St. Petersburg lies at the shore of the Gulf of Finland that separates it from that Scandinavian country. A coastal city, it offers a number of cruises both short and long.
Whichever choice a visitor makes can hardly be bad, since there are so many fine sights to see on any of them. The River Neva itself winds along a large section of the city and provides multiple opportunities. There are even smaller boat tours that float along the many canals that thread through Russia’s second-largest city.
You can take a ferry ride and make a leisurely tour of the water, then take an excursion to the Hermitage or any of St. Petersburg’s other outstanding attractions. For a faster ride, try one of the hydrofoils that speed up the river to the Peterhof to visit the famed fountains. Take a boat ride up the river and visit Tsarskoye Selo (Royal Village) in one of the cities famed suburbs, Pushkin. The site is the former palace of the daughter of Peter the Great (Tsarina Elizabeth), Catherine the Great, and others.
Most river cruises begin at the embankment alongside the Winter Palace, so you can take a tour of the water, then of this spectacular site. Canal tours are available starting from Griboyedov Canal just north of Nevsky Prospekt. Prices are typically in the range of a few dollars and last an hour or two.
Larger cruises travel from St. Petersburg to Helsinki and elsewhere.
Most cruises, whether short or long, are available only during the non-winter months (roughly from May through October). But there are some that offer those who love cold weather a view of the Gulf of Finland, the Baltic Sea, and other waterways between Russia and its neighbors.
One tour lasting several days makes a stopover at the island of Valaam, famed for being the site of the Valaam Monastery. Another stops at Kizhi Island and Uglich on its way to Moscow via the Neva River and the Volgo-Balt Channel. It passes through Ladoga Lake and Onegskoe Lake and other renowned water destinations. Still, others head to Estonia and other exciting locations in this ancient land.
All the large cruise companies offer tours, including Silversea, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Princess Cruises, and Radisson Seven Seas. Smaller excursions, such as the ferry and canal rides are usually handled by local companies, such as Vodokhod and Russian Cruises. They all offer English-speaking staff and many extras.