Set Sail Before You Prepare for Blast Off


Mir mock training center pool

Commercial space travel continues to gain traction within several regions of industry. First Virgin Galactic teams with Virtuoso and Ensemble pairs with Rocketship Tours to take flight. Then Galactic Suite Ltd announced its receipt of a grant to build the first hotel in space. Now, the final frontier meets the deep frontier as Crystal Cruises launches a first-ever itinerary in which passengers can experience a little bit of both worlds. No, you're not going to sail into space. But you're going to prepare for a trip there.

After two years in the making, the Crystal Cruises is offering a Cosmonaut-training adventure, featuring one-night excursions to Russia's former top secret cosmonaut training center, Star City. From extreme g-force experiences and weightlessness to the "Final Challenge" in the world's largest hydrospace laboratory,  guests can train like modern Russian Cosmonauts on some of the largest, most advanced space equipment in the world.

Four distinct Crystal Adventures, available from St. Petersburg with five Crystal Symphony summer Baltic voyages, take guests to Star City, built in the secluded forests outside Moscow.

1. Hydrospace: "The Final Challenge" - Considered the most advanced cosmonaut training, participants must install a space antenna on a replica of the International Space Station while wearing an authentic space suit and submerged in 54,000 square feet of water.

2. Centrifuge G-Force Experience - On the ride of a lifetime, experience the simulated g-forces of blast off, flight in orbit and spacecraft descent on the specially-reserved 300-ton centrifuge.

3. Zero Gravity Weightlessness Adventure - Aboard the world's largest parabola aircraft, experience the absence of gravity. Flying in a steep parabola formation from as high as 20,000 feet, participants literally take flight at least 10 times during this adventure.

4. Russia's Quest Beyond the Earth - Delve into the behind-the-scenes highlights of cosmonaut training and Russian space travel from the 1950's and beyond.

The Cosmonaut programs include roundtrip air transportation from St. Petersburg to Moscow, overnight hotel accommodations and a full-day Moscow city tour, including Red Square and the Kremlin. Cosmonaut Training fares range from $4,359 up to $32,995 for "The Final Challenge."

Seven-, 10- and 11-day Baltic voyages depart from London, Stockholm or Copenhagen - with overnights in St. Petersburg. Promotional two-for-one per person (double occupancy) cruise fares start at $4,375, including $500 or $1,000 "All Inclusive - As You Wish" shipboard credits and free air transportation from numerous North American gateways.