The talented Ukrainian Cruise Team

Ukrainian Team
On the dock at Zaporizhia
Front row from left to right - Irina Pyshnenko - Asst. Cruise Director, Galyna Zadorowska - Cruise Director
Behind them from left - Senior Guide Olga Shmakina along with Liubov Silenko, Tatiana Tsurpal, Larissa Goryacheva, Intourist Travel Agency
They have all been involved in key roles in all the Mennonite cruises

Larissa Goryacheva

Larissa Goryacheva
Zaporizhia Intourist Manager, in comic costume, being awarded an Honorary Doctorate from members of the Floating Mennonite University (Alan Peters, Walter Unger, Paul Toews). Goryatcheva has been helping incoming Mennonite tourists for over fifty years, starting with tours led by Gerhard Lorenz and others.

Senior guide and translator, Olga Shmakina

Olga Shmakina
Olga Shmakina at the Butchart Gardens, Victoria, B.C. Canada

Olga Shmakina was born in Ukraine. She is a graduate of Zaporizhia State University. For two years she worked as a teacher of English in a middle and high schools. But most of her working career was connected to Zaporizhia Travel Agency (former Intourist Travel Company), where she worked as an English-speaking guide-interpreter and later manager of guide-interpreters office. She guided her first group of Mennonite tourists from North America and other places in 1979.  Olga received her first knowledge of Mennonite history from her Mennonite tourists as the Mennonite story was completely erased from Soviet history. Since that time she has guided many Mennonite tours in Ukraine. She also traveled with Mennonite tourists to other former Soviet republics. In 2005 she married Paul Toews, professor of Fresno Pacific University, and moved with him to Fresno, California. Together with Paul she worked in many Russian and Ukrainian archives looking for new documents on the Mennonite pre-revolutionary and Soviet history.  She translated into English a book of documents on Mennonites in Siberia as well as some articles for other books on Mennonite history in Ukraine and Russia. At present Olga is associated with Fresno Pacific University where she continues her work on systematizing and translating Mennonite-related documents from Russian and Ukrainian archives.

Irina Pyshnenko - Assistant Cruise Director and Translator
                          & Captain

Irina translating opening welcome to Mennonites by the Captain of the Dnieper Princess

Ira's special interests are travel, art and history. She is a graduate of Minsk Linguistics University. She is a long time certified tour guide and has served as assistant cruise director on Russian Waterways and notably on the Mennonite Heritage Cruise. In 2013 she was awarded an honorary diploma for the development of incoming tourism with special involvement in welcoming Jewish tourists who have ancestral roots in Belarus.
Senior guide and translator Ludmilla Kariaka 

Ludmilla & friendsLudmilla & bus
 Ludmilla (far right) and friends on the Dnieper River near the Zaporizhia ship dock                          Ludmilla (centre) with Larissa Goryacheva and bus driver Vladimir

Ludmilla Kariaka was born in Zaporizhia, Ukraine. After finishing school she attended Minsk Linguistic University, majoring in English and German. After short periods as a High School teacher and Librarian in the Institute for Advanced Training of Medical Doctors she enjoyed an extended career as a guide/interpreter at Intourist Zaporizhia, travelling extensively with tourist groups in Soviet Russia and Ukraine. In addition to the Mennonite Heritage Cruise she has guided many smaller Mennonite tour groups. Her interests are music, singing and travel. As a singer she accompanies herself on the guitar.

More to come on the Ukrainian cruise team
Links to
Home page of site
About the Cruise
Remembering Paul Toews
Cabins and Suites
12 Day Sailing Program
Quotes from passengers
North American tour leaders