River cruises are a great opportunity to see the cities and sites of Russia in a short time without getting too tired along the way.
Instead, you will rest, breathe in the fresh river air, and take in the beautiful Russian surroundings floating before you. And if you ever get bored with the view, you will have bars, a music salon, movie theaters, children's rooms, and activity organizers at your disposal. It is worthwhile to find a complete list of services and activities while choosing your cruise and your ship.
The most popular cruises are the Volga cruises.
The Volga River is the longest river in Europe and is one of the largest in the world. Since ancient times, people have settled along its banks.
A river cruise along the Volga is a fascinating journey that allows you to see and visit ancient cities, enjoy the beauty of nature, and even experience (and see with your own eyes) the change of climate zones.
There are short trips, so called weekend cruises, which are 3-4 days long. But it would be impossible to see much in such a short time. Unfortunately, you can’t cover enough distance in just 3 days. This is because while navigating through the Moscow canal you will need to pass through a system of five locks, which alone will take quite a long time. The main routes of such cruises from Moscow are roundtrips to Uglich, Tver, and Myshkin (sometimes with stops at Dmitrov, Konakovo, Kimry or Kalyazin). Oftentimes during such cruises so called green stops are made, allowing you to rest in nature with a barbeque and games.
Longer trips (5-8 days) allow you to see more. These are cruises to Ples, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Nizhny Novgorod, and other cities, many of which are included in the Golden Ring of Russia. Intermediate stops vary depending on the selected cruise. These can include Dmitrov, Kimry, Kalyazin, Uglich, Myshkin, Rybinsk, Tutaev, Kineshma, Yurievets, Chkalovsk, and Gorodets.
However if you have enough time, the best choice would be a 19-20 day cruise with a final destination of Astrakhan. This is an ancient city, situated on eleven islands, and is a large river and sea port. Repeat aloud what Russian students have repeated every year, and will continue repeating: "The Volga flows into the Caspian Sea." Astrakhan is in the semi-arid climate zone, which gives you the opportunity to watch the weather change as you approach your final destination.
Such a long cruise gives you the opportunity to see a huge number of sites and monuments, breathe in enough of the fresh air, and even get a tan.
Intermediate stops on the route are likely to be made in the cities of Uglich, Myshkin, Rybinsk, Tutaev, Kineshma, Yurievets, Chkalovsk, Gorodets, Nizhny Novgorod, Makarov, Kozmodemyansk, the capital of Chuvashia - Cheboksary, Mariinsky Posad, Sivyazhsk, the capital of Tatarstan - Kazan, Ulyanovsk, Togliatti, Samara, Khvalynsk, Saratov, Kamyshin, Volgograd, Nikolskoe, and Astrakhan itself.
We advise buying round-trip tickets in order to see the same monasteries, towns, and natural beauty (the list is infinite) that you will see at night on your way to Astrakhan again, and this time in broad daylight.
Far fewer cruises are organized along the Oka river. But this doesn’t mean that they are less interesting. There are cruises to Kolomna, Ryazan, and Murom with intermediate stops in Kasimov, Konstantinov, and other cities.
River cruises from Moscow to St. Petersburg are popular.
This cruise has the following approximate itinerary: from the Moscow river the river boat enters the Moscow Canal and reaches the Volga. Oftentimes, the river boat makes a stop in Uglich and Myshkin, letting its passengers visit the city’s attractions and buy some fun souvenirs with the Mouse, and then moves on into the Rybinsk Reservoir, stops in Cherepovets; in the Vologda Oblast it almost always docks at the village of Goritsa (three ancient monasteries and Mount Maura are in the vicinity), navigates into White lake (with a stop at the town of Belozersk), along the river Kovzha approaches the city of Vytegra and then, after passing lock chambers in the canal, enters the huge lake Onega, famous for its islands. One of the islands features the famous open air Kizhi museum of wooden architecture. Then the river boat approaches Petrozavodsk, navigates along the Svir river to Ladoga lake, makes a stop at the island of Valaam (the Valaam monastery is the stronghold of Russian Orthodoxy) to let you admire the island of Horse-stone; then navigates to the Neva (sometimes making a stop on the island Orekhovy, which is notorious for its fortress-prison of Schlisselburg), and finally docks in Saint Petersburg.
Stops in Sortavala and Pellotsari are possible.
The number of stops during cruises varies depending on the duration of each cruise. For example, it is rarely possible to visit both Kizhi and Valaam during one trip if you take a one-way cruise of 7 or fewer days. It is impossible to see all the sights in such a short time, and to fully explore the beauty of the Russian North choosing roundtrip cruises with a duration of 12-13 days that let you see a lot of different sites and cities is recommended.
Other cruises have been gaining popularity, including the Don cruises. Their final destination is more often than not the most beautiful Rostov-on-Don, while intermediate stops are made at the aforementioned city of Uglich, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Nizhny Novgorod, Cheboksary, Kazan, Samara, Saratov, and Volgograd. Further on lie Ilevka, Kalach-on-Don, Tsimlyansk, Konstantinovsk, Novocherkassky.
The Volga-Don canal will amaze you with more than a hundred water control structures. Joking aside, there are 13 locks, 3 dams, and 17 embankments!
There are also separate cruises to the Solovetsky Islands, to Valaam, the Kama river routs, and many others.
Ships depart from Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Astrakhan, and other cities. You can buy tickets online, at river boat stations’ ticket offices, on specialized websites, or on transport companies’ websites.
Remember, the earlier you order your tickets (the biggest discounts are in early October – December, 9-10% off), the cheaper they will be. Discounts for pre-orders are usually valid until February 1, but this should be figured out on an individual basis. It is also worthwhile to find out whether there is a discount for children under 14 years of age (any season) and the possibility of free travel for children up to five years old (without their own bed, in which case the cost of excursions and meals are paid separately), and children up to two years old - without any payment for excursions and meals.
We will help you to choose the most interesting cruise and will book it for you.
We are sure that with the large variety of choices you will definitely find a cruise to your liking.