Cruising on the waterways of Russia is a choice of more and more travellers. The major river, the Volga, is the longest river in Europe, rising in the Valdai Hills, north-west of Moscow, it winds across Russia, collecting flow from many tributaries until it arrives at the Caspian Sea – home of the world’s best caviar!
A huge network of canals were built by the Tsars to complement the Volga as a major transport network, and connections with the Don River and the Black Sea are made through the Volga-Don Canal. As well the lakes of the north (Lake Ladoga, Lake Onega), Saint Petersburg and the Baltic Sea are joined through the Volga-Baltic Waterway; and it is possible to reach Moscow by the Moscow Canal connecting the Volga and the Moskva rivers. These waterways were built for commercial shipping and are perfect for river boat cruising.
Russian history, which most of us think of as the opulence of the Tsars with their magnificent churches and cathedrals, is interwoven with the waterways and rivers – so river cruising is the perfect introduction to this rich history and culture.
However visiting Russia needs careful planning and travellers to this part of the world need to be sure they have all the right documentation including visas. Smarttraveler, the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises:
“Routine police checks in public and tourist spots are common. You should carry with you your passport, originals of the registered visa and migration card. Photocopies are not acceptable. Failure to provide travel documentation can result in detention and/or substantial fines….
“Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly” and you need to ensure that they are up to date….
“All foreign citizens entering Russia are required to fill in a migration card….
“You must register with the Federal Migration Services within three working days of arrival in Russia. Most hotels undertake visa registration on behalf of guests. If you are not staying at a hotel, the process of registration can be complex….
“Extensive areas of Russia, especially in Siberia and the Russian Far East, are designated closed areas. Foreigners require government permission to enter.”
So it is wise to be wary when booking your holiday in Russia – when you book a river cruise or a package all this is taken care of by your agent and you can relax and enjoy your holiday in this exotic and exciting country.