St Petersburg Tours - Best Company / How Long?

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Northern Europe & Baltic Sea
Aarhus, Bergen, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Greenland, Helsinki, Oslo, Reykjavik, Riga, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn
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#41
Virginia
1,237 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Originally posted by Scarlett Cruises
Just asking as I just booked this trip last night with RCL for next May..I'm a little paranoid about getting back to the ship on time in these ports, but everyone is using these independent tours and I look on their websites and they look great. The SPB website even says they guarantee to get you back to the ship on time. Is it really not a concern?
Have been on 3 Baltic cruises and used 3 different independent tour companies, Alla, SPB and Best Guides. We were NEVER late getting back to the ship and usually were back before the cruise ship tour buses.
<<<Karen>>>
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#42
South Carolina, U.S.
4,080 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
Originally posted by Scarlett Cruises
Just asking as I just booked this trip last night with RCL for next May..I'm a little paranoid about getting back to the ship on time in these ports, but everyone is using these independent tours and I look on their websites and they look great. The SPB website even says they guarantee to get you back to the ship on time. Is it really not a concern?

Thanks!
I just used SPB for a three day deluxe tour in St. Petersburg. They are rated #1 of the tour companies on TripAdvisor. They have about 3,900 reviews and are five circles. It is definitely not a concern or they would not get such rave reviews.


The tour itineraries we were on were jam packed and the best independent tour I have ever taken in any port! Lunch in restaurants were included all three days. The guide we had was so knowledgeable. She even had an art history degree so she knew which of the paintings and pieces of art to go to and which ones to skip. We learned the history behind the art not just looking at the art. Her name was Svetlana. If you can get her you will not be disappointed!


Our roll call had about 32 people sign up so we were split into two groups and we all had headsets to hear the guide. SPB not only gives an initial discount to Cruise Critic roll calls but if you hit 16 people, they give you one free tour. We got two free tours which saved us a total of about $100 per couple.

This is just my experience a little over two weeks ago.
#43
Northern California
24 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
We took the 2-day St Petersburg tour with Alla Tours back on Aug 9th and 10th. We were really pleased with our guide, Polinma. She was continuously giving us the detail each step of the way.

St Petersburg has so many interesting sites. We crammed in a lot but wish we could have spent 4 or 5 days there.

We never had to wait long to get into the any of the sights. It seems like Alla has somebody to buy the tickets ahead of time so when you arrive the tickets are bought and you are ready to go.

Alla has small mini-buses with tours limited to 16 people.
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NorcalBeni
#44
Sooke BC Canada
13 Posts
Joined Mar 2016
We had TJ Travel for a two-day tour in St Petersburg on the NCL Getaway cruise (Aug 15-24) and highly recommend them. The guide Mikael was extremely knowledgeable as his "day job" is at the Hermitage Museum. The tour included all the main sites (Peterof, Winter and Summer Palace, Amber Room, etc.) and a few off the beaten path visits such as the St Petersburg subway (the deepest in the world and quite the experience). Mikael had great stories about all the sites, as well as a fantastic sense of humour as he described history and current life. We also opted for a night tour. There are a variety of options and we chose the "Russian Experience" where we strolled across the Neva River and along Nevsky Prospect, and enjoyed vodka tasting and snacks, with tour guide Dimitry. The cost for the two-day tour was less than half of the same tour if booked through the ship and instead of being packed onto a huge bus with a group of 40 you get a small van and a group of 12-14 (and free wifi). We were surprised not to be asked to pay until the end of the tour where we met Maria the owner and received some final parting gifts including a guide to St Petersburg. We appreciated that we were able to pay by credit card and the shop she works from had free coffee and vodka for tasting. The first day off the ship expect to wait in line as you go through Russian immigration - it took about 20 min to get through. NCL offers priority to its shore excursion guests when disembarking in St Petersburg - that doesn't mean that you can't disembark if you have booked a private tour. They just don't announce the "all clear" for all guests so watch through the windows in the morning and when you see people starting to walk off go join them.
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Happy cruising!
#45
Tauranga, New Zealand
176 Posts
Joined Nov 2012
I second that about TJ Travel, and Mikael is fabulous! We did their three day tour which included the fast train to Moscow on Day Two. Busy but incredibly fulfilling and so well organised. The cost was remarkably reasonable and nice to compare and contrast the two cities! Would recommend this tour, but also appreciate that there is so much to see in St Petersburg itself. Enjoy!


Originally posted by SookeBC
We had TJ Travel for a two-day tour in St Petersburg on the NCL Getaway cruise (Aug 15-24) and highly recommend them. The guide Mikael was extremely knowledgeable as his "day job" is at the Hermitage Museum. The tour included all the main sites (Peterof, Winter and Summer Palace, Amber Room, etc.) and a few off the beaten path visits such as the St Petersburg subway (the deepest in the world and quite the experience). Mikael had great stories about all the sites, as well as a fantastic sense of humour as he described history and current life. We also opted for a night tour. There are a variety of options and we chose the "Russian Experience" where we strolled across the Neva River and along Nevsky Prospect, and enjoyed vodka tasting and snacks, with tour guide Dimitry. The cost for the two-day tour was less than half of the same tour if booked through the ship and instead of being packed onto a huge bus with a group of 40 you get a small van and a group of 12-14 (and free wifi). We were surprised not to be asked to pay until the end of the tour where we met Maria the owner and received some final parting gifts including a guide to St Petersburg. We appreciated that we were able to pay by credit card and the shop she works from had free coffee and vodka for tasting. The first day off the ship expect to wait in line as you go through Russian immigration - it took about 20 min to get through. NCL offers priority to its shore excursion guests when disembarking in St Petersburg - that doesn't mean that you can't disembark if you have booked a private tour. They just don't announce the "all clear" for all guests so watch through the windows in the morning and when you see people starting to walk off go join them.
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#46
3 Posts
Joined Aug 2017
Originally posted by CRHeel94
One couple gave us a great tip (unfortunately after we left), which I think would work great with a 3 day stop. They did a one day tour to see the main sites and then on the second day they booked a shore excursion that was basically a shuttle to Novsky Prospekt that let them do their own thing. With three days, you could easily book a two day tour and then do something like that to have some flex time to wander around a bit.


a


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#47
1 Posts
Joined Jul 2017
We used TJ Tours for our 3 days in St Petersburg.....our guide,Tatiana, was brilliant and Alexander was a great driver. We went to good restaurants for lunch and, in addition to the wonderful main sights, particularly enjoyed the trip on the Metro (what amazing stations!) and the Faberge collection. Excellent value.
#48
Baja California
307 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
Originally posted by Lovetotrrravel
Private tour operators offer excellent tours.
Check my spreadsheet to compare some of the tours offered by top local companies.They cover all major attractions and meet all kinds of needs. The URL is
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7qPbaGB1wZ9LWFhektxV0w5UFVzaEdnU3dJd0tnSFh5S3hB/view?usp=sharing
We're going to St. Petersburg next summer--what a wonderful thing for you to have shared! Thank you so much.
#50
Cary, North Carolina
28 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
I've posted before...but wholeheartedly agree with Nov24ember. Our group of 4 used Dancing Bear for a full three days of tours. What a fabulous experience...they posted my review on their website. I would avoid ship excursions in St. Petersburg.

Tom
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Tom
#51
Wisconsin
138 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
TJ TRAVEL
I use these Cruise Critic boards and the Trip Advisor boards a great deal, and I feel I must then take the time to write reviews for others to return the favor.
We were a group of 4 adults who booked a private tour with TJ Travel for two days in St Petersburg recently. Nadia was our tour guide, and she did a fabulous job. It was pricey, BUT we did EXACTLY as we wished, no headphones, no being herded in a group, experienced guides, and we chose exactly what we wanted to see.....This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for all of us to St Petersburg. If it is for you, too, don't skimp--consider a small group. TJ Travel did a wonderful job start to finish. They answered emails promptly and had all paperwork in order for us--all travel documents sent via email to be printed at home and then handed over along with your passport to Russian immigration. Do not be afraid of booking this private company. They guarantee getting you back to your ship on time. TJ Travel will give you a wonderful experience--I'm sure the same as the other two large companies (SPB and Alla)--but for a little less money. Compare the three companies and what they offer, and you will find TJ Travel to be a bit better priced for the same tours, including early entrance into the Hermitage. Yes, they are the #3 company listed on Trip Advisor, but as such I think they try harder and are very conscious of their position and thus their requirement to provide excellent service--which they do!
#52
Houston
1,284 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Originally posted by Worldtraveler 4727
TJ TRAVEL
I use these Cruise Critic boards and the Trip Advisor boards a great deal, and I feel I must then take the time to write reviews for others to return the favor.
We were a group of 4 adults who booked a private tour with TJ Travel for two days in St Petersburg recently. Nadia was our tour guide, and she did a fabulous job. It was pricey, BUT we did EXACTLY as we wished, no headphones, no being herded in a group, experienced guides, and we chose exactly what we wanted to see.....This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for all of us to St Petersburg. If it is for you, too, don't skimp--consider a small group. TJ Travel did a wonderful job start to finish. They answered emails promptly and had all paperwork in order for us--all travel documents sent via email to be printed at home and then handed over along with your passport to Russian immigration. Do not be afraid of booking this private company. They guarantee getting you back to your ship on time. TJ Travel will give you a wonderful experience--I'm sure the same as the other two large companies (SPB and Alla)--but for a little less money. Compare the three companies and what they offer, and you will find TJ Travel to be a bit better priced for the same tours, including early entrance into the Hermitage. Yes, they are the #3 company listed on Trip Advisor, but as such I think they try harder and are very conscious of their position and thus their requirement to provide excellent service--which they do!
Thanks - we just booked TJ Travel for out 2 day tour next year.
Eclue
#54
Long Island, NY, US
190 Posts
Joined May 2012
Originally posted by Worldtraveler 4727
You will not be disappointed! Email Tatiana (the owner) and request Nadia. She was wonderful!


Another vote for TJ and Nadia. Just came off Marina cruise in Baltic & spent 3 days with Nadia touring St. P. We thought she was spectacular! There is so much to see and, although there is no way to thoroughly see everything in that short a time, I feel that we really did get a wonderful overview of this beautiful city.


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#55
34 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by newbie2013
I second that about TJ Travel, and Mikael is fabulous! We did their three day tour which included the fast train to Moscow on Day Two. Busy but incredibly fulfilling and so well organised. The cost was remarkably reasonable and nice to compare and contrast the two cities! Would recommend this tour, but also appreciate that there is so much to see in St Petersburg itself. Enjoy!

We would like to double second that about TJ Travel! We had a private tour for 2 and chose the sites we wanted to see as well as the Russian experiences we wanted to enjoy. Mikael is fantastic. He is a curator at The Hermitage and brings so much to a tour. Of course, Gennady, our driver, was also fantastic. We also booked a private tour with TJ in Berlin - again exceptional. I would highly recommend TJ Travel.