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jjtsfca
February 21st, 2007, 11:15 PM
Hi Cool Cruisers,

This Baltic board has been a huge help as I plan my Baltic cruise this coming summer. I'm be on the Celebrity Connie for the Atlantis charter in July. I'm going to spend a day with Alla Tours the first day I'm in St. Petersburg (she is terrific by the way - as many of you have mentioned) but I'm doing the second day on my own. I'm using www.russianvisaguide.com to get my tour-on-my-own visa. I know Peter is not a do it yourself city for everyone, but I have traveled (mostly on my own) all over the world, so I think I will be fine on my own in Peter for a day. I will be studying some Russian before I get there also - I have sung in it a good amount before.

My only question is, how do I get myself from Industrial Harbor pier in Peter into the city (to area around the Hermitage or the hydrofoil to Peterhof). I've read varied posts about official taxis, unofficial taxis, mafia taxis, locals looking to make money, ship transfers, on and on. Can someone advise an easy, not exorbitant way to get to and from the ship and the Hermitage? Thanks for your help.

latitude 22
February 21st, 2007, 11:21 PM
I'm also a very independent traveler, but after being in St. Pete's on a B2B in July 2005. you going completly on your own makes me nervous.

I would consult with your tour guide/driver at Alla's what they recommend.

HeinBloed
February 22nd, 2007, 06:32 AM
For the price of the visa you can get nearly a car incl. visa arrangements!!!

When you arrive at the cruise terminal (but no idea which one you are talking about) you leave to the right and you will see all kinds of car who are offering services.

We took twice a taxi and they charged us abt. 10 USD for six blocks. We Another time someone only charged 2 USD to get to Peterhof but do not ask for his driving style: Hell driver and very unsafe. You must differ between such taxis near to a hotel entrance and waiting line: very expensive (see above) or like Russians (in New York) trying to get one... but friends did it for us. We would have never managed it ourselves.

Good Luck!!!

HeinBloed

jjtsfca
February 22nd, 2007, 08:03 PM
Thanks for your advisements. For clarity, I am with Alla Tours the entire first day. I'm only doing the second day on my own. I have a hard time believing it is that difficult to get from:
1. Ship to Hermitage
2. Hydrofoil to/from Peterhof
3. Hermitage/up and down Nevsky Prospekt on foot for browsing, etc.
4. Back to ship

But, latitude, fill me in based on your experience. I managed the bus and subway and Bangkok without trouble - is Peter that impossible?

HeinBloed -thanks to car tips. I had read about the differences between the registered and unregistered so to speak.

HeinBloed
February 22nd, 2007, 11:05 PM
Let me explain something to you:

I am someone who prefer to have a personal guide and to save some money by using public transport and limit the service of guides to the section you are really need them.

In Bangkok I would feel safe because the people are always friendly and very open-minded to foreigners.

I think an experienced cruiser like you appreciate the service and the friendliness and friendship onboard of each cruise.

Maybe you have been on an European ship before where a lot of staff is coming from Eastern European countries.

You will never find any Russian as they are not willing to give you the friendly appearance and attitude you are used to have if you are on a cruise ship.

I was staying in Moscow in the Hotel Metropol just at the Red Square. We paid for a standard room for one night about 400 USD. And I never got a more lousy service. The hotel lives from the reputation that once before Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif made some scenes out of Dr. Zhivago in this hotel. And since then nothing was done. I was using the toilet and I called the housekeeping to fix the screws as the toilet was moving while you used it. Their reaction for a 5*-hotel: why don't you move???

I was walking with a RUSSIAN business friend through streets of Moscow and he bewares me to get arrested. Some tricky guys just let bundles of Dollars falling on the sidewalk and hope that you will pick-it up to return to them. They have "witnesses" prepared to tell that you were trying to steal some money out of the bundle and if I am not willing to replace the missing money from my account they will notify the police.

At the airport of Sherevetmeyo 2 even the Lufthansa-staff was as friendly like guards in a Siberian working camp. Although I hate Lufthansa I kissed the carpet like the pope when I arrived finally onboard.

St. Petersburg appears more friendly due to all the cultural buildings and its location at the Baltic Sea more European than Moscow. I would walk alone within the city attractions but I am not sure to do anything outside the city attractions without a russian speaking guide.

The experience with the taxi drivers was for my part too much. And also the habit around the cruise terminal in the duty free shops or immegration is awful!!!

Let me show you two pictures:

This was our cruise terminal (for smaller ships):

http://images22.fotki.com/v520/photos/1/1055340/4437504/SPCruiseTerminalLM-vi.jpg

When you left the terminal building I remember the first driver already their service as taxi driver.

When you left the terminal area at the checkpoint there were few more.

I remember there were some trolley buses about few blocks away from this terminal.

This is a picture which I took from JEWEL OF THE SEAS which berth at the other cruise terminal. Can you imagine to find here any kind of public transportation in this area???

http://images21.fotki.com/v577/photos/1/1055340/4437504/StPetersburgHafen-vi.jpg

Only the rich and well educated Russians are able to speak English if you need help. But you will not find them in the streets of St. Petersburg because they have their drivers and their own world like shopping malls, hotel restaurants etc.

You want to use public transportation from a place where normally low-educated workers are using the means of transport. They are unable to speak English and you are part of the old enemy. Therefore you are to strange to them.

I am living in Germany and I am not an Western and I still have the same problems if I am going to the former East Germany: they are afraid to be in touch with foreigners and they are not used. Because in their old education there is only Russia and Russian as language. All others are Brother countries who had to learn Russian to communicate with eachother. But you never had foreign restaurants to discover a foreign culture. You were not allowed to travel to discover new worlds. Since Putin it does not become better as he fixed again a strong Russia with its own identity.

It's only my prospective: No problems with a foreign language or letter. Comparing to Greece I would do everything myself and learn all Greek letters. I learned some Russian and I do can read Cyrillic letters.

But I feel uncomfortable to walk around in Moscow or St. Petersburg for myself.

It's up to you - and it's only my PERSONAL opinion based on the experience ON MY OWN - so no stories from friends!

Regards,
HeinBloed

cruisintwinsmom
February 24th, 2007, 09:34 AM
There was someone last year who was going to do St. P on their own, so you may want to search through some of the old threads (end of 2005/beginning of 2006). You will need to get that visa on your own, think it is about $100.
When we got off the ship, there was no public transport around that I saw. There was mention about catching a shuttle that the crew uses to get them out of the terminal area (not walking distance).
We used Alla Tours last year and had Anna, we really enjoyed the trip. Good luck and happy sailing!

jjtsfca
February 24th, 2007, 11:45 AM
Thanks both HeinBloed and twinsmom for your helpful posts. I did find an exceptionally detailed post (from a Louise or similar?) on doing Peter on one's own. The compromise I will probably strike for myself is to purchase a transfer from the ship or a company repped by my visa outfit to get me to and from the ship. From "in town" I think I'll be just fine.

I'm looking forward to Alla and her tour experience - she's a delight and has a great reputation.

SaylorGirl
February 28th, 2007, 02:32 PM
We did St. Petersburg on our own a year ago in September. We did both days on our own and it was the best part of the entire cruise. I heard so many people say don't do it that we almost didn't. We had the best time and did everything we wanted to do.

As per your question when you get off the ship and go through passport control get on the port bus it is the one the workers use and take it all the way to the end of the port it is about a mile or so, it will stop at the 2nd passport control, go through that one and you are out of the port. Walk a couple of blocks and you will see a sign for a bus take the bus it will take you all the way into the city. You pay for your bus tickets on the bus just give the rubles to the bubsukas (she will find you) it cost about .35 rubles.

If you have any other questions please ask, Russia is as easy of a place to get around as any other city. We found most of the teenagers spoke English, we had no problems at all. We would do it again in a heartbeat!

jjtsfca
March 1st, 2007, 12:19 AM
Thanks much SaylorGirl. I'm kind of excited about breaking away from the package cruisetour herd.

tiggrrr
March 1st, 2007, 02:49 AM
We did St. Petersburg on our own a year ago in September. We did both days on our own and it was the best part of the entire cruise. I heard so many people say don't do it that we almost didn't. We had the best time and did everything we wanted to do.

As per your question when you get off the ship and go through passport control get on the port bus it is the one the workers use and take it all the way to the end of the port it is about a mile or so, it will stop at the 2nd passport control, go through that one and you are out of the port. Walk a couple of blocks and you will see a sign for a bus take the bus it will take you all the way into the city. You pay for your bus tickets on the bus just give the rubles to the bubsukas (she will find you) it cost about .35 rubles.

If you have any other questions please ask, Russia is as easy of a place to get around as any other city. We found most of the teenagers spoke English, we had no problems at all. We would do it again in a heartbeat!

jjtsfca, SaylorGirl's description is just perfect - you are on the Constellation so you wont be at the smaller terminal that HeinBloed was talking about as Constellation is too big. Anyway with the new cruise terminal construction well underway now, I am not even sure that terminal is being used in 2007.
If you are a confident independent traveller, then I think you will get much more from St Petes doing your second day this way, especially as you will have a feel from the city after your Day 1 with Alla.
Just a couple of suggestions though, it could be worth learning the Russian Cyrillic Alphabet so that you understand street signs, bus numbers etc. and also as you are going out on the second day, give yourself plenty of time to get back for the ship sailing time!!
Enjoy!

russia2007
April 20th, 2007, 10:32 PM
We did St. Petersburg on our own a year ago in September. We did both days on our own and it was the best part of the entire cruise. I heard so many people say don't do it that we almost didn't. We had the best time and did everything we wanted to do.

As per your question when you get off the ship and go through passport control get on the port bus it is the one the workers use and take it all the way to the end of the port it is about a mile or so, it will stop at the 2nd passport control, go through that one and you are out of the port. Walk a couple of blocks and you will see a sign for a bus take the bus it will take you all the way into the city. You pay for your bus tickets on the bus just give the rubles to the bubsukas (she will find you) it cost about .35 rubles.

If you have any other questions please ask, Russia is as easy of a place to get around as any other city. We found most of the teenagers spoke English, we had no problems at all. We would do it again in a heartbeat!
How did you manage to visit on your own the Ekaterina's summer palace in Pushkin, if you had a chance to visit it. I contacted museum, they answered me that they did not sell tickets in advance, so "we need to stay some time in line to get tickets" ))) At the same time, the internet is full of offers for buying tickets in advance to this museum.

Sincerely,
Yuri Schoolov

Peregrina651
April 22nd, 2007, 10:00 PM
My only question is, how do I get myself from Industrial Harbor pier in Peter into the city (to area around the Hermitage or the hydrofoil to Peterhof). I've read varied posts about official taxis, unofficial taxis, mafia taxis, locals looking to make money, ship transfers, on and on. Can someone advise an easy, not exorbitant way to get to and from the ship and the Hermitage? Thanks for your help.

Don't know if you found Bollinge's description of his visit to St.P. It is post 15 or 16 in this thread: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=186310 He gives a very vivid description of taking the taxis.

kceagle
April 23rd, 2007, 06:29 PM
We will be on the Star Princess in June and are going to do St Pete on our own also. We are having Denrus driver w/o guide pick us up the first am and drive us to Peteroff but we will be taking off from there on our own touring Peteroff and returning to town by hydrofoil. I suggest you check out the tripadvisor website on St Petersburg. There is a resident advisor for every location on their site and Stanj is extremely knowledgable and helpful. He even gave us his cell number if we run into problems. His only warning on our own was that we may not see as much as those on tour b/c we may have lines to slow us down at museums and such. We feel like the extra time we will have on our own to walk around where we want to go and when we want to go is worth the trade off. St Petersburg is a very well educated city with most people understanding English though they may not want to speak to you.

dog
April 23rd, 2007, 07:22 PM
kceagle - Because you have a Denrus car with driver (no guide) do you still need to get a Visa or does Denrus cover the Visa like they do with the guided tours?

kceagle
April 23rd, 2007, 11:22 PM
We had to get a visa b/c they would not be able to leave us at Peteroff alone w/o one. If you do not get one you have to be accompanied by Denrus (or another approved guide) every minute. We hired Denrus for the am because we would have had to pay $36 per person to Denrus to get the support letter we needed to get the visas if we did not use their services. If we used their services they provide the support letter for free. So we paid for four hours of driver w/o guide $47.00 per person for four hours and got the support letter for free. We have them meeting us and driving us into and around town to get us oriented and then on to Peteroff.

banchote
April 28th, 2007, 05:18 PM
so out of curiosity is it confirmed that there will be transport from the pier to the gates? due to a minor visa snafu, it looks like i have to meet my tour operator outside the gates.

ps we've been to st. petes before, everyone is friendly, many people speak english under the ager of 35 i'd say.

as we're there in the summer for our cruise (june on the connie) if anyone else is there around then. look out for the white nights...basically part ot he summer the sun doesn't go down until really late...last year in august we saw it get dark around 12 it was awesome.

SaylorGirl
April 28th, 2007, 10:57 PM
so out of curiosity is it confirmed that there will be transport from the pier to the gates? due to a minor visa snafu, it looks like i have to meet my tour operator outside the gates.

.

Yes the port buses run everyday just get on it and it will take you to the gate.

banchote
April 29th, 2007, 04:57 PM
thanks saylor girl. is there a cost? should i have rubles with me or will dollars do. the way i set my tours up i don't need any money over the course of the tour as they include everything

SaylorGirl
May 1st, 2007, 02:27 PM
Yes the port buses run everyday just get on it and it will take you to the gate.

There is no charge for the port bus but you will need Rubles for the city bus. We got change at the Seaman's Hotel which was not far from the bus stop. You may be able to get some change from someone in the port. The bus was .35 Rubles.

banchote
May 2nd, 2007, 01:23 AM
i only need to get to the gate...so i can safely assume i only need to take the port bus and it's free? once at the gate my tour co. will pick me up.