Amadeus recommends Zierer (http://zvs.com/). The cost was $194.00 including Fedex next day shipping costs to send the passport and visa back. Their breakdown in cost is $173.00 for the visa pp and $21 for Fedex service. There are extra costs for expediated services and changes.
It appears other services were less expensive and I probably should have gone that route but since with a Russian Visa, you need an invitation in order to get your visa, it seemed easier to just use the company Amadeus recommends. We were told that Zierer would not accept the application more than 90 days in advance of the trip.
River cruise is May 30th.
March 12 - sent Visa and Passport to Zierer Fedex 2nd day air. 2nd day air cost $6.99.
March 14th - Zierer received passport and visa and sent me an email indicating such.
March 30th - received an email from Zierer indicating that my visa was issued and that it was being mailed back next day air (Fedex). I received tracking information which has an April 2nd (Monday) date for delivery.
Zierer does offer online tracking but this was pretty much worthless. There are 5 levels of status:
1. Please Call our Call Center for assistance
2. Received and preparing documents for submission
3. In process at Consulate or AGency
4. Completed and Verifying Documents
5. Shipped Home.
My status started with #2 and then went to #5 today. It was never updated for steps 3 and 4. I had called late last week and that person was not helpful and referred me to the status online which was not updated.
I then called ZVS asking the status this Tuesday and they were helpful and indicated that they would get it back from the Russian Consulate on Friday (today) and they didn't specify when it would be sent out (which turned out to be the same day).
Overall, I was impressed with Zierer with the exception of the status not being updated. In my case, it wasn't a big deal since I don't leave until May 30th. Though - they had my passport so I was sort of feeling protective over the process.
I did compare prices with a friend who went to Russia for Spring Break and they paid less than I did and had their Visa approved in about 5 working days. I have another friend going on an Alumni Holiday trip on the MS Repin and he was told to expect $140 fee and he was told not to apply for his more than 60 days out. He isn't sure who is doing his visa.
Good luck to everyone else applying for their visas (Russian and others).