Waterways of Russia
Voyage through the heartland of Russia aboard the deluxe Volga Dream, cruising along scenic rivers, lakes, and canals with stops at traditional villages and the two great cultural capitals of St. Petersburg and Moscow.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
The ship was luxurious, the educated guests were a pleasure to be with, the lecturers superb and accessible. Unless one experiences the Volga Dream with Smithsonian, he won't know the exquisite pleasure of listening to a lecture on Russian literature, while sitting in a fine lounge, watching the Russian countryside drift by. We thought we had died and gone to heaven.”
- Insights from the West of Ireland
- Fabulous shots from Smithsonian Journeys Expert Kirt Kempter
- Visiting Mount Fuji, by way of rural Japan
- Saturday in Pamplona
Explore Russia from its most cosmopolitan cities to the countryside immortalized by artists and writers during this remarkable cruise. Board the elegant Volga Dream in St. Petersburg, where you’ll enjoy a city tour, special guided tour of the State Hermitage Museum, and excursion to the royal palace in Pushkin, a World Heritage site. Then cruise through the heartland of Mother Russia, along scenic rivers, lakes, and canals. Stop in the village of Mandrogi on Lake Ladoga, Europe’s largest freshwater lake, and discover the tiny island of Kizhi, a World Heritage site that is home to magnificent wooden churches. You’ll also explore the Golden Ring cities of Goritsy, Yaroslavl, and Uglich, and visit monasteries with magnificent frescoes. Conclude your cruise in Moscow, where you’ll take a tour of the Kremlin’s Armory Museum, featuring the world’s largest collection of Fabergé eggs, and see Red Square. Cultural historian Nadieszda Kizenko provides insight throughout your journey. Optional extensions in Moscow and St. Petersburg are also offered.
Day 1-2 — U.S., St. Petersburg, Russia
Depart the U.S. for St. Petersburg, Russia. Arrive in St. Petersburg, known as the “Venice of the North,” and embark the deluxe M.S. Volga Dream. The ship remains docked overnight on the Neva River, which flows majestically through the heart of the city. (D)
Day 3 — 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.
This afternoon, skim over the Gulf of Finland by hydrofoil to Petrodvorets, the splendid summer palace and parklands commissioned by Peter the Great, now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
This evening, attend an optional Russian ballet or musical folk show (performance schedule permitting). (B,L,D)
Day 4 — St. Petersburg
Visit Catherine the Great’s imperial compound of Tsarskoye Selo (“Czar’s Village”), a UNESCO World Heritage site, 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.
Explore the city’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site whose legendary landmarks 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. 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; see the Admiralty tower; 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.
Join your traveling companions for a Welcome reception on board this evening. (B,L,R,D)
Day 5 — Neva River, Lake Ladoga, Svir River, Mandrogi, Lake Onega
Cruise the sparkling Svir River between Lake Ladoga, the largest freshwater reservoir in Europe, and Lake Onega. Admire the passing wilderness of serene meadows and virgin pine and birch forests. The ship calls at Mandrogi, a small riverside village. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Lake Onega/Kizhi Island
Enjoy a morning cruise on scenic Lake Onega, dotted with over 1600 small islands, within sight of the beautifully untouched, pastoral, Karelian countryside, home to many ethnic Finns.
Be on deck for the unforgettable approach to picturesque Kizhi Island, a UNESCO 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!
Enjoy an afternoon cruise on scenic Lake Onega within sight of the beautifully untouched, pastoral, Karelian countryside, home to many ethnic Finns. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — 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. Farther 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 middle class.
Day 8 — Lake Rybinskoye, Yaroslavl
Cruise through the scenic wilderness of Lake Rybinskoye. After lunch, Visit Yaroslavl, the oldest town on the Volga River and a “Golden Ring” town. This UNESCO 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)
Day 9 — Uglich, Volga River
Arrive in Uglich, one of the “Golden Ring” of fortified towns and villages built to surround Moscow between the 11th and 15th centuries. 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.
Cruise the 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.
Aboard ship, attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)
Day 10 — Moscow
Explore the cultural and historical treasures of Moscow, a city that has embodied the heart and soul of Russia for over 850 years. Visit the imposing halls of the Kremlin, the fabled “Citadel of the Czars” and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tour the Armory, the oldest museum in Russia, and see the authentic State treasures including the magnificently bejeweled Fabergé eggs commissioned by the Romanov czars. See infamous Red Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site where both Romanov czars and Soviet commissars have 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)
Day 11 — Moscow, U.S.
Continue on the Moscow Post-Cruise Option, or transfer to the airport for your flight to the U.S. (B)
All program features are contingent upon final brochure pricing.