by Eric L. Stoddard, Co-Founder of Heart of Russia Cruises
Having just returned from an extensive trip November 12-21 2021, to Moscow, St. Petersburg and their local communities I can only say this: Emphatically yes. It is safe to travel to and visit Russia.
I had to have a COVID-19 test before I boarded the Aeroflot aircraft at LAX and before I boarded the aircraft in Moscow to return. I traveled by Aeroflot from Moscow to St. Petersburg. From St. Petersburg to Moscow I traveled by bullet train with speeds up to 230 kph and making only 3 stops between the two metropolises. Fast, modern, safe, and efficient.
Police in Russia are visibly lightly armed. Typically a policeman has a pistol, set of handcuffs, a radio and a baton. Only the baton is visible. I saw a policeman pull over a speeder with his baton. One doesn't blow by a cop in Russia.
Hotel staff all spoke English. Aeroflot staff spoke English. Museum guides spoke English. Restaurant wait staff spoke English. Many restaurants in both Moscow and St. Petersburg have both Russian and English menus.
It seems the US media is intent on creating winners and losers and not recognizing reality.
Other observations from my trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg:
1. Russians do what they are told. If the government says it's a problem, they
grumble but obey.
2. Everyone was masked all the time except when eating at restaurants including
the little town of Kimry where the MV Rossia was winter berthing.
3. Vaccination rates aren't high -- about 40%, but I heard little about it there. Mu understanding is vaccines are not mandated.
4. I was totally free to roam around in both cities; I suppose not FSB HQ, or some
DOD type facilities but I did not see any of those.
5. Russia is not under lock down or quarantine restrictions.
6. St. Petersburg Stake’s ward meetings are all on Zoom, but it has submitted their
plans to go live, awaiting approval from Area Authorities.
7. What was the attitude of people toward Covid? They have other fish to fry.
Folks these are my frank observations. I felt very safe, at liberty to wander about,
enjoyed the great Russian and Georgian food. Had some spectacular Beef Stroganoff.
So again I say emphatically -- YES -- it is safe to travel to Russia. Come on this trip. Our unique People-to-People program will be insightful.
See you aboard!
Heart of Russia Cruises LLC