Russia - Waterways of the Tsars

Russia - Waterways of the Tsars

27 June - 19 July 2020

Join Bonnie and Alex in Russia on our music tour with incredible musical events at the Mariinsky Theatre, the Bolshoi Theatre, Swan Lake at the Hermitage Theatre, a 6 night cruise of the Volga River and time to delve into the history of Tsars, Fabergé and Russian culture.

$18,990 NZD
per person
twin share
Single Room Supplement
- ADD $5,950 NZD
Initial Deposit On Booking
$3,000 NZD
Second Deposit Due 13 December 2020
$4,000 NZD
Final Balance Due 13 March 2020

Russia - Waterways of the Tsars

  • We start with five nights in Moscow to experience the Kremlin, the Bolshoi and Red Square.

    We enjoy a six-night cruise on the Volga River to discover the real Russia, with its small rural towns abundant in historical landmarks, tiny settlements preserving centuries-old traditions, and Russia’s unique inspiring nature. We delve into the history of the Tsars, the culture of Russia with exceptional, captivating speakers on board our cruise.

    Then it’s six nights in St. Petersburg with visits to the Hermitage and Fabergé museums with some of the finest art, gems and treasures in the world.

     Along the way, there’s incredible musical events including at the Mariinsky Theatre, Russian Army Choir, opera or ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre, a Russian folklore concert, Moscow Circus, Swan Lake at the Hermitage Theatre or similar, concert of choral music and a concert at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall or State Kremlin Concert Hall.

    All of this with the love and care of Bonnie and Alex, as well as our own special music events presented by them along the way!

  • Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates

    We begin and end our Waterways of the Tsars Tour with flights to and from Dubai on Emirates. As we arrive into Dubai early in the morning, we have arranged another night’s accommodation so we can go to our rooms immediately. On return we arrive into Dubai late at night so we will again have access to our rooms immediately.

  • St. Regis Hotel, Moscow

    Moscow, on the Moskva River in western Russia, is the nation’s cosmopolitan capital. In its historic core is the Kremlin, a complex that’s home to the president and tsarist treasures in the Armoury. With a population of 13 million, it combines the historic with modern architecture all in one city.

    HIGHLIGHTS in Moscow include:

    A specially arranged backstage tour of the Bolshoi Theatre.

    Tretyakov Gallery, the largest museum dedicated exclusively to Russian fine art.

    Explore Moscow’s Metro, known for its architectural splendour.

    A visit to the Kremlin Armoury Museum to view its collection of opulent coronation finery, hand-forged armour and weapons, royal carriages and sleighs, and dazzling Fabergé eggs.

    View the ornate gems of the Diamond Fund, including Catherine the Great’s diamond-encrusted coronation crown and the 190-carat Orlov Diamond, and continue to the Square of Four Cathedrals.

    Visit the famous Red Square to see its famous landmarks - Lenin’s Tomb and St. Basil’s cathedral.

    An orientation city tour of Moscow.

    See a remarkable collection of French Impressionists and Old Master paintings housed in the Pushkin.

    Museum of Fine Arts.

    Attend an opera or ballet performance at the famous Bolshoi Theatre.

    Visit the Novodevichy convent.

    Day tour to Leo Tolstoy’s house.

    A concert at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall or State Kremlin Concert Hall.

    Attend a performance of the Moscow Circus.

    Full free day to explore Moscow at your leisure.

    Welcome dinner with music.

  • MS Volga Dream

    We transfer to the luxurious MS Volga Dream to begin sailing along the Russian waterways. The Volga River, Europe’s longest and largest river, stretches through history, from Ivan the Terrible to Peter the Great to Catherine the Great, and into today where everything looks very much like it always has — the churches, the villages, the people, comprising scenes from an old painting you may swear you have seen in a gallery.

    HIGHLIGHTS on the Volga Dream include:


    After a full day of cruising through forested countryside, we dock in the ancient trading town of Uglich, one of the towns that make up Russia’s renowned Golden Ring. We explore the impressive Church of St. Dmitry-on-the-Blood, erected on the site where Dmitry, son of Ivan the Terrible, was murdered in 1591, and we attend an enchanting concert of choral music at St. John’s Church. We will also enjoy a Costumed Russian Tea Ceremony and Russian Cooking Class.


    Founded in 1010, Yaroslavl is one of the oldest cities in central Russia and the Volga’s first port. In the Spassky Monastery we see the Transfiguration of the Christ and admire the mosaics at the Church of Elijah the Prophet. We take part in a costumed reception at the governor’s house, and then re-board the MS Volga Dream in time for lunch.


    We enjoy an early morning cruise across Lake Beloye, the white lake. In the tiny settlement of Goritsy, we visit the Kirillo- Belozersky Monastery, founded in 1397, and now home to one of the best collections of Russian icons in the world. We end our day with a Russian Dinner and Vodka Tasting.


    The Karelia region, which spans the area from St. Petersburg to the Arctic Circle, is a vast wilderness of forest and water. Discover Lake Onega, fed by 58 rivers and home to 1,369 islands, including Kizhi. We see a collection of ancient Russian wooden houses and windmills, and the famous Church of the Transfiguration, built in 1714 without a single nail. We’ll also enjoy a beautiful Tchaikovsky piano recital on board.


    While cruising along the 139-mile-long Svir River, we appreciate the quiet understated beauty of a region that has long inspired artists and poets. The ship passes quaint riverside hamlets before reaching Lake Ladoga. We step ashore for a brief visit to the vacation village of Mandrogi to experience daily life in a quaint wooden village on our own. A visit to a local school and World War Two memorial. Final cruise gala dinner tonight.

  • Grand Hotel Europe

    St. Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on May 27, 1703. From 1713 to 1728 and from 1732 to 1918, Saint Petersburg was the Imperial Capital of Russia. It remains Russia’s cultural centre, with numerous museums and art galleries as well as the famous Mariinsky Theatre where we will enjoy an opera or concert.

    HIGHLIGHTS in St. Petersburg include:

    Dinner with entertainment, at one of the finest hotels in the world!

    City tour of St. Petersburg which includes Spit of Basil Island, Spilled Blood Church, Peter and Paul Fortress (founded in 1703 by Peter the Great and the burial place of most of Russia’s Tsars and Tsarinas from the eighteenth century onwards, including Peter the Great), St. Isaac Cathedral and a drive through Nevsky Prospekt.

    Visit to the Fabergé Museum housing the world’s largest collection of works by Peter Carl Fabergé, including nine Easter eggs commissioned by the Russian royal family.

    Attend a specially arranged performance by the Russian Army Choir, then celebrate a welcome dinner at one of St. Petersburg’s finest restaurants.

    We have arranged early entrance to the State Hermitage Museum, before official working hours to avoid heavy crowds to see one of the greatest collections of art in Europe. Part of our time will be with a guide, the rest will be free time to explore at leisure. Following the Hermitage, we enjoy high tea at a five-star hotel.

    Travel to Tsarskoye Selo (Catherine the Great’s Palace) which houses the extraordinary Amber Room, its six tons of solid amber deftly carved and framed in gold leaf. Once deemed the “eighth wonder of the world,” the room was stripped by the Nazis in 1941, but majestically reconstructed in honour of St. Petersburg’s 300th birthday.

    Folklore concert at Nikolaevsky Palace.

    Opera or ballet performance at the famous Mariinsky Theatre.

    A classical concert at the outrageously ornate Yusupov Palace. The private theatre is an elaborate yet intimate venue and was the home entertainment centre for one of the city’s foremost aristocratic families.

    Swan Lake at the Hermitage in Catherine the Great’s private theatre.

    Explore at leisure one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is home to many other great museums or you may like to revisit one of the places we have already experienced such as the Hermitage and delve deeper into the treasures of this incredible city.

    Canal cruise of the waterways of St Petersburg to experience the glorious architecture from the canals and see many buildings you simply cannot see from simply driving around.

    Imperial Porcelain Factory - painting class.

    Tour of Peterhof, St. Petersburg’s most famous and spectacular Imperial estate, often cited as the Versailles of Russia. Stroll in the vast Lower Park with 176 fountains of various forms and styles and four cascades, majestic palaces and numerous gilded statues of ancient gods and heroes.

    Tour of the General Staff Building, built in 1819, this is the iconic bow shaped building situated in front of the Winter Palace.

    Final night dinner with entertainment at our magnificent hotel.

This trip includes

  • PLEASE NOTE: No booking will be accepted for this trip without the initial deposit.

  • Return airfares, Auckland - Dubai – Moscow // St. Petersburg - Dubai – Auckland on Emirates, including taxes.

  • Incredible musical events including performances at the famous Bolshoi Theatre, Mariinsky Theatre, Russian folklore concert, Moscow Circus, Swan Lake at Hermitage Theatre or similar, concert of choral music and a concert at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall or State Kremlin Concert Hall.

  • St. Petersburg (6 nights) staying at the incredible Grand Hotel Europe, includes tours and entry to Hermitage Museum, Peterhof Palace, Catherine the Great Palace.

  • Canal City Boat Cruise, city highlights tour including St. Peter and Paul Fortress.

  • Volga River Cruise on the luxurious Volga Dream (6 nights) cruise to many rural villages and waterways along the Volga River, including visits, activities and shore excursions to Mandrogi, Kizhi, Goritsy, Yaroslavl and Uglich.

  • Moscow (5 nights) staying at the five-star St. Regis Hotel, including visits to the Kremlin, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Diamond Fund to see the Russian Crown Jewels, Novodevichy Convent and tour of Leo Tolstoy’s house.

  • Special events include Faberge Museum tour, Russian tea ceremony, tour of the Bolshoi Theatre and private concert at the Yusupov Palace where Rasputin was murdered.

  • All tours, tips, taxes, music experiences, entrances, and transport while in Russia as per our itinerary.

  • All breakfasts, 15 lunches and 11 dinners included.

  • Hosted with love and care by Bonnie and Alex.

  • EXPLORING TOUR This is still a moderately paced tour, but you will be required to walk longer distances, walk on cobblestones and stand in museums. To really get the best out of this tour you need to be able to stand or walk for a couple of hours comfortably, be it at a leisurely pace. “I like to spend most of the day exploring. Whether walking historic neighbourhoods on cobblestones at a moderate pace or out and about on a coach, I want my days full. Stairs don’t bother me and I am keen to see and do as much as I can with the odd day off to recuperate.”


    • All trips are subject to change but any changes will be of equal or greater value.

    • Deposits refundable until final payment date minus any costs incurred, or an administration fee of up to $300.

    • Travellers need to be independently mobile and fit to travel.

    • Travellers are required to obtain comprehensive travel insurance for all international trips.

    Please refer to terms & conditions on our booking form.


Grand Hotel Europe, St Petersburg - A cultural and culinary landmark, the Grand Hotel Europe has played a central role in the life of St. Petersburg for over 130 years. A truly iconic Orient-Express hotel, it stands on Nevsky Prospekt among the city’s great architectural treasures, renowned for its impressive façade and decorative interiors. (From Sue and John) It is one of the finest hotels we have ever stayed in!

The M.S. Volga Dream offers an unprecedented level of luxury cruising, as well as the finest accommodation, delicious food, best service and care in the industry. The advent of the boutique Volga Dream reveals tsaristera luxury and provides superior service, confirming the ship as the most luxurious on the waterway. With 60 crew members and a capacity for just over 100 passengers, the ship has the highest crew-to-passenger ratio among Russian river cruise ships. The superb restaurant on board offers truly delectable, international cuisine. With so few guests amid the ship’s spacious arrangement, it feels like sailing aboard a private yacht.

St. Regis Hotel, Moscow Just steps away from Red Square, the Bolshoi Theatre and St. Basil’s Cathedral, the St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya is an award winning, brand new hotel. It combines a rich cultural legacy with modern design. It is within a stepping stone of the historic landmarks and exclusive shops of Russia’s vibrant capital. The Spa and indoor swimming pool offer a tranquil retreat, whilst the Rooftop Hall promises panoramic views of the Kremlin.


Dinner at the hotel with entertainment, one of the finest hotels in the world!

Attend a specially arranged performance by the Russian Army Choir, then celebrate a welcome dinner at one of St. Petersburg’s finest restaurants.

Folklore concert at Nikolaevsky Palace.

Opera or ballet at the famous Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg.

Classical concert in a palace or Swan Lake at Hermitage Theatre, once St Catherine the Great’s private theatre.

A specially arranged backstage tour of the Bolshoi Theatre.

Attend an opera or ballet performance at the famous Bolshoi Theatre.

A concert at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall or State Kremlin Concert Hall.

Attend a performance of the Moscow Circus.

Travel Insurance

Every customer is required to take out insurance for all international travel when taking a trip with Operatunity Ltd. We have our own travel insurance broker and we invite you to ring direct for your insurance requirements.

Phone Harriet on 09 3629038 Or email Harriet.lawrence@aon.comYou are of course welcome to make your own insurance arrangements for travel, just be sure that your insurance policy covers you extensively especially when travelling to certain countries such as USA with its high health costs.



Operatunity provides group senior travel and with this in mind we plan trips to suit our target market. But not every trip is created equal in terms of mobility. We want to give you the best possible experience but that will only be achieved if you are able to enjoy everything that our trips have to offer.
Most of our long haul trips require a better level of mobility. We will look after everyone as well as we possibly can, but we cannot look after one at the expense of the rest of the group. We also cannot have one person slowing the rest of group to the point where the group is not able to enjoy every experience we are able to provide.
With this in mind we have put a mobility clause into every trip. Under each explanation here I have popped a statement. Ask yourself if this is ‘you’, when booking on a trip.

None of the following mobility clauses preclude you from ordering a wheelchair at the airport if required.

1. GENTLE TOUR This tour will suit most people, even with a stick or a walker, but sorry not someone in a wheelchair. The activity level is gently paced, but you still need to be able to get on and off buses easily. There will be walking, but not a lot. “I love travelling, but at a gentle pace. I like to avoid stairs or too much activity, but I am able to get on and off buses easily.” 

2. EASY TOUR This tour will suit people with a stick, but not a walker. You will be required to walk to get from place to place and stand in museums, but it is designed to be an easy tour with lots of times to rest, travel on a coach and walk easy leisurely distances.  ”Walking is fine. I can get on and off a coach. I am happy to stand for an hour or two in museums and galleries and gently stroll through places of interest. I am happy to climb the odd set of stairs.” 

3. MODERATE WALKING TOUR This tour requires a better level of fitness with no wheelchairs or walkers. Generally, there may be times when we can’t get the coach close. In some of our Pacific Island tours we will need you to transfer onto a tender and walk on soft sand. We also will have much longer flights and long walks through airports. “I like walking at a moderate pace. I love to keep my days full and experience everything the tour has to  offer. Stairs, tender transfers and cobblestones don’t bother me.” 

4.  EXPLORING TOUR This is still a moderately paced tour, but you will be required to walk longer distances, walk on cobblestones and stand in museums. To really get the best out of this tour you need to be able to stand or walk for a couple  of hours comfortably, be it at a leisurely pace.  “I like to spend most of the day exploring. Whether walking historic neighbourhoods on cobblestones at a moderate pace or out and about on a coach, I want my days full. Stairs don’t bother me and I am keen to see and do as much as I can with the odd day off to recuperate.” 

  • 2021/2022

    We understand the need for flexibility at present but there is also the need to have something to look forward to. Operatunity has put the following in place for our trips to protect your health and financial security.


    1. Generally as a policy if we are unable to proceed with a trip due to
    COVID-19 restrictions, we would, if possible, transfer the trip to new dates.
    2. However we will refund you IN FULL if this trip is unable to be transferred due to Covid restrictions, even once you have paid finals for this trip.
    3. This does not mean we would refund you if you simply changed your mind and decided not to go at the last minute.
    4. It does mean, however, that if you had a medical certificate to say you were unwell to travel that we would work very hard to get as much of a refund back for you depending on hotels and other costs involved.
    5. If we have booked your flights and the trip was unable to proceed, we will work hard to get you a credit or refund, but if the flights have already been ticketed this would be a credit for you to use on another occasion. We would be unable to get you a full refund for your airline tickets.

    Health and Safety
    Please do not travel if you are unwell.

    1. If you have any cold or flu symptoms the week before departure, you must see your GP and obtain a medical certificate.
    2. Wearing of Masks - You are welcome to bring your own mask and wear it
    at any time. At time of printing this brochure, you are required to wear masks on the plane and on public transport. Masks will not be mandatory on our own coach, at our own meals or activities, or when we are within our group as we will be in our own bubble.
    3. If you fall ill while on the trip, you will be asked to isolate in your room for a couple of days off to rest. You may also be asked to see a doctor and obtain a COVID test.
    4. Hand washing - We have provided a travel size hand sanitiser, please use this frequently throughout the day and wash your hands!

    These policies have been compiled to allow you to travel with confidence and with utmost enjoyment as well as keep you safe and keep our New Zealand bubble safe! Let’s go and have some fun and experience the most beautiful country in the world!

  • Operatunity is a company specialising in music lovers tours to the senior market. Each trip has been especially planned to include music and arts experiences and has a level of friendliness and care which cannot be found anywhere else! Our trips are packed with features not found anywhere else

  • Yes we have lots of people who travel on their own. We endeavour to match you up with someone who lives close to you or is close in age to you. Often you will get a chance to meet with your matchup or ring them before you leave on your trip. You also may prefer to travel solo and pay the single supplement price. We travel as a happy band so there will be lots of chances to meet people. You will find fellow music lovers and those with other similar interests. In fact those like the nicer things of life so you will travel with like-minded people.
    It is also important to remember that our singers are our escorts so you will see at least a couple of familiar faces as you leave.

  • If you live outside of Auckland, we can arrange travel and accommodation on your way to meet up with our group. We have access and can book domestic airfares in conjunction with Air New Zealand international airfares. Plus we can book your pre and post tour accommodation if required.

  • It is compulsory for our international trips and highly recommended for our domestic tours. 

  • No as most airlines offer various special meals and any restaurants we visit are happy to accommodate special dietary requirements.

  • While we will endeavour to provide the best possible experience and care, all travellers must be fit to travel and be independent. All trips are catering for a senior market but some trips will suit better than others. Some trips also carry an advisory note as they require a higher level of fitness.

  • We ask that you can walk at least 100 metres unaided and be able to get on and off buses with little or no assistance. We cater for a senior market but it is important that you do not jeopardise the enjoyment of others by requiring more care and holding up the rest of the group. Talk to our office or staff at concerts and any advisory notes for individual trips to get a better idea of your suitability for each trip.

  • We stay at 4 and 5 star character hotels, avoiding package, tourist or big hotel chains. We choose  hotels with a more personal feel often with historic content or hotels of beauty and character, centrally located or in parks, by the water, or with beautiful gardens.

  • Breakfast is included daily, and many dinners and lunches are also included as per our itinerary.

  • There are no hidden costs. Included in the trip are tips, taxes, porterage, breakfast, meals where specified, inclusions listed in the itinerary, entry fees where listed in the itinerary, concert/show tickets where listed in the itinerary, tour escorts and local specialised guides. 

  • Some of our trips sell out very quickly and we recommend you make your booking as soon as you can to avoid disappointment. 

  • We will ask you to pay an initial deposit when making your booking. We will then follow up for a second deposit and then a final balance payment prior to travel.

  • All deposits up until final payment are refundable minus any costs the company may incur.

    After final deposit refunds are unlikely and the refund becomes an insurance claim. We do not charge a cancellation fee.

  • Our numbers vary from destination to destination, please contact our office for further information.  We have a minimum number required to operate a tour. Should minimum numbers not be met, a full refund will be made. 

  • For international trips, all guests must have a valid passport that does not expire earlier than at least 6 months beyond their intended stay. 

  • Music is a key element in making our experiences special. There are special experiences and events every day, such as themed dinners, impromptu concerts, music, art tours with art experts and garden tours with garden experts.

  • Most hotels now have internet connection and all hotels have telephones in the room or at reception. If using your mobile telephone check calling and text rates, and disable data roaming before leaving New Zealand. Consider purchasing a prepaid SIM card. And you can keep in touch using social media such as Facebook. We have a copy of your next of kin details in case of emergency and we are also happy to help out with texts, phone calls and emails if you can’t get in touch with your family and need to while away. We are also happy to help out with getting your phones, ipads and cameras to work if needed while away.

  • We spend less time travelling between regions, allowing more time to enjoy experiences when you arrive. We avoid one night stops and “conveyor belt” travel, so you really can capture the local colour and vitality of the region. Our trips are planned so that there is a balance of included activities and free time for you to relax or do some exploring on your own.

  • Contact Operatunity Travel 

    Phone toll free: 0508 886 489
    Mail your booking form to PO BOX 132 150, Sylvia Park, Auckland 1644
    Email: travel@operatunity.co.nz

  • Phone toll free: 0508 886 489
    Email: travel@operatunity.co.nz


Happiness Half Hour Episode 37 - Celebrating Duets!
Happiness Half Hour Episode 37 - Celebrating Duets!
Happiness Half Hour Episode 36 - Celebrate the Ensemble!
Happiness Half Hour Episode 36 - Celebrate the Ensemble!
Happiness Half Hour Episode 35 - Celebrating Karl!
Happiness Half Hour Episode 35 - Celebrating Karl!
Happiness Half Hour Episode 34 - Celebrating Bonnie!
Happiness Half Hour Episode 34 - Celebrating Bonnie!

Sign up to our Mailing List

Receive up to the minute news about our current and upcoming productions and trips.