St. Petersburg - Rostov-on-Don 22 days

Day 1 – St. Petersburg, embarkation

Welcome aboard our comfortable Motorship. After checking in with reception, crew members will accompany you to your cabin for accommodation and unpacking.

Day 2 – St. Petersburg, City Tour, Hermitage

During the bus tour of St. Petersburg, our experienced guides will show you the main sightseeing attractions and tell you about the history of the city. You will drive along the main street of the northern capital Nevsky Prospect, make a stop on the “Arrow” of the Basil Island, take pictures of the Bronze Horseman on the Decembrists’ Square (formerly Senate Square) and admire the beauty of the largest single-domed cathedral of Russia St. Issaks Cathedral. You will see a grandiose ensemble of the Palace Square, the Field of Mars, Cruiser Aurora, and Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg University Building and Smolny Monastery. The bus will also take you along the most beautiful embankments of the city: Palace, University, and Peters embankments. During the tour you will make several stops to have a relaxing stroll along the embankments, to enjoy the city sights, and, of course, to take pictures.

Day 3 -Mandrogy

The village of Verkhnie Mandrogy is situated on the shore of the picturesque Svir River which is the only river connecting Europe’s largest lakes; the Ladoga and the Onega. This village is one of the most beautiful and environmentally sound places in the Leningrad region built in 1996 on the place of an ancient settlement as the original project of the Russian national village. The tour will combine active leisure and fresh air with ancient traditional Russian interiors inside the “traktir” or izba (tavern and house). You will also venture to a unique Vodka Museum. During the stay you can visit Remeslennaya Sloboda (an art studio) to get acquainted with the traditional Russian handicrafts of wood painting (including Matryoshka doll painting), wood cutting, weaving, pottery and lace-making.You will have a chance to take a master class in any of the craft shops. Both children and adults will enjoy this activity and will take home some memorable handmade souvenirs.

Day 4 - Kizhi

Having passed through 6 locks of the Volga-Baltic canal, our Motorship will transverse from south to north on one of the biggest lakes in Europe – Onega Lake, to take us to the highlight of our cruise Kizhi Island. This world-famous open air museum is under the protection of UNESCO and presents a unique architectural style of northern Russia. It comprises a remarkable array of wooden churches dated from the 9th-19th centuries, including chapels, bell towers, peasant houses, granaries, hay store-houses, windmills, and steam baths. In the center of Pogost, you will find a real masterpiece of wooden art - a 22-domed wooden Church of the Transfiguration, which had been built, according to legend, in 1714 by Master Nestor without a single nail. After he finished the construction, he threw out his axe into the water of the Onega Lake and said, "There had never been and will never be a church like that!"

Day 5 - Goritsy

Having passed through 6 locks of the Volga-Baltic canal, our ship is docked at the pier of the small village of Goritsy, situated on the shore of the Sheksna River. From there, we start our bus tour to the town of Kirillov to visit the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery (the monastery of Cyril of the White Lake). Goritsy has attracted thousands of people since the canal has been open, due to the ensemble of the Resurrection Nunnery situated not far from the pier at the foot of the Maura Mountain. The nunnery was founded in 1544 by Efrosinya Staritskaya, the aunt of Ivan the Terrible. The Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery is situated 8 km from Goritsy and is an object of a great artistic and historical value. It was founded in 1397 by the monk, Cyril, who had come to those lands from Moscow by the will of Our Lady. During the time of the flourishing (15th -17th centuries) many Russian Tsars and nobles used to visit the grounds of that monastery to pray and to bring generous donations. In that very place, the father of Ivan the Terrible (Basil the Third) came to ask God for his heir. The monastery was not only the richest cultural, religious, and educational center of the time, but also the most northern Russian citadel which had never been captured by enemies. During the tour, you will visit the territory of the monastery, museum exhibitions, and, of course, the small, functional church of St. Cyril of the White Lake with his miracle- making holy relics.

Day 6 - Yaroslavl

During the city tour of Yaroslavl, you will see and visit a lot of monuments and museums. It is really worth seeing, as it is the largest city of the so-called “Golden Ring of Russia,” founded even before Moscow (mentioned in chronicles from 1071). The city was named after Prince Yaroslav the Wise, who, according to the legend, killed a sacred wild bear (the pagan deity of local tribes) with his axe. Since those times a bear with an axe is Yaroslavl’s coat of arms. During the city tour, you will visit the church of Elijah the Prophet, decorated with frescos and icons dated back to the 17th century (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Other points of interest include the magnificent Savior Monastery ensemble dating from the 13th century, majestic churches of the 17th century, and the newly rebuilt golden-domed Assumption Cathedral, which had been demolished after the revolution of 1917. You will stroll along the embankment to the place where two rivers, the Volga and the Kotorosl, converge and see an elegant rotunda.

Day 7 - Kostroma

Kostroma is a part of the so called “Golden Ring of Russia”. During the tour today you will explore the oldest streets of the town, admire its ancient architecture: white washed stone churches, old trading rows; see the symbol of Kostorma, its business card – a fire observation tower, the most beautiful twelve domed church of Resurrection on Debra (the only preserved craftsmen’s church of the 16th century); see the five-domedEpiphany Cathedralhousing the city's most precious relic - a ByzantineiconcalledOur Lady of St. Theodore created in the 10th century. Later you will continue to the world famous St. Trinity Ipatyev Monastery- a cradle of the Romanovs dynasty situated in the place of the coinfluence of two rivers the Volga and the Kostroma where Mikhail Romanov was announced to be the Tsar of Russia.You will visit the monastery grounds; see its architectural ensemble, Godunovs Tomb and reception rooms of Romanovs.

Day 8 -Plyos

Free time. Optional tours to Suzdal-Vladimir. Plyos was founded by one of the Vladimir-Suzdal Princes in the 12thcentury on the high right bank of theVolgariver as a military and border post to protect the borders of the principality from Bulgarians. In 1888-1890 afamous Russian landscape painter Isaac Levitan came to Plyos and had been greatly impressed by the town’s natural monuments. There he created a great number of breathtaking pictures and thus attracted many Moscovites and Saint Petersburg citizens to settle there for summer time. Today Plyos is a part of the so called “Golden Ring of Russia”. The main sight seeing attraction of the town is the State Historical, Architectural and Artistic Museum-Reserve consisting of the unique historical, cultural and natural landscape ensembles. There are several exhibition complexes such as a Memorial Museum of I. Levitan, located in the house where the famous artist lived and worked together with his friends A.S. Stepanov and S.P. Kuvshinnikova; a Museum of the landscape art representing various painting schools of Russian and theUSSRand the exhibition of the decorative and applied art.

Day 9 – Nizhny Novgorod

The town was founded in 1221 by Prince Yury Vsevolodovich and due to its favorable geographical location became a large trade and cultural center. In 1932 it was renamed Gorky after the writer Maxim Gorky who was born there, but in 1991 the town got back its historical name. During the Soviet era the town bore a status of “the closed” city and thus became a place of exile for the disgraced academician A.Sakharov.During the tour you will explore the main sight seeing attractions of Nizhny Novgorod, drive along its historical streets which had preserved its original beauty and splendor, visit central squares named after Minin and Pozharsky, Gorky, Sennaya, make stops at the observation platform by the monument to V. Chkalov opening a breathtaking view overlooking the part of the city located across the Volga River, visit Stroganov (Nativity) Church which is an architectural monument of the 17th century.

Day 10 - Cheboksary

Cheboksary was founded as a fortress in the 13thcentury but by the end of the 16thcentury lost its military significance and turned into a trading center on the Volga river. Today Cheboksary is the capital of Chuvash Republic and its largest industrial center. Upon disembarkation you will be impressed by the monument of Mother –Protecteress, standing on top of the hill near the Gulf of Cheboksary. The Monument is a symbol of the city and the whole republic representing the revival of the spiritual values of Chuvash people. During the bus city tour you will see the building of the National museum, Cheboksary Arbat (Efremov boulevard)- a historical pedestrian street; the park named after V.Chapaev located on the territory of the former home village of the hero; will enjoy the view of the Cathedral of the Presentation of the Virgin (1657) and Saint Trinity monastery founded in 1566 by the order of Ivan the Terrible; see the Memorial “Victory” Park including monument of Solders’ Glory and eternal flame, monuments dedicated to those who were killed during the wars in Afganistan and Chechnya, those heroes who participated in the events in Chernobil,chapel of Saint John and Cascade fountains. Do not miss your chance to taste local beer called Pennaya Collection, famous all over Russia.

Day 11 - Kazan

Today you will visit Kazan the capital of Tatarstan, the city with a thousand years of history, the former capital of the Kazan Khanate, the place where the East and the West, Islam and Christianity come together. You will learn some interesting facts about its history, visit the territory of Kazan Kremlin and its legendary and breathtaking Qol-Sharif Mosque erected according to the archive sources as a symbol of nation’s revival, the Annunciation Cathedral, Presidents palace, and the mysterious leaning tower Soyembika named after the last queen of Kazan. Driving along the Kremlevskaya Street you will be amazed by the architectural beauty of the most presentable historical buildings of Kazan. While visiting Staro-Tatrskaya sloboda (Old Tatar settlement) you will clearly feel the merging of the East and the West, see the first stone mosque al-Marjani and find out where the countless treasures of Kazan Khans are kept. At the end of the tour you will stroll along the most popular and contradictory street of the city - Bauman street with the building of the National Bank, monument to Shalyapin and enjoy traditional Tatar cuisine in one of the numerous local restaurants or to buy souvenirs. And do not forget to touch bronze frogs near the fountain which are believed to bring financial luck.

Day 12 - Ulyanovsk (former Simbirsk)

This ancient Russian town was founded as a fortress in 1648 on top of the Venetz Mountain 120 m above the Volga River. Before 1924 it was called Simbirsk and later was renamed Ulyanovsk after Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) (his family lived there from 1869 till 1887). A museum with decent interiors has been opened in the house where Lenin was born in order to recreate the atmosphere of the family spirit of the future leader. Ulyanovsk is a birth place of A.F. Kerensky, I.A. Goncharov, N.M. Karamzin and world famous “UAZ” cars. During the city tour today you will see the most important historical places located in the central part of the town, get acquainted with the history of Simbirsk, and later Ulyanovsk, with the present day life style of the locals. It is the only place in Russia where one can find a monument to the letter of the Russian alphabet – letter Ë.

Day 13 - Samara

During the tour today you will learn the history of Samara fortress, its development and expansion, visit historical center with a unique building of Samara Academic Drama Theater named after M.Gorky, the estate of the merchant Kurlina, Lutheran Church of St. Georg and Roman Catholic Church built in Gothic style, “Zhigooly” brewery, a functioning Iversky Nunnery, Stalin’s bunker, a modern square of Glory and a real launch vehicle Souz. You will find out why particularly Samara (former Kuibyshev) had been chosen as the alternative capital of the USSR during the times of the WW II in case Moscow fell.

Day 14 - Saratov

Today you will get acquainted with the 400 years of Saraov history including amazing legends; will visit the most famous sightseeing attractions. Looking at the Trinity Cathedral on the Museum Square you will imagine the life style of the ancient city; driving along the Cosmonauts’ embankment you will learn some facts about the space history of Saratov; walking along the central pedestrian street of Saratov you will admire its merchant history. Do not miss your chance to whisper a devout wish into the ear of the “Saratov accordion player” (a sculpture on the street). From the top of the Falcon hill you will get a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole city, visit an open air exposition of the military machines, a monument The Cranes dedicated to those citizens of Saratov died at the times of the WW II.

Day 15 - Volgograd

Today we will stop in Volgograd. During the stay you will have two options: to go for an optional tour to Rossoshka – a famous military cemetery of German and Russian soldiers killed in that area during the war time. Or you may explore the city on your own. The river terminal is located in the center and you will easily reach a local market, stroll along the central streets of the city or to take a ride on a famous Volgograd high-speed tram (above ground subway).

Day 16 – Sailing Day

You will have some time to relax and enjoy drinks in the bars on board the ship, to admire the beauty of the nature, to take sun baths on the open deck. Please do not hesitate to participate in our contests and quizzes, Russian language and singing classes conducted by the experienced guides.

Day 17 - Astrakhan

Astrakhan is an ancient city which is usually referred as «The Fishermen’s Capital», The Gates of the Caspian Sea, Venice of the Volga”. The names of the best Russian architects of the 18th-19thcenturies are associated with the name of the city which is by right one of the most historically valuable places in Russia. During the tour you will see and learn many interesting facts about historical and architectural monuments: the Swan Lake, the Kremlin, the Gubins estate, the former building of the Russian-Asian Bank, the former building of the Oriental Bank, the former Jail Castle, the Annunciation (New Maiden) Monastery, the tent-roofed tower of the Savior - Transfiguration Monastery and many other points of interest.

Day 18 - Sailing Day

The whole day today you will be sailing along the longest river of the European part of Russia – the Volga River or “Mother Volga” as Russians say. You will admire its picturesque landscapes and take some amazing pictures of the flora and fauna of this area. During the day our guides will entertain you with various films, quizzes, contests and onboard musicians will perform one of their concerts.

Day 19 - Volgograd

Today you will visit Volgograd - a city known all over the world as a symbol of WW II tragedy. The first fortress founded there in 1589 got the name of Tsaritsyn and later in 1925 renamed after Josef Stakin – Stalingrad. During the times of the WW II Stalingrad became a place of the decisive battle against Nazy Germany. Approximately 90% of all the city constructions were raized to the ground, thus you will see a totally rebuilt new city which still preserves some vivid evidences of its glorious past. During the tour you will see a Mill opposite Pavlov’s House - the only unreconstructed building since the WW II times; Mamaev Kurgan (Mamaev Hill), a monument ensemble created on the total square of 220 hectars to commemorate the most intense fighting during the Stalingrad Battle, including the Glory Pantheon and the highest concrete sculpture in Europe “The Motherland Calls!”

Day 20 – Sailing Day

Today you will have a unique chance to observe sailing through the locks of the Volga-Don canal opened in July 27, 1952. Due to the canal construction all five seas of the European part of Russia (at that times the USSR) were included into the united water system. The total canal length is 101 km and it comprises 13 locks, 3 water reservoirs, 2 hydroelectric complexes, 13 dams and some other constructions. Every lock of the canal is richly decorated with sculptural compositions depicting certain periods of the canal construction and history of the country. You will be able to take impressive pictures and after that to participate in various onboard activities conducted by our guides.

Day 21 – Rostov-on-Don, Starocherkassk

Bus city tour acquaints you with the capital of the Don region and the Southern Federal District of Russia, its history, architecture and culture. Rostov-on-Don was founded in 1749 and received its name after the fortress of Saint Dmitry Rostovsky. The settlement was built to defend the south border of Russia, extended rapidly and became one of the largest merchant centers being at the same time a connecting point between Russia’s central part and the Caucasian region. During the tour you will see the sights of architectural ensembles in Bolshaya Sadovaya Street, merchants mansions, cross the borderline between Europe and Asia, listen to the stories about “Rostov Las Vegas” a recreation area on the left bank of the Don river, stroll along the Don embankment, view the monuments dedicated to real people and events, literature characters. In about two hours after set sailing from Rostov you will make a stop in Starocherkassk. During the walking tour you will visit the main square - Maidan with various cossack trophies brought from several Azov campaigns in the 17th century; cossack houses kurens, the main Cathedral of Resurrection, Atamans estate; get acquainted with the everyday life, traditions and rituals of the cossacks.

Day 22 – Rostov-on-Don, disembarkation

This is the last day of the cruise. After breakfast, you will have time to pack your suitcases and, if necessary, order transportation to the hotel, train station, or airport. We look forward to seeing you on our new routes soon!