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Experience Russia while floating up and down the river
July 12, 2006 17:30

River banks and valleys have always been very attractive for settlers. Russia, famous for its beautiful and full-flowing rivers, is not an exception. Here most of the cities that were founded centuries ago and are very famous for their rich and unordinary culture, architecture and history, are located along the river banks. And what is especially good about it is that these places are connected with each other by the sparkling water stream. One could go to Moscow from Saint Petersburg and back on a cruise boat. Also Tver, Yaroslavl, Myshkin, Volgograd, Saratov, Kazan, Nizhniy Novgorod are located on the banks of Volga and its branches.

Now many tour operators offer cruises to both large and small Russian cities. And this is a perfect chance to get to the heart of our country.

One of the most popular river routs is a cruise between two Russian capitals: Moscow-St.Petersburg-Moscow. It lasts 6 to 12 days and during the cruise one can visit Valaam, Kizhi, Uglich, Goritsy, Myshkin, and other cities, each of them having its own charm and magnificent sights to see. Another so called round-the-world cruise tracks between Moscow and Nizhniy Novgorod. Starting from Moscow boats travel through Moscow Canal, Volga, Oka and Moscow river and return back to Moscow without ever going the same path. It can last 8 to 11 days. On this route tourists can enjoy views of Konstantinovo, Riazan, Kasimov, Murom, Pavlovo, Nizhniy Novgorod, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Myshkin and Uglich.

For those ready to spend 2-3 weeks on board and those who want to go to the South from Moscow, Astrakhan-Moscow river cruise is offered. Starting from Moscow it lasts 18 to 22 days and stops giving a chance for sightseeing in Uglich, Yaroslavl, Kostoma, Nizhniy Novgorod, Ulyanovsk, Samara, Saratov, Volgograd, Akhtuba and Astrakhan.

Otherwise short routes are also on the menu. These are 3 to 7 day round-cruises Moscow-Myshkin-Uglich-Moscow, Moscow-Ples-Moscow, Moscow-Riazan-Moscow and Moscow-Murom-Moscow. For those who can only spend a weekend traveling, 2 to 3 days round-cruises to Tver, Myshkin, Uglich and Konstantinovo are also available.

And such trips are not only sightseeing. Cruise boats offer a variety of services, including comfortable apartments, and entertainment possibilities on board: musical programmes, cinema, restaurant, souvenir shop, sauna, library, table-tennis, karaoke, and discos at night. During the trip one could spend his day in an idle delight while at the same time being an eye-witness of Russian nature and inner life.

Choosing a cruise tourists should not forget that comfort is essential for a boat-trip to be satisfying. Spending 10 days on board being sea-sick, in an extremely small cabin or without access to upper-deck, smelling machine oil and chattering teeth of engine vibration, one could desperately decide to leap down from the ship and drown. So, before buying a ticket and booking a cabin you should ask the company offering a cruise lots of questions, and make sure your trip wont become a nightmare.

There are several types of motor-ships cruising in Russia. First of all there are two, three and four-deck boats. The higher deck you live on the less vibrations you should feel. Having a cabin close to ship head is more expensive, but such apartments are quieter and more comfortable. Upper-deck cabins are usually considered to be luxury because of remoteness and a wilder field of view. Middle-decks are less comfortable and less quiet, but this is where most entertainment halls are located.

Most comfortable cruise boats are Project-301 and Project-302 motor-ships. Both are more than a hundred meter long passenger ships, intended for work on river cruise routes. Ships have single, double 3- and 4-bed cabins, equipped with WCs, showers and air condition. In recent years cabin equipment on some ships was modernized in order to satisfy the modern requirements.

One should remember though that two-deck motor-ships can be as comfortable as bigger ships. But there is an advantage of small boats that they have access to sometimes magnificent places, where large would not pass.

Nastya Makryashina


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