Our behind-the-scenes exploration of the Russian space program features a VIP viewing of the manned launch of a Soyuz spacecraft.
Inside the Russian Space Program
10 days from $14,295
Our behind-the-scenes exploration of the Russian space program features a VIP viewing of the manned launch of a Soyuz spacecraft.
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- A Smithsonian Journeys Around the World Adventure, Part II
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Optional St. Petersburg PostProgram Option — 4 Days, 3 Nights
Day 9 — Depart Moscow for St. Petersburg
Following breakfast at the hotel, enjoy some free time in Moscow before an afternoon transfer. In the afternoon, take an express train to St. Petersburg. Lunch is independent on the train. On arrival in St. Petersburg, transfer to a centrally located hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
Day 10 — St. Petersburg
Today explore St. Petersburg, often described as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its miles of canals, laced together with graceful bridges set amidst 18th-century buildings, have earned it the name, “Venice of the North”. Conceived of by Peter the Great and designed by his favorite European architects, St. Petersburg was meant to be Peter’s link to the western world. As the capital of Russia from its birth in 1703 until the revolution, the city celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2003. Today explore the city, the Peter & Paul Fortress and the Hermitage Museum.
Begin with a short drive along Nevsky Prospekt, the three-mile avenue that is the backbone of the city, introduces us to Peter’s beautiful city. Stops include Gostiny Dvor, the city’s oldest and largest shopping center; Eliseyevsky, an extravagantly beautiful pre-Revolutionary food store, decorated with crystal chandeliers; and the impressive Kazan Cathedral.
The morning is dedicated to exploring the Hermitage. The Hermitage, also known as the Winter Palace, was built in 1754-62 as the principal home of the czars, and was lavishly rebuilt in 1839 after it was destroyed by fire. Originally a small private palace gallery begun by Catherine the Great with a purchase of 255 paintings from Berlin, the Hermitage today houses the largest museum collection in the world. It includes works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens, the French Impressionists, Van Gogh, Matisse, Gauguin, and Picasso. The fabulous rooms with their inlaid floors and gilded woodwork and the grand double entry staircase are works of art in themselves.
After lunch, those who wish may stay at the Hermitage to explore the museum independently. The rest of the group will continue with the city tour, visiting St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Church of the Savior on the Blood, and Peter and Paul Fortress.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral took 40 years to complete. The 48 red granite columns around the lower part of the building weigh 110 tons each and the upper columns around the rotunda weigh 67 tons apiece. The dome is covered with 220 pounds of gold, and the interior columns faced with lapis lazuli and malachite. The cathedral is bursting with sculptures, frescoes, stained glass works and woodcarvings. The Church of the Savior on the Blood was built on the spot where Czar Alexander II was killed by a bomb in 1881, and was commissioned in the style of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow by his son and successor, Alexander III. For many years closed for renovation, the church's beautiful interior is now open to visitors. Four jasper columns inside mark the spot where the czar was killed.
Across the Neva River from the Hermitage on Hare Island, the Fortress of Peter and Paul was one of the first structures in St. Petersburg. Peter the Great laid the cornerstone of the earthen fortress in May 1703, intending it to be used to repel a Swedish invasion. After the Swedes capitulated, the fortress was transformed into a prison in 1718. Most importantly, it is the burial place for most of the czars beginning with Peter the Great. Enjoy a free evening to explore on your own. (B,L)
Day 11 — St. Petersburg
Spend the day touring the country estates of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great outside the city. Travel by hydrofoil, weather permitting, to the site where Peter the Great built his estate, Petrodvorets (Peterhof, as it was called prior to 1944) on a ridge by the Gulf of Finland 19 miles outside St. Petersburg. The former imperial residence is surrounded with extensive parks and gardens intended to rival Versailles, complete with an array of gilded statues, magnificent palaces, and gravity-fed fountains.
Tour the massive Grand Palace with its parquet floors, lavish apartments, and grand galleries. Crowning the top of the bluff above the Grand Cascade, the palace is an imposing sight. Inside, 30 beautiful rooms run the length of the narrow building. Some still retain their baroque décor while others underwent renovations into the 18th and 19th centuries.
Next, travel by coach to the town of Pushkin, site of the royal residence Catherine's Palace, originally built in 1717 by Catherine I. After lunch at a traditional restaurant, enjoy a guided tour of the estate. In 1752, famed architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli enlarged and embellished the palace, extending the facade to its current grandeur. The estate and palace buildings were almost completely destroyed by the Germans during World War II, but they have been carefully and expertly restored into a brilliant architectural monument.
The fully restored Amber Room in Catherine's Palace, now open, has been years in the making. The wall coverings of amber panels, created in the time of Peter the Great, were taken by the Nazis during the Second World War and never recovered. The beautifully crafted amber panels we see today were re-created from photos and descriptions of the originalsand have become one of the highlights of Catherine's Palace. Return to the city in the evening and enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant marking a successful completion of the journey. (B,L,D)
Day 12 — Depart St. Petersburg
Following breakfast, flight time permitting, the tour concludes with a transfer to the airport for international departure. (B)
Kempinski Hotel Moika 22 (or similar)
The Kempinski Hotel Moika 22 is housed in a pre-revolutionary mansion on the Moika Embankment just across from the Hermitage. Its renovated interior is furnished with a mix of classic and antique pieces. Amenities include the ninth floor Bellevue Bar with beautiful views over the city, the Beau Rivage restaurant featuring fine dining, a rooftop Wellness Center and a Tea Room where a Russian/English high tea is offered every day. Rooms include satellite TV, wireless and cable Internet, minibar, hair dryers, heated bathroom floors and bathrobes.
Optional Cosmonaut Training Extension
We offer a number of Optional Cosmonaut Training activities that require staying in Moscow for up to two extra nights. Please visit our Tour Considerations page for more details.
Please call or ask us a question to register interest for our 2016 Optional Cosmonaut Training Extension.
Optional Cosmonaut Training
- Optional Cosmonaut Training activities are offered. These optional trainings require staying in Moscow for one or two extra nights. Pricing will be provided upon request.
- Please call or ask us a question to register interest for our 2017 Optional Cosmonaut Training Extension.
Take the ride of your life on a parabolic zero-G simulation flight. Float, soar, cartwheel and hang weightless in the padded cabin of an Ilyushin-76 military transport aircraft as crew members stand by to assist. One of the most exciting and enjoyable of the cosmonaut training exercises, the zero-G flight puts a huge smile on the faces of everyone involved.
• Includes medical exam and pre-flight briefing
• Roundtrip transfers to the flight
• Pre-flight expert instructions and in-flight instruction
• Zero-gravity flight in IL-76 MDK with 10 parabolic curves, 25 to 30 seconds each
• Special certificate upon completion
Centrifuge 4-G Training
Experience up to 4 Gs on a familiarization ride on the CF-18 centrifuge. Simply put, the centrifuge is a long arm with a capsule on one end where the cosmonaut trainee sits. Used for checking and improving cosmonauts’ G-load tolerance, the CF-18 can be described as a gigantic amusement park ride.
• Includes medical exam
• Roundtrip transfers to Star City
• Training and supervision of the complete process
• CF-18 centrifuge for approximately 3 minutes, up to 4 Gs
• Special certificate upon completion
*Medical exam at GCTC is required.
Orlan EVA Space Suit Simulator
Don a Russian-engineered Orlan space suit, created especially for spacewalks. These are the suits used by cosmonauts when they leave the International Space Station to perform experiments or routine maintenance. The Orlan DMA has a rigid torso and flexible arms and is entered by a rear hatch in its backpack. Since it is designed for use in zero gravity, it is extremely heavy, so during cosmonaut training, the suit is suspended from a boom to simulate zero gravity. You will go through an actual training session that the current cosmonauts and astronauts perform. Learn to open and close hatches and complete a series of operations designed to simulate typical space tasks. The training will include explanations and preparations, donning an Orlan space suit, performing various tasks and maneuvers, and a post-training discussion.
• Includes medical examination
• Roundtrip transfers to Star City
• Instruction on safety measures
• Orlan spacesuit fitting
• Spacewalk training about 1 hour
• Training debriefing
• Lunch at Star City
• Special certificate upon completion
(Two people may participate in the training at the same time. Medical exam at GCTC is required.)
MiG-29 Jet Fighter Flights
Enjoy high-altitude aerobatics on a flight duration of 20 to 25 minutes.
* Click on hotel name to visit hotel web-site.
Moscow, Russian Federation
The five-star Baltschug Kempinski is housed in a building built in czarist times and completely renovated in 1992. This luxurious hotel is located on the banks of the Moskva River directly across from the Kremlin, and offers views of such landmarks as the Red Square, the Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral.
Number of nights: 4
Baikonur, Russian Federation
The Sputnik is a four-star hotel built in 1999. Services include a pool, sauna, TV, air conditioning, and minibar.
Number of nights: 4
Enrich your travels with reading! Click here for a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.
Smithsonian Journeys engage travelers in the mission of the Smithsonian – “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Like the Institution, our tours enrich our guests’ lives and satisfy their curiosity about the world around them. Your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s 19 museums, national zoo, and nine research centers, helping to preserve our national treasures and shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions.
What is Included in the Tour Cost
- Expertise of a Smithsonian Journeys Expert and professional MIR tour manager throughout the land program.
- All accommodations (based on double occupancy).
- Meals as noted in the itinerary (B-breakfast; L-lunch; D-dinner) as well as special welcome and farewell receptions.
- Beverages with lunches/dinners: choice of non-alcoholic drinks, local beer and wine.
- All sightseeing and visits as noted in the itinerary.
- Pre-tour information, including a reading list.
- All on-tour transportation, unless otherwise noted.
- On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $50,000 if tour was booked before 5/1/2014 or up to $100,000 if tour was booked after 5/1/2014), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance.
What is Not Included in the Tour Cost
- Passport fees, visas, and visa photos as required.
- Travel insurance.
- Personal items such as wines, liquors, à-la-carte orders, meals other than specified.
- Expenses incurred by our tour operators in making individual travel arrangements in conjunction with the tour.
- Other items not specifically mentioned as included.
- Optional Travelers’ Protection Plan: Unexpected events before or during a trip may leave you with cancelled plans, lost luggage, or unforeseen medical expenses. This optional plan offers an affordable package of benefits and services that can provide coverage and assistance for the unexpected. Visit TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys to learn more.
To submit a request for a reservation, please order using our secure online process starting at the bottom of each tour page, or call 855-330-1542 to speak with a Reservations Specialist, Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).
Submitting an online request does not guarantee space on a tour. You will be notified of your status when your request has been received and processed.
To complete your request, the following is necessary:
Deposit of $1000 per person, per tour ($500 per person for St. Petersburg Extension), payable by check to the tour operator or by major credit card is required to reserve a space on a tour program. Deposits are applied to payment of the program price.
Please note: Balance due upon invoicing 90 days prior to the program. If payment is not received by 90 days prior to departure, your place cannot be guaranteed on the tour.
Any registration received within 90 days of departure is considered a “late registration” and must be subject to special confirmation. Payment in full must be made immediately by credit card or by check and sent by overnight mail to the tour operator before confirmation is possible.
Once confirmed, cancellation penalties apply as set forth below. If confirmation is not possible, all payments made will be refunded in full.
Late registration confirmation procedures apply to any participant who is transferred from the wait list to the program within the designated late registration period for that program.
For additional information, please call a Reservations Specialist at 855-330-1542, Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) or visit www.SmithsonianJourneys.org/Contact.
A Note About Costs
Please note that we are unable to keep you apprised of your status on the wait list. We will call you only if a space becomes available, but you are welcome to call us at your convenience to inquire about your status at 855-330-1542.
Cancellation and Refund Policy
- Cancellations within 7 days of booking (if not within final payment date): full refund.
- Cancellations after 7 days of booking: $1000 retained, $500 tour extension retained (entire deposit).
- Final payment due: 90 days prior to departure.
- From 90-60 days prior to departure: 50% of land tour cost retained.
- Cancellations made less than 59 days prior to departure: no refund.
- Cancellation by the Smithsonian: full refund.
- No refund for unused portions of the tour, including but not limited to, missed meals, hotel nights, and sightseeing.
Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.
For tour packages that include round-trip international airfare, rates are based on economy class from designated departure cities as shown. Airfares from other cities are available upon request. Airline upgrades at additional cost may be available on request for the international portion of your flight. Since international and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time, we recommend that if you choose to make your own airline reservations, you do not purchase nonrefundable tickets or those with high penalties for changes. Neither Smithsonian Journeys nor the tour operator has any liability for any loss resulting from tour cancellations or changes in international gateways, travel dates, or airline schedule changes. If an air schedule requires an overnight stay in a gateway city, the cost of the overnight will be at your expense. For tour packages that include round-trip international airfare, we will be happy to help with arrangements. Please note that seat assignment on your international flight is usually done at airport check-in. The tour operator is unable to guarantee any seat assignments.
When planning our tours that include international round-trip airfare, the tour operator contracts with those airlines that they feel provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates that enable us to offer you the best possible travel value. Please note that frequent flyer mileage credits are issued at the discretion of the airline(s) and may not be available for the flights on your tour. If you prefer to make your own airline reservations, “land only” pricing is available on most of our tours.
Individual Arrivals and Group Transfers
A designated group flight is not included on most tours. However, transportation from the arrival airport to the ship/hotel is included in your tour cost if you arrive in time to meet the scheduled group transfer. Your first tour bulletin will thoroughly explain the details of the options available for your individual flights.
Air Tickets Purchased Independently of the Tour
We urge you to check airline cancellation penalties before purchasing airline tickets since international departure times and flights can change. Tours also can be canceled due to low enrollments. Neither Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased independently in conjunction with a tour.
For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys includes an on-tour Provided Insurance Plan, through Travel Guard, with the price of your tour. up to $25,000 medical and up to $500 dental expense coverage, and 24-hour worldwide travel and medical assistance. Please click here to view complete coverage details.(U.S. Residents only). It also includes
Please visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1-800-208-6142 to learn about additional (optional) coverage.
For all international departures, a passport valid for at least six months after the completion of your tour, and with at least six blank visa pages, is required for U.S. citizens on all tours in this catalog. If your tour requires a visa or other entry documents, we will send you the appropriate information after you make a reservation. You are responsible for obtaining these documents. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact your embassy or consulate to ensure you obtain the proper documentation.
Physical and Medical Considerations
Please note that these tours require that participants be in good physical condition. You must be capable, without assistance, of walking a minimum of two miles over uneven terrain and of climbing stairs that may not have handrails. Participants should have sufficient stamina to keep pace with an active group of travelers on long days of touring. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in a tour, please call us at 855-330-1542. Some tours have additional notes regarding physical and medical considerations, which are noted on the Tour Information link.
Itinerary or Program Modifications
Smithsonian strives to improve tour itineraries and their features. If improvements can be made, or unforeseen circumstances beyond our control make changes necessary, we reserve the right to vary itineraries and to substitute hotels. Every effort will be made to carry out the program as planned but alterations may still occur after the final itinerary is sent. Please note that weather conditions may force changes to the advertised sailing schedule on cruise programs. The ship’s captain has the authority to change the ship’s schedule.
Smithsonian chooses hotels based on a combination of their location, service, atmosphere, and price. On adventure tours and programs in out-of-the-way places, best-available hotels are used. In most cases, hotels have elevators and meeting rooms for Smithsonian lectures. Program prices are based on two persons sharing a room with a bath.
Singles and Roommates
Hotel rooms are always reserved for single travelers; however the number of single rooms available on a tour may be limited. Therefore we recommend that you register early. Please note that a single supplement will apply for a single room. If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room, we will do our best to find someone of the same gender and smoking preference to share with you. If you are matched with a non-smoking roommate, it is mutually agreed that you cannot smoke in your hotel room. When a roommate cannot be found, the single supplement will be charged.
All tours, except family programs, are designed for adults. Some may be suitable for older children. Regardless of age, children must pay full price unless otherwise noted, and a parent or guardian must accompany those under 18.
Special Travel Arrangements
Participants may wish to extend their stay in the group hotel either before or after the tour. Our tour operators will work with you on these arrangements, dependent upon space availability. Please note that certain tour operators are unable to help with pre-tour arrangements. Your pre-tour bulletins will further explain all options.
Participants on tour may be photographed for the educational and promotional purposes of the Smithsonian Institution. Photographs may be printed in publications and posted on websites to promote Smithsonian Journeys. Travelers who prefer that their image not be used must advise the tour manager at the beginning of the tour.
For the comfort of all participants, we ask that there be no smoking during all group activities, including excursions and meals. On certain cruises, there is no smoking aboard the ship. Your pre-tour bulletins will provide further information.
Preparing for Your Journey
Prior to departure, you will receive tour bulletins containing both general and tour specific information to help you prepare for your travel experience. These bulletins will include:
- Passport and visa instructions
- Flight information
- Weather, clothing, and packing suggestions
- A suggested reading list
- General information about the countries you will visit, e.g. the food, customs, medical precautions, and currency.
- Information about your Smithsonian Journeys Expert and tour staff
- Baggage tag(s) and name badge(s)
- Final itinerary
- Participant list
RESPONSIBILITY STATEMENT AND LIABILITY DISCLAIMER
Read Carefully: Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer
Smithsonian Journeys are managed by professional tour operators hired as independent contractors. The use of tour operators allows the Smithsonian to offer its members a wide array of educational travel opportunities. The tour operator acts only as an agent for the respective suppliers by making arrangements for transportation, accommodations, and other services. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator shall be held liable for personal injury, death, property damage or accident, delay or irregularity arising out of any act or omission of these suppliers. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of tour participants.
The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator also reserve the right, without penalty, to withdraw the tour announced, to decline to accept any person as a participant in a tour, or to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at any time, when such action is determined by tour staff to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general welfare of the tour group or the individual participant, subject only to the requirement that the recoverable portion of the total amount paid that corresponds to the cost of unused services and accommodations be refunded, if any. If your tour does not include airfare, your Tour Bulletins will provide information about when participants are recommended to purchase airline tickets. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator accept no liability for the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets to/from the tour departure city if a tour is canceled or otherwise modified subsequent to the participant’s purchase of those tickets. Baggage and personal effects are at all times the sole responsibility of the participant.
Dates, schedules, program details, and costs, although provided in good faith based on information available at the time of publication of the brochure or catalog, are subject to change and revision.
AS A CONDITION OF ACCEPTANCE OF ANY APPLICATION, EACH APPLICANT MUST AGREE TO THE STATEMENT SET FORTH BELOW:
The undersigned has read carefully the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer set forth above, the schedule of activities for this tour, as well as the terms and conditions of application and participation as set forth in the tour brochure(s), and recognizes and accepts any risk associated with the tour and the conditions, including the refund policy, set forth in the tour brochure(s). The undersigned further acknowledges that there are many risks and uncertainties inherent in any travel tour, including but not limited to the hazards of various modes of transportation, forces of nature, acts or omissions of foreign governments, terrorism, war or insurrection, theft, illness, and damage to person or property due to the negligent acts or omissions of tour staff or others. In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the tour, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release the Smithsonian Institution, its Regents, officers, employees, representatives or agents, the United States, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this tour, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour.
By registering for a Smithsonian Journey, the participant agrees to the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer and the Terms and Conditions herein.