About the ship
The Zosima Shashkov is a comfortable four-deck vessel, named after the Bolshevik commissar and minister of the Sea and River Fleet of the USSR. Built in Germany in 1986, refurbished in 2013, the ship is equipped with modern navigational facilities and travels at a speed of up to 26 km per hour.
Length – 129 m
Width – 16.7 m
Passenger capacity – 280
- Restaurant “Volga”
- Restaurant-bar “Neva”
- Conference hall / “Ladoga” bar
- Coffee shop
- Music lounge-bar “Panorama”
- Open sun deck
- Ironing room
- Souvenir shop
- Medical centre
Ship layout "Zosima Shashkov"
For many, despite covering almost one eighth of the world Russia remains a mystery, one of the world’s unknowns. It’s rich in history, cultural intrigue and natural wonders combine to make Russia a must-visit destination for anyone seeking something truly unique.
Russia has so much to offer. From an authentic tea ceremony to a day spent exploring old churches, every moment is designed to blow you away. Because the true magic of Russia is that it’s unlike anywhere you’ve ever been before.
The network of spectacular rivers and lakes are an attraction in themselves. Ice-blue waterfalls cascade over mountainous outcrops at Plutorana Plateau; tiny islands float in the midst of the expansive Lake ladoga; and Moscow’s canals offer a unique viewpoint for the city’s sights.
We organise cruises from Moscow, St Petersburg, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan
The onion-topped buildings and twisted-spire churches of Moscow and St Petersburg are iconic, Russia has so much more to explore. There are frescoes by Dionisius, a 45,000 year old mammoth and a city built on frozen ground. Whichever cruise you embark on, you’ll be amazed by everything you uncover about this continent.
There is little i can add about the tour itself. Previous reviews have stated how enjoyable and educational it is and they are 100% correct. I would like to say a few words about the ship and crew. The ship was spotless- you never saw a crew member who was not working. There are enough lounges and bars to relax with friends or read. Staff always had a greeting for passengers and were ready to assist in any way if needed. There are any number of activities on board throughout the day and evening that were well attended. The chef and her staff are first class. All the meals were excellent and passengers looked forward to them. Also thanks to Anna and Sofiya, the on board guides we couldn't do without. No day would be complete without talking to Svetlana, who is in charge of the gift shop. Last but not least are two professionals,Captain Mironov and our Gate1 tour manager, Tanya. All the above made our trip a success.
Thank you, overall our trip was excellent. The river cruise was all the we had expected. Having previously read a couple of reviews on the "MS Zosima Shashkov" we realised that the boat was not 5 star, but we found it to be excellent The staff were fabulous, our room was very clean and comfortable, as were the common rooms on board that we were able to use. All our fellow travellers were friendly and easy to get along with. The tour guides were all great and knowledgeable with great English .
Meal times were fantastic with great well presented meals. Off boat tours were well organised, with local guides.
Wi-Fi was not always available, but most times we could connect.
We felt that the Kremlin Armory tour was a bit rushed, as it seemed to take some time to sort out the groups, perhaps this could have been done on-board the night before.
The other thing that confused us was the request for staff and tour leader gratuities as our tour information clearly stated that the Australian tour members had prepaid this in our tour price. We did in fact give a couple of the staff a bit extra for their service during the trip.
Was a very relaxing way to travel and see a small part of Russia. We were very impressed with Russia and think they are doing wonderful work in restoring their fantastic cities given the massive damage inflicted on them in WW11.
We would love to do a return visit.
Our cruise experience was fantastic!
The personnel who entertained us, fed us, kept our room furnished and clean were wonderful, they really made our visit to Russia evolve into a great trip… one that will bring back excellent memories for the rest of our lives!
The food was varied, fresh, plentiful and tasteful. That was great. The table service was always timely and professional. Sometimes there would be a small language barrier… but it was always remedied quickly and smoothly.
There was always something on the ship (when we were not docked) to do… or not. So we could be entertained or just rest.
The excursions that were offered seemed to be a way to try and please everyone’s interest.
The excursion buses were always neat and clean. The drivers were very professional. We always felt safe in their care.
The local tour guides were always informative and interesting. We were provided information in a smooth and relaxing style that made each visit to their city, one that we would be able to appreciate long after we got back home.
Thanks for the great memories….
I have read others' reviews of this cruise and I appreciate the varying points of view. For me, the 12 day cruise between Moscow and St Petersburg was excellent. I booked via Regent Holidays who are specialists in the region. They were very professional and helpful. My trip was very well organised by Regent including the handover to the Russian agent Vodohod. Our ship the Zosima Shashkov is not a new boat, but has been refitted to a good standard. It is NOT a luxury boat - it has been described as 3-star and I think this is fair. Some passengers complained about the standard of the boat, but we hadn't paid 5-star prices. The boat's interior is pleasant and the public areas attractive, comfortable and afforded panoramic views of the waterways. There is a lounge-bar on board specialising in cocktails.
The standard cabins are very small - so beware if you are a particularly tall or a large person, and the bathrooms are tiny with a small shower space. There was always plenty of hot water on my cruise and a good water pressure for the shower. There is enough storage space in the cabin if you haven't brought too much stuff with you and if you are tidy, the space is sufficient, though the beds are narrow. I would recommend that ladies take a small hairdryer - you can borrow one, but its a nuisance to have to keep asking. A travel iron is a good idea too, if you have the space in your luggage. There is a little fridge in the cabins which is handy, plus A/C (a bit noisy) which can also heat the cabin if needed.
The food is very bland, but well cooked and attractively presented. Overall, I had no complaints at all. The soups and fish dishes were particularly good and there is always a veggie option for each of the courses. There is a choice of 3 dishes per course and each meal is either 3 or 4 courses, so you can't go hungry. Breakfast is a large buffet with a sufficient choice, given they are catering for a very mixed clientele. Tea and coffee are available for free, but all drinks, including water (on my deal) have to be bought. You can get filtered hot and cold water from facilities in the corridors to fill up water bottles for your cabin or for excursions. Some tour groups had water in their cabins included, so check this out when you book.
There is a comment posted about life jackets and safety drills with some passengers on that particular cruised missed the drill. On my trip, we each received a daily programme and the drill was posted on that, so we knew ahead of time and there was a demo in one of the public rooms at the start of the cruise. The crew came round to see that we had all put on our jackets correctly and helped those who hadn't. I would have liked to have seen the drill taken a stage further with a gathering to muster stations and an awareness raiser to make sure everyone knew which lifeboat they were allocated to (this info. is displayed with the safety instructions in each cabin). Be sure to know yours!
I enjoyed life on board. Yes, the entertainment is low key and fairly home-spun with the guides arranging and compering talent shows, Russian sing-songs and dancing classes. For me this made the cruise more intimate and provided a chance to get to know other passengers in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. The on-board musicians were excellent - there is a folk group, consisting of a balalaika player, an accordianist and singer. The accordianist is also an excellent pianist who entertained us with his vast musical repertoire in the lounge bar in the evenings and to a classical concert of Russian music which was much enjoyed. There were also Russian lessons and a series of TV documentaries on Russian history which were interesting and set the place and sites we saw in context. We could also paint our own matriushka dolls one afternoon which was fun.
The onboard guides and organizers were excellent - friendly and very efficient. Ours was Anna and she did a great job. The coach transfers to sites were punctual and well marked with our tour name and group name. The inclusive excursions were good, but often we only saw the outside of key buildings and sites rather than go in, and the time in Red Square in Moscow was far too short. There was no time to go off and explore, still less to visit the churches (though we were taken into one) a museum or even the Lenin mausoleum. Most of the square in August is blocked off for preparations for a tattoo/festival, so be warned if you are planning to travel then. We really needed much longer in Moscow (2 days!). It is a beautiful city, packed with important things to see and very imposing as a capital.
The optional excursions, which were available whilst in Moscow and St Petersburg. were excellent in terms of the quality of the guides, organisation and punctuality, but very short in relation to the fascinating palaces, museums and art galleries we were taken to. The trips were also rather over-priced, but then you pay for the convenience and 'protection' of being in a group. Some people from the ship did their own thing and went off on the underground in both cities during free afternoons. They found this quite straight forward. Maps are provided onboard and the on-board guides very helpful in translating stop names into Roman script and planning travel routes.
Be extra careful whilst ashore in the cities, as there are a lot of pickpockets and the police seem to do little to deter them. Keep all valuables in inside pockets and don't carry unnecessary cash, credit cards or valuables. Your passports are kept on the ship in any case. Backpacks are often not allowed inside the museums, but there are cloakrooms where you can leave them.
I enjoyed the places the ship stopped at. Some were world heritage sites and particularly interesting and enjoyable. Again, more free time would have been nice.
The weather, it seems from the reviews, can be very changeable. I didn't take enough warm clothing and as the weather on my cruise was mostly cold and wet, I can only recommend taking a sweater or fleece and a light, rainproof jacket. Closed shoes (trainers or waterproof shoes) are also handy. Layers of clothing work best, but do take something warm and something waterproof! You don't need to dress up for dinner, but many people did make a bit of an effort. There is a captain's dinner which people may want to make a special occasion, but you don't need long dresses/suits/ties etc.
The wi-fi was something of a drama for many passengers, as the signal was weak on board most of the time. Keep that in mind if you are phone/tablet dependent, but if you can live without them, once you have let everyone at home know you are OK, then the weak signal doesn't need to hinder your enjoyment.
I would recommend the trip for travellers who want to see something of the country, besides the two cities and like to do so at a leisurely pace.
One final thing - the visa application process is a pain and for self-employed people, rather invasive, as the issuing authorities want to see bank statements, have your national insurance number and a monthly income estimate. They also want to know names and addressed and even dates of death of parents. This information is kept confidential, but I found the forms invasive. Regent Travel have a specialist who will fill out most of the forms for you, and that is well worth paying the bit extra for.The actual visa processing - you have to go to the offices in person - is quick and efficient.
So a very good trip all round. I didn't expect a luxury cruise, so I wasn't disappointed. I expected the boat to be clean and comfortable -which it was. I didn't know what to expect of Russia, and so was very pleasantly surprised. The palaces and galleries are world class and well worth seeing!
In September 2017, I chose a Russian cruise line deliberately, knowing it would be a more authentic experience than the more luxurious western style river cruise ships. Also Vodohod's Zosima Shashkov had single cabins at a sensible price.
I had realistic expectations of the 3-star experience: small cabins, plainer cuisine, etc.
My cabin turned out to be on the top deck, next door to a bar and the wireless router. I had internet for the whole cruise, but most of the 298 pax did not. Although a small space, I had plenty of storage, A huge window with a good view, a small fridge, AC/heat, and a flap that lifted up under the window for a desk. As the cabin was at the bow, I never heard any engine noise - a big plus as we sailed every night.
Russian beer was good and cheap, but the wine and champagne should be avoided.
Shore excursions were many and long in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Led by local guides who were experts, I was fascinated. Very interesting, excellent English, and I loved the earphones and receivers that allowed me to wander away and still hear the commentary. Tour organization was efficient, though in mid-September the crowds at popular sites were troublesome.
Food onboard was plentiful and well cooked, but quite plain in comparison to western cruise ships.
Some of the crew spoke English, but many did not. Thus customer service suffered on occasion. Everything was spotlessly clean on board.
I have rated the cruise as a 3-star ship, not in comparison to the 5-star western ships. So, for example, my small cabin was "very good" meaning it was more than adequate as a 3-star.