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Viking Moscow to St. Petersburg: Safety??

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We are looking at doing the Viking Moscow to St. Petersburg river cruise in 2020. When I checked the US State Dept. They classify Russia as a “Consider another location” due to increased terrorism against American Tourists. I would love to hear peoples thoughts as I have never been to Russia and this cruise looks like fun?

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I can't answer your question specifically. I have done a similar cruise (another line) and I have done a land trip there. If I was to advise people, I would tell people to find a land company and just do St. Petersburg and Moscow. Stay downtown and not clear out where the river boats stay. I was bored with the ports between and wish I had spent more time in Moscow on the river boat (like I did when I was on the land trip.

 

Again, not the answer to the question you were asking. I personally would have no hesitations going back.

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My sister-in-law just did the Viking trip, St, Pete to Moscow, with no problem at all. She reacted as I did -- greatly enjoyed the longer day time sailing of this itinerary, which she found relaxing and peaceful, and the ports quite interesting. (I was on another line, too, a few years ago). I've seen the State Dept. warning but think the cruise lines put a premium on the safety of their PAX and would withdraw their tours if safety was a concern, such as when river cruises on the Nile were shut down. We did a cruise there after they were reinstated and were a bit apprehensive, but we felt safe with the security provided there and had a great time as well.

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We did this trip five years ago. We found St. Petersburg and Moscow extremely interesting, but we really enjoyed the ports during the cruising part of the trip. We loved sailing through the countryside and seeing the smaller towns. President Obama was actually in St. Petersburg for a summit the same time we were there, so Americans were treated fine. However, this was all only a few months before the Sochi winter olympics and Putin was on his best behavior. We all know what happened immediately following the olympics. But then we went to Egypt this past January and we're going to Cuba this coming winter, so we're not easily put off by state department warnings.

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That area is generally safe. That said, there is no love lost between Russians and Americans. Most of your everyday people will be fine. You will stand out as an American, good/bad/indifferent. Most of the terrorism problems in Russia are further south than Moscow

 

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... there is no love lost between Russians and Americans.

I don't find it to be the case.... While the governments do indeed have a hard time finding any kind of common ground to start talking, this has not - in my experience - translated into any kind of problems on a person-to-person level.

If anything, I'd encourage the OP to extend their stay on both ends of the trip, via Viking extension or otherwise and explore both cities on their own.

There aren't too many reviews of Vikings Russian River tours here on CC, but to get a general understanding of overall safety and other issues you might also want to check reviews of other cruise companies (AMA, Scenic, Uniworld, Vodohod) and aggregators (Gate 1 cruises, etc) offering the same route - the itineraries are virtually identical.

 

As far as State Dept warnings go - they have unfortunately become a political tool rather than a useful resourse for travelers.

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I don't find it to be the case.... While the governments do indeed have a hard time finding any kind of common ground to start talking, this has not - in my experience - translated into any kind of problems on a person-to-person level.

If anything, I'd encourage the OP to extend their stay on both ends of the trip, via Viking extension or otherwise and explore both cities on their own.

There aren't too many reviews of Vikings Russian River tours here on CC, but to get a general understanding of overall safety and other issues you might also want to check reviews of other cruise companies (AMA, Scenic, Uniworld, Vodohod) and aggregators (Gate 1 cruises, etc) offering the same route - the itineraries are virtually identical.

 

As far as State Dept warnings go - they have unfortunately become a political tool rather than a useful resourse for travelers.

 

AMA stopped offering cruises in Russia, reportedly because they couldn't deliver the quality of their European and other itineraries.

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AMA stopped offering cruises in Russia

Very true, but past reviews should still be available - and could be helpful in overall assessment of things to expect on that route. Like I said, the itineraries are virtually the same (coincidentally, stern State Dept warnings haven't changed much over the years, either).

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Would love to go to Moscow....and so I've looked at the "Waterways of the Tsars" Viking cruise quite often. When we arrived in SPB, that morning you could just feel the tension onboard the ship. Everyone just seemed keyed up and slightly nervous. NOT the usual feeling like in the Windjammer down in the Caribbean! Anyway, one of the days we went through border patrol they left my wife go right through, but I was questioned rather sternly and at length about why I'm arriving so early before my tour excursion started and what I intended to do. It was a bit uncomfortable. After a bit of jabbering in Russian among the border patrol agents, they finally let me through. Telling them that I was going to go shopping with the extra time before the excursion started seemed to win some points :)

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AMA stopped offering cruises in Russia, reportedly because they couldn't deliver the quality of their European and other itineraries.

 

This is because they never really tried. Ours had 2 AMA employees - the rest were Vodohod employees. It was a Vodohod cruise.

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Would love to go to Moscow....and so I've looked at the "Waterways of the Tsars" Viking cruise quite often. When we arrived in SPB, that morning you could just feel the tension onboard the ship. Everyone just seemed keyed up and slightly nervous. NOT the usual feeling like in the Windjammer down in the Caribbean! Anyway, one of the days we went through border patrol they left my wife go right through, but I was questioned rather sternly and at length about why I'm arriving so early before my tour excursion started and what I intended to do. It was a bit uncomfortable. After a bit of jabbering in Russian among the border patrol agents, they finally let me through. Telling them that I was going to go shopping with the extra time before the excursion started seemed to win some points :)

 

Relax & ignore uptight fellow passengers.

Viking Ocean Day One at St Pete we go to the border officer. Stares & glowers at us for something like 2-3 minutes. Then stamps our passports forcefully and bruskly waves us thru.

Day 2 at St Pete. We arrive and are promptly waived thru right away. But no smile.

 

Two very elderly folks on our same tour were held up at least 15 minutes as we all waited for them. Talked to them and they were both ex-military and had worked at the Pentagon. They surmised that the Rooskies knew this and had some concerns. They were laughing and thought the entire experience was a hoot. Day 2, no problems.

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My sister and BIL just returned from the Viking trip from St. Pete. to Moscow. They said the onboard experience wasn't as good as on the European Longships but they thoroughly enjoyed the trip. They too reported the local people they met were a very warm and friendly.

 

Paul

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We arrive and are promptly waived thru right away. But no smile.

 

Just out of pure curiosity (plus in the interest of identifying cultural differences) - why do you think a smile would be in order?

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Just out of pure curiosity (plus in the interest of identifying cultural differences) - why do you think a smile would be in order?

 

From my point of view: tourism is an economic plus for any country, so officials involved should be customer-focused.

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The scowling old Babushkas monitoring in the Russian museums are apparently not in order.

 

 

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Suggest you try the Sampsan from Moscow to St Petes.

There is a four seat compartment at the very front of the train, excellent service, and great views.

Very safe even for Americans !

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The scowling old Babushkas monitoring in the Russian museums are apparently not in order

 

Indeed, wouldn't we all prefer the cheerful young babushkas!

In fact, having spent a bit of time in SPB over the summer, I have a new appreciation for the scowling old type - the only time I've seen them spring back to life, in a soccer-goalie pounce, was to stop a fellow tourist from touching the private parts of a marble statue or leaning against the tapestry-adorned wall in the Hermitage :-)

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When I was a Russian History major in the late '60s there was a wonderful story from the days of Stalin about an old Babushka who used to take the subway to Red Square every morning, trudge painfully across the square to the wall of the Kremlin where the front page of Pravda was posted in a glass case, look briefly at the paper and sigh, and then trudge back to the subway. One day the guard asked, "Grandma, why don't you just buy the paper? It only costs a penny." She said, "I don't want to read all of it. I'm just looking for an obituary." The guard said, "But the obituaries aren't printed on the front page!" She answered, "This one will be."

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