revolution, when peasants were the new neighbors of university professors in living quarters known as Kommunalka, communal apartments with long central corridors and shared kitchen space. Today, this design still affects the way citizens interact and you can immerse yourself in traditional ways of life, along with enjoying conversation and traditional blini pancakes and tea.
Please Note: This tour is only available on the Moscow to St. Petersburg itinerary.
Follow in the steps of the tsars
St. Petersburg is lovely for strolling — perhaps you’ll walk through any number of public parks, take an independent hop-on, hop-off canal cruise, or visit the Fabergé museum and marvel at the works of master jeweler Carl Fabergé, who created his famous artisanal eggs and more for the last two Russian tsars.
Today you'll also visit Catherine I's palace, yet another magnificent landmark of the tsarist era and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built for the wife of Peter the Great, the palace is surrounded by serene gardens and once served as the summer residence of the Russian tsars.
This afternoon, enjoy an optional tour to the Cruiser Aurora — considered the cornerstone of the 1917 revolution, where the first shots to set off the conflict were fired — and the Museum of Russian Political History.
The rest of the day is yours to explore, or join us for another optional tour at a lively show of Russian folk music and dance this evening.
Step on board the legendary Cruiser Aurora, the flagship of the Russian Navy, on this optional tour that also includes the Museum of Russian Political History. Your explorations begin on board the vessel that has anchored the waterfront of Petrogradskaya Embankment since 1948, a landmark symbolizing the shot that was fired to signal revolutionaries to storm the Winter Palace in 1917, the start of the Revolution. Step back in time on board for 500 fascinating nautical artifacts, then head to the Museum of Russian Political History, housed in a former mansion that was once a Bolshevik headquarters. Learn about Stalin, the formation of the Soviet state and the social life and private life of the Soviet people.
St. Petersburg’s “rainbows”
Your included tour today features St. Petersburg’s canals, which are part of the historic group of monuments known collectively as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And besides a storied history, what connects these banks? Beautiful bridges, of course. Adornments include statues, horses, griffins, and sphinxes, and the spans all come in a plethora of hues. See them and Yusupov Palace, legendary site of Rasputin’s slaying. This afternoon you have at leisure, or take our optional Back in the USSR tour, visiting the apartment of the first mayor of Leningrad.
Step into the shoes of the Stalinist era, with a perfectly preserved apartment belonging to Sergei Kirov, the leader of the Leningrad Communist Party. You’ll experience how the Bolshevik elite lived, see 1920s technology like the first soviet-produced typewriter, and see how schoolchildren learned in the 1930s with a re-created schoolhouse reconstructed above Kirov’s apartment.
Return home or continue on to Helsinki, Finland
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for your return flight home, or begin your optional Helsinki, Finland extension.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and are therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Cruise Director or regional expert.