Day 1: Australia –– St. Petersburg
Depart Australia today to begin your incredible Russian holiday.
Day 2: St. Petersburg (D)
Arrive in astonishingly beautiful St. Petersburg, nestled on the Neva River; transfer to the port to embark your cruise. After arrival formalities, time to rest, relax and enjoy your new surroundings. Tonight’s dinner welcomes you to Russia and your cruise on the legendary Volga River.
Day 3: St. Petersburg (B,L,D)
Morning tour of enchanting St. Petersburg begins on the stunning Nevsky Prospekt , the main avenue of the city, planned by Peter the Great. Continue to view the Palace Square, Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Isaac’s Cathedral with its huge golden dome and the magnificent Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, a superb example of Russian architecture. This afternoon, visit the world-famous Hermitage Museum, housing the largest collection of priceless masterpieces by Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Rembrandt and many others. Tonight, after dinner, attend an optional performance of a traditional Russian ballet or opt to take a scenic cruise along St. Petersburg’s legendary canals.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Ballet Performance – 10100 Russian ruble
Enjoy a traditional Russian ballet performed at the Theatre of Musical Comedy by some of Russia’s most prominent dancers. The ballet is an art form that has been popular in the country since the 18th century and is considered one of the most sophisticated and elegant dancing styles. Approximate tour duration is 2.5 hours.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Rivers & Canals of St. Petersburg – 3300 Russian ruble
St. Petersburg is famous for its many rivers and canals, as well as the bridges that span the magnificent palaces and churches on the banks. This evening board a small ship and cruise through canals taking in the views of the bridges and embankments beautifully decorated with iron cast fences, lanterns and sculptures. Approximate tour duration is 1 hour.
Day 4: St. Petersburg (B,L,D)
Today is free to explore all the delights of this magical city on your own. Or, join the optional excursion to Pushkin Palace and Peterhof Park. Travel to nearby Pushkin to visit the lavish 18th century Catherine’s Palace, summer residence of the Russian Tsars, named for Catherine, widow of Peter the Great. Explore the luxurious palace, an architectural masterpiece, and the surrounding gardens. Visit the reconstructed Amber Room, with its walls covered with dazzling panels of amber, gold leaf and mirrors. Then, continue to Peterhof Palace with its gorgeous landscaped gardens and fountains overlooking the Gulf of Finland. This configuration of palaces and gardens was masterminded by Peter the Great, and is often called the “Russian Versailles.” Return to the ship in the late afternoon and set sail from St. Petersburg. This evening, enjoy dinner on board and get to know your fellow traveling companions.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Pushkin Palace & Peterhof Park
Travel to Pushkin to visit Catherine’s Palace, the summer residence of the Russian imperial family, with its long history that begins in the early 18th century. In 1710 Peter I presented these lands to his second wife Catherine I. The first palace to be built on the land was a two story stone palace but was demolished and reconstructed several times. Explore the palace and the surrounding park and learn of the long history behind this beautiful site. Take some time to view the amber panels backed with gold leafs and mirrors in the famous Amber Room which was reconstructed after the second world war. Continue to Peterhof, located southwest of St. Petersburg, overlooking the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. You will have an opportunity to view the series of palaces and gardens, laid out on the orders of Peter the Great, and sometimes called the “Russian Versailles.” Your tour does not feature a visit to the palace but includes time at leisure to explore the Lower Park.
Day 5: Village of Mandrogi (B,L,D)
Sail to Mandrogi, part of the Valaam Archipelago, a reconstructed 18th century traditional Russian village set amongst a picturesque landscape. Walk through the town with its traditional Russian houses (izba) and browse the shops for handmade Russian crafts, paintings or traditional clothes. Stop at the popular Museum of Russian Vodka, with a collection of over 2500 varieties of vodka from across Russia. Explore the craft workshops where painting, wood carving, weaving lacework and pottery are demonstrated, and then cap off the afternoon with a traditional “shashlik” lunch, served in an open-air pavillion on the shore (weather permitting). In the late afternoon, sail for the island of Kizhi.
Day 6: Kizhi Church of Transfiguration (B,L,D)
This morning arrive to the island of Kizhi.* Here, you will stand in awe at the Church of Transfiguration, one of the most impressive wooden structures ever erected. This fairy tale architectural landmark is largely responsible for creating one of the most frequented tourist attractions in Russia. The church features 22 cupolas of striking intricacy, built without using a single nail. Wander through the open-air wooden Architecture Museum with its collection of wooden houses, windmills and churches representing ancient Russian architecture. This entire area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Return to the ship in time for lunch. This afternoon, attend a Russian tea ceremony on board, or a Russian song class as the ship sails towards Goritsy
*The operation of the Kizhi Church of Transfiguration is dependent on weather and sea conditions. If canceled, the visit to Kizhi will be replaced with alternate sightseeing.
Day 7: Monastery of St. Cyril, Goritsy (B,L,D)
Morning is at leisure on board. Afternoon arrival in Goritsy, an old Russian town with a rich historical and cultural heritage. Stroll the grounds of the 14th century Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, also known as the Monastery of St. Cyril of the White Lake, one of the largest and best-preserved medieval Abbeys in Russia. The wooden churches and walls built at the original location were replaced over succeeding centuries by impressive stone and masonry structures. The monastery’s fortifying walls, which measure 2400-feet-long and 22 feet thick, are truly a very impressive sight. In the late afternoon, reboard your ship and join a festive Russian vodka tasting while sailing for Yaroslavl.
Day 8: Yaroslavl (B,L,D)
Arrive this afternoon in the quaint Golden Ring city of Yaroslavl. This beautiful city, one of Russia’s oldest, traces its roots back to the days of the Vikings. Stop at the fortified Transfiguration of the Savior Monastery and its Cathedral, the oldest building in Yaroslavl, dating back 800 years. Continue to the Yaroslavl Museum of Russian Art housed in the 18th century Governor’s mansion, with its impressive collection of Russian paintings spread out across many palatial rooms. View the exquisite Church of Elijah the Prophet with its detailed frescoes and icons, a real masterpiece of ancient Russian art and the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonder-worker. Time to browse the local markets for handicrafts and treasures before returning to the ship for dinner.
Day 9: Uglich (B,L,D)
Arrive in historic Uglich on the banks of the Volga River. Uglich played an important role in Russian history when Prince Dmitry used it as a hiding place from the bloody reign of his father Ivan the Terrible. His death made the town famous and led to an increasingly turbulent period in Russia’s history. This morning’s walking tour will visit the Church of St. Dimitry-on-Blood built in honor of the Prince on the exact spot where he was killed by his father’s forces, and the Transfiguration Cathedral marvelously decorated with painted icons and frescoes. The ship will set sail for Moscow at noon. This evening, join the Captain’s dinner on board and a delightful show performed by the crew of the MS Zosima Shashkov.
Day 10: Moscow (B,L,D)
This morning relax on board as you prepare for an exciting afternoon in Moscow, the fabled capital of Russia. After lunch on board, begin your panoramic city tour at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the former headquarters of the KGB. Explore storied Red Square with St. Basil’s cathedral and the famous red brick walls of the Kremlin before returning to the ship for dinner on board.
Day 11: Moscow (B,L,D)
Visit the Kremlin, one of the best-known monuments in Russia – and in the world. The guided walking tour takes you inside the former residence of the Russian Czars. See the famous Czar Cannon, the 16th century Czar Bell, and Cathedral Square, home to three of Moscow’s most elaborate cathedrals: the Cathedral of Assumption, the Cathedral of Annunciation, and the Cathedral of the Archangel. This afternoon return to the ship to rest, explore Moscow on your own or, take the optional afternoon tour to the 16th century Novodevichy Convent, proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a superb architectural monument that is one of Russia’s best-known cloisters. Tonight, bid a fond farewell to your newfound friends on board.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Moscow Novodevichy Convent – 4600 Russian ruble
Visit the Novodevichy Convent, founded in the early 16th century by Duke Vasily III to commemorate the recapture of the old Russian city of Smolensk. Learn the fascinating history of the convent filled with numerous dramas and tragedies. View the five-domed Cathedral of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God, the oldest structure of the convent, built in 1524-1525. This superb architectural monument is one of Russia’s best-known cloisters. Approximate tour duration is 2 hours.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Kremlin Armoury Tour
Visit the Novodevichy Convent, founded in the early 16th century by Duke Vasily III to commemorate the recapture of the old Russian city of Smolensk. Learn the fascinating history of the convent filled with numerous dramas and tragedies. View the five-domed Cathedral of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God, the oldest structure of the convent, built in 1524-1525. This superb architectural monument is one of Russia’s best-known cloisters.
Day 12: Moscow – – Australia (B)
Bid farewell to Russia as you disembark the cruise and take a transfer to the airport.
Day 13: Australia
Arrive home today.