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River Boat Cruises In Russia And The Ukraine

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There are two main options for river boat cruises in Russia and the Ukraine – sailing along the Volga and Svir rivers in Russia and the Dneiper River in the Ukraine.

The Fountains of Peterhof, St. Petersburg

The cruise between Moscow and the incomparable St. Petersburg, Peter the Great’s “Window on the West”, is the classic river boat cruise in Russia.  This cruise, bookended as it were by Russia’s two principal cities, typically visits two of the Golden Ring cities en route, Uglich and Yaroslavl (founded in 1010).  Other stops, at smaller and quainter villages, provide a first-hand glimpse of typical Russian village life.

The cruise traverses the two largest lakes in Europe, Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega.  Cruising on Lake Onega provides the opportunity for the ship to visit the island village of Kizhi, site of the Open Air Museum of Architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The highlight of this visit is Preobrazhenskaya Church, the Church of the Transfiguration, a three-tiered wooden structure built in 1714 without a single nail.

The major river boat cruise companies on this route include three day visits to both Moscow and St. Petersburg, giving guests ample opportunity to explore the important sites in each city.  Shore excursions are included in the package and the ship serves as the guests’ hotel.

A cruise along the Dneiper River in the Ukraine is the second option in this region.  Sailing between Odessa and Kiev, the cruise includes some time on the Black Sea as well.  Surprising Sevastopol, home of the Russian Black Sea fleet, is also the jumping off point for a visit to two important historical sites.  One is the archaeological site of Chersonese, a Greek city founded in the 6th century BC.  The other is the Tatar city of Bakhchisarei, capital of the Crimean Khanate, site of the Khan’s residence, and cultural and political center for the Crimean Tatars.  It was in Sevastopol that the light brigade made its fateful charge, memorialized in verse by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Additional stops on this river boat cruise include Yalta, where passengers visit the White Palace, a former imperial residence and site of the 1945 Yalta Conference of Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill; Zaporozhye, ancestral home of the Cossacks; and Kiev, with its UNESCO World Heritage Site, St. Sophia Cathedral.

River boat quality in Russia can be fairly questionable, and care needs to be taken in choosing the boat to book.  Focusing consideration on several major lines is well-advised.  AMA Waterways has one ship on the Volga, the totally gutted and rebuilt Amakaterina, sailing in 2011.  Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has a single ship as well on the Volga, the River Victoria.  Viking River Cruises, the major operator here, has four ships on the Volga and one on the Dneiper.

Technorati Tags: AMA Waterways, Dneiper river, Moscow, river boat cruises, Russia, St. Petersburg, Svir river, Ukraine, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Viking River Cruises, Volga river

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