June 2007. Cruised from Moscow
to St. Petersburg on the M/S
Maxim Rylski. Not quite the Holiday we thought it was going to be.
Went with Cosmos Tourama and, frankly, their side of it was pretty disappointing.
Their Brochure stated that the night in a Hotel in St. Petersburg would
be at the 4* Pulkoskaya or the 4* Pribaltiskaya. We were at the 3* Moscow.
Their brochure stated that Porterage at the Hotel was included. We had
to lug our own cases (to the 7th. floor) and even had to load the cases
on the coach taking us to the Airport (while the driver sat on the kerb
smoking). Their brochure stated that the boat had a Concert Hall, a
blatant lie. One of the two bars had chairs put in it for a "Concert"
(yes, the brochure said there are occasional Concerts). The Concert
was a singer and an Accordianist! Also, beware money matters. The Cosmos
blurb states that US Dollars, Euros and Sterling are accepted on board.
We took Sterling. You've guessed it, Sterling is NOT accepted on board!
Having said that, the stops were wonderful, the included tours are excellent
as are the the couriers and guides. By all means do the Cruise, but
CHECK. You get what you pay for.
Ports of Call:
UGLICH - Pretty little Town. Visited the Cathedral and the Kremlin on
an included tour (and were entertained in them by small choirs singing
Religious and Russian Folk Songs - excellent). Unfortunately the tour
lasted about 90 minutes and we were only ashore for 105 minutes (the
Cosmos blurb said we would have 3-4 hours there). Not enough time to
YAROSLAVL - Another excellent tour of a beautiful City. Today was a
Public Holiday (to commemorate the anniversary of the end of Communism)
so the busy Main Square was empty! Still it helped with crossing the
road and touring in the coach. Visited a Monastery and Church and were
(again) entertained by a small choir. Not the high spot of the Cruise
but well worth a visit.
GORITSY - A 5 mile coach trip to Kirillov to visit the huge Monastery
of St. Cyril (Kirill in Russian). The walls (HUGE walls, they had to
withstand attacks) are 2km around and the Monastery has 12 Churches
but only 2 monks live there now.
KIZHI - A small island at the north end of Lake Onega (the second largest
in Europe). High spot is the Transfiguration Church. Built completely
of wood (without a single nail) and 22 cupolas. The island (since 1951)
has been an open air Museum of Russian wooden architecture and several
buildings have been transferred from various villages, near and far.
MANDROGA - To be honest, a bit Theme Parkish. A village built by an
entrepreneur as a stop off for the likes of us. Some pretty incredible
looking buildings but no age to them. The village was flourishing until
the Second World War when the villagers were interned by the Germans
and never returned.