A Celebratory Cruise On Europe’s Longest River
Product Executive Hannah Logan had the chance to experience one of the most luxurious products in river cruising. Her trip from Moscow was in celebration of Volga Dream’s 10thanniversary. Here is how it went…
A three hour 40-minute flight from London will have you touching down into the bustling city of Moscow. A driver waiting for you in the arrivals hall will then take you to your five-star hotel in the city centre, which is where you either start or end your Volga Dream cruise and land tour.
From the very moment we were driven into the city, we were keen to explore on foot and discover this beautifully lit destination. Moscow is known as a mega-city and is home to 12 million people. Its infamous traffic is a symptom of its rapid growth. We observed a central lane, occasionally being used by smart looking cars and were informed that this is only for those who work in government or have powerful friends allowing them to bypass traffic and get around the city quicker. Somehow I wouldn’t see this working in central London. At the time of our visit, the city was getting ready for the annual celebrations for Moscow Day, so there was plenty of activity taking place. Turning the corner, we got our first glimpse of St Basil’s Cathedral. This fascinating building was at one point Moscow’s tallest and is shaped like the flame of a bonfire rising into the sky. It is certainly unique and worth viewing during the day as well as at night when the lights make it look even more dramatic against the night’s sky. We sampled the delicious local cuisine as well as the local beer, with a great selection of restaurants accessible by foot from the hotel.
We stayed at the St. Regis for a couple of nights before embarking on Volga Dream’s 10th-anniversary cruise. This gave us an idea of what you would expect on a 12-night cruise and land programme put together by Volga Dream. The St. Regis is a stunning hotel a minutes’ walk from the Bolshoi Theatre and a five-minute walk away from Red Square. Breakfast was served in the rooftop dining area, which gave us incredible views of the Moscow skyline. There was a fantastic choice at breakfast, with plenty of tea and coffee to set you up for a day of exploration.
Our guide for the day provided us with an honest account of Russia’s recent history and how it had impacted her, her family and the different generations. We admired the Kremlin building from across the river to begin with, watching the sun reflect off the beautiful golden domes. We were taken inside for a tour before the crowds arrived the following morning, which was brilliant as this is a hot spot to visit and it can get extremely busy very early on.
We were taken to the Tretyakov Gallery which displays the very best of Russian artists. This famous institution boasts one of the world’s finest collections of classical art. Here, we learned a great deal more about Russia’s history and got a more in-depth look at specific paintings which really told a different story. We also discovered Moscow’s Metro which was designed by Russia’s revolutionary leaders wishing to give everyone a taste of the Tsars’ opulent lifestyle. Some stations are very grand in style and you will be shown some of the very best.
Embarking Volga Dream, we received the warmest welcome from the staff on board. The cabins have a very classical feel with beautiful furnishings and bedding. Accommodation can be chosen from four decks depending on your particular preferences. The ship has teak furnishings throughout and, as you walk from your cabin to the communal areas, the design flows effortlessly. In the corner of the lounge is a beautiful piano with the keys being tinkled during the afternoon and evenings by Volga Dream’s onboard musician, Vasily.
There are very sociable seating areas in the Neva Lounge which is just a few steps away from the bar. This is a great place to meet your fellow passengers on board every evening. On the daily programme provided in your cabins is a daily cocktail carefully crafted by the superb team working behind the bar.
The dining on board was summed up beautifully as a mix of authentic Russian classics with a contemporary twist that wouldn’t be out of place in a trendy London establishment. Wine and beer are served throughout lunch and dinner and the first two meals of the day are served buffet style. There is copious choice, with chefs manning an egg station, soup station and dessert station.
During your six nights on board, as you sail between two very iconic cities, you will have the opportunity to watch the film of the day. The engine room tour is certainly worth taking with Maria the Cruise Manager, as she will teach you all about the workings of the ship from the crew’s point of view. You can also take a bridge tour and ask questions to the Captain.
Daily port talks will have you prepared for what you will see when disembarking the ship and joining the included excursions. Enjoy the atmosphere on deck, watching the Russian countryside pass you by or seeing the ship manoeuvre through locks. A small fitness room is available along with a sauna room, which can be pre-booked with the reception team. For further relaxation, there is an onboard masseur ready to help you unwind on your holiday.
The bustle of Russia’s two main cities, which are connected by a tranquil sailing along the vast Volga River, combined with a stylish journey aboard a traditional vessel, is a brilliant way to discover the very heart of this amazing country.