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May 2007 trip to Russia

1. Life on board ship, and the journey itself

If you are particularly interested in boating, please see also the 'Boaters Page'.

We had decided to take the 1000-mile river cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg. These two cities are connected by three rivers (the Volga, the Svir, and the Neva) and a number of lakes including the two largest in Europe, plus a number of canals with about 20 locks. The cruise-ships are limited in size by the locks but we like small ships and managed to find one that was even smaller than most!  The “Sergei Yesenin” takes only 80 to 90 passengers which means it books very quickly; when we phoned Noble-Caledonian (who had arranged our Alaska trip) we were told there was only one cabin still available: one of the two Master Suites. With separate sitting-room and bedroom, together with our own fridge and radio/TV system (including a view from a CCTV camera over the bows) we had every luxury that we could possibly want. The size of the ship meant that we rapidly made friends with the rest of the passengers even though we were teased about being so posh in “our suite”.

 

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MS 'Sergei Yesenin'
Debbie makes herself at home on the sundeck
Our sitting-room
Our sitting-room
Our bedroom

The crew are all Russian, which means efficiency is paramount.  The crew members who meet the passengers –  the bar staff, some of the waitresses and chambermaids, the two receptionists and the four charming on-board Interpreters (who also acted as assistant tour guides, entertainments officers, and general liaison for everything else) –  all spoke some English. Our Russian is almost non-existent but we managed well enough with the aid of much sign-language. Even though Russian lessons were available on board we didn’t attend them as we found the Cyrillic alphabet such a struggle!

 

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Our struggle with the Cyrillic alphabet. Which way is UP ?
Our 4 interpreters, planning our next entertainment.
On the ship's bridge
What, no steering wheel?
The receptionists and interpreters introduce an edible version of the ship

Every morning started with a cheerful wake-up call over the ship’s loudspeakers from the receptionist. Naturally it began with “Dear Ladies and Gentleman …” The ship always travelled through the night, so it was always exciting to wake and see where were. Usually the ship also sailed for about half the day and spent the rest of the time at a village which we could explore. While we were sailing there was always plenty to keep us interested including fascinating lectures, Russian language lessons, a Vodka-tasting party, a Blini-tasting party, and even a highly amusing and surprisingly successful on-board talent contest. There was a friendly bar for the evening with the “cocktail of the day” and live music, or a comfortable lounge for those who preferred peace and quiet.

 

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A selection of different types of Vodka for us to taste
The correct way to drink Vodka
Some food to nibble with the Vodka
The table is ready for us to start
Not all Vodka is colourless. This one looks and tastes rather like a whisky. It was delicious!
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Our waitress at the Blini party
The table set for the Captain's Dinner
Debbie recites a poem and sings a song at the Talent Show
At the Talent Show. There is also an album of ALL the talent show pictures available.
At the Talent Show. There is also an album of ALL the talent show pictures available.

Meanwhile the wonderful scenery just slipped past: the canal and rivers were beautiful, with forests approaching the water. For those of us who are used to boating in England, the designs of the locks were intriguing, and there was plenty of river traffic to provide interest. The huge lakes were just incredible, one is 80 miles wide and 120 miles long and can get quite rough, but luckily the weather was good so they were totally calm and we were able to watch some fabulous sunsets towards midnight as we crossed them.

Next you can read about the places we visited on the way ...

 

Scenery we passed   View Slideshow   Page 2 - places we visited
Moscow Churches RUSSIA Home Page Boating St Petersburg
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