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We had wanted to do a Viking river cruise and also Russia was definitely somewhere we wanted to see. So when the offer came through the post for a significant discount we jumped at it. We hadn't travelled with Viking before but everything we read about them beforehand was good and that certainly proved to be the case. We can't fault the organisation of Viking - everything ran like clockwork and we were always well informed. The staff onboard were wonderful - very attentive and friendly. Nothing felt like too much trouble. The food was excellent and a very high standard. The only problem was not eating too much! You could have a cooked meal for breakfast lunch and dinner, or a continental breakfast and cold lunch if you preferred. There were always several choices and often a local option. The portions don't seem very generous at first glance but in fact with the number of courses and because you eat three times a day, it is more than enough. The times of the meals were always adjusted if necessary to accommodate the excursions. The Akun was a lovely boat. It was spotlessly clean and well maintained. We were told by the staff that it is their best boat but that might just be banter! There were two bar/lounge areas but one closed at 7 which only left one with music. It would have been nice to have a choice in the evening. The Viking tour guides were outstanding. Their knowledge seemed never ending and their English was excellent. They made sure the tours ran without any problems which is an achievement when taking into account the number of people they had to keep track of and the number of other tourists at each destination. Most of the places visited were quite overwhelming and it was thanks to the guides pointing out selected items and giving information about them that kept you engaged. Viking obviously has very good arrangements with all the tourist attractions and you often go in before its open to the public. Despite the crowds, our groups gained entrance easily with the coaches managing to park in the best spots and tickets having been bought in advance. Some of the excursions used local guides who weren't part of the boat crew. They were also very good. Some of the smaller places visited when sailing between Moscow and St Petersburg did not have a big range of interesting things to see and there was an overload of churches and icons! Some of the guests found it difficult with the amount of walking and steps involved, but if you were reasonably mobile it wasn't too strenuous. Some specific details which we would have found it useful to know in advance are: CURRENCY- it is useful to have rubles for making purchases at markets or from small shops for tipping local guides/drivers. We got through £250-300 worth but you can get currency out from ATMs in the bigger places. (There is one in the gift shop at the pier in St Petersburg which we weren't told about). I believe that it might have been possible to pay in dollars in some places. You can use your ruble notes up by using them as part payment of your final ship's bill. CLOTHES-apart from the captains dinner and the trip to the ballet, no-one was very dressed up. Everyone was casual during the day as comfort is very important- take comfy walking shoes and the weather is unpredictable so warm layers and a rainproof coat are essential. When excursions kept you out late people didn't tend to change for dinner but when sailing most did with smart casual for men and trousers and more dressy tops for ladies. Lots of the attractions didn't allow rucksacks in and they (and often coats) had to be checked in. That was a good thing though as it was usually hot inside. EXCURSIONS-we prebooked optional tours and also where there was a choice of included tours before we left, but you can easily do it onboard. The bus and walking city tours both include a fair amount of walking. The insides of the attractions are visited at great speed and it can feel rushed but you learn a lot and with so many things to fit in it would be hard to take it any slower..In the 2 cities there are bus transfers for every trip as you moor about 45 mins outside the historical area, but the traffic is heavy and it can take longer. There is a day in each place with nothing included although there are optional tours. Some people hired their own private guide on those days to give them a tailored tour. In Moscow there are very luxurious river boats which we didn't get to go on but you can make arrangements with reception for a booking and taxi. On those days it might be worth asking reception and doing something independent. TIPS-we found it a bit confusing despite the info in the Viking book which arrives with your paperwork. Basically local guides (as opposed to those on the boat) and the bus drivers can be tipped in rubles at the end of each trip. They suggest 100 for the driver and 500 for the guide per couple. But it is discretionary and varied quite a bit. The Viking guides however are tipped at the end of the cruise in cash and you are given an envelope for this which is anonymous. They suggest $10 per person per day but again we heard a lot of variations of this being given! The remainder of the crew on board they recommend $15 per person per day but this can be added to your invoice and paid by card.

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Viking Akun Cruise Review by SueAkun

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Trip Details
We had wanted to do a Viking river cruise and also Russia was definitely somewhere we wanted to see. So when the offer came through the post for a significant discount we jumped at it.

We hadn't travelled with Viking before but everything we read about them beforehand was good and that certainly proved to be the case. We can't fault the organisation of Viking - everything ran like clockwork and we were always well informed. The staff onboard were wonderful - very attentive and friendly. Nothing felt like too much trouble. The food was excellent and a very high standard. The only problem was not eating too much! You could have a cooked meal for breakfast lunch and dinner, or a continental breakfast and cold lunch if you preferred. There were always several choices and often a local option. The portions don't seem very generous at first glance but in fact with the number of courses and because you eat three times a day, it is more than enough. The times of the meals were always adjusted if necessary to accommodate the excursions.

The Akun was a lovely boat. It was spotlessly clean and well maintained. We were told by the staff that it is their best boat but that might just be banter! There were two bar/lounge areas but one closed at 7 which only left one with music. It would have been nice to have a choice in the evening.

The Viking tour guides were outstanding. Their knowledge seemed never ending and their English was excellent. They made sure the tours ran without any problems which is an achievement when taking into account the number of people they had to keep track of and the number of other tourists at each destination. Most of the places visited were quite overwhelming and it was thanks to the guides pointing out selected items and giving information about them that kept you engaged. Viking obviously has very good arrangements with all the tourist attractions and you often go in before its open to the public. Despite the crowds, our groups gained entrance easily with the coaches managing to park in the best spots and tickets having been bought in advance. Some of the excursions used local guides who weren't part of the boat crew. They were also very good. Some of the smaller places visited when sailing between Moscow and St Petersburg did not have a big range of interesting things to see and there was an overload of churches and icons! Some of the guests found it difficult with the amount of walking and steps involved, but if you were reasonably mobile it wasn't too strenuous.

Some specific details which we would have found it useful to know in advance are:

CURRENCY- it is useful to have rubles for making purchases at markets or from small shops for tipping local guides/drivers. We got through £250-300 worth but you can get currency out from ATMs in the bigger places. (There is one in the gift shop at the pier in St Petersburg which we weren't told about). I believe that it might have been possible to pay in dollars in some places. You can use your ruble notes up by using them as part payment of your final ship's bill.

CLOTHES-apart from the captains dinner and the trip to the ballet, no-one was very dressed up. Everyone was casual during the day as comfort is very important- take comfy walking shoes and the weather is unpredictable so warm layers and a rainproof coat are essential. When excursions kept you out late people didn't tend to change for dinner but when sailing most did with smart casual for men and trousers and more dressy tops for ladies. Lots of the attractions didn't allow rucksacks in and they (and often coats) had to be checked in. That was a good thing though as it was usually hot inside.

EXCURSIONS-we prebooked optional tours and also where there was a choice of included tours before we left, but you can easily do it onboard. The bus and walking city tours both include a fair amount of walking. The insides of the attractions are visited at great speed and it can feel rushed but you learn a lot and with so many things to fit in it would be hard to take it any slower..In the 2 cities there are bus transfers for every trip as you moor about 45 mins outside the historical area, but the traffic is heavy and it can take longer. There is a day in each place with nothing included although there are optional tours. Some people hired their own private guide on those days to give them a tailored tour. In Moscow there are very luxurious river boats which we didn't get to go on but you can make arrangements with reception for a booking and taxi. On those days it might be worth asking reception and doing something independent.

TIPS-we found it a bit confusing despite the info in the Viking book which arrives with your paperwork. Basically local guides (as opposed to those on the boat) and the bus drivers can be tipped in rubles at the end of each trip. They suggest 100 for the driver and 500 for the guide per couple. But it is discretionary and varied quite a bit. The Viking guides however are tipped at the end of the cruise in cash and you are given an envelope for this which is anonymous. They suggest $10 per person per day but again we heard a lot of variations of this being given! The remainder of the crew on board they recommend $15 per person per day but this can be added to your invoice and paid by card.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 313
The cabin was lovely. Very clean, plenty of storage and a very comfy bed. The shower room had everything you needed. Each day it was kept beautifully clean and tidy. We would have liked tea making facilities in the room as we didn't like to visit the tea station in our pj's!
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