Peter the Great created Saint Petersburg but did not manage to link the city to Moscow via the River Neva and canals. This enormous project therefore had to wait until the 20th century. Along the river, we see deep dark forests, jealously guarding their hidden treasures, before we see the Dachas belonging to the Muscovites replacing the traditional Isbas. On the streets, you’ll see women in high heels passing old Russian baboushkas. Here in Russia, there is a real mix of different styles, which serve as a reminder that history re-writes itself every day…
DAY 1 SAINT PETERSBURG
Settle into cabins then attend a Folklore welcome evening on board, with the traditional “Bread and Salt” ceremony. Dinner on board and overnight stop in Saint Petersburg.
DAY 2 SAINT PETERSBURG
We have a panoramic tour of Saint Petersburg. Built on islands in the Neva delta, this marvellous city known today as the cultural capital of Russia is a delightful place for art lovers. Here we can admire Nevsky Prospect, Kazan and Saint Isaac’s cathedrals, Smolny convent and Vassilievsky island. We visit Saint Nicholas’ Naval cathedral, a remarkable illustration of religious baroque architecture with magnificent decorations. We then visit St Peter and Paul’s fortress and its fine cathedral. Situated above the Neva, its golden spire dominates the river, opposite the former winter palace. The cathedral is where the tombs of the old Russian Tsars are located. We have lunch in town then we visit the famous Hermitage museum, the most important and most famous museum in Russia. Situated in the former winter palace of the Tsars, it owes its world renown to its rooms dedicated to the painters from the Italian, Flemish, Spanish, Dutch, German and French schools. There is a particularly fine collection of Rembrandts and other painters from the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century and French impressionist painters. We return to our ship and have dinner and another night on board. OPTIONAL EXCURSION: “Folk show” OR "An evening at he Ballet Theater Palace".
DAY 3 SAINT PETERSBURG
We have a day at leisure. Morning: OPTIONAL EXCURSION: “Visit to the Petrodvorets palace” OR Free time in Saint Petersburg (possibility of transfer to Saint Petersburg - to book and pay on board). Lunch in town, back on board OR OPTIONAL EXCURSION: “Cruise along the canals of St Petersburg” OR Free time in Saint Petersburg (possibility of transfer to Saint Petersburg - to book and pay on board). Sailing. Dinner and another night on board.
DAY 4 MANDROGUI
Between lake Ladoga, the largest lake in Europe, and lake Onega, the river Svir flows gently through beautiful and rare scenery. From the decks of our ship, we have a glimpse into the daily lives of the villagers who live in this deep and authentic part of Russia as we cruise past. We have lunch on board and then we stop at Mandrogui for a walk in the village constructed entirely for tourists to visit. Here we see traditional Russian craftsmen at work, as well as the wooden “Isbas” so typical of the region. Dinner and another night on board. OPTIONAL EXCURSION: “Lunch of local specialities in Mandrogui”.
DAY 5 KIZHI
We cruise on lake Onega and arrive in Kizhi, situated in the middle of the lake, in the region of Karelia, great North Russia. Kizhi is a small narrow island which stretches from north to south about 8km and is just 1.500m wide. The island is a true treasure trove of delightful wooden buildings from the 18th century. We visit the open-air museum, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where both religious and secular buildings are grouped together, the 22-domed Transfiguration church and the smaller 10-domed church of the Intercession. We have lunch and then cruise on lake Onega. Dinner and another night on board.
DAY 6 GORITSY
We cruise on the river Sheksna and the white lake. Our next port of call allows us a real insight into the life of a typical Russian village. In Goristy, we visit a school, where the children and teachers happily explain their way of life. We end our time in Goritsy with a visit of a typical village house in order to have a better understanding of the villagers’ life. We follow with a walking tour of the Resurrection monastery, which is being restored. We rejoin our ship and cruise on the White lake. Lunch, and Russian tea during our cruise. Dinner and another night on board. OPTIONAL guided tour of “Saint Cyril of White lake” monastery. Founded in 14th century by St Cyril, this fortress name is a reference to the Bielozersk located on the White lake, near Kirillov, territory of the principality of Bielzersk. It was first a rampart of the city of Moscow and then it became a place of worship composed of a whole fortified, cultural and domestic work. This optional excursion replaces the visits on the original program at Goritsy.
DAY 7 ROSTOV
We spend the morning cruising and after lunch on board, we arrive in Yaroslavl in the early afternoon. One of the highlights of the Russian Golden Ring of towns, Yaroslavl is an ancient Russian city, founded by Yaroslav the Wise in 1010 and is located at the confluence of the Volga and the Kotorosl rivers. We visit the “Transfiguration of the Saviour” monastery (Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery) as well as the church of St Nicholas, built in the mid-17th century. It was dedicated to St Nicholas the Miracle Worker, protector of all merchants and travellers, and was the first stone temple of worship to be built in Yaroslavl. Dinner and overnight stay on board. OPTIONAL "Rostov the great". Funded in the IXth century, by the river Nero, Rostov is one of the oldest city of the "Golden Ring". Panoramic tour. Visit of the Kremlin and Dormition Cathedral built in 1162 by the great Prince Andreï Bogolioubski.
DAY 8 UGLICH
We cruise along the river Volga and arrive in Uglich, where in 1591, the Tsar Dmitri, son of Ivan the Terrible disappeared in mysterious and tragic circumstances. We visit the Kremlin with the church of St Dmitri-on-the-Blood and the cathedral of the Transfiguration. We attend a short concert of liturgical music. We then have lunch. After leaving the Volga, “Mother of all Rivers”, we negotiate an impressive system of locks, built in the time of Stalin, which allows us to reach Moscow. Tonight is the captain’s dinner accompanied by a glass of vodka. We stay on board overnight.
DAY 9 MOSCOW
We have lunch on board before we arrive in Moscow. We have a panoramic tour of the city (exterior of buildings only) and the historic center – “Kitay Gorod” with the famous Red square dominated by St Basil’s cathedral and the Kremlin on the banks of the river Moskova. Dinner and overnight stay on board. OPTIONAL EXCURSION: “Metro and Moscow by night”.
DAY 10 MOSCOW
We have a discovery tour today of the Novodevichy convent dating from the 16th century and proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. The beautiful domes and bell towers of its churches with frescos and five-tiered iconostasis are an integral part of the Moscow cityscape. We also visit the cathedral of Christ the Saviour, rebuilt in 1995 to the design of the original cathedral which dated from 1883 and which was razed to the ground on Stalin’s orders in 1931. We have lunch in town, followed by a visit to the Kremlin, the historic fortified complex in the heart of Moscow, complete with many civil and religious buildings enclosed within the Kremlin walls. We also visit inside the magnificent cathedral of the Assumption. OPTIONAL EXCURSION: “The Armoury palace, museum of the Russian Imperial Court”(1) - “Russian national show”. Dinner and overnight stay on board.
DAY 11 MOSCOW
After breakfast on board, disembarkation. End of our journey.