Discover the passion and grandeur of Russian history, art and culture as you cruise its beautiful waterways. From the glittering metropolises of St. Petersburg and Moscow to the timeless towns along the Golden Ring, you’ll experience Russia in all its glory and splendour.
Day 1: St. Petersburg (Embark)
Arrive at Pulkovo International Airport and transfer to the ship.
Day 2: St. Petersburg
With its grand Italian architectures and austere Nordic setting, St. Petersburg is a city of canals, palaces and cathedrals that presents a glorious juxtaposition of East and West. See the sights by land as well as water, then experience an art form that is quintessentially Russian—an evening at the ballet.
Day 3: St. Petersburg
Spend your day in St. Petersburg at what many experts consider the finest art museum in the world, the legendary Hermitage, a former residence of the tsars that’s now home to a massive and mind-boggling collection of priceless works of art. Your day in St. Petersburg finds you with an appropriately imperial excursion: a guided tour through the world-famous Hermitage Museum. It is the crown jewel of the city and is located in the former home of the tsars, the Winter Palace.
Day 4: St. Petersburg
Cross the threshold of the summer residence of the tsars—the lavishly decorated Catherine Palace—where you’ll see opulent staterooms and the near mythic Amber Room, meticulously restored to its former glory. Dine on traditional Russian fare at a local restaurant, then spend the rest of the day exploring on your own. On your final day in St. Petersburg, you’ll enjoy a guided tour through splendid Catherine Palace and Park. Once the summer residence of the tsars, it is a masterwork of rococo architecture. Then, spend the rest of your day on your own exploring more of this beautiful city or join a tour to Peterhof Gardens—a treat for anyone interested in landscape design.
Day 5: Cruising Lake Ladoga, Mandrogi, Cruising the Svir River
Travel back in time to the 19th century at a reconstructed Russian village populated by talented artisans who make handmade items using old-world materials and techniques. A reconstructed village on the shore of the Svir River, Mandrogi illustrates the traditions and lifestyles of Russia’s past. Other highlights today include a rustic shashlik picnic lunch onshore and a cruise on a pristine freshwater lake. Your ship cruises along the southern shores of Lake Ladoga, a vast freshwater inland sea that was once connected to the Baltic Sea. Islands dot the water while forested nature preserves and beaches line the shores. Relax and enjoy the scenery.
Day 6: Kizhi Island, Cruising Lake Onega
To approach the wooden Church of Transfiguration from the water, with its multitude of shingled onion domes and unmistakable silhouette, can be, well, a transformative experience. Step ashore for an up-close view of this incredible church—built without a single nail—and explore the island’s famous open-air museum and its 89 traditional wooden structures. Kizhi Island, which seemingly floats between sky and water in the midst of Lake Onega, is home to one of Russia’s iconic sights, the all-wood Church of Transfiguration.
Day 7: Goritsy (Kirillov)
Beyond Russia’s major cities lies a completely different world—the fabled land of Mother Russia, celebrated for centuries in art, songs and great works of literature. Explore two rural villages today for an authentic and unforgettable glimpse of everyday life in a Russian province. Two tiny villages are your destination today. Goritsy, a farming settlement on the Sheksna River, and Kirillov, which may be small but has extraordinary churches linked to the tsars.
Day 8: Cruising Lake Rybinsk, Yaroslavl
Relax onboard the ship as you travel across Lake Rybinsk, formed in 1941 between the upper Volga River and its tributaries. At the time of its construction, it was the largest man-made body of water on earth. Arrive in Yaroslavl. Often called the “Russian Florence” and considered one of Russia’s most beautiful cities of the Golden Ring, Yaroslavl stretches for miles along the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosi rivers. Credit for Yaroslavl’s well-designed, UNESCO-protected city centre goes to none other than Catherine the Great, who was even more than a mighty Russian ruler—she was a forward-thinking urban planner as well. Visit an Orthodox church and a lively market.
Day 9: Uglich
Heading south on the Volga, you’ll come to one of the loveliest cities of the Golden Ring, as the group of towns that played significant roles in Russian history are known. As you approach the delightful and picturesque town of Uglich in the afternoon, be prepared for a panorama of magnificent architectural monuments.
Day 10: Moscow
If Russia is “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” as Churchill famously said, then Moscow presents an intriguing starting point for cultural discovery. See the city’s most iconic sights (as well as some under-the-radar secrets) with a savvy local expert, both above ground and below. Glamorous, grand, gorgeous and sometimes maddening, Moscow is Russia’s principal city. Founded in 1156, it was the capital of the medieval nation. Moscow lost its status as capital to St. Petersburg under Peter the Great, but it never lost its significance to Russia, and it has re-established its dominance over the nation’s culture, politics and economy during the past century.
Day 11: Moscow
For many of us, the Kremlin evokes images of power and grandeur, mystery and secrecy. And as you’ll discover, it is all those things and much more. Fabergé eggs? Imperial jewels? Palaces and armories and cathedrals, oh my. You’ll see them all on today’s excursion.
Day 12: Moscow
Adventures await with a whole day in Moscow to explore on your own. Spend the day in Moscow exploring on your own. Return to yesterday’s favorite sites or discover new treasures in this world-class city. You could visit the Pushkin Literary Museum to learn more about Russia’s most famous poet or tour one of the houses in which Leo Tolstoy lived. Perhaps you’d like to take a stroll along Kuznetsky Most, which for centuries has hosted Moscow’s most fashionable shops. Shuttles will run from the ship to the city center for your convenience.
Day 13: Moscow (Disembark)
You have sampled culinary delights, explored history and experienced the best of life along the Volga River. Now the journey comes to a close and it’s time to disembark the ship.