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I want to express, in the name of Asteria Expeditions and our 8 clients that this cruise was exceptional and was highly appreciated. All my clients have traveled worldwide in luxury accommodations and this is a real 5 star deluxe!

Paul Loose, Travel Director, Asteria Expeditions
Belgium

Platinum Program - Detailed Program

TRIP DESCRIPTION & HIGHLIGHTS

I. 8 UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SIGHTS

  • Moscow Kremlin & Red Square
  • Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow (tentative list)
  • Ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent, Moscow
  • Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg
  • Historic Centre of the City of Yaroslavl
  • Church of Prince Dimitri On Blood, Uglich (tentative list)
  • Ensemble of the Ferapontov Monastery
  • Kizhi Pogost, Karelia

II. SPECIAL ACCESS TO RUSSIA’S MOST IMPORTANT CULTURAL SITES

  • Special Early Entrance to the Hermitage and Turning on the Mechanical Peacock Clock
  • Special Early Entrance to Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin
  • Private Home Visit in St. Petersburg
  • Backstage Tour of the Bolshoi Theater
  • Short Musical Performances at Yusupov Palace
  • Russian Army Choir Performance

III. MUST SEE ART COLLECTIONS

  • Unique Russian Avant-garde and Social Realism Art Tour with Museum Curator
  • Tour of the World Famous Western Impressionists Collection of the Pushkin Museum
  • Biggest in the World collection of Faberge Eggs at the Faberge Museum
  • IV. RUSSIAN CULTURAL EXPERIENCE ABOARD THE VOLGA DREAM
  • 4 Fascinating Talks by the Russian Professor
  • Piano Concert of Tchaikovskiy and Rachmaninov
  • Russian Dinner & Vodka Tasting
  • Matryoshka (nesting doll) Painting
  • Russian Language Classes
  • Russian Cooking Classes
  • Tea from the Samovar
  • Welcome Bread & Salt

V. FINEST ACCOMMODATION AND TOURING IN SMALL GROUP

  • 6 Nights at the nicest Moscow and St. Petersburg Hotels
  • 6 Delicious Lunches in the Best Moscow and St. Petersburg Restaurants
  • Touring in Intimate Groups of 15-18 Guests
  • Whisper System for the Entire Journey

Day 1. MOSCOW

When you arrive in Moscow, you will be greeted by an English-speaking assistant who will escort you privately to your hotel, the deluxe Ararat Park Hyatt***** or St. Regis Nikol’skaya***** in the historic city centre.

Meals: –

Day 2. MOSCOW

Kremlin / Armory Museum / Red Square Walk/ Tretyakov Gallery

9:30 am – 5:30 pm

In the morning you will walk through the famous Kremlin with its beautiful cathedrals and unique museums. The Armoury hosts an impressive collection of opulent coronation finery, hand-forged armour and ancient weapons, royal carriages and sleighs.

Then you will stroll across Red Square and visit GUM - Moscow’s largest department store.

The sightseeing continues after lunch at the State Tretyakov Gallery with its extraordinary collection of Russian art, ranging from Rublev's 12th century icons to 19th century masterpieces.

City tour highlights: Tverskaya Street, Lubyanka Square, Kremlin embankment. Red Square (stop & walk), Novodevichiy Convent (photo stop), and if time permits, a stop at the Christ the Savior Cathedral.

The remainder of the day is free for you to explore Moscow independently or seek out a performance at any one of the city’s world-class venues.

Meals: B, L

Day 3. MOSCOW

Backstage tour of Bolshoi theatre* / Metro / Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

10:30 am – 6:30 pm

Begin the day with a backstage tour of the historic and recently restored Bolshoi Theatre* (available in May, June and September only). Then explore the famous Moscow Metro, renowned for its architectural splendor. That’s followed after lunch by a visit to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts to see its remarkable collection of French Impressionism, which includes works by Corot, Goya, Delacroix, as well as van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse, and Chagall.

Meals: B, L

* A tour to Bolshoi Theatre will be replaced by a tour to State Central Museum of Contemporary History of Russia in July and August (early September) due to the Bolshoi Theatre annual leave.

Day 4. MOSCOW

New Tretyakov Gallery / Moscow Architecture tour / Embarkation aboard the MS Volga Dream

10:00 am – 5:00 pm

The first stop after checking-out from your hotel is the New Tretyakov Gallery to see its collection of early XXth century works by world famous Russian avant-garde masters and Social Realism Art work. The tour is led by the specially invited museum Curator.

After a relaxed lunch, we continue with our “Moscow Architecture” tour. The city boasts unique diversity and variety in terms of building styles: classic, modern, empire and eclecticism amazingly sit alongside more monumental designs, such as Stalin’s towering skyscrapers from the mid XXth century. The architecture of the capital, though seemingly contradictory and contrasting, makes for a dazzling combination in a quite unique city.

Meanwhile, the luxurious MS Volga Dream awaits, your voyage along Russia’s extensive waterways is about to begin. The Captain's welcome reception and dinner mark the start of our unforgettable cruise.

Volga Dream Experience: Bread, Salt & Vodka ‘Welcome Aboard’ Ceremony

Meals: B, L, D

Day 5. UGLICH

After a full day of cruising through idyllic forested countryside, we tie up in the ancient trading town of Uglich, a key point in Russia’s renowned ‘Golden Ring’. Explore the impressive Church of St. Dmitri-on-the-Blood, erected on the site where Dmitri, son of Ivan the Terrible, was murdered in 1591. Then an enchanting concert of choral music performed in St. John’s Church.

Volga Dream Experience: Costumed Russian Tea Ceremony & Russian Cooking Class

Meals: B, L, D

Day 6. YAROSLAVL

Founded in 1010, Yaroslavl is one of central Russia’s oldest cities and boasts the Volga’s first port. There is much to see: the Spassky Monastery houses the Transfiguration of the Savior and the Church of Elijah the Prophet, an impressive collection of mosaics. Take part in a costumed reception at the governor’s house before re-boarding the MS Volga Dream in time for lunch.

Volga Dream Experience: Barbeque on the Sun Deck

Meals: B, L, D

Day 7. GORITSY

This morning takes us on an early crossing of Lake Beloye, or the White Lake, formerly known as the “tsar’s fishing grounds”, before arriving in the peaceful village of Goritsy where we tour the Ferapontov Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with magnificent frescoes by Dionysius, one of Russia’s most renowned icon painters. He painted the temple ceiling about 10 years before Michelangelo even started on the Sistine Chapel! Return to the ship for a late lunch and afternoon cruising.

Volga Dream Experience: Russian Dinner with Vodka Tasting

Meals: B, L, D

Day 8. KIZHI

Kareliya is a region that must be seen to be believed, it spans all the way from St. Petersburg to the Arctic Circle, a vast wilderness of forest and water. Lake Onega is fed by 58 rivers and is home to 1,369 islands, including our stop, Kizhi with its quaint collection of ancient wooden houses and windmills including the famous and remarkable Transfiguration church, built in 1714 without a single nail being used.

Volga Dream Experience: Piano Concert – pieces by Tchaikovsky and Rakhmaninov

Meals: B, L, D

Day 9. SVIRSTROY

The highlight of your day in Svirstroy is being invited into a local resident’s home. Warm and welcoming Svirstroy villagers will offer tea with jam and “pirozhki” (local pies). They will enthusiastically tell you all about Russian tradition, lifestyle and the attractions of Svirstroy village while proudly showing off their homes and kitchen gardens. After tea hop on a bus for a tour of the nearby town to see the monument of the WWII and visit a local primary school.

Volga Dream Experience: Farewell Dinner

Meals: B, L, D

Day 10. ST. PETERSBURG

City Tour / Faberge museum

9:30am – 5:30pm

The MS Volga Dream ties up in St. Petersburg on the Neva River where we disembark for a city tour, including Peter and Paul Fortress, the Royal Romanov burial site and Nevsky Prospect with its rich selection of fine shops, cafes, and museums.

Lunch is followed by a visit to the Fabergé Museum, founded by entrepreneur, Viktor Vekselberg. The museum was opened in December 2013 to display a glittering collection of Faberge eggs and objects d’art created by Peter Carl Fabergé and his staff. Vekselberg's Faberge collection is rated as one of the world's most valuable and includes items he bought from the Forbes family in 2004 for $100 million.

Meals: B, L

Day 11. ST. PETERSBURG

Catherine’s Palace (Early Entrance) / Amber Room / Peterhof: Park only / Musical Performances at the Yusupov Palace

8:00am – 6:00pm

We travel to the Tsar’s Village to visit the famous Catherine’s Palace and the exquisitely recreated Amber Room. (To avoid the crowds, we’ve arranged special Early Entrance for you, before official opening hours.) A stroll through the formal gardens is highly recommended. We enter the Pushkin grounds through the Golden Gate, ascend the staircase to the Grand Hall. The Golden Enfilade offers a great view of the Amber Room.

Our next stop is the most famous and spectacular Imperial estate of Peterhof, often dubbed the Russian Versailles. The vast Lower Park with its 176 fountains and four cascades, is a glorious place to walk, taking in majestic palaces and numerous gilded statues of ancient gods and heroes. A truly spectacular day before we return to St. Petersburg

Lunch is followed by a tour of Yusupov’s Palace, home to St. Petersburg once most wealthy aristocrats. On your tour of the Palace, you will dive into a bygone world of luxury and splendor. The life and atmosphere of the house will be recreated in a series of short musical performances. In the basement of the house listen to the story about enigmatic monk Grigory Rasputin who was assassinated here by Prince Felix Yusupov.

Meals: B, L

Day 12. ST. PETERSBURG

The State Hermitage (Early Entrance) with Peacock Clock Demonstration/ Canal boat / Russian Army Choral Performance / Family Visit

8:30am – 6:30pm

The morning takes you to one of the most famous museum in the world, the awe-inspiring Hermitage in the lavishly decorated Winter Palace. (To avoid the crowds, we’ve arranged special Early Entrance for you, before official opening hours.) The Hermitage occupies six magnificent buildings and houses 3 million artworks ranging from Stone Age to modern times. The collection includes Leonardo Da Vince, Rafael and Titian. The main building and largest part of the museum is the rococo-style Winter Palace, once the residence of the Czars. Your visit incorporates a unique opportunity: a private visit to see the stunning XVIII century mechanical masterpiece - Peacock Clock - in action.

Following the Hermitage we embark on a canal cruise sailing under the city’s historic bridges and past its magnificent pastel palaces.

Before lunch you will be able to enjoy a Russian Choral performance and the day ends with a visit to an authentic Russian home. This offers a unique opportunity to visit a real Russian Professor and his family, taste traditional home cooked Russian food, prepared by the hostess and, of course, ask anything about Russian life that you've been wondering about! The meeting will either be in a country house (dacha) or a family apartment in one of the famed “Stalin” residential buildings of the early XX century.

Meals: B, L

Day 13. ST. PETERSBURG

Transfer to airport for your outbound flight.

ACCOMMODATION

MOSCOW – Ararat Park Hyatt*****

Check-in to the hotels starts at 15:00, check-out ends before 12:00


Hotel Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow – named the best hotel in Russia in 2011 by Bloomberg International Hotel Awards – is located in the heart of the capital of Russia, near the Bolshoi Theatre and only a few steps from the Kremlin and Red Square. In 2012 with the help of renowned designer Tony Chi, the hotel renovated all of its rooms and most public areas. Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow is a world class hotel, designed specifically for travelers who appreciate privacy, personalized service and outstanding quality. The hotel features a wellness center, "Quantum", which offers the latest cardio-vascular development of technologies to maintain good physical shape, and all for a good rest.

MOSCOW – The St. Regis Moscow Hotel Nikolskaya

The St. Regis Moscow Hotel Nikolskaya is a complex of historical buildings with an unrivalled location at the corner of pedestrian Nikol’skaya Street within a 5 minutes walk to the Red Square.

ST. PETERSBURG – Grand Hotel Europe*****

A cultural and culinary landmark, Grand Hotel Europe has played a central role in the life of St. Petersburg for over 130 years. A truly iconic Orient-Express hotel, it stands on Nevsky Prospekt among the city–s great architectural treasures–renowned for its impressive fa?ade and decorative interiors.

Positioned adjacent to Arts Square, the hotel has strong associations with the worlds of theatre, music and dance. Past guests include Tchaikovsky and Pavarotti, crowned heads and world leaders. A stay here takes you straight to the heart of Russia, especially during the White Days of winter, when snow lies outside and a warm welcome awaits within.

Check-in to the hotels starts at 15:00, check-out ends before 12:00.