Vision of the Seas Voyage # 789
Copenhagen – Baltic Seas 7 night cruise
This cruise I joined a ship tour of the Yussupnov Palace in St Petersburg. The Yussupnov family, were one of the richest families in Imperial Russia, at times in history being more wealthy that the Tsar himself. It is in this palace, that Rasputin’s murder was plotted!
There are different legend’s surrounding Rasputin and his influence on the Imperial family. It is largely agreed that he was a holy man, who became a close confident of the very religious Empress Alexandra due to him being able to cure the tsesarevitch Alexis of his hemophilia ailments. His influence eventually broadened from the Imperial family’s personal lives to state affairs. This controversial relationship caused protests amongst many classes of Russian society, making the rich very nervous. This lead to the conspiracy to kill Rasputin!
The plan was to invite Rasputin to the Yussupnov Palace for dinner under the pretense that Yussupnov’s niece – whom Rasputin was infatuated with – would be there. When Rasputin arrived, Yuusupnov took him to the basement, where the room had been set up like a dining room especially for the occasion. Two prostitutes were hired to chat, laugh, sing and dance in the room above the basement to give the allusion that Yussupnov’s niece was indeed there and would be joining them soon. The buffet had been laced with poison, but Rasputin wasn’t affected and so eventually Yussupnov pulled out his gun and shot Rasputin in the chest. Leaving Rasputin lying on the floor, he went upstairs to report that the deed has been done. An hour later the 5 conspirators went back to the basement to clean up the “mess”, but were shocked to encounter Rasputin ALIVE and trying to escape! The attacked him, punching and kicking him, but eventually he managed to escape, fleeing from the house. He managed to get half way down the road when Yussupnov fired another bullet, hitting him in the head. BUT Rasputin kept running and when the conspirators caught up with him, he had made it to the river. They pounced on him and finally succeeded in killing him by drowning him. Drama drama drama!
The palace itself has been well preserved, with many of the original furnishings still in good condition. It’s quite ostentatious and hugely glamorous and gives a good insight into how unfair the division of wealth was and why communism became so popular. Looking around St Petersburg, you can easily spot which buildings used to be huge palaces for the rich and powerful. When the communist regime took over, many of these palaces were split into commune 1 bedroom apartments that shared the kitchen and bathroom. Interestingly, the palaces weren’t the only buildings that were given new uses. Many of the churches were used for storage of various goods and one church was converted into an indoor swimming pool! Today, this swimming pool is still in use and is in fact used for training by the Olympic divers.
Funny guest story: This cruise I met Jacqueline, a 10-year old on holiday with her very overweight grandparents. At the beginning of the cruise, her grandparents bought the all-inclusive photo package, which was supposed to be a surprise gift for Jacqueline and we were to keep it a secret. I like secrets! Unfortunately, the surprise was that Jacqueline quickly became annoyed with all the pictures. We photographers loved her air of resignation as her grandparents forced her into studio after studio and enjoyed joking with her and taking even more pictures of her. In the end she started having fun with it and would even come visit us in the Gallery – in the end she couldn’t get enough of us
Funny Mickey story: This cruise Nikola has been entertaining us with stories of his past colleagues and one of these stories was too funny NOT to share. Mickey seems a very strange guy with rather funny ideas about what is right and wrong. For instance, when shooting in the dining room, he would busy the guests with moving around for a table shot and while they weren’t looking he would swipe a coke (or other drink) from their table. My favourite Mickey story was when he and Nikola were shooting embarkation in Venice. Mickey was taking a small break when Nikola noticed that he was drinking some yoghurt. Puzzled, Nikola asked him where he managed to get yoghurt from in the boarding terminal. Mickey’s answer was a nonchalant shrug. In horror, Nikola replies “Don’t tell me that someone left it half finished and u picked it up?” With a sly smirk Mickey answered: “Baby, this mouth has been in worse places!” Arrrrrrrrrgh!!!
I’m looking forward to the next cruise – back to Norway!