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Join Vantage on this Russian journey and unlock the mysterious secrets and juxtaposing allure of what awaits beyond the former Iron Curtain as you peel back complex and colorful layers like an intricate matryoshka nesting doll.
The Russian motherland is a seductive web of opulent charms, onion-domed cathedrals, and dynamic culture. Waltz through the grand history of Ivan the Terrible and the Empire of the Tsars onwards through the Communist Revolution, KGB lore, and into contemporary life. Explore magnificent UNESCO-designated sights like the iconic Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and Moscow’s Red Square. Discover a rich culture and even richer epicurean delights. Sail along the Golden Ring to visit the villages and pastoral landscapes of the motherland’s rural countryside.
Search for answers to some of Russia’s most elusive questions as you chart the thrilling, yet lesser navigated waters of the Volga River aboard the m/s Crucelake. Along the way, enhance your understanding of this country with riveting discussions and lectures on such subjects as history, language, handicrafts, vodka, cooking lessons, tastings, and more. Experience home-hosted hospitality and engage with local families in an intimate small group. What’s more, independent travelers can enjoy the best value and experience in four supplement-free solo cabins.
And don’t miss your chance to extend your tour along the Gulf of Finland, by adding our optional excursion to Helsinki. Travel in first class comfort and style aboard the luxe Allegro Train as you’re whisked off to another of Europe’s most dazzling cities, celebrated for its thriving arts scene and sublime art nouveau architecture.
Fly to Moscow
Travel to Russia on an overnight flight.
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.
This morning, check out of your room so your luggage can be transferred to the m/s Crucelake. Then, 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.
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 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. After dinner onboard, join us this evening to 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 you'll 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, you'll have the afternoon to explore at leisure. Then transfer back to your ship for and enjoy a Cultural Connection on the art of breaking bread served with salt, a traditional Slavic greeting. Gather for an informational briefing and then savor dinner on board tonight, with live music at the bar.
Scenic Sailing: As your ship departs, prepare yourself for some cruise highlights. You’ll cover more than 1,000 kilometers on Russian waterways, including two canals (Moscow Canal and the Volga-Baltic Canal), 15 locks, artificial reservoirs, natural lakes, and rivers.
The mighty Kremlin
Visit Russia's symbol of might and majesty, the Kremlin, on a guided tour that includes the Assumption Cathedral and State Armory Chambers, the repository of the bejeweled Fabergé eggs. Today, feast on local specialties during an included lunch at a local restaurant.
This evening, you’ll toast your discoveries in Russia’s capital during a Captain's Welcome Reception with champagne and crew presentation, then enjoy a lively Captain’s Dinner. Afterwards, enjoy live music in our onboard bar.
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. 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 and presentation of Russian culture. After a port talk this afternoon, discover Uglich, one of the motherland’s oldest towns that is part of the storied Golden Ring along the picturesque Volga. A favorite location of Ivan the Terrible, you’ll learn more about its fascinating history on a walking tour. Immerse yourself in local life here when you visit a local family, where home-hosted tea and tasty pies await. Later this evening, enjoy live music in the bar.
Toast Goritsky discoveries
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. Visit a local school to learn about day-to-day life, as well as 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 pie and a blini tasting. These traditional pancakes are usually made with buckwheat flour and garnished with sour cream, butter, or caviar. Later, enjoy a cocktail reception before dinner on board.
Lake Onega & Kizhi Island
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 an onboard lecture. Visit the Captain’s Bridge to 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.
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. Back on board, learn the art of painting matryoshka (nesting dolls), followed by an onboard lecture on Russian fairytales. Toast your Russian river cruise at the Captain’s Farewell Reception and Farewell Dinner this evening. Afterwards, enjoy a talent show and live music at the bar.
Welcome to St. Petersburg
Today you'll begin your discovery 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 the 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.”
Marvel at Peterhof, the “Russian Versailles”
This morning you'll travel a short distance outside of St. Petersburg 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.
Follow in the steps of the tsars
You'll disembark the ship this morning and visit Catherine'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.
St. Petersburg is also lovely for strolling — perhaps you’ll choose to spend the afternoon walking through any number of public parks, taking an independent hop-on, hop-off canal cruise, or visiting 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.
Alternatively, enjoy an afternoon 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.
Landmarks of the "Window on the West"
Your included tour today features St. Petersburg’s rivers and 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 will be at your leisure.
This evening, join us for a Farewell Briefing and Farewell Dinner.
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.