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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 St. Petersburg
Travel to Russia on an overnight flight bound for St. Petersburg. If you took our pre-trip extension to Helsinki, you’ll arrive by train.
Arrive in Russia’s Imperial Capital
If you booked your airfare through Vantage, a Vantage representative will greet you and arrange your transfer to your hotel. Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers for a Welcome Briefing and Dinner at the hotel.
Landmarks of the "Window on the West”
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 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.”
Follow in the steps of the tsars
This morning you'll visit Catherine's Palace, yet another magnificent landmark of the tsarist era and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally 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.
Upon your return to St. Petersburg, you'll have the afternoon at leisure to further explore this magnificent city on your own. Perhaps you'll spend the afternoon enjoy the city's public parks or taking a hop-on, hop-off canal cruise. Alternatively, you may opt to join one or both of these fascinating optional tours: learn about the roots of the Russian Revolution when you visit a naval ship built in 1900 along with the Museum of Russian Political History or enjoy a folklore show at Nikolaevsky Palace. The day is yours to explore, and in the evening, you’re welcome to join a lively show of Russian folk music and dance.
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.
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 a marvelous art collection, including a stunning room filled to the brim with historic portraits. Enjoy lunch on your own before transferring to embark the m/s Crucelake. This afternoon, learn about the art of breaking bread served with salt, a traditional Slavic greeting.
Visit the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Hermitage Museum
Today you'll visit Peter and Paul Fortress back in the city, the original citadel of St. Petersburg founded by Peter the Great in 1703. Though this small island originally housed prisoners, it makes for a majestic sightseeing destination today with its sparkling tower rising above the Neva River. Then, enjoy regional culinary specialties during lunch at a local restaurant before visiting the Hermitage Museum, a UNESCO site which features over 3 million works of art, a collection that was begun by Empress Catherine the Great and is spread out over a complex of five massive buildings that once formed the Winter Palace. In the evening, enjoy the Captain's Welcome Dinner and Reception accompanied by folk and classical music.
After breakfast this morning, learn the art of painting matryoshka (nesting dolls) and about Russian life during a shipboard lecture. This afternoon 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 onboard. Later, partake in a lively "Russian for Travelers" language lesson. After dinner, enjoy live music in the bar.
Lake Onega & Kizhi Island
This morning, arrive at Kizhi Island and enjoy a visit to the Open-Air Museum of Wooden Architecture, a true site to behold. Here, 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. See the Kizhi Pogost, whose church and the adjacent clock tower are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After you depart Kizhi Island and enjoy lunch on board, visit the Captain’s Bridge to marvel at views of Lake Onega. This afternoon enjoy a lecture on the history and production of Russian vodka. After dinner on board, enjoy live music in the bar.
Toast Goritsky discoveries
This morning you’ll learn more about Russian history during an onboard lecture before arriving in Goritsy for a walking tour. Be enchanted by the tranquil village’s fascinating history as a former home to several monasteries. Visit a local school, as well as a local home to learn about day-to-day life. 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 pies 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 onboard.
Life on the Volga along the Golden Ring
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. Discover Uglich this morning, one of the motherland’s oldest towns and part of the storied Golden Ring. A favorite of Ivan the Terrible, you’ll learn more about its fascinating history on a walking tour. The highlight is seeing the outside of the Dmitry of the Blood Church and Transfiguration Cathedral in the city's kremlin. Immerse yourself in tradition when you visit a local home, where home-hosted tea and tasty pies await.
After lunch onboard, learn about Russian fairy tales during an engaging lecture. Later this evening, indulge in a Captain’s Farewell Reception and Farewell Dinner, with a talent show and onboard entertainment.
Enjoy breakfast on board your ship before a port talk on Russia’s capital. This afternoon you’ll visit Russia's symbol of might and majesty, the Kremlin, on a guided tour that includes Assumption Cathedral and the State Armory Chambers, the repository of the bejeweled Fabergé eggs. Tonight’s dinner is in a local restaurant, where you’ll feast on regional specialties and get a real flavor for traditional culture.
Capital delights beckon
This morning, disembark and enjoy a city tour including the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the KGB building, the Kremlin Towers, and the Arbat. 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 beckon. 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. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure and dinner on your own, or perhaps join us on one or both of the following optional tours: visit the Victory Museum on Poklonnaya Hill or tour Moscow by night. 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, 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 you’ll have an afternoon at leisure or enhance your tour with an optional tour to Izmailovo and see the Vodka Museum and the Vernisazh. Your Farewell Dinner will be in the hotel this evening.
Depart for home
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and depart for the Moscow airport for your flight home.
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.