Peel away some of the mystique that still attaches to Russia on a cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg. Picture visiting the iconic Hermitage (previously the Winter Palace, home to the Tsars) and the Kremlin, enjoy ballet and sample vodka while cruising aboard boutique ship the Scenic Tsar. It’s all part of the schedule on Scenic Tours’ 18-day “Jewels of Russia’’, as you wind your way along the Moskva River and other waterways. The Scenic Tsar takes just 112 guests, so the emphasis is on comfort. The itinerary provides five days in Moscow and four in St Petersburg, allowing travellers to immerse themselves in the wonders of Russia as they cruise.
Start with an extended stay in Moscow. Ride the metro subway system, visit St Basil’s Cathedral and admire the astounding architecture as you cruise the river.
You will also visit the Kremlin, the seat of power of the former Soviet Union. View the priceless weaponry, jewels and ceremonial robes, then catch a Russian show performed by 50 folk dancers. Be enthralled by a visit to the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics and possibly meet a real cosmonaut, before attending a renowned Russian circus as day five on tour ends.
Next day you can visit the State Tretyakov gallery, which houses a special collection of Russian art, or explore the Museum of the Armed Forces. A guided tour of Uglich is followed by arrival in the ancient city of Yaroslavl, which dates back to 1010. Explore the Russian orthodox Kirillo-Belozersky monastery (1397) before sailing off with a vodka toast.
On day 10, the ship docks at Kizhi Island, an open-air museum with a precious collection of wooden churches and chapels. You’ll be able to see the Church of the Transfiguration, with its 22 timbered onion domes. There’s time to explore the museum village of Mandrogi, reconstructed after World War II, before starting day 12 with a guided tour of astounding St Petersburg. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant and later visit the Hermitage, formerly home to the Tsars and now housing one of the world’s most magnificent art collections.
Explore Catherine’s Block and the fountains in the Lower Garden at Peterhof on a guided tour, or just revel in the extravagance of Peterhof’s Grand Palace.
The morning of day 14 will take you to Catherine Palace, with its grandiose white and gold facade, then to the wooden Podvorie Restaurant for traditional Russian cuisine. On day 15, glide under some of St Petersburg’s 400 bridges on a scenic cruise through the canals.
The tour, departing Adelaide on August 5, is priced at $9525 a person (twin share), including airfares, the river cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg, on shore excursions, tipping and gratuities and all meals aboard.
Scenic Tours sales executive Damien Wolff will present two films (with morning tea) about the tour on July 22 and August 16 King William Travel’s theatrette.