Jewels of Russia with Journey Designer, Janelle Maher

Scenic Journey Designer, Janelle Maher shares the highlights of her delightful luxury cruise of Russia’s waterways.

What was your first perception of Russia?

My first perception after landing in St. Petersburg was how green and clean it was. I was actually quite surprised at the number of public parks and beautiful pristine gardens everywhere.

The people were also a lot friendlier than I expected and with a really great sense of humour.

I found that the Russians are very good at making jokes about themselves, their politics and their history – it was actually quite refreshing to hear and definitely not what I was expecting.


What was the highlight of your journey?

The highlight was easily the Scenic Enrich ballet performance at the Palace of Prince Vladimir.

We had cocktails and canapés in a reception room before going into a dedicated theatre where the dancers performed a number of duets from various famous ballets and it was just so beautiful and elegant.

A truly iconic Russian experience.


What was the highlight on your luxury ship, Scenic Tsar?

Without a doubt it was the crew. There was a Scenic Cruise Director and two Scenic Program directors who were always available.

They were always on hand to assist and made sure that everyone had everything they could possibly need.

They looked after all of the on board entertainment which included lectures and information sessions on Russian history, every day Russian life, Russian language lessons, and vodka tastings. They even ran a workshop on painting the beautiful Russian Matryoshka dolls. Plus, sitting on the Sun Deck while we sailed and just watching the passing scenery. Again, it was so green and fresh with massive fir forests and beautiful countryside.


How would you describe Russian food and the food served on Scenic Tsar?

The food on the Scenic Tsar was delicious and plentiful. Breakfast was a buffet with absolutely everything you can think of.

Lunch on board was also usually a buffet but with a lot of choice including Russian and Western options so you could actually try some of the local foods. Dinner most nights was á-la-carté unless we had an evening excursion.

We had a Russian themed night and a Ukrainian themed night as well, and I can tell you the staff earned their money those nights as they explained what each dish was. Lots of hearty soups and stews, a lot of seafood actually, and all delicious.


What is your top recommendation for anyone thinking of travelling to Russia with Scenic?

My top recommendations would be to make sure you have comfy shoes. There is a fair bit of walking and because most of the buildings and attractions are quite old there aren’t that many elevators and lifts.

I would also say do not be afraid to explore on your own during your free time. St. Petersburg in particular is quite a compact city and there is so much to see and do.The people are lovely so walk around with an open mind and a smile on your face and you will adore Russia as much as I did.


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