Russian river cruises are, as you might imagine, river cruises that take place in Russia, or sometimes near Russia, as you’ll see. (Ok, they could also be cruises on the Russian River in California, but as far as we know no such cruises exist.) Russian river cruises have the same virtues as the many other river cruises we have written about. They are an excellent way to see large portions of Russia in a convenient, efficient, and leisurely way, and a Russian river cruise can also be an easy way to travel around the country without the hassle of dealing with airports or rental cars (or hotels, for that matter, because your accommodation is supplied by the cruise ship). So, if you have any inclination to visit Russia, a Russian river cruise can be an excellent way to do it. From this belief springs the present article, which supplies an overview of Russian river cruises to give you some orientation in a niche of the cruise industry you might not have considered.
When searching for Russian river cruises, you will likely find a couple of basic types. There are what you might call river cruises proper, which are voyages that faithfully stick to a single river, comparable to, say, Nile River cruises or Yangtaza River cruises. A prime example of such a voyage would be a Volga River cruise, which obviously takes place on the Volga River, the largest and longest river in Europe. Perhaps more so than other Russian river cruises, a Volga River cruise is centered on the river itself. The river, as it were, sets the agenda: you marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds the river and the villages, towns, and cities that border it. A Volga River cruise is the most prominent example of this type of cruise, but there are others. For instance, there is a popular cruise that goes from Kiev into the Black Sea (eventually ending up at Odessa) along the Ukrainian Dnieper River. Obviously, this is a Ukrainian river cruise, but it comes up in connection with Russian river cruises all the time. (Volga River cruises and Dnieper River are, indeed, two of the most popular “Russian” river cruises.)
The other type of river cruise you might find yourself taking is one that doesn’t adhere to any particular river. Although there are undoubtedly many “cruises” in one sense or another that drift around Russia’s waterways showing no alliance to any particular river, the average visitor to Russia will only consider one: the cruise that goes from Moscow to St. Petersburg (or vice versa).
A primary focus of these cruises is of course to see Moscow and St. Petersburg, although there are plenty of sights in between, and moreover it is a fairly easy way to get from one of the cities to the other. To make this voyage, you have to navigate down the Moscow Canal, travel down a few rivers (including a part of the Volga, actually), pass through a reservoir (Rybinsk), and dip in and out of a lake (Onega). Clearly, you aren’t merely floating down a river to make this voyage. Of course, the actual experience of the cruise may be similar to taking a single river cruise, but the point is that the focus is different. The goal (at least in large part) is to get to and from Russia’s largest and most important cities.
Regardless of which type of Russian river cruise you are interested in, you will certainly have a unique experience seeing the country. Long car or train rides to see the country will be replaced by sailing down one of Russia’s waterways. And depending on which cruise company you book with, you could also be enjoying the sites of Russia in considerable luxury. If you are interested in Russia and enjoy river cruising, it’s only natural that you consider combining the two with a Russian river cruise. If you are interesting in combining the two, check out our article on how to book a Russian river cruise.