Day 1: Arrive in Moscow
You fly to Moscow, where a coach will transfer you to the ship, moored in this unique city. The professional crew welcomes you on board and there’s time to settle in and familiarise yourself with the layout of the ship before dinner is served.
Day 2: Moscow
Set yourself up for your morning tour with breakfast, whilst chatting with your fellow passengers about what lies in store. You can view some of the breathtaking sights within Moscow, such as St Basil’s Cathedral, the glorious colours of its cluster of onion-shaped domes, topped with glinting golden crucifixes, and the turrets and spires of the vast Kremlin fortress soaring high above its huge ornate walls. See the austere granite slabs of Lenin’s mausoleum and the mighty State Historical Museum, housing vast, priceless collections. Visit the famous GUM State Department Store, with its immense glass roof reminiscent of London’s 19th-century railway stations, see the dazzling white façades and shining domes of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and enjoy panoramic views of this intriguing city from Sparrow Hills overlooking the mighty Moskva River.
Day 3: Moscow
Rise refreshed and ready to discover more of this historic city. On our guided tour this morning we return to the Kremlin, which formerly housed the Russian government, with stunning palaces and cathedrals enclosed behind its vast walls. See the Tsar’s Bell and Cannon and the mighty Ivan the Great Bell Tower, once the tallest structure in the country, its gold, onion-shaped domes piercing the sky. As we set sail along the Moscow Canal, which connects the Moskva and Volga rivers, the Captain’s welcome cocktail reception is served before dinner, so relax in the lounge and take in the changing views through the ship’s panoramic windows.
Day 4: Uglich
Enjoy a leisurely lunch in the restaurant before we arrive in picturesque Uglich. Its name coming from the word for ‘corner’, this attractive city on a sharp bend of the Volga forms part of Russia’s Golden Ring, a group of ancient towns that played an important part in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church and are now open-air museums, with a wealth of unique monuments and colourful architecture. We will enjoy a walking tour of the city’s Kremlin, once surrounded by water and now perched high on the river bank.
Day 5: Yaroslavl
During this morning’s breakfast, our ship arrives in the ancient city of Yaroslavl, the largest and oldest city of the Golden Ring. We will wander the charming old town, admiring the elegant façades of merchants’ houses, each more impressive than the next. See the exquisite 17th-century church of Elijah the Prophet, known for its vibrant frescoes, and stroll the grounds of an ancient monastery with its medieval holy gate.
Day 6: Goritsy
At sunrise, we will dock into the picturesque village of Goritsy which is the centre of one of the largest accumulations of monasteries in Russia. From here a coach will take us to the magnificent Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, which was founded in the 14th century by one of the most revered saints in the Russian Orthodox Church. After lunch, relax on board as we cruise the Volga-Baltic Waterway, part of an impressive 229-mile network of rivers and a canal linking the Volga to the Baltic Sea.
Day 7: Kizhi
Overnight the MS Rossia has made steady progress northwards and today you will enjoy another wonderful morning’s cruising as we enter the waters of Lake Onega, Europe’s second-largest lake. Later we moor on the tiny island of Kizhi, an enchanting green sliver at the northern end of the lake. Thought to be a pagan site for Ugric and Finnish tribes, its significance grew as a centre on the trading route to the White Sea during medieval times. In 1951, an open-air museum was founded here, comprising a fascinating collection of restored 18th-century wooden structures brought in from nearby villages, including chapels, belfries, log houses, mills, bathhouses and barns. Impressive as these are, the main attraction of this UNESCO-listed site is the extraordinary Church of the Transfiguration.
Day 8: Mandrogi
We experience another highlight this morning as we cruise the scenic River Svir. Head up on deck and enjoy this diverse and atmospheric landscape: steeply sided riverbanks splice the depths beneath, emerald-green marshes alternate with red rock faces and isolated villages, with their scattering of timber houses seemingly frozen in time. Before long, we moor in picturesque Mandrogi. This quintessential Karelian village, reliant on its fishing and mills, was a place unchanged for decades until it was completely destroyed during the Second World War.
Day 9: St Petersburg
This morning as we reach our journey’s end, early risers will enjoy our stately arrival along the River Neva into spectacular St Petersburg. With a history dating back 300 years and today a UNESCO World Heritage site, this grand imperial city will enchant you with its gilded domes, glittering spires and magnificent architecture. We return to the ship for lunch with free time after to explore.
Day 10: St Petersburg
Today brings another highlight with our guided visit to the world-renowned Hermitage Museum. Open to the public since 1852, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and its vast collection of over three million items, including the world’s largest collection of paintings, occupies an impressive complex of six historic buildings along the river embankment, including the spectacular Winter Palace with it pastel colonnaded façade, the former residence of the Tsars. After lunch in a local restaurant, you may wish to return to the ship or remain in St Petersburg to further explore the historic centre.
Day 11: St Petersburg
The day is at leisure so you may wish to further explore or relax on board. So what is it to be? Perhaps visit the Peter and Paul Fortress, a former prison founded in 1703. Its ornate cathedral, with beautiful marble columns and chandeliers, is the final resting place of many of the country’s rulers, including Catherine the Great and the Romanovs. Art aficionados may wish to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art or return to the Hermitage to visit the General Staff Building, one of the most famous architectural monuments in St Petersburg, with its impressive collection of works by Monet and Renoir amongst others.
Day 12: Return home
You will be collected by your transfer and taken to the airport ready for your return flight.