Sail Barbary - Eco Sailing Taupo

Quietly incredible

Sail with us for a unique and authentic experience

lake taupo sunset cruise

Daily Sail to the Māori Rock Carvings

Don't miss this unique and authentic experience.

Cruise the sparkling waters of Lake Taupō on NZ's only commercial electric yacht or our all-weather catamaran and discover its natural wonders and hidden mysteries. Since 1982.

No noise no diesel fumes - it makes a real difference while you enjoy the Maori Rock Carvings.

Sails Daily - great value 2.5 hour Scenic Cruise & Māori Rock Carvings.

Day Cruise 10:30am and 2:00pm

Cruise includes a complimentary or hot chocolate, tea, or coffee. Licensed & BYO

Evening Cruise 5.00pm Spring and 7.30pm Summer

Cruise includes complimentary snacks, wine, beer or cider or hot cocoa, tea, or coffee. Licensed & BYO.

lake taupo sunset cruise

Sail Lake Taupō - Quietly Incredible on NZ's only electric yacht

Enjoy the peace of our quiet, zero-emissions 100% sustainable electric yacht. No fumes and no noise. Enjoy the Māori rock carvings at Mine Bay and listen to old legends and engaging stories. Sit back, this is relaxing, informative and fun - must-do experience.

What you’ll experience:

  • A truely unique and authentic sailing experience
  • Learn 'our story'. A journey to sustainability from 2010.
  • Spectacular adventure - Explore the hidden bays of Lake Taupō
  • You'll get up closet the carving with no noise or diesel fumes - it really makes a difference!
  • Sustainable Sailing on our Eco-friendly yacht, no fumes, no noise, no pollution
  • Highest rated activity or best of the best on TripAdvisor with the Travellers choice award 2019, 2020 and 2021 and Certificates of Excellence since 2012 - over 1000 reviews
  • Explore the Maori culture, history, and sustainability of the region
  • Enjoy a complimentary bevvy or BYO drinks and nibbles
  • Qualmark Gold - Tourism NZ's highest award guaranteeing quality of experience, service and tiake or sustainability.

lake taupo sunset cruise

Charters on Taupo's premier yacht or catamaran

Barbary II - a classic Kauri ketch

Explore Lake Taupō aboard the quietly incredible electric eco-yacht. Make the most of your next event or special occasion with a unique sailing experience. From hen's do's, corporate events to private parties, a scenic cruise is a unique and authentic experience that is sure to be remembered. BYO or use our bar.

Kakariki.  12 metre Pacific Catamaran

Make the boat your party boat tailored to your every need including trout fishing, clay bird shooting, barbeque, stand-up paddle board, swimming and even a biscuit towed behind the boat. BYO or licenced. Always fun! A roomy catamaran catering to 24 passengers.

0800 eco sail 0800 326 7215

lake taupo sunset cruise

No wind? No problem.

Our electric-powered yacht can do it all. When the wind is up it’s smooth sailing… you can help hoist the sails or take the wheel. If it’s calm, our quiet eco-friendly engines make sure you continue your journey. No noise, no fumes, no fuss - support the future of travel.

lake taupo sunset cruise

Taupō’s must-do

Experience Lake Taupō from a unique perspective. Take a leisurely sail and enjoy the sights and peaceful sounds of the lake as you cruise along, without the distraction of traditional diesel engines. Set sail and enjoy one of Lake Taupō’s premier experiences.

lake taupo sunset cruise

Inspiring Māori Culture

Journey to Mine Bay and listen as Māori legends are brought to life. Discover the masterful artistry of Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell and his vision of his great ancestor Ngatoroirangi. This is contemporary Maori Art, years in the making, full of history and significance. You may even see a Taniwha.

lake taupo sunset cruise

Trip Advisor Reviews: Travellers Choice award 2020 and 2019. Over 1000 reviews

"Why we highly recommended this trip."

Feb 2023 couples

"We got more than we expected"

"Sooo good"

"I looked hard at the options"

"Book this tour"

lake taupo sunset cruise

Clean, Pristine, and Green

Our yachts let you immerse yourself in the experience without the distracting rumble of a motor or the smell of noxious fumes. Skim the surface under the sustainable power of the wind, or the gentle thrust of our eco-friendly electric engines.

lake taupo sunset cruise

Who said volcano?

Explore the sparkling waters of the Taupō caldera, created by the huge Oranui eruption almost 27,000 years ago.

Still active, the caldera cradles the tranquil waters of the largest lake in New Zealand. This is Taupō Moana, our great ‘inland sea’.

Come explore her shores and uncover the mysteries of her volcanic past.

Rob McMahon

Great way to get out on the lake with friendly and informative skipper. Much better than all the other motor driven craft chugging their way along. Were happy to let us switch trip from the original booking to the next day when the conditions were perfect. That was much appreciated.

Ecky Prolingheuer

Initially our main aim had been to see the Maori rock carvings in an environmentally friendly way by sailing on Barbary. However, the actual sailing - with a little help from the electric(!) motor - and the funny and enlightening commentary of our well informed skipper (whose name I have sadly forgotten) turned out to be the best part.

Lovely tour with great skipper . Brilliant and humorous commentary. Very relaxing experience with a chance to dip as well. Thank you very much.

When looking for a tour of Lake Taupo and the carvings, there were a few options. Ultimately I chose Barbary because I’d been on boats similar to the competition before, and a sail boat felt like more like an experience. I was not let down. Our guide Chris was a great laugh, telling stories and anecdotes the entire trip. We spent a good amount of time in front of the carvings and I even got to have a swim! Bering on an open boat so close to the water is as a great feeling. Super happy with the decision I made!

Was a great morning out....The skipper Chris was very informative and very entertaining with his stories. Would definitely recommend to all! Thank you.

lake taupo sunset cruise


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Lake Taupo Sunset Sailing Trip

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  • Free cancellation up to 24 hours before the service starts
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On this sunset sailing trip on Lake Taupo, we'll cruise on New Zealand's largest lake and see the famous Māori carving of Ngātoro-i-rangi at the golden hour!

A couple admiring the sunset

At the indicated time, we'll meet at Taupo Harbour , where we'll board a sailing boat that will take us to a fantastic area to admire one of the most beautiful sunsets in New Zealand .

During the crossing, we'll explore the largest lake in New Zealand while the last rays of the sun reflect on the water. You'll fall in love with the sight of orange and pink hues bathing Taupo's beautiful nature!

Another highlight of the tour will be at Mine Bay , where we'll admire the huge Māori rock carvings on the side of the cliffs . We'll tell you the story of Ngātoro-i-rangi​ , the Māori navigator who led different tribes to Lake Taupo.

And, to top it all off, we'll have a drink on board while watching the sunset!

After 2.5 hours of exploring this stunning part of New Zealand, we'll end the tour back at the starting point.

More Information

2 hours 30 minutes.

The activity takes place with a guide that speaks in English.

Sailing trip

English–speaking guide

When to book?

You can book up to the start time, as long as there are places remaining. Book now to guarantee your spot.

Type of voucher

Electronic. Show the voucher on your phone.


Not wheelchair accessible.


All services published on Civitatis are carried out in accordance with our Sustainability Code .

Our providers commit to:

  • Provide a safe and satisfying experience.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle.
  • Incorporate eco-conscious technologies.
  • Uphold fair employment standards.
  • Foster the growth of local communities.
  • Preserve the integrity of local culture.
  • Safeguard both cultural and environmental heritage.
  • Ensure ethical treatment of animals.
  • Operate with honesty and transparency.
  • Encourage sustainable behaviors among customers and staff.

This particular activity contributes as follows:

  • No printing of documentation required.
  • Promotes local employment.
  • Has a gender equality policy.
  • Has a carbon footprint offset policy.

Sail Barbary Ltd Show more

Corporate name: Sail Barbary Ltd

Not permitted.

Frequently asked questions

Q - Is the sunset always visible?

A - For this activity, we'll have to pay attention to the time of the year in which the tour takes place since there are certain times of the year when it'll not be possible to see the sunset.

Q - Why do this activity with Civitatis?

A - At Civitatis we guarantee the best quality and prices, click here if you want to know how we select our activities .

Q - How to book?

A - To reserve the activity, choose the date and complete the form on this page. You will receive your confirmation immediately.

If you have any other questions please contact us.

Free cancellation

Meeting point.

Taupo Harbour

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Māori Rock Carvings Sailing Tour

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  • See & do
  • Eat & drink
  • Our stories
  • Sightseeing tours & transport
  • Scenic cruises & water activities

Water is Taupo’s defining element, from the snow on our volcanic peaks to the steam rising from our geothermal vents. But the best way to enjoy it is to get right into or on to our lakes, rivers and hot pools.

Lake Taupo’s clean waters are refreshing but swimmable through spring, summer and autumn (and winter if you’re brave!). You can kayak, fly high above the lake on a parasail, stand-up paddleboard, hire a sailing boat, waterski, wakeboard, or windsurf. 

Lake Taupo changes through the days and seasons, offering many different types of beauty as you cruise its waters. On sunny days, it’s often smooth as glass and as blue as the sky above. When it’s overcast, it can be wreathed in mist and dark green like pounamu (Maori for jade). 

Whatever the weather, a scenic boat cruise by launch, yacht or steamboat always has plenty to see. From native water birds, beautiful bush-clad coves, the evocative Mine Bay Maori rock carvings that tell the story of the great Maori high priest Ngatoroirangi, or even just the clear, rippling water of Lake Taupo with its amazing depth and visibility.

There are also fishing charters and cruises, world-class fly fishing on the rivers, river floats and white-water rafting for all ages.

For those with a taste for adventure, a jet boat trip on the Waikato River combines thrilling action with the chance to see spectacular natural features like the Huka Falls, Aratiatia Rapids or the ethereal Tutukau Gorge up close.

And after a busy day, there’s no better way to unwind than by soaking in one of the region’s geothermally heated mineral pools or natural hot pools.

Book a scenic cruise in Taupo

Scenic boat tour to the māori rock carvings with chris jolly outdoors.

Chris Jolly Outdoors has been looking after you for 40 years and that continues during COVID-19. Our ability to socially distance you on your 90 minute tour makes us part of your 'top things to do in Taupō'. Spacious and sparkly clean.

Sail Barbary - eco sailing Lake Taupo

Explore Lake Taupō on an eco-friendly scenic cruise with Sail Barbary. Enjoy stunning views as you set sail to explore the Māori Rock Carvings at Mine Bay. Book and enjoy a must-do experience on New Zealand's only commercial electric sail boat.

Hukafalls Jet - Taupo Classic Combo

Cruise Lake Taupo to the famous Maori Rock Carvings, then jet boat to Huka Falls on the mighty Waikato Huka Falls.

Self drive Boat hire - Stabicraft 1550 - Lakefun Explorer

Rent a boat on beautiful Lake Taupo. Best way to explore at your own pace.

Top Cat Charters

Charter a Private Cruise out on Lake Taupo with Top Cat Charters. Top Cat Charters offer a range of cruise options, which can include sightseeing out to the Maori Rock Carvings, Western Bays or Trout Fishing or swimming, paddle boarding and more.

Taxicat Adventures - Western Bays Adventurer

Let us connect you to the hidden treasures that are the Western Bays of Lake Taupō. Towering cliffs, hidden ravines, waterfalls and sandy bays are a snapshot of what your adventure might look like with Taxicat Adventures. Departing Kinloch daily.

Cruise Loloma Lake Taupo

The Loloma; Lake Taupō Fishing Charter Cruise Boat. Facilities include galley, BBQ, toilet, and shower. Fishing, sightseeing, water-sports, or clay bird shooting. Fully customized options for up to 25 passengers or 6 passengers overnight.

Self Drive Boat Hire - Lakefun Express - Pontoon Boat

Want to explore the Lake at your own leisure on your own. This is a great way to see everything on Lake Taupo without having to share your time with a stranger.

Doughboats Lake Taupo

Hire & drive your own donut boat. Pack some drinks & nibbles, & cruise Lake Taupo while enjoying your favorite music via onboard Bluetooth speakers. Throw the anchor and jump on in.

Big Sky Parasail

Come fly 1000 ft. above Lake Taupo and see New Zealand's most beautiful lake from a bird's eye view. Feel secure that you are with the most experienced parasail crew and the finest vessels in the industry. Fun for the whole family.

Sail Barbary Evening and Sunset Cruise to the carvings

Sail Barbary Evening and Sunset Cruise to the carvings

  • Duration: 150 Minutes (approx.)
  • Location : Taupo, New Zealand

Discover the Maori Rock Carvings on Lake Taupo with Sail Barbary on our Sunset Sustainability tour

There is more of a casual and party atmosphere on this trip.

BYO food and alcohol, bluetooth your playlist to surround sound.

Swimming is encouraged so bring your togs and towel

Taupo’s Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings are a must-see attraction, only accessible by boat. Sail Barbary has been offering cruises to these carvings since 1982

In 2010 we started our journey to being 100% sustainable. We converted from a noisy smelly diesel engine to an electric motor. So sit back and relax as we take you through our sustainability journey along with commentary on the eco side of the lake, living within a Volcano and the cultural significance of the Maori Rock carvings.

You will get right up close to the 14-meter high rock art for amazing photo opportunities as you experience one of life’s postcard moments - the whole package 'it's a unique and authentic experience'.

Sail Barbary sunset cruise cruises depart daily at 5.00pm and 7.30pm - Summer Only. Valid from September- April. 

Your 2.5 hour cruise also includes:

a glass of wine/beer or soft drink

a Sail Barbary postcard and discount vouchers

PLUS you can BYO (Bring Your Own) prepared food & beverages.

 *All departures are subject to demand, minimum numbers, lake and weather conditions. We reserve the right to transfer customers to an alternative boat should weather conditions allow it. This will not alter the tour route or inclusions.

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Volga River Cruise: Tsars Waterways of Russia

Duration 11 days

Price from USD $4,050 ? Currency Conversion Converted from USD based on the latest exchange rate. Final amount and payment will be in USD. Final conversion rate is determined by your bank.

Trip Style River Cruise

Time of year May - October

Home / Luxury Russia Tours / Volga River Cruise: Tsars Waterways of Russia

Dates & Prices

A Volga River Cruise is for those who seek something truly unique,  and yes, Russia has so much to offer... Experience Russia's rich history and cultural intrigue. enjoy the natural wonders of a vast continent.

The onion-domed buildings and gilded churches of Moscow and St. Petersburg are truly iconic – but if you delve deeper, you’ll encounter more history, heart and soul than you’d ever imagined. And as you cruise between two inspiring cultural capitals (Moscow and St Petersburg), you’ll notice something else that’s special: Russia’s unforgettable landscape. Glimpse ice-blue waterfalls, tiny islands floating in seemingly endless glassy lakes, and hauntingly beautiful sunken ruins surrounded by grand mountains.

Brand new for 2020 and the newest luxury ship in Russia,  5-star Mustai Karim has been specially designed to showcase Russia at its most authentic – because the true magic of Russia is that it’s unlike anywhere else in the world.

Volga River Cruise Highlights:

  • Speciality cuisine: creative menus highlight the best of regional and world cuisine, with special consideration for all dietary requirements. Why not indulge in vodka, Champagne and caviar on the top deck?
  • Exclusive excursions and entertainment: passing under the drawbridges in St. Petersburg, VIP museum openings, classical music concerts, immersive theatre, Russian tea ceremonies, cuisine tastings and cooking classes – every moment is delightfully unique.
  • Wellness:  a spa haven onboard, plus yoga, pilates and other fitness classes.

Two incredible routes that will whisk you away on an adventure like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. See Moscow to St. Petersburg in a new light with expert local knowledge, experience the delights of authentic Russian culture and art, and marvel at the luxury to be found around every corner – before returning to relax onboard the Mustai Karim, where your every expectation is exceeded.

The second incredible route lets you discover St. Petersburg to Moscow. Exclusive tours, authentic experiences, exquisite Russian culture and art, and grandeur like you’ve never seen before – this time from North to South, with an additional stop in the village of Mandrogi.


St Petersburg / Moscow

Moscow / St Petersburg

5* MS Mustai Karim

River Cruise

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Type of tour

11 days / 10 nights

up to 329 passengers

Guaranteed departures

Russia Volga river Cruise Moscow St Petersburg Golden Ring

Day 1 St Petersburg

Welcome to St Petersburg! You will be met by a representative directly upon landing, and transferred to your 5* hotel in the city center. Relax after the flight or take a walk nearby to explore the cosy streets on your own.

Day 2 St Petersburg

After check-out from the hotel, we enjoy a city center tour by bus, including Peter and Paul Fortress, the burial place of the Romanov monarchs, Nevsky Prospect, with its endless fine shops, cafes, and museums, St.Isaak’s Cathedral, and Smolny Cathedral.

Lunch is followed by a tour of the richest art collection of the Hermitage Museum, before boarding your 5-star floating hotel, the Mustai Karim. After a brief check-in, you’ll meet the ship’s crew at a delightful cocktail reception – a relaxing way to begin your adventure after a day’s travel.

Day 3 St Petersburg

A truly unique experience awaits as you pass under the drawn bridges and navigate the canals of St. Petersburg – a privilege exclusive to the guests on this cruise. 

After lunch, we travel to the magnificent Peterhof Palace, where the ‘Russian Versailles’ sparkles with golden fountains.

Day 4 Valaam

Today we depart early for the Valaam Archipelago, a group of 50 islands in the north of Lake Lagoda, the largest lake in Europe. We’ll spend the rest of the day exploring inside the walls of the Central Monastery Complex, dominated by the majestic Cathedral of the Transfiguration. Get acquainted with one of the most scared Orthodox sites in Russia and the site of numerous clashes between the Russians and Swedes in their struggle for power during the 16th century.

Day 5 Mandrogi

Experience a taste of Russia’s traditional heritage in Mandrogi: a unique village built upon a history of craftsmanship. Visit a traditional Russian village with typical wooden houses, numerous crafts exhibitions. Learn about wood painting, intricate beadwork and weaving, blacksmithing, pottery and more. Then, you’ll be treated to a traditional midday Russian picnic (BBQ) – and even have the option to take a trip to a real Russian bathhouse (banya).

Day 6 Kizhi

Prepare to be amazed at the unique beauty of Kizhi Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to the ornate Church of the Transfiguration, with 22 domes built entirely from wood with no single nail. Enjoy a concert “Music of Northern Village” in a beautiful setting.

Day 7 Goritsy

A tiny Russian community with a unique medieval atmosphere, Goritsy reveals a storied past within the famous Ferapontov Monastery. Marvel at paintings over 500 years old, and delve into the lives of the royals who lived there.

Day 8 Uglich

Today you’ll arrive in Uglich, an ancient town filled with brightly coloured architecture. Its Kremlin and the Church of St. Dmitry are particularly famous – the church’s fascinating history is tied to the life and death of Ivan the Terrible’s son. In the afternoon, relax as the sounds of Kovcheg Choir wash over you, then spend a special moment of time in a local family home.

Day 9 Moscow

Today we reach our final destination - Moscow, the glorious capital of Russia. After you disembark from Mustai Kariml, you will be transferred to your centrally located 5* hotel.

Enjoy free time for self-discovery before dinner with your fellow travellers in one of the most popular restaurants.

Day 10 Moscow

Discover Moscow’s sights through the eyes of a local: the Kremlin with its iconic red-built walls; Red Square, home to the dazzling domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral, and Zaryadye Park with its impossible floating bridge. 

Day 11 Moscow

After breakfast, a comfortable transfer awaits you to take you directly to the airport for your flight back home or to your next destination. 

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5* luxury river cruise ship accommodation

5* hotel accommodation in St Petersburg and Moscow

Full board catering (three meals per day) while onboard the cruise ship, several meals while in Moscow and St Petersburg

All excursions according to the itinerary with professional English-speaking guides

Onboard entertainment including Russian language course and Russian songs lessons, live music concerts, etc

Lectures by a guest speaker

Russian visa support document

Travel insurance

Arrival and departure airport transfers

Russian visa and visa fees.  Russian visa can be arranged by 56th Parallel for an additional cost (for Australian citizens only). Apply for concierge visa service  here .

Optional excursions

St Petersburg / Moscow to Moscow / St Petersburg

*Price is "from" per person, based on twin share/double accommodation in the Upper Deck Standard Suite.

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Why travel to Russia with 56th Parallel?

lake taupo sunset cruise

Destination Specialists

Our team offers over 18 years of experience travelling and planning travel in Russia. Delivering outstanding travel experiences in Russia’s capitals and in some of the most stunning & remote locations takes experience, special access and the right connections. We make sure that all the fine details are handled perfectly so you can enjoy your Russia travel experience.

lake taupo sunset cruise

Group & Private Tours

The choice to join a small group on a guaranteed departure or chose to travel on your own dates with your own mates. Each destination we travel to in Russia offers an option between private tours and small group tours. Please note: on our adventure tours in remote destinations, we mostly run group tours to keep the cost down.

lake taupo sunset cruise

Bonded & Licensed

56th Parallel is a fully licensed, insured and accredited travel provider.

lake taupo sunset cruise

From USD $4,050

Day 1: St Petersburg

Day 2: st petersburg, day 3: st petersburg, day 4: valaam, day 5: mandrogi, day 6: kizhi, day 7: goritsy, day 8: uglich, day 9: moscow, day 10: moscow, day 11: moscow, not included, start planning your tour.

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Taupo Sailing Adventures, Lake Taupo Cruises, Maori Rock Carvings

Māori Rock Carvings

Morning Escape 9:30am

Morning Escape 9:30am

Experience the Māori Rock Carvings by sail!

  • 9:30am start

Taste of Taupo 12.30pm

Taste of Taupo 12.30pm

Includes Pizza & Drink, Experience the Māori Rock Carvings by sail!

  • 12:30pm start

Set Sail 3:30pm

Set Sail 3:30pm

Includes 1 drink + pizza

  • 3:30pm start

Sunset Heaven

Sunset Heaven

Includes Pizza & 1 Drink, Experience the Māori Rock Carvings by sail!

  • variable (Nov-March) start

Escape the hectic life and enjoy your sailing experience in comfort and style. Join us on our classical sailing boat Kindred Spirit for a true sailing experience.

Enjoy a large deck space and a comfortable lounge under the main deck. We have a fridge and freezer aboard, as well as a high quality sound system. The boat is fully equipped for safety and enjoyment.

As Kindred Spirit offers a faster sailing experience, you will have more time at the carvings and for the swim stops.

Kindred Spirit can also be booked for private charters .

lake taupo sunset cruise

Built in 1976 by Alan Orams in Whangarei, Kindred Spirit features an L. Francis Herreshoff design, a cutter rigged sloop and a full keel, giving the boat less draft and a wider beam.

  • Length on deck: 47ft (14.3m)
  • Length on waterline: 38’6ft (11.7m)
  • Beam: 12’6ft (3.8m)
  • Draught (lightship)5’8 ft (1.76m)
  • Max speed under engine: 7 knts
  • Max speed sailing: 9-10 knts

lake taupo sunset cruise

  • 433 reviews

Cruise Routes (Interactive Map)

Request a quote download brochure

Russian River Cruises

  • Find your cruise
  • Moscow — St. Petersburg
  • Moscow — Astrakhan
  • Astrakhan — St. Petersburg
  • St. Petersburg
  • Cruise Highlights
  • News & Travel Tips

Russia is again welcoming travelers!

  • A negative PCR test is all that's needed to enter Russia
  • Regular flights are now operating to / from Russia
  • Visas can be issues quickly (Volga Dream provides your invitation)
  • All Volga Dream personnel and guides are fully vacinated
  • Bookings are transferable without penalty for 12 months
  • Volga Dream arranges PCR-tests if needed for your outbound flight

Check our COVID-19 Policy page to learn more.

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Luxurious river cruises in russia.

Explore authentic Russian cities. Enjoy premium service and engaging activities as you sail the Volga River.

Moscow. Red Square. St. Basil Cathedral

2022 Cruise Season

Join our signature small group journeys and cruise in luxury along the Russian Volga river!

St. Petersburg. Palace bridge

The Russian Odyssey

An extended 'South to North' view of Russia from Astrakhan to St. Petersburg through Moscow.

Kizhi Island

Explore Moscow, St. Petersburg and Russia’s Golden Ring in greater depth. Stay at gorgeous Four Seasons hotels. Enjoy special access to iconic cultural sites.

Moscow. Red Square

Lower Volga

Treat yourself to an unforgettable experience cruising the Volga river from Moscow to Astrakhan. The tour includes 2 nights in Moscow.

Yaroslavl. Local Church

Find Your Cruise

Select destination Moscow — St. Petersburg Moscow — Astrakhan Astrakhan — St. Petersburg

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A Volga river cruise is more than a geographical voyage; it’s also a journey through Russia’s rich and captivating history. No other experience takes you so completely to another place and time. The Volga is Europe’s longest and largest river; it meanders through the stories of Ivan the Terrible and his rise to power, the two historic ‘Greats’ Peter and Catherine, and then on into today. It’s a unique opportunity to see modern Russia in the context of its intriguing history, ably assisted by friendly and professional academics and tour guides. A Volga Dream Russian river tour promises to leave you with an unforgettable afterglow of fond memories.

St. Petersburg. Petehof

Moscow to St. Petersburg River Cruise

Moscow and St. Petersburg are Russia’s best-known cities, but the towns of Russia’s historic Golden Ring are delightful too. The luxurious Volga Dream offers a unique opportunity to visit these Russian gems by sailing gently along the Volga River on an unforgettable cruising experience. In small, exclusive groups you’ll enjoy preferential access to some of Russia’s most significant cultural sites.

Volgogard. Mamaev Hill

Moscow to Astrakhan River Cruise

Your River Cruise on the luxurious MS Volga Dream takes you from Moscow along Russia’s grand Volga River to the legend that is Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) and Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea. Along the way, you’ll discover the treasures of Yaroslavl, the oldest city on the Volga, medieval Nizhniy Novgorod and beautiful Kazan, the ancient Tatar capital. We plan our tour carefully to combine the very best of Moscow with a world-class Volga River cruise.

Discover Russia with MS Volga Dream - Click-through map

lake taupo sunset cruise

We love hearing from guests about their time in Russia and one comment often hear is how surprised people are by the Russian capital. We can’t say for certain what people expected but we do know that it’s always far removed from what they imagined! It’s been called a modern metropolis, a cosmopolitan city, an historic gem, an architectural treasure and a cultural powerhouse, among other descriptions. Majestic Moscow has always surprised our guests and left them with lasting and fond memories.

Russia’s famous Golden Ring is an archipelago of historic towns surrounding Moscow. Uglich is one of the oldest and was founded under Igor, the last Varangian prince. It once resisted the Mongol invasion and its ancient walls saw the grisly murder of young Dmitri, son of Ivan the Terrible. The impressive Church of St. Dmitri on the Blood, with its classic onion domes and blood red walls, is a fine example of classic Russian architecture. The tour ends with an enchanting choral concert.

This, the oldest city on the Volga River, and now a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts a wealth of ancient orthodox treasures. The impressive Transfiguration of the Savior, adorned with murals depicting St. John’s apocalyptic visions can be seen in the Spassky Monastery. The Church of St. Elijah the Prophet is decorated with an awe-inspiring selection of rich frescoes. For a real taste of pre-revolutionary Russia, visitors are entertained by a costumed reception at the Governor’s House.

Close to the shores of White Lake once were the ‘tsar’s fishing grounds’. It lies in a place so serene that ancient monks chose to build no fewer than three holy sites here, including the Ferapontov Monastery. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, its chapels boast magnificent frescoes by Dionysius, one of Russia’s most renowned icon painters. The Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery was a refuge for many nobles during tumultuous times and later a fortress that successfully repelled invading armies.

The Karelia region is a vast and naturally beautiful wilderness that spreads all the way from St. Petersburg to the Arctic Circle. The glorious island village of Kizhi consists almost entirely of the traditionally styled wooden buildings of ‘Old Russia’. Among them is the famous Transfiguration Church built in 1714. Remarkably, and in testament to the craftsmen of the time, not a single nail was used in its construction! Kizhi is one of the favorite stops on the river cruise to St. Petersburg.

A typical rural hamlet brought to life by warm and welcoming villagers. Volga Dream guests are invited into local homes to enjoy classic Russian fare, tea with jam and ‘pirozhki’ (pies). Enthusiastic hosts share Russian traditions and the appeal of village life while proudly showing off their scrupulously kept homes and kitchen gardens. The tour continues with a brief bus ride to see a unique World War II memorial and then, for a real glimpse of Russian life, a visit to a local primary school.

Nizhny Novgorod

This was once a wealthy city thanks to its proximity to rich eastern trading routes. During the Soviet era, the city was closed to outsiders because of its military importance. It’s also where many political prisoners were sent to live out their days in exile. The 16th-century Kremlin ramparts offer spectacular views and the city is known for its elaborately decorated churches. For Volga Dream cruise guests, the highlight of the day is an evening folk concert performed by local children.

Sailing along the Volga river, the riverbank gradually ceases to be dominated by Orthodox churches. Instead, beautiful mosques appear as the river crosses into Tatarstan where the first stop is scenic Kazan, the region’s capital. Inside the white walls of the citadel, the famous Kul Sharif mosque and the old Cathedral of Peter and Paul stand side-by-side symbolizing the two faiths’ long and peaceful coexistence in the region. A concert of traditional Tatar music ends the Volga Dream tour in Kazan.

Passing the Zhigulevskie Mountains offers wonderful views from the sundeck before touring the city. One of the key attractions is the fascinating Space Museum, which offers a revealing glimpse of how the Soviet Union pursued its ambitious journey to the cosmos. The town is also noted for its beautiful esplanade, perfect for a relaxed stroll beside the Volga river. This in turn leads to the Samara State Art Museum. Founded in 1897, it is home to a collection of more than 16,000 works of art.

This city is best known for its close associations with cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin. The Russian hero who achieved worldwide fame as the first man in space lived and studied here. Saratov used to be home to a large German community, a heritage that can still be seen in the local architecture. The Volga Dream tour visits the Radishchev State Art Museum, the first picture gallery in Russia outside Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Originally called Tsaritsyn, the city was renamed Stalingrad from 1925 to 1961 in honor of the USSR’s leader. During World War II, the city’s residents put up a heroic defense, repelling an advancing Nazi invasion. The battle for Stalingrad has gone down in history as a pivotal moment in the bloody conflict on the eastern front. The most ferocious and deadly fighting took place on Mamayev Hill, where an imposing memorial now stands close to the excellent Battle of Stalingrad Panorama Museum.

Saint Petersburg

If Moscow surprises, then St Petersburg delights. Peter the Great founded the city to showcase Russia’s newfound enlightenment. He wanted to show the modern world a cultured and advanced society. In short, he built the city to impress and in that he succeeded splendidly! The striking buildings were designed by some of the finest architects Europe had to offer and even now, the ‘Venice of the North’ never fails to enchant with its spectacular buildings and impressive canal network. It is a city of true grandeur.

Cocktails with the Captain

Commanding any ship is a complex role that calls for a long list of skills. Captains know their vessels inside out as well as well as the routes they sail and when things don’t go to plan, they have to make instant decisions. Above all though, the most important part of the job, underpinning everything they do, is to keep the ship and everyone aboard safe. The Captain’s cocktail party is a great and a wonderful opportunity for passengers and crew to get acquainted as the gets underway.

Matryoshka doll painting

There is nothing more typically Russian than a Matryoshka. It embodies the fact that there’s always something deeper to be found in every aspect of Russian life. Learning the traditional designs and techniques used to decorate these iconic dolls offers a pleasant diversion and some cathartic creativity!

Superb Service & Dining

Our restaurant serves the highest standard of international cuisine, freshly made by our Cordon Bleu Chef. Choose either a sumptuous buffet or set menu for lunch while dinner is always four or five courses with full service. High praise for the exquisite quality of meals is yet another constantly recurring feature in feedback from our guests.

Meet the Professor

From the Mongol hordes to Soviet times, Russia’s history is, like all of Europe’s, a complex web of political intrigue, war and peace, trade and treaties, as well as heroes and villains. Academics devote whole lifetimes to studying Russia’s long past and one of them presents a series of lectures shedding light on everything from Gorbachev to Chekhov, Khrushchev to Ivan the Terrible and of course, contemporary Russia. Our Professor is on board throughout the river cruise for informal conversation.

Beginner’s Russian

The Russian language can be rather beautiful and poetic and we know that many seasoned travelers enjoy trying their hand at different languages. Our onboard teachers provide an introduction to the riches of Russian, so guests can try out a few useful words and phrases on real Russians during the exciting river tours from Moscow to St. Petersburg or from Moscow to Volgograd!

Russian tea tasting

The drink we tend to associate with Russia is vodka, but tea, in fact, is the much more universal beverage of choice throughout the country. Guests will get acquainted with the Russian tea etiquette, a fundamental component of the country's social culture, and enjoy the traditional tea ceremony while cruising from St. Petersburg to Moscow or taking a Grand Volga river tour.

Russian Dinner & Vodka Tasting

All our dining is international but for Russian Dining night, the Chef includes a selection of traditional Russian dishes: Chicken Kiev, Kulebyaka and no Russian table is complete without Borsch. To add to the ‘Taste of Russia’ optional Russian dress, or at least a touch of Russian style, is provided along with enthusiastic help from our staff!

Russian Cooking Class

A plate of pelmeni might not look like much to the untrained eye, but it forms the heart of Russian cuisine and culture. Basically, it's a type of dumpling: small portions of meat and onion wrapped in a thin sheet of unleavened dough and boiled, a little like ravioli. Guests can join a Russian cooking class onboard the MS Volga Dream to learn how to cook this delicious Russian dish.

Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov Piano Recital

Some of the greatest classical music ever written comes from Russia. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting stage for a virtuoso solo recital by our resident concert pianist than the mighty Volga or a better backdrop than the heart of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov’s own serene homeland.

Russian River Cruise Aboard Volga Dream

Moscow to St. Petersburg

Why Volga Dream

Kizhi Island

Family Owned & Operated

MS Volga Dream is Russia’s only family-owned river cruise ship. She can accommodate up to 100 guests, far fewer than most other cruise ships on the river making for a uniquely friendly and intimate atmosphere aboard.

Moscow. Four Seasons view

Five-Star Central Hotels

We at Volga Dream are completely convinced that, our guests should stay in great 5-star hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg within comfortable walking distance of all the major attractions, theaters and restaurants, rather than having to waste time in traffic.

MS Volga Dream. Owner's Suite

Luxurious Accommodation

The MS Volga Dream is the most intimate and elegant 5-star cruise vessel in Russia. She boasts 56 cabins, all river facing, ranging from comfortable Standard Cabins to spacious Junior Suites and the luxurious forward facing Owner's Suite.

Yaroslavl. Local Church

Russian Cultural Experience

Explore Russia's past with the help of professional tour guides. Our on-board program includes fascinating talks on Russian history and politics, Russian language lessons, a festival of Russian cuisine (including vodka tasting!), and much more.

MS Volga Dream cuisine

Gourmet Dining

Our on board restaurant serves international cuisine to the highest standard, all freshly made by our Cordon Bleu Chef. For Russian Dining night, he prepares a selection of traditional Russian dishes: Chicken Kiev, Kulebyaka and Borsch.

MS Volga Dream bartenders

Tailored Service

All our service crew members are native Russians who are fluent in English and handpicked by the Owner. Proudly, the Volga Dream is famous for her hard working and very hospitable personnel who take care of every aspect of your life aboard.

Download Our Brochure

It's never been easier to plan your next holiday in Russia. Download our free brochure to learn more about authentic Russian river cruises.

Volga Dream Brochure

Escape the hassle and bustle and add a satisfyingly informative element to your trip and bring together a colorful mosaic of people, history, traditions,  religion, music and art. These are the many strands that time has woven into what is known today as Russia.

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Cruising the Moskva River: A short guide to boat trips in Russia’s capital

lake taupo sunset cruise

There’s hardly a better way to absorb Moscow’s atmosphere than on a ship sailing up and down the Moskva River. While complicated ticketing, loud music and chilling winds might dampen the anticipated fun, this checklist will help you to enjoy the scenic views and not fall into common tourist traps.

How to find the right boat?

There are plenty of boats and selecting the right one might be challenging. The size of the boat should be your main criteria.

Plenty of small boats cruise the Moskva River, and the most vivid one is this yellow Lay’s-branded boat. Everyone who has ever visited Moscow probably has seen it.

lake taupo sunset cruise

This option might leave a passenger disembarking partially deaf as the merciless Russian pop music blasts onboard. A free spirit, however, will find partying on such a vessel to be an unforgettable and authentic experience that’s almost a metaphor for life in modern Russia: too loud, and sometimes too welcoming. Tickets start at $13 (800 rubles) per person.

Bigger boats offer smoother sailing and tend to attract foreign visitors because of their distinct Soviet aura. Indeed, many of the older vessels must have seen better days. They are still afloat, however, and getting aboard is a unique ‘cultural’ experience. Sometimes the crew might offer lunch or dinner to passengers, but this option must be purchased with the ticket. Here is one such  option  offering dinner for $24 (1,490 rubles).

lake taupo sunset cruise

If you want to travel in style, consider Flotilla Radisson. These large, modern vessels are quite posh, with a cozy restaurant and an attentive crew at your service. Even though the selection of wines and food is modest, these vessels are still much better than other boats.

lake taupo sunset cruise

Surprisingly, the luxurious boats are priced rather modestly, and a single ticket goes for $17-$32 (1,100-2,000 rubles); also expect a reasonable restaurant bill on top.

How to buy tickets?

Women holding photos of ships promise huge discounts to “the young and beautiful,” and give personal invitations for river tours. They sound and look nice, but there’s a small catch: their ticket prices are usually more than those purchased online.

“We bought tickets from street hawkers for 900 rubles each, only to later discover that the other passengers bought their tickets twice as cheap!”  wrote  (in Russian) a disappointed Rostislav on a travel company website.

Nevertheless, buying from street hawkers has one considerable advantage: they personally escort you to the vessel so that you don’t waste time looking for the boat on your own.

lake taupo sunset cruise

Prices start at $13 (800 rubles) for one ride, and for an additional $6.5 (400 rubles) you can purchase an unlimited number of tours on the same boat on any given day.

Flotilla Radisson has official ticket offices at Gorky Park and Hotel Ukraine, but they’re often sold out.

Buying online is an option that might save some cash. Websites such as  this   offer considerable discounts for tickets sold online. On a busy Friday night an online purchase might be the only chance to get a ticket on a Flotilla Radisson boat.

This  website  (in Russian) offers multiple options for short river cruises in and around the city center, including offbeat options such as ‘disco cruises’ and ‘children cruises.’ This other  website  sells tickets online, but doesn’t have an English version. The interface is intuitive, however.

Buying tickets online has its bad points, however. The most common is confusing which pier you should go to and missing your river tour.

lake taupo sunset cruise

“I once bought tickets online to save with the discount that the website offered,” said Igor Shvarkin from Moscow. “The pier was initially marked as ‘Park Kultury,’ but when I arrived it wasn’t easy to find my boat because there were too many there. My guests had to walk a considerable distance before I finally found the vessel that accepted my tickets purchased online,” said the man.

There are two main boarding piers in the city center:  Hotel Ukraine  and  Park Kultury . Always take note of your particular berth when buying tickets online.

Where to sit onboard?

Even on a warm day, the headwind might be chilly for passengers on deck. Make sure you have warm clothes, or that the crew has blankets ready upon request.

The glass-encased hold makes the tour much more comfortable, but not at the expense of having an enjoyable experience.

lake taupo sunset cruise

Getting off the boat requires preparation as well. Ideally, you should be able to disembark on any pier along the way. In reality, passengers never know where the boat’s captain will make the next stop. Street hawkers often tell passengers in advance where they’ll be able to disembark. If you buy tickets online then you’ll have to research it yourself.

There’s a chance that the captain won’t make any stops at all and will take you back to where the tour began, which is the case with Flotilla Radisson. The safest option is to automatically expect that you’ll return to the pier where you started.

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