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On a Fred. Olsen cruise, we channel all of our 175 years of experience sailing and discovering the world into making every single day special for our guests. We hand-craft our itineraries every year so that we take our guests not just to the most amazing places on earth, but at the very best possible times.

Bolette at sea

Our smaller ships

The most wonderful way to sail the world is aboard a smaller ship. Our guests love the feeling of being on an elegant ship, close to the sea. They appreciate that our smaller ships can take them to more interesting places – to the furthest reaches of Norway’s lesser-known fjords, through narrow waterways and canals and to the very heart of some of the world’s most beautiful cities.

Humpback whale breaching out of the water

Our Hand-crafted Itineraries

Our journey planners put so much consideration and pride into crafting our itineraries afresh each and every year. That’s because we want you to sail the most imaginative routes and to visit the world’s most wonderful destinations at the very best possible times to experience them.

The Azores when the Perseid Meteor shower streaks the night sky, Mumbai during the Holi Festival and the coast of Canada during the largest migration of Humpback whales on earth. It’s why we were awarded Cruise Critic’s ‘Best Itineraries’ for five consecutive years.

Chef carrying out a treats of the region demonstration with guests

The Joy of the Journey

We put enormous consideration into ensuring every single day you are with us is as stimulating and enjoyable as possible. Our ‘Treats of the Region’ cooking demonstrations and “Itinerary Insights” informative talks, for example, are curated specially for the regions we are visiting so that you gain the fullest understanding and appreciation of them before you get there. And our on-deck ‘Stargazing’ talks help you understand much about the universe we live in.

In short, our exceptional experience ensures your exceptional experience.

Captain looking through binoculars, Borealis

There is much that sets the experience of a Fred. Olsen cruise apart. But nothing more so than our people. As Mr. Olsen himself says, ‘It’s all about the people. All of it, everything”.

Because our ships are smaller, our crew are able to get to know you personally and to understand what you like. And it is the warm, attentive and more personal care our people pride themselves on that is so appreciated by our guests. Without doubt, our people are central to the specialness of a Fred. Olsen cruise.

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The size of our ships allows us access to more interesting places, and means we can dock in the heart of some of the world’s most beautiful cities.

Bolette in Olden, Norway

Bolette is one of the largest ships, by overall size, in our fleet. With its warm, welcoming atmosphere and timeless style, and classic open deck spaces providing a place to fully immerse yourself in the magic of ocean cruising, Bolette is very much in keeping with what our guests have come to expect from a Fred. Olsen ship.

Borealis at sea at sunset

Sister-ship to Bolette , Borealis is perfectly suited for taking guests on a journey around the globe, enabling more exploration in more exciting ports. Her smaller size, spacious public areas, open deck spaces and impressive array of restaurants make her perfect for longer voyages, and shorter journeys alike.


Beautiful Balmoral is small enough to navigate Europe’s most picturesque waterways so guests can enjoy hours of scenic cruising.  Balmoral offers a warm, civilised atmosphere and features comfortable accommodation, stylish restaurants and plenty of open-deck space.


Arctic Norway, Greenland & Iceland

Sailing from a port near you

We sail from across the UK to make joining your next Fred. Olsen cruise nice and easy.

Fred. Olsen’s diverse selection of cruises from Dover include chances to sail to the breathtaking Norwegian Fjords; unearth cultural, historical and scenic highlights of cities in the Baltic, marvel at volcanic islands in the Azores and Madeira, experience the icy kingdom of Iceland, indulge in an exploration of the Dalmatian Coast, or discover the sights and highlights of isles and waterways in the UK.

Some of the world’s most sought after destinations are within your reach on Fred. Olsen cruises departing from Liverpool. Situated on the coast of Northwest England, this port is the ideal starting point for voyages to Scotland, Northern Europe and Norway, bringing you closer to the beautiful unspoilt waterways and landscapes of the Norwegian fjords and Scottish lochs; the astonishing natural wonders of Iceland and Greenland; and remote locations within the Arctic Circle. Cruise from Liverpool to see the wonders of the Azores, and the spectacular Amalfi Coast.

Situated on the north bank of the River Forth, just 40 minutes from Edinburgh, the Port of Rosyth is conveniently placed for guests joining Fred. Olsen’s cruises from Scotland. There are a fantastic selection of cruises from Rosyth to choose from, each featuring incredible destinations across Europe. Cruise from Scotland to Norway to experience the outstanding natural beauty of the magnificent fjordland; sail to culture-rich capitals in the Baltic; discover volcanic Iceland; or experience natural phenomenons such as the Perseid Meteor Shower.


Located on England’s south coast, Southampton is the ideal departure port for an extensive selection of Fred. Olsen cruises, including rewarding European city breaks; explorations of Iceland and Norway’s awe-inspiring fjordland; chasing the Northern Lights in the Arctic, journeys to the Mediterranean and Adriatic; and explorations of the islands of the Azores.

The departure port for an extensive range of exciting Fred. Olsen cruises from Newcastle; the Port of Tyne is a gateway to discovering incredible destinations across Europe. Cruise from Newcastle to Scotland, Norway and Northern Europe in search of spectacular highland and fjordland scenes; natural wonders in Iceland and Arctic Norway, such as the awe-inspiring Northern Lights; captivating Norwegian fjords; and picturesque Canarian and Mediterranean waterways, all in less time than it would take from a southern departure port.

Fred. Olsen’s cruises from Portsmouth include winter escapes to the glorious sunshine and scenery of the Canaries and Madeira; go in search of the Northern Lights; or island hopping in the Caribbean. Portsmouth is a city rich in maritime heritage, with landmarks such as the Historic Dockyard and the Spinnaker Tower. Britain’s ‘Great Waterfront City’ is situated on the shores of the beautiful Solent, east from Southampton, making Portsmouth the perfect location from which to embark on a Fred. Olsen cruise.

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Everything we do is carefully considered to ensure our guests have the most wonderful cruise experience possible. We are so confident you will enjoy the way we cruise, that we make you a promise...

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Fred Olsen Cruises Room Service Menu

Check out the Fred Olsen Room Service Menu. Please note breakfast is s erved from 7am – 10am. Not available on embarkation or disembarkation.

Lunch & Dinner Available between  10am  and  11pm .

Fred Olsen’s Breakfast Room Service Menu

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Cabins To Avoid On Balmoral (Check BEFORE You Book!)

On such a great cruise ship like the Balmoral, all of the passenger cabins look like they have been created equal.

To the untrained eye, or if you haven’t been on a cruise ship before, it can be hard to see the difference between two identical cabins.

However, there can be huge discrepancies among cabins even if they are in the same category.

There are certain cabins to avoid on all ships, and Balmoral is no exception.

So before you book, make sure you aren’t booking any of these rooms…

Table of Contents

Balmoral’s Cabins To Avoid

Balmoral Cruise Ship in the nEtherlands

The Balmoral has a wide range of cabin choices, catering to various budgets and preferences.

From affordable inside cabins to luxurious superior suites, there are 15 different categories for you to choose from.

For one of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines smaller ships, it really goes above and beyond regarding cabin options.

You’ll want to pay attention to the cabin’s location, as it can significantly impact your overall experience.

Some people may be sensitive to noise or motion, so pick a cabin away from the ship’s main facilities, such as the pool decks, entertainment venues, dining areas, lounges, and bars.

These areas can generate noise or vibrations that could affect your comfort and sleep quality.

Balmoral has cabins across different decks , so check the deck plans to determine the best cabin location for your needs.

For instance, cabins on higher decks might receive more sunlight, while those on lower decks could be more stable during rough seas.

When it comes to balcony cabins, Balmoral’s Superior Balcony Rooms measure around 190 square feet and are primarily located on Deck 9.

Know that some balconies are shaded due to the covering from decks above, which might hinder your sunbathing opportunities.

On the other hand, if you prefer a more private and cozy outdoor space, these shaded balconies might just be the perfect spot for you.

Lower Deck Cabins

When choosing a cabin on Balmoral, you might want to be wary of selecting one on the lower decks, especially near the back of the ship.

These cabins may have issues with engine noise and vibrations, especially if they are closer to the ship’s engines.

Additionally, they might be located near service areas or near potential sources of noise, such as crew quarters, elevators, or laundry rooms.

The bottom deck, Marina Deck 3, has a lot of cabins near the engine, laundry room, and lifts, as you can see:

Balmoral Marina Deck 3

If you want to ensure peace and quiet, it may be best to avoid the red sections of this deck (or the deck entirely.)

However, keep in mind that the lower decks tend to be the best if you are prone to seasickness .

While being on a higher deck might offer better views, if you’re sensitive to motion, opting for a lower deck with more stability might be more comfortable for you.

If you want to avoid any potential noise-related issues, take extra care to ensure you’re not situated too close to elevators, stairwells, or other high-traffic areas.

Be mindful of cabins near elevator banks, as they might be frequently busy and noisy.

Unfavorable Locations On Balmoral

In general, you’ll want to watch out for the rear third of the ship. Cabins in this section have been know to be affected by noise and vibrations, especially those situated further back on the vessel.

Balmoral, along with other Fred. Olsen Cruise Line ships, are known to have this issue due to being older ships. Opting for a stateroom in the middle or front of the ship is a small change that can make a big difference.

As mentioned before, be cautious when considering cabins on lower decks, like Deck 3. These decks are closer to the waterline, meaning more engine noise and the possibility of feeling the ship’s movement.

Some passengers have found cabins in the F-grade outside cabins on deck 3 less than ideal, so exploring other cabin grades may lead to a better experience.

When it comes to inside cabins, pay close attention to which other rooms or public spaces are nearby.

An inside cabin situated close to high-traffic areas like restaurants, lounges, or entertainment venues might experience more noise that could impact your rest and relaxation time.

This all varies person-to-person. If you’re more sensitive to noise and vibration, take extra care to avoid the areas mentioned above.

However, if you’re less concerned about noise levels and prioritize cabin size or minimizing the risk of seasickness, the lower decks near the center of the ship are your go-to.

Avoiding Cabins Near Engine Room

If you’re a light sleeper, you’ll always want to avoid rooms near the engine room. Engine room noise can often be heard through the walls and can be annoying, even while you’re asleep.

For some people, it becomes white noise, but others can’t sleep through it.

Before selecting your cabin, take a look at Balmoral’s deck plans and locate the engine room. Be mindful of the cabins immediately above or below this area, as noise may travel vertically through the ship.

Additionally, avoid cabins towards the ship’s aft, where engine vibration and noise is likely to be more noticeable.

Coral Deck 4 on the Balmoral Cruise Ship

All the cabins towards the back of the Coral Deck 4 will likely be above the engine room and can be prone to vibrations and noise.

Likewise, as previously shown, most of the cabins on Deck 3 towards the back may also be close to the engine room and prone to noise.

While you may not always have full control over your cabin location due to availability or budget constraints, it’s a good idea to request a room further away from the engine room if possible.

Staying Away From Cabins Below Public Areas

One important consideration is avoiding cabins situated below busy public areas. This can help decrease the likelihood of noise during your trip.

If you like to sleep in, you may want to avoid the Highland Deck 10. It is directly underneath the sundeck, swimming pool, and bar.

In the early morning, the sun lounge chairs are brought out and the shuffling noise may be heard through the ceiling.

Balmoral Deck 10

If you go to bed early, you may also want to avoid cabins under entertainment venues, such as dining areas or show lounges.

These spaces often host events throughout the day or late into the night, which might cause high levels of noise that could interrupt your sleep or relaxation time.

Deck 6 is directly underneath all the pubs, lounges, and bars. If you go to bed early, these may be cabins you’d want to void.

Main Deck 6 Balmoral

Although the noise could be muffled, the noise may transfer and it’s still possible to notice the vibrations of loud music late at night.

Additionally, cabins near stairways, elevators, or service areas are prone to more foot traffic and noise from both passengers and crew. Staying in a quieter location on the ship will allow you to fully savor those peaceful moments during your cruise.

Avoiding Cabins Near Crew Areas

When looking for a cabin on the Balmoral, it’s essential to avoid those near the crew areas. Crew areas are bustling with activity throughout the day and night, which can lead to increased noise and disturbances.

Although crew areas aren’t clearly marked on deck plans, picking cabins surrounded by other cabins will ensure you aren’t near any.

Also, certain areas like the laundry room may have high traffic and a lot of noise throughout the day while machines are in use.

You may want to avoid those areas as well.

fred olsen cruises rooms

Steering Clear from Cabins Close to Theatres and Lounges

Cabins situated near theatres and lounges should also be avoided. These locations often hold events and performances that continue late into the night, and the sound CAN carry into nearby cabins.

Considering the layout of Balmoral, it’s a good idea to double-check the ship’s deck plans and pinpoint exactly where the entertainment venues are located.

Deck 10 on Balmoral near Spey Restaurant

By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to select a cabin that’s not in close proximity to these high-traffic and potentially noisy areas.

Being surrounded by other cabins on all sides – above, below, left, right, and front – can also help in minimizing noise from elevators or guest traffic.

Try to avoid connecting rooms, as they typically have thinner walls that allow sound to pass through more easily.

Final Thoughts on Choosing a Cabin on Balmoral

When selecting the right cabin for you on the Balmoral, keep in mind that some cabins may be more suitable for your needs than others. All cruise ships have cabins that are significantly better that others, even if the price and category is the same.

Take into account the views, noise levels, and proximity to amenities that matter most for your cruising experience.

Many past passengers have reported liking the F-grade ocean view cabins on deck 3, as they are primarily standard outside cabins offering decent ocean views. Plus, if you are prone to seasickness, lower decks will help significantly.

However, some passengers have reported issues with cabin conditions on the Balmoral, such as problems with the outside cabins or noise disturbances from nearby entertainment venues.

Make sure you research your chosen cabin’s location carefully and consider any potential concerns before making your booking.

While choosing a cabin, be sure to account for the ship’s recent refurbishment in your decision-making. Balmoral now boasts 710 cabins, ranging from singles to luxurious Premier Suites. A

As you browse your options, feel free to ask for assistance or recommendations based on your specific needs and preferences.

Remember, the perfect cabin for your Balmoral cruise is out there – you just need to take your time and carefully select your cabin to ensure the perfect stay.

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  • CruiseMapper

Fred Olsen Bolette cabins and suites

Fred olsen bolette staterooms review, floor plans, photos.

Fred Olsen Bolette cabins and suites review at CruiseMapper provides detailed information on cruise accommodations , including floor plans, photos, room types and categories, cabin sizes, furniture details and included by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines en-suite amenities and services.

The Fred Olsen Bolette cruise ship cabins page is conveniently interlinked with its deck plans showing deck layouts combined with a legend and review of all onboard venues.

Owners Suite

Layout (floor plan).

Owners Suite is sized 1275 ft2, located near the lift/stairs and features floor-ceiling windows (opening to a step-out balcony), 1x King-size double bed, sofabed, en-suite bathroom (full-size whirlpool bath, WC-toilet, separate shower), guest toilet (powder room) , separate living room, dining room, dressing room, pantry, mini-bar, refrigerator.

Premier Suite

Premier Suites are sized 575 ft2 and have a large sitting area and bedroom (1x King-size double bed, en-suite bathroom (full whirlpool bath-shower, WC-toilet), floor-ceiling windows (opening to a step-out balcony), separate dressing room (walk-in closet), sofabed, mini-bar, refrigerator.

Balcony Suite

All Suites have step-out balconies and are on Deck 6.

Category BS are sized 285 ft2, with bedroom (2x single beds convertible to Queen-size double bed), bathroom (whirlpool bath with shower / unless indicated "shower-only"), sitting area, floor-ceiling windows (opening to a balcony), mini-bar, refrigerator.

Categories BJ (Balcony Junior Suite) and JB (Single Balcony Suite) are sized 245-285 ft2 and offer amenities and furniture similar to BS.

Terrace Cabin

Terrace Cabins (called "Lanai Cabins" on MS Amsterdam) are all located midship on Deck 3, each sized 220 ft2, with bedroom (2x single beds convertible to Queen-size double bed), en-suite bathroom (WC-shower) and sliding glass doors opening to Deck 3's walk-around Promenade deck area.

Oceanview Cabin

Fred Olsen Bolette ship's Oceanview (Outside/Picture Window) cabins are in categories TC (Terrace Cabin), B-C (Superior Ocean View), CO (Superior Ocean View Fully Restricted), D-E (Ocean View), K (Single Ocean View), F (Porthole Cabin).

Categories B and C (Superior) and CO (Superior with obstructed view)  are on Deck 3, sized 215 ft2, with bedroom (2x single beds convertible to Queen-size double bed), en-suite bathroom (bath plus shower / unless indicated "shower only"). Category CO  cabins are with fully obstructed views.

Categories D and (Ocean View) are on Decks 1 and 2, same-sized (215 ft2) and with the same amenities/furniture as the above categories. Category K ( Single) cabins are on decks 1-2-3-7, same-sized (215 ft2) and with the same amenities. Some single cabin bathrooms are with bath+shower, some are shower-only.

Category F (Porthole Window) are same-sized and located on decks 1-2. Their bathrooms are shower-only.

Note: On MS Amsterdam, Oceanview staterooms were sized between 140-320 ft2 (13-30 m2).

Interior Cabin

All Inside Cabins are sized 185 ft2 and divided into categories G (Superior),  M-N (Single Superior) and H-I ( Interior Room). All interior staterooms are with 2x single beds (convertible to Queen-size double bed) and en-suite bathroom (WC, shower).

Deck locations by category are as follows: G (2-3-6), M (2-7), N and H (1) and I (1-2-3).

Note: On MS Amsterdam, Inside cabins were sized between 160-180 ft2 (15-17 m2).

Wheelchair-Accessible Handicap Cabins

Fred Olsen Bolette ship's wheelchair-accessible (handicap) cabins are in categories BD (Superior OceanView, decks 3-6), FD (OceanView, deck 1), PSD (Premier Suite, deck 7) and BJD (Balcony Junior Suite, deck 6). All bathrooms are en-suite and with roll-in shower only.

BD and FD are sized 215 ft2 (20 m2).

Fred Olsen Bolette cabins review

The list of Fred Olsen Bolette ship cabins by type includes a total of 173 Suites, (no Standard Balcony cabins), 385 Oceanviews and 133 Inside cabins. The number of all MS Amsterdam cabin categories was 26. Of all cruise accommodations, 25% have a step-out balcony (all Suite categories). Wheelchair-accessible cabins are 20. Connecting cabins are 104. Single cabins (for solo travellers / staterooms at no single supplement) are 52 and range from Inside to Suite.

Follows the review of Holland America Amsterdam staterooms as amenities, furniture and included (complimentary) services:

  • All ms Amsterdam cabins as amenities have a sleeping area (2 twin beds convertible to queen), en-suite bathroom (bathtub, shower, massage shower-heads, luxury bath products, hairdryer), lounge/sitting area (sofa bed, vanity table with magnifying mirror, smart HDTV, DVD player /DVD library), personal stationery, safe, direct-dial phone, individual air-conditioning.
  • The list of bonus amenities/perks for all cabin grades includes luxury bedding sets and mattresses, cotton robes and towels, complimentary services (upon requests – shoeshine, fresh fruits, ice service).
  • All Suites (including Vista/balcony cabins) feature floor-ceiling sliding doors opening to a private veranda with lounge furniture (1 table, 1 or 2 chairs, sun loungers).
  • You can see all the furniture details on the Holland America Amsterdam cabin floor plans in the table above.
  • Pinnacle and Neptune Suites additionally have twin beds convertible to king, bathrooms with whirlpool bathtubs, dressing room, double sofa bed in the seating area. Guests in these Suite accommodations enjoy as additional perks: concierge service, priority services (check-in, embarkation, disembarkation, tendering, dining reservations), in-room dining (Afternoon Tea and canapes), umbrella, binoculars, Welcome Aboard gifts (flowers, fruits, champagne, bottled water), exclusive Suite Lounge access (Neptune Lounge), private breakfast service (Pinnacle Grill), complimentary services (laundry, pressing, dry cleaning).
  • The largest ms Amsterdam rooms are the Penthouse Suites on Navigation Deck 7, which have an over-sized whirlpool bathtub, guest bathroom, dressing room, separate living room (double sofa bed) and dining room (with mini-bar, pantry), refrigerator.
  • Most Ocean-view cabins have Picture Window, except categories G and H, which are with 2 Porthole Windows.
  • Wheel-chair accessible cabins (for disabled passengers) are in categories Neptune Suite (SA), Vista Suite/Balcony rooms (B), Oceanview (DA, FF, G-portholes) and Interior (J, L).

Holland America Amsterdam passengers booking Suite categories enjoy the following "perks" (bonus amenities):

  • Neptune suites - Nespresso coffee machine, BOSE SoundDock (multimedia iPod docking station), complimentary in-cabin breakfast (with complimentary mimosa cocktails), luxury bath products (by Elemis).
  • Signature and Vista suites - binoculars (usable throughout the cruise).

Implemented fleetwide in 2019, "Club Orange" program provides exclusive amenities to Suite passengers booked in categories Neptune and Pinnacle. Bonus perks by this program include:

  • priority services (check-in, disembarkation, tendering, dining reservations)
  • 24-hour concierge service (assistance, information, reservations)
  • exclusive dining venue (serving complimentary Pinnacle Grill breakfast and Dining Room dinner, plus exclusive dishes)
  • dedicated Concierge Desk (Guest Services and Tours)
  • room service (a la carte breakfast menu with complimentary gourmet dishes - including smoked salmon, steak and eggs)
  • sparkling wine (embarkation day), Club Orange tote bag, premium bathrobes (cabin use, available for monogramming and purchasing).
  • Club Orange Restaurant is part of the Main Dining Room (designed as separate VIP dining section).

During MS Amsterdam ship's drydock refurbishment in 2015, each Suite was upgraded with:

  • (new) sofa, chairs, headboard, carpet, wall coverings, privacy curtain, drapery, bed runner, bed skirt, quartz stone top (on the vanity), vanity lighting, dresser, dressing table, nightstands
  • (new) 1 USB outlet (on the bed’s headboard), bedside LED lights (for reading), electrical outlets, lighted closet rod
  • (new) interactive TV system allowing complimentary movies-on-demand, access to the ship's daily scheduled activities program, checking onboard accounts, Internet, ship information (restaurants, bars, deck plans, spa services, etc)

All suite bathrooms received a wall of designer glass tiles (backdrop to the new dressing area with a new stone top, modern taps, Undermount sink), new mirrors (with integrated LED lighting), stylish floor tiles, nightlight.

Fred Olsen Bolette cabin and suite plans are property of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines . All floor plans are for informational purposes only and CruiseMapper is not responsible for their accuracy.

  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best of Moscow by high speed train

By shuguley , February 15, 2014 in Regent Seven Seas Cruises

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Cool Cruiser

Sure would appreciate someone who has taken "Best of Moscow by high speed train" from St. Petersburg could please share their impressions of this shore excursion. From the description this sounds like a very long day.

Wondering how the 4 hour train trip was in terms of accommodations, etc. Also what time did you leave the ship and what time at night did you return? Were both legs of the trip on the high speed rail (I read that slower trains also travel the same tracks)?

My wife and I are considering this excursion. We thought that if we are making all the effort to go to Russia then how could we pass up going to Moscow, walking in Red Square, seeing St. Basil, etc.

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If you are considering this on the 2015 June Baltic cruise on Voyager; my suggestion is don't. There is so much to do in St. Petersburg and although a train is one of my favorite ways to travel the time would be far better spent in St. P.

Thanks for the advice. Yes, this would be on the Voyager during the 2015 season but not yet sure exactly which cruise.

5,000+ Club

We did the Moscow excursion "on a different luxury line", but from your brief description it sounds very much like the same trip, so I will operate on that assumption. It is a VERY long day! We left the ship at 5:30 AM and returned at 12:30 AM. The highspeed train trip is comfortable, and while they call it "Business Class" it does not compare well to the equivalent class on say Rail Europe. When we did it in 2011, we did have highspeed both ways, and the trip back seemed much longer as the adrenaline and excitement had worn off!:D

Moscow itself is not that terribly different from any other big city in the world, but this Cold War kid never thought he would ever stand in Red Square, never mind walk the grounds of The Kremlin, or tour The Kremlin Palace, or see (but not visit) Lenin's Tomb, or visit The Armoury. But he did, and he loved every minute of it! Yes, it is a long day, and you barely scratch a scratch on the surface, but it is worth it. There is a tremendous amount to see in St. Petersburg, but every Baltic cruise goes to St. Petersburg, so you can go back if you choose to. Not every cruiseline offers you the chance to see Moscow.


I have not personally done this tour, but our last time in St Petersburg, the private guide that we hired for a day was leading the regent tour to Moscow on the high speed train the next day. He said it was way better than the previous alternative, which was flying to Moscow and back. He said that you actually got to Moscow faster because you didn't have to deal with airline checkin etc. it did seem like a very long day to me, and there is so much to see and do in st. Petersburg that I didn't consider doing it.



We toured to Moscow from St. Petersburg via the hi-speed SAPSAN train last September, from a Baltic cruise on the Oceania Marina. You need to have a two-night, three day port call in St. Petersburg to take this tour because the tour typically leaves the ship around 5:00 - 5:30 AM and doesn't return until after midnight the next day. We didn't take the ship's tour; we made private arrangements with TravelAllRussia for three days of touring, the first and third days in St. Petersburg and the second day the tour to Moscow by train. Our cost for the private tour for three days was about the same as what the ship charged for the excursion to Moscow alone. There are a number of private tour agencies that operate in St. Petersburg and offer the Moscow train tours; we would strongly recommend them over the ship's tours.

All three days had private guides with car and driver. The second day, the driver picked us up at the ship and took us to the train, but we were alone on the train, and met in Moscow by the guide on the station platform. After our tour and dinner, we were brought back to the train and after the return train trip met by the driver and taken back to the ship. Because you are alone on the train you must have your own Russian visas.

If this is your first visit to St. Petersburg, I would agree there is much more to see there. We found Moscow somewhat a disappointment, particularly Red Square. The Kremlin and the cathedral in Red Square were also worth seeing. But the best thing we saw was the Moscow subway! I worked for the Washington Metro system back in the 1980s as it grew from 40 to 80 miles and although I was in the computer area, I learned a lot about the challenges of running a subway system. We used the Moscow system to get across the city from where we had dinner to the train station, and I was amazed at the cleanliness', speed of operation, the short headways maintained, and the courtesy of everyone involved. A very impressive experience!

We had been to St. Petersburg before, and so had the time to take a day and go to Moscow. Also, I really like trains, and the SAPSAN is a German train set running on Russian rails. Seats are like first class domestic air, spacious but not too plush or comfortable, but with enough room. Not too much recline, and almost 8 hours on the train in two shots is a lot for an old man. They come through and sell drinks, candy, etc. but the sellers don't speak English and no one around us helped, so we had just poor coffee once coming, and brought stuff with us for the trip back. Not too much to see from the train either, particularly on the return when it is night the whole way.

If you decide to go, take a private tour and avoid the overly expensive ship's tour. I'm glad we did it, but wouldn't bother to repeat the tour; we've seen Moscow.

Thanks so much to all of you for the thorough and thought insight. Yhe information you have provided is most helpful.

countflorida: Your detailed post is very helpful. We are not quite ready for a Baltic cruise but should do so within a year. Time enough to do our pre travel research, bookings and visa gathering.:) Thank you!

Emperor Norton

Emperor Norton

Sure would appreciate someone who has taken "Best of Moscow by high speed train" from St. Petersburg could please share their impressions of this shore excursion. From the description this sounds like a very long day.   Wondering how the 4 hour train trip was in terms of accommodations, etc. Also what time did you leave the ship and what time at night did you return? Were both legs of the trip on the high speed rail (I read that slower trains also travel the same tracks)?   My wife and I are considering this excursion. We thought that if we are making all the effort to go to Russia then how could we pass up going to Moscow, walking in Red Square, seeing St. Basil, etc.

I did this on Seabourn. IMO DONT. Take Aeroflop (er Aeroflot). The train has non folding seats where you are literally knee to knee with your fellow passenger (facing each other). Further they don't believe in air conditioning. It's also the worlds slowed bullet train. I think I would have found more enjoyment wandering around the St. Petersburg and Moscow airports.


This is a little off topic,, however we had planned a river cruise in Russia but decided we would rather stay on land and have booked about two weeks with Travel-All-Russia using the private guide and driver. I'm curious as to how you found them as a tour company.

The guides they provided were fine. We had a different guide each of the days in St. Petersburg, but both were flexible, pleasant, knowledgeable and spoke English very well, as did the guide in Moscow, incidentally. She was a bit aloof, distant, not too friendly, but otherwise fine. In fact, she was the one who suggested taking the Metro, which unexpectedly became one of the highlights of the Moscow excursion. If I have a complaint with AllTravelRussia, it is with their plan and its execution (more later).

I had requested emphasis on World War II (in Russia, the Great Patriotic War) sites and info. In scheduling us, they weren't careful about dates and a couple of the sites we wanted to see were scheduled on the third day, after we'd been to Moscow. But both sites were closed that day of the week, and that info was readily available, right on web sites describing them. Also, the included meals (lunches in St. Pete, dinner in Moscow) were not what we asked for: light meals with some choices, so we could avoid things we didn't like and choose things we did like. My request was ignored; we were given full Russian meals with a fixed menu, no choice. On the first day, a fish dish was the entre, but I am allergic to fish. Fortunately, I had the e-mail I'd sent with me and showed it to the guide, and she was able to change my entre to chicken, which was very good actually. But we didn't want a 3-4 course lunches or dinner (in Moscow). We had the guide drop the lunch the third day, although we never got any credit or refund. But, particularly in contrast to the ship's tours, the prices were so reasonable we didn't worry too much about it.

The people who were on the ship's tour to Moscow saw us boarding the same train for which they were forced to queue up and wait on the way back, and asked us what we had done. I was candid and open so they were not happy when I explained what we had arranged and particularly what it had cost. Also, when we returned to the ship, we found they had laid on a late supper for those who had gone to Moscow, so up we went and had something. Well, it turns out the late supper was supposed to be just for those on the ship's tour, but we and others on 'independent' tours, there were a dozen or more of us, crashed the party, actually got there first, and they didn't realize it until the larger group arrived and there weren't enough tables/places set. By that time, the 'independents' had all gotten served and were eating; what could they do?

A couple from the larger group sat down with us and asked us about our tour, and they were the ones I told about our arrangement and its cost. They turned to others who’d been with them and announced the details, loudly enough so the whole room heard, which started a lot of bitching and complaining. I gathered they weren't very happy with the ship's tour to begin with, and this was the straw that broke the camel's back. We finished up and beat it out of there, but overheard later that one of the excursion staff came to check on something and ran into a real mess. I caught a cold on the trip, which forced me to bed the second day following in Tallinn, so by the time we reappeared we heard about the contretemps' but apparently no one recalled who started it, thankfully.

Because of what happened to us, I would probably not use AllTravelRussia if I were to go again, or if I did, I would be sure to get confirmation of every detail of the tour. They do have good reviews generally, and we were certainly helped by their visa department and liked the guides and drivers. Their weakness, I say now with full 20:20 hindsight, is that once the sales person who plans the tour, sells it to you and collects your money, he (or she) transfers the plan to their Russia office for implementation; there is no follow-up to make sure it gets done right. And that is where our problems arose; we paid for a custom tour but got a standard package with a few destinations switched, and no one checked them out, even to see when they were open the day we were scheduled to go. If you check every detail that’s important to you, it should be OK, but that’s a hell of a way to have to do business, in my opinion.

Thank you for the 20/20 hindsight observation on your Russian tour operator, and better priced than the ship's excursion cost.

Thanks very much for the feedback.

We had the same experience as you so far as price. We originally booked a Viking Cruise but, hearing some things about the river cruises that made us unhappy, looked into other options. T-A-R cost the same or less than a cruise and had us in hotels for 11 days. We opted for the private tour. They have three tour levels, based on hotels. We originally opted for the four star as it did not cost much more than the three star hotels. Finally we decided to throw it all in and upgraded to five star. In Moscow we will be at the newly opened Kempinsky which is two blocks from Red Square. In St. Petersburg it is the Grand Hotel Europe, one of the most vaunted luxury hotels in Russia. Location is important for us as the tours use up only part of the day so being in the center of everything for our independent touring is important. As with many other cities, the less you pay, the farther out of the center of town you are.

We have been working with our salesman in D.C. and he seems to get back to us with the changes we want. He recently returned from Russia so is up on everything. When I asked they said they paid the full TA commission if I wanted so I got my usual TA on board so he is watching our back and giving us that extra level of comfort. He also set up our air, which I know pays him little or nothing, and got us business class for much less than T-A-R wanted for economy, though it took working for a while with a consolidator. He's happy to get his 10 percent on this trip without having booked it. He also took care of the trip insurance. We've been doing a lot of research on the CC sister site Trip Advisor and will write a report there. We will, I guess, become a source of info for CC members after having spent 5 days in Moscow and 6 in SP.

  • 4 months later...



Anybody considering a day trip to Moscow from St. Petersburg on the Sapsan may want to look at our travelogue filled with pictures.



Very informative. Thanks dor sharing. Jeff

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Ritz-Carlton Hotel



The Ritz-Carlton's luxurious restaurants have taken their place among Moscow's finest dining establishments. No expense has been spared to create varied, stylish dining rooms with original haute cuisine, impeccable service, and superb wine cellars to complete the experience. A sumptuous buffet breakfast for all guests is served daily between 7:00am and 11:00am in the main restaurant. 24-hour room service is also available, with an extensive menu of luxury snacks and fine alcohol.


  1. Cabin Details of Fred. Olsen's Balmoral

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  5. Cabin Details of Fred. Olsen's Balmoral

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  6. Balmoral Superior Balcony Room

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  1. Cabin Facilities on Board

    Interior Cabins offer all the space, comfort and amenities you'll need, while Ocean View Cabins have the additional benefit of a porthole or picture window. Many are more spacious than Interior Cabins too, particularly if you book a Superior Ocean View. Each cabin grade on our cruise ships offer the following facilites as standard: Smart HD TVs.

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    Wheelchair-accessible rooms (numbers 8057, 8059, 8073, 8075, 8084, 8086, 9048, 9056, 9095) have wider entry doors, spacious living area, large bathroom, walk-in closet. The Fred Olsen ship Balmoral has a total of 64 solo cabins (single-occupancy rooms). Complimentary room service is available between 6 am and 11 pm (excepting embarkation ...

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    Served with freshly baked rolls & butter. Smoked Salmon Platter. Served with toast & cream cheese. Ploughman's Platter. Gala Pie, Stilton, ham, coleslaw & pickles. Chef's Salad. Ham, cheese, turkey with tomato & cucumber. Served with a choice of Thousand Island, Honey Mustard or Vinaigrette Dressings. Classic Caesar Salad.

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    Ham, Cheese and Tomato. Sweet Offerings. Cheese Cake, Crème Caramel or Fresh Fruit Salad. A selection of afternoon tea pastries are available between 15.30hrs and 18.00hrs. Regards. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Head Office, Ipswich. Soup of the Day with Fresh Baked Rolls and Butter. Greek Salad with Olives and Feta Cheese.

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    Sure would appreciate someone who has taken Best of Moscow by high speed train from St. Petersburg could please share their impressions of this shore excursion. From the description this sounds like a very long day. Wondering how the 4 hour train trip was in terms of accommodations, etc. Also wha...

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    Room amount. 334. Internet Services. Free Wi-Fi Internet Access Included, WiFi, Internet Services. Check in/out. Check-in from 15:00. Check-out until 12:00. Locations. Within a 5-minute walk, visit the iconic Bolshoi Theatre to enjoy the ballet or opera.

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    The Ritz-Carlton's luxurious restaurants have taken their place among Moscow's finest dining establishments. No expense has been spared to create varied, stylish dining rooms with original haute cuisine, impeccable service, and superb wine cellars to complete the experience. A sumptuous buffet breakfast for all guests is served daily between 7 ...