Past Russia travelers

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#1
Knoxville, TN
170 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Hi everyone. Leaving in 4 weeks for Uniworld's Moscow to St. Petersburg sailing on the River Victoria and had a passport control/immigration question. I've been reading a few guidebooks and a couple mention to have ALL your documentation & confirmations with you, such as your invitation letter, hotel confirmations, plane tickets/e-tickets, etc. Can anyone tell me if this is a requirement? I figured the entire Visa process took care of that. I now put all the info in my phone and no longer print confirmations. I have read that there will be forms to fill out on the plane before arriving. Thanks for sharing any info.

Tim
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#2
24,511 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
I never saw my invitation letter as I went through the visa service that AMA recommended and never physically had my hands on it.

I didn't stay in a hotel so I didn't have that information.

I did have print outs of my plane reservation with me. I don't remember having to show it to anyone.

When we entered, we had to fill something out and they took the first part at customs/immigration and we had to keep the second part for when we left the country. I kept it with my passport.

It is Russia. I personally would have print outs of invitation letter and hotel reservations with me. Heck, I was asked for my hotel reservation information when flying into Canada a year or two ago.
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#3
Los Angeles, CA, USA
3,208 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
I totally agree with Coral (I usually do)!! I wouldn't enter or travel in Russia without PRINTED documents. What if you lose your phone or it is stolen or you forget to charge it? I have been there three times and strongly suggest you do this!!!

Sheila
#4
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
11,354 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
We did Russia with Vantage and used their visa service company. We didn't have an invitation letter. Vantage did give us a booklet with our itinerary, including hotels. Entering Russia was fairly quick. Leaving Russia by bus from STP to Tallin, Estonia was more a hassle. We had to wait while buses ahead of us were checked through and one was searched, including luggage.
We asked our guide why search the luggage and hassle leaving the country? She said it was a throwback to the old days!
By the way the Russia trip was great.
#7
New Iberia, La.
409 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Anyone cruised Russia on more than one line? What was you favorite? Any info would be appreciated in helping me make a decision. What are the best months to cruise Russia?
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"The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page" St.Augustine
#8
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
11,354 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by Hot2Travel
Anyone cruised Russia on more than one line? What was you favorite? Any info would be appreciated in helping me make a decision. What are the best months to cruise Russia?
You can find a lot of options for the Russian River cruise. I did a lot of research and found several choices. They are two general categories.

Budget
All Russia local Russian company.
Gate 1

Standard
Viking
Vantage
AMA
Uniworld
Grand Circle Travel

I suggest checking what each firm has to offer and carefully summarize what each firm offers.
How many days on the tour? Some, like Gate 1 offer fewer days than others.

Is airfare included? We found that Vantage gave us a better airfare than we could buy independently.

What tours are included with the price. All offer some optional tours.

Some firms may offer hotels centrally located in Moscow and STP instead of staying on the riverboat, which is ported some distance from the city center. With heavy traffic, especially in Moscow your commute from the port to city center will take two hours. Grand Circle once offered hotels, then changed to not offering. We selected Vantage, mainly because they offered five star hotels centrally located instead of having to commute.

Check the cruise critic reviews and you will learn that some river cruise companies that usually do quite well everywhere else, have some problems in Russia. Note with particularity Viking and AMA.
#10
Los Angeles, CA, USA
3,208 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
Hi Hot2Travel,

If you go to the "Roll Call" section of Cruise Critic and hit on "All River Cruise Rollcalls", there is a continuing thread about "Russian River Cruises". There are many posts there which you can read about this very different area of cruising.

Sheila
#11
New Iberia, La.
409 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Originally posted by shoshona2
Hi Hot2Travel,

If you go to the "Roll Call" section of Cruise Critic and hit on "All River Cruise Rollcalls", there is a continuing thread about "Russian River Cruises". There are many posts there which you can read about this very different area of cruising.

Sheila
Thanks a bunch Sheila
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"The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page" St.Augustine
#12
Ontario, Canada
2,733 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Hot2travel -

I believe that Collette still does Russia - as does Scenic (although they are priced quite a bit higher...)

Fran
#13
Beverly, ma, us
325 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
We took Grand Circle Russia Revealed about 8 year ago. At that time the only option was to stay on the ship in the riverport. This meant long and variable time spent on the bus each day to get to the city center. St. Petersburg's traffic was bad and Moscow's was terrible. We thought it would have been much better to stay in a hotel. In following years they had two versions of the trip, one using the ship and one using hotels. Our impression from travelers reviews was that the quality and consistency of the hotels and meals left something to be desired. Grand Circle no longer had complete control over accommodations and meals and quality issues come up. We only had one lunch in a hotel restaurant in Moscow on our trip and it was far inferior to a shipboard lunch.
#14
Nebraska
345 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
For you frequent overseas travellors... My daughter and I got our passports in the mail this week (yay!). However, my daughters arrived yesterday (Sat) without her birth certificate. Should I be worried? Does this happen often? Should I wait a few days and see if they mail it back? Or call or e-mail? We will begin our Visa process (for Russia) in a couple of weeks. Won't we need ourbirth certificates along with the passports for the Visas? Thanks for any advice!
#15
Knoxville, TN
170 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Hi Pixiegirl

You shouldn't need your birth certificate for your Russian visa. All they need is your passport, along with all the other items such as your invitation letter, application, etc.

I would call or email though to check on the birth certificate. I had to order a replacement for myself last year and it cost me almost $50 after they tacked on the shipping costs.

Hope that helps. Congrats on your passports. We leave ourselves to Russia in 11 days and I'm SO ready!!!

Tim
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#17
54 Posts
Joined Nov 2011
Originally posted by Rxgrad98
Hi Pixiegirl

You shouldn't need your birth certificate for your Russian visa. All they need is your passport, along with all the other items such as your invitation letter, application, etc.

I would call or email though to check on the birth certificate. I had to order a replacement for myself last year and it cost me almost $50 after they tacked on the shipping costs.

Hope that helps. Congrats on your passports. We leave ourselves to Russia in 11 days and I'm SO ready!!!

Tim
Rxfead98
I understand you are in the Victoria ship as a I write this message. Love to hear how it is going. I am excited but nervous that their service and promises are kept.
any hints from you would be awesome and can you send me the site where you have been writing your comments. cannot locate it.
hope you are having a wonderful time. We will be there in September.
rubmar
#18
Nebraska
345 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
Tim is posting from the cruise in the rollcall section of the message boards. Go to the main message board page and then go to the rollcall section. There is an "All Russian River Cruises-2012" section. Click on that and you can read everybody's posts (including Tims).
#19
Virginia
1,511 Posts
Joined May 2011
To Rubmar -
It's under Roll Calls --> then All River Cruise Roll Calls --> then the thread "Russian River Cruises - 2012 - All Lines". I'm surprised you can't see it if you're getting to this thread (Uniworld Victoria sept 2012). The "Russian River Cruises 2012 All Lines" should be appearing right near your thread in the list. In any case, I'll try and cut and paste the link, but sometimes the link gets distorted when you try and post it.
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1559518
Hope that helps. Let me know if you still can't find it.
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----------------------
Travel Blog - www.TravelswithElizabeth.com

Prior Cruises:
2009 - A&K Alaska
2010 - Viking Treasures of the Rhine
2012 - Princess Eastern Carribean
June 2012 - Uniworld Waterways of Russia
January 2013 - Princess Southern Caribbean
October 2013 - Imperial China and the Yangtze
April 2014 - Viking Chateaux & Wine and
Viking Southern France B2B
April 2015 - Viking Oceans Star 50-day Maiden
May 2016 - Viking Passage to Eastern Europe

Future cruises:
August 2017 - Ireland & Scotland
#20
Knoxville, TN
170 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Hi Rubmar, I've been posting under the "All Russia Cruise Lines" that pixiegirl and Elizabeth just posted about. I plan to write a full review once I return, but wanted to give some info while on the boat & figured more people were monitoring that post more.

Overall it's been great. I have heard some disgruntlement, but I think it's from those that you'd never be able to please anyway. There's been a few minor things like internet not working in Moscow and spotty availability overall; the dining crew is a little green and unorganized at times and sometimes we're waiting 30 minutes between courses, but we have seen improvement each day. They seemed a little intimidated and shy at first but it's great to see them warm up and come out of their shell; they're now actually trying to engage us in conversation, although their English is limited. One young waiter, Slava, meets us at our usual table with 2 Sprites now that he's learned that's what we like to drink at dinner.

Overall it's been great. The weather has been pretty much perfect. The scenery beautiful. The churches unbelievable.

Hope that answers some of your questions. Check out the other thread for more.

Tim
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