September 9 - Depart the US for Moscow
September 10 - Arrive in Moscow, Russia’s fascinating capital; transfer to the port to embark your cruise. The port is approximately a two hour drive from the Moscow airport. Board the MS Zosima Shashkov and check into your cabin. NOTE: All cabins have twin beds unless they are the suite cabins. Each cabin contains a large opening scenic window, equipped with private facilities, heating and ventilation system, refrigerator, wardrobe, 220 volt socket, radio.
After arrival formalities, leisure time to rest, relax and enjoy your new surroundings. Tonight, a Welcome Dinner sets the mood for your delightful river cruise on the legendary Volga River.
September 11 - The panoramic tour of Moscow, fabled capital of Russia, begins at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, St. Basil’s Cathedral and the former headquarters of the KGB. Explore storied Red Square, and visit GUM, a large department store that could easily be confused with a palace. View the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the 16th century Novodevichy (or New Maiden) convent and many more historical sites. After lunch in the city, continue to the Kremlin, one of the best-known monuments in Russia and in the world. The guided walking tour takes you inside the former residence of the Russian Czars. See the famous Czar Cannon, the 16th century Czar Bell, and Cathedral Square, home to three of Moscow's most elaborate cathedrals: the Cathedral of Assumption, the Cathedral of Annunciation, and the Cathedral of the Archangel. Tonight, after dinner, perhaps opt to join the optional Moscow by Night tour that travels to lively Tverskaya Street, with its bustling shops, cafes and restaurants and to Victory Park and the observation platform at Sparrow Hills to see a panoramic view of the whole city. OPTIONAL TOURS ADDITIONAL COST: Armory Museum and the Kostroma National Folk Show
September 12 - Discover Moscow on your own today. Join the optional tour to the 16th century Novodevichy Convent, proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a superb architectural monument that is one of Russia's best-known cloisters. Alternatively, participate in the optional visit to the world-famous Tretyakov Gallery, the national treasury of Russian fine art, exhibiting more than 130,000 works of painting, sculpture and graphics, created throughout the centuries by successive generations of Russian artists. The ship sails tonight for Uglich. OPTIONAL TOURS ADDITIONAL COST: Tretyakov Gallery and Moscow Novodevicy Convent
September 13 - Relax on board today. Perhaps, join a Russian language class, or attend a lecture about traditional Russian handicrafts. In the late afternoon, arrive to historic Uglich, on the banks of the Volga River. Uglich played an important role in Russian history when Prince Dmitry used it as a hiding place from the bloody reign of his father Ivan the Terrible. His death made the town famous and led to an increasingly turbulent period in Russia’s history. Visit the Church of St. Dimitry-on-Blood, built in honor of the Prince on the exact spot where he was killed by his father’s forces, and the Transfiguration Cathedral marvelously decorated with painted icons and frescoes. This evening, set sail to Yaroslavl
September 14 - Arrive this morning in the quaint Golden Ring city of Yaroslavl. This beautiful city, one of Russia’s oldest, traces its roots back to the days of the Vikings. Stop at the fortified Transfiguration of the Savior Monastery and its Cathedral, the oldest building in Yaroslavl, dating back 800 years. Continue to the Yaroslavl Museum of Russian Art housed in the 18th century Governor’s mansion, with its impressive collection of Russian paintings spread out across many palatial rooms. View the exquisite Church of Elijah the Prophet with its detailed frescoes and icons, a real masterpiece of ancient Russian art and the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonder-worker. Time to browse the local markets for handicrafts and treasures before returning to the ship. This afternoon on board, join the traditional Russian tea ceremony or simply sit back and watch the scenic countryside roll by as you sail to Goritsy.
September 15 - Afternoon arrival in Goritsy, with its rich historical and cultural heritage, that is quintessentially Russian. Stroll the grounds of the 14th century Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, also known as the Monastery of St. Cyril of the White Lake, one of the largest and best preserved medieval Abbeys in Russia. The wooden churches and walls built at the original location were replaced over succeeding centuries by impressive stone and masonry structures. The monastery's fortifying walls, which measure 2400-feet-long and 22 feet thick, are truly a very impressive sight. In the late afternoon, reboard your ship and join a festive Russian vodka tasting while sailing for Kizhi
September 16 - Tour the ship’s bridge with the friendly staff, or, continuing practicing your Russian at the language class. Time to relax on board before the late afternoon arrival on the island of Kizhi. Here, you’ll stand in awe at the Church of Transfiguration, one of the most impressive wooden structures ever erected. This fairy tale architectural landmark is largely responsible for creating one of the most frequented tourist attractions in Russia. The church features 22 cupolas of striking intricacy, built without using a single nail. Wander through the open-air wooden Architecture Museum with its collection of wooden houses, windmills and churches representing ancient Russian architecture. This entire area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Set sail for Mandrogi as you dine on board tonight
September 17 - In the late morning, dock in Mandrogi, a reconstructed 18th century traditional Russian village set amongst a picturesque landscape. Walk through the town with its traditional Russian houses (izba) and browse the shops for handmade Russian crafts, paintings or traditional clothes. Stop at the popular Museum of Russian Vodka, with a collection of over 2500 varieties of vodka from across Russia. Explore the craft workshops where painting, wood carving, weaving lacework and pottery are demonstrated, and then cap off the afternoon with a traditional "shashlik" lunch, served in an open-air pavilion on the shore (weather permitting). In the late afternoon, rejoin the ship and sail for St. Petersburg, the jewel of Russia.
September 18 - Morning tour of enchanting St. Petersburg begins at stunning Nevsky Prospekt , the main avenue of the city, planned by Peter the Great. Continue to view the Palace Square, Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Isaac's Cathedral with its huge golden dome and the magnificent Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, a superb example of Russian architecture. This afternoon visit to the world-famous Hermitage Museum, housing the largest collection of priceless masterpieces by Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet , Rembrandt and many others. After tonight’s dinner on board, attend the optional Russian Folk Show, showcasing the Cossack culture. OPTIONAL TOURS EXTRA: Russian Folk Show
September 19 - This morning tour the magical grounds of Peterhof Palace with its gorgeous landscaped gardens and fountains overlooking the Gulf of Finland. This configuration of palaces and gardens was masterminded by Peter the Great, and is often called the "Russian Versailles." Return to the ship in time for lunch. Afternoon at leisure, or join the optional tour to explore the city’s rivers, bridges and canals that offer a different perspective of St. Petersburg. OPTIONAL TOUR EXTRA COST: Rivers and Canals of St. Petersburg.
September 20 - A full day of leisure to explore all of the delights of this captivating city on your own. Visit the bustling market filled with stalls of gorgeous fruits, vegetables, honey and hundreds of varieties of caviar and vodka. Or, dine on delicious blinis at a charming local restaurant. Revisit the Hermitage and spend the afternoon surrounded by magnificent treasures, or join an optional tour to the spectacular Pushkin Palace and Pavlovsk Palace. Begin at Puskin Palace and explore the luxurious palace, an architectural masterpiece, and the surrounding gardens. Visit the reconstructed Amber Room, with its walls covered with dazzling panels of amber, gold leaf and mirrors. Continue on to Pavlovsk Palace which is considered one of the country's most picturesque estates and is home to an impressive collection of 19th century paintings. Tonight, bid a fond farewell to your newfound friends at dinner on board. Afterwards, attend an optional performance of a traditional Russian ballet. OPTIONAL TOURS EXTRA COST: Pushkin Palace and Pavlovsk Palace and the Russian Ballet.