Cruise News UK goes on tour with Orthodox Cruises as the ms Anton Chekhov sails from Saint Petersburg to Moscow. This is the fifth in a series of articles aimed at describing, firsthand, a cruise on one of the most rapidly developing niches within the industry and how best to tailor this product to potential clients. Here we will explain why many of the industry’s leading figures are becoming increasingly excited by the prospect – and commercial viability – of river cruising.
In our Day Four blog post we spoke about the importance of an integrated offering. A successful passenger experience hinges on the development of relationships between cruise line, operator and destination partner. Even then it’s not guaranteed to work; the destination must be appealing, the cruise operator must sell the idea of the excursion and the entire package must be deemed good value by the customer. If any of these factors aren’t present then the entire concept could fail to get people off the ship and spending money on shore.
So how would today fare?
Sailing 292km overnight from Mandrogi, our destination is Kizhi Island – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which sits on Lake Onega, one of the biggest lakes in Europe. The island is on our itinerary because of the seventeenth century Kizhi Pogost which sits on the banks of the shore. When we say special what we really mean is spectacular. The structures, made completely of wood, include two large churches and a bell tower – one of which, the Transfiguration Church, has 22 domes. It is an almighty site made all the more impressive by the fact that it was made without the use of nails. It’s a testament to Russian architecture – tours of rural houses are included – and history. And is the perfect example of destinations which should be part of this experience.
The entire excursion has an authenticity which was lacking in Mandrogi. It is a perfect example of a synchronised offering and one which has the historical credentials to draw tourists away from the big cities. It is criteria like this which make itineraries between major tourist hotspots like Saint Petersburg and Moscow so appealing.
Every cruise is, in many respects, a juggling act. It must know its clients, be aware of what they wish to be taught and deliver accordingly. Kizhi is exactly that. The tour is thorough and informative and, most importantly, leaves guests feeling satisfied. It has been the best since the ms Anton Chekhov left Saint Petersburg. Why? Because the day has delivered an experience which has gone beyond the high expectations of customers who are yearning for a new experience.
Tomorrow we will be visiting the monastery at Goritsy and I fully expect the experience to be sustained.
Read Day Six of our Cruise Diary here