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Which is the best Russian River Cruise for 2018?

Picking the perfect ship and travel company for your cruise in Russia can indeed be challenging, especially if it is your first cruise experience. After some research you've probably already noticed that there are many great cruise lines operating on the Russian waterways, but they all seem to offer similar routes and services. To help you see the difference and save your time choosing the best option for you, we've laid out answers to the most frequently asked questions that we receive from our travelers about Russia's River cruises.

We compared MS Rostropovich (Firebird Cruise program) and Volga Dream, two of the most prestigious and modern cruise vessels in Russia. It may sound cliché, but these are the top two cruises that can make your trip to Russia unforgettable, and this isn't just a statement, it is a proven fact based on more than 10 years of our experience organizing trips to Russia.

 

FIREBIRD CRUISE

VOLGA DREAM CRUISE

OTHER CRUISES*

OVERALL VALUE GRADE

Excellent Excellent Good

EXCLUSIVE OFFER

Exclusive Suites offer Exclusive Classic program No

AMAZING HOTELS

Luxury Ararat Hyatt and Astoria 5 star Intercontinental and Anglettere No hotels, accommodations on board of the ship only

FREE FLIGHTS ✈

Yes Yes Yes

VISAS TO RUSSIA

Complementary full visa processing Complementary full visa processing No visas, invitation only

SHIP CONDITION

Excellent, just renovated Very good Very good

PROGRAM DURATION

12 days 11 days
13-14 days
 

PRICE FOR SUITE CABIN

from $4,781 from $5,598 from $11,199

PRICE FOR REGULAR CABIN

n/a $4,196
$5,949
 

PASSENGERS / STAFF

200/50 100/50 200/50

TOURING GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 travelers only Up to 14 travelers only Up to 40 people in the bus, 1.5 hour ride from river port

EXPERT RATING

4.8 4.7 4.4

CUSTOMER RATING

4.88 4.95 4.5

* We compare our programs with cruises organized by other leading cruise companies.

 

 
1

WILL I BE ACCOMMODATED ONLY ON BOARD THE SHIP?

Some providers do not include downtown accommodation and their travelers spend all nights on board the ship, which is a great option if your journey lasts for only a couple of days and 4-5 hour city tours are enough to explore the main sights. However, this is not the case when traveling to Russia.

Russia's capitals are vast, to say the least, and endlessly fascinating. For this reason, a few hours is just not enough to see all of their gems, especially if you take the long distances and traffic jams into consideration. Luckily, Russia has great accommodation options and you will definitely feel special staying at remarkable hotels near the Red Square, where sights such as St. Basil's Cathedral, Sparrow Hills, and Tretyakov Gallery are within your reach. That's why, if you prefer to spend more time exploring a city rather than being stuck in traffic, always make sure that your chosen cruise does not accommodate only on board the ship.

When choosing the Firebird Cruise or the Volga Dream programs you stay at 4-5 star centrally located hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg. This means that from 3 to 4 days of the trip you will have the evening free to continue exploring the cities on your own or dining in local restaurants after the planned tours rather than returning to the ship, which is tied-down in the port on the outskirts of town.

 

2

ARE FLIGHTS & TRANSFERS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?

Cruise lines and travel agencies offer a wide range of services for their passengers, some can book airfares for you at an additional cost while others do not add flights to their itineraries at all. Traveling with us you will get hold of our Free Flights Special offer, which means that you can travel for free from New York (JFK) or Dubai (DXB) or get a $900 / person flight credit for flights from any other airport. This is a special offer that is applied to all 2018 Firebird Cruise and Volga Dream cruise dates.

We also take care of our travelers' transfers from the airport to the hotel or the ship at no additional cost.

 

3

HOW DO I GET A RUSSIAN VISA?

Be sure to start your Russian visa application process at least a month prior your trip and consider using a specialist travel agency to arrange them. You will pay a similar amount of money but save a lot of your energy, plus avoid the risk of not getting your visa on time. There are 2 ways how the visa procedure could be handled by a travel company. Some will provide you only with a visa invitation and that does not guarantee that the visa will be issued, you will need to fill out all applications and go to the Consulate of Russia in your home country for personal submission of documents. Other companies assist travelers with the visa processing, which means you don’t run a risk to miss the deadline.

Unlike our competitors we include complimentary full visa processing or comprehensive visa assistance for our clients. That means that you don't have to bother getting required documents, such as Russian visa invitations and etc. Visas won't cost you anything if choosing Firebird Cruise or Volga Dream cruise. Our professional in-house destination management team will take care of everything and make sure you get your documents on time.

 

4

IS THE SHIP SAFE AND RENOVATED?

The MS Rostropovich ship is in perfect condition as it was renovated just recently so you will travel in comfort and style. Rostropovich has sailed on Russian waterways for more than 20 years and has been often compared to the outstanding great conductor it was named after. This 5-star ship is a perfect combination of comfort and a royal touch.

The Volga Dream entered service in the spring of 2007 after a comprehensive two-year renovation. Volga Dream is a world-famous 5-star cruise liner and the best choice for those who love to travel with luxury. This pearl white beauty provides spacious high-comfort cabins that feature flat-screen satellite television and WiFi.

 

5

WHAT IS THE NUMBER OF PASSENGERS? IS IT CROWDED?

Usually Russian cruises are fitted to accommodate no more than 400 people. Rostropovich holds 200 passengers at capacity and Volga Dream can accommodate 100, so you won't feel crowded on the ship nor you will need to waste your time standing in lines for dinner or when boarding. On both cruises, you will both easily find a quiet place to relax and many opportunities to meet new people from all around the world.

 

6

HOW MANY LAND TOURS WILL I HAVE? HOW BIG IS THE GROUP?

Some companies will promise you from 6 to 8 hours touring Moscow and St.Petersburg, which seems like a perfect amount of time to relax and enjoy your tour. However, what they usually forget to mention is that a journey to main cities like Moscow and St.Petersburg from a port often takes more than 1,5 hours and this unavoidably means you will need to "enjoy" a tiring and crowded trip on a bus with up to 40 travelers. After such a trip one may not expect to be lively and ready to enjoy an on-board evening entertainment program.

We believe that cruising should have a balance between time spent on board and time spent on land. That’s why with us travelers often spend more time exploring Russia’s countryside, spectacular cities and ancient towns on land than with other companies. We don’t want our traveler to have “sea legs”, that’s why almost every day they have half day land tours in the morning or evening. As well, we arrange explicit tours in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Our groups consist of less than 15 travelers and we provide accommodation in the most luxurious downtown hotels in Moscow and St.Petersburg, so our travelers never waste their vacation time and energy.

 

7

WHAT IS THE PRICE? WHAT IS INCLUDED?

Cruise prices can vary from 4.000 to more than 12.000 USD, it all depends on which provider, ship and cruise cabins you choose. With our services, when choosing the Firebird Cruise or Volga Dream cruise, the price is usually between 5.000 - 7.000 USD for which travelers get a Free Flight offer, accommodation in most remarkable downtown hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg, land tours with professional guides to discover the rich culture of Russia, on-board entertainment programs like Costumed Russian Tea Ceremony, Russian Cooking Class, Piano Concert and more. We also meet and take our clients to/from the airport regardless of their flight time. We always show our clients the final price and it includes everything listed in the program, taxes, fees, port surcharges. You pay exactly what you expect.

 

8

CAN I TRUST THIS CRUISE PROVIDER?

When traveling to any destination in Europe, no matter if it is a cruise or a land program, always dedicate some time for reading travel reviews about the provider and organized tours before making a purchase decision. Not only does it guarantee you the company is trusted but it also gives you a great view of what you can expect from your journey and what is the quality of their service. Be sure to base your decision only on those sites that are trustworthy and contain transparent customer reviews, for example Trustpilot.

However, don't only count on a high rating, look for a company that seeks for quality rather than for a greater number of reviews. Make sure that they:

• have a team of destination specialists and logists that work extra hard to offer culturally rich, entertaining, unforgettable journeys with clockwork logistics;

• have a local support team and a dedicated tour guide to assist you during your trip;

• are recognized globally and have awards proving the quality of their services (especially important for Russia travelers);

• show you the final price that you will pay.

 

9

WHICH CRUISE TO CHOOSE, FIREBIRD CRUISE OR VOLGA DREAM?

After 10 years of operating in Russia we noticed that our travelers enjoy Firebird Cruise and Volga Dream cruises the most. Though it is a long trip to one of the greatest and mysterious countries in the world, it is sure a relaxing and comfortable experience our travelers can't forget for long after the travel.

We are excited to share heartwarming poems about Moscow and St. Petersburg written by our gifted traveler, Denise Lariviere, who recently returned from one of our Russian river cruises. Let the poems inspire you!

See all Russian Russian River Cruises for 2018. See more reviews from our travelers.

 

 

We hope this comparison will be helpful for you and help you understand the overall value of the product better. Perfection always hides in the smallest details and we do our best to make sure any of our trips are seamless, comfortable and memorable for our valued customers.

Our destination specialists are always happy to help you plan an amazing journey. So whenever you are ready, don't hesitate to contact us.

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