August 2-3 - U.S., St. Petersburg, Russia
Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to St. Petersburg. Upon arrival, meet your Travel Director and transfer to the deluxe M.S. Volga Dream
, docked on the great Neva River, which flows majestically through the heart of St. Petersburg and is dotted with the city’s 101 islands. Enjoy the Captain’s Welcome Reception this evening aboard the ship. The ship remains docked overnight on the great Neva River. (B,L,R,D)August 4 - St. Petersburg
Enjoy a specially reserved entrance and tour of the State Hermitage Museum, former palace of Catherine the Great and repository of one of the world’s oldest and greatest art collections. View the priceless collection of 19th- and 20th-century French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works as well as the controversial group of 74 masterpieces “lost” in a storeroom since World War II and found in 1995. Its spectacular collection is rivaled only by the museum’s ornate interiors. The afternoon is at leisure in St. Petersburg, or you can choose to join the optional excursion* to skim over the Gulf of Finland by hydrofoil to Petrodvorets, the splendid palaces and parklands commissioned by Peter the Great, now a World Heritage site. This evening, attend an optional* Russian ballet or music performance (performance schedule permitting). (B,L,D)August 5 - St. Petersburg
Explore the city’s legendary landmarks, which are scattered across more than 100 islands linked by more than three times as many bridges. St. Petersburg’s main thoroughfare, Nevsky Prospekt, showcases exquisite examples of Russian Baroque and neoclassical architecture. On the morning tour, see the beautiful Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood (Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ), built on the site of Emperor Alexander II’s assassination; the Admiralty tower, part of a World Heritage site; and visit the 19th-century St. Isaac’s Cathedral, with a striking golden dome that is one of the glories of the city’s skyline, to see its dazzling interior of malachite and lapis lazuli. Tour the city’s oldest edifice, the Peter and Paul Fortress, built in 1703 to guard the country’s only outlet to the Baltic Sea. The impressive Baroque Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul contains the tombs of czars from Peter the Great to Nicholas II, the last of the Romanovs. Enjoy time on your own or join the optional excursion* to Catherine the Great’s imperial compound of Tsarskoye Selo (“Czar’s Village”) in Pushkin. Tour the elaborate Baroque palace, built in 1741. See the extraordinary Amber Room: six tons of solid amber, deftly carved and framed in gold leaf, once deemed the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Stripped and confiscated by the Nazis in 1941, the Amber Room was meticulously reconstructed in 2003 in honor of St. Petersburg’s 300th birthday. The ship departs this evening. (B,L,D)August 6 - Neva River, Lake Ladoga, Mandrogi, Svir River, Lake Onega
This morning, admire the passing wilderness of serene meadows and virgin pine and birch forests. The ship calls this afternoon at Mandrogi, a small riverside village. Continue your cruise along the sparkling Svir River between Lake Ladoga, the largest freshwater reservoir in Europe, and Lake Onega, known for its approximately 1650 islands. (B,L,D)August 7 - Kizhi Island, Lake Onega
Be on deck early this morning for the unforgettable approach to picturesque Kizhi Island, a World Heritage site. This remarkable open-air museum is a treasure trove of 18th-century Karelian and north Russian wooden architecture. Admire the Church of the Transfiguration, an architectural masterpiece featuring 22 cupolas built completely of wood without a single nail! This afternoon, cruise Lake Onega, surrounded by the beautifully untouched Russian countryside. (B,L,D)August 8 - Lake Beloye, Goritsy, Sheksna River
Along the shores of Lake Beloye, see rural communities continuing the traditions of Old Russia. From the tranquil village of Goritsy, visit the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, founded in 1397. It is said that Vasily III came here to pray for an heir, and soon after, his wife Elena gave birth to the future Ivan the Terrible, the first Czar of Russia. Along the Sheksna River, catch glimpses of a bygone era as you pass rustic family farms and quaint dachas, the seasonal cottages of Russia’s elite. This evening, enjoy a dinner that will include traditional Russian specialties, followed by a specially arranged sampling of Russian vodkas. (B,L,D)August 9 - Lake Rybinskoye, Yaroslavl
This morning, the ship cruises through the scenic wilderness of Lake Rybinskoye. After lunch, dock in Yaroslavl, the oldest town on the Volga River and one of the “Golden Ring” of fortified towns and villages built to surround Moscow between the 11th and 15th centuries. This World Heritage site is also known as the “Florence of Russia,” and is famous for its authentic Russian churches with their painted onion domes and soaring turrets. Stroll along the river to the Church of Elijah the Prophet, a masterpiece of local architecture located in the heart of the Old Town and filled with well-preserved frescoes. Then, see the magnificent fortified Monastery of the Transfiguration, founded in the 12th century. (B,L,D)August 10 - Uglich, Volga River
In the 10th-century “Golden Ring” town of Uglich, walk to the small 17th-century Church of Prince Dimitri-on-the-Blood, built on the site where Ivan the Terrible’s young son met his demise. Admire its cluster of red turrets capped with shimmering blue onion domes and the elegant frescoes that adorn the inside. Continue to the stately five-domed Cathedral of the Transfiguration, built along the Volga River in 1713. This afternoon, cruise the great Volga River, the main artery of the Russian heartland for over a millennium, and into the Moscow Canal, which gives Moscow access to five different seas. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening. (B,L,R, D)August 11 - Moscow
Arrive in the Russian capital city along the Moscow River, which flows leisurely through the city that has embodied the heart and soul of Russia for over 850 years. Explore Moscow’s cultural and historical treasures beginning with a visit to the imposing halls of the Kremlin, the fabled “Citadel of the Czars” and a World Heritage site. Tour the Armory, the oldest museum in Russia, and see the authentic State treasures including the magnificently bejeweled Fabergé Easter eggs commissioned by the Romanov czars. Walk around infamous Red Square, a World Heritage site where both Romanov czars and Soviet commissars flexed their might and power. Admire the multicolored grandeur of the 16th-century St. Basil’s Cathedral, one of the country’s most beautiful Orthodox monuments. (B,L,D)August 12 - Moscow, U.S.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to the U.S. or continue on the optional Post-Cruise Extension of Moscow.* (B)
*The optional Post-Cruise Extension and Optional Excursions are available at an additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation.