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Gate 1 Travel 13 Day Russian River Cruise

St. Petersburg...
Level Contributor
9 posts
153 reviews
Gate 1 Travel 13 Day Russian River Cruise

24 August to 5 September 2015 were our travel dates. We traveled from Moscow to St Petersburg. Having said that, because it was "Russia", I went with very few expectations other than it was going to be an adventure. Not only was it an adventure, it was one of the best trips I have ever been on.

We flew from Tampa to Moscow to start our journey. We were traveling on the MS Zosima Shashkov. It is an older ship, the cabins were tiny, BUT it was well maintained and immaculate. The ships staff were seasoned veterans of their trade who spoke very little English but the front desk and dining room staff were mainly college age men and women who were studying languages or hospitality and spoke passable to very good English. The food was good, plentiful and we even had our choice of beer, wine or soda with our dinner each day.

We used the ship as our hotel while in Moscow and St Petersburg, so we boarded and only had to unpack once for the whole trip. Both docking areas were convenient to public transport for our free time wanderings.

Tanya was our Tour Director. As with all Gate 1 Tour Directors, She was superb. Excellent English, a good sense of humor and a font of knowledge. She had two assistants from the ship that accompanied us on our tours as there were actually three groups of about 40 on board from Gate 1 and a smattering of local Russian Families and a German Group.

Our Itinerary included a Moscow City Tour with the Kremlin grounds and a day of leisure for self exploration. I took my rubles, the map that was supplied by the front desk staff and headed out to find a Russian grocery store and to do a tour of the Moscow subway's. What a great day! My tour of the Metro stations cost me 28 Rubles (about .50 cents at the exchange rate). Be warned though...there are very few signs anywhere in English.....and even though I had a map with the Russian Alphabet, some of the subway signs were in stylized scripts that were hard to decipher. If you are easily disoriented, take a tour.

After Moscow we headed north for the 1200 KM journey from an elevation of 123 Meters above sea level in Moscow to sea level in St Petersburg. In one location there were 10 consecutive locks within about a 20 KM distance. It was amazing to see the ship enter the locks and the water lower or raise us as necessary for our transit. Most of the transit through the locks is at night when you are sleeping, but there are enough during the day to really appreciate the trip.

Our first port was Uglich, on the Volga River. Uglich is tied to St Dimitry and "Ivan the Terrible". All the ports we visited but one were steeped in Russian history and our time in each was just right to see the sites as well as get in some shopping for the shopaholics. We next visited Yaroslavl City, one of Russia's oldest and visited the fortified Transfiguration of the Savior Monastery. Then on to Goritsy and the Monastery of St Cyril. But the jewel in the crown was our visit to World UNESCO site at Kizhi. The 16th century church is made entirely out of wood and had 22 "Onion Domes". Truly magnificent.

Our tour ended in St Petersburg...what a beautiful city. We started with a city tour and a visit to the Hermitage Museum the first day and then went to the Peterhof the second. Our third day was at our leisure and they offered and optional tour to the Pushkin or Catherine's Palace and the Pavlovsk Palace and a trip to see the Ballet Russ at the Hermitage, both of which I took. What a way to end a trip! The ballet was in the 18th Century theater of the Hermitage and we arrived in a Hydrofoil!

This was my 6th trip with Gate 1 Travel, which should tell you that I regard them as one of the best, if not the best, in the business. From the transfer from the airport to the ship and back again to the airport the trip was flawless. Considering we paid right at $2000.00 for the entire trip (airfare, cruise, transfers, tours, essentially everything). It was an absolute bargain! Especially since the "Viking" River Cruise ship shadowed us the entire way and they paid over $5000.00 per person for the same trip.

25 replies to this topic
New York
Destination Expert
for Moscow
Level Contributor
4,297 posts
40 reviews
1. Re: Gate 1 Travel 13 Day Russian River Cruise

I also have had good luck with Gate 1 elsewhere.

Thanks for the TR - the Zosima comes up a lot in queries by travelers so it's good to have a first hand account to refer to.

Detroit
Level Contributor
13 posts
39 reviews
2. Re: Gate 1 Travel 13 Day Russian River Cruise

How did you find the dress code expectation for dinners on the ship? Can we plan to wear same attire as touring the city, or will we need to dress up? Was dinner a 3 hour adventure, or quicker?

St. Petersburg...
Level Contributor
9 posts
153 reviews
3. Re: Gate 1 Travel 13 Day Russian River Cruise

The dress code was very casual. We did have one dress up night for the Captains party. Dinner was not a three hour affair.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Level Contributor
8 posts
23 reviews
4. Re: Gate 1 Travel 13 Day Russian River Cruise

A couple of questions for the forum. We are taking this trip, in reverse, next month. Can we tip the ship staff in US $? I like to bring the tips already in envelopes. Are ATM's available along the way? Did you have laundry done on the ship? If so, how was the cost? We try to travel light but are extending our trip with a 12 day Baltic tour after. Are there markets where we can pick up water and soda? I believe I read there is a fridge in the room. This is our 4th (and 5th) Gate 1 tour and we to are fans of Gate 1. Thank you in advance.

Sydney
Level Contributor
250 posts
28 reviews
5. Re: Gate 1 Travel 13 Day Russian River Cruise

Hi,

Thanks for the review.

You mention that the ports in both Moscow and St Petersburg were convenient for public transport of the free days.

Are you able to provide a little more details. I would like to use the free days to explore myself and am concerned about getting into and back from town with purchases eg water, soda and any other little shopping.

Thanks

St. Petersburg...
Level Contributor
9 posts
153 reviews
6. Re: Gate 1 Travel 13 Day Russian River Cruise

The port in Moscow is about a 10-15 walk to the Subway and a shopping area through a park. You have to cross a busy street but there is an underground passage way to get you on the other side without taking your life into your own hands. You can buy a ticket for the subway at the entrance and as long as you stay underground and travel between stations you don't have to pay again. I did my own subway tour with information provided by the Concierge on the boat.

I really don't remember about St Petersburg as we were pretty occupied with excursions but if I am correct, the shuttle bus that takes you from the ship to the bus station will drop you in an area where there are shops and easy access to the downtown using public transport.

Your tour guide can give you the current information and will help you any way you need. The Gate 1 tour directors are awesome.

Edited: 28 December 2016, 05:55
St. Petersburg...
Level Contributor
9 posts
153 reviews
7. Re: Gate 1 Travel 13 Day Russian River Cruise

Your staff will appreciate US Dollars as most of them are Linguistic Students and work on the ship to practice their English. They get a good exchange rate for "hard currencies" and most are saving up for a trip abroad. I too make up envelopes to take and I also use my computer to make business cards that say "Thank You" in English and the language of the country I am visiting, then sign them and place them in the envelope with the tip.

St. Petersburg...
Level Contributor
856 posts
3 reviews
8. Re: Gate 1 Travel 13 Day Russian River Cruise

Last season some Gate 1Travel cruises docked at the "Solyanoy"pier in Utkina Zavod. It is located on the other side of the Neva river, opposite the river port. You can take a bus 8 from the pier (a bus stop is in 600m away) to Babushkina street (9 th stop) and then walk for 220m to a subway station "Lomonosovskaya".

If your cruise docks in the river port you can get a metro station "Proletarskaya" in 5-7min on foot.

Sydney
Level Contributor
250 posts
28 reviews
9. Re: Gate 1 Travel 13 Day Russian River Cruise

Thanks heap.. Really looking forward to this trip These little tips are great

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
29,251 posts
95 reviews
10. Re: Gate 1 Travel 13 Day Russian River Cruise

Tips in dollars are fine.

My experience of shore excursions on this trip (our trip was the 11 day trip) was much less enthusiastic. The shore excursions in Moscow and Petersburg were just awful. The stops on the 'river' (it is really a series of lakes and canals for the most part and thus not scenic) were much more interesting although one of them is at a 'village' that was literally created 10 years ago just for cruise ship stops and consists of souvenir shops and really nothing else.

I would heartily recommend, arriving in the launch city 2 or 3 days early and doing some touring on your own, and extending at the other end for the same. I would also recommend skipping optional excursions from the cruise and instead arranging your own with private guides. We paid less for more this way. both Petersburg and Moscow are fascinating and if you use the cruise provided land tour as just a quick overview and build your own tour of sites you really want to experience you will be happier. e.g. in Moscow we did not visit St. Basil the iconic church in Red Square as part of the tour. We had gone on our own the day before and explored it; many of our peers were very upset that they missed this experience since while it is listed on the shore tour, it is a drive by photo op and not a visit. The Hermitage was not much better; we were run through with barely a glance at any of the art; if we had not done our own days at this site we would have felt deeply cheated.

Edited: 01 January 2017, 17:46
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