14304
Russia
Russian River Voyages Between Moscow and St. Petersburg
Explore the many wonders of Russia as you journey its waterways with experts, exploring St. Petersburg, ancient villages, the wooden churches of Kizhi and the grandeur of Moscow.
Rating (4.89)
Program No. 14304RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
4,895
Flights start at
850
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15 days
14 nights
32 meals
13 B 7 L 12 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
DAY
1
Overnight flight from North America
In Flight

Activity note: Travel to St. Petersburg overnight, arriving the next day

DAY
2
Arrive St. Petersburg, Check-in, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
St. Petersburg
D
Novotel St. Petersburg Centre

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After checking in at the hotel and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before we gather for dinner and orientation. At the scheduled time, we’ll meet our Group Leader in the lobby and proceed to dinner. Timing will vary based on arrivals.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room, we’ll have a plated 3-course dinner with appetizer or soup, a main course, dessert, coffee, tea, and bottled water; alcoholic and other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation (meeting may be moved to the next morning depending on arrival times). The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a very active program. Walking 2+ miles per day, including from bus to field trip sites and during field trips; climbing stairs at museums and historic sights (not all have elevators). The ship has one elevator that is in use at most times, and frequent climbing of 2-3 flights of steep stairs with hand rails will be necessary. Hallways on all decks have 1”-2” high metal bars that must be stepped over; not suitable for wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, or other mobility-assistance devices, nor are buses equipped for these devices. We will have lectures exclusively for our Road Scholar group on topics related to our program (the schedule will be announced during the voyage; timing and topics subject to change). There will also be presentations by the ship’s staff that are not part of our program but are of general interest. The ship meets or exceeds Russian standards of quality in its appointments, amenities, and meals. These standards may be different from what you have experienced in other parts of the world. You will select your dinner menus one day in advance. Periods in the schedule labeled “Free Time" and “At Leisure” offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable while going out to explore on your own, engaging in available independent activities, making new friends among fellow Road Scholars, or simply relaxing. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances or conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

DAY
3
St. Petersburg, Peterhof, Fabergé Museum
St. Petersburg
B,D
Novotel St. Petersburg Centre

Activity note: The drive to/from Peterhof is approximately 1.5 hours. Walking approximately 2+ miles, including steps in the Lower Park; no elevators. Rest areas are available. Walking about 1 mile at the Fabergé Museum including stairways. The walk back to the hotel is about 1/2 mile (approximately 15 minutes).

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet that includes hot and cold items plus juice, coffee, tea, and bottled water.

Morning: We’ll board a bus and set out on a field trip through St. Petersburg and on to Peterhof. En route, a local expert will give a presentation on the city’s history, its founder Tsar Peter the Great, and the Romanovs who reigned from 1613 to 1917 — the longest-reigning Russian royal family. Peterhof is the stunning summer estate of Russian tsars on the Gulf of Finland. We’ll have an expert-led walking field trip in the Lower Park. Peter the Great himself sketched out what became one of the most extraordinary royal garden creations anywhere in the world. His successors the Empress Elizabeth (his daughter) and Catherine the Great continued to expand and improve these gardens. The Lower Park is considered a masterpiece of garden design incorporating plants and trees, exceptional architecture, sculpture, and water features including the famous fountains — over 150 in number! — and other objects beautifully restored to their original splendor. (Note: Inside visits to the Grand Palace and other museums on site are not part of the field trip).

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like at Peterhof. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: After returning to the city, we’ll be dropped off at the privately-owned Fabergé Museum, situated in the Shuvalov Palace, which preserves and displays some of the most amazing items in Russia's cultural heritage. The most famous pieces in the world's largest collection of works by jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920) are nine of the famous Imperial Easter Eggs. Designed in the form of real Easter eggs, Fabergé’s creations utilized precious metals and jewels and incorporated a “surprise". The museum also includes works by some of his contemporaries and pupils. We’ll have an orientation to the museum followed by time to view the collection independently with use of audio-guides. We’ll walk back to the hotel at the conclusion of this visit.

Dinner: Hotel plated 3-course meal, alcoholic beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Hermitage French Impressionists, Free Time, Performance
St. Petersburg
B,D
Novotel St. Petersburg Centre

Activity note: Walking approximately 2 miles in the General Staff Building of the Hermitage, including steps/stairs. Walking according to personal preference during free time.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Board a bus with our local expert for a field trip to the most recent addition and expansion of the Hermitage, the renovated, redesigned General Staff Building. In spite of its unexciting name, this is one of the most famous architectural monuments in St. Petersburg with its stunning crescent shape and central triumphal arch directly across from the Winter Palace. It now houses the Hermitage’s collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works as well as exhibits on Art Nouveau, French and Russian decorative arts, and pre-revolutionary Russian art. We’ll have an orientation to the museum followed by time to see what interests you most.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free time. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and will walk back to the hotel with those who wish to enjoy a walk in Nevsky Prospekt or return to the hotel by bus to rest before the evening program. We depart the hotel for dinner in the city.

Dinner: At a city restaurant -- a 3-course meal, alcoholic beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll attend a performance at one of St. Petersburg's notable venues. Whether an orchestral or choral concert, ballet, or musical show, we’ll deepen our appreciation for the richness and diversity of the performing arts. Our program is planned far in advance when details are not available. The final information will be posted on our website when available and included in the 2nd mailing sent 4-5 weeks prior to the program commencement (Note: date of performance may be changed, avoid purchasing additional tickets for free evenings until then).

DAY
5
Pushkin, WWII Memorial, Board Ship, Lecture
St. Petersburg
B,D
M/S MSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH

Activity note: Walking approximately 2+ miles in the park and palace, including steps/stairs; rest areas available. Lecture topic/schedule are subject to change.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll continue studying the royal lifestyle of the Romanovs with an expert-led field trip to the town of Pushkin — originally called Tsarskoye Selo (Tsar’s Village) — to explore the Catherine Palace and its adjacent park. This elaborate baroque residence was built by Tsarina Elizabeth in 1752 to honor the memory of her mother Katarina, the first wife of Tsar Peter I “the Great.” It was later rebuilt to become the main summer residence of Tsarina Catherine II “the Great.” Inside the palace, we’ll come face to face with a magnificent reconstruction of what some have called the Eighth Wonder of the World: the extraordinary Amber Room, made with six tons of amber, decorated with other gemstones and gold leaf, and inlaid with mirrors. We’ll learn how the room’s panels of amber mosaics were taken by the Nazis during their invasion of Russia in World War II, how they mysteriously disappeared, theories regarding the yet-unknown whereabouts, and how teams of Russian artists and conservators worked meticulously from 1979 until 2003 to reconstruct the entire room.

Lunch: On your own near the memorial to the defenders of Leningrad.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll visit one of four museums dedicated to the defenders of Leningrad — as St. Petersburg was called then — during the siege that lasted from September 8, 1941 until January 27, 1944 — 900+ days when more than 700,000 civilians died. We’ll learn about the sacrifice and endurance that defined this terrible time in the city’s history. We’ll then transfer to and embark the M/S Mstislav Rostropovich, named for the renowned musician, and have a lecture by a local expert on contemporary Russia.

Dinner: In the ship's dining room, we’ll have a plated 3-course meal: appetizer or soup, main course and side dish, dessert, a glass of wine, coffee, tea, and bottled water; other beverages are available for purchase. (Note: on arrival day the meal is pre-set; during sailing you will be asked to choose soup and main course in advance; bottled water may NOT be served in individual bottles). If you want a snack later, the ship’s coffee-tea-cookie station is open 24 hours.

Evening: After an orientation to the vessel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. NOTE: (IMPORTANT): On rare occasions (in May and September) the itinerary and ports of call may change on short notice due to weather events and local conditions. The ship is cleared to sail in waters with waves up to 6.5 feet (2 meters). In recent years, waves on these very large lakes have reached much higher. In such cases, the captain will chart a different route for the sake of everyone’s safety. Certain waterways have pre-scheduled time slots for passage. If we are delayed, we may have to wait for other vessels to go before us; updates will be provided aboard ship.

DAY
6
Highlights of St. Petersburg, Hermitage Museum, 7PM SET SAIL
Various ports of calls
B,L,D
M/S MSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH

Activity note: Walking approximately 2+ miles at the Hermitage Museum, including stairways; rest areas available.

Breakfast: In the ship’s restaurant, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet.

Morning: We’ll set out on a panoramic drive through the city. Built on the order of Tsar Peter the Great, his beloved St. Petersburg was intended to rival Amsterdam and Venice. It became the capital of Russia in 1712 and was the seat of the Russian Empire for more than two centuries. Architectural and historical highlights of this stunningly beautiful city — affectionately dubbed “Venice of the North” — include the Peter and Paul Fortress, which we’ll visit inside; Palace Square; the Winter Palace of the Russian tsars; and numerous canals and graceful bridges. We’ll drive along Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s main boulevard; by St. Isaac's Cathedral; by the Bronze Horseman statue dedicated to Peter the Great; and see many other important sights for a lasting impression of the city’s beauty and grandeur.

Lunch: In a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated 3-course meal with appetizer or soup, main course, and side dish; dessert, coffee, tea, water; alcoholic and other beverages are available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll have an expert-led field trip to the Hermitage Museum, one of the world's greatest repositories of art treasures, founded by Tsarina Catherine the Great in the mid-18th century. Today, the collection of more than 2.7 million items is housed in five buildings. As we have only a few hours, we will focus on highlights including the Winter Palace, the former residence of the tsars, and 1-2 adjacent buildings (time permitting) where one of the largest collections of world-famous works of art is on display. We’ll delight in Old Masters and art treasures from around the world as a licensed expert leads us among the stunning staircases and opulent rooms. We’ll then transfer back to the ship.

Dinner: Aboard ship, a 3-course meal with a glass of wine.

Evening: The ship is scheduled to set sail at 7:00 pm. We will all participate in the ship’s safety drill when it is announced. Each evening, there will be live entertainment provided by members of the ship’s staff.

DAY
7
Russian Crafts, Mandrogi village (11 am-3 pm), Lecture
Various ports of calls
B,L,D
M/S MSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH

Activity note: Walking at personal preference; uneven terrain, unpaved hilly surfaces; rest areas available ashore. Lecture topics and schedule are subject to change.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet aboard ship.

Morning: There will be a shipboard presentation on the arts and crafts of the regions through which we sail. We’ll reach the village of Mandrogi for a technical stop required of all river vessels. The village is set amid beautiful northern forests in the lakes region. Once a mill and fishing settlement, it has been re-created as an open-air museum with ornate wooden cottages and other buildings typical of the 19th century. Some now serve as arts and crafts shops while others are for local vendors.

Lunch: In the village, we’ll have a shish-kebab lunch.

Afternoon: Back aboard ship in the afternoon, we’ll have a lecture exclusively for our Road Scholar group on aspects of Russian identity. We’ll continue sailing down the 139-mile long Svir River, along the southern shores of Lake Onega, one of the world's purest bodies of water, and then to Lake Ladoga. These are the second- and first-largest lakes in Europe, respectively. More like inland seas than lakes, these immense bodies of water can experience waves as high as 9-13 feet (3-4 meters), which can alter our itinerary. As we glide past sandy and rocky beaches, admiring beautiful shores with graceful willows and stately pines, we’ll participate in Russian language lessons.

Dinner: A 3-course plated dinner aboard ship with a glass of wine.

Evening: Enjoy the evening’s entertainment.

DAY
8
Kizhi Island (8 am-12 noon), Lecture
Various ports of calls
B,L,D
M/S MSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH

Activity note: Walking 2+ miles; uneven and unpaved terrain. Lecture topics/schedule are subject to change.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast aboard ship.

Morning: Kizhi is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the 1,650 islands on Lake Onega. We’ll go out for an expert-led walking field trip among the island’s unique wooden churches. These fairy-tale structures are a superb example of traditional Russian wooden architecture. Most striking among them is the Church of the Transfiguration, adorned with 22 domes built in 1714 without the use of a single nail and famed for its rare icons and iconostasis.

Lunch: Buffet lunch aboard ship: assortment of appetizers, salads, main courses and desserts. Bottled water, coffee, and tea.

Afternoon: We’ll have a presentation exclusively for our Road Scholar group on famous Russian artists and musicians whose lives and creations were inspired by the beauty of the Lake and Volga regions. Later in the afternoon, we’ll participate in a Russian language class.

Dinner: A 3-course meal aboard ship with a glass of wine.

Evening: Enjoy the evening’s program on board.

DAY
9
Lecture, Goritzy Village (1-4 pm), Onboard Program
Various ports of calls
B,L,D
M/S MSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH

Activity note: Walking approximately 2+ miles, including steps/stairs; unpaved and uneven terrain. Lecture topics/schedule are subject to change.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll gather for a lecture on medieval Russian history exclusively for our Road Scholar group. We are scheduled to arrive in Goritzy in the afternoon.

Lunch: Buffet lunch aboard ship.

Afternoon: Goritzy is a small, picturesque village near the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, founded in the 15th century and famous for its collection of rare icons. The area is also known for its convent, used as a place of exile for politically unpopular ladies of nobility, including Maria Nagaya, seventh wife of Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible). She was exiled here from Uglich by Boris Godunov, the notorious Russian ruler of the late 1500s. We’ll join a local expert for a walking field trip to learn about this historic farming village, meet local residents, and visit a home. Back aboard ship, there will be an opportunity to attend a presentation by the ship’s staff and to participate in a traditional Russian tea ceremony.

Dinner: A 3-course meal aboard ship with a glass of wine.

Evening: Enjoy the evening’s entertainment on board.

DAY
10
Uglich (9 am-12), Russian Folklore, Captain's Dinner
Various ports of calls
B,L,D
M/S MSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH

Activity note: Walking approximately 2+ miles, unpaved surfaces, cobblestones.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast aboard ship.

Morning: Uglich (pronounced “Ooglich”) was founded in 1148. We’ll take a walking field trip with a local expert to explore this quaint old town. During the “Time of Troubles” (1598-1613) — a period of instability marked by foreign invaders, internal revolts, and attempted take-overs of the throne — Uglich was the scene of many clashes. During a terrible battle in 1609, Polish forces attacked and burned the Alekseyevsky Monastery, killing all who had taken refuge. There are exceptional churches and other structures from the period that followed. The view from the Volga River is especially lovely, with the blue-domed Cathedral of the Resurrection and St. John's Church on the horizon. We’ll also see the exterior of the oldest building in Uglich, the Palace of Tsarevich Dmitry, one of the few that survived from the medieval era.

Lunch: Buffet lunch aboard ship.

Afternoon: This afternoon, there will be an opportunity to attend a presentation by the ship’s staff on Russian fairy tales and folklore, and to learn and sing Russian songs in Russian in preparation for a talent show this evening.

Dinner: Aboard ship, the Captain's Farewell Dinner celebrates our last night together on the study cruise before arriving in Moscow tomorrow. We’ll have wine, a plated 4-course dinner, entertainment, and dancing.

Evening: Continue enjoying the festivities.

DAY
11
Contemporary Life, Moscow Highlights, Kremlin
Moscow
B,L,D
M/S MSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH

Activity note: Walking approximately 2+ miles, unpaved and cobblestone surfaces.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll have an exclusive Road Scholar round-table discussion on aspects of life in contemporary Russia, followed by a Q&A session.

Lunch: Buffet lunch aboard ship.

Afternoon: Arriving in Moscow, we’ll board a private bus for a field trip get an overview of its cultural and historical treasures. A local expert will provide commentary along the way about the modern life of Moscow residents. We’ll make stops to see important sights and landmarks such as Moscow University, Manezh Square, the Bolshoi Theater, the exterior of Novodevichi Convent, and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. We’ll continue with our local expert on a field trip to the legendary Kremlin compound. Beginning in the 13th century, the Kremlin became the seat of both temporal and spiritual power in Russia. This medieval fortress grew to include palaces, churches, and armories. We’ll go inside the walls, explore the grounds, and learn about Moscow’s ancient history. We’ll be able to take pictures of the fortress walls, armory, cathedrals, palace, and the famous Tsar Cannon and Tsar Bell.

Dinner: At a downtown restaurant, we’ll have a plated 3-course meal with soup or salad, a main course, dessert, coffee, tea, and water; alcoholic and other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll return to the ship in the late evening. Prepare for disembarkation and transfer in the morning.

DAY
12
Disembark, a Field Trip, Transfer to hotel, Performance.
Moscow
B,D
Courtyard by Marriott Moscow City Center

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles during the field trip; according to your personal preference during free time.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast aboard ship.

Morning: After completing disembarkation procedures, we’ll bus to the city. First we have a field trip to the Victory Park WWII museum (Poklonnaya Gora). After that we have free time for an independent lunch. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like in the city.

Afternoon: Drive to the program hotel for check-in and a short rest before the evening event.

Dinner: At a city restaurant, we’ll have a plated 3-course dinner with appetizer or soup, a main course, dessert, and coffee, tea, and water; alcoholic and other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll attend a performance at one of Moscow's notable venues. Whether an orchestral or choral concert, ballet, or musical show, we’ll deepen our appreciation for the richness and diversity of the performing arts. Our program is planned far in advance when details are not available. The final information will be posted on our website when available and included in the 2nd mailing sent 4-5 weeks prior to the program commencement (Note: the date of performance may be changed, avoid purchasing additional tickets for free evenings until then).

DAY
13
Tretyakov State Gallery, Free Time
Moscow
B,L
Courtyard by Marriott Moscow City Center

Activity note: Walking 2+ miles in the museum and in the city. Walking according to personal preference during free time. Date of concert subject to change.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel dining room, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet that includes hot and cold items plus juice, coffee, tea, and water.

Morning: We’ll take an expert-led field trip to the Tretyakov State Gallery with its inimitable collection spanning a millennium of Russian artistic history. In 1892, Pavel Tretyakov, a merchant and patron of the arts, donated his personal collection to the city of Moscow, forming the basis of the museum bearing his name that now boasts more than 170,000 works.

Lunch: In a city restaurant enjoy a buffet lunch featuring local specialties.

Afternoon: Free time. You might like to continue viewing the Tretyakov-2 modern-art collection (in a separate building) on your own or set out independently to see more of what interests you most in the city. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Those who feel comfortable taking hi-speed escalators on their own in the famous Moscow Metro might enjoy exploring some of its beautifully decorated underground stations. The system transports a daily average of 8-9 million passengers. It was one of the most extravagant projects of the former Soviet Union, with stations designed to be “palaces of the people.” Return to the hotel or stay in the city on your own and return to the hotel independently.

Dinner: On your own. You may explore dining choices in the city or consider a simple meal at the hotel restaurant.

Evening: Free evening.

DAY
14
Armory Chamber, Free Time
Moscow
B,D
Courtyard by Marriott Moscow City Center

Activity note: Walking approximately 2+ miles, including stairways in the Armory Chamber; no elevators. Note: the final departure transfer schedule will be announced 48 hours in advance. Transfers will begin at 2:00 am.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll take an expert-led field trip to the Armory Chamber in the Kremlin compound, Moscow's oldest, most prestigious museum. Its collection features Russian and foreign armor, jewelry, and tsarist artifacts such as clothing, vestments, ceremonial objects, royal regalia including crowns, sumptuous gold and silver pieces, Fabergé eggs, and much more. We’ll then walk through Red Square to see the famous GUM department store and take pictures of St. Basil's Cathedral.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like in the city.

Afternoon: Free time. You might like to spend the last afternoon in Moscow in Red Square and the Manezh area. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: At the hotel's restaurant, we’ll have a plated 4-course dinner featuring typical Russian dishes with appetizer, soup, main course, dessert, a glass of beer, wine, or vodka; also, coffee, tea, and water.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure tomorrow.

DAY
15
Program Concludes
Moscow
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 noon. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers. If you are an independent traveler, see “Ground Transportation from Last Location.” Passengers must arrive at the airport 2.5 hours prior to flight time.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. Those with early departures can have a prepared packed breakfast.

Morning: A transfer from the hotel to the airport is included for participants who made air arrangements through Road Scholar Travel Services. The Group Leader will announce the transfer schedule 48 hours in advance. Refer to your personal air itinerary for specific flight information and please VERIFY your scheduled departure time and airport vs your announced scheduled transfer time/airport ! Independent travelers whose travel plans coincide with the group transfer are welcome to join or alternatively to arrange for a taxi at the hotel desk. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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