KIZHI ISLAND, Russia — There’s only one way any American is likely to see this windswept, two-mile-long island at the north end of Europe’s second-largest lake and the 700-year-old, all-wood Church of the Transfiguration whose 22 onion-shaped domes dominate its landscape.
That’s via a river cruise between Russia’s former czarist capital of St. Petersburg and the current capital of Moscow.
A cruise here is a very different experience from what you get aboard any typical oceangoing luxury liner. For one thing, the typical river cruise ship carries about 200 passengers and 100 crew, a far cry from the city-sized populace aboard ships operated by the likes of Princess Cruises, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Holland-America.
Yes, there is the same level of sumptuous and fine cuisine on a river cruise, but there are defined mealtimes and no perpetually open buffets. There’s usually a glass-lined bar or lounge where passengers can enjoy watching the landscape slide past in far more intimate detail than you’ll ever see from a large cruise ship. The scene in these is most reminiscent of the dome cars once featured on cross-country trains in America...