- The amazing architecture of Kizhi
In the 18th century this tiny seven-kilometre long island on Lake Onega had two beautiful wooden churches and a bell tower built on it.
- St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow
The decoration on the domes and walls was added over 200 years, giving the cathedral the distinctive look for which it's famous today.
- The Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
Housed in the Romanov Tsars' Winter Palace is this prestigious museum of art and culture.
- Winter Wonderland
The Winter Palace in St Petersburg is home to a wealth of artistic treasures.
- VIP on selected river cruises
Cruise from historic Moscow to majestic St Petersburg
Explore historic Moscow and impressive St Petersburg. Discover a wealth of historic treasures – from the picturesque wooden buildings of Kizhi Island to the splendours of the Hermitage collections – on this river cruise which concludes with a two-night hotel stay in stately St Petersburg.
23 meals: 9 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 8 dinners
- Included travel insurance
- Return flights and transfers
- Drinks reception and Captain’s dinner
- Saga Cruise Assistant
- Entertainment and activities on the ship
- Moscow Highlights Tour with the Kremlin
- Uglich Walking Tour
- Visit the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery in Goritsy
- Open-air museum on the island of Kizhi
- Sightseeing tour of St Petersburg with a visit to the Hermitage Museum
Day 1 UK to Moscow
Fly to Moscow and transfer to the port to embark your ship, the 4-anchor MS Mstislav Rostropovich, named after one of the great cellists of the 20th century.
The cabins on board are spacious and most come with balconies while there are two elegant restaurants on board, plus a gym, solarium, hair salon and a lift serving all four decks.
Day 2 Moscow
Look forward to seeing some of the great landmarks of Russia's cultured capital city today.
Hop aboard a bus to see Leningradskaya Street and pass by the KGB headquarters. Head to Red Square, home to many of the key attractions, such as the colourful St Basil's Cathedral, Lenin's Mausoleum and the Kremlin complex with its gold-domed churches and iconic bell tower. See the Palace of Congresses, Senate square, the Arsenal, the Tsar bell and cannon, among other attractions, and admire a vast collection of impressive Russian art, including ornate Fabergé eggs and delicate tapestries before some free time in Red Square.
Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before returning to your ship and setting sail for Uglich.
Enjoy a welcome cocktail party and live music on board as you sail overnight.
Day 3 Uglich
An included tour reveals the highlights of Uglich, including its own Kremlin and the Church of St Dmitry on the Blood – a temple with red walls and blue domes built on the site of the death of Ivan the Terrible’s heir in the 16th century.
This evening you can immerse yourself further into the culture of the country with a themed Russian dinner and a folk music concert onboard.
Day 4 Goritsy
As you sail on towards Goritsy this morning you can enjoy a relaxed brunch on board and perhaps take the opportunity to brush up on your skills by saying ‘Da’ to a Russian language lesson.
Disembark in this small village in the north west of the country and board a coach for an included excursion to the Resurrection Convent, standing on the shores of a lake. The 14th-century monastery of St Cyril on the White Lake was one of the major Orthodox strongholds of Old Russia. See majestic churches enclosed within fortress walls and view ornate frescoes and ancient icons, among the oldest in Russia, at the monastery museum. This afternoon’s entertainment onboard includes a tea ceremony with a lesson in traditional Russian songs and dance.
Day 5 Kizhi Island
Onboard this morning you can enjoy a programme of varied entertainment including yoga, exercise, a lecture on Russian fairy tales, the screening of a Russian history documentary and a visit to the captain’s bridge.
This afternoon’s included excursion takes you to an island in the middle of Lake Onega.
Kizhi is home to an open-air museum of wooden architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A stroll around the island will reveal old wooden churches, chapels, bell towers, peasant houses, farm buildings and windmills which were built in the traditional northern Russian style. The highlight is sure to be the Transfiguration Cathedral, dating from 1714, which features 22 domes and is linked to the neighbouring Church of Intercession, built 60 years later, by a bell tower. The more modest Chapel of the Resurrection of Lazarus dates from 1391 and it is the oldest standing wooden church in Russia.
Day 6 Mandrogi
Mandrogi is a reconstructed traditional Russian village built on the bank of the Svir River.
Experience provincial Russian life as you wander among charming old wooden houses and cobblestone walkways. Perhaps watch artisans and craftsmen creating mastryoshkas – Russian dolls, of course! – and perhaps buy some souvenirs in the workshop or sample the country’s favourite beverage in the Vodka Museum, which boasts 250 varieties of the national drink.
Enjoy a picnic lunch ashore.
Set sail for St Petersburg later this afternoon. If you have a hidden talent then why not showcase it at the guest and crew Talent Show, which will take place after your captain’s cocktail party and farewell dinner this evening.
Day 7 St Petersburg
Founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703 as Russia's ‘Window on the West’, this city was built as a showpiece, with impressive neo-Classical buildings and spacious avenues.
An included panoramic tour takes in the city’s beautiful monuments and architecture, including Summer and Winter Palaces, the impressive Admiralty Building, the Victory Column and St Isaac’s Cathedral. After an included lunch in the city enjoy a visit to the celebrated Hermitage State Museum. The museum is one of the greatest art galleries in the world and is set in a magnificent palace that contains enough treasures to keep you fascinated for days! Here is a cross section of the history of Western European art, ranging from Florentine and Venetian Renaissance art to Impressionism and post-Impressionism. In addition, there's an extensive collection of prehistoric, Egyptian and Oriental art plus temporary exhibitions. The museum covers a large area and the visit includes a considerable amount of walking, a few flights of stairs and standing for quite long periods.
Your ship remains moored in St Petersburg tonight and you might have the opportunity to visit the ballet (schedules permitting, bookable onboard only).
Day 8 St Petersburg
Disembark your ship after breakfast and transfer to a locally rated 4-star hotel in the city for a two-night stay with breakfasts included and dinner on your first night. This afternoon is at leisure for you to explore further.
Day 9 St Petersburg
Enjoy another day at leisure in the stately city, perhaps revisiting one of the highlights you may have seen on your included excursion.
Day 10 St Petersburg to UK
Check out after breakfast and travel to the airport for your return flight to the UK.
Whilst we always try to arrange and cover the costs of visas in the price of our holidays, for some countries we're not able to do this – Russia is one such country. We'll take care of the first part of the process but then you'll have to take the paperwork and payment to one of the Russian Embassies yourself.
We will send a visa application pack to you 12 weeks before departure for you to complete and return to Saga, together with a passport size photo and a colour copy of the picture page of your passport. We'll then apply for the visa support documents from our agent in Russia (which may take several weeks). Once we get these we'll complete the online application for you and post both that and the Visa Support Documents to you, along with full instructions on what to do next (please note that the application is only live for 30 days from the day it's done).
You and any other passengers travelling with you will then have to visit either the Russian Embassy in London or Edinburgh with your documents and passports. There's no appointment system, you simply turn up and wait your turn. Your fingerprints will be taken and you'll be asked to pay for the visa by cash, credit or debit card – the current charge is £118. Your passport will be posted back directly to you within 5 to 20 working days.
Some of the highlights may only be seen on optional excursions, at an additional cost or by exploring independently.