The group was amazing and the places we visited was spectacular!
It was an amazing experience to go to Russia and experience so many different things. The countries visited in this trip where a 10/10 and the activity’s on offer were also amazing. Highly recommend
Great trip. Brilliant itinerary
Whilst I had a good time in general, I had two main issues with this tour;
Firstly, I wasn't aware that I would be joining a group who had already been travelling together for 3 weeks. Having been on a 3 week tour myself previously, I'm aware of the bonding that takes place in this amount of time, and trying to break into that can be quite difficult. There was minimal effort by the tour leader to introduce the 'newbies' to the group, and I definitely feel that there could have been some activities perhaps on the bus during travel time to make us feel more welcome. I think Topdeck needs to make it clear on the website that this tour joins a larger tour, and make more of an effort to integrate the newcomers so that there's not that divide between 'old' and 'new'.
Secondly, whilst I understand that Russia in particular is somewhat different to travelling through a 'western' country such as Italy, the knowledge of our tour leader just wasn't there. More often than not we found ourselves having to google what to do for dinner or where to go during the day. If I'm paying for a guided tour, this is something I don't expect to have to do. The included dinners where usually at the hotel buffet, and when there wasn't an organised dinner, we were simply told that we'd need to split up because we wouldn't get in anywhere as a group, which frankly isn't good enough. I've travelled on numerous tours with other tour companies, and this has never been an issue. If it is the case that these things are more difficult in the Eastern European countries, Topdeck needs to do the research to ensure that there are pre-arranged places to eat, so that we're not wandering the streets most nights trying to find a place.
I was honestly expecting a more authentic Russian experience, instead we found ourselves eating at burger restaurants with no sign of the 'vodka and kaviar' mentioned in the description of the tour.
The facilities were good for the price of the tour. Niall was an awesome driver and a great bloke. Rogan didn't have sufficient knowledge of the route and the sites.
Loved Russia and the tour took me everywhere I want to see. Its an incredible country. I had previously tried to organise this trip on my own and it was so hard so booking a trip made it super easy.
My only criticism is that this tour was joined with a group that had we're basically doing all of Europe on a tour and we're not adventurous and wen't particularly interested in Russian culture and expected everything to be planned out and organised for them. The group that were there just for the Russia trip had a totally different mentality and wanted to get out and explore the country and nightlife so there was a huge divide in the group.
Everything was taken care off and such a great tour guide!
Great value for money as we covered a lot of things in the 16 days, with most bucket list items ticked off. Local Russian guides were lovely and very knowledgeable. Even though it's a hostel plus trip, most of the accommodation were nice hotels (twin share rooms).
The one downer was the many very long drive days on the coach. It's inevitable since there's such long distances to cover but only maybe 10 or so days were "actual" days rather than 16.
The optional activities were mostly good for what we paid for them. The Russian folk dance was unexpectedly good (it was a new optional), we weren't given much information about it but most of us signed up anyway and were pleasantly surprised at how good it was.
Just a note that it is easier to not sign up to optional activities and then sign up later than if you change your mind later on because they can't refund you. So best to think carefully whether you want to do the activities.
Also, although the optionals are in Russia, we paid for them in Euros so make sure you budget accordingly. I'm not sure whether it works out more favourably in terms of costs but it's easier to pay in Euros as ATMs in St Petersburg seemed very hard to come by...
Since this was a sector trip, there was an obvious divide between the people who started from day 1 (the Red Star Special group) and this group. More could be done to bridge the gap between both groups. Overall, I wasn't too bothered by it but it would have been nice for more cohesion throughout the entire tour group.