ARCTIC EXPLORER – QUEST FOR THE NORTHERN LIGHTS (CHRISTMAS)
Celebrate Christmas and New Year in style! Take in the beautiful cities of Moscow and St Petersburg, graced by festive decorations and nature’s own wintry adornments, before exploring deep into the Russian and Norwegian Arctic Circle in pursuit of the magnificent Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).
ST PETERSBURG – KIRKENES – NIKEL MURMANSK – MURMANSK – PETROZAVODSK – VLADIMIR – SUZDAL – MOSCOW
Day 1: St Petersburg (29 December)
Day 2: St Petersburg (30 December 2019)
Day 3: St Petersburg (31 December 2019 – New Year’s Eve)
Day 4: On Board (1 January 2020 – New Year’s Day)
Day 5: Kirkenes & Northern Lights (2 January 2020)
Day 6: Kirkenes & Northern Lights (3 January 2020)
Day 7: Nikel Murmansk (4 January 2020)
Day 8: Murmansk (5 January 2020)
Day 9: Petrozavodsk (6 January 2020 – Russian Christmas Eve)
Day 10: Vladimir & Suzdal (7 January 2020 – Russian Christmas Day)
Day 11: Moscow (8 January 2020)
Day 12: Moscow (9 January 2020)
|Day 1: Moscow (21 December)|
Flight arrivals into Moscow and transfer to the luxurious Four Seasons Moscow (or similar) situated on Red Square for two nights. This evening you are invited to a champagne drinks reception with the opportunity to meet your fellow travellers before our exclusive Welcome Dinner. Specially selected international wines are included with dinner, as with all meals during the tour.
At the start of your adventure why not extend your stay in Moscow with pre-tour nights to explore more of the city at your leisure and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the Christmas markets or go ice skating on one of the outdoor rinks in the central squares?
|Day 2: Moscow (22 December)|
Today we visit Red Square, an iconic symbol of Russia’s former military and political might with its eclectic mix of fascinating architecture, such as the ornate St Basil’s Cathedral’s magnificent onion-domed spires, the beautiful façade of the world famous GUM Department store constructed in Tsarist times, and the sombre and evocative site of Lenin’s tomb.
We’ll also take a tour of the opulent and unique stations of the Moscow metro – showpieces of Socialist art furnished with statues, frescoes and mosaics, unsurpassed anywhere in the world.
|Day 3: Vladimir & Suzdal (23 December)|
The historic city of Vladimir was founded in 990 and is one of Russia’s oldest communities. With an architectural wealth, it has been decreed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What better place to spend Rozhdestvo (Russian Christmas), celebrated today? Our tour takes in Uspensky Cathedral, built between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. It is considered one of the most important and beautiful of Russian cathedrals, where many of the prominent Russian Tsars were crowned.
From Vladimir we travel to Suzdal, one of Russia’s most perfectly preserved walled cities dating back to 1024, located 35 kilometres from Vladimir. Here we visit the atmospheric St Euthymius Monastery to witness an enchanting choral performance by the resident monks. No Russian winter experience would be complete without the horse-drawn sleigh ride through this stunning location.
|Day 4: Crossing The Arctic Circle (24 December)|
Today we have the opportunity to have a relaxed start to the day with a sumptuous breakfast on board. We can look forward to the many sights we are about to experience on our rail journey, maybe listen to a talk or simply relax and enjoy the ever-changing winter landscape outside our window as we cross into the Arctic Circle on our quest to see the Northern Lights.
|Day 5: Murmansk & Northern Lights (25 December)|
We will continue to Murmansk, a city halfway between Moscow and the North Pole, and 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. As the main city of the Kola Peninsula, it started as a tiny settlement and Arctic trading post. In 1916, under pressure from the British to establish a support port, Murmansk was founded.
Thanks to the influence of the Gulf Stream, the port is ice-free year-round. Homeport of Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreakers we’ll visit the Nuclear Icebreaker Museum Ship.
|Day 6: Kirkenes (26 December)|
This morning we leave our train with an overnight bag at the Russian border station of Nikel and we transfer by bus (90 minutes drive) across the Russian/Norwegian border to Kirkenes for a two night stay at the Thon Hotel (or similar). We will visit the magical Snow Hotel just 15 km outside Kirkenes. We’ll have a welcome drink in the snow bar and a tour of the Snow Hotel with its ice sculptures and snow paintings by local and international artists. After a traditional meal in the snow hotel’s Hoyloftet restaurant we’ll take an evening bus tour in search of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). If the sky is clear our guest astronomer will be on hand to advise us during star-gazing and will bring the night sky to life with his extensive knowledge.
Optional Activities in Kirkenes: You may like to book some additional optional activities such as an evening snowmobile tour (3 hours) or husky dog sledge tour (2 hours) in search of the Northern Lights. Each sledge is pulled by a team of eight dogs, and can seat two people and a driver called a dog musher. These activities have limited places and are weather permitting – please request at the time of booking the tour. Contact us for prices.
For a really memorable experience why not choose the ‘coolest’ hotel check-in around and stay overnight at the Snow Hotel? Upgrades to the snow hotel are limited so book early to avoid disappointment. The snow hotel stays at a constant minus five degrees centigrade and thermal sleeping bags are provided. Showers, toilets and a Scandinavian sauna are provided in a building next to the snow hotel.
|Day 7: Kirkenes (27 December)|
This morning a unique winter experience awaits on our King Crab Safari. The excursion begins with a snowmobile-drawn sleigh across the frozen fjords. Warm clothing and a helmet is provided. Through a hole in the ice your master guide will demonstrate how to catch the magnificent Arctic King Crab (which can span two metres and weigh upto 15kgs) and prepare it for cooking. We then continue by sleigh to the nearby Fisherman’s Lodge, where the crabs you catch will be prepared and cooked for you. It is here you can enjoy your delicious King Crab meal by the cosy log fire.
This afternoon we return to the Snow Hotel to see the resident reindeers and visit the biggest husky dog farm in eastern Finnmark or return to Kirkenes Village for a walking tour.
|Day 8: Nikel Murmansk & Northern Lights (28 December)|
Today we cross the border back into Russia and re-join our train which is waiting for us in Nikel Murmansk.
We’ll spend the afternoon on board travelling through Arctic Russia. Relax and enjoy the ever-changing winter landscape outside your window or chat to fellow passengers. Afternoon tea with freshly baked Russian cookies will be served in our stylish Bar Lounge Car.
|Day 9: Petrozavodsk (29 December)|
Petrozavodsk stretches along the western shore of Lake Onega – the second largest lake in Europe. It is one of the major cultural and industrial centres of the North-West of Russia and is the capital of the Republic of Karelia.
|Day 10: St Petersburg (30 December)|
Scheduled for a morning arrival, our final stop is St Petersburg which is a stunning city, crowded with splendid palaces, impressive historical monuments, wide boulevards, beautiful bridges and is renowned as the Ballet Capital of the World.
Included in our time spent in St Petersburg is two nights in the luxurious Grand Hotel Europe (or similar).
Make one of your evenings in St Petersburg extra special by purchasing a ticket for a ballet or opera performance at one of the world-renowned St Petersburg theatres (subject to schedule and availability and pre-booked at least six weeks prior to departure).
|Day 11: St Petersburg (31 December)|
During our time spent in St Petersburg we have a guided tour of Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin and the world-famous Hermitage Museum, the former Winter Palace of the Tsars which houses the royal art collection of over three million works. It is one of the world’s largest and most impressive art museums.
There is also a city tour of St Petersburg featuring the key sights including St Isaac’s Cathedral and Nevsky Prospect.
Tonight we enjoy a New Year’s Eve Gala Farewell Dinner as we reflect on the experiences we have enjoyed over the last 11 days.
|Day 12: St Petersburg (1 January)|
After breakfast in the hotel our tour to Arctic Circle finally comes to a close. Lunch, if required, would be by your own arrangement.
Flights should be booked to depart after 3pm or why not extend your stay in St Petersburg to explore more of the city at your leisure, go ice skating on the open air ice rink or enjoy the continuing holiday celebrations.
As far as possible our tours are all inclusive with no hidden extras. What follows are those elements which are included in the tour price. The only extra items you will need to budget for include personal expenses such as international and internal flights, visa costs, travel insurance, drinks from the Bar Lounge Car and laundry.
As with all Golden Eagle winter journeys, we provide complimentary Russian hats, traditional felt boots, a Golden Eagle embroidered scarf and woolly mittens on arrival, to help keep out the cold. You are welcome to take these home as souvenirs too.
Experienced Tour Managers
Our experienced tour managers and their assistants are selected for their travel knowledge and their linguistic and organisational abilities allowing you to relax and enjoy your rail cruise. We receive exceptional passenger comments about our Tour Managers and their aim is to ensure you enjoy every minute of your holiday.
Arrival and Departure Transfers
Arrival and departure transfers are included.
Hotel and On Board Accommodation
Although you will spend much of your time sightseeing or relaxing in the train’s public areas, you will find you hotel room or cabin a welcome retreat at the end of a rewarding day. All hotels are of 5 star standard or, in certain locations, the best available. Room upgrades are available on request and at extra cost.
Welcome and Farewell Dinners
Each tour begins with a Welcome Dinner, an ideal opportunity to get to know your fellow passengers; for the Tour Manager to brief you on the trip; and introduce you to the Golden Eagle Luxury Trains team and the Tour Doctor. The Farewell Dinner is the perfect end to your adventure by private train where you can relive the journey and look ahead to future tours.
Route Guide, Itinerary and Information Pack
When you board the train there will be a brochure in your cabin detailing more about your journey and the places en-route. Our Tour Manager will organise a programme of briefings on the cities or places we visit and, each evening, will issue a programme for the next day’s touring schedule.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Daily All departures feature one or two uniquely designed restaurant cars where you can enjoy the excellent waiter-served food and wine. Several times during the tour we will also sample authentic local cuisine off the train.
Drinks with Meals and from the Bar Lounge Car
A generous drinks allowance is included with lunch and dinner. For passengers travelling in Gold Class on board the Golden Eagle, drinks from the Standard Drinks List in the Bar Lounge Car are also included. For Imperial Suite guests, drinks from both the Standard and Premium Bar Lists (excluding premium wines) in the Bar Lounge Car are included.
On Board Service
You can expect service which is attentive, friendly and unintrusive. Your car attendants provide 24-hour housekeeping and bedding turndown services, with one attendant always on duty to assist you and to ensure you are comfortable in your cabin. Complimentary tea, coffee and bottle drinking water are available in your cabin 24 hours a day.
Guided Off-Train Excursions
The history and culture of the places we visit on our rail cruises will come alive through our expert local guides. All our tours include a wide-ranging sightseeing schedule to make the most of the time you have off the train and bring you closer to the culture, people and history of your destinations. We believe it is the special little touches that help create magical memories.
Imperial Suite guests will benefit from the option of a private car and guide in selected places we visit along the route.
Freedom of Choice Touring
Customise your journey and enjoy the opportunity to select from an array of Freedom of Choice Touring options that best suits your interests. Your off-train excursions will still take in all the major attractions of the places we are visiting but, in featured locations, you will be presented when you are onboard the train with a variety of activities from which to choose, and enjoy a tailor-made experience. Look at the individual itineraries where we are operating Freedom of Choice Touring.
Freedom of Choice Touring options may be subject to variations dependent on finalised train timings and local charges. Touring options available will typically be advised in the evening prior to the day’s tour.
On all the off–train excursions, to enhance your enjoyment and comprehension of the places you visit, you will be provided with a lightweight personal headset on which to listen to your tour guide as you take in the sights. So you do not need to worry about missing any of the interesting details on your excursions.
On Board Doctor and Medical Facilities
To give you peace of mind our tours are accompanied by a doctor who travels with us for the entire journey; so you can rest assured that medical assistance is always available. On call 24 hours a day, the doctor is on hand to give primary care as required. Normally, the doctor will be English speaking and be registered with the General Medical Council in the UK.
24 Hour Service Attendant
Your car attendants provide 24-hour housekeeping and bedding turndown services, with one attendant always on duty to assist you and to ensure you are comfortable in your cabin. Complimentary tea, coffee and bottled drinking water are available in your cabin 24 hours a day.
As you only have to unpack once, your luggage and belongings will stay with you on the train throughout the journey but, wherever necessary, porterage is included between the hotel and stations.
You will not have to worry about tipping on and off the train on your rail journey with Golden Eagle Luxury Trains as all gratuities are included in the tour price.
DATES & RATES for 2020
|USD ($)||Silver Cabin||Gold Cabin||Imperial Suite|
|Dec 29 – Jan 09||12,995||18,195||14,995||21,495||24,995||49,995|
All prices are per person and in US dollars. We charge in Australian dollars based on the prevailing rate of exchange at time of payment. Prices do not include international flights.
For a complete list of tour inclusions see the inclusions tab above.
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Find out more about the Golden Eagle Luxury Train.