River Cruise of the Week: Viking’s Footsteps of the Cossacks

Viking River Cruises made headlines this week with the announcement that it intends to dramatically refurbish its Russian-based river cruise fleet, and in doing so, offer its guests an unparalleled experience on the waterways of this fascinating and historic country.

Viking River Cruises have announced an ambitious program to refurbish four of their Russian-based vessels. Photo courtesy of Viking River Cruises.

While most lines lease or charter their Russian-based fleets, Viking remains the only Western cruise line that actually owns and operates its ships plying the Volga. In fact, the line first got its start 15 years ago with a fleet of just four Russian-built ships.

“Of all places in the world, we started in Russia. In fact, the idea for our company was born because my daughter had traveled along the Volga with her mother and grandmother,” said Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking River Cruises. “We’re immensely proud of our Russian roots, and we continue to build upon our longstanding relationships and intricate knowledge of this captivating country so that we can share it with new travelers year after year.”

Viking Surkov, Viking Pakhomov, Viking Peterhof and Viking Kirovwill emerge from their extensive, stem-to-stern refits featuring  redesigned interior spaces crafted specifically with the creation of larger staterooms in mind. Public areas will be renovated and refurbished to reflect Viking’s signature Scandinavian décor, and sun decks and expansive, wraparound promenade decks will also benefit from this substantial refurbishment.

The four ships will also be re-christened to honor Rurik and his descendants, the legendary Viking warrior who founded Rus – also known as present-day Russia.  Viking Rurik, Viking Helgi, Viking Ingvar and Viking Truvor will launch a new era of Russian river cruising for this quickly expanding line.

Viking Peterhof will be the last vessel to be refitted, emerging in early 2012 with her new features and name, Viking Rurik. The other three vessels have already undergone their own extensive refits.

Russia is home to several breathtaking Churches and buildings. Photo courtesy of Viking River Cruises

Viking River Cruises have also launched a new micro-site dedicated to providing travelers with information about both Viking River Cruises and its Russian itineraries. Host Karine Hagen (daughter of Torstein Hagen) takes viewers through “The Real Russia” in a series of webisodes.

Choosing Viking’s Waterways of the Czars voyage along the famous Volga river seems like a no-brainer, but another itinerary caught our eye more than any other: Footsteps of the Cossacks.

Sailing aboard Viking Lomonosov (which isn’t part of these ambitious refit plans, unfortunately), guests will have the chance to intimately explore the history and natural beauty of the Ukraine on an itinerary that is as captivating as it is relaxing.

The full itinerary:

Day 1OdessaArrival in Odessa and transfer to your ship; free time to relax before dinner.
Day 2OdessaEnjoy a half-day tour of Odessa, and an afternoon of exploration at your leisure.
Day 3OdessaA full day to explore this remarkable city on your own before setting sail tonight.
Day 4SevastopolTour Sevastopol after arriving in the afternoon. Your evening is yours to explore this great city, or simply enjoy being aboard your ship.
Day 5SevastopolVisit the Tatar city of Bakhchisarai before discovering more of Sevastopol in the afternoon.
Day 6YaltaWhite Palace tour, including the private apartments of the Czar's family. Explore on your own this afternoon.
Day 7YaltaTake the morning to explore Yalta further, or join in one of the exciting optional tours offered.
Day 8KhersonGuided tour of this quaint city, founded in 1778 by Catherine the Great.
Day 9ZaporozhyeExplore the ancestral home of the Cossacks, including a Cossack horsemanship demonstration.
Day 10Dnieper River Scenic CruisingEnjoy a full day of scenic cruising through this beautiful and storied land.
Day 11KievA guided tour of St. Sophia Cathedral and the Monastery of Caves awaits you in Kiev.
Day 12KievDisembarkation and flights home.

For more information about Viking River Cruises and its fleet of river cruise ships, be sure to check out our Viking River Cruises overview and fleet profiles right here on River Cruise Advisor, and watch for brand-new ship profiles coming soon.