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About napoxoguk

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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  • Interests
    Gardening, dogs, judo.
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Vodohod, Mosturflot

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  1. If given a choice (and a reasonable price offer), I would recommend taking the restaurant car - especially on the way to Moscow. The ticket price includes about a ₽2.3k food allowance, with an airplane-like boxed re-heated main course running at about 4 to 6 hundred roubles. I'm never able to use the whole allowance over the course of the 4-hr ride, so I just get water/chocolates/snacks that can last you until you can have some proper lunch in the city. If purchased about a month in advance, these restaurant car tickets run at about ₽7k ($120-150), one way.
  2. Most likely 🙂 I'm not saying the itinerary is perfect, by any means - but it's a little more in depth than what I saw on various tour sites. I feel like if I do end up on a day trip to a city like Moscow (an arrangement that is less than ideal by definition), I might as well suck it up. If I almost necessarily have to skip all the museums except the Kremlin, I might want to see the areas where the locals congregate (either Gorky Park or VDNKH) for some people watching. As to the trains - you could get some solid seven hours of sleep on an overnighter. The benefit of those newer double deckers is that there are three bathrooms per car, which makes morning toothbrushing routines less of a challenge. Anyways, just thinking out loud - a friend (early forties, with 2 teenage kids) wants to do a Moscow run next summer, and I'm trying to come up with something doable and reasonably affordable. Thanks for your comments.
  3. Okay, I think the diy budget might be something like ₽20,000 (about $300) per person. This includes: Train tickets: ₽9000 (5+4); Kremlin+armory: 1700 (1000+700) Boat ride:600 Metro:200 Meals: 3000 (1500 per casual meal) Contingencies (Uber ride if needed, etc): 2500. It's based on a number of assumptions, so real-life mileage will vary - please let me know if you identify some glaring omissions or errors. Assumptions: Done on day 2 of three. Good weather (lots of outside/walking time) Earliest Sapsan to Moscow, overnight double decker from Moscow (no hotel stays) Train tickets purchased at least 30 days in advance, economy for Sapsan and economy plus for the double decker (includes a bottle of water and a piece of gingerbread). All group members are adults Done on a day when the Kremlin, Red Sq, and other Moscow attractions are actually open. Boat ride via watertrams-radisson.ru (the cheapest option with English audio guide) Sample itinerary: leave SPB on Sapsan 743a (5:30am), sleep on the train. Arrive Moscow 9am DIY Metro tour until 11am Kremlin excursion (cathedral Sq, DIY) 11:30 Armory excursion (audioguide) 12:30 Quick lunch (at GUM stolovaya or fast food chains at Manezhnaya sq) : 2 to 3pm. Walk to Zaryadye boat pier via Alexander's garden, Red Sq, Zaryadye. Boats leave every 30 minutes. Route: Zaryadye- Gorky Park - luzhniki- Ukraina - turnaround - sparrow hills - Gorky Park. Time on board: 2 hrs. Gorky Park/muzeon (5:30 to 7:30). Head back (metro) towards red sq for evening walk/dinner (tverskaya-kamergersky-b.dmitrovka-metropol-nikolskaya area) Need to be back at the train station by 10:30 to catch the 006aa train departing at 10:50. Back to SPB at 6:47 am. Doable?
  4. I understand. Ru visa process can be expensive and time consuming, especially if you live far away from one of the visa centers. I'm just trying to come up with a reasonably conservative number - what can one realistically expect to pay for a mad 1-day Moscow dash if they go DIY. For a regular SPB-only itinerary, visa doesn't seem to make sense - not only price-wise, but also from the standpoint of convenience - all the local operators have their itineraries down to a science. With Moscow, though, it's not so clear-cut.
  5. I've been thinking about that - and I might be wrong, but it seems to me an SPB-Moscow combo over a 3-day cruise is one of the few remaining cases where obtaining a full-fledged Russian visa actually makes sense (especially for families/groups and especially if one is willing to do some DIY trip planning). Just to make sure, though - for those staying on the ship, is there some kind of curfew, or are you able to come and go as you please?
  6. Yes, the city definitely has A LOT more to offer beyond the five typical cruise must-sees. I took my children to Grand Maket this time around - and they had a blast. I feel I could've (and perhaps should've) easily spent 5 hours there, with a short lunch break. Their food options are ok too, btw.
  7. Grammie, I understand your sentiment, and your reasons are as good as any (except, perhaps, some Soviet intel files 🙂 But, for the record, it is not illegal to be gay in Russia.
  8. I agree, and yet, per original context, we are talking about some mysterious "intel files of the Soviet Union". It is worth remembering that the statute of limitations for most perceived crimes against Socialist Motherland is 15 years at the most (except perhaps murder, genocide, terrorist acts, and other similarly serious crimes). It's been what, 28 years now? The Soviet Union is long dead and its butt is cold 🙂 Sorry about sorta highjacking your thread, OP, - not questioning your decision or motives in any way at all, just reacting to some comments here. Again, my apologies.
  9. I do wonder, at times, just how much ...erm... alarmist info can possibly find its way onto these boards. Given that the "Intel files of the Soviet Union" are all archived and predominantly undigitized, I find it difficult to believe anybody would have an opportunity to check any "visitor without visa" against any of those files over the course of a 3-minute passport control encounter 🙂 And yes, I would agree it is generally not a bad idea to draw a line somewhere between "Putin's Russia" (whatever it is), "Russia", and "Russian people".
  10. Drone free and otherwise restricted zones in SPB: https://pilothub.ru/airmap
  11. Well, the only navigable river in Moscow is the Moskva, which connects to the Volga via a series of locks on the Moskva-Volga canal. Where the canal meets the Volga, there is a large reservoir, which, on an overcast day, looks like the image below. The Volga proper, however, is maybe three to five hundred meters wide there - a far cry from the lower Volga, where it can easily reach a couple of miles in the cities of Kazan, Samara, Volgograd, or Astrakhan. As to the cabins - first off, some of the Russian vessels have been reviewed here on cruise critic under their pretend Western names (eg. AMA Katarina is MS Mstislav Rostropovich, Uniworld River Victoria is MS Griboedov/Knyazhna Viktoriya, and Tsar is, iirc, MS Alexander Grin). Also, there's this site that I found super helpful for photos of the interiors of various Russian ships: https://riverforum.net/forumdisplay.php?f=33
  12. Perhaps - but even this summer I kept seeing group after group of river cruisers both in Moscow and in St.Petersburg, not all of them Viking - and not all of them speaking English. Still, for the purposes of this thread, I think it may prove useful to remind potential cruisers that Viking and Volga Dream are not the only option available: the three major Russian lines are Vodohod (www.bestrussiancruises com), mosturflot (https://booking.mosturflot.ru/rivercruises/tours?language=en-US), and infoflot (https://russian-river-*****/?roistat_visit=4579039).
  13. I would assume ANY major Russian company offering cruises to foreign tourists (vodokhod, mosturflot, infoflot) would have no problem selling you "just the cruise", which one could modify with pre- or post-cruise extensions as they see fit. As to pulling out due to "lack of business" - I do not have any insider knowledge of the industry, but I would assume all of the "boutiquey" lines found out they could not effectively compete with Viking and the Russian lines - their business model was based on renting out refurbished Russian ships and crews from Russian companies and adding little to no value, while charging an arm and a leg. Hardly sustainable in the long run... Viking, on the other hand, seems to be doing just fine...
  14. They do. Viking, for instance, usually has a pool of several hotels, including Radisson Royal (Ukraina hotel) in Moscow, which is not as central as some other hotels, but the building itself is a real treat - it's one of Stalin-era skyscrapers. I forget which hotel they default to in SPB, but whenever there are availability issues (as may from time to time happen when the city hosts a big international event, like World Cup, UEFA games, annual economic forum, Navy Day, etc) they offer Solo Sokos, which is a second-tier hotel and not something I would consider good value.
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