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Vodohod wraps a year with new vessel and destinations, expedition itinerary

Mustai Karim is the first five-star vessel built in Russia in several years
Despite 2020's challenges, Vodohod, the largest Russian operator of river cruises, introduced a five-star vessel and new destinations including an expedition itinerary.

Fourteen of its 26 vessels operated, while the rest of the fleet was laid up due to the embargo on international clients. (Twelve vessels serve the international market.) Vodohod carried more than 35,000 Russians on 438 sailings from its first in late June to November.

New Mustai Karim and refurbished Maxim Gorky

Mustai Karim, the first five-star vessel built in Russia in several years, was introduced, and Maxim Gorky was fully refurbished for Siberia expedition cruising on the Yenisei River.

Mustai Karim debuted in August with floor-to-ceiling windows, a spa, intimate restaurants and bars and menus by a celebrated chef. The vessel carried out several cruises on the most popular route, between Moscow and St. Petersburg, visiting the Kizhi Ensemble of wooden architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In September, Mustai Karim pioneered an innovative itinerary on the Azov Sea and the Black Sea to Rostov-on-Don, reporting rave reviews from its Russian clients.

Expedition itinerary

In July, Vodohod initiated the first expedition river cruise through the heart of Siberia. Expedition cruises on the Yenisei River are a new product to showcase wild Russia to the world.  

These voyages are operated by Maxim Gorky, a small, newly refurbished and custom-designed five-star vessel accommodating 94 passengers. It offers spacious cabins with a modern design, a spa, entertainment complex and high-level service. Maxim Gorky sails between Krasnoyarsk and Dudinka, visiting cultural complexes, traditional villages and wild nature, including the Putorana Plateau, an area five times bigger than Belgium that has UNESCO World Heritage status.

Solovetsky Islands

Vodohod also commenced cruises to the Solovetsky Islands, a cultural and historic site on the White Sea with a unique church complex including the Solovetsky Monastery, the crown jewel of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

To reach the archipelago, Vodohod renovated the four-deck Alexander Pushkin with updated technical features. The vessel is almost fully booked in 2021.

COVID precautions

Vodohod's health and safety plan incorporated the regulations of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing along with international requirements and recommendations.

These included pre-boarding health questionnaires, daily temperature checks for passengers and crew, updated crew training, rapid COVID-19 testing on a regular basis, social distancing, daily disinfection of cabins and common areas and ventilation system disinfection.

Spring resumption

Vodohod said its fleet and crew are ready to resume sailing on the Russian waterways in the spring and looks forward to carrying international customers if restrictions are lifted and people can travel safely.

Russia's e-visa program for 52 nationalities

The citizens of 52 countries will be able to apply for an electronic visa to visit Russia starting Jan. 1. E-visa applications can be submitted on a special website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or via a mobile application.

Also, Vodohod created its first mobile app, which will be available in English next year. It provides vessel information, services, details about on-board purchases, an audio guide, media player, chat with a hotel manager and news.

A new booking engine allows travel advisors and clients to easily purchase additional services while booking a cruise online.