RASK Cruises & Trains

Arctic Explorer – Quest for the Northern Lights

Bring in the New Year and celebrate a Russian Christmas in style! Take in the beautiful cities of St Petersburg and Moscow, graced by festive decorations and nature’s own wintry adornments and explore deep into the Russian and Norwegian Arctic Circle in pursuit of the magnificent Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

ST. PETERSBURG  –  KIRKENES (NORWAY)  –  MURMANSK  –  PETROZAVODSK  –  VLADIMIR  –  SUZDAL  –  MOSCOW

Day 1: St Petersburg 

Russia

Flight arrivals into St Petersburg and transfer to the luxurious Grand Hotel Europe (or similar) for a two-night stay. This evening you are invited to a champagne drinks reception with the opportunity to meet your fellow travelers before our exclusive welcome dinner. Specially selected international wines are included with dinner, as with all meals during the tour.

Day 2: St Petersburg

St Petersburg is a stunning city, crowded with splendid palaces, impressive historical monuments, wide boulevards, beautiful bridges and is renowned as the Ballet Capital of the World. Today enjoy a guided tour of Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin and the Hermitage Museum, the former Winter Palace of the Tsars – one of the world’s largest and most impressive art museums. Make your evening in St Petersburg extra special by purchasing a ticket for a ballet or opera performance at one of the world-renowned St Petersburg theatres (subject to schedule and availability and pre-booking prior to departure).

Day 3: St Petersburg (New Year’s Eve)

Today there is a tour of St Petersburg featuring the key sights including St Isaac’s Cathedral and Nevsky Prospect. This afternoon we transfer to the station to board Russia’s premier train, the Golden Eagle and settle into our modern, stylish cabins to embark upon our rail adventure to the Arctic Circle. We have a unique opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve on board at our signature Gala Caviar Dinner in the beautifully designed restaurant car, specially decorated tonight for our New Year’s Eve Party.  Enjoy complimentary champagne, international wines and live musical entertainment for a New Year’s Eve you won’t forget.

Day 4: Crossing the Arctic Circle (New Year’s Day)

Today we have the opportunity to have a relaxed start to the day and to unwind after our evening of celebration. Our guest astronomer will host an afternoon tea with freshly baked Russian cakes and talk about the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in our stylish bar car.  Today our train crosses the Arctic Circle on our quest to see the Northern Lights.

Day 5: Kirkenes & The Northern Lights 

Norway

This morning we leave our train with an overnight bag at the Russian border station of Nikel and we transfer by bus (90 minutes drive) across the Russian/Norwegian border to Kirkenes for a two night stay at the Thon Hotel (or similar). We will visit the magical Snow Hotel for a welcome drink in the snow bar and a tour of the hotel with its ice sculptures and snow painting by local and international artists. After a traditional meal in the snow hotel’s warm lodge restaurant we’ll take an evening bus tour in search of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). If the sky is clear our guest astronomer will be on hand to advise us during star-gazing and will bring the night sky to life with his extensive knowledge.

Optional Activities in Kirkenes:  Snowmobile Safari (2 hours), Snow Shoe Walking Tour (2 hours), take a magical excursion by husky dog sledge (2 hours) or go in search of the Northern Lights by husky dog sledge (4 hours). Each sledge is pulled by a team of eight dogs, and can seat two people and a driver called a dog musher. These activities have limited places and should be requested at the time of booking the tour – please contact us for prices.

Day 6: Kirkenes & Northern Lights

This morning a unique winter experience awaits on our King Crab Fishing adventure. The excursion begins with a snowmobile-drawn sleigh across the frozen fjords. Warm clothing and a helmet is provided. Through a hole in the ice you will be shown by your master guide how to catch the magnificent Arctic King Crab (which can span two metres and weigh upto 15kgs). We then continue by sleigh to the nearby Fisherman’s Lodge. It is here by a cosy log fire that your King Crab meal awaits. The crabs you catch will be prepared and cooked for you here.

This afternoon we return to the Snow Hotel to see the resident reindeers and visit the biggest husky dog farm in eastern Finnmark or return to Kirkenes Village for a walking tour.

For a really memorable experience why not choose the ‘coolest’ hotel check-in around and stay overnight at the Snow Hotel? Upgrades to the snow hotel are limited so book early to avoid disappointment. The snow hotel stays at a constant minus five degrees centigrade and thermal sleeping bags are provided.

Day 7: Arctic Circle & Northern Lights 

Russia

Today we cross the border back into Russia and re-join our train which is waiting for us in Nikel. We’ll spend the afternoon on board travelling through arctic Russia. Relax and enjoy the ever-changing winter landscape outside your window, chat to fellow passengers or listen to a lecture by our guest astronomer. Afternoon tea with freshly baked Russian cookies will be served in our stylish bar car.

Day 8: Murmansk & Northern Lights

We will continue to Murmansk, a city halfway between Moscow and the North Pole, and 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. As the main city of the Kola Peninsula, it started as a tiny settlement and Arctic trading post. Thanks to the influence of the Gulf Stream, the port is ice-free year-round. Homeport of Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreakers we’ll visit the Nuclear Icebreaker Museum Ship.

Day 9 (Sochelnik): Petrozavodsk 

Russia

Petrozavodsk stretches along the western shore of Lake Onega – the second largest lake in Europe. It is one of the major cultural and industrial centres of the North-West of Russia and is the capital of the Republic of Karelia. We take a city tour and then celebrate Sochelnik (Russian Christmas Eve) with a Karelian Folk Performance and continue our festivities with a traditional Russian Christmas Eve meal, known as the Holy Supper. As always a generous allowance of international wine and drinks are included with our dinner as we celebrate together.

Day 10: Vladimir & Suzdal 

The historic city of Vladimir was founded in 990 and is one of Russia’s oldest communities. With an architectural wealth, it has been decreed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What better place to spend Rozhdestvo (Russian Christmas), celebrated today? Our tour takes in Uspensky Cathedral, built between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. It is considered one of the most important and beautiful of Russian cathedrals, where many of the prominent Russian Tsars were crowned. From Vladimir we travel to Suzdal, one of Russia’s most perfectly preserved walled cities dating back to 1024, located 35 kilometres from Vladimir. Here we visit the atmospheric St Euthymius Monastery to witness an enchanting choral performance by the resident monks. No Russian winter experience would be complete without the horse-drawn sleigh ride through this stunning location.

Day 11: Moscow 

This morning we arrive at Moscow Kazanskiy station and transfer to a centrally located five-star hotel for a one-night stay. We visit the Red Square, an iconic symbol of Russia’s former military and political might with its eclectic mix of fascinating architecture, such as the ornate St Basil’s Cathedral’s magnificent onion-domed spires, the beautiful façade of the world famous GUM Department store constructed in Tsarist times, and the sombre and evocative site of Lenin’s tomb. We’ll also take a tour of the opulent and unique stations of the Moscow metro – showpieces of Socialist art furnished with statues, frescoes and mosaics, unsurpassed anywhere in the world.

Day 12: Moscow

Our touring programme this morning takes us to the grandeur of the Kremlin – the spiritual, historical and political heart of Moscow. We will enjoy an exclusive private viewing before it opens to the public. We’ll also see the treasures of the Tsars in the Armoury Chamber. A return to the Moscow Aurora late morning brings the tour to a close and airport transfers are provided for your departure flights. Lunch, if required would be by your own arrangement. Why not extend your stay in Moscow to explore more of the city at your leisure, go ice skating on the open air ice rink at Red Square or enjoy the Russian Christmas celebrations?

TOUR DATES: 29th December 2017 – 9th January 2018

PRICES (per person):

  • Silver Class: USD11,995 double occupancy / USD16,995 single occupancy
  • Gold Class: USD13,995 double occupancy / USD19,995 single occupancy
  • Imperial Suite: USD22,995 double occupancy / single occupancy on request

 

CONTACT US NOW FOR MORE INFO AND BOOKINGS!

 

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