One of the best ways to learn about Russia is to take a cruise ship along her great rivers, especially for those nature lovers who like quiet and unhurried camping in a restful environment. The finest landscapes can be appreciated the best onboard a comfortable four-Decker ship as the water carries one away to uncharted territories. Depending on the route that you choose, you can either enjoy the austere beauty of North-western Russia, Siberia and the Far East, or the famous St. Petersburg white night and manmade Volga-Baltic Canal cruises.
The Russian river cruise ships offer excellent service, brand-new navigation equipment and spacious interiors that allow for more than 300 passengers (or even more in some cases) to fit comfortably on board. All cruise ships have conference and fitness centres, as well as solaria, saunas, cosy restaurants and bars.
Many cruise routes begin in Moscow, which is sometimes called “the port of five seas”, artificial canals were constructed in the 20th century to connect Russia’s capital with the Azov, Caspian, Black, Baltic and White seas. One of the most popular routes is a roundtrip cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg with stops in Uglich, Rybinsk, yaroslavl, Kostroma and near some famous monasteries of Russia’s North: the Goritsky Monastery of the Resurrection and the Monastery of St. Cyril Belozyorsky (Vologda Region). Another ship cruise will bring you to the Kizhi and Valaam islands, as well as to Petrozavodsk (the capital of the Republic of Karelia).
Along the cruise route from Moscow to Astrakhan, in addition to the large cities of the Golden Ring, one may visit beautiful sights along the Volga, including Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara, Oulyanovsk, Syzran, Saratov and Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) which has a grandiose monument dedicated to the heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad, considered to be the greatest battle and the turning point of the Second World War.
No one will remain indifferent to the unforgettable landscapes one encounters on a cruise ship along the Northern Dvina River, especially during white nights – when the skies change constantly and the horizon is especially fine, making one want to inscribe every moment of the journey on his memory. Guests may visit the city of Arkhangelsk, the spa and mud-bath resort of Solvychegodsk, or take a bus from the city of Kotlas on an excursion to Veliky Oustyug, the birthplace of Grandfather Frost. There are also cruise possibilities taking one from Arkhangelsk and Severodvinsk in the Far North through the White Sea to the Solovki Islands, famous for their long history and majestic architecture.
There are also unique cruises along the rivers of Siberia flowing toward the Arctic Ocean. Cruise ships follow the route from the sub-polar Taimyr Peninsula along the Yenisei, the river with the biggest volume of water in Russia, from the city of Krasnoyarsk through the estuary of the Podkamennaya Tunguska River into whose basin the famous Tungus meteorite once fell
One may also take an amazing cruise along the Lena River, which is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the world’s greatest rivers, with spectacular views, crystal clear water and many varieties of unique flora and fauna. During the journey along the Amur River, tourists may see petroglyphs engraved on basaltic rocks which date back approximately 4,000 years. On the Irtysh River cruise, one reaches the Siberian cities of Omsk, Tobolsk and Khanty-Mansiysk, and on Lake Baikal one may see a datsan, a Buddhist monastery complex, and perhaps even visit a real shaman.
Of course, this is far from the full list of possible cruises that Russia has to offer. A ship cruise is a very special journey which can give a person more vivid and memorable impressions sometimes than can a trip by bus or railroad.