Last year, I had the opportunity to take a bucket list trip to Moscow, Russia. I spent two nights at the Radisson Royal Moscow Hotel, a 5-star luxury property on the banks of the Moskva River. When I learned of the hotel’s three-hour dinner cruise (the Flotilla Radisson Royal) on a modern sightseeing boat, I signed up immediately. The cruise was wheelchair accessible, with some minor challenges that I will discuss in this blog post.
The cruise ticket cost 700 RUB (~$10 USD), but dinner and drinks are not included with the ticket. On the evening cruises, dinner can be purchased off of the ship’s menu. I thought the menu prices were more than reasonable, for both food and alcohol.
My friend and I booked the 8 p.m. evening cruise, departing from the dock at the hotel. There are also departures available from Gorky Park. My ship’s course took me from the hotel pier, down the river and to the Novospassky Monastery. The ship turns around at the Monastery, and makes its way back to the departure point. There are no one-way cruises and stops are not available. The Gorky Park pier is located midway through the route, so ships departing from there will turn around twice, at the Monastery and at the hotel. Both cruises take between 2.5 and 3 hours.
Boarding the Ship
I faced the first accessibility challenge right from the start – at boarding. As you can see in the photo above, the bridge/ramp connecting the boat with the pier has a significant step or lip of 4 to 5 inches. My power wheelchair was unable to make it over this on its own. The dock and ship crew helped to lift my chair up onto the ramp, and I made it aboard! This would be an easy problem for the company to fix, but I do not suspect that will happen. It’s frustrating, but to get your wheelchair aboard, you’ll have to accept some help.
The Cruise Experience
There are two classes of service on the ship – First and Second. Unfortunately, only second class is wheelchair accessible. It fills the entire lower level, or main deck, and there are tables and chairs spread throughout. On the night of my cruise, there weren’t too many people aboard, so the tables in the center did not have to be used. I would recommend being among the first to board, so that you can secure a table by the windows.
I had the pleasure of cruising the river with my friend Jan, who had met me for a few days in Moscow. We grabbed a table near a window at the rear of the ship, and enjoyed our meals over a few beers. I don’t recall what he had, but I chose the beef medallions with baked potatoes and balsamic sauce. I would rate the food and service a “B,” but it was certainly an “A+” for value.
We both dressed in smart casual and fit right in with the extremely diverse crowd – many world continents and countries were represented!
One of the sights we passed was the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The present structure was built in 2000, and is the tallest Eastern Orthodox church in the world. I had the pleasure of touring the Cathedral’s interior, and wrote about it in my article on Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Moscow.
You’ll also have the opportunity to see many other landmarks during the river cruise, including:
- Russian Federation House of Government
- Kievsky Railway Station
- Moscow State University
- Luzhniki Stadium
- Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure
- Peter the Great Monument Statue
- The Kremlin
- St. Basil’s Cathedral
Since it was below-freezing outside, we decided to remain inside the ship. The rear deck is wheelchair accessible, and would be a great place to take photographs. If you are really interested in taking photos, I would recommend a daytime departure. Since we spent the days seeing the sights directly, we decided to take the cruise at night and enjoy dinner on the water.
Pictured above is the ship’s bathroom, which is very small. I was able to roll my wheelchair directly into the bathroom and close the door, but there was no space to place my wheelchair beside the toilet, or to turn around. It would require some acrobatics to transfer onto the toilet seat from a wheelchair, but it would be possible for some. It is certainly much more accessible for male wheelchair users who do not need to sit on the toilet seat.
Arrival & Final Thoughts
Since I chose the cruise departing from my hotel, we returned to the same pier. The hotel itself is a beautiful structure, housed inside one of the “Seven Sisters,” skyscrapers built during the Stalin Era and modeled after buildings in New York City.
The cruise was a really nice experience, particularly because I had a friend along to converse with. On my next trip to Moscow, I’ll definitely take the cruise again, but in the daytime. I was able to overcome the accessibility challenges with the help of others, and I would rate the entire experience a “B+.” A sightseeing cruise for $10, plus dinner and drinks for another $25 – you can’t beat that for three hours of entertainment and fun!
For more information on the cruise, visit its website at www.radisson-cruise.ru.
Plan a trip to Russia with the Moscow Wheelchair Accessible Travel Guide!