Experience the legendary traditional folklore of Russia as it unfolds along the picturesque rivers, lakes and canals that link St. Petersburg with Moscow. Cruise for six nights aboard the exclusively chartered, deluxe, 90-passenger Volga Dream during this carefully curated itinerary. Explore the artistic and historical treasures of classic Russian culture and several “Golden Ring” cities—featuring UNESCO World Heritage-designated Yaroslavl as well as Uglich, the backdrop for defining moments in Russian history. Stay in St. Petersburg, tsar Peter the Great’s “window on the West,” for three nights in a Five-Star hotel. Enjoy a specially arranged entrance and guided tour of the State Hermitage Museum and visits to Catherine Palace in Pushkin and Peterhof. Explore the 14th-century Kirillo‑Belozersky Monastery near Goritsy and the open-air museum of Kizhi Island. Savor traditional Russian tea and cakes in the home of a Svirstroy villager who will share more about the Russian way of life. Conclude with one night in the Five-Star Marriott Royal Aurora Hotel in Moscow. Moscow Post-Program Option available.
Day 1 – Departure
Your trip will begin by departing the U.S.
Day 2 – St. Petersburg, Russia
Arrive in regal St. Petersburg, Peter the Great’s elegant urban achievement and Russia’s cultural capital, and transfer to the centrally located, Five-Star Belmond Grand Hotel Europe. Attend the Welcome Reception in the hotel this evening.
Day 3 – St. Petersburg
Explore the city’s UNESCO World Heritage-designated historical center, where legendary landmarks are scattered across more than 30 islands and linked by 342 bridges. See exquisite examples of Russian Baroque and Neoclassical architecture along the main thoroughfare, Nevsky Prospekt; the ornate Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (Church of the Resurrection of Christ), built on Emperor Alexander II’s assassination site; and the iconic golden spire of the Admiralty. Visit 19th-century St. Isaac’s Cathedral, with its striking gilded cupola crowning the city’s skyline, and admire its dazzling interior of malachite and lapis lazuli. Tour St. Petersburg’s oldest edifice, the Peter and Paul Fortress, built in 1703 to guard the country’s only outlet to the Baltic Sea.
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage-designated site of Peterhof, commissioned by Peter the Great to rival Versailles, and tour the Grand Palace and the elaborately landscaped grounds of the Peterhof Gardens—encompassing two centuries of imperial style executed to perfection. Enjoy lunch in the Lower Park, where the Grand Cascade comprises a symphony of over 150 gilded fountains.
Attend a lecture by Pavel Palazhchenko, acclaimed interpreter for former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze (time and date subject to change).
This evening, you may choose to attend an optional Russian folklore performance in Nicholas Palace (schedule to be determined).
Day 4 – St. Petersburg
Enjoy a specially arranged entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage-designated State Hermitage Museum, the former tsarist palace of Catherine the Great and among the largest and most respected museums in the world. Its prestigious collections form a comprehensive history of Western and European art, with over three million artifacts. Tour the new halls of the State Hermitage Museum’s General Staff Building to view priceless 19th- and 20th-century French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, including 74 masterpieces presumed “lost” during World War II.
Choose to attend an optional Russian ballet performance later this evening (schedule to be determined).
Day 5 – St. Petersburg
Visit the imperial compound of Pushkin and the elaborate Baroque Catherine Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site. See the jewel-encrusted Amber Room, laden with six tons of solid amber—deftly carved and framed in gold leaf and said to be the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Stripped and confiscated by the Nazis in 1941 during the siege of Leningrad, it was meticulously reconstructed over 25 years to honor St. Petersburg’s 300th anniversary.
Embark the deluxe Volga Dream this afternoon and attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception on board the ship this evening.
Day 6 – Svirstroy
Admire the passing wilderness of serene meadows and virgin pine and birch forests lining the banks of the mighty Neva River along the shores of Lake Ladoga, Europe’s largest lake. This afternoon, call at charming Svirstroy, a riverside village evoking a pastoral way of life. See historic Lodeynoye Pole, where Peter the Great established the Olonets Shipyard, birthplace of the Baltic Fleet. Visit the home of a local village resident to enjoy tea and Russian cakes before continuing along the gleaming Svir River between Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega.
Day 7 – Kizhi Island
Early this morning, be on deck for the unforgettable approach to Kizhi Island, then tour UNESCO-designated Kizhi Pogost, a remarkable open-air museum of 18th-century Karelian and north Russian wooden architecture, with structures that date from the 14th century. Admire the 120-foot-tall Church of the Transfiguration, considered the world’s tallest entirely wooden building and an architectural masterpiece, featuring 22 cupolas notched together without a single nail.
Cruise scenic Lake Onega, which hosts over 1,600 small islands, in view of the beautifully untouched Karelian countryside, home to both Finns and Russians.
Day 8 – Goritsy
Along the shores of Lake Beloye, admire rural communities continuing the long-standing traditions of Russia. From tranquil Goritsy, transfer to the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, founded in 1397, and see its collection of paintings, early printed books and pictorial embroidery. It is said that Vasily III prayed here for an heir, and soon after, his wife Elena gave birth to the future Ivan the Terrible, Russia’s first tsar.
Catch glimpses of a bygone era along the Sheksna River as you pass by rustic family farms and quaint dachas, traditional Russian wooden cottages.
This evening, enjoy a dinner of Russian delicacies followed by a specially arranged sampling of Russian vodkas.
Day 9 – Yaroslavl
Cruise Lake Rybinskoye, surrounded by scenic wilderness. Dock in Yaroslavl, the oldest city on the Volga River and one of the “Golden Ring” of fortified 11th- to 15th-century cities and villages built to encircle Moscow. This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for its 17th-century stone churches crowned with painted onion domes and soaring turrets.
Stroll along the river to the exquisite Church of Elijah the Prophet, an architectural masterpiece in the heart of the Old Town, built by local fur trappers in 1650 and replete with dazzling, well-preserved frescoes. See the elegant 12th-century Monastery of the Transfiguration, which later became Russia’s richest and most fortified monastery.
Day 10 – Uglich
Arrive in the “Golden Ring” city of Uglich and walk to the magnificent Church of Prince Dimitri-on-the-Blood, built in 1692 on the site where Ivan the Terrible’s young son met his tragic demise. Admire its cluster of salmon-hued turrets capped with shimmering blue and gold onion domes and the interior’s elegant frescoes. See the stately five-domed Cathedral of the Transfiguration, built along the Volga River in 1713.
This afternoon, cruise the great Volga River, the main artery of the Russian heartland for over a millennium, and into the Moscow Canal, which provides Moscow access to the White, Baltic, Caspian, Azov and Black Seas.
Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening.
Day 11 – Moscow
Arrive in Russia’s illustrious capital city, which has embodied the nation’s heart and soul for over 850 years. Disembark the ship for a panoramic tour of Moscow featuring the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer, the monument of Peter the Great, the renowned Bolshoi Theatre and expansive views of the city from University Square.
Explore Moscow’s cultural and historical treasures during a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Kremlin, the heart of the city and home of Russia’s present-day parliament, the Duma. Visit the cathedrals of Cathedral Square, a monument to 15th- and 16th-century Russian architecture, and see the tombs of Russia’s rulers from Tsar Ivan I (1325 to 1331) to Tsar Ivan V (1682 to 1696), Peter the Great’s predecessor. Walk through magisterial Red Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site where both Romanov tsars and Soviet commissars have flexed their power, and admire the grandeur of 16th-century St. Basil’s Cathedral, one of Russia’s most striking Orthodox monuments and a national symbol.
Check into the Five-Star Marriott Royal Aurora Hotel and enjoy dinner in the hotel this evening.
Day 12 – Moscow / U.S.
Continue on the Iconic Moscow Post-Program Option or transfer to the airport for your flight to the U.S.