St Petersburg excursions

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#21
2,443 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
Originally posted by upwarduk
Celebrity are doing one, which includes inside the Grand Palace & Cottage Palace of Peterhof, the lower gardens and the Palace of Nicolas 1 in Alexandria park. I was really wondering which tour company offered this tour, so I could compare prices!
However, I’m also thinking if priority debarkation is limited to cruise ship tours, it might be best to book this tour.
Usually , only the 3 day tours offered by independent companies have an inside tour of the Peterhof Grand Palace. There simply isn't time on the 2 day tours. As another poster mentioned, you can design your own custom itinerary. If your heart is set on visiting Peterhof Grand, this would appear to be your best option.
As to the tour offered by your ship, carefully compare the itineraries among the independent operators vs your ship. If you are spending a good deal of time at Peterhof (Grand and Cottage palaces), you will obviously be missing other sights.
JMHO, but I honestly believe that when comparing the earlier starting ship's tour in a large group vs a later start with a smaller, independent group tour, you will have a better experience and see more by booking with an independent company.
If the ship's itinerary is what best suits you then, by all means, book it.
FYI: The Catherine Palace, Peterhof Grand Palace and Winter Palace (Hermitage) were designed by the same architect (Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli) in the same style (Russian baroque). Both the Catherine Palace & Peterhof are suburban estates and, of the two, Catherine Palace is the palace that most first time visitors wish to visit (it is much larger than the Grand & features the restored amber room).
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#22
Rhode Island
658 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
We wanted to vary our trip so we are spending more time in Peterhof and also the Hermitage to see both buildings, including the Renaissance paintings. We are also visiting the Smolny Museum. I am really pleased with the variety that we have chosen but we are giving up Catherine's Palace not only to give us more time but also because of the scheduling of our trip. I am trying to stay out of the middle of St. Petersburg on Russia Day which is a Tuesday and Catherine's Palace is closed that day. You can work with these companies to individualize your plans - it might not cost much less than the ship tour if you are only 2, 4 or 6 but I think that it will be more rewarding and you will see more.
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Jean
#23
West Yorkshire.
5,357 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
As to the tour offered by your ship, carefully compare the itineraries among the independent operators vs your ship. If you are spending a good deal of time at Peterhof (Grand and Cottage palaces), you will obviously be missing other sights.

We did a 2 day De Luxe tour with SPB in July 2015, so we have already seen the main sights, which is why I am trying to find alternative excursions.
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#24
Canada
1,106 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
The first time we went to St Petersburg we used the ship's tours and were very disappointed. They didn't let us inside the churches, told us there was nothing inside. We couldn't visit the gold room in the hermitage and they even missed one of the sights completely.

We went a second time and after a lot of research we went with SPB tours. Victoria was amazing in customizing exactly what we wanted to see: the gold room, inside the churches, Peter and Paul Fortress, a subway ride, visit to the local market with snacks. She even got us into a behind the scenes fountains of Peterhof and the small cottages. Then we took a hydrofoil back and a canal ride to Usupov place where Rasputin was killed. It was incredible! Head and shoulders above shuffling along with 50 others, our group of 14 maximized our sightseeing. Truly do your research and see what you want to see!
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#25
1,683 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Originally posted by upwarduk
Celebrity are doing one, which includes inside the Grand Palace & Cottage Palace of Peterhof, the lower gardens and the Palace of Nicolas 1 in Alexandria park. I was really wondering which tour company offered this tour, so I could compare prices!
However, I’m also thinking if priority debarkation is limited to cruise ship tours, it might be best to book this tour.
Ah! This is a tour clearly designed for cruisers making a repeat visit to St. Petersburg. If your earlier question about going inside Peterhof also included these other Peterhof-Park desination, I need to revise my earlier suggestion.

Visiting all the sites at Peterhof plus transportation to/from will consume a minimum of a half day. Even with a three-day port call, I don't think you can count on first-timers wanting to spend their port call this way. You might get lucky, but if you create a private tour to do this plus the Faberge exhibit, you need to be prepared to pay the full freight. I don't think there will be many takers among first -time visitors to St. Petersburg for such an in-depth visit to Peterhof.
#26
2,443 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
Originally posted by upwarduk
We did a 2 day De Luxe tour with SPB in July 2015, so we have already seen the main sights, which is why I am trying to find alternative excursions.
Ah, in that case, spending more time at Peterhof makes sense. I love the Cottage Palace - is there a tour that also includes Monplaisir?
Pavlovsk is also an option. The palace, although not as sumptuous as the Grand, is very interesting and the park is gorgeous.
If you are interested in a day "on your own", you might contact SPB again and see if they can provide you with a driver for a day. The ticket will satisfy the visa waiver - we did this once years ago with Alla Tours.
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