Russia by Regent

Arrive in style on the Seven Seas Voyager

By: Mary-Ann Bendel

I’ve been fascinated by Russian history since grade school. So, when the opportunity arose to take a Baltic cruise on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager, I jumped at the chance. The trip, after all, focused on St. Petersburg.

Our seven-night itinerary began in Copenhagen, a lovely city to spend a night or two before proceeding with the port-intensive cruise.

One of the trip’s pleasant surprises was Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. It has the best preserved medieval old town in Northern Europe and it was great fun to walk the crooked cobblestone streets and poke into passageways and courtyards.

The galleries and boutiques there offer quality shopping. And there are many medieval churches and convents to visit.

Talinn is also tourist-friendly, and most of the young people speak English.

St. Petersburg by Sea

Early on, we discovered that weather is a key to enjoying a Baltic cruise. Our trip had perfect weather, mid 70s, no rain and sunny with blue skies. St. Petersburg has only 60 days a year with sun and we were fortunate to have three of them. When we docked there on July 4th a Russian band greeted us playing the “Star Spangled Banner.”

The Voyager spent two nights and three days in St. Petersburg. If you stay with a tour or rent a private car or van arranged by Regent, no Russian visa is required. It does take the hassle out of seeing St. Petersburg in just three days. And, there is so much to see. St. Petersburg is an amazing and beautiful city.

A series of canals connects many areas of the city. The sunlight on the yellow palaces is a sight to behold, especially when contrasted to the summer’s White Nights, when it never really gets dark. To sit at a restaurant on the Neva River at 11 p.m. having coffee and Russian pastries is magical.

It is impossible to see all of St. Petersburg in a few short days, so I picked my selections carefully. I visited the Peterhof Palace, Catherine Palace at Pushkin, Yusupov Palace and the Hermitage Museum.

“Our biggest draw is the Hermitage Museum,” said the Voyager’s travel manager Larry Slater.

The cruise line’s expertise in the region was especially apparent when it came to the Hermitage. They arranged a private tour of the famous museum’s Gold Room for passengers. The room, which features jewelry and gold artifacts of the czars, is not available to the public.

The private tour was followed by a performance of the St. Petersburg Ballet, an exclusive event for Voyager passengers held at the small Hermitage theater. As we marveled at the graceful dancers, the sense of history was palpable. Mikhail Baryshnikov was a member of the troupe before he defected to the United States.

Another St. Petersburg highlight was a private evening tour at the Yusupov Palace. We were able to go down a narrow spiral staircase to see the infamous basement where Grigeri Rasputin was poisoned, shot and then dumped in the Moiku River behind the palace.

The Catherine Palace is worth touring just to see the Amber Study, ranked by experts as one of the “treasures of the world.” It is wonderful to see the tones which encompass every shade of yellow from dusky topaz to bright lemon. The room is really beyond description in its beauty.

Regent also offers guests an optional day trip to Moscow for an additional $600.

Visiting such exotic destinations by day made me all the more grateful to have the Voyager’s elegant surroundings as my base of operations. My roomy penthouse suite was furnished in relaxing shades of green and gray. The king-sized bed was lush with pillows. And amenities such as fresh flowers and fruit every day made the trip extra special. Our private butler provided extraordinary service, to match everything else on the ship.

Room service is available around the clock, and dinner from the Compass restaurant can be served in suite. It is a treat to have dinner on your balcony as you sail in the land of the midnight sun.


The all-suite, 700-passenger Regent Seven Seas Voyager will sail a series of Scandinavia/Russia cruises from mid July to Sept. 1. Ports of call include Visby, Tallinn, Estonia, Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Stockholm.
Price: $5,546-$16,871, double occupancy
A selection of optional land programs is also available.