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MOSCOW, RUSSIA – Cruise the Volga, meet a cosmonaut at Russia’s space training center, linger among the opulent riches of the inimitable Hermitage Museum, part of the winter palace of Catherine the Great and home to one of the world’s foremost collections of fine art (yours to explore before the museum opens for public admission). These are among the memorable experiences you’ll enjoy as you journey by ship and on land through the heart of Russia via a unique 13-day tour program, “Cruise the Passage of Peter the Great.”

A six-night lake and river cruise is the centerpiece of this adventure, sandwiched between two full days in St. Petersburg and two full days in Moscow.  This all-inclusive package is offered by AHI Travel, a well-respected travel company that has been providing deluxe tours for alumni groups, associations and special-interest organizations for more than 40 years.

After flying via scheduled jet service from North America to St. Petersburg, you’ll have two full days to indulge in the comforts of your floating hotel, the M/S Repin, while you explore the beautiful pastel architecture of the “Capital of the Czars.”

It was the vision of Peter the Great to build a Russian capital that would rival the great cities of Europe. Through three centuries of strife (and three name changes) St. Petersburg has reigned like a charming, flamboyant monarch—defiantly opulent, extravagantly colorful and altogether irresistible. Like a jewel box fashioned by Fabergé, the city is a masterpiece of design and ingenuity, a magical tapestry of pastels framed by sparkling water.

On a city tour, you’ll see the Admiralty, the statue, The Bronze Horseman, which depicts Peter the Great on a rearing horse, and an array of churches, palaces and other historic buildings which help make St. Petersburg one of Europe’s most dazzling capitals. There are visits to Peter and Paul Fortress, the spectacular Petrodvorets Palace and St. Isaac’s Cathedral. A highlight is a cultural performance at the neoclassical Hermitage Theatre, one of the oldest theaters in Russia.

The 120-passenger M/S Repin features the latest safety and navigational equipment. Tastefully furnished cabins are air conditioned and all face outside, affording excellent views of the passing countryside. The dining room serves Russian specialties, including dishes from various regions of the country, and Russian wine. You are invited to attend a festive Russian “Welcome Party” aboard ship. The ship becomes your floating hotel room for the duration of the tour, meaning you have the convenience of unpacking only once.

You’ll cruise on Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega, respectively, Europe’s largest and second-largest freshwater lakes. Then, the ship is raised and lowered through a series of locks as you sail the Volga, Svir and Neva rivers. Guided shore excursions are included at each port.

You’ll go ashore in Mandrogi for a traditional Russian barbecue lunch and folkloric show  and visit Kizhi Island and the old Russian village of Goritsy, along with two of the jewels of Russia’s “Golden Ring,” Yaroslavl and Uglich in the heart of cultural Russia. The familiar onion-shaped domes of churches here were constructed shingle-by-shingle without the use of nails and are a lasting tribute to the skills of craftsmen. There’s time to explore the cluster of wooden dachas (summer homes) and browse though handicraft shops.

An excursion to Star City includes lunch and a tour of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, home to the Russian space program. There’s a behind-the-scenes look at training techniques and a chance to meet a cosmonaut.

One of the intriguing excursions during your stay in Moscow is a visit to the Kremlin. Surrounded by massive red brick walls, the Kremlin consists of several magnificent buildings, including stunning palaces and gold-dome cathedrals. Your visit to Moscow includes specially arranged visits to the Kremlin and Red Square, site of Lenin’s Mausoleum and the GUM department store.

            Cost of this value-priced package is from $3,879 per person (based on double occupancy), including airfare via scheduled jet service New York/St. Petersburg and Moscow/New York (prices slightly higher from other U.S. gateways).  Included are accommodations and meals aboard ship plus shore excursions and tours. Also included are seminars led by local experts and extras such as deluxe travel wallet and automatic $250,000 flight insurance for passengers tickets by AHI Travel.

Dates are: June 15-27, June 26-July 8, July 29-Aug. 10, Aug. 31-Sept. 12, Sept. 11-Sept. 23.  For more information contact AHI International Corporation, 6400 Shafer Ct., Rosemont, IL 60018, 800-323-7373—or check the Web site at

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