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Viking Moscow to St. Petersburg: Safety??

By uilleann , September 20, 2018 in River Cruising

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We are looking at doing the Viking Moscow to St. Petersburg river cruise in 2020. When I checked the US State Dept. They classify Russia as a “Consider another location” due to increased terrorism against American Tourists. I would love to hear peoples thoughts as I have never been to Russia and this cruise looks like fun?

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I can't answer your question specifically. I have done a similar cruise (another line) and I have done a land trip there. If I was to advise people, I would tell people to find a land company and just do St. Petersburg and Moscow. Stay downtown and not clear out where the river boats stay. I was bored with the ports between and wish I had spent more time in Moscow on the river boat (like I did when I was on the land trip.

Again, not the answer to the question you were asking. I personally would have no hesitations going back.

500+ Club

My sister-in-law just did the Viking trip, St, Pete to Moscow, with no problem at all. She reacted as I did -- greatly enjoyed the longer day time sailing of this itinerary, which she found relaxing and peaceful, and the ports quite interesting. (I was on another line, too, a few years ago). I've seen the State Dept. warning but think the cruise lines put a premium on the safety of their PAX and would withdraw their tours if safety was a concern, such as when river cruises on the Nile were shut down. We did a cruise there after they were reinstated and were a bit apprehensive, but we felt safe with the security provided there and had a great time as well.

We did this trip five years ago. We found St. Petersburg and Moscow extremely interesting, but we really enjoyed the ports during the cruising part of the trip. We loved sailing through the countryside and seeing the smaller towns. President Obama was actually in St. Petersburg for a summit the same time we were there, so Americans were treated fine. However, this was all only a few months before the Sochi winter olympics and Putin was on his best behavior. We all know what happened immediately following the olympics. But then we went to Egypt this past January and we're going to Cuba this coming winter, so we're not easily put off by state department warnings.



That area is generally safe. That said, there is no love lost between Russians and Americans. Most of your everyday people will be fine. You will stand out as an American, good/bad/indifferent. Most of the terrorism problems in Russia are further south than Moscow

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... there is no love lost between Russians and Americans.

I don't find it to be the case.... While the governments do indeed have a hard time finding any kind of common ground to start talking, this has not - in my experience - translated into any kind of problems on a person-to-person level.

If anything, I'd encourage the OP to extend their stay on both ends of the trip, via Viking extension or otherwise and explore both cities on their own.

There aren't too many reviews of Vikings Russian River tours here on CC, but to get a general understanding of overall safety and other issues you might also want to check reviews of other cruise companies (AMA, Scenic, Uniworld, Vodohod) and aggregators (Gate 1 cruises, etc) offering the same route - the itineraries are virtually identical.

As far as State Dept warnings go - they have unfortunately become a political tool rather than a useful resourse for travelers.

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I don't find it to be the case.... While the governments do indeed have a hard time finding any kind of common ground to start talking, this has not - in my experience - translated into any kind of problems on a person-to-person level. If anything, I'd encourage the OP to extend their stay on both ends of the trip, via Viking extension or otherwise and explore both cities on their own. There aren't too many reviews of Vikings Russian River tours here on CC, but to get a general understanding of overall safety and other issues you might also want to check reviews of other cruise companies (AMA, Scenic, Uniworld, Vodohod) and aggregators (Gate 1 cruises, etc) offering the same route - the itineraries are virtually identical.   As far as State Dept warnings go - they have unfortunately become a political tool rather than a useful resourse for travelers.
AMA stopped offering cruises in Russia, reportedly because they couldn't deliver the quality of their European and other itineraries.
AMA stopped offering cruises in Russia

Very true, but past reviews should still be available - and could be helpful in overall assessment of things to expect on that route. Like I said, the itineraries are virtually the same (coincidentally, stern State Dept warnings haven't changed much over the years, either).



Would love to go to Moscow....and so I've looked at the "Waterways of the Tsars" Viking cruise quite often. When we arrived in SPB, that morning you could just feel the tension onboard the ship. Everyone just seemed keyed up and slightly nervous. NOT the usual feeling like in the Windjammer down in the Caribbean! Anyway, one of the days we went through border patrol they left my wife go right through, but I was questioned rather sternly and at length about why I'm arriving so early before my tour excursion started and what I intended to do. It was a bit uncomfortable. After a bit of jabbering in Russian among the border patrol agents, they finally let me through. Telling them that I was going to go shopping with the extra time before the excursion started seemed to win some points :)

This is because they never really tried. Ours had 2 AMA employees - the rest were Vodohod employees. It was a Vodohod cruise.


Relax & ignore uptight fellow passengers.

Viking Ocean Day One at St Pete we go to the border officer. Stares & glowers at us for something like 2-3 minutes. Then stamps our passports forcefully and bruskly waves us thru.

Day 2 at St Pete. We arrive and are promptly waived thru right away. But no smile.

Two very elderly folks on our same tour were held up at least 15 minutes as we all waited for them. Talked to them and they were both ex-military and had worked at the Pentagon. They surmised that the Rooskies knew this and had some concerns. They were laughing and thought the entire experience was a hoot. Day 2, no problems.

Yeah...we had no problems the next day we went through.


My sister and BIL just returned from the Viking trip from St. Pete. to Moscow. They said the onboard experience wasn't as good as on the European Longships but they thoroughly enjoyed the trip. They too reported the local people they met were a very warm and friendly.

We arrive and are promptly waived thru right away. But no smile.
Just out of pure curiosity (plus in the interest of identifying cultural differences) - why do you think a smile would be in order?

From my point of view: tourism is an economic plus for any country, so officials involved should be customer-focused.

The scowling old Babushkas monitoring in the Russian museums are apparently not in order.

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25+ Club

Suggest you try the Sampsan from Moscow to St Petes.

There is a four seat compartment at the very front of the train, excellent service, and great views.

Very safe even for Americans !

The scowling old Babushkas monitoring in the Russian museums are apparently not in order

Indeed, wouldn't we all prefer the cheerful young babushkas!

In fact, having spent a bit of time in SPB over the summer, I have a new appreciation for the scowling old type - the only time I've seen them spring back to life, in a soccer-goalie pounce, was to stop a fellow tourist from touching the private parts of a marble statue or leaning against the tapestry-adorned wall in the Hermitage :-)

When I was a Russian History major in the late '60s there was a wonderful story from the days of Stalin about an old Babushka who used to take the subway to Red Square every morning, trudge painfully across the square to the wall of the Kremlin where the front page of Pravda was posted in a glass case, look briefly at the paper and sigh, and then trudge back to the subway. One day the guard asked, "Grandma, why don't you just buy the paper? It only costs a penny." She said, "I don't want to read all of it. I'm just looking for an obituary." The guard said, "But the obituaries aren't printed on the front page!" She answered, " This one will be."


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Viking Russian River Cruise: The Ultimate 13 Day Guide

September 24, 2019 //  by  Linda Malys Yore //   12 Comments

Does the idea of a Russian river cruise intrigue you? Are you thinking of taking a Russia river cruise and looking for first-hand information from someone who already has? Well, look no further because I sailed Viking River Cruise’s impressive 13-day Waterways of the Tsars river cruise and I readily admit it was the ultimate trip of a lifetime. 

From the moment we began working with the Viking liaison in the comfort of our home until boarding our international flight home in Moscow, Viking made every step of the way, every decision as easy as possible for us. Here I will share with you just how simple and effortless it was to book and plan for a Viking river cruise,  and how unbelievably extraordinary the cruise was.

Viking Russian River Cruise: The Planning Stage

My daughter Victoria from Follow Me Away accompanied me on the Waterways of the Tsars Russia river cruise. As soon as we selected our cruise we were assigned a Viking consultant who handled everything. She was our “go to” person when we had questions or concerns.

We created a personalized online account at . There we could see the specific tours, excursions, and decisions we had to make for our trip. Thirteen days was a long trip and there were many options to consider. At everything was accessible online at one convenient location. There was a question and answer section that had tons of information right at our fingertips that saved us a lot of time and angst. We were sailing on the Viking Ingvar.

After we decided on our specific Russian river cruise and dates, we needed flights to Russia . Be sure to check with your travel agent or Viking directly about packages which include airfare, or discounted airfare. Amenities like this may change frequently. Our Viking rep, Cathy, took care of booking our flights and they were very reasonably priced.

Traveling to Russia involved obtaining a Russian visa . It was a very easy process and Viking River Cruises has specific detailed information on how to fill out the paperwork correctly and where to send everything. Our passports and documents were sent to Generations Visa in Washington DC, the company Viking works directly with. (Russia does not do online visa applications yet.)

Next decisions were about selecting excursions while on our Russia river cruise. At every city along the Waterways of the Tsars, there were included tours offered free of charge. Optional tours are also offered, and there is an additional fee for them.  I signed us up for all the included tours and several optional ones. 

On Viking Cruise’s website, most day’s explanations included videos of the areas we were scheduled to visit. They really helped a lot in the planning process and to heighten the anticipation.

We decided to purchase the Silver Spirits Package for our Russian river cruise with Viking. Victoria loved mocktails, and I could not resist the Russian vodka! However, Viking Cruises is generous with house wine, beer, and soda, which are all complimentary during lunch and dinner, beginning at the daily cocktail hour.

At long last, the day had arrived for us to begin our travels to Russia!

Days 1-4: Waterways of the Tsars, St Petersburg

After passing through customs and immigration at the St Petersburg airport, and retrieving our bags, we were warmly greeted by Viking staff members. Once we exited the secure area of baggage claim, Slava and Philip in their bright red Viking shirts were there to meet us. 

We were taken by Viking coach to our home away from home for the next 13 days, the Viking Ingvar docked on the River Neva. Named after Grand Prince Ingvar, born in 875AD, the Ingvar has 5 decks. There is one main restaurant, two bars, a library, and a sun deck. You will also find an onboard boutique selling all things Russian, along with Viking merchandise. With a crew of about 114, our sailing was at full capacity with 200 passengers. 

Russia River Cruise Ingvar ship

The Viking Ingvar docked in St Petersburg waiting to welcome us aboard.

Once we arrived we were warmly greeted b Viking Ingvar staff and the program director Sasha Danilov.  After settling into our verandah room with a balcony, we headed down to the main dining room for dinner. 

Dining as a vegetarian and vegan duo can be challenging sometimes. But not with Viking. Immediately head chef Joachim Moeller came to meet us and discuss our dietary restrictions. From that moment on, Victoria and I knew we would not have to worry about our meals! If you have dietary restrictions, they are carefully addressed on Viking cruises with the culinary staff. 

Russian River Cruise with the chef

We met with Chef Joachim on our first evening on board the Ingvar to discuss our dietary restrictions: one vegetarian and one vegan.

St. Petersburg Russia is an ornate and lavish city built on the Gulf of Finland by Peter the Great. He toured Europe extensively for architectural insight and the Russian Baroque influences are evident to this day. The city is opulent and elegant. St Petersburg is often called “The Venice of the North” due to the abundance of canals that connect the many islands that are the city.

During our four days in St Petersburg, we learned about the history and soul of the city. Strolling through the Hermitage , (second largest art museum in the world, surpassed only by the Louvre), witnessing an authentic Russian ballet and taking a walking tour of St Petersburg , our days and nights were as busy or as relaxed as we desired. 

Walking through the Church of Our Savior on Spilt Blood and learning of its history and its multicolored brilliant mosaics covering the entire inside was definitely a highlight of St Petersburg. The tour of the Faberge Museum was unbelievable and we ended our time in the city by touring St Petersburg from the Water . We rode along the canals and under iconic bridges in a comfortable barge-like boat. Sailing past ornate palaces and historical Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral was amazing and a unique way to explore.

Our time in St. Petersburg was at an end and the Viking Ingvar set sail. 

Russian River Cruise St Petersburg Savior church

The Church of the Savior on Spilt Blood in St Petersburg. As sumptuous on the outside as it was on the inside.

Life Onboard The Viking Ingvar During Our Russia River Cruise

What I especially enjoyed about this specific Viking Russian river cruise itinerary was there was a nice mix of shore excursions and sailing days. When sailing, there was always a full schedule we could participate in. Or not if we so chose. 

There was a cocktail party every evening before dinner in the Sky Bar that included live music. Sasha, the program director, hosted a daily port talk about the next day’s excursions and events. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were scheduled according to the itinerary. After dinner, there was live music and dancing in the Sky Bar.

Russian River cruise cocktails

We are ending an evening onboard the Ingvar with cocktails and friends in the Sky Bar. Sasha joined us as well.

The onboard guides hosted a series of Russian history lessons which were extremely enlightening and informative. At the end of the trip, they hosted a question and answer session about Russia where no question was off-limits. 

These lectures and talks were streamed live into our staterooms rooms, which was very convenient so we did not have to miss out on any activity.

Day 5: Waterways of the Tsars, Mandrogy

Viking Ingvar arrived in Mandrogy after lunch. This charming Russian village is more of an open-air living history museum that visually keeps the traditions of the Russian inhabitants of the area alive.

We meandered around at our leisure and saw brightly colored houses. My favorite, of course, was the Vodka Museum . There is a literal wall of vodka. Here one learns of the history of Russian vodka and is fortunate to sample a few of the 2,800 bottles in stock.

The lovely 18th century recreated village is dotted with craftsmen/women crafting their wares, and selling them as well. Lovely authentic Russian souvenirs were for sale. 

We were able to paint our own Matryoshka (nesting) dolls and learned the history of them. Others indulged in the banya ritual, the traditional Russian sauna. There were several of us who decided at the last minute we wanted to try the Russian banya, but we were too late as this optional excursion had sold out. Be forewarned: if you do not sign up for your excursions early enough, you run the risk of being disappointed as we were when they sell out. 

Russia River Cruise Mandrogy village

Mandrogy, a lovely open-air historical and crafts village on the Svir River

Russia River Cruise Mandrogy souvenirs

Mandrogy was a great place to purchase authentic Russian souvenirs directly from the artisan!

The Food And Where To Find It On The Viking Ingvar

Breakfast:  Breakfast could be found in three locations during my Russian river cruise aboard the Viking Ingvar. The coffee stations , located outside the main dining room, had coffee and pastries every morning. Self-serve coffee of every variety was available 24/7, as well as my favorite, hot chocolate. Some sort of pastry, or regional cookie (with an explanation of its history) was also always accessible there.

There was a continental breakfast every morning at the Panorama Bar with beverages and breakfast items. And a full breakfast buffet was served every morning in the Restaurant . Hot dishes cooked to order were available as well.

Lunch:  A lighter buffet lunch was served in the Panorama Bar and the main Restaurant served a generous buffet and dishes to order every afternoon. We had lunch in the Restaurant every afternoon. Chef Joaquim was around serving at the buffet and explaining the regional dishes to all passengers. 

Dinner : Dinner began every evening at 7:00 PM most every evening in the elegant Restaurant . There were always several dishes that were available every night of our Russia river cruise. However, the culinary staff made a great effort to serve historical and regional dishes every evening that originated in the area we visited that day.

Russia River Cruise Panorama Bar linch

Continental breakfast was available every morning in the Panorama Bar.

Day 6: Viking Russian River Cruise, Kizhi Island

The Ingvar docked at Kizhi Island on the shores of Lake Onega. I was very excited to begin the Kizi Island Walking Tour because I wanted to see the huge wooden church that was built in 1714 without a single nail.  

Kizi Island is famous because it is an open-air Museum of Architecture . Wooden barns, farmhouses, bell towers, and banyas and even windmills were relocated there to preserve them and their history. The island is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

We toured a period farmhouse and the inside of the Russian Orthodox Chruch of Intercession . The scenic beauty of Kizhi Island was absolutely stunning and a perfect backdrop for the Russian architectural lesson it provided!

Russian River Cruise Kizhi wooden churches

Wooden Transfiguration Church alongside The Church of the Intersession on Kizhi Island located on Lake Onega

Entertainment Onboard The Viking Ingvar

There was always something to do or nothing at all to do. The choice was absolutely up to each passenger during our Viking Russia river cruise how busy they wanted to be. 

Each evening during turndown service, our cabin steward left us a copy of the Viking Daily . It was the ship’s daily newsletter that contained everything we needed to know to be in the know and organized for the next day’s events. 

On sailing days, there were Russian language lessons, Russian history lessons, and cooking/baking demonstrations. There was a sommelier led wine tasting, and a vodka tasting event led by our cruise director, Sasha that led to much hilarity. One of my favorite onboard events was the galley tour!

Every evening after dinner there was live music and dancing in the Sky Bar with Eduardo and Sonia. Several evening, Sasha led games which were a great way for us to get to know our staff and fellow passengers.

Russia River Cruise Victoria at vodka tasting

Victoria with Sasha, the Viking Ingvar Program Director, at the vodka tasting event. There is a secret, you know, how to down vodka shots and not get drunk!

Russian River Cruise game night

Victoria, along with other passengers,  is dancing while Sasha leads us during a music trivia game.

Day 7: Viking Russia River Cruise, Kuzino

The tiny port town of Kuzino holds the entrance to the amazing Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery , one one of the largest Orthodox monasteries in northern Russia. From the ship, we boarded a comfortable coach and headed to the monastery.

As we walked to our busses though, we passed through a mini-market of sorts. Many locals had set up and were selling their wares. It was a great place to barter as it seemed everyone had the same kind of Russian souvenirs for sale.

Founded in 1397 by two monks, the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery is located on the picturesque shores of Lake Silverskoye. The entire monastery complex is surrounded by white walls and towers for protection.

From the outside, it is rather deceiving, because inside the monastery is quite large. There are at least eleven preserved churches, with impressive exterior frescoes. The icons were remarkable as well. Today the monastery is a museum, but there are a few Russian Orthodox monks who live there. 

After some free time to meander around, we boarded our Viking coaches and headed to visit a school in Kuzio.  It was enlightening, revealing and thought-provoking. We toured a school, interacted with students and were entertained. We learned about the Russian education system. It was certainly NOT what I expected. It was much more!

Russia River Cruise Kirillo monastery

Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery on the shores of Lake Siverskoye.

Scenic Cruising Onboard The Viking Ingvar

Our cruising days were far from the hustle and bustle of the larger towns.  But they were filled with as much history as the open-air museums and small villages we visited along our way. Each waterway, lake, river or reservoir had a history that helped shaped the Russia of today.

Just over 40 miles, we departed St Petersburg on the Neva River, one of the deepest and shortest in Europe. Once out of town we passed sumptuous summertime villas used by the wealthy,  along with wildlife and calm waters. Soon we entered Lake Ladoga , the largest lake in Europe at a whopping 7,000 square miles. It is not very deep and it freezes during the cold Russian winters.

Russian River Cruise Linda looking at sunset

Imagine ending your Russian river cruise evenings with a sunset like this!

The Svir River connects Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega. Here we passed small villages with cute houses. There are many sawmills and stacks of logs from the Karelian forests. Once sailing on Lake Onega , we learned it is the second-largest European river, covering an area of 4,000 square miles. Over 50 Russian rivers empty into Lake Onega making their way into the Svir River.

The Volga River , “Mother Volga,” is the national river of Russia. At a commanding 2,300 miles long, she is the longest river in Europe and the main waterway in western Russia. There is a lot of boat traffic on the Volga because it carries two-thirds of Russia river freight. On our journey, the Viking Ingvar passed through sixteen Volga River  “locks” leveling out the river’s height permitting us to progress. 

Finally, as we approached Moscow, we sailed the seventy-nine-mile man-made waterway called the Moscow Canal . Where the Moscow Canal meets the Volga River there is an eighty-foot statue of Vladimir Lenin.

Much commerce takes place along all of Russia’s waterways. We viewed wildlife, quaint villages, locks, dams and reservoirs. We were blessed with absolutely perfect weather and the ability to meander outside on the decks to gaze as the small towns passed by and learn first hand some of the histories of Russia’s scenic waterways.

Russia River Cruise Viking sunset

Viking Rusia River Cruise sunset!

Day 8: Viking Russian River Cruise, Yaroslavl

We arrived at Yaroslavl after lunch, around 3 PM. Over 600,000 people call Yaroslavl home and we headed out on our walking tour: Yaroslavl Up Close .  

One of the eight Golden Ring cities, Yaroslavl is a very significant and beautiful city along the Volga River. Yaroslavl is an extremely important shipping port along the river.

We stopped into the iconic and stunning Church of St Elija and strolled the city. There are over 70 churches in Yaroslavl, with almost half of them in use today. Another stunning church we visited was the Assumption Russian Orthodox Church. The gleaming gold onion domes on the outside and the amazing frescoes inside were all magnificent.

Russian River Cruise Assumption Church Yaroslavl

Stunning Russian Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Yaroslavl , Russia, on the River Volga

Tech Amenities Onboard The Viking Ingvar

Yes, there is FREE wifi during the Russian river cruise aboard the Ingvar. You will receive the login information once you board. Most of us want to post pictures on social media or be in some kind of contact with our family and friends back home. 

Now the bandwidth varied, and sometimes the connectivity and speed were less than what we were used to at home. No big problem though, because we stopped at so many villages and towns along the way that had stronger wifi reception. With a little planning, much of our online work was done when we were docked in port. That’s when the balcony came in very handy!

If you wanted to check your email but did not bring along a laptop, or did not wish to use your phone, there was a computer station onboard. There were two computers with printers we were able to use at any time.

There were both American and European outlets in the Ingvar’s staterooms. Victoria and I brought along some European converters because we had a lot of devices to charge and did not wish to ‘take turns.’ If you don’t plan to bring along lots of electronic devices, you will be fine with the outlets.

Russia River Cruise computer room

There is a computer station onboard for passengers.

Day 9: Viking Russia River Cruise, Uglich, Russia

A dreary rainy day did not sabotage our morning in Uglich. The second of Russia’s Golden Ring cities we explored on our Waterways of the Tsars  Russian River Cruise, Uglich was such a quaint town along the water.

We began with a walking tour and headed to the Kremlin of Uglich. It was merely a ten-minute stroll from the Ingvar. We began by visiting the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Our Saviour’s Transfiguration. 

Every small village or town, and every large city had the loveliest and most ornate Russian Orthodox churches and cathedrals. All have interesting histories and tragedies. Uglich holds the end of a dynasty as one of its tragedies. 

Young Dimitri was only 8 years old when he died. Murdered or accidental we will not know. We do know that his death, this son of Ivan the Terrible, ended a dynasty, sparked civil unrest, and gave rise to the Romanov dynasty. 

Next, we toured the beautiful Church of St Dimitry on the Blood . It was built in the 1690s on the spot where young Dimitry’s body was found. Through frescoes inside the church, the story of Dimitry along with Bible stories are seen. Dimitry’s grave is also inside, and it is very small (because he was a child when he died.)

A visit to a local family followed where we were transported by Viking coaches. There we shared a light meal, a cup of tea and toasted with vodka shots! We had free time to shop for souvenirs along the way back to our ship if we so desired. 

Russian River Cruise Uglich

Beautiful Uglich, Russia looking towards the Russian Orthodox Saint Dimitry on the Blood Cathedral.

Viking Russia River Cruise: Staterooms 

102 outside staterooms make up the Viking Ingvar. Sizes range from the two 400 square foot Suites to the 160 square feet Deluxe staterooms. Most staterooms feature floor to ceiling sliding glass doors that lead out onto a large verandah. Some categories have a large picture window (4 feet X 3 feet) that opens instead.

There is a twenty-six inch flat screened TV in each room that offers live news shows, along with a variety of ship information, like positioning and live streaming of any lectures and demonstrations happening in the Sky bar. 

All rooms are furnished with both 110/220 volt outlets, a telephone, safe, hairdryer, and air conditioning. We used our safe every day. I kept my passport and credit cards in there whenever I was not using them. 

Russia River Cruise stateroom

Our verandah stateroom onboard the Viking Ingvar during our Russia river cruise.

Cushy fluffy white spa-like robes and slippers are available upon request. All rooms receive servicing twice daily, when bottled water is replenished and the Viking Daily newsletter is delivered. 

Victoria and I thought there was plenty of storage space for all of our belongings for the two of us on a 13-day cruise. With our luggage easily stored under our beds, there was ample space to walk around. 

Russian River Cruise stateroom desk area

We used our desk to house our laptops and camera equipment.

Russia River Cruise verandah

Our spacious verandah. We spent many a morning or afternoon, depending on our itinerary, outside relaxing and watching the countryside sail by.

We leisurely sailed and enjoyed the stunning views from the ship all morning. At 1:30 PM we arrived in Moscow, one of the world’s most iconic and fascinating cities. Over twelve million people live in Moscow. It is Russia’s political and cultural epicenter.

Three days was a great amount of time to explore Russia, yet not enough time at all! There were unbelievable included tours to participate in, and exquisite optional tours that offered privileged access to some of Russia’s most beloved locations.

Moscow is famous for its legendary ornate underground subway stations . Victoria and I elected to take an included walking tour of Moscow , where we visited several of the iconic and elaborate stations. 

Russia River Cruise Moscow Subway station

One of the elegant subway stations we visited in Moscow on our Viking walking tour.

We also attended a special concert of Russian music and dance that was extraordinary. Tours of the Cosmonaut Museum, the Jewish Museum, and the sumptuous Treasures of the Kremlin Armoury were offered. 

I was most interested in touring Red Square and the Kremlin. Household words to me growing up during the rise and fall of Russian communism, I was very excited to experience them. And of course, seeing the world-famous and iconic St Basil’s Cathedral.  

And Viking Russia River Cruises did not disappoint. I enjoyed the mixture of tour time and free time to explore Moscow on our own. The Ingvar was docked thirty minutes out of town next to a beautiful green lush city park. It was very conveniently located less than a ten minute walk from a subway station. And then it was a straight shot to the city center of Moscow. 

Moscow did not disappoint either. Not one bit. From walking around Red Square, which was barricaded when we visited due to state horse shows and concerts, to visiting St Basil’s Cathedral, it was so exciting.

Russia River Cruise St Basil Red Square

St. Basil Cathedral on Red Square in Moscow. YES, it is that brilliant and beautiful in real life!

We spent time in the GUM Department Store (much more like a mall) which was the most ornate and exquisite shopping center I have ever visited in the world, anywhere!  We chose NOT to visit Lenin’s Tomb (and see his corpse) in Red Square.

Our visit inside the Moscow Kremlin walls was unforgettable. Long considered the symbol of Russian power, most people, including me, think of the Kremlin as one building. Actually, it is a walled city. Inside are numerous government buildings and home of the Russian president. Also, we saw unbelievably beautiful palaces, cathedrals, and museums mostly congregated in Cathedral Square.

Russian River Cruise Moscow Kremlin

Kremlin (meaning ‘fortress’) walls adjacent to Red Square in Moscow. The Kremlin is the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation.

Probably one of the most popular optional excursions was Moscow By Night . It was amazing seeing Moscow all lit up and glittering while riding in our coach. Then we transferred to a boat and admired Moscow from the water!

 Viking River Cruise Staff: The Backbone of the trip.

The food could be the absolute best. The excursions could be the most captivating. The staterooms could be the loveliest ever. But none of the experiences we had on our Viking Russian River Cruise Ingvar would have been as special if it were not for the extraordinary staff.

The staff of the Viking Ingvar definitely exemplified what it means to offer unparalleled service. Every single staff member, from the captain himself to the kitchen staff working behind the scenes, put forth extreme effort to make the trip so very special. From the extraordinary cabin steward, the servers during our meals, to the bar staff, there was nothing that they could not do for us. The  

Finally, I must add that I spoke with several members of the staff and crew and one major theme emerged. And that was how much they enjoyed their jobs and were blessed to be working for Viking.  

Russian River Cruise Restaurant Staff

One of the onboard activities was a Galley tour where we met the unsung heroes of the kitchen!

Russian River Cruise Reymond cocktails

Reymond made the best cocktails! He instructed me on Russian vodkas.

Read These Next:

How To Pack Lightly For Your Viking Russian River Cruise

Here Are Tips If You Are A Senior And Traveling Solo

7 Tips For Surviving Your Long International Flight

How To Remain Healthy When Traveling

Packing Tips For Your Viking Russian River Cruise

I think that using these useful packing tips will enhance your trip to Russia:

A  concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring with you to Russia. This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is  lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind. You can keep your most valuable documents safe and secure next to your body.

If you have a pouch already you may not want to or need to invest in a new one. If it does not come with the RFID protection,  these  RFID  sleeves  would be handy to prevent identity theft. This configuration comes with enough passport and credit card sleeves that the entire family would be protected. They are slim too, so they will easily fit into your current pouch or wallet. 

I was never a fan of  packing cubes  until I tried them out! Now  I am sold .  These Bagail packing cubes   are  the exact ones I use whenever I travel . I cannot believe how much more organized I am now.

Don’t forget to bring along a  universal power adapter to Russia.  This worldwide   power plug  is a great example and will charge your phone at the end of your busy days. And this  world traveler adapter kit   can charge several devices at the same time. This is what you will need when there are several people traveling in your group, or if you bring several electronic devices on your trip that require charging at the same time. 

If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an  external charging battery . This  Anker high-speed phone charging battery  is the exact  one I carry with me on all of my trips . It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have. And wow is it fast! I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about. And if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.

My daughter gifted me this  FugeTek Selfie Stick and Tripod  for my birthday. It has Bloothtooth connectivity so it is very easy to use . It is made of durable aluminum and is very lightweight and easy to carry. I love mine and I think you will enjoy it too!

Hydration is so important. You want to remain hydrated to support your immune system which in turn will be stronger to fight off any germs you will encounter during your travels.  You will want to bring your own  refillable water bottle  with you.  I never leave home on a trip without my  Bobble  filtration bottle.  The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for travel and it will fit nicely in the pocket of a backpack or your purse. Also when filled with water, it is not too heavy to carry. And the Bobble carbon  filter  ensures fresh clean water whenever and wherever you fill the Bobble. You can find  filter replacements here. 

Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium. Then this  set of collapsible silicone foldable water bottles  would work well for you. Would not take up much space in your suitcase at all. And you will be receiving a set of two.

You will want to bring a  backpack or daypack  with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. This   foldable water-resistant backpack  would be great. It is very affordable and is available in many color options for you to choose from. The fact that it folds down into a zippered pouch will make it easy to pack.

Perhaps you need a more substantial  backpack  for your international travel. This  antitheft backpack   has a charging port, is water-resistant and can comfortably carry up to a 15.6″ laptop. It comes in a range of colors to choose from and it is inexpensive as well. 

You will be walking more than usual on your Viking Russian River Cruise. A sturdy and comfortable pair of walking shoes  is a must-have. These  waterproof all-season shoes  are extremely affordable and yet fashionable.  Mostly everyone is familiar with the Skechers brand, and these   Air Run high fashion sneakers  come in a lot of colors to match your outfits and are still affordable.

You may be visiting Russia in warmer weather, and you may want a pair of sandals  to wear exploring.  I highly recommend these  Vionics adjustable strap orthotic sandals.  I have several pairs of these  exact  Vionic sandals in several colors that I bring with me *everywhere* I travel. They are very comfortable. I also sometimes bring along my  Vionic Tides flip flops.  The toe post is so comfortable which makes wearing these super comfortable. 

Please be advised : on your Viking excursions, I advise you to wear comfortable closed-toe shoes. The excursions can cover a lot of distance. Also, cobblestoned streets can be difficult to negotiate in sandals or flip flops, even if the weather is warm.

Bring a lightweight scarf or shawl . Scarves and shawls are very popular in Europe, And Russia is no exception. Both men and women wear scarves, both decoratively and as a layering piece to keep warm. This cotton   unisex lightweight  scarf is versatile and can be worn in any season. And here’s another option to consider: this  lightweight sunscreen shawl scarf   would do double duty to protect you from the sun in the warmer seasons as well as being a fashion accessory layering piece.

Also, in most Russian churches, women’s heads and shoulders must be covered. So the scarf can be used for that purpose as well.

We all need to  protect our eyes  from the sun’s harmful UVA/UVB rays. These  unisex polarized sunglasses   come in a lot of lens colors and frame designs and are extremely affordable too.

If you are fond of the  aviator-style of sunglasses  these polarized aviators may interest you. I like polarized sunglasses because they remove the glare and help you to see things more clearly. This will be very helpful in Ireland.

If you are in need of  new luggage,  this  expandable soft side spinner luggage  is affordable and comes in lots of colors. If you like hard-sided better, then you may favor this  hard-sided luggage set better. Both sets come with TSA approved zippers locks and 8 wheels per piece. Either will be great for the plane or train or even your car depending on how you plan to travel to Russia. 

Truthfully, before I visited Russia, all I knew was what I learned as a child during the Cold War: communism, KGB, and that the Russian people do not smile much. Viking’s Russia River Cruise did an *exceptional* job of introducing me to Russia as she is today. After spending 13 days with Viking Cruises I feel we were expertly guided to every monument and museum and well-known church in each and every city or village we visited.

We were informed about every part of Russian life and its extraordinary history as a country and introduced to the dazzling opulence of her architecture. Not only DO Russian people smile, but they are also warm and friendly. A surprising number of them spoke English. Viking Cruises’ Waterways of the Tsars 13 day Russian River Cruise was an outstanding and unforgettable experience, one I think you would love as much as I did.

Have you ever traveled to Russia? Were you as surprised and impressed as I was? Please share your experiences in the comment section below!

Please note: I was provided with a complimentary Viking Russian River cruise for myself and a guest, and a stipend, by Viking Cruises in exchange for this honest review. All opinions are my own.

Linda On the Run  is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, designed to provide a means to earn fees by advertising and linking to

Holland America Mediterranean Cruise Feature Image

Reader Interactions

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November 14, 2019 at 6:43 pm

Hi there, I enjoyed your review. It was very detailed and will help us on our cruise. My sister and I will be traveling to Russia in May 2020 with Viking. Just to give us idea, how much cash in Russian ruble did you spend while on your 13 day cruise? I know we can use our credit card in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but I’m guessing not in the small towns. Thank you!

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November 19, 2019 at 8:40 am

You are correct. The major metropolitan cities accept credit cards. The small rural villages do not. Plus you will want to have rubles on hand in case you wish tip the local tour guides. I can not recommend an exact amount of rubles. We used an ATM machine upon arrival at the airport. There are other ATMs along the route as well should you find you require more rubles. Please be advised, the ship you sail on will not not change currency into rubles for you. I am wishing you the absolute best experience ever with Viking as you explore and discover Russia!

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December 22, 2019 at 9:47 am

Going next September! Can you tip and purchase small items in more rural locations in USD?

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January 23, 2020 at 8:33 am

Great job telling your story & sharing pictures about your Viking Russian River Cruise, very helpful!! We are going in July, I read they frown on sandals being worn in churches, museums & other areas. Croc flip flops probably out the question? How strict? In St. Petersburg, how far are we from the City Centre? Viking proves transportation if you would like to walk around town on your own? Thank you.

January 23, 2020 at 11:24 am

Hi Phyllis. So excited for you? I would not suggest wearing flip flops when touring any European city. Crocs will be ok. Sturdy closed-toe shoes would be ideal. When entering a lot of the churches in Russia your shoulders/head must be covered. I always had a scarf tucked into my purse for such an occasion. In St Pete, the city center is a bit far from the ship. We secured an Uber and it was very reasonable! In Moscow, the Metro is within walking distance. My Viking Russian River Cruise was *extraordinary* and so far surpassed any expectations I had. I wish safe journeys and a spectacular cruise for you as well.

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January 10, 2021 at 3:04 pm

Thank you for providing such a detailed review. Can you please say what month you cruised? We are deciding now between May and July and are unsure of conditions. Thank you!

January 10, 2021 at 6:01 pm

Hello Kathleen. I sailed in mid-September.

January 10, 2021 at 6:32 pm

We actually had our Russian Cruise rebooked for July 2021. I called Viking today for updates due to Visas, hate to put money out for Visas if Cruise is canceled. We heard all positive reviews for the Russian River Cruise in July, weather is beautiful & temps in high 70s during the day, evening 60s. We start in St. Petersburg, so many say how much they like St. Petersburg, if you have extra time spend it there.

January 12, 2021 at 2:42 pm

We started our cruise from St. Petersburg as well. The optional excursions in that magnificent city were spectacular!

January 13, 2021 at 4:19 am

Hi Phyllis, what did Viking say about your July cruise and about obtaining a Visa. My sister and I are scheduled for September 2021 and have the same question. Our May 2020 Viking cruise was cancelled and we had already obtained our Visas, which are no longer good, so yes the additional cost to get new ones. Thank you!

January 15, 2021 at 10:14 am

Viking Rep., told me to contact GenVisa directly to answer my questions. On Monday I called, they told me to allow 8 weeks for processing, cost $632 per couple , for everything including 3 yr Visa. They advised me to get paperwork started, mail it to them, once borders open our applications can be processed quickly, basically we would be ahead. It was worth the call, found them resourceful.

January 10, 2021 at 6:53 pm

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Vagrants Of The World Travel

Russian River Cruise from St Petersburg To Moscow.

By: Author Kate O'Malley

Posted on Last updated: December 6, 2021

Home >> Russia >> Russian River Cruise from St Petersburg To Moscow.

Have you ever dreamed of strolling through Moscow’s Red Square or seeing the ballet in St Petersburg – A city where opulent palaces offer a glimpse into one of the world’s most  intriguing royal dynasties .

Russia’s two great cities still invoke the old school romance of travel – a journey into the enigmatic and exotic. However, in a country as immense as it is fascinating, there is so much to see beyond the metropolis of Russia’s great cities.

A Russian River Cruise , St Petersburg to Moscow on Viking Cruises Waterways of the Tsars cruise will take you to Russia’s great cities and beyond.

Take a Russian river cruise from Moscow to St Petersberg to see sights like Moscow's famous Red Square. We enjoyed our Viking River Cruise.

Sailing the rivers and lakes of Russia from St Petersburg to Moscow takes you into Russia’s heartland. It is deep in the country where you find the Golden Ring cities, charming towns and iconic, sometimes forgotten monuments that helped define Russia’s history.

A Russian river cruise opens up possibilities to visit parts of Russia that may otherwise be logistically difficult. It also offers a very efficient and cost-effective way to see the best of this vast country.

Viking river boat with temple on an island in the background.  River cruises in Russia are popular and a viking river cruise from St Petersburg to Moscow is the best way to see Russia

Table of Contents

Visiting Russia

Unfortunately, Russia is a country too often sidestepped by many travellers. It has been more than two decades since Russia emerged from behind the Iron Curtain and began welcoming tourists with semi-open arms and a cold stony smile.

However, Russia still carries the stigma of being a difficult country to travel to and in. Thanks mostly to a reputation of complicated, bureaucratic visa processes and rumoured corruption.

multi coloured parapets of russian church.  If you want to see some unique things in Russia then a viking river cruise through russia will leave you plenty of time for self exploration.

Russian Visa Requirements

If you are travelling through Russia on a river cruise, unless you are eligible for the new 16 day e-Visa, most foreign nationals must have a tourist visa.  The Russian visa process can take up to a month or two. It is important to check your visa requirement and make sure you get it submitted well in advance of your intended travel date.

The gradual introduction of the new e-visa is making the process simpler but is restricted for visits of only eight days and specific entry points. Based on this, the e-visa is not suitable for a river cruise in Russia. 

Applying online for your Tourist Invitation Letter is quick and simple, allowing you to proceed with your application. You can read more about planning your trip to Russia here . 

people walking under yellow archway in Moscow.  Getting around Russia is easy on a river cruise in Russia but you will need a russian visa.  We can also show you how to get a tourist visa for russia

Travel in Russia

As independent travellers, our biggest dilemma with Russia is logistics. Russia covers two continents and nine time zones, and the highlights and must-sees are spread far and wide, with nothing in between.

When you don’t have unlimited time or an unlimited budget, the distances can pose some issues. Transport through Russia can be expensive and less than comfortable, and car hire could be a costly alternative.

Golden room with light spilling through the archways and people looking at the painted ceilings and golden walls.  you will see these things in Russia if you go on a viking river cruise and cruise St Petersburg to Moscow

Is a River Cruise The Best Way To See Russia?

We would say yes, a river cruise is a fantastic way to see Russia. For most, Russia is a once in a lifetime adventure, so, it boils down to how much of Russia do you want to see.

A river cruise makes sense for most travellers to Russia and most travel budgets. A cruise enables visitors to experience more of Russia than perhaps they would on their own.

yellow building with black parapet above the archway.  a unique thing to see in russia on your river cruise.

You Might Also Like: What to Take on A Russian River Cruise

Viking River Cruise in Russia

Much like some of the unreliable, uncomfortable transport methods available in Russia, some of the Russian cruise lines are shall we say, still a little Soviet.

Viking Cruises, on the other hand, offers a product in Russia to the same high, 5- star standard as their river cruises throughout Europe. A full-service luxury river cruise from the moment you make your booking to the time you disembark.

And much like Viking’s European itineraries, the Viking Russian Cruise itineraries are destination focused with high quality shore excursions and enrichment experiences. 

3 viking river cruise boats docked.  a viking river cruise is the best way to see europe and russia

Plan Your Trip to Russia: Know The Best Time to Visit Europe

Viking’s All-Inclusive Cruise Packages

The big appeal of cruising for some is the all-inclusive aspect, so they know what to expect. With Viking Cruises, you can expect so much more than just an all-inclusive cruise package of meals and drinks.

In addition to optional excursions, there are also lots of free shore excursions throughout the cruise. 

Fly Cruise Packages

You can book your Russian river cruise inclusive of flights from your home port, wherever in the world that may be. An attractive option for those wishing to take the guesswork out of arranging flights, knowing you have access to Vikings Cruises discounted fares and upgrades.

Fly cruise packages include all taxes and airport transfers in Russia. Helpful for those who don’t like to navigate the taxi hustle on arrival in a new country. (Speaking from first-hand experience, Russia certainly has some good taxi scams running from the airport).

Information to assist you with the visa process is also included, the most daunting prospect of visiting Russia for many.

More Incredible Viking Cruises You Can Take in Europe:

  • Viking Cruises Paris to Swiss Alps Christmas Market River Cruise
  • Viking River Cruises Danube Waltz – Passau to Budapest River Cruise
  • Viking Homelands Cruise Review. The Best of Northern Europe
  • Passage to Eastern Europe Cruise on the Danube Budapest to Bucharest

red and blue church set on emerald green grass on the banks of a river during a cruise from st petersburg to moscow.

Shore Excursions and Tours in Russia

During the river cruise, a high quality tour itinerary of shore excursions and tours are included to ensure you experience the best things to do in Russia.

There are also some delightful surprises, such as an evening at the ballet in St Petersburg. The tour schedule is designed with the arts and culture in mind, not just the big tourist hot spots.

Additional or Optional Tours can also be purchased at each destination such as our traditional Russian Banya experience in Mandrogy or the vodka tasting on board.

dinner setting russian style with vodka glasses and plates of russian food. fine dining is one of the many great things about a viking river cruise.

You also have access to some very appealing Exclusive Access tours such as a behind the scenes look at the Hermitage in St Petersburg.  All tours include transfers where required, entry fees and extremely knowledgeable, tourism professionals as your guides.

a russian river cruise shore excursion with people walking up the T shaped staircase on the red carpet.  river cruising is the best way to see russia.

On Board Lectures, Demonstrations and Activities.

In addition to activities during cruising times, such as cooking demonstrations and traditional Russian tea’s, the guides also offer daily lectures on Russian history and politics.

The lectures are one of the highlights of the trip. Engaging and well-researched lectures, delivered from a Russian perspective, provide an entirely different and refreshing perspective on Russian culture and politics.

chef showing viking river cruisers how to make a typical russian dish on their cruise st petersburg to moscow

Russian Cuisine on Board

Viking River Cruises always excel when it comes to onboard dining. Interchangeable a la carte menus are available at all meal times showcasing Russian cuisine and produce.

The less adventurous are well catered for with an excellent “always available” a la carte menu. Portions are sensible to allow for all courses to be tried and savoured. Unlike the glutenous portions or “ all you can eat” buffet’s some cruise ships favour. 

Viking River Cruises Fine Dining

Drinks are complimentary with all meals, including a tipple of champagne at breakfast if you are so inclined.

A Silver Drinks Package can be purchased, which gives you unlimited drinks from the bar for the entire cruise as well as a vast selection of wines.

The Convenience and Comfort of River Cruises

There is a lot to be said for having your floating hotel accompany you on your journey through Russia. Unlike some ocean cruises where the focus can be on shipboard life at the expense of the destinations, on this Russian river cruise, the destinations are the focus.  

You get the complete package of the best things to see in Russia without having to navigate multiple modes of transport or having to unpack, pack and move accommodation all the time.

viking river cruise boat deck with tables and chairs.  luxury cruising through russia on a viking river cruise st petersburg to moscow

Once you are on board, whether it be in the big cities or the remote countryside, you only need to check in and out once. You do feel like you have your hotel on the road with you – A fantastic boutique hotel.

And it is not only the tour guides who are tourism professionals. You also have at your disposal a 5-star hotel team — professional food and beverage staff, well versed in the art of fine dining and world-class chefs.

set dining tables on a viking river cruise where you will get the finest russian food on your river cruise in russia

The staterooms are spacious and extremely comfortable. Private balconies, quality furnishings, and enough high tech amenities such as Satellite TV and WIFI to keep you entertained are standard throughout the ship.

There are also plenty of comfortable public spaces, both indoors and out with panoramic views to relax and take in the vista while you are cruising.

stateroom with double bed and balcony on a viking river cruise

Cruise St Petersburg to Moscow

For us, opting to travel through Russia on a river cruise was primarily motivated by the itinerary. Most people would be happy to visit Moscow or St Petersburg. But why make an effort to visit this intriguing country and miss all the beautiful and exciting things to see outside of the main cities despite the vast geographic distances.

abonded church with green roof sinking into the ground. unique things to see on your russia holiday

The Cruise Itinerary

The river cruise itinerary is what sold us on this mode of travel. The itinerary enabled us to spend ample time in St Petersburg and Moscow; then with our floating hotel in tow, we took to the river.

It is here where we saw the other Russia. Stunning countryside, small villages, abandoned churches and majestic cathedrals dotted along the river banks. A view of Russia that speaks volumes about the country’s history and culture.

viking yacht bedding

As we slipped down the river, we had the  White Nights  in our favour so could take advantage of the long days and very short nights of summer. Enjoying the sights of the Russian countryside en route to our next destination. Each day a different destination with a cruising schedule set to maximise time spent ashore.

viking yacht bedding

Waterways of the Tsars Schedule

Seven different destinations are visited in the 13 days onboard. This includes three full days in both Moscow and St Petersburg. We would not have achieved this on our own in the two weeks we had.

Viking Cruises Waterways Of The Tsars itinerary

Viking Cruises Waterway of the Tsars St Petersburg to Moscow Itinerary

Commencing either in St Petersburg or Moscow, the itinerary allows for three days in each city. You can read about the cruise itinerary and shore excursions in St Petersburg and Moscow here.

St Petersburg & Moscow

Between Moscow and St Petersburg, you can experience the beautiful Golden Ring cities and villages of Russia. These are the towns and cities that lie beyond Russia’s great cities on the Waterways of the Tsars. 

Fortress of Schlusselburg Russia which sits in the middle of a lake.  best things to do in russia is to cruise past these unique russian places to visit

Mandrogy Russia

Mandrogy, built in 1996 as an open-air museum, is a replica of   Verkhine Mandrogi , a Russian village destroyed during WWII. The enterprise was intended to give travellers cruising between St Petersburg and Kizhi a feel for traditional Russian life. 

Unfortunately, we found Mandrogy to be very much that – a fabricated tourist attraction including costumed craftsmen and women with innumerable craft stalls and workshops selling the same trinkets. 

Mandrogy Russia

Paint your Own Russian Matryoshka Doll

The central premise for this village appears to be shopping and, of course, the famed Russian Matryoshka Dolls. You can partake in a workshop to learn how to paint your own nesting dolls or, watch any number of the local artists paint dolls in their style. These, of course, are available for purchase. 

While Mandrogy was not our cup of tea, there was a silver lining to this little settlement – the traditional Russian Banya.

Mandrogy Russia

Experience a Russian Banya

The banya is one of those quintessentially Russian experiences.  One of the oldest Russian traditions dating back centuries. A tradition that has not lost its appeal and is still popular today.

Essentially the banya is a steam room or sauna where water is poured over hot rocks to create steam with temperatures often exceeding 93ºC. However, the banya comes with a little more ceremony than your average steam room or sauna.

Specific brooms are used in the banya called veniks . These are usually bunches of birch or oak branches which are dipped into cold water in the sweltering steam room. They are then smacked briskly over the body.

Typically,  there will be a person responsible for this task – a banschik.  As the banya is considered a very social activity, a  banschik  is often not required as friends will usually smack each other with the veniks.

branches tied together and hanging on a rail waiting to be used to whip the hell out of you in a russian banya. viking river cruises will stop here and allow you to be beaten to a sweating pulp by local russian folk

Thankfully our experience included a banschik as we would not have known the sequence of events nor the protocols for polite smacking! So, how does one banya?

  • Enter the banya and wait for temperatures to become almost unbearably hot.
  • Relax while the banschick  completes a ceremonial beating of everyone’s bodies with the veniks.  It includes intense rustling of the branches either side of your head, which is repeated several times.
  • Leave the banya and allow the  banschick  to pour freezing cold water over you.
  • Adjourn to the adjacent room for tea and jam.
  • Repeat steps 1 & 2.
  • Leave the banya house and run to the river to plunge into the icy waters.
  • Repeat step 6.

Traditional Russian Banya Mandrogy with man serving tea to two viking guests after being in the banya.  this really is a unique thing to do in russia

You get the gist! Used as a method of bathing in Russia for centuries, the banya is said to have a myriad of health benefits. There are many communal or public banyas in the cities and towns, and some people still have private banyas in their homes.

The banya is one Russian experience we highly recommend, providing you have the constitution to withstand the intensity of it.

Traditional Russian Banya Mandrogy with men and women running down a pier to jump into the icy waters.

Near the centre of the Lake Onega, the second largest lake in Europe, you will find the wild and isolated island of Kizhi. Kizhi is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed open-air museum.

At only 6 km long and 1 km wide, this tiny island is one of Russia’s most visited. The settlements buildings date back to the 15th century, some of which were moved from various Karelian villages during Soviet times to help preserve them.  

wooden buildings on Kizhi Island Russia.  the best way to see russia is with a viking river cruise st petersburg to moscow.

However, the islands most notable and recognisable attractions are the famous wooden onion-domed buildings- the twenty-two domed Transfiguration Church and the nine domed Intercession Church.

Locals will tell you; both churches were constructed without the use of a single nail. The unknown builder is also said to have destroyed his axe on completion of the Transfiguration Church. He is quoted as saying: “ There was not and will not be another to match it”.

the two domed church on Kizhi Island Russia - viking's Waterways of the Tsars Cruise is the best way to see russia in a short period of time

Within the smaller Church of the intercession, you may hear the local clergy, a beautiful and moving baritone choir intone the ancient liturgy. The islands ancient settlement gives insight into the harsh realities of life in the Russian heartland. Places where entire settlements were isolated for much of the year throughout long winters. You can read more about  visiting Kizhi Island here .

3 men singing in a church on Kizhi Island Russia. viking river cruises provide unique opportunities to live like a local for a short while whilst on their river cruise in russia

Along the Volga – Baltic waterway you will find the urban settlement of Kuzino approx. 600km north of Moscow.

In addition to some fascinating churches, some abandoned or in various states of repair that are worth exploring, the highlight of this region is the Kirillo – Belozersky Monastery. More like a fortress than a monastery, the magnificent complex sits on Severskoye Lake.

the Kirillo - Belozersky Monastery set against the river with 5 steeples around the outer perimeter.

Severskoye Lake is deemed so pure no motorboats are allowed on it. According to urban myth, the waters were blessed, giving them qualities similar to those of the mythical fountain of youth.

From humble beginnings in 1397 when two monks founded the monastery in nothing more than a cave dug by two men. By 1494, now a stone structure, it was the largest church in medieval Russia.

Defended by thick walls and towers it was a refuge for not just monks and peasants, but also a place of pilgrimage for Tsars and so benefited from generous donations and tax breaks. Ivan the Terrible was said to be a regular visitor and big tipper. The financially favourable guest list enabled the monastery to grow in size and importance.

Kuzino Russia

By 1764, Catherine the Great had stripped the monastery of its land and converted the complex into a prison. In 1924 the Bolshevik government shut the complex down and executed or arrested the monks. Interestingly, unlike most monasteries, it was not converted into a concentration camp but rather a museum.

Kirillo - Belozersky monastery Russia

Yaroslavl, the largest city on the Volga, lies just 250 km’s north of Moscow which makes this Golden Ring city a popular weekend getaway.

Perhaps this quaint city of six hundred thousand should be called the city of churches because here you will find an impressive kaleidoscope of onion domes. At the convergence of the mighty Volga and Kotorosl rivers is the historic part of the city, a listed UNESCO World Heritage site.

white church with gold topped green parapets in Yaroslavl Russia. these are the amazing things you will see on a viking river cruise st petersburg to moscow

The city dates back to Prince Yaroslav or Yaroslav the Wise  when he came ashore in around 998, slew the sacred bear worshipped by the local pagan tribes and converted them to Christianity. Hence, the bear on the city’s coat of arms.

Yaroslavl Russia

While these events may have attributed to the city’s religious fervour – the churches that now adorn the skyline were the work of 17th and 19th century merchants on a quest to outdo each other in a bid to beautify the city.  To this day it remains a magnificent city, one that appears to have remained unscathed by the soviet facelift given to much of Russia. 

4 golden domes atop a church in Yaroslavl Russia

Uglich, another of the Golden Ring Cities. A picturesque riverside city filled with inviting parks and brightly coloured church domes. The history of Uglich is steeped in a murder mystery that changed the history of Russia.

Ivan the Terrible was never quite right following the death of his wife Anastasia and so instituted a reign of terror that earned him his name. Although respected for his military victories and management of Russian interests, he was also feared for some terrible deeds.

Uglich Russia

One such deed was accidentally killing his son and heir with a blow to the head. Due to this faux par on Ivan’s behalf, his crippled son Feodor, who by all reports was not well in mind or body, ascended to power. However, the country was being run by Feodor’s brother in law, Boris Godunov.

Uglich Russia

Quietly in the wings was Dimitry, Ivan’s younger son who could have succeeded the throne in light of Feodor’s lack of interest in political issues. In 1591, at the age of ten, Dimitry was found dead thanks to a stab wound. It was decided Dimitry slit his own throat with a sword during an epileptic fit.

At the risk of stating the obvious – it was widely assumed the boy was murdered. However, those who dared to accuse Boris Gudunov only did so once. The mystery remains, and so does this beautiful city close to Moscow.

white church with 3 blue domes in Uglich Russia.  Best things to do in russia are from st petersburg to moscow

Should You Choose A River Cruise to Travel Russia?

When it comes to visiting a country like Russia, we feel a river cruise is possibly the best way to maximise your experience of this incredible country.  Had we decided to travel independently, there is no way we would have had the vast and varied experiences we were able to on this cruise.

abandoned church in the middle of the river.  one of the unique things you will see on a Waterways Of The Tsars. St Petersburg to Moscow river cruise with viking river cruise.

The 5-star hotel service, excellent dining and professional tour organisation far exceeded any of our expectations. We now understand why people often choose river cruises as the best way to experience a country. We have since travelled on a number of river cruises through Eastern Europe and the Danube and still believe it to be a value for money way to travel, especially in Europe.

Moscow Russia

If you are looking to see Russia beyond the big cities, cruising the waterways from St Petersburg to Moscow will reveal the beauty of the towns and the landscapes of Russia’s heartland. A river cruise is a fabulous way to travel Russia and a great way to glean a deeper understanding of this mysterious country.

Waterways Of The Tsars. St Petersburg to Moscow

Viking River Cruise In Russia Facts

  • Viking River Cruises has three vessels operating in Russia offering a  13-day “Waterways Of The Tsars” cruise  running between Moscow and St Petersburg.
  • Prices start at ~USD $4,500. Viking Cruises also offer some great “Early Bird” specials available for advance bookings.
  • The cruise includes accommodation, all meals, drinks with meals, tours and onboard lectures. Additional or  Optional Tours  can be purchased on board.
  • Flights, including taxes and transfers, can be arranged inclusive of your cruise price.
  • A tourist visa will be required for most foreign nationals to enter Russia, it is important to check if you will require this well in advance of your cruise date.

We would like to thank Viking Cruises for hosting us on the Waterways Of The Tsars cruise to facilitate this article. As always, all opinions expressed are our own and have not been influenced in any way.

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Viking Rurik

Former names: viking peterhof, ms mariya ulyanova.

Viking Rurik cruise ship

Cruise line Viking Cruises

Viking Rurik last position

Viking Rurik last location was at Baltic Sea (coordinates 59.86026 N / 30.49451 E) cruising at speed of 102.3 kn (189 km/h | 118 mph) en route to SAINT-PETERSBURG. The AIS position was reported 3 weeks ago.

Specifications of Viking Rurik

Year of build1975  /  Age: 49
Flag state Russia
BuilderRSW Rosslauer Schiffswerft GmbH (Dessau-Rosslau, Germany)
ClassUSSR Russian cruise ship (Project 301)
Speed14 kn / 26 km/h / 16 mph
Length (LOA)125 m / 410 ft
Beam (width)17 m / 56 ft
Gross Tonnage5400 gt
Decks with cabins3
Last Refurbishment2012
Sister-shipsVladimir Ilyich-class
Former namesViking Peterhof, MS Mariya Ulyanova
OwnerNorth-Western Shipping Company (UCL Holding, Russia)
OperatorViking River Cruises Russia
  •   Review
  •   Wiki

Viking Rurik Review

Review of viking rurik.

The Viking Rurik ship cruises on Volga River in Russia, departing from Moscow to St Petersburg , and from St Petersburg to Moscow . This Viking cruise ship is named after Rurik - a Viking in origin (prince/chieftain from the Varangian Rus tribe), brother to Sineus and Truvor. Consolidating the lands of his two brothers, Rurik and his dynasty established their capital in Kyiv. They ruled over Russia (the huge Kievan Rus empire) for nearly 700 years.

Discover the treasures of Russia on one of the best river ships sailing there: Viking Rurik. Fully refurbished in 2012, the ship carries up to 196 guests in its spacious 98 staterooms (32 Deluxe, 2 Junior Suites, 4 Suites, 60 Veranda), as those on the middle and upper decks feature private verandas.

Viking Truvor cruise ship (Russia, Volga River)

Viking Rurik has a total of 98 cabins (of which 6 Suite, 60 Balcony, 32 with a non-opening window) in 6 cabins. All accommodations meet the European standards of elegance and comfort, with amenities like in-room refrigerators, hotel-style beds and 26-inch flat TVs. An expanded restaurant and beautiful public areas are a plus to the pleasure of sailing on Viking Rurik. 

Cabins Types/Categories (number, location), high to low

  • Suites - JR (x2, deck3), AA (x4, deck2)
  • Balcony Staterooms - AX (x36, deck3), BX (x24, deck2)
  • Deluxe RiverView Staterooms - CX (x4, deck1), DX (x20, deck1), EX (x8, deck1).

Shipboard facilities

Viking Rurik dining options include Restaurant Neva (dining room) and Odessa (casual). Other facilities include Panorama Lounge (observation), Rurik Atrium (lobby), Library (Internet stations), Shop (traditional Russian souvenirs /gifts), Promenade (deck 1), Rurik Lounge & Bar and Sun Deck Lounge & Bar (show, observation /both on the top deck), 1 elevator.

Viking Rurik river cruise deals are inclusive of Internet (Wi-Fi), laundry, room-service, Russia land tours/excursions, all ground transfers, themed live onboard entertainment, lecturers, Russian traditional food and vodka tastings, 24-hour tea/coffee, replenished daily bottled water.

Viking Rurik river cruise prices are per person and based on double occupancy. These are only indicative of Viking cruise rates. They might be different when you book your Viking River Cruises Russia cruise tour deals, influenced by travel agency promotions, special offers and discounts, group travel booking or last-minute deals rates. On some Viking Rurik's Volga cruise tours, the line offers round-trip USA airfare discount deals (on select cabins or itineraries/dates).

River Cruise Itineraries

Follows the list of Viking Rurik river cruise itineraries as themes, officially announced by the Viking Cruises line:

  • "WATERWAYS OF THE TSARS" are 12-days luxury Volga river cruises from Saint Petersburg to Moscow, and the reverse from Moscow to Saint Petersburg. There are 11 complimentary land tours/excursions and no hotel packages included in the fares. Feature port activities and tours along the route are:
  • St Petersburg excursions (Winter Palace, the Hermitage Museum - one of the world's largest and oldest, with a huge and unique collection of arts and antiquities, jewelries, sculptures, traditional Russian ballet performances, Pushkin district excursion, Catherine Palace - the summer residence of the Russian monarchs/"tsars"), St Petersburg bus tour, optional tour to Peterhof Palace (gardens, fountains), St Petersburg departure in early evening (on day 4)
  • Neva River cruise and crossing Lake Ladoga (the largest in Europe, on day 5)
  • Svir River cruise to Mandrogy (local Vodka Museum, Russian handmade souvenirs. Optional excursions in Mandrogy are themed "banya" (visiting a traditional Russian bathhouse) and "matryoshka" (traditional Russian wooden doll making)
  • Cruising along the Russian “Blue Route” (225 km / 139 ml in length)
  • Onega Lake cruise (Europe's second-largest)
  • Kizhi (local Museum of Architecture /outdoor exposition of traditionally built Russian wooden houses, windmills, churches, most of them built without nails)
  • Volga-Baltic waterways cruising (370 km / 230 ml long system of small rivers, canals and 7 locks connecting Volga River with Baltic Sea
  • Kuzino (Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, Assumption Cathedral, local museum)
  • Yaroslavl (a local covered market for food and handmade items)
  • Moscow Canal cruise (arrival during lunchtime, half-day long tour in Moscow visits Bolshoi Theater, Red Square, St Basil Cathedral, GUM Store, Metro. The second day offers full-day long parks and monuments tour, with an optional half-day long excursion to Tretyakov Gallery (fine art museum). Third day Moscow touring visits Kremlin and two cathedrals, with optional Kremlin Armory tour.
  • Departures from St Petersburg offer optional 2-night Moscow hotel package. On departures from Moscow, the line offers an optional 3-night Helsinki hotel package (Finland).

Next, are listed two exemplary itineraries with port dates:

  • (southbound) 6-day from Saint Petersburg to Moscow - Oct 03 (Saint Petersburg, dep), Oct 04 (On River), Oct 04 (Mandrogi), Oct 05 (Kizhi Island), Oct 06 (Kuzino), Oct 07 (Yaroslavl), Oct 08 (Uglich), Oct 09 (Moscow).
  • (northbound) 6-day from Moscow to Saint Petersburg - Oct 15 (Moscow, dep), Oct 16 (Uglich), Oct 17 (Yaroslavl), Oct 18 (Kuzino), Oct 19 (Kizhi Island), Oct 20 (On River), Oct 20 (Mandrogi), Oct 21 (Saint Petersburg).

Note: You can see the CruiseMapper's list of all river cruise ships and riverboats in the "itinerary" section of our  River Cruises  hub. All companies and their fleets are listed there.

Viking Rurik - user reviews and comments

Other viking cruises cruise ships.

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Viking Rurik Wiki

Viking Rurik is one of Viking Cruises Russia ships. The other vessels in the line's "Europe-Asian" fleet are  Akun ,  Helgi ,  Ingvar ,  Truvor , and in Ukraine -  Sineus . You can compare Russian river cruises as prices also on  Uniworld River Victoria  and  Scenic Tours Scenic Tsar  - sailing the same route between Moscow and Petersburg.

The Viking Rurik ship was built in East Germany during the USSR times under the name "MS Mariya Ulyanova". Viking River Cruises acquired the vessel in 1990 and renamed it "Viking Peterhof". In 2012, after an extensive refit and refurbishment, they renamed it once again - to the current "Viking Rurik". MS Peterhof ship was one of all 22 Russian river cruise vessels constructed in the period 1974-1983 (Project name "301" /first series, river passenger ship class "Vladimir Ilyich"). Because of its V-bottom hull shape, Rurik can also operate as Baltic Sea cruising vessel. The ship was ordered by USSR/Russia's "North-Western Shipping Company" (now "Vodohod").

Note: You can see the CruiseMapper's list of all river cruise ships and riverboats in the "itinerary" section of our  River Cruises hub. All companies and their fleets are listed there. For other Russia-based ships, you can visit our dedicated to Russian River Cruises  hub.

Built as "Mariya Ulyanova", MS Viking Rurik is one of Russia's signature "Project 301" river cruise ships.

Vladimir Ilyich-class Russian river ships

"Vladimir Ilyich class" (aka "Project 301") are 3 series of Russian river cruise ships built in GDR (Germany) for USSR (Soviet Union) in the period 1974-1983. The vessel class name honours Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924) who is considered the founder of USSR (Soviet Union).

These Russian river cruise ships (a total of 22 units) were all produced by VEB Elbewerft Boizenburg as one of the industry's most successful riverboat designs. These ships were used for passenger (cruise) shipping in Northwestern USSR - in the rivers Volga, Belomorkanal, Lake Onega, Volga–Don Canal, Kama and Amur rivers as well as on Dnieper River (Ukraine ) and in the Black Sea. Following the USSR's collapse (1991), all these boats were acquired by private companies (Russian and foreign).

Russian river cruise ship (Project 301) Vladimir Ilyich-class

Lagoon Catamaran

Lagoona Catamaran Yachts

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2023 Lagoon 42 – 3 Cabin Custom Toppers and Bedding

2023 Lagoon 42 – 3 Cabin Custom Toppers and Bedding

by Jennifer Nguyen | Sep 13, 2023 | Blog , Featured Products , Lagoon Catamaran , What's New | 0 Comments

An architectural achievement, the Lagoon 42 is a catamaran with an ambitious design and attractive interior spaces. Step aboard and set sail for an ocean of serenity and pleasure. The Lagoon 42 affirms a distinctive style and personality. Performance combines with...

Lagoon 42 Master Cabin

Lagoon 42 Master Cabin

by Shannon Baldwin | Aug 20, 2020 | Blog , Lagoon Catamaran | 0 Comments

This new member of the Lagoon family has style and a strong personality.  While keeping a family resemblance and retaining the main features of the latest generation of Lagoons, it shows us a new path: unhurried evolution, a new “organic” approach, in...

Custom Lagoon 410 Mattress

Custom Lagoon 410 Mattress

by Shannon Baldwin | Sep 13, 2019 | Blog , Lagoon Catamaran | 0 Comments

We have many Lagoon patterns on file and we always admire the layout of these beautiful catamarans. This client went with 7″ boat mattresses in two of the four cabins on board.  Our client decided that a 2 piece configuration would work best for them....

Custom Bedding for a Post 56

Custom Bedding for a Post 56

by Shannon Baldwin | Jun 21, 2019 | Blog , Lagoon Catamaran | 0 Comments

A good design is something that is pleasing to the eye and at the same time serves the purpose. At, our design team is working continuously to keep our fabric collection updated and making sure we have the best variety to offer to our clients. Check...

Lagoon 400 Toppers and Bedding

Lagoon 400 Toppers and Bedding

by Shannon Baldwin | Mar 3, 2019 | Beneteau , Blog , Lagoon Catamaran | 0 Comments

Lagoon, a company best known for its line of sailing catamarans, was once a division of French sailboat manufacturer Beneteau Yachts. We did Toppers, sheets, matelasse blankets and duvets for this client as you see in the images. is known for its...

Classic Bedding for a Lagoon Catamaran

Classic Bedding for a Lagoon Catamaran

by Shannon Baldwin | Apr 6, 2018 | Beneteau , Blog , Lagoon Catamaran | 0 Comments

Lagoon was founded in 1984 as a subsidiary of Jeanneau Technologies but today Lagoon boats belong to CNB that belongs to the Group Beneteau. The beginner models of Catamaran were developed for private cruising but a second generation was brought to the market from...

Custom Lagoon Deck Cushions

Custom Lagoon Deck Cushions

by Shannon Baldwin | Oct 25, 2017 | Blog , Lagoon Catamaran | 0 Comments

The Lagoon Catamarans are one of our favorite boats.  The outside space is incredible and a main part of the living area. It’s critical that this area is comfortable and usable.  Out great client in Long Beach upgraded their master mattress and Lagoon...

Custom Lagoon Bedding and Sheets

Custom Lagoon Bedding and Sheets

by Shannon Baldwin | Oct 8, 2017 | Blog , Lagoon Catamaran | 0 Comments

There is something very special about catamarans.  The space, the openness and the unique design always makes me envious when I board a catamaran.  We’ve had the pleasure of outfitting a number of Lagoons with custom boat sheets and we’ve come to...

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    Viking boat bed. My grandson's maternal grand parents are Norwegian, so when my son asked me to make a special bed for him, I naturally thought of a viking boat. The final bed has hatches fore and on the sides for clothes, a secret compartment for candy, a time capsule mounted underneath with sketches I drew and videos of construction.

  14. Viking Moscow to St. Petersburg: Safety??

    We are looking at doing the Viking Moscow to St. Petersburg river cruise in 2020. When I checked the US State Dept. They classify Russia as a "Consider another location" due to increased terrorism against American Tourists. I would love to hear peoples thoughts as I have never been to Russia and ...

  15. Viking Yachts Sheet Sets

    Viking Yachts Bedding > Viking Yachts Sheets Sets Viking Yachts Sheets Sets. On Sale On Sale 600TC 100% Luxury Cotton Custom Fitted Sheet Set - Viking Yachts $495.00 $395.00 On Sale On Sale 500TC 100% Cotton Custom Fitted Sheet Set - Viking Yachts $455.00 $355.00 On Sale On Sale 400TC 100% Cotton Custom Fitted Sheet Set - Viking Yachts ...

  16. Viking Russian River Cruise: The Ultimate 13 Day Guide

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  17. Viking Yachts Boat Bedding Packages

    11-Piece Nautical Blue Coral Custom Fitted Bedding Package - Viking Yachts $1,595.00 $1,295.00 On Sale On Sale 11-Piece Ribbed Grey Custom Fitted Bedding Package - Viking Yachts $1,695.00 $1,395.00 shop. Boat Mattress Boat Bedding Yacht Mattress Yacht Bedding Sea Ray ...

  18. All Custom Boat Interior Products by

    Order your custom boat bedding today! <style>.woocommerce-product-gallery{ opacity: 1 !important; }</style> Locations (800) 688-3819 [email protected] Virtual Appointment

  19. Viking Cruises Waterways of the Tsars Review. Moscow to St Petersburg

    Viking River Cruise In Russia Facts. Viking River Cruises has three vessels operating in Russia offering a 13-day "Waterways Of The Tsars" cruise running between Moscow and St Petersburg. Prices start at ~USD $4,500. Viking Cruises also offer some great "Early Bird" specials available for advance bookings.

  20. New Mattresses and Bedding for a Viking 65

    We did all new mattresses in bunks and Sunbrella bedding for this Viking 65 client. Boat Mattresses fit for the Marine Environment. A great night sleep on your dream boat has never been easier. With several boat mattress and mattress topper options to choose from, we are able to create a sleeping solution to fit all budgets. We make everything ...

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  22. Comfort Boat Mattresses

    Comfort Boat Mattresses provides after-market, upgraded custom boat mattresses and bedding to boat owners. All products are custom and made to order. Comfort Boat Mattresses | 954-358-9847 | 6741 W Sunrise Blvd, #11A, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33313

  23. Lagoon Catamaran

    Lagoon Catamaran. Avant-garde design and interiors optimized for comfort! You love your Lagoon! Now complete your yachting experience by outfitting your 40, 42, 450s, 46, 50, 52S, 52F, Sixty5, Sixty7, or Seventy8 models with our custom mattress and bedding.