With the recent arrival of our guests, we finally had an excuse and opportunity to hop on board the Radisson Royal’s Flotilla. These beautiful, sleek, super-yachts travel along the Moscow River all year round and offer the most stunning views of Moscow. In the summer they have open decks and in the winter are billed as ‘ice breakers’ and literally keep the Moscow River from freezing completely.
The tickets are very reasonably priced and food items served on board from the menu are delicious and their prices comparable with most restaurants around. Although first-class tickets for the upper deck are available, we were seated on the lower deck right up against the large panoramic windows. We were very fortunate to board the yacht whilst it was still light, although raining slightly, and enjoyed the view of the lights twinkling in the dark on our way back to the dock.
Our boat began its journey at the Ukrainian Hotel (now the Radisson hotel – but old habits die hard, so Ukrainian Hotel it remains!) and lasted about 90 minutes. Our winter coats were taken by friendly staff as soon as we stepped on board as we filed on board in an orderly and relatively patient queue. A waitress dressed a sailor appeared almost immediately at our table to take drink orders, it would have seemed rude not to have tried a vodka. – and when in Moscow! Another yacht came in to dock just as ours was pulling out giving us something to watch. The we set off in the direction of the Kremlin. The place mats were A3 maps showing the route and some of the landmarks along the way. Had this expat been organised, and a lot more technologically minded we would have linked up our iPhone or iPad to the ships wifi system on board and would have had live feeds and info of your surrounds whilst sipping away on a sundowner, having a bite to eat or simply just in awe of some of the sites.
Some really impressive landmarks we passed on the way (and yet to be investigated – expat style) included Novodevichy Convent, Luzhniki Olympic Complex with its big ski jump to nowhere, Lomonosov University, the space shuttle replica ‘parked’ at Gorky Park and this expat’s favourite, the Red October Chocolate Factory. Just after we passed the Kremlin for the first time, the massive yacht we were on slowed down, jet-like pumps were switched on and in the middle of the river, this amazing boat turned around one hundred and eighty degrees and began its slow cruise home.
No-one on board, even the ‘sailor’ men and women who plough up and down the river daily, could have failed to be in awe of the amazing view all around them as we were once again presented with the stunning view of St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin. Mr Expat quickly dashed upstairs into the open air to grab a few more pictures before the camera’s battery life ran out. Enjoying the magnificent view of the moon and with the lights reflecting in the water, we sailed off into the darkness of the night with the stars in our eyes.