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Eric Chien: The Inspiring Tale of Eric Chien, from FISM Champion to Worldwide Stardom

Interview by Andrea Baioni FISM International President (research conducted by Aldo Ghiurmino) 

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FISM:  When did you decide to participate in the FISM World Championship of Magic?

Eric Chien:  I made that decision in 2017.

FISM:  What factors influenced your decision to participate in the FISM WCM?

EC:  I have always been a competitive person, and I also wanted to see how my magic skills stacked up against the best in the world.

FISM: What were your biggest fears and insecurities leading up to the FISM WCM?

EC: One of my biggest challenges was not finishing the construction of my props until just four days before FISM. This left me with very little time to practice, and I was extremely apprehensive about making mistakes on stage.

FISM: What aspects of your performance were you most confident about?

EC: I was confident in the uniqueness of my act, something that had never been seen before. My performance was also highly visual.

FISM: How did the preliminary rounds of the FISM WCM go for you?

EC: It went surprisingly well. I had no prior stage experience before FISM, so I was incredibly nervous. When I stepped onto the stage, I essentially "blacked out" due to nervousness, and my body went into autopilot.

FISM: Can you describe your experience during the final round of FISM WCM?

EC: It was quite an adventure. I didn't finish setting up my props, and the curtains unexpectedly opened on me. I was even dragged off stage by someone, but then the curtains closed again. Nevertheless, I enjoyed every second on that stage.

FISM: What happened after you were declared the FISM WCM Grand Prix winner?

EC: My phone was inundated with messages. We celebrated with a fantastic party alongside many other contestants. However, I also felt somewhat lost because FISM had been my sole goal since 2017, and I didn't know what to do next. I lacked other plans, and suddenly everyone had exceptionally high expectations of me.

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EC: I decided to sign up for Asia's Got Talent, where I emerged victorious. I also participated in America's Got Talent and won there too. I clinched the BGT Ultimate Magician title and even went on a Broadway tour. I traveled the world, performing my magic.

FISM: Would you like to share any additional feelings or anecdotes about your journey following your win at the FISM World Championship of Magic?

EC: It was an exhilarating journey. I had less than a week to practice my act, largely due to the last-minute completion of my props. FISM WCM marked only my second time on stage, making it an incredibly nerve-wracking experience. Although I was overjoyed to win the Grand Prix, I understood that it was just the beginning of my magical career.

Stay tuned for more magical stories and insights right here on FISM's blog!

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Eric Chien ‘shaking’ as he’s crowned Ultimate Magician in Britain’s Got Talent special

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This image and the information contained herein is strictly embargoed until 21.00 Tuesday 13th December 2022 From Thames Britain???s Got Talent: The Ultimate Magician on ITV1 and ITVX Pictured: Eric Chien. This photograph is (C) Thames and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website For further information please contact:

Eric Chein was overwhelmed with emotion after he was crowned the Ultimate Magician in a Britain’s Got Talent special.

During Sunday’s spellbinding spin-off previous illusionists that have graced the series competed for the whopping £50,000 prize.

The Witch, Richard Jones – who was the first magician to win in 2016 – and many more put out all the stops to impress judges Amanda Holden , Alesha Dixon , David Walliams and Penn Jillete.

Colin Cloud, Marc Spelmann, Kevin James, Tony, Magical Bones, Mandy Muden, and The Clairvoyants also completed the line-up.

But it was America’s Got Talent star Eric who left the judges in awe with his incredible card routine.

‘It’s just so subtle and so perfect, you are exceptional,’ Amanda began.

Eric Chein

‘You are a monster in the magic world, in a good way.’

David added: ‘It was an absolutely brilliant idea, perfectly executed. It was like a work of art. So simple and yet so complex.’

Near the end of the show, host Stephen Mulhern – who filled in for Ant and Dec – revealed that The Witch, Magical Bones and Eric made it to the final three, but it was Eric who reigned supeme.

‘I am still shaking this is incredible,’ he enthused after he was declared winner.

‘I am so glad to be able to come out and perform again.’

Viewers also took to social media to congratulate the star, with one writing: ‘Eric was in a totally different league to the others. Well deserved win.’

‘It wasn’t even close, Eric Chien was the best magician by miles,’ another added.

‘Literally the only act that was world class. Ask any magician who was good and they’ll say just 1 act. Eric Chien,’ a third person wrote.

Elsewhere, The Witch sent Amanda and Alesha into a frenzy with a jaw-dropping performance after they pulled apart a teddy bear’s stomach to reveal a live snake, which left Amanda leaving her seat.

Britain’s Got Talent series 10 winner Richard surprised Amanda by bringing out Pippa Nightingale, a nurse who helped save her life.

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Britain’s Got Talent: The Ultimate Magician is available to watch on ITVX.

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TRUE COLORS by Eric Chien & TCC

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  • From the mind of FISM Grand Prix winner, secret first revealed
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The Illusionists—Magic of the Holidays Tickets

The Illusionists return to Broadway this holiday season with their spectacular and thrilling show.

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About the illusionists—magic of the holidays on broadway, video & photos.

Some of the most mind-blowing illusionists on earth are bringing their magic touch back to Broadway for a fifth extraordinary year in The Illusionists . Featuring acts from America’s Got Talent and beyond, this year’s all-new show is perfect for the whole family. Dazzling performers from around the world come together at Broadway’s can’t-miss holiday event for six weeks only—so get your tickets now before they disappear.

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The Illusionists previously wowed New York audiences three record-breaking years in a row with Witness The Impossible, Live on Broadway  and Turn Of The Century , and around the world including smash hit engagements on London’s West End and on tour around the United States and Canada. This year’s family-friendly show promises even more illusions, close-up magic, mentalism, daring escapes, and technological spectacle performed by master entertainers who’ve captivated audiences worldwide on stages from the famed Magic Castle to Royal Variety Performances to multiple seasons of America’s Got Talent .  

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‘AGT’ Alum Eric Chien Wins ‘BGT: The Ultimate Magician’

Jill O'Rourke

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America’s Got Talent Season 14 contestant Eric Chien was named the winner of Britain’s Got Talent: The Ultimate Magician over the weekend. Chien competed against nine other Got Talent magicians in the special.

Eric Chien Wins BGT: The Ultimate Magician

BGT: The Ultimate Magician featured 10 of the best magicians from BGT and AGT competing for a £50,000 prize. It premiered Sunday night on ITV, with judges Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and David Walliams returning to the table along with guest judge Penn Jillette.

During the show, Taiwanese magician Chien performed a routine in which he seemed to magically change the colors on the backs of his playing cards and even his vest. At one point, he even made a card half blue and half red before making them disappear or turn into coins.

The judges and audience were wowed by the performance, giving him a standing ovation. Holden described it as “so subtle and so perfect.” Jillette said he had “raw, brutal, unbelievable skill.” He added that Chien’s hands were “the best I’ve seen.”


Chien Will Also Compete in AGT: All-Stars

Chien made it to the Semifinals of AGT Season 14. He went on to win the third season of Asia’s Got Talent . The magician will be taking his routine back to the AGT stage when AGT: All-Stars premieres on NBC next month.


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Singer Sydnie Christmas Named the Winner of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ 2024

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‘Britain’s Got Talent’ Could See a Big Format Change Next Year

‘BGT’ Auditions Wrap Up with Two More Golden Buzzers

‘BGT’ Auditions Wrap Up with Two More Golden Buzzers

He’s one of 60 former Got Talent acts who will be competing for the title of All-Stars winner. Will he end up winning another best-of competition after this weekend’s Ultimate Magicians victory? We’ll find out soon, as AGT: All-Stars premieres January 2.

“I am very honored to be able to stand on stage with the best magicians in the world and share all these wonderful memories together,” Chien wrote on Instagram after his win on Sunday, adding, “I hope more and more magicians try out for the Got Talent s and showcase their skills and creativity.”

Why People Are Talking About This ‘American Idol’ Audition Video from Last Year

Why People Are Talking About This ‘American Idol’ Audition Video from Last Year

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Thanks for sharing. I read many of your blog posts, cool, your blog is very good.

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  • Season 14 Magicians
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Background [ ]

Eric Chien is a Taiwanese magician, living in Houston, Texas. He won FISM Grand Prix in July, 2018. After that, Eric went on to win the third season of Asia's Got Talent , which concluded on April 11, 2019. [1] He is the first Taiwanese winner of the show, making him the first winner from outside Southeast Asia as well as the first winner from a country with no separate Got Talent franchise.

Eric was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1993, and moved to America when he was 4. He was the only Asian in school. He was beaten up in school, so it was tough for him and had to transfer school four to five times. He started doing magic when he was 16 in high school, and he decided to be a magician since then. Magic helps him get through tough times. He loves to create his own trick rather than imitating what others did.  [2]

After he posted a video of his magic routine on the Internet, a magician asked him if he would like to be a magic consultant, whose job is to create props and materials for magicians. As time went by, his urge of performing on stage instead of being backstage got stronger. At about 2016, he started making his own props. He started performing in front of big audience from about October of 2018, so he still feels nervous when having to perform in front of a huge crowd. He was called back to Taiwan for military service in 2015. He had to serve in the army for a year. During that time, he could't do any thing out of military duties, including magic. Therefore, he kind of lost his identity and had to find himself again after he came out.  [3]

Eric is a friend of  Will Tsai  ( Season 12 contestant) and Shin Lim ( Season 13 and The Champions Winner), and had met them a few times before in some kind of magicians event. He also had met or performed with  Stevie Starr  ( Season 10 Finalist, The Champions  contestant),  Steven Brundage  ( Season 11 Semifinalist), Eric Jones  ( Season 12 Semifinalist), The Sacred Riana ( Season 13 Quarterfinalist, All-Stars contestant), Yu Hojin ( Season 17 Finalist, Fantasy League contestant), Sangsoon Kim ( Season 18 Semifinalist), Ryan Hayashi ( Season 18 contestant) and some other former America's Got Talent contestants before.

Audition [ ]

Eric Chien's Audition performance in Episode 1401 consisted of performing his "Ribbon" act. First, he set several items on a table including a white ribbon, two frames and a chest containing blue and red cards. He then placed sets of blue and red cards onto the frames and divided the table with the ribbon. He then proceeded to change the colors of the cards in various ways along with his vest also changing colors from black to blue and red. He also made several cards disappear and created the illusion of a card being cut up and then put back together with the ribbon. He transformed the cards into coins which he placed into the chest and the coins, along with the ribbon and frames, disappeared. Howie Mandel ,  Julianne Hough ,  Gabrielle Union , and  Simon Cowell  all voted "Yes," sending Eric to the Judge Cuts.


Judge Cuts [ ]

Eric Chien's Week 4 Judge Cuts performance in Episode 1410 consisted of performing his "Imagination Coins" act. In the beginning, he removed one coin from guest judge  Jay Leno 's firmly closed hand to his hand. Then he created a coin from a drawn circle on a card. He did a coin routine including let coin disappear with just a pinch, grab coins out of thin air, and produce handful of coins out of nowhere. In the end, he put one of the coins he produced on Jay's hand and turned it back into ink. The coins, the pen, and the card on the table also turned into ink drawing. Howie Mandel , Gabrielle Union ,  Julianne Hough ,  Simon Cowell and guest judge Jay Leno all gave him standing ovations. His performance was strong enough for the judges to send him to the Quarterfinals instead of Zack and Stan and  SOS .

Judge Cuts

Quarterfinals [ ]

Eric Chien's Week 3 Quarterfinals performance in  Episode 1415  consisted of performing a magic trick with Julianne Hough involving candies and Rubik's cubes, by producing Rubik's cubes from chocolate candies, solving the cubes which he produced and mixed by Julianne, and turning them back into chocolate candies.  Howie Mandel , Gabrielle Union and Simon Cowell all gave him standing ovations. Eric received enough votes to advance to the Semifinals in Episode 1416 along with Dom Chambers instead of Matthew Richardson .


Semifinals [ ]

Eric Chien's Week 1 Semifinals performance in Episode 1417  consisted of making images of famous landmarks appear on blank cards. He placed the cards on a map of the world and turned them all into 3-D models. At one point, he made a card tilt and stand on one corner. Eric did not receive enough votes to advance to the Finals in Episode 1418 , eliminating him from the competition along with Ansley Burns instead of Benicio Bryant .


After Season 14 [ ]

  • Between 2019 & 2020, Eric toured with The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays as "The Manipulator".
  • Eric appeared on Penn & Teller: Fool Us Season 7 Episode 16, where he performed his "Ribbon" act. Although the duo has already seen the act before and has done multiple researches on it, he successfully fooled them.
  • Between 2021 & 2022, Eric competed on China's Got Talent wherein he reached the Final. [4]
  • Eric was invited to perform in Season 3 Grand Final of Indonesia's Got Talent in 2022. He assisted contestant Cassidy, who eventually became the runner-up of the show, in his Grand Final performance. [5] Later, he also performed a solo routine. [6] Another guest performer on the show was fellow Asia's Got Talent winner and America's Got Talent and All-Stars alumnus The Sacred Riana .
  • In 2022, Eric won Britain’s Got Talent: The Ultimate Magician , over Colin Cloud , Kevin James , Tony and Jordan (as Les French Twins), The Clairvoyants , Marc Spelmann , Mandy Muden and some other successful Britain's Got Talent magicians. [7]

All-Stars Preliminary [ ]

Eric Chien's Preliminary performance in Episode AS06 consisted of performing a close-up magic routine with Heidi Klum watching nearby the set. He did not receive enough votes from the Superfans to enter the Top 3 of the night, eliminating him from the competition.


After All-Stars [ ]

  • In 2023, Eric competed on Got Talent: All Stars , the Spanish version of All Stars spinoff where he received the golden buzzer from guest judge Fernando Tejero and advanced straight to the Final. [8] [9]
  • Eric is the first act since Season 13 Quarterfinalist  The Sacred Riana  that has won Asia's Got Talent before to audition, with The Sacred Riana winning Season 2 and Eric winning Season 3. Both returned in the same spinoff season ( America's Got Talent: All-Stars ).
  • Eric is the first act of Asia's Got Talent Season 3 to appear on America's Got Talent , followed by Fabulous Sisters (Semifinalist of the show; a part of Fusion Japan ), Power Duo (third place of the show), and Shadow Ace (fifth or sixth place of the show).
  • Eric is the first FISM Grand Prix winner to audition. He won the Close Up category in 2018. He was followed by Yu Hojin in Season 17 , who won the Stage category in 2012. Both are the first Asian winners in their respective category.
  • With Eric winning Britain’s Got Talent: The Ultimate Magician , he is one of four acts in entire Got Talent franchise to have won 2 Got Talents, along with Salah the Entertainer ( France's Got Talent Season 1/ Arab's Got Talent Season 4), Shin Lim ( Season 13 / The Champions ), and Mayyas ( Arab's Got Talent Season 6/ Season 17 ). Moreover, he is the first act to win a spinoff despite not being on said main show.

External Links [ ]

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Législatives : LR reporte son bureau politique, le "Nouveau Front populaire" annonce un accord

À 17 jours du premier tour des élections législatives anticipées du 30 juin, le grand bouleversement des droites et l'union de la gauche sont à l'œuvre. À gauche, les discussions ont abouti sur un "programme de gouvernement". À droite, le bureau politique des Républicains visant à entériner l'exclusion d'Éric Ciotti, a été reporté à vendredi. Le camp d'Emmanuel Macron, lui, a lancé la coalition "Ensemble pour la République". Retour sur les événements de la journée de jeudi.

Publié le : 13/06/2024 - 08:19 Modifié le : 13/06/2024 - 21:02

L'essentiel :

Les forces de gauche, réunies dans le " Nouveau Front populaire ", ont annoncé au terme de quatre jours de négociations avoir "scellé" un "programme de gouvernement".

Le député LFI de la Somme François Ruffin a affirmé jeudi qu'il se "sent capable" de devenir Premier ministre si la gauche emportait les élections législatives anticipées, au lendemain d'une déclaration similaire du leader de La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Le premier secrétaire du parti socialiste, Olivier Faure, a déclaré jeudi qu'il "ne disqualifie pas" le leader insoumis Jean-Luc Mélenchon pour devenir Premier ministre en cas de victoire de la gauche aux législatives anticipées. 

Le deuxième bureau politique des Républicains visant à "valider" l'exclusion de son président Eric Ciotti, a été reporté à vendredi "pour des raisons d'organisation", a fait savoir le parti dans un communiqué diffusé jeudi, en fin d'après-midi.

La coalition présidentielle pour les élections législatives anticipées s'appellera "Ensemble pour la République", a-t-on appris jeudi. Un "comité stratégique" de campagne s'est réuni au siège du parti présidentiel Renaissance en présence de Gabriel Attal et de plusieurs ministres et des chefs des partis de la majorité, Stéphane Séjourné (Renaissance), Édouard Philippe (Horizons), François Bayrou (MoDem), Hervé Marseille (UDI).

Eric Zemmour a exclu mercredi soir sa tête de liste aux élections européennes, Marion Maréchal , de Reconquête!. Il s'est dit "écœuré et blessé" et a dénoncé une "trahison" de l'eurodéputée qui venait d'appeler à voter pour les candidats soutenus par le Rassemblement national aux législatives anticipées.

Avec AFP et Reuters

L'essentiel de la veille : 

Emmanuel Macron a appelé à un large "rassemblement" autour de sa majorité pour défaire à la fois La France insoumise et le RN, justifiant avec "gravité" la convocation d'élections législatives anticipées.

Les cadres des Républicains (LR) ont décidé d'exclure le président du parti, Éric Ciotti , dont le choix de s'allier avec le Rassemblement national (RN) a provoqué la stupéfaction et la colère des caciques du mouvement.

 "Je suis et reste le président" de LR, a immédiatement contre-attaqué Éric Ciotti, assurant que cette réunion n'avait "aucune valeur juridique".

La candidate Reconquête aux élections européennes, Marion Maréchal , a appelé à voter pour les candidats de l'alliance entre le Rassemblement national et Éric Ciotti, actant sa rupture avec le parti d' Éric Zemmour .

À gauche, un accord de principe a été trouvé sur la répartition des circonscriptions en vue des législatives : LFI aura 229 candidatures, le PS 175, EELV 92 et le PCF 50, ont indiqué des responsables socialistes. Interrogé sur France 2 sur une éventuelle "candidature" au poste de Premier ministre, le chef des Insoumis Jean-Luc Mélenchon a répondu : "Je ne m'élimine pas mais je ne m'impose pas".

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Best of Moscow by high speed train

By shuguley , February 15, 2014 in Regent Seven Seas Cruises

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Sure would appreciate someone who has taken "Best of Moscow by high speed train" from St. Petersburg could please share their impressions of this shore excursion. From the description this sounds like a very long day.

Wondering how the 4 hour train trip was in terms of accommodations, etc. Also what time did you leave the ship and what time at night did you return? Were both legs of the trip on the high speed rail (I read that slower trains also travel the same tracks)?

My wife and I are considering this excursion. We thought that if we are making all the effort to go to Russia then how could we pass up going to Moscow, walking in Red Square, seeing St. Basil, etc.

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If you are considering this on the 2015 June Baltic cruise on Voyager; my suggestion is don't. There is so much to do in St. Petersburg and although a train is one of my favorite ways to travel the time would be far better spent in St. P.

Thanks for the advice. Yes, this would be on the Voyager during the 2015 season but not yet sure exactly which cruise.

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We did the Moscow excursion "on a different luxury line", but from your brief description it sounds very much like the same trip, so I will operate on that assumption. It is a VERY long day! We left the ship at 5:30 AM and returned at 12:30 AM. The highspeed train trip is comfortable, and while they call it "Business Class" it does not compare well to the equivalent class on say Rail Europe. When we did it in 2011, we did have highspeed both ways, and the trip back seemed much longer as the adrenaline and excitement had worn off!:D

Moscow itself is not that terribly different from any other big city in the world, but this Cold War kid never thought he would ever stand in Red Square, never mind walk the grounds of The Kremlin, or tour The Kremlin Palace, or see (but not visit) Lenin's Tomb, or visit The Armoury. But he did, and he loved every minute of it! Yes, it is a long day, and you barely scratch a scratch on the surface, but it is worth it. There is a tremendous amount to see in St. Petersburg, but every Baltic cruise goes to St. Petersburg, so you can go back if you choose to. Not every cruiseline offers you the chance to see Moscow.


I have not personally done this tour, but our last time in St Petersburg, the private guide that we hired for a day was leading the regent tour to Moscow on the high speed train the next day. He said it was way better than the previous alternative, which was flying to Moscow and back. He said that you actually got to Moscow faster because you didn't have to deal with airline checkin etc. it did seem like a very long day to me, and there is so much to see and do in st. Petersburg that I didn't consider doing it.



We toured to Moscow from St. Petersburg via the hi-speed SAPSAN train last September, from a Baltic cruise on the Oceania Marina. You need to have a two-night, three day port call in St. Petersburg to take this tour because the tour typically leaves the ship around 5:00 - 5:30 AM and doesn't return until after midnight the next day. We didn't take the ship's tour; we made private arrangements with TravelAllRussia for three days of touring, the first and third days in St. Petersburg and the second day the tour to Moscow by train. Our cost for the private tour for three days was about the same as what the ship charged for the excursion to Moscow alone. There are a number of private tour agencies that operate in St. Petersburg and offer the Moscow train tours; we would strongly recommend them over the ship's tours.

All three days had private guides with car and driver. The second day, the driver picked us up at the ship and took us to the train, but we were alone on the train, and met in Moscow by the guide on the station platform. After our tour and dinner, we were brought back to the train and after the return train trip met by the driver and taken back to the ship. Because you are alone on the train you must have your own Russian visas.

If this is your first visit to St. Petersburg, I would agree there is much more to see there. We found Moscow somewhat a disappointment, particularly Red Square. The Kremlin and the cathedral in Red Square were also worth seeing. But the best thing we saw was the Moscow subway! I worked for the Washington Metro system back in the 1980s as it grew from 40 to 80 miles and although I was in the computer area, I learned a lot about the challenges of running a subway system. We used the Moscow system to get across the city from where we had dinner to the train station, and I was amazed at the cleanliness', speed of operation, the short headways maintained, and the courtesy of everyone involved. A very impressive experience!

We had been to St. Petersburg before, and so had the time to take a day and go to Moscow. Also, I really like trains, and the SAPSAN is a German train set running on Russian rails. Seats are like first class domestic air, spacious but not too plush or comfortable, but with enough room. Not too much recline, and almost 8 hours on the train in two shots is a lot for an old man. They come through and sell drinks, candy, etc. but the sellers don't speak English and no one around us helped, so we had just poor coffee once coming, and brought stuff with us for the trip back. Not too much to see from the train either, particularly on the return when it is night the whole way.

If you decide to go, take a private tour and avoid the overly expensive ship's tour. I'm glad we did it, but wouldn't bother to repeat the tour; we've seen Moscow.

Thanks so much to all of you for the thorough and thought insight. Yhe information you have provided is most helpful.

countflorida: Your detailed post is very helpful. We are not quite ready for a Baltic cruise but should do so within a year. Time enough to do our pre travel research, bookings and visa gathering.:) Thank you!

Emperor Norton

Emperor Norton

Sure would appreciate someone who has taken "Best of Moscow by high speed train" from St. Petersburg could please share their impressions of this shore excursion. From the description this sounds like a very long day.   Wondering how the 4 hour train trip was in terms of accommodations, etc. Also what time did you leave the ship and what time at night did you return? Were both legs of the trip on the high speed rail (I read that slower trains also travel the same tracks)?   My wife and I are considering this excursion. We thought that if we are making all the effort to go to Russia then how could we pass up going to Moscow, walking in Red Square, seeing St. Basil, etc.

I did this on Seabourn. IMO DONT. Take Aeroflop (er Aeroflot). The train has non folding seats where you are literally knee to knee with your fellow passenger (facing each other). Further they don't believe in air conditioning. It's also the worlds slowed bullet train. I think I would have found more enjoyment wandering around the St. Petersburg and Moscow airports.


This is a little off topic,, however we had planned a river cruise in Russia but decided we would rather stay on land and have booked about two weeks with Travel-All-Russia using the private guide and driver. I'm curious as to how you found them as a tour company.

The guides they provided were fine. We had a different guide each of the days in St. Petersburg, but both were flexible, pleasant, knowledgeable and spoke English very well, as did the guide in Moscow, incidentally. She was a bit aloof, distant, not too friendly, but otherwise fine. In fact, she was the one who suggested taking the Metro, which unexpectedly became one of the highlights of the Moscow excursion. If I have a complaint with AllTravelRussia, it is with their plan and its execution (more later).

I had requested emphasis on World War II (in Russia, the Great Patriotic War) sites and info. In scheduling us, they weren't careful about dates and a couple of the sites we wanted to see were scheduled on the third day, after we'd been to Moscow. But both sites were closed that day of the week, and that info was readily available, right on web sites describing them. Also, the included meals (lunches in St. Pete, dinner in Moscow) were not what we asked for: light meals with some choices, so we could avoid things we didn't like and choose things we did like. My request was ignored; we were given full Russian meals with a fixed menu, no choice. On the first day, a fish dish was the entre, but I am allergic to fish. Fortunately, I had the e-mail I'd sent with me and showed it to the guide, and she was able to change my entre to chicken, which was very good actually. But we didn't want a 3-4 course lunches or dinner (in Moscow). We had the guide drop the lunch the third day, although we never got any credit or refund. But, particularly in contrast to the ship's tours, the prices were so reasonable we didn't worry too much about it.

The people who were on the ship's tour to Moscow saw us boarding the same train for which they were forced to queue up and wait on the way back, and asked us what we had done. I was candid and open so they were not happy when I explained what we had arranged and particularly what it had cost. Also, when we returned to the ship, we found they had laid on a late supper for those who had gone to Moscow, so up we went and had something. Well, it turns out the late supper was supposed to be just for those on the ship's tour, but we and others on 'independent' tours, there were a dozen or more of us, crashed the party, actually got there first, and they didn't realize it until the larger group arrived and there weren't enough tables/places set. By that time, the 'independents' had all gotten served and were eating; what could they do?

A couple from the larger group sat down with us and asked us about our tour, and they were the ones I told about our arrangement and its cost. They turned to others who’d been with them and announced the details, loudly enough so the whole room heard, which started a lot of bitching and complaining. I gathered they weren't very happy with the ship's tour to begin with, and this was the straw that broke the camel's back. We finished up and beat it out of there, but overheard later that one of the excursion staff came to check on something and ran into a real mess. I caught a cold on the trip, which forced me to bed the second day following in Tallinn, so by the time we reappeared we heard about the contretemps' but apparently no one recalled who started it, thankfully.

Because of what happened to us, I would probably not use AllTravelRussia if I were to go again, or if I did, I would be sure to get confirmation of every detail of the tour. They do have good reviews generally, and we were certainly helped by their visa department and liked the guides and drivers. Their weakness, I say now with full 20:20 hindsight, is that once the sales person who plans the tour, sells it to you and collects your money, he (or she) transfers the plan to their Russia office for implementation; there is no follow-up to make sure it gets done right. And that is where our problems arose; we paid for a custom tour but got a standard package with a few destinations switched, and no one checked them out, even to see when they were open the day we were scheduled to go. If you check every detail that’s important to you, it should be OK, but that’s a hell of a way to have to do business, in my opinion.

Thank you for the 20/20 hindsight observation on your Russian tour operator, and better priced than the ship's excursion cost.

Thanks very much for the feedback.

We had the same experience as you so far as price. We originally booked a Viking Cruise but, hearing some things about the river cruises that made us unhappy, looked into other options. T-A-R cost the same or less than a cruise and had us in hotels for 11 days. We opted for the private tour. They have three tour levels, based on hotels. We originally opted for the four star as it did not cost much more than the three star hotels. Finally we decided to throw it all in and upgraded to five star. In Moscow we will be at the newly opened Kempinsky which is two blocks from Red Square. In St. Petersburg it is the Grand Hotel Europe, one of the most vaunted luxury hotels in Russia. Location is important for us as the tours use up only part of the day so being in the center of everything for our independent touring is important. As with many other cities, the less you pay, the farther out of the center of town you are.

We have been working with our salesman in D.C. and he seems to get back to us with the changes we want. He recently returned from Russia so is up on everything. When I asked they said they paid the full TA commission if I wanted so I got my usual TA on board so he is watching our back and giving us that extra level of comfort. He also set up our air, which I know pays him little or nothing, and got us business class for much less than T-A-R wanted for economy, though it took working for a while with a consolidator. He's happy to get his 10 percent on this trip without having booked it. He also took care of the trip insurance. We've been doing a lot of research on the CC sister site Trip Advisor and will write a report there. We will, I guess, become a source of info for CC members after having spent 5 days in Moscow and 6 in SP.

  • 4 months later...



Anybody considering a day trip to Moscow from St. Petersburg on the Sapsan may want to look at our travelogue filled with pictures.


Very informative. Thanks dor sharing. Jeff

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In One Image Sunny Days In Moscow By Nanna Heitmann

The storm blew in with these Russian military students. They had come to take in their country’s victories.

Yes, that is a U.S. flag on the tank, which was seized on the battlefields of Ukraine.

The students were on a class trip to Victory Park in Moscow to see the captured NATO equipment.

The patches are from the Moscow Aviation Center. Its graduates can enter the armed forces as junior officers, not as low-level conscripts.

The statue honors World War I soldiers, but today, Russians are being bombarded with stories of a new generation of heroes.

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In One Image

Sunny Days in Moscow

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By Nanna Heitmann

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has not gone as quickly as the Kremlin once predicted, but a recent visit by a group of military students to a park in Moscow was a much speedier affair.

Hit by a sudden blast of early May snow, their instructor moved his young charges quickly along, the sooner to get somewhere warm. But they did take the time to stop for photos in front of the captured enemy armaments on display.

Among the biggest trophies were M1 Abrams and Leopard tanks. Ukraine had hoped that the vaunted American- and German-made war machines would help turn its fortunes on the battlefield.

They have not.

Now, after two years of war, with the Kremlin’s early military stumbles in Ukraine receding in memory, the mood in Russia is increasingly upbeat.

“The word ‘victory’ is everywhere in Moscow these days,” a New York Times Russia correspondent, Valerie Hopkins, reported recently .

The students’ tour came just three days before Russia celebrated Victory Day, which commemorates the Nazi defeat in World War II. But they, like other Russians venturing out into the cold that day, were relishing their country’s more recent military successes.

Victory Park was originally built to commemorate the Russian defeat of Napoleon. It also displays military equipment from the Second World War.

The big draw when the students were visiting, however, were the NATO tanks captured in Ukraine. Many, including the Abrams, were seized in February, when Avdiivka, a longtime Ukrainian military stronghold, fell to the Russians .

“There has been so much talk about these Abrams, about these Leopards,” marveled one onlooker as he took in the neutered Western behemoths sitting idle in the Russian snow.

“They are all standing here,” he said. “We are looking at them.”

Written by Eric Nagourney.

Our Coverage of the War in Ukraine

News and Analysis

President Biden and the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, announced that a record number of allies were meeting their military spending commitments  as they sought to present a united front against Russia.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia will visit North Korea  for a meeting with its leader, Kim Jong-un, as the two countries deepen military ties to support Putin’s war in Ukraine with North Korean weapons .

Scores of countries at a two-day summit in Switzerland joined Ukraine in calling for “dialogue between all parties” to end the war , but world leaders were divided on how to engage Russia.

Narrowing Press Freedoms: Journalists in Ukraine say they are subject to increasing restrictions and pressure from the government , adding that the measures go beyond wartime security needs.

Images From the Border: Photographs from two trips along Ukraine’s northeastern border regions, in the months before Russia renewed an offensive there, reveal loss and transformation .

A Russian City Adapts:  While in Moscow the fighting feels far away, residents of Belgorod, 25 miles from the border with Ukraine, have learned to duck for cover when the sirens wail .

How We Verify Our Reporting

Our team of visual journalists analyzes satellite images, photographs , videos and radio transmissions  to independently confirm troop movements and other details.

We monitor and authenticate reports on social media, corroborating these with eyewitness accounts and interviews. Read more about our reporting efforts .



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