Apr 5, 2017

Tsars, stars and bars: Catriona’s Russian odyssey


The Getaway presenter and her mother set off for a land and sea adventure.

Q: How is cruising in Russia different from the other itineraries you’ve experienced in Europe?

A: Cruising in Russia is not for everyone.

You must love beautiful music, juicy history, exquisite art, awe inspiring architecture, fine food, funny locals, copious amounts of vodka, great shopping...hold on, I think this cruise may have something for everyone!

Q:Tell us about the food? What were some of the memorable meals both on the ship and onshore?

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A: I did some homework before leaving for Russia on a couple of great restaurants I wanted to sample. Dr Zhivago in Moscow, The Caviar Bar in St Petersburg to name just two. I'm happy to say I had the time and felt comfortable enough to venture out on my own to tick these off my bucket list.

That's not always the case when I travel. That said, the food on board was ever changing, cooked and served by locals who could reveal the history to various dishes. But my favourite meals and experiences were always offshore amongst the locals. Abundant, delicious, beautifully presented. I'll never taste caviar, quite like that again. Heaven.

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Q: You cruised with your Mum, what advice does she have for older cruisers on how best to enjoy this unique itinerary?

A: Both Mum and I had long dreamed of taking this journey, a true bucket list locale for us, so ultimately, now we've ticked it off, we'd both advise 'just go!'.

Mum signed up for almost every outing on offer, kept a small journal of everything, made best friends with the shopkeeper on board and the hairdresser and felt quite comfortable when I was off filming to be on her own or join other tours.

There was no judgment, no other travellers who'd 'been here 3 times' but many who like us felt incredibly grateful to be on this trip and have their preconceived notions of Russia blown out of the water.

Q:What were some of the highlights for you both when socialising on board?

A: I loved all the staff and I valued that most were local and so proud of every element. My appreciation of Russian history and modern day operation knows no bounds. To see the lake that inspired Swan Lake, to walk through Peter The Greats garden and dance in his daughter's ballroom. To sample chilled Caviar and down a gutsy vodka.

Catriona Rowntree - Getaway Presenter