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Author: jeffross777

Joined: 10/20/2012
Posts: 1
Trips Taken: 4
Traveler Since: 2011

October 20, 2012
  1. I would warn others that are thinking about taking this trip that it seems all riverboats dock a long distance from the things you want to see and do in these cities.  The bus rides each way were at least one hour and sometimes longer.  The traffic in these cities is AWFUL 24 by 7.  I did not appreciate having to spend at least 2 hours a day in the bus to see the attractions.  I would certainly recommend another trip that puts you at hotels closer to the city center even if it is more expensive.
  2. GCT could have offered options for attractions like the Bolshoi Ballet or the Diamond Room at the Kremlin museum.  Major blunder on their part.
  3. There were way too many churches included in the tours.  I was burnt out about halfway through.
  4. The tour directors were knowledge and friendly, however they sat by themselves at meals.  I felt they should have circulated among the tables.
  5. I found it incredible that WiFi was not available on the boat.  There was limited access via 2 computers in the "library" that was not free.
  6. GCT and OAT need to rethink their policy of not including tips for bus drivers, day guides, etc.
  7. The boat was very clean but somehow most of the guests came down with a severe cough.
  8. The boat staff was excellent.
  9. The rooms were comfortable.
  10. Food was good to very good with a nice selection at each meal.

Author: mertziek

Joined: 9/2/2010
Posts: 34
Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 2010

October 20, 2012

Took this tour in May and the traffic is horrid with a lot of wasted time but not sure how to manage it unless you stay in a hotel near the sites and are on the boat for only 4-5 days.  This could add to the cost of the tour and may be a problem for some tourists.  WiFi access is a big problem and should not be in this day and age.  And the Internet access on the boats is poor.  Agree there could be more variety in the optionals that would appeal to a wider range of tastes.  I like your suggestion of PD's mingling and eating with the tourists but I think they may do a lot of their planning during the meals, especially when I was on the tour because we missed two of the port stops due to ice.  They did substitute nice stops but I will now never get to see the Kizhi Island 22 onion domed church and it was one of the things I really wanted to visit.  I suggested they add info about that to the tour description in their brochures and website so people can travel a bit later in the season and be sure to visit there if that is a high priority. I know I would have postponed my trip departure had I known that.  Another thing I did not like was cramming all 200+ of us in the same restaurants for meals when visiting in the cities.  Very tight seating in many of the places and think they should make the effort to break up the groups even more.   All in all, a great trip but always room for improvement.  I did receive a telephone call from GCT and they sounded like they were aware of a lot of the issues so will have to see how receptive they are to making the improvements.

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

October 21, 2012

I immensely enjoyed the Russia Revealed trip, just about all of it. It is one of my all time favorite trips. That being said, the time spent in the bus in Moscow due to heavy traffic (not the fault of GCT) was a downer. Probably at least 3 hours total of each day there was spent on that bus! Maybe once the rivership reaches Moscow, we should have been staying at a hotel nearer the areas where we would be going. I realize that would probably raise the price of the trip though. However, I really liked that rivership! We were on the Tikhi Don, and all was great--the staff, the food, the entertainment. Would love to go again, but alas, other places are calling my name................ :)

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 445
Trips Taken: 15
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

October 21, 2012

 When we did Russia Revealed in 2004. It was the year before GCT had the Tikhi Don . We cruised and lived a the chartered  Nikolai Chernychevski, which was not as well appointed as the GCT owned ships. We had the same observations about the traffic and also recommended hotel stays. In at least one year since then, GCT ran two versions of the trip, one with the ship as the hotel and one with hotels in St. Petersburg and Moscow.  This was subsequently dropped. It had to be either that they had trouble selling this version or they got poorer reviews on the trips. GCT does not have the control of the accomodations or the meals on shore, and Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world, making it difficult to control the price of the trip. Our trip was a wonderful experience, despite the traffic, but we would have loved to experience staying in the hearts of the cities.

Author: arnold

Joined: 10/20/2010
Posts: 15
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2004

October 22, 2012

 Regarding the original post of 10-20-2012,  especially the last four numbered items: I,  too,  agree that the ship experience was excellent.  In addition to immaculate surrooundings and  abundant and well-prepared meals,  a very well-trained,  accomodating staff made for a comfortable stay.  That being said, the issue of time wasted in traffic really suggests  another look by GCT as to whether to seek in-town hotel accomodations.  Until such time as that becomes the norm.  I can't recommend this trip to friends.

One more item keeps cropping up in posts and reviews;   the number of people who get sick on this cruise.  During our sailing, a great  many folks came down with upper respiratory illnesses requiring a doctor's care.  My own illness manifested the day we left to come home.  It may just be an unavoidable  consequence of living in close quarters.  But  I do hope that GCT is vigilant as to air-quality on these vessels.  

Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 143
Trips Taken: 9
Traveler Since: 2004

October 22, 2012

We did this trip on the Rossia when you had a choice of two versions; one which put you in a hotel and the other was completely on the Rossia and being bussed into Moscow. 

We chose the one where you stayed on the ship and loved it.  The bus rides were delightful because our PD spent the time talking about many things such as life for her parents during the siege by the Germans of St. Petersburg which was known as Leningrad at that time and how the Germans attempted to starve them out and her parents were burning their furniture to get heat.  There were many other interesting stories/facts during the rides and we certainly did not find them boring.  It also gave us a view of outside the city of Moscow.

We also liked that we did not have to move luggage into a hotel and were able to stay aboard the Rossia for delicious meals and fantastic service.  One memory we have is coming back to the ship after a drizzly day and the Captain was waiting to greet us with his assistants who were serving hot tea as we entered the ship.  No hotel would do that!

We could also relax with other travelers onboard for a nice drink or hot beverage on the upper deck after coming aboard.

I guess we all have our thoughts on this but we loved the trip the way it was when we went.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 887
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

October 23, 2012

I agree with Jayge.  One of the upsides of that trip is the "unpack once" aspect.  And if anyone isn't aware of Moscow and St. Petersburg traffic before they go, then they can't blame GCT.  It is a fact of life there along with the fact that Russian drivers are crazy!  I live in Boston and am used to crazy drivers, but they beat everyone in any place I've ever driven including Israel, Italy and Mexico.

As someone just posted, Moscow is very expensive and hotel stays would price this trip out of the market for most of us.  And riding on the bus was very interesting, because our local guides would talk to us about her experiences.  I think it took us three hours back from the Hermitage.  The one bus that took the people who opted for an hour's extension arrived just after we did.

Author: winjim

Joined: 5/16/2010
Posts: 7
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2005

November 24, 2012
I hope GCT takes a look at its competitors' offerings for Russian river cruising. Viking has free internet in staterooms for a similar Russian trip, which seems to be common with many lines of river ships in Europe. This is of increasing importance to me, with elderly parents to look after. At some point, if I can't stay easily connected on GCT cruises, I will move to other companies, although I truly enjoy the packages and personnel that OAT and GCT put together.

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 246
Trips Taken: 0

November 27, 2012

Thank you all for your feedback on the Russia Revealed river cruise.  We always appreciate suggestions and reviews from our travelers.  

CORRECTION:

Winjim, in regards to wireless Internet access, while many of our European river ships currently offer WiFi in the reception, lounge, and library areas, the Russia Revealed trip does not offer WiFi at this time.  We apologize for the miscommunication.  

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 445
Trips Taken: 15
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

November 27, 2012

 Despite GCCL lines statement that the wi-fi works in just the lounge, lobby and library, on the Bizet, on The Seine: Paris to Normandy this spring, the wi-fi worked most of the time in cabin 326, hich is about as far away from the lounge as you can get, The service was sporadic, but that seems to be pretty common on river boats.

Author: jandb

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 32
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 1999

November 28, 2012

 When we were on the Budapest to the Black Sea cruise WiFi seemed to be dependent on where we were.  I think small communities and rural areas don't get very good reception.  I was able to use my ipad in the cabin when WiFi was available.

Back to the original thread, we were on the Tiki Don when there was a choice of tours...staying in hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg or living on board the ship.  We opted for the ship.  There were long bus rides with our PD giving us all sorts of information about areas we were in and about life in Russia in general.  I would prefer spending time riding on a bus to packing, unpacking, and moving to and from hotels.

As for Kizhi Island, we were there in early August and the temperature was right at freezing with wind and drizzle.  I'm not sure when you could go there and expect good weather.

This was our first river cruise and sold us completely on small ship cruising.  In fact we were scheduled to go on the Tiki Don on the Ukrainian Dnieper River and are disappointed it was canceled.  Instead we will go on the new Italian-French Rivera cruise.  I can hardly wait!

Author: elna

Joined: 3/24/2010
Posts: 56
Trips Taken: 6
Countries Visited:

France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Austalia, Finland, Estonia, England, Scotland, Wales, Pakistan, Singapore,

Traveler Since: 2009

December 02, 2012

We did the Russia Revealed in 2010 on the Tiki Don-- while traffic was terrible in Moscow and St. Petersburg, we LOVED the trip. We did the pre-trip to Helsinki and Tallinn and the WORSE thing was crossing the border from Estonia to Russia-- which GCT can NOT control. We loved the trip, even with the long bus rides to our historic sites.

Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 120
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2005

December 02, 2012

And yet our 2011 border crossing at the Russia/Estonia border was easy and relatively fast; about one hour.  Our guide was shocked and pleased, and said it often took several hours! I guess it's just the luck of the draw. Whatever the wait, it is worth it to see Tallinn and Helsinki in addition to the wonderful Russia portion of the trip.

Author: tbiddle

Joined: 2/1/2013
Posts: 3
Trips Taken: 0

February 01, 2013

So glad to find this forum with details about the M/S Rossia.  We are going in June, and trying to find details about on-board conveniences. Is there on-board laundry service or shall we pack extra in lieu of getting some clothing washed?  I understand the bar service charges in rubles? Is it a cash bar?  How reasonably priced are such on-board services, especially if we need to get extra rubles before boarding? Thanks!

Author: kevinconley

Joined: 8/6/2011
Posts: 10
Trips Taken: 4
Traveler Since: 2011

February 02, 2013

 We traveled last September with the pre trip to Kiev.  Loved the Radisson Blu.  The breakfasts..food, selection, presentation were excellent.  Long bus rides in both St. Petersburg and Moscow but enjoyed our "classes" in Russian history. Be sure to read the Robert Massey books before you go. They really enhanced the trip for us.You will love the trip and learn so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 120
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2005

February 02, 2013

tbiddle, go to the "What are Travelers reading?"  section for some suggestions of books to read before your journey.  This is a great trip, and you will have a fun and educational experience. I cannot wait to return to wonderful St. Petersburg sometime!

I don't recall anything in particular about the bar service, but we did have laundry done.  (Pants and socks....we always send those out, and do our other clothes ourselves.)  Price wise, it was comparable to the U.S.  They did an excellent job, and the clothes were returned to our cabin quite quickly.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 887
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

February 02, 2013

tbiddle,

I did post on your other thread about the bar, but maybe I didn't make it clear.  Most people just run a tab for the length of the trip.  It's much easier all around.  As I said, everything you purchase on the trip gets charged to your cabin, and you get a statement the day before the end to check before they actually run the charge.  That's with the exception of the gift shop, which is a contract operation.  And they take credit cards.  There are display cases near the reception desk that have things like fleece jackets and vests, embroidered aprons, etc.  Those are not from the gift shop and if you get any of that, it's charged to your cabin.

There are several photographers on board, who also serve other functions like entertainment, and they post the prints of the pictures they have taken each day near the restaurant.  If you buy any, they have to be paid for to the photographers in rubles.

I had a wonderful time on that trip, and I'm sure you will too.

 

Author: cliodoc

Joined: 8/13/2010
Posts: 3
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2005

February 17, 2013

We took the Russian River Cruise in 2011. My wife was apprehensive, but it ended up being one of her favorite all-time trips. I am always amazed at some of the comments and criticisms leveled by travelers. Perhaps we are easy-go-lucky travelers. We left O'Hare late because of the weather and arrived in Paris missing our connecting flight. Air France gave us a meal and immediately rebooked us on the next flight to St. Petersburg. When we got to the MS Rossia itwas after dinner time, but there was dinner waiting for us in our stateroom. Thes things happen. No one got sick on our trip. What ever did we do without Internet? I travel to get away from home, not to bring it with me. One person commented that Viking has internet in the rooms. True, and did you compare the cost of GCT and Viking for the same cruise. The more you get, the more you pay. I thought the food was great. Where do people normally eat that they feel the food is mediocre? One thing we have learned in our travels is "adaptability." Things happen. Your happiness is not determined by what happens to you, but how you react to what happens to you. So chill out, and enjoy the moment.

 

Author: kba

Joined: 6/19/2010
Posts: 64
Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 2009

February 17, 2013

Dear Cliodoc:  I am so with you....yes, things go wrong and things get crazy but how you approach it makes all the difference.  I have loved all my Grand Circle trips and met some wonderful people. 

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

February 18, 2013

kba & cliodoc:  agree with you. People need to be flexible. There are some real problems that might pop up, but giving a trip a bad review because the weather was bad (have seen this on other trips as well) is just silly. Yes, it's "disappointing" if it's cooler/warmer than you expected or rained everyday, etc., but really now. "It's not like home"--good. If someone wants it like back home, stay home. I travel to see places and eat food that are different from back home. When I went on the Russia Revealed trip October 2011, we ended up not being able to go up the lake to Kitzhi (sp?) Island because there were 10-15 foot waves happening at that time, and there was already a Viking ship( Viking Cruise, not a real Viking ship--ha ha) that got stuck at that island for a couple of days because of that. Not Grand Circle's fault, but I heard lots of grumbling and complaining about that. "Disappointing"? Yes, but those people would not have been happy if our captain had tried to go through those waves. We were already rocking and rolling the night before with just 5 foot swells. Anyway, some things just can't be avoided or changed.

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