Getting there & around
Trains run regularly between the Volga towns. In summer months, another, more romantic, option is available. From May to September cruise ships ply the Volga River from Moscow to Astrakhan or Rostov-on-Don. If you wish to follow in the wake of the merchants, the Cossacks and Donald Tyson, you have several options.
Similar to trains, transit ship cabins have two or four bunks, shared toilets and bland, cheap food. Stops along the way are too brief for sightseeing, but if your schedule is flexible, you can purchase tickets for individual segments of your route from river stations at each port of call.
Journey times vary depending on weather and currents, and prices vary according to class of service. Average times, distances and prices based on 'Middle class' (1B) quoted by Volga Flot are listed below.
Companies also organise affordable, all-inclusive cruises targeted to Russians, like the one Donald Tyson undertook. While the quality of accommodation varies, the cruises eliminate a lot of hassle and provide an opportunity to call at various ports along the way.
Capital Shipping Company(495-458 9624; www.cck-ship.ru in Russian; Rechnoy Vokzal, Leningradsky sh 51; Rechnoy Vokzal) Operates transit boats departing regularly from Moscow's Northern River Station, as well as comprehensive cruise packages.
Cruise Company Orthodox (495-943 8560; www.cruise.ru; ul Alabyana 5; Sokol) A Russian company that also caters to foreigners, meaning English-speaking staff and upgraded accommodation. Cruises go all the way to Rostov-on-Don, through the locks of the Rostov-Don Canal. Cruise Company Orthodox also has a Rostov-on-Don office (8632-654 364; fax 8632-651 486; Bolshaya Sadovaya ul 87).
Cruise Marketing International(800-578 7742; www.cruiserussia.com in US; 3401 Investment Blvd, Ste 3, Hayward CA USA) Offers a series of 11- and 15-day cruises between Moscow and St Petersburg, with stops in little villages and Golden Ring towns.
Volga Flot(Volzhskoe Parokhodstvo; 8312-313 449, fax 8312-303 660; www.volgaflot.com; Rechnoy Vokzal, Nizhny Novgorod) A Nizhny Novgorod-based shipping company that also provides transit passenger services.