Tsars River Cruise-review
We did the Waterways of the Tsars River Cruise with Viking on September 27th. We added a two night extension at the beginning in Saint Petersburg. We basically had two full days extra since we didn't need to board the boat until 4:30 pm on the day of the cruise. We were interested in a "Jewish Heritage" tour and TJ showed they had one. I emailed them the Viking itinerary of Saint Petersburg showing them the "Included" free tours and the "Optional" tours Viking offered. They got back to me with a suggested 2 day itinerary including both Jewish Heritage sites as wells as the places Viking offered as "optional"
TJ provided a guide that met us at the Angleterre Hotel at 8:30 am on the first full day of our extension. Her name is Nadia. We had a driver and a very nice black sedan to drive us from place to place.
Nadia our guide, found out she had Jewish heritage when she was an adult. She her grandparents were part of the group of Jews that found it easier to assimilate and live as secular Russians in the early 1900's. After finding out she went and lived in Israel for two years discovering her heritage.
Nadia was really amazing. She was sweet and very well informed. We thoroughly enjoyed our two days with her. We also met the owner of TJ travel on the second day "Tatiana" when we paid for our tour. (they don't collect up front). She was very nice and helpful. The cost of this private two day tour was not much if anything more that paying Viking for each of the optional tours to see, Faberge, Yusupov, Canal trip, and Peterhof. In addition we saw the Museum of Ethnography and the Synagogue which were not available through Viking.
One other note. On the first day in the hotel I say that Swan Lake would be playing at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg. Even though I knew were scheduled for an "included" excursion to a ballet with Viking, I didn't know if it was Swan Lake, Nutcracker or highlights of both. We decided to buy tickets (very expensive but worth it) to the ballet. Nadia helped set this up with the hotel since it was pretty much sold out and we re-arranged some things on our tour schedule with TJ to accomadate returning to the hotel early enough to get ready to go to the ballet.
So, I can't say enough about both TJ travel and Nadia. We were over the top happy with both of them and really felt it was money well spent and one of the highlights of our trip to Russia.