Viking River Cruises – Russia River Cruise
St. Petersburg, Mandrogy, Kizhi, Kuzino, Yaroslavl, Uglich, Moscow
Having sailed with Viking River Cruises several times in the past, we already had pre-conceived ideas of what to expect on our 13-day Waterways of the Czars salad bar near me cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow. We even did some pre-cruise research online by reading reviews on other websites from others who had been on this identical cruise and ship. The reviews were mixed, so we were questioning our expectations which were based on our own past experience with Viking River Cruises.
When we first approached Viking Ingvar docked in St. Petersburg, the first thing that struck us was how much larger it was than other river boats on which we have sailed. Unlike Viking River Cruises’ European ships, which typically carry 150 guests (new “longships” carry 190), Viking Ingvar carries up to 206 guests. The ship was completely refurbished in 2011 and they are not kidding when they say “completely”. The condition of the ship was one of our concerns after reading some of the reviews. However, when we stepped aboard Viking Ingvar it looked like a brand new ship! You would never know that this ship was launched in 1989. The Scandinavian, contemporary interior with light colored woods may appear sterile to some, but it oozes modern and newness.
Ships that sail in Russia have to be built in Russia, so Viking River Cruises is somewhat limited to the Russian-built ship’s original design and floorplan. However, when this ship was originally constructed during the Soviet Union era, it was designed to carry more than 424 guests! Needless to say, the Soviets were not big on creature comforts. Here is what you will find on each deck:
Main Deck: 200-series staterooms, Reception Desk, Library, small Internet Cafe with 2 laptops and printer, and a nice gift shop.
Middle Deck: 300-series staterooms, Neva Restaurant, Coffee station, public restrooms
Upper Deck: 400-series staterooms, Panorama Bar
Sun Deck: Sky Bar, Sun Deck
All public spaces, hallways and staterooms were included in the ship’s recent refurb, so everything looks new and fresh. Stephan Busch, Hotel Manager, sees to it that the ship is kept spotlessly clean. There is one elevator onboard.
Internet access is complimentary and available 24 hours a day via the two laptops in the Internet Cafe on the Main Deck, or, by using the ship’s Wi-Fi with your own laptop or Wi-Fi capable device. Without question, the Internet service on Viking Ingvar was hands-down the best I have experienced on any river cruise. What a pleasant surprise! I was able to post my daily blog each day and keep up with email, no problem. Of course, like any river cruise, there were times when the service was dropped. Whenever a ship goes through a lock, for example; this is just a technical reality of river cruising. Also, when we were far north on Lake Onega, service was unavailable for a long period. Other than that, I have no complaints. Not only was Internet available throughout the ship, even in our stateroom, connection speeds were decent. Good job!
Smoking is not permitted anywhere inside the boat. Smoking is permitted in designated areas on the outside decks.