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Northern Europe & Baltics Aarhus, Bergen, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Greenland, Helsinki, Oslo, Riga, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn

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  #1  
Old July 17th, 2008, 05:48 PM
yaletown605 yaletown605 is offline
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Default Alla Tour vs. DenRus

Which is a better tour operator? Has anyone has experience with either tour group and which one offer a better product?
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  #2  
Old July 17th, 2008, 07:19 PM
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nabby nabby is offline
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I think both companies have proven to be fine. I would go with whoever gives you the best price for what you want. We are using DenRus because they offer an option (Lunch with a Russian Family) that we really wanted to do and the other operators don't offer it. From what I have read here, I would feel confident with either company.
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  #3  
Old July 18th, 2008, 12:01 AM
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MightyQuinn MightyQuinn is offline
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Default Both Get Good Reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by yaletown605 View Post
Which is a better tour operator? Has anyone has experience with either tour group and which one offer a better product?
Have you tried doing a search on these boards? There has been much written about Alla Tours & Denrus in the past few months, ranging from discussion on how to make decisions between them to first-hand accounts by people recently returned from STP. Enter “Alla” and “Denrus” into “Search this Forum” and you’ll hit pay dirt. I’ve included a link below but there is so much more! Bottom line, only you can decide depending on your specific interests, as both companies get great reviews. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=739563

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  #4  
Old July 18th, 2008, 12:44 PM
MercedMike MercedMike is offline
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Question Alla or DenRus

Mighty Quinn is right -- there is sooooooo much on these boards about both companies. Both generally get good reviews.

We choose DenRus for the "Lunch with a Russian Family" option and really loved it. Check out our review and pics at http://www.elite.net/~thehalls/baltic.html

Have a GREAT cruise!
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  #5  
Old July 18th, 2008, 02:01 PM
mdmgso mdmgso is offline
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Default Alla v. DenRus

We just (yesterday) returned from a cruise on the Regatta and used Alla for the three day tour. It was sensational. We and the other two couples, who are also seasoned travellers, all agreed that Alla is one of the best tour providers we have ever used. Our guide was friendly, accomodating and spoke excellent english. The van was immaculate and all six of us had window seats.

By the way, Alla will put you together with other people from your ship to form a party of six which is the optimum size.

Happily, several other acquaintances on the cruise used DenRus, and they too were satisfied.

From my study, experience and discussions with the DenRus participants, the primary differences seem to be as follows:

1) Alla is a less expensive but I wouldn't let the price be the sole basis for determination. St. Petersburg has some of the most beautiful sites in the world, so you need to do it right. You can also pay in USD after the tour with no prepayment.

2) Alla has more activities. The only tour you should consider is the "Comfort" tour (which though comfortable and luxurious is not the least bit leisurely), and be ready to go for a full day all three days. You actually visit substantially more sites with Alla. Be aware, however, that Alla does not tour the inside of Peterhof, because the gardens and fountains are the main focus (and they truly are spectacular), and the inside of Peterhof is duplicitive of and less grand than Catherine's Summer Palace which Alla does tour. The DenRus participants (who tour the inside of both) agree with that assessment.

3) The key to any tour you take is early entrance to the Hermitage, access to the Gold Room (which is difficult to obtain) and hydrofoil back from Peterholf which is both scenic and saves a great deal of time.

Whether you take Alla or DenRus, under no circumstances take the ship tours if they are like the Regatta's. First, they are ridiculously expensive. Secondly, they normally have 30+ participants which is too big anytime, but impossible within the confined spaces of St. Petersburg. The ship tours generally last six hours at the maximum (compared to eight + hours) and are site specific (compared to tours which go to a number of places in the same vicinity as with Alla and DenRus). It is impossible to see even the main sites in St. Petersburg in three days using the ship cruises.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by mdmgso; July 18th, 2008 at 02:04 PM.
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  #6  
Old July 18th, 2008, 02:05 PM
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timespliters timespliters is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdmgso View Post
We just (yesterday) returned from a cruise on the Regatta and used Alla for the three day tour. It was sensational. We and the other two couples, who are also seasoned travellers, all agreed that Alla is one of the best tour providers we have ever used. Our guide was friendly, accomodating and spoke excellent english. The van was immaculate and all six of us had window seats.

By the way, Alla will put you together with other people from your ship to form a party of six which is the optimum size.

Happily, several other acquaintances on the cruise used DenRus, and they too were satisfied.

From my study, experience and discussions with the DenRus participants, the primary differences seem to be as follows:

1) Alla is a less expensive but I wouldn't let the price be the sole basis for determination. St. Petersburg has some of the most beautiful sites in the world, so you need to do it right. You can also pay in USD after the tour with no prepayment.

2) Alla has more activities. The only tour you should consider is the "Comfort" tour (which though comfortable and luxurious is not the least bit leisurely), and be ready to go for a full day all three days. You actually visit substantially more sites with Alla. Be aware, however, that Alla does not tour the inside of Peterhof, because the gardens and fountains are the main focus (and they truly are spectacular), and the inside of Peterhof is duplicitive of and less grand than Catherine's Summer Palace which Alla does tour. The DenRus participants (who tour the inside of both) agree with that assessment.

3) The key to any tour you take is early entrance to the Hermitage, access to the Gold Room (which is difficult to obtain) and hydrofoil back from Peterholf which is both scenic and saves a great deal of time.

Whether you take Alla or DenRus, under no circumstances take the ship tours if they are like the Regatta's. First, they are ridiculously expensive. Secondly, they normally have 30+ participants which is too big anytime, but impossible within the confined spaces of St. Petersburg. The ship tours generally last six hours at the maximum (compared to eight + hours) and are site specific (compared to tours which go to a number of places in the same vicinity as with Alla and DenRus). It is impossible to see even the main sites in St. Petersburg in three days using the ship cruises.

Hope this helps.
We used Alla when we went and I don't think anyone could have been better

james/sheila
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Old July 18th, 2008, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MercedMike View Post
Mighty Quinn is right -- there is sooooooo much on these boards about both companies. Both generally get good reviews.

We choose DenRus for the "Lunch with a Russian Family" option and really loved it. Check out our review and pics at http://www.elite.net/~thehalls/baltic.html

Have a GREAT cruise!

Very nice photos and a good writeup about you trip. We would love to go again as so much to see.

james/sheila
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Thomson Spirit 2013
Jewel of the Seas 2012
Oriana 36 Nights 2011
Independence of the Seas 2010
Oceana 28 Nights 2009-2010
Sea Princess 2009
Independence of the Seas 2008
Jewel of the Seas 2007
Artemis 38 Nights 2006
Island Princess 2004
Summit 2004
Coral Princess 2003
Dawn Princess 2002
Dawn Princess 2002
Oriana 2001
Seabourn Sun 2000
Sundream 1999
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  #8  
Old July 18th, 2008, 03:40 PM
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little britain little britain is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yaletown605 View Post
Which is a better tour operator? Has anyone has experience with either tour group and which one offer a better product?
We used Alla a few weeks ago - here is the excerpt from my cruise review:

Saturday 28th – St Petersburg – sunrise 4.40/sunset 11.31
A 6.15 phone call told us our breakfast was on the way. We ate in our robes on the balcony overlooking the most unscenic industrial port!
So here it was at last – the big day! We had booked a 2-day Comfort tour with Alla with 9 fellow Cruise critic passengers. Those who were going independently met in the Hemisphere lounge (I called it the 'naughty lounge' - there were only about 70 of us ). We were downstairs at 7.40 and off the ship 10 minutes later. There were 5 customs booths – 4 for Celebrity tours and 1 for private tours – but as has been said before, the Russian authorities don’t care who you were with and we were shown to the one with the shortest line. We had to present our passports, a photocopy of the ID page and our Alla tour tickets. They kept the photocopy and we were given a plastic red card which is our pass into the city, which you returned as you reboarded the ship, and returned our red passes. Alla and our guide Ekaterina were there to meet us with a 16-seat Mercedes van. First we stopped at St Nicholas church, then we went to Catherine’s Palace which is a vision in blue and gold, then to Peterhof where we had lunch. This was a costly place for tourists and was 1050RUR. After lunch we visited the fountains and Monplasire Palace before catching the hydrofoil back to St Petersburg. Ekaterina ensured we were at the front of the line for getting into cathedrals, and onto the hydrofoil. We actually had to request that they took us to a shop as this was not on the itinerary! We went to a sweet place where the prices were very reasonable – I got a small painted lacquer box for €9. They took, $, € or RUR.
Back at the ship by 5. But that night we had arranged that we go out to dinner in St Petersburg to get more of a local flavour. Alla had recommended a restaurant called Chekhov. We had the driver wait whilst we changed, customs merely glanced at our passports and handed us another red card; then at 6 we were on our way back into town. We were treated to a little private tour before being dropped at the restaurant. It had a quaint atmosphere, like a dacha, with dressers full of homemade fruits soaking in alcohol. We had traditional Russian blini with salmon, and a potato dish to start, followed by beef stroganoff for me and duck for him. A bottle of champagne (Spanish Cava) was the cheapest thing to drink on the menu –and we finished with a homemade fruit vodka – which was lovely! This experience cost us $30ph for the driver ($120 total) and 3,590RUR for dinner! It was expensive but we figured we would probably not be in St Petersburg again so seized the opportunity! Our wait staff were interesting – two young girls who were both rather large in size and totally unsmiling, dressed in long dresses and pinafores and a young lad who spoke English who was absolutely charming!


Sunday 29th – St Petersburg- sunrise 4.40/sunset 11.31

Ekaterina had arranged to collect us at 9. There was no queue to get off so we walked straight off, no need for a passport photocopy today, we were just given the red card again and straight into the van. Today we went to the Hermitage – skipped past the waiting lines as we had early entry. We spent 3 hours there – what a wonderful place; then we went to the famous Stolle restaurant for its pies. Here it was only 300RUR for 3 drinks and 4 portions of pie – we tried their chicken, mushroom, apple and lemon flavours. In the afternoon we visited the Church on the Spilled Blood which is overwhelming in its beauty, St Peter and Paul fortress where the monarchs are buried, and finally St Isaacs. For all of this we had paid $325pp. I cannot recommend Alla and her tours highly enough. We were back on board by 4.45. Exhausted.
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