Comfort on ships of this class can be compared with the level of services on international sea and river cruises …
For the first time, such a number of luxury liners entered the rivers of Russia in 2021: two from the Vodokhod company (Mustai Karim and Maxim Gorky) and three from the cruise operator Mosturflot (Russia, Alexander Green and Knyazhna Victoria”).
Until 2020, liners of this class operated on international routes or for foreign and mixed groups.
The situation was explained by the high cost of travel on top ships – foreigners booked tours sometimes a year or even earlier. Russians, as a rule, if they ordered cruise trips, they chose premium-class ships, which, however, did not differ much in terms of service and routes from the luxury options.
Due to the closure of borders and the impossibility of implementing international routes, the structure of demand has changed. Now the most expensive inland river tours are bought up by Russians in the first place, and the demand has quadrupled.
Let’s analyze the main points by which luxury liners differ from other, lower classes: design, cabins, service, food, routes and excursion programs.
The difference in design is the first thing that catches the eye of passengers who step on the deck of a luxury ship. The newer the ship, the more the latest fashion trends were taken into account in its design.
The newest and most modern design of the Mustai Karim liner, built in 2019. In fact, this is a five-star hotel on the water. Many people compare it to five-star hotels in Turkey.
The interior uses a lot of wood, a wonderful system of natural lighting, bright colors and large designer panels on the walls.
Note 2 elevators and a lobby, just reminiscent of the highest category Turkish hotels.
The Maksim Gorky motor ship, operating in the waters of the Yenisei, underwent a complete modernization in 2020 and boasts a unique design with elements of the national flavor of the northern peoples.
The design of the ship can be assessed at the 5 * level according to international standards. Each deck has its own name: “Steppe”, “Taiga”, “Arctic”.
Decks of the “Alexander Green” liner: “Moscow”, “Volga”, “Neva” and “Onega” (by the names of the rivers). The vessel was built in 2012, but has a stylish and unusual interior.
Liner “Russia” was built in 2007, and “Princess Victoria” – in 2011. Both ships are designed in a classic style and could be compared with good European hotels.
All ships have comfortable and spacious common areas, primarily sun decks. On Mustai Karim, one of the decks is comparable to a football field.
On the motor ship “Russia”, perhaps, the smallest, but very comfortable decks and places for communication in a narrow circle.
Of all the aforementioned liners, only Maxim Gorky was designed without an elevator.
Cabins on luxury liners always have an increased area, even in comparison with the premium class, their own toilet room, sometimes a shower or a bathroom.
The most compact sizes are cabins for two on the “Russia” – 12.5 square meters. m, on “Mustai Karim” – up to 19 sq. m. Grand Suite with an area of 46 sq. m and a balcony is located on “Mustai Karim”, there is another huge suite on “Princess Victoria” – 38 sq. m.
On “Maxim Gorky” you can reserve cabins for one – an area of 8 sq. m.
In addition to the area, it is important to have a balcony and panoramic windows. It is these factors that give the travel additional charm, and make the liner really top-notch. On “Princess Victoria”, “Russia” and “Alexander Green” almost all cabins have balconies.
Surprisingly, on the newest and most equipped “Mustai Karim” there are only three cabins with a balcony – all of them are in the most expensive luxury cabins. But this liner, on the other hand, has excellent panoramic opening windows in the entire outer wall, which are called “infinity windows”.
When choosing cabins, you need to ask how many rooms there are, whether there are additional places for relaxation, a dressing room, as well as an air conditioner, a kettle, a coffee maker, a refrigerator, a set of dishes, bathrobes, slippers, sockets for charging gadgets.
Luxury boats can boast world class service.
This is evidenced by the presence of spa salons, saunas, hammams, salt caves, the services of a massage therapist and a beautician. For sports and health maintenance, there are gyms, yoga or Pilates classes, oxygen cocktails, etc. All these services, as a rule, must be booked and preferably right on the first day of the cruise.
The liners have a room service, there are tea and coffee stations on the floors, as well as a “breakfast in the cabin” service. On the first day of the cruise, tourists are always welcomed with a welcome drink in the form of a bottle of champagne or wine.
Tourists can be provided with luggage delivery services to and from cabins, transfer to the place of departure, wireless Internet on board the ship (there is always, but you can buy high-speed and unlimited).
Do not forget about the programs for children on luxury ships. For the entertainment of little passengers, there are children’s playrooms, animators, interesting master classes and even an evening fairy tale on the radio for kids.
The gastronomic offer while traveling on a luxury liner is a separate and important topic. They are distinguished from classes of other categories by a longer interval for eating, more sophisticated serving and design of dishes. Salad bars and non-alcoholic drinks are most often offered without restriction, with a compulsory glass of alcoholic beverage served at dinner. The rest of the time, alcohol is paid.
The liners develop their own unique menu options, which always have proposals for vegetarians and people with special diets.
Chefs try to use only high quality and fresh products, without preservatives and other additives.
Routes and excursion programs
Much attention is paid to the main thing in the preparation of cruise programs – the creation of unique travel routes and visits to excursions, for the sake of which it is worth choosing one or another direction or a cruise liner.
In 2021, a cruise along the Ladoga skerries with the passage of Volkhov and subsequent exit to the Kremlin in Veliky Novgorod is planned on the Alexander Green motor ship. The second route of the liner is called “Moscow Around the World” – along the Oka with an exit from the Northern river station and return to the Yuzhny.
“Alexander Green” and “Russia” took part in a scenic voyage – a tour of the water area of parks and reserves with elements of theatrical action on board the liners. On this tour, you can see the unique Andomsky geological section, which is almost 500 million years old, which is perfectly visible from the water side.
Combined boat and helicopter excursions were organized in cooperation with Mosturflot.
Mustai Karim offers many tours, among which the passage under the raised bridges in St. Petersburg stands out – except for Mustai, no liner is allowed to enter the city center due to their limited maneuverability.
We have already written about the cruise on the two seas, which “Mustai Karim” will embark on in August. This tour, in addition to many unique author’s excursions, will also offer tasting of champagne wines at the Abrau Dyurso factory.
“Maxim Gorky” will once again go out on the Yenisei expedition with a trip to the taiga and crossing the Arctic Circle. This is an exclusive type of cruise without analogues in Russia.
Prospects for the development of cruises on luxury liners
Russian travelers have already appreciated sailing on super comfortable liners. Some tourists manage to take part in several tours in one navigation and book a cruise for the next year.
In the summer of 2021, the Vodokhod company begins construction of another luxury vessel for 180 passengers, which, despite its smaller size compared to Mustai Karim, will not be inferior to it in terms of comfort and equipment. It is planned that the new liner will operate flights along the Volga-Baltic Canal with a call to the Black and Baltic Seas.
Today, the most active group purchasing cruise ship tours are residents of the capital, however, tour operators hope to connect tourists from other regions of Russia.
Often it depends on the place where the water trip starts and ends. Cruise organizers are already thinking about solving this problem and developing convenient transfer options.
There is also hope for foreign tourists, but now it is difficult to predict – the epidemiological situation has recently become difficult to predict.
Companies, nevertheless, are preparing to receive foreign guests by selecting crews with knowledge of languages and conducting special refresher courses for working with foreign tourists.