4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I chose this cruise because I wanted to see Moscow and other cities in Russia that were visited on this cruise. I had already been to St. Petersburg but I new that it, too, must be different than when I visited in 2004. I didn't ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to see Moscow and other cities in Russia that were visited on this cruise. I had already been to St. Petersburg but I new that it, too, must be different than when I visited in 2004. I didn't know what to expect. I never expected some of the things I saw. Red Square at night was like a light show. The building were outlined with white lights, St. Basil's Cathedral was just magnificent with the spotlights on it. It is also beautiful in the daytime. I was surprised at the number of churches that I saw. I know that for many years that people could not worship openly. I never expected to see churches that were breathtakingly beautiful inside. Every inch was covered with gold, paintings. mosaics and more. Spectacular. This was the third Viking River cruise for me. I really didn't know what to expect on the first one but I learned quickly that the staff on Viking ships are friendly and helpful. They are respectful to the guests. The cabin was always made up when I returned from an excursion. Housekeeping was quick to send anything that I needed. The menu was varied each night. I especially liked the dishes that were native to the region where we were. The Russian menus were great. There were selections with which I was familiar because they were made in my family. It was fun to eat them on the ship. The service was excellent. I looked forward to the excursions every day because I didn't know what to expect. One excursion was to Khizi island where 60 people live. It was educational. We saw an church that was being restored. Everything was done with wood. The guides in Russia were well informed and answered any questions. I recommend the Russia cruise. You will know a lot more than before you visited. I am already scheduled for cruises 4 and 5 this year - Viking Ocean Cruise - Venice to Athens and Viking River Cruise - Portugal-The River of Gold. Can't wait. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Scenic Tsar – Imperial Russia Moscow to Volgagrad 30th Sept – 14th Oct 18 Deluxe Balcony Suite #305 Expectations Checking the previous reviews for the Scenic Tsar, we were somewhat worried. We had been prewarned that the ... Read More
Scenic Tsar – Imperial Russia Moscow to Volgagrad 30th Sept – 14th Oct 18 Deluxe Balcony Suite #305 Expectations Checking the previous reviews for the Scenic Tsar, we were somewhat worried. We had been prewarned that the Tsar was NOT a Scenic SpaceShip. Indeed it is not even owned by Scenic and only has 3 Scenic staff members on board. We knew when we booked about the ‘buy your drinks outside of mealtimes’ policy, the size of the cabins etc. The ‘actuality’ far exceeded our expectations. I should mention that there were only 85 guests aboard compared to the 115 capacity. Good mix of nationalities although obviously a significant number of Australians (Scenic is an Australian Tour Company) Ages were pretty much exclusively 60s or 70s. This is NOT a trip for those with walking difficulties. It is not only the walking but the many, many steps and uneven surfaces encountered. Food The food was excellent. Eggman at breakfast. Buffet lunch but with a la carte choices too. I had a wonderful fresh trout one day. Dinner had at least three choices for each course. All very well presented. Service was very efficient – no waiting. There was a good variety of wines served, including, some from Eastern European countries. Staff The non-Scenic staff were excellent – well up to Scenic standards. Service in restaurant was extremely efficient and fast. Scenic’s own staff – the 3 Cruise Directors – were not only very good but extremely knowledgeable. Special namecheck to Svetlana Armstrong - the Cruise Director - who really made the holiday. A real gem/star. Suite The main/bedroom part of our suite was perfectly satisfactory. Long worksurface to accommodate our laptop and other devices etc. Comfortable beds and all the furnishings were to a good standard – indeed looked pretty new. Very quiet. Loved having a kettle. Air Con could be switched off which is a rare boom for people like us who hate sleeping with the aircon on. Minor complaints would be no drawers – just shelves – and a wardrobe where the hangers were parallel to the doors rather than perpendicular – which made selecting your clothes a bit difficult. Main issue was the bathroom. DO NOT BRING YOUR CAT – because you certainly would NOT be able to swing it here! The space between the shower, wash basin and WC was so limited that you had to move about sideways. Having said that everything was clean and maintained that way throughout the trip. The shower itself was both powerful and hot. Itinerary We came not for the ship but to visit Russia. It did not disappoint. I understand that this was the first time that Scenic had done Moscow to Volgograd. All their other trips are between St Petersberg (which we had visited before) and Moscow. In many places you got the impression that the locals saw very few visitors from ‘the west’. Everyone seemed friendly and the locations felt safe. The day in Moscow was exhausting but we ‘hit all the high spots’. Traffic was horrendous but Scenic’s organisation and local guides were excellent. Could have spent much longer there. Although I enjoyed the second day trip to the SpacePark, my wife took the metro to visit the art galleries in Central Moscow instead. Several other guests, like us, would have preferred a second trip into Moscow. BTW – The Scenic Tsar was moored in the river beside a very quiet park about 1km (c 20 minute) walk from the nearest metro station with a direct journey into central Moscow. Costs 55 roubles a trip. BTW – Moscow dispelled my preconceptions. It is probably the cleanest city I have visited. No litter. No beggars either. Indeed it all oozed prosperity. Also seemed v safe. The stops along the Volga were all good with excellent guides. Lots of locks to navigate which added to the interest of the trip. The high spots were: - Yaroslavl where the recreation of a ball at the Governor’s House is not to be missed. - The visits to the Russian Dance School and Military Band Concert in Kostroma. Indeed I reckon there were more performers that day than Scenic Tsar guests! But almost every stop had some kind of entertainment – be it choirs in the churches or folk singing/dancing. - Lovely walk on our own in Pylos looking at the multimillion dollar dachas and the views as the trees put on their autumn colours. - Day in Volgograd/Stalingrad and the visit to the Memorial Park was extremely moving. A definite ‘must do’/high spot. The excursions (all included in the cost) were run extremely efficiently. We love the audio kits. Only criticism was that a few of the guides could not speak English well and had to have translators. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
The Good: The destinations were what decided us to do this trip and they certainly did not disappoint. We were blown away by most of the venues we visited in Russia, before continuing on a land tour of the Baltic States, ending in ... Read More
The Good: The destinations were what decided us to do this trip and they certainly did not disappoint. We were blown away by most of the venues we visited in Russia, before continuing on a land tour of the Baltic States, ending in Berlin. The staff and guides were mostly all excellent, their English and local knowledge remarkable. The Bad: We were not at all happy where the boat had to dock in both Moscow and St Petersburg, in the middle of nowhere, hours by bus to and from all the venues visited in the respective cities, and nowhere to wander in the surrounding port areas in our free time.The trip would have been greatly enhanced if we could have stayed in inner city hotels in each place. Food was plentiful during the fixed meal times, although not much choice or local flavour. The wine provided (meal times only) was of a very poor quality. I was surprised there was no food provided - like a 'cafe' eg - as is normal on other Scenic ships, outside of the regular meal times. Majority of guests caught a debilitating stomach bug which continued on into the following land tour. I have enlarged on the cabin in a separate area below. The Sun Deck has no shade, just bare, uncushioned chairs, and is not at all welcoming. We never saw any one up there the few times we ventured up. With a bit of extra money spent on shade and other decorations, this would be a popular area. Entertainment was virtually non-existent - just the crew and passengers making their own. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We were interested in seeing Russia and mixing either people, learning there culture, and to see the famous landmarks that we see on the TV and in brochures. To visit Moscow and St Petersburg plus a few rural villages/communities along The ... Read More
We were interested in seeing Russia and mixing either people, learning there culture, and to see the famous landmarks that we see on the TV and in brochures. To visit Moscow and St Petersburg plus a few rural villages/communities along The Volga too intrigued us. The ship is not Scenic owned and we knew that from the beginning, but we have done several Scenic trips and were disappointed that the service was not the same. I don’t believe that the service model could not be replicated on the Scenic Tsar. The atmosphere in the lounge is really non existent as people hear back to there cabins rather than stay for a night cap and mingle not sure if people don’t like to pay for their drinks after dinner. The entertainment was also not inviting as it was mostly piano and lots of classical. Also there was a bug on board which would have affected at least 80% of the boat at some stage. All in all destination was great but experience was average. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
This was my first Viking river cruise and it did not disappoint in any way. Russia was nothing like we expected. It was warm and friendly, with culture coming from all sides. The architecture and places we were escorted to. The food ... Read More
This was my first Viking river cruise and it did not disappoint in any way. Russia was nothing like we expected. It was warm and friendly, with culture coming from all sides. The architecture and places we were escorted to. The food on the ship along with the whole layout of the dining arrangements. The knowledgable guides who not only escorted us and had an incredible knowledge of all aspects of Russia but gave lectures (talks) on the history of Russia. The entertainment delivered on the ship by the most experienced and caring hotel staff. The cleanliness and the care of the cabin by the cleaning staff was brilliant. All of the above plus more made this holiday one of the best we have taken. I could not recommend it highly enough. Although this holiday was not cheap, it was worth every penny we spent. Saw some amazing places and met some lovely people from all over the world. Will definitely be going on another Viking cruise soon. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Great trip - great crew but staying so far out of Moscow and St. Petersburg made for a six nights of 'parking' out of town. Did not get a chance to experience two fabulous cities outside of guided tours. No information was ... Read More
Great trip - great crew but staying so far out of Moscow and St. Petersburg made for a six nights of 'parking' out of town. Did not get a chance to experience two fabulous cities outside of guided tours. No information was volunteered about the subway. Would have taken it the first day, if we knew we were across the park from it. Tried the bus - too long - two hours each way - same for cabs. Going to dinner required a 6 hour trip with 80% of it in a vehicle. No maps of the area where the boat was moored to run/jog - nothing on board to use to exercise. An expensive trip $20,000 to sit on a boat with a few great tours. Money would have been better spent on hotels and a boat trip in the middle. Should be patterned after Viking's China cruise. Stay downtown Moscow for three days - then board the boat. Do the Volga River and upon arriving in St. Petersberg - debark for three or four nights in hotels in St. Petersberg and Peterof. Would not recommend for folks with a high activity level, best for those more sedentary. Food was excellent with Russian food choices at every meal. Advice - prepare a separate brochure for those wishing to walk alone, that is to say - avoid the "walking" tours where you take 100 steps and have to wait for half the folks to catch up. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
This was our 3rd Viking cruise and proved to be even better than we expected. The vessel was not quite up to the "Longships" standards, but was quite good. There is only so much you can do with old KGB boats and Viking has done ... Read More
This was our 3rd Viking cruise and proved to be even better than we expected. The vessel was not quite up to the "Longships" standards, but was quite good. There is only so much you can do with old KGB boats and Viking has done everything possible. The staff and service were both excellent; the dining experience quite good. Rommel Jamaquio, our waiter was extraordinary! The enrichment programs and shore excursions were excellent, using well qualified local guides, as has always been our experience with Viking. The Cossack dance program was incredible. The on-board entertainment was probably OK, but we were too busy to notice. The schedule was much busier than on our previous Viking cruises, simply because there is so much to see. Even the short visits to the smaller towns were well planned and very pleasant. We tried to do "everything" and would do everything again if we had the chance. As always, Viking was attentive to every detail. Wilhelm Steinbrunner, the Hotel Manager, could not have been more helpful. All in all, great cruise that gives one a very different view of Russia! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
August last year, perhaps a little late in the season but our fault we chose it. The first couple of days are spent in Moscow, one of those places that not so many years ago was almost impossible to go to. We had a fantastic time, ably ... Read More
August last year, perhaps a little late in the season but our fault we chose it. The first couple of days are spent in Moscow, one of those places that not so many years ago was almost impossible to go to. We had a fantastic time, ably assisted by our very knowledgeable Russian Guide Victoria. She seemed to know everything and used her skills as a guide along with her amazing grasp of the English language and the English sense of humour. The cruise took in some wonderful palaces at which we stopped for a tour and some free time. Uglitch, Kizi Island and it amazing wooden church and several other places. Our destination was St Petersburg, without a doubt the Jewel in the Crown. So much to see and so little time as the saying goes. The Hermitage, Peterhoff Palace, the list could be endless but you must do your own homework. As I said at the beginning August is a little cold but snuggled under a warm (provided) blanket drinking coffee under the ever moving stars was just priceless, (oh and the Vodka Tasting evening is good fun as well). Go you will not regret it. The sail date may be slightly wrong, cant remember the exact date we sailed. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
Our two main issues with this trip are that it was advertised as a luxury cruise ("luxurious", "fine dining", "cuisine") and at $24,000 for the four of us it was certainly our expectation. The other issue was ... Read More
Our two main issues with this trip are that it was advertised as a luxury cruise ("luxurious", "fine dining", "cuisine") and at $24,000 for the four of us it was certainly our expectation. The other issue was that the boat and crew were not ready to sail. Airport Arrival - We arrived at 16:30 at Moscow airport and stood (literally) for two hours before we were taken to our bus where we then stood for a long period of time in the heat. One lady fainted and was attended by other passengers. No effort was made to provide medical assistance by the three people from the boat that met us. Once the bus arrived the passengers had to load their own luggage. My husband and I stood with our luggage as well as my parents and we also offered to load the luggage of the older couple as the woman had fainted. There was no room left in in the garage of the bus and we stood there for a long time before finally carrying the suitcases up onto the bus. We received a minimal amount of help from the three young people from AMA Waterways at this point. Our driver drove through downtown Moscow rush hour traffic instead of taking the highway past the city. We were in stop and go traffic for two hours. We finally reached the boat between 8:45-9:15 PM. Problems aboard the ship Water was leaking in a number of the suites including ours, it also poured outside our suite. Water was collecting in the lower floor ballroom. At one point they had shopvacs going non-stop sucking up the water. Water also poured from the bar ceiling while we were enjoying our cocktails. One morning the entire ship had no water for showers or toilets. Then another day the air conditioning did not work. There were smells of diesel fumes generally in the aft section of the boat. Rooms near the diesels were noisy and vibrating so make sure you don't get a room near the rear of the boat. Even the dining rooms would be vibrating while underway. Dinners Food was advertised as "Fine Dining" but it was more like "home cooking". There were a few selections but both restaurants had the same menus and there were no real difference between "themed" dinners and regular meals. 2 dining rooms were ridiculously overcrowded with little space between the tables. This could have been easily solved with two seatings but instead there was pushing and shoving so guests could get in and hold a table. After a while we realized that people were paying extra to reserve tables in the smaller, quieter restaurant as they sat at the same table every meal. Bars were closed once dinner started so it was difficult to enjoy a cocktail before dinner. Once you sat down to dinner you were pushed to order right away and chastised if you wanted to sit and enjoy a cocktail. Bartenders were not experienced and did not know how to make even simple drinks (e.g., Vodka martini). There were a large number of people ill (including one of our party) during the latter part of the trip and the empty seats in the dining room were quite noticeable near the end of the trip (or maybe they were just sick of the poor food). Ship Amenities Fitness room consisted of two very small rooms. One with a treadmill but the ceiling was so low anyone over 6 feet couldn't use it. The other small room has a couple of bikes. Outside there is a universal weight machine. The sun deck was behind the two engine stacks. While you were on the deck, either underway or at dock, diesel fumes were a problem. The ship's doctor was also the masseuse.Tours Tours were generally poorly organized. One day we took a bus ride in Moscow to Red Square and then bus for a river cruise with cheap lunch. After lunch we got back on the bus to back to the Kremlin. Most of the day was spent in transit. Funniest of all tours was the stop in Sivirstroy - "Enjoy some free time to stroll through this unspoiled Russian Village and browse for irresistible handmade trinkets". Obviously there were kickbacks dictating where our boat stopped. This was the site of an old power plant and the town of the former workers. The newly renovated house with the Mercedes obviously rented the shops to local people who sold their wares - caps and other trash from China. The tour of the authentic Russian homes with beautiful gardens was laughable. The homes were built for the power plant in the 30's, rotting and decaying. We had a BBQ there in an old shed with food from our boat. The only prosperity in this town was from selling Russian souvenirs made in China (e.g., Barak Obama and USA baseball team wooden dolls) to the tourists during summer. Tour guides Occasionally our guides were good but most often they were reciting by rote about the year something was built and its dimensions. Overall None of the passengers on this trip that we spoke with were pleased with this trip. The general feeling was that we were deceived about the level of service and luxury that AMA Waterways advertised. Also, the general feeling of being on an economy cruise where we all learned quickly where to find; cutlery, napkins, toilet paper, water (water cooler at the end of the hallway), clean towels. Many of the passengers had a point of reference having been on other cruises and river cruises. If we had known before leaving Toronto that the level of service would be so low, then we would have made other arrangements as this trip was a waste of money and more importantly our time. The lack of pictures provided for this boat should have been a clue to the deception by AMA Waterways. Few of the staff speak English beyond a few words. However, several went out of their way to make this trip pleasant and we would like to thank them. While the level of service by staff is sub-par, this could be easily overcome through training. The problems with this trip are not the fault of the staff but goes right to the top at AMA Waterways. We made an unscheduled stop as a couple needed to get off. The joke that went around the ship was that they had complained about the service. Read Less

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