Russia on a Russian River Cruise Line

Ship in water

This is our second trip to Russia for a river cruise. Last time in 2009 we went on Viking River Cruises. For this trip we went with friends and decided to go on a 5-star Russian line. Our ship was called Volga Dream. Compared to several other river cruises we’ve done, this ship was a little dated. The cabins were small and the deck was an open walkway, so people were always walking past your window. The dining room had one obstructed window and the rest were small portholes. This is not good when every evening you are missing the colorful river sunsets. Other than these small complaints the ship was nice, with excellent service and food.

laying on bed in stateroom
stateroom on ship with twin beds

We flew into Moscow…. Oh, the traffic! We spent 3 days touring the city before boarding the ship and saw the usual highlights: Red Square, Tretyakov Gallery, GUM shopping mall, and of course a subway tour. The subways stops are beautiful decorated like the inside of a Palace.

melons floating in fountain
Melons floating in the fountain–“Gum” shopping mall
subway in Russia
Subway in Russia
Fish in market

My favorite port/stop on the cruise is Kizhi. I love the onion-domed wooden church and village. The main church was under repair, with much of it being covered in scaffolding.

Church in Kizhi Russia
Scaffold Church in Kizhi, Russia
woman selling crochet on street
Woman selling her crocheting
lady making pelmeni dumplings in Russia
Lady making pelmeni (dumplings)

Sites along the Volga– People gardening, and lots of little sauna huts along the river next to houses.

We spent the last two nights in St Petersburg visiting the Hermitage Museum, Catherine’s Palace, and Peterhof Palace. We did this trip the last week in August and weather was great–still lots of flowers in the gardens.

golden statue in Peterhof Palace
Peterhof Palace
statues on St Petersburg building tops
View from our hotel room in St Petersburg

Poppy Fields and Swans– Springtime in France 2016

We have just returned from another fantastic river cruise in Europe. This time we went on Avalon Waterways and we weren’t disappointed. There were quite a few cloudy days with splashes of rain here and there, and our boat just missed hitting some of the flood areas (early May). 

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My favorite thing about river cruising…. The lazy days of gliding down the scenic river, the food, and the freedom.  I think I noticed it more this cruise than with others. We were encouraged to get off the boat and go for walks around town or down the river walkways.  The tours were great but sometimes I chose to skip them and wander around by myself. One day I walked around town alone, hurried back to the boat before the tour groups came back so that I could go updeck and sit in the hot tub. There was no one else around and I sat in that hot bubbling water alone, smiling and staring up at  a castle on the hill.
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St Paul de Vence
St Paul de Vence cemetery

My Highlights of France

  • Paris-  Montparnasse cemetery, Pompidou Modern Art Musem,  and crepes with homemade toffee and vanilla ice cream.
  • Wildflowers and poppies growing on the side of the road.  In Beaune, there were grapevines growing in the center of the roundabouts.
  • Sampling Beaujolais wine at a local winery.

The ship– Avalon Affinity
Pro’s— Sliding full window/door in our stateroom, and spacious bathroom. Daily happy hour with discounted drinks, good food, especially lunch buffet and cheese assortment. This was a smaller ship and we were able to get into smaller town ports that some of the bigger boats like Viking would not fit into.
Con’s— We wished there were better wine variety pairings with dinner. And the breakfast/lunch buffet layout was not the best, very congested in places.

Beaujolais Winery
Beaujolais Winery

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My most favorite part of the trip was Monaco/Monte Carlo. It was about 10 days prior to the Monaco Grand Prix Race. The town was setting up bleachers, banners, fences, and guardrails. We drove the route and walked a good part of it, and our hotel Fairmont was situated right at the infamous hairpin curve.  Other great sites were the Exotic Garden, and the Monte Carlo Casino.

Paella
Paella

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Monte Carlo

Monaco Grand Prix track
Monaco Grand Prix track