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
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
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 our Orientation session. 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, main course, dessert, coffee, tea, bottled water; other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation and introductions. (Note: this meeting may be moved to the next morning). We will review the up-to-date schedule, discuss roles, responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. In addition to lectures and field trips exclusively for our Road Scholar group, you are invited to participate in lectures and activities aboard ship offered to all guests. The time available in each port is set by the cruise line. The Road Scholar daily schedule indicates port arrival and departure times (subject to change). This may mean that free time in each port is limited. All routes, field trips, and excursions when crossing the lake are subject to change due to weather and lake conditions that may affect the progress of the ship's sailing, sometimes making it run late and/or miss ports if it is not safe to dock. Because of this, the cruise itinerary should always be regarded as provisional. The operators reserve the right to change the content of field trips and excursions without prior notice for the safety of participants. Walking 2+ miles per day, climbing stairs. “Free Time" and “At Leisure” periods make the program more meaningful while exploring on your own, engaging in independent activities, making new friends among fellow Road Scholars, or simply relaxing.

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

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. The drive to/from Peterhof is approximately 1.5 hours each way. Walking approximately 1,5 miles, including steps in the Lower Park; no elevators; rest areas available. Walking about 1 mile total inside the Fabergé Museum and then back to the hotel.

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 — more than 150! — and other objects beautifully restored to their original splendor. (Note: Inside visits to the Grand Palace and other museums on site are not included in this field trip.)

Lunch: At Peterhof, on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Returning to the city, we’ll be dropped off at the privately-owned Fabergé Museum, situated in the Shuvalov Palace, that 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, jewels, and incorporated a “surprise.” The museum also includes works by some of Faberge's contemporaries and pupils. We’ll walk back to the hotel at the conclusion of our field trip.

Dinner: Hotel plated 3-course meal; coffee, tea, bottled water included, other 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: Getting on/off a bus. 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: We’ll 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. Despite 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 unique Russian art. We’ll have an orientation to the museum followed by time to see what interests you most. Please note: this exhibit is still being finalized and not all rooms are opened for viewing; tourist services are limited (no audio guides or floor maps are available). We will visit other buildings of the Hermitage museum later this week as per schedule.

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

Afternoon: We return to the hotel for a short rest before dinner and the evening performance.

Dinner: At a city restaurant, we will have a 3-course plated meal; coffee, tea, bottled water included, other 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 and details of performances are not yet confirmed. When available, the information will be posted on the Road Scholar website under this program number and will also be included in the second mailing of preparatory materials sent approximately 4-5 weeks prior to program commencement. (Note: the date of the performance may be changed; avoid purchasing additional tickets for free time until then). Prepare for check-out and transfer to the ship tomorrow.

DAY
5
Pushkin Catherine Palace, WWII Memorial, Board Ship, Lecture
St. Petersburg
B,D
M/S Mstislav Rostropovich

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Walking approximately 2+ miles in park and palace; steps/stairs, rest areas available.

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: Near the World War II Memorial, on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll visit one of four museums dedicated to the defenders of Leningrad — as St. Petersburg was then called — 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 following the embarkation procedures we will have ***a Lecture by a local expert on Russia's foreign policy***.

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, bottled water; other beverages are available for purchase. (Note: On the first evening, the meal is pre-set). During the voyage you will choose your soup and main course one day in advance; bottled water may not be served in individual bottles). Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style.

Evening: At the ship's orientation session, you will become familiar with the ship's layout, various services, and on-board rules. The ship meets or exceeds Russian standards of quality in its appointments, amenities, and meals. These standards may be different from those in other parts of the world. Dinner menus are selected 1 day in advance. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style. The coffee/tea station is open from 6 am to 7 pm. Aboard ship, climbing 2-3 flights of steep steps with handrails numerous times each day (there is only one small elevator). Deck hallways have 1-2 inch metal bars to step over; not suitable for mobility-assistance devices; buses we use ashore are not equipped for such devices. Please note that on rare occasions, mostly in May and September, the itinerary and ports of call may change on short notice due to local weather or other 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.

DAY
6
Highlights of St. Petersburg, Hermitage Museum
Various ports of calls
B,L,D
M/S Mstislav Rostropovich

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. 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 from the ship on a panoramic drive through St. Petersburg. Built on the order of Tsar Peter the Great, his beloved city 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 “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, past St. Isaac's Cathedral and 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; other beverages are available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, 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 (time permitting) one or two adjacent buildings 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.

Evening: We will participate with everyone aboard ship when the safety drill is announced. Each evening, there will be live entertainment provided by members of the ship’s staff. The ship is scheduled to depart at 7:00 p.m.

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

Activity note: Walking according to personal preference; uneven terrain, unpaved hilly surfaces; rest areas available ashore.

Breakfast: 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. You are welcome to stroll through the village to see what interests you most.

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

Afternoon: Back aboard ship, we’ll have a Road Scholar exclusive lecture on major aspects of Russian national identity...(or.. on a similar topic). We’ll continue sailing along the southern shores of Lake Ladoga, one of the world's purest bodies of water, and then to Lake Onega. As we glide past sandy and rocky beaches, admiring beautiful shores with graceful willows and stately pines, we’ll participate in Russian language lessons and other on board activities.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: Evening entertainment on board.

DAY
8
Kizhi Island(8am-12n), Lecture
Various ports of calls
B,L,D
M/S Mstislav Rostropovich

Activity note: Walking 2+ miles; uneven and unpaved terrain. Note: if crossing the lake to Kizhi is not possible due to weather conditions, an alternate visit will be arranged ashore.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: To sail to the Kizhi Island we must cross the Lake Onega. The Kizhi island 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. Note: The Lakes Onega and Ladoga are the largest lakes in Europe; they are more like inland seas than lakes, these immense bodies of water can experience waves as high as 9-13 feet (3-4 meters) and that can alter our itinerary in inclement weather, when crossing the large lakes may be dangerous. In that case an alternate visit will be arranged ashore.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We’ll have a Road Scholar exclusive presentation (the lecture topic will be announced in the 2nd mailing). Later in the afternoon, we’ll participate in a Russian language class and other on board activities.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: Evening entertainment on board.

DAY
9
Lecture, Goritzy Village(1-4pm)
Various ports of calls
B,L,D
M/S Mstislav Rostropovich

Activity note: Walking approximately 2+ miles; steps/stairs, unpaved and uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll gather for an exclusive Road Scholar lecture on medieval Russian history.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We are scheduled to arrive in Goritzy in the afternoon. This small, picturesque village near the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery was founded in the 15th century and is 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 Russian language class and participate in a traditional Russian tea ceremony.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: Evening entertainment and dancing.

DAY
10
Uglich(9am-12n), 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: 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: Aboard ship.

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 preparation for a talent show this evening.

Dinner: Aboard ship, we’ll have a plated 4-course dinner with wine at the Captain's Farewell Dinner celebrating our last night together on the study cruise before arriving in Moscow tomorrow.

Evening: Entertainment, and dancing.

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: Aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll participate a Road Scholar exclusive round-table discussion on various aspects of life in contemporary Russia, this event is organized by the ship's staff members.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Arriving in Moscow, we’ll board a private bus for a field trip to 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 secular 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: In a city's restaurant: a plated 3-course meal with soup or salad, a main course, dessert, coffee, tea, water; 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
Disembarkation, Field Trip, Transfer to Hotel, Performance
Moscow
B,D
Courtyard by Marriott Moscow City Center

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Walking approximately 2 miles during the field trip; walking according to your personal preference during free time.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: After completing disembarkation procedures, we’ll board a bus and ride to the hill of Poklonnaya Gora. It is now Victory Park, commemorating Russia’s experience in the Great Patriotic War — known as World War II in the rest of the world. This architectural compound has five levels, one for each year of the conflict, and 1,418 fountains for each day.

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

Afternoon: We will drive to the program hotel for check-in and a short rest before dinner.

Dinner: At a hotel's restaurant: a buffet meal or a plated 3-course dinner with appetizer or soup, a main course, dessert, and coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll attend a performance at one of Moscow’s notable venues. Our program was planned far in advance when details of performances were not confirmed. When available, the information will be posted on the Road Scholar website under this program number and will also be included in the second mailing of preparatory materials sent approximately 4-5 weeks prior to program commencement. (Note: the date of the performance may be changed; avoid purchasing additional tickets for free time until final date is announced).

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

Activity note: Walking 2+ miles in museum and city. Walking according to personal preference during free time.

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 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 wealthy 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, we’ll have a buffet lunch featuring local specialties.

Afternoon: Free time. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. You might like to explore 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. Those who feel comfortable taking high-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 for the people.”(Note: the Metro visit is not part of the official RS program). Return to the hotel independently.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

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.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll take an expert-led field trip to the Armory Chamber in the Kremlin compound, Moscow's oldest and 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 (inside visit is not included).

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

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

Dinner: In 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, coffee, tea, water; other beverages are available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
15
Program Concludes
Moscow
B

Activity note: Transfers for early flights will begin at 2:00 a.m. Hotel check-out by 12:00 noon. Verify your scheduled departure time and airport vs scheduled transfers. Passengers must arrive at the airport 2.5 hours prior to flight time. A group transfer from the hotel to the airport is included for participants who made air arrangements through Road Scholar Travel Services. Independent travelers are welcome to join a group transfer or arrange for a taxi.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. Those with early departures can have a prepared packed breakfast. This concludes our program.

Morning: 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. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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