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Russia by River: St. Petersburg, Moscow and the Volga Region

Program Number: 21241RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/11/2014 - 6/23/2014;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Russia
Price starting at: $6,699.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats
Meals: 31; 10 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Explore the enduring mysteries and modern realities of Russia on this river voyage between the country’s two greatest cities. Experience the opulence of the tsars’ palaces, the magical wooden buildings of Kizhi Island, the timeless traditions of village life and invaluable treasures from fine paintings to Fabergé eggs.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day; some uneven terrain.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Aboard ms AmaKaterina, 11 nights.

Day 1:
Overnight flight from the U.S.A.

Days 2-5:
Arrival St. Petersburg (Russia)

Admire the architecture of this city built by Tsar Peter the Great to rival the grand capitals of Europe. See magnificent Peterhof Palace, known as the “Russian Versailles,” and the Rococo-style Catherine Palace. Examine great treasures of the tsars at the Hermitage Museum and enjoy a ballet performance at the Hermitage Theatre. Discuss the current state of Russian politics with a local expert.

Day 6:

Sail across Lake Ladoga to the charming village of Svirstroy. Visit the home of a Russian family to learn about day-to-day life here and enjoy a lunch of shashlyk (the local version of shish kebab).

Day 7:

Voyage through Lake Onega and go ashore on Kizhi Island, an open-air museum featuring more than 80 examples of fairytale-like Russian wooden architecture.

Day 8:

Continue into the Volga Region and discover Goritsy, a quintessentially Russian farming village. Make a stop at the lakeside Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, founded in 1397.

Day 9:

Founded in 1010 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise, this is one of Russia’s oldest cities. An expert-led shore excursion takes you to the historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 10:

Walk through this historic town to find notable buildings including a church dedicated to Ivan the Terrible’s son, who died here under suspicious circumstances.

Days 11-13:
Moscow / disembark / departure

Venture inside the walls of the Kremlin to discover medieval cathedrals and palaces. Visit the Armory to examine royal jewels, Fabergé eggs and more. Explore the extravagant Moscow Metro, adorned with chandeliers and frescoes. Board a day boat to see the city from the Moscow River and enjoy a stroll in Red Square.


This 212-passenger riverboat was completely redesigned and rebuilt in 2010-2011 to set a new standard of comfort and luxury on the Volga River. It features two dining venues serving Russian specialties and international cuisine, the expansive Panorama Lounge, a conference hall for lectures and a fitness room. An elevator accesses all decks.


Russia developed under the influence of intellectuals, peasants, tsars and demagogues. Byzantine origins meld with Christianity in vibrant architecture, while religion, folkways and revolution inspired artists from Stravinsky to Chagall. Oppressive regimes helped to create the Iron Curtain, but the late 20th century ushered in glasnost, perestroika and a democratic nation of billionaires, ongoing reforms and an integral role in modern geopolitics.

Meals and Lodgings
  St. Petersburg, Russia
Various ports-of-call, Russia
Moscow, Russia
11 nights
Type: Riverboat
  Description: For 11 nights your floating hotel, the motor ship AmaKatarina, will be your river cruiser on an exciting journey through the heart of central Russia. Managed by AmaWaterways, the AmaKatarina, built in Germany in the early 1980s, was completely rebuilt and redesigned in 2010-11 to provide the most luxurious service on the Volga-Baltic Waterway. With a capacity for 212 passengers, it has staterooms featuring all the modern amenities. Comfortable public areas include a Panorama Lounge and a Conference Hall for our onboard lectures and performances. The friendly all-Russian, English-speaking crew and staff are well-trained in servicing Western passengers. Other services include: Complimentary specialty tea and coffee station; Complimentary wine and beer during meals on board; Bottled water for all meals and additional complimentary bottled water provided in cabins; WiFi service on board (fee applies); Hair salon, a massage room, and fitness room; Wheelchair facilities on board; An elevator connecting all decks; Quality linen and contemporary furnishings in cabins; Laundry services.
  Ship Information: This river ship is equipped with the latest navigational system and radio communication. Technical data: Length: 443 feet, Beam (width): 52 feet, Draft: 9.5 feet, Speed: 16 mph. Maximum passenger capacity: 212 passengers.
  Contact info: 33 Oktyabrskaya Naberezhnaya
Utkina Zavod Terminal
St. Petersburg,   Russia
phone: + XXXXX
  Room amenities: All staterooms are spacious, have outside windows which can be opened for fresh air, and several deluxe state rooms feature balconies. Safes, mini-refrigerators, TV, and telephones (for internal communication only) are found in each cabin. All cabins have private WC with a separated shower units that include standard amenities and a hairdryer. Each stateroom has individually-controlled AC, and complimentary bottled water is provided daily.
  Facility amenities: The AmaKatarina has 4 passenger decks, connected both by stairs and an elevator. A sun deck is located on the top deck, while the fitness room is situated on Deck One. One of the two restaurants is situated in the stern of Deck Two and the other is in the stern of Deck Three. The Panorama Lounge with a bar offers a beautiful view of the area we sail by. The Conference Room for lectures is found on the main deck, and the Reception Area and Gift Shop are also located here. There is a well-equipped infirmary with a medical doctor, a massage room, and hair salon on board. For the Road Scholar program, we have reserved Deluxe Balcony staterooms (230-238 square feet, 2 twin beds side by side on Decks 1, 2, and 3), Superior staterooms (205 sq. feet, 2 twin beds side by side on Decks 3 and 4), Standard staterooms (135 sq. feet, 2 twin beds, not side by side, on Deck 3), and Picture Window staterooms (110 sq. feet with a double bed on Deck 4).
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior:  Not available
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after:  Not available
  Check out time: 9:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Day 2: 3:00 PM -- check-in starts on board the vessel. You will be staying at AmaKatarina that night.
  End of Program:
Day 14: 9:00 AM, program officially ends. Drop off at airport. You will be staying at AmaKatarina the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Not applicable
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Train service runs from all major European cities to St. Petersburg. Take a taxi from the train station to the river terminal. Public transportation to the river terminal is not recommended.
To Start of Program
  Location:  St. Petersburg
  Nearest airport:  St. Petersburg (Pulkovo)
  Transportation to site: A group arrival transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air-inclusive program and arrive on the group date. If you choose to hire a taxi at Pulkovo Airport upon arrival, please consider an official taxi stand in the arrival hall and reconfirm the taxi fare in advance (expected approximate cost is $30-40). A currency exchange office is located in the arrival hall. Public transportation (bus) is not recommended.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Moscow
  Nearest city or town:  Moscow
  Nearest highway: n/a
  Nearest airport:  SVO Sheremetyevo is only slightly closer to Moscow than Domodedovo Airport
  Transportation from site: A group departure transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air-inclusive program and depart on the group date. Independent travelers are welcome to join designated departure transfers or to arrange for a taxi.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival in St. Petersburg, transfer to vessel, welcome dinner, group orientation meeting
(Wednesday, June 11)

Note: Arrival transfers to the ship. Stay aboard the vessel for 3 nights in St. Petersburg

 Afternoon: Arrival at Pulkovo-2 Airport. All participants holding air tickets from Road Scholar are met and transferred to the ship. Please look for the Road Scholar sign in the Pulkovo-2 arrival hall. Independent travelers are welcome to join the designated group transfers. Meet in the ship's reception area at 6 pm for Road Scholar registration.
 Dinner: Dinner in the ship's restaurant
 Evening: After dinner participate in a group meeting and introductions. Meet your Group/Study Leader and fellow program participants.
Accommodations: AmaKatarina
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Architectural Highlights of St. Petersburg / Peterhof
(Thursday, June 12)

Note: Walking in the park of Peterhof, comfortable shoes a must.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board
 Morning: This morning participate in a city excursion of St. Petersburg, which was the capital of the Russian Empire for over two centuries. Built on the order of Tsar Peter I (the Great) to rival Amsterdam, a city which he greatly admired, St. Petersburg became the new capital of Russia in 1712. The stunning city also became known as the "Venice of the North" for its numerous canals, graceful bridges, and stunning beauty. You see the Peter & Paul Fortress and its Cathedral, where the city began, drive along Nevsky Prospekt (main Boulevard), see Palace Square and the Winter Palace of the Russian tsars (now housing the Hermitage Museum), St. Isaac's Cathedral (exterior only), the Bronze Horseman statue dedicated to Peter I, and many other important sites. Driving through St. Petersburg and seeing its beauty leave a lasting impression.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Board a hydrofoil to sail to the magnificent summer estate of the Tsars -- Peterhof -- on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, yet another magnificent creation built by order of Tsar Peter the Great. Peterhof is often referred to as the "Russian Versailles". Its palace and park with over 150 fountains and its Grand Canal connecting the palace to the Gulf of Finland are true architectural masterpieces of the 18th century. Take a walk led by your expert through the Lower Gardens, see the Grand Cascade and its center piece -- the Samson Fountain. This impressive composition commemorates Russia's victory over Sweden during the Great Northern War in the early 1700s, when this area became part of Russia's new empire (inside visits to palaces and other museums are not included).
 Dinner: Dinner aboard the ship
Accommodations: AmaKatarina
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Tsarskoye Selo [Pushkin] / Evening ballet performance
(Friday, June 13)

Note: Extensive walking in museum and park.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in the ship's restaurant
 Morning: This morning travel by motorcoach to the nearby town of Pushkin (formerly known as Tsarskoye Selo, or Tsar's Village), where the renowned Catherine Palace [not named for Catherine the Great, but for Tsar Peter's first wife Katarina]. The palace and the park became the favorite summer residence of the tsars. Take an expert-led visit to the palace, featuring state and drawing rooms in baroque and neoclassical styles. See the the Amber Room, paneled with six tons of amber. Mysteriously lost or stolen during the Nazi occupation of the palace during WWII and never recovered, the room was recreated from scratch in 2003 by Russian restoration experts through a project funded by generous corporate German donations.
 Lunch: Lunch
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
 Evening: Ballet performance at the Hermitage Theater
Accommodations: AmaKatarina
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Hermitage Museum
(Saturday, June 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in ship's restaurant
 Morning: Board a hydrofoil to take you from the ship to the world-famous Hermitage Museum, whose collection was founded by Tsarina Catherine II (the Great) in the mid-18th century. Today the museum collection is housed in six buildings, including the Winter Palace, the former residence of the tsars, where the largest collection of world famous paintings (including works by Old Masters, Impressionists, and Post Impressionists) are on display. See stunning staircases and opulent rooms, along with unique works of art, and treasures from all corners of the world.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Attend a political discussion led by an expert (exclusively for Road Scholars). SET SAIL -- 5PM. Enjoy an on-board program.
 Dinner: Dinner aboard ship
Accommodations: AmaKatarina
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Svirstroi / Lecture on board
(Sunday, June 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast about ship
 Morning: After breakfast participate in a presentation on the arts and crafts of the regions through which we sail. Arrive in Svirstroi village. Enjoy the lake region and beautiful northern forest. Take a stroll in Svirstroi -- a quaint riverside village dotted with wooden cottages a typical rural Russian settlement. Enjoy an organized visit to the home of a local Russian family to learn about everyday life in the village and to experience Russian hospitality first-hand.
 Lunch: Lunch ashore -- taste grilled 'shashlyk', Russia's version of shish kebab.
 Afternoon: Cruise the 139-mile long Svir River and then along the southern shores of Lake Onega, the second largest lake in Europe and one of the world's purest, then along Lake Ladoga, Europe's largest lake. Both lakes are more like inland seas and can experience waves as high as 3-4 feet during inclement weather. Take time along the way to admire the sandy and rocky beaches and beautiful shores overgrown with graceful willows, tall alder trees, and stately pines.
 Dinner: Dinner in ship's restaurant
 Evening: On-board entertainment
Accommodations: AmaKatarina
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Wooden architecture of Kizhi Island / on-board program
(Monday, June 16)

Note: Walking excursion. Comfortable shoes are a must.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in ship's restaurant
 Morning: Arrival in Kizhi. This morning participate in an expert-led walking excursion of the open-air Museum of Wooden Architecture and explore the wooden churches on the island. Kizhi is one of 1650 islands on Lake Onega. The fairytale-like structures found on Kizhi are a superb example of traditional Russian wooden architecture. Most spectacular is the Church of the Transfiguration, with 22 domes built in 1714 without a single nail, and which is also famous for its icons and iconostasis. This island has been declared a major site for preservation by UNESCO.
 Lunch: Lunch in ship's restaurant
 Afternoon: Enjoy an on-board program
 Dinner: Dinner in ship's restaurant
 Evening: On-board entertainment
Accommodations: AmaKatarina
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Talk on famous Russians / excursion of Goritzy village
(Tuesday, June 17)

Note: Be prepare to walk on uneven terrain.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in ship's restaurant
 Morning: Attend a presentation on famous Russian artists and musicians whose creations were inspired by the Volga and Lake region (exclusively for Road Scholars). Q&A
 Lunch: Lunch in ship's restaurant
 Afternoon: Arrival in the village of Goritzy. Goritsy is a small, picturesque village located near the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery. This area is also known for its convent, which was used as a place of exile for politically unpopular ladies of nobility, including Maria Nagaya (the 7th wife of Tsar Ivan IV, the Terrible). She was exiled here by Boris Godunov, the notorious ruler of Russia in the late 1600s. Join a local expert for a walking excursion of the this tranquil farming village. Learn about the history of the area and the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery dating from the Middle Ages.
 Dinner: Dinner in ship's restaurant
 Evening: On-board activities
Accommodations: AmaKatarina
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Lecture on board / Excursion of Yaroslavl
(Wednesday, June 18)

Note: Excursion by motorcoach and on foot

 Breakfast: Breakfast in ship's restaurant
 Morning: This morning attend a lecture on "Medieval Russia: the Reigns of the Rurik Tsars" (presented exclusively for Road Scholars), followed by a Q&A session.
 Lunch: Lunch aboard ship
 Afternoon: Arrive in the ancient town of Yaroslavl. The second-largest city in Russia in the 17th century, Yaroslavl was the de facto capital of Russia during the Polish occupation of Moscow in 1612 (the so-called "Time of Troubles"). Join a motorcoach excursion of the city and the nearby Spassky Monastery. Stretching along both banks of the Volga, Yaroslavl is an important river port with a population of 600,000. It was founded in 1010 by Prince Yaroslavl the Wise (who according to legend killed a bear on the site) and today retains many noteworthy monuments of its rich history. Of special interest here are the 13th-century Spassky Monastery, a group of 17th-century cathedrals, an elegant rotunda, and remnants of an ancient trading center. Loveliest of all is the Church of the Prophet Elijah, whose frescoes on the walls and vaulting inside the church form a valuable collection of old Russian paintings. Also, visit the Yaroslavl Museum of Russian Art, housed in the former residence of the governor of Yaroslavl, and participate in a special event there.
 Dinner: Dinner in ship's restaurant
 Evening: On-board concert
Accommodations: AmaKatarina
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Excursion of Uglich / Captain's Farewell Dinner / On-board program
(Thursday, June 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in ship's restaurant
 Morning: Arrive in the town of Uglich (pronounced 'Ooglich'). Take a walking excursion of the town square and its cathedrals. Founded by merchants in 1148, Uglich is one of the most beloved towns in old Russia. The view of the city from the Volga River is especially lovely, with the blue-domed Cathedral of the Resurrection and St. John's Church looming on the horizon. At the end of the 16th century, Maria Nagaya, the seventh wife of Ivan the Terrible, lived in exile in the kremlin [fortress] at Uglich. Tsarevich Dmitry, son of the deceased Ivan the Terrible, met his "mysterious" death here in 1591, where the Church of St. Dmitry on the (Spilled) Blood stands today. Located within the kremlin walls is the oldest building in Uglich, Tsarevich Dmitry's palace, now a museum.
 Lunch: Lunch on board
 Afternoon: On-board program
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
 Evening: Captain's Farewell dinner to celebrate the last sailing night on board the ship before arriving in Moscow.
Accommodations: AmaKatarina
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Morning on board/Moscow city drive/Moscow Metro system
(Friday, June 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the ship's restaurant
 Morning: Morning to relax on board.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Arrive in Moscow. Explore Moscow's cultural and historical treasures during a motorcoach city drive with stops at major architectural and historic sites: see Red Square and the Kremlin towers, drive by Moscow University, Manezh Square, Novodevichi Convent (see the exterior only), the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and many other important sites. Tour the Moscow Metro system, famous for its mosaic walls, frescoes, and beautiful chandeliers decorating the underground stations.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
Accommodations: AmaKatarina
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Excursion to the Kremlin compound / Free time
(Saturday, June 21)

Note: Extensive walking (up to 2 miles)

 Breakfast: Breakfast in ship's restaurant
 Morning: Drive to the city center. Participate in an expert-led field trip to the legendary Kremlin. Visit the grounds inside the Kremlin walls, learn about the medieval history of Moscow, and see the intact medieval fortress: the walls, cathedrals, armory, and palace. Take pictures of the legendary Tsar Cannon and Tsar Bell, also on display here. Later, visit the famous Kremlin Armory, with its fabulous collection of royal jewels, armor, carriages, and Faberge eggs.
 Lunch: Lunch on an excursion boat on the Moscow River
 Afternoon: Spend the last afternoon in the city. Have a walk in UNESCO-listed Krasnaya Ploshchad (Red Square), where all rulers of Russia left traces of their reigns. Admire the striking Kremlin Clock Tower, the Lenin Mausoleum, the famous GUM department store on the side opposite the mausoleum, and see the exterior of the ornate, multi-colored architectural wonder of the 16th century -- St. Basil's Cathedral, commemorating Russia's victory over the Tatars at Kazan. Enjoy this politically-charged architectural landmark reflecting the mysterious Russian soul.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
 Evening: Evening free on board to pack
Accommodations: AmaKatarina
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Program ends. Departures
(Sunday, June 22)

Note: All those who purchased air tickets from the Road Scholar Travel Services will be transferred to airports. Independent travelers are welcome to join the group transfer bus. The group departure airport is Domodedovo (DME).

 Morning: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  St. Petersburg Additional Suggestions
Additional Suggestions and a list of current exhibitions and performances will be available onsite. For additional information, visit
  Dostoyevsky Apartment Museum
The museum has a large collection of the writer's personal effects and documents relating to his literary career. 5 Kuznechny Pereulok.
  Nevsky Prospekt
An independent walking guide especially prepared for Road Scholars will be available on-site, highlighting the architectural and historical insights of the city's main promenade.
  Pushkin Apartment Museum
This museum houses a collection of Pushkin's personal effects and documents relating to his literary career. 12 Moika Embankment.
  Stroganov Palace
This branch of the State Russian Museum is devoted to the decorative arts. 17 Nevsky Prospekt.
  Yeliseev's Delicatessen
56 Nevsky Prospekt
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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