Travel Advice \ Travelers' Feedback \ Travelers Impressions (Lena River Cruise)
Travelers Impressions (Lena River Cruise)
by Mr. / Mrs. Don & Arlene Kaufman, August 2008
...I am writing to comment on the Mikhail Svetlov August 1-14 cruise you arranged for us on the Lena river. After traveling on three airlines across fifteen time zones, we arrived in Yakutsk rather exhausted. But our arrival was eased by our being met by Larissa Solovera who transported us to the Polar Star for a needed day of rest. (It was a fine hotel).
After a tour of the city the following day, we embarked on our voyage. We were the only native English speakers aboard. In equal numbers, German and Russian were the languages spoken. Given our extensive solo travels, we had been in this situation numerous times before and always managed to successfully cope, communicate essentials and thoroughly enjoy ourselves. As a result we were neither perturbed nor did we expect any special consideration.
Consequently, we were surprised when Larissa introduced us to a local young lady teacher who would act as our personal interpreter throughout the two week trip. Larissa had just recruited her the previous evening specifically for us. What an example of outstanding and unexpected service! In addition to assisting us with translations, our young interpreter, Asya, proved to be a warm, charming and thoroughly delightful companion. We grew extremely fond of her.
In addition to this service, we were purposefully seated at meals with two English-speaking German women. This further reduced our isolation. Furthermore, we were a very compatible foursome and spent most of our meal time in laughter.
Posted daily event and dining time announcements were in German and Russian. Again, staff management extended themselves to assist us. They prepared a daily English translation for our use. We greatly appreciated the thoughtfulness and effort made to ease our journey.
The "Mikhail Svetlov" was an attractive and efficiently managed vessel. Both our rooms and all common areas were exceedingly clean. The meals were served punctually and the food good and very adequate for us. There was always a choice for lunch and dinner. Management did an outstanding job in planning and executing a variety of programs-day and evening- to educate and entertain. Both a variety of professional entertainers as well as passenger-centered programs were throughly enjoyable. All the activities were well thought-out and executed.
Of course, cruising on the peaceful river; gazing at the changing scenery and lounging on deck chairs was a relaxing and pleasurable change from a hectic life at home. We made stops along the shore to explore, fish or even swim. When we visited villages we learned about regional cultures and were always entertained by local people in traditional dress. The children were especially charming. The ship had a theater, a bar-entertainment area, a combination billiard-library-seating room and open upper and side decks that had an overabundance of seating.
Perhaps, however, the most lingering pleasing memory of the trip will not be the sights seen or comforts provided, but rather the engaging friendliness of so many of the young staff who served our meals or worked behind the scenes and counters. We are currently in the process of emailing and sending photos to several of them.
And so, Artour, the voyage was a positive experience for us - fascinating and exceeding our expectations in many ways. Please convey to the ship owners and management staff our thanks and our congratulations on a job well done. Should any of your clients wish detailed information about this trip, feel free to have them contact us. Arlene and I would be happy to chat with them.
Again, thanks for your help in making all the arrangements.
Best wishes, Don & Arlene Kaufman