Arctic Explorer – Quest for the Northern Lights: St. Petersburg-Moscow aboard the Golden Eagle

  • Golden Eagle

  • 12 Day Escorted Tour

    Luxury

    The Tour

    The Arctic Explorer: Quest for the Northern Lights journey takes you through stunning St. Petersburg and Moscow before exploring far north in search of the magnificent Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

    Travel aboard Russia’s premier train, the incomparable Golden Eagle.

    Note: The Golden Eagle train includes three Imperial Suites on all departures. These new compartments are the most spacious – 120 square feet – and feature a fixed king-sized bed, a dressing table and lounge area, and more. For details about this and other upgrades, click here.

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    The Itinerary

    December Departures:

    Day 1: Moscow
    Arrive in Moscow and transfer to the luxurious Four Seasons Moscow situated on Red Square (or similar). This evening, you are invited to a champagne reception, where you will meet your fellow travelers before your exclusive Welcome Dinner. Specially selected international wines are included with dinner, as with all meals during the tour.

    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? Please inquire.

    Day 2: Moscow
    Today we visit Red Square, an iconic symbol of Russia’s former military and political might, with its eclectic mix of fascinating architecture, including the ornate St Basil’s Cathedral’s magnificent onion-domed spires, the beautiful facade of the world famous GUM Department store constructed in Tsarist times, and the somber 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.

    Day 3: Vladimir & Suzdal (New Year’s Eve)
    The historic city of Vladimir was founded in 990 and is one of Russia’s oldest communities. 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 22 miles (35 kilometers) 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 a horse-drawn sleigh ride through this stunning location.

    We have a unique opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve with our signature Gala Caviar Dinner on board the Golden Eagle in the beautifully designed restaurant car, specially decorated tonight for our New Year’s Eve Party.  Enjoy complimentary champagne, international wines, and live musical entertainment for a New Year’s Eve you won’t forget, as we begin our rail journey northwards to the Arctic Circle.

    Day 4: Crossing the Arctic Circle (New Year’s Day)
    Today, enjoy a relaxed start to the New Year with a sumptuous breakfast on board. 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
    We 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. It is the home port of Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreakers, and we’ll visit the Nuclear Icebreaker Museum Ship located here.

    Day 6: Kirkenes & Northern Lights
    This morning, we leave our train at the Russian border station of Nikel and 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 9 miles (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 including a reindeer hot dog in the snow hotel’s warm lodge 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 a Snowmobile Safari, Snow Shoe Walking Tour, or a magical excursion by husky dog sledge in search of the Northern Lights. Each sledge is pulled by a team of eight dogs, and can seat two people, plus a driver (also called a dog musher). These activities have limited availability and are weather permitting – please inquire at the time of booking.

    Upgrade to Snow Hotel: For a really memorable experience, why not choose the ‘coolest’ hotel 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 & Northern Lights
    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 yards and weigh up to 33 pounds) 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. Enjoy your delicious King Crab meal by the cozy log fire.

    This afternoon, we return to the Snow Hotel to see the resident reindeer 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
    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. Afternoon tea with freshly baked Russian cookies will be served in our stylish Bar Lounge Car.

    Day 9: Petrozavodsk
    Petrozavodsk stretches along the western shore of Lake Onega – the second-largest lake in Europe. It is one of the major cultural and industrial centers of the North-West of Russia, and is the capital of the Republic of Karelia.

    We take a city tour and then celebrate Sochelnik (Russian Christmas Eve) with a Karelian Folk Performance. The festivities continue with a traditional Russian Christmas Eve meal, known as the Holy Supper. As always, a generous allowance of international wine and drinks are included with our dinner as we celebrate together.

    Day 10: St. Petersburg
    Our final stop is St Petersburg, which is a stunning city, crowded with splendid palaces, impressive historical monuments, wide boulevards, and beautiful bridges, and is renowned as the Ballet Capital of the World.

    Today will see Russians celebrate their Christmas Day. The city will be beautifully decorated for Rozhdestvo (Russian Christmas). Included in our time spent in St Petersburg is two nights at 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 theaters (subject to schedule and availability and pre-booked at least six weeks prior to departure).

    Day 11: St. Petersburg
    During our time spent in St Petersburg, enjoy a guided tour of Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin, and visit 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.

    We will also take a city tour of St Petersburg that features the key sights, including St Isaac’s Cathedral and Nevsky Prospect.

    This evening, enjoy a Farewell Dinner as we reflect on the experiences we have enjoyed over the last 11 days.

    Day 12: St. Petersburg
    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 3 p.m.

    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 Russian Christmas celebrations? Please inquire.

     

    February Departures: 

    Day 1: St. Petersburg
    Flight arrives into St. Petersburg and transfer to the luxurious Grand Hotel Europe (or similar) for a two-night stay. This evening, enjoy a welcome reception dinner and meet your fellow travelers. Specially selected international wines are included with dinner, as with all meals during the tour.

    Why not extend your stay in St. Petersburg with pre-tour nights to explore more of the city at your leisure?

    Day 2: St. Petersburg
    St. Petersburg is a stunning city, crowded with splendid palaces, impressive historical monuments, wide boulevards, and beautiful bridges, and is renowned as the Ballet Capital of the World.

    Today we have a guided tour of Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin and the Hermitage Museum, the former Winter Palace of the Tsars, which houses the royal art collection containing over three million works. It is one of the world’s largest and most impressive art museums.

    Make your evening in St. Petersburg extra special by purchasing a ticket for a ballet or opera performance at the world-renowned Marinsky Theatre (subject to schedule and availability and pre-booked six weeks prior to departure).

    Day 3: St. Petersburg
    Today there is a tour of St. Petersburg featuring a visit of the key sights including St. Isaac’s Cathedral and Nevsky Prospect.

    This afternoon we transfer to the station to board Russia’s premier train, the Golden Eagle, and settle into our modern, stylish cabins to embark upon our rail adventure to the Arctic Circle. We have a unique opportunity to celebrate our arrival with a signature Gala Caviar Dinner in the beautifully designed restaurant car.  Enjoy complimentary champagne, international wines and live musical entertainment for a celebration you won’t forget.

    Day 4: Crossing the Arctic Circle 
    Enjoy a relaxed start to the day with a sumptuous breakfast. Listen to a talk, or simply relax and enjoy the ever-changing winter landscape outside our window.

    Our Guest Astronomer will host an afternoon tea with freshly baked Russian cakes, and talk about the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in our stylish Bar Lounge Car.

    Today, we also celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special on board dinner.

    Day 5: Kirkenes & Northern Lights
    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 painting by local and international artists. After a traditional meal including a reindeer hot dog in the snow hotel’s warm lodge 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 a Snowmobile Safari, Snow Shoe Walking Tour, or a magical excursion by husky dog sledge in search of the Northern Lights. Each sledge is pulled by a team of eight dogs, and can seat two people, plus a driver (also called a dog musher). These activities have limited availability and are weather permitting – please inquire at the time of booking.

    Upgrade to Snow Hotel: For a really memorable experience, why not choose the ‘coolest’ hotel 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 6: Kirkenes & Northern Lights
    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 yards and weigh up to 33 pounds) 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. Enjoy your delicious King Crab meal by the cozy log fire.

    This afternoon, we return to the Snow Hotel to see the resident reindeer and visit the biggest husky dog farm in eastern Finnmark, or return to Kirkenes Village for a walking tour.

    Day 7: Arctic Circle & Northern Lights
    Today we cross the border back into Russia and re-join our train which is waiting for us in Nikel. 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 8: Murmansk & Northern Lights
    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. It is the home port of Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreakers, and we’ll visit the Nuclear Icebreaker Museum Ship which is located here.

    Day 9: Petrozavodsk
    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: Moscow
    This morning we arrive at Moscow station.

    Included in our time spent in Moscow is two nights at the five-star Four Seasons. Superbly located in Moscow’s city center, and within easy walking distance of Red Square, the Kremlin, and the Bolshoi Theatre, this historic hotel offers spacious and luxurious accommodation.

    Visit Red Square, an iconic symbol of Russia’s former military and political might with its eclectic mix of fascinating architecture, including 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 somber and evocative site of Lenin’s tomb. Our touring program also takes us to the Kremlin — the spiritual, historical and political heart of Moscow — and to see the treasures of the Tsars in the Armoury Chamber.

    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 kilometers 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 11: Vladimir & Suzdal
    Today we travel by regular train to the historic city of Vladimir, which 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. 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 22 miles (35 kilometers) 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 either without a horse-drawn sleigh ride through this stunning location.

    This evening, we return to Moscow to enjoy our Farewell Dinner.

    Day 12: Moscow
    Breakfast in the hotel brings the tour to a close. Airport transfers are provided for your departure flights.

    Why not extend your stay in Moscow to explore more of the city at your leisure? Please inquire.

    2018 Dates:

    December 29-January 9, 2019

    2019 Dates:

    February 2-13
    December 21-January 1, 2020 (Special Christmas Departure)
    December 29-January 9, 2020

    2020 Dates:

    February 1-12
    December 21-January 1, 2021 (Special Christmas Departure)
    December 29-January 9, 2021

    The Prices

    2018 Pricing Double Single Deposit amount
    Silver Class $11,995 $16,995 $1,500
    Gold Class $13,995 $19,995 $2,500
    Imperial Suite $22,295 On Request $5,000

     

    2019 Pricing Double Single Deposit amount
    Silver Class $12,595 $17,795 $1,500
    Gold Class $14,695 $20,995 $2,500
    Imperial Suite $24,495 $48,995 $5,000

     

    2020 Pricing* Double Single Deposit amount
    Silver Class $12,595 $17,795 $1,500
    Gold Class $14,695 $20,995 $2,500
    Imperial Suite $24,495 $48,995 $5,000

    *Above prices are in effect for 2020 departures until December 31, 2018.

    Please note: all prices are per person.

    Other

    The Golden Eagle is your luxurious hotel-on-wheels. Unpack just the once and settle into your well appointed and comfortable en-suite cabin as you begin this voyage of a lifetime. One of your cabin attendants, available at all times, will be on hand to look after all of your needs.

    New Romanov Suite is also available on the December, 2018 departure of this journey. For Romanov Suite details, please click here. Full Suite (accommodates up to four persons): $82,295. Partial suite (Imperial Suite + private lounge): $26,800 per person, double occupancy.

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    The Highlights

    Nature’s most spectacular and magical light show – the Northern Lights.
    Guest astronomer on hand to advise during star-gazing.
    Lively, festive atmosphere as St. Petersburg prepares for Rozdestvo (Russian Christmas).
    The historic city of Vladimir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    The grandeur of Moscow’s Kremlin, the treasures of the Tsars in the Armoury Chamber and the somber and evocative site of Lenin’s tomb.
    Moscow’s famous State Tretyakov Gallery (National Museum of Fine Art).
    St. Petersburg
    St. Petersburg
    Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express.  Photo by Owen Hardy
    Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express. Photo by Owen Hardy
    Moscow
    Moscow
    Kirkenes Snowhotel, (c) Helge Stærk
    Kirkenes Snowhotel, (c) Helge Stærk