Based on mom’s request to tour Russia for our 2014 family vacation, I identified Moscow and St. Petersburg as the two main cities for us to visit.  If I can squeeze in more, that’s fine, but moving between cities can be difficult with a wheelchair-bound 83-year old and twin 2 ½ year olds.  Therefore, I’m more interested in selecting fewer “base” cities and then opting to do day trips if possible.

Although we could fly between cities, I’m actually exploring either train travel or a cruise on the Volga River as I think it would be more interesting for all of us. Although I’ve heard spotty things about Russia’s air fleet, their train system receives rave reviews in my research (perhaps the British should take a page from the Russians).

Having taken a cruise through China with Viking River Cruises, they are tops on my list to contact.  Unfortunately, I’m quite disappointed to learn Viking requires passengers to be at least 8 years old.  That knocks them out of contention and I’m back to square one for potential options.

Undeterred, I spend 30 minutes researching Russian river cruises and come up with six options using Google, Conde´ Nast and Travel & Leisure:

  • Grand Circle Travel
  • Amadeus Waterways
  • GlobalQuest
  • Infoflot
  • Smithsonian Journeys
  • Orthodox Cruise Company (as we’re rather unorthodox, I’m a little skeptical of this company and decide to drop them from consideration)

For this initial phase of my investigation, I’ll focus on identifying any age restrictions, length of cruise, itinerary and cost.  When traveling on smaller ships (such as what is typically used on a river), it’s also critical to verify the ship has elevators for transport between floors.  Although that may seem like a no-brainer, I had put a deposit down on a small-ship cruise through Alaska when I discovered (much to my chagrin) that there were no elevators.  Although my brother and his wife could carry their twins up and down, it would be rather challenging for me to do the same with mom.  Thus, elevators are a must (and we signed on with Holland America for our Alaskan cruise).

Stay tuned….investigation results forthcoming….