Private tours in Russia - any experience


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#1
27 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
I've noticed on this Board and in the Roll Calls, that people are talking about doing private tours in Moscow and St. Petersburg to supplement the tours included with the cruise. My travel agent said they were difficult to book from the US and that I should deal with the staff on the ship when I get there. Can anyone who has taken a river cruise in Russia tell me how they booked their tours. Thanks.
#2
Los Angeles, CA, USA
3,217 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
Hi Holly,

Welcome to this wonderful Cruise Critic Board. If you want some great info on private guides in Russia, go to "Ports of Call", hit on Europe and then hit on Northern Europe and Baltics. We used Red October for St. Petersburg the last time we were there. I think you will have to find out exactly what you will be seeing with your River Cruise Company before you arrange any private tours.

Sheila
#3
27 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
I would greatly appreciate other responses. The one response I got looks like the tours originate in St Petersburg and our pre-packaged. While the cruise gives us free time in St. Petersburg my main concern in Moscow. I really want a tour of the Armoury and maybe Lennin's tomb and then a ride back to the ship. In either St. Petersburg or Moscow I'm looking for a tour company that does highly personalized tours. Ideas are appreciated.
#4
Los Angeles, CA, USA
3,217 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
Hi again Holly,

I've been to St. Petersburg twice and am going back on AMA in September on their river cruise. I really believe you will find all the answers to your questions on the Ports of Call Section of this CC site. You need to know what days you will be available for touring with a private company when you contact them.

Sheila
#5
Los Angeles, CA, USA
3,217 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
I forgot to tell you to put "Moscow Tour Guides" in the search mode at the top of the "Northern European and Baltic Ports" section.

Sheila
#6
Los Angeles, CA, USA
3,217 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
Hi again Holly,

I see the problem. Most people on CC go on a ship and fly to Moscow with their tour company from St. Petersburg. So, I went to tripadvisor.com (my other favorite site besides CC) and found someone saying they used www.toursbylocals.com and were most happy. Go to their website and hit on Moscow. You can also check on fodors.com and frommers.com who also have member boards.

Sheila
#7
Australia
540 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
You can travel by Metro from the cruise ship dock to central Moscow (station Ohotonyj Rjad). From there it's a short walk to Red Square (Lenin's tomb, GUM department store and St Basil's). Adjacent to Red Square is the Kremlin (the Armoury, palaces, churches, adminisrative buildings).
We didn't go ino Lenin's tomb but we did explore St Basil's and the Kremlin with English language audio guides.
Metro travel is much faster than car or bus in Moscow's horrendous traffic. Tripadvisor (www.tripadvisor.com) has good advice and maps to assist Metro users.
Beware of pickpockets everywhere in Russian cities, including the Metro. They are very good at what they do.
#8
Staten Island, NY
1,346 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
there are huge differences between "river cruisers" & "cruise ship cruisers"

which one are you?

River cruisers have their own visas and can travel at will.

Cruise ship passengers cannot leave the ship unless
1. ships tour
2. authorized tour company-makes visa arrangements in advance
3. obtain visa before leaving on trip.
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[size="1"][font="Book Antiqua"]Completed: 24 Oceania, 5 Viking River Cruises, 2 on Princess, 1 each on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Orient Lines Marco Polo, Viking Oceans (Star inaugural) and Nile River Cruise.

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#9
Ontario, Canada
2,389 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Originally posted by Holly1225
I've noticed on this Board and in the Roll Calls, that people are talking about doing private tours in Moscow and St. Petersburg to supplement the tours included with the cruise. My travel agent said they were difficult to book from the US and that I should deal with the staff on the ship when I get there. Can anyone who has taken a river cruise in Russia tell me how they booked their tours. Thanks.
Hi Holly,

Are you taking a river cruise or cruise ship cruise as they can be very different when it comes to the tours. We were with AMA for our Russian river cruise 2 years ago and we had to get our own Visa ahead of time. We used Red October in Moscow after reading good things about them on CC. We e-mailed back and forth about what tours we were doing with the river cruise and they made lots of suggestions and we finally chose the itinerary. There are about 3 subsiduary companies that are through Red October so when they e-mail you back it might not be specifically RO that you deal with. We loved our private guide and driver!!!! Well worth every penny!!! We went through places that our ships tour only stopped at for photo's that we wanted to actually go into. We got in early before tours arrived and they knew what was open and what wasn't. We had 2 1/2 days and 1 full day we used RO for. We just didn't want to do the tour with the ship 1 afternoon so chose that as a 1/2 day with RO. Our driver made arrangements with our tour director as to where to pick us up in town so he didn't have to get us at the ship as it is a long drive to get inot Moscow because of the traffic. Anyhow it was wonderful using them and would recommend Red October highly. All the private tour companies that are mentioned here on CC all come highly recommended though so you shouldn't have a problem. Oh and once we chose the itinerary, they told us the price lol.
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Past Cruises

Viking Star- Danube river cruise - 2001
Avalon Tapestry - Rhine river cruise - 2008
Carnival Sensation - Bahamas cruise - 2008
AMA MS Tolstoy - Moscow to St. Petersburg - 2009
Golden Princess - Hawaii - 2010
Insight Vacations- Nile river cruise-2011-Cancelled
Emerald Princess - Baltic Cruise - 2011
Emerald Princess - Eastern Caribbean - 2012
Island Princess - Panama Canal - 2012
Emerald Princess - Southern Caribbean - 2013
Carnival Glory - Canada/New England - 2013
Celebrity Infinity - South America - 2014
HAL-Nieuw Amsterdam- East/West Caribbean-2015
Crown Princess - Mexican Riviera - 2015
HAL-Eurodam - Caribbean Collector - 2016
HAL-Oosterdam-Med cruise-Barcelona to Venice - 2016
Celebrity Equinox - Mardi Gras - 2017
Celebrity Equinox - Caribbean - 2017
Ms Media-Nile River Cruise - 2017
#10
Delaware
300 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
We did a private tour with http://www.spb-tours.com/st-petersburg/

Our private tour was for four people and for 3 days.

Our tourguide (Luba Anatskaya) was absolutely wonderful!

She spoke excellent English, is highly educated, and provided us with historical insights and cultural insights that were invaluable.

She came with a van and driver and when we rolled up the cost vs. the cost of the cruise ship tour, it was actually less expensive for us to book the private tours plus we saw much more than offered by the cruise line (which is a top tier cruise company).

It was easy to book via their website and the communications via email was prompt and all of our questions/concerns were addressed prior to the trip.

Would HIGHLY recommend this company and, certainly, this guide though I suspect the quality of all their guides is very good!
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#11
Florida
21,156 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
We did a tour with Ally and it was great
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#12
Anthem, Arizona
376 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
We used Red October and they were great.

Have fun, it is amazing. We did museum of seige on the way to catherines palace. Hydra-foil back from peterhof was great.
#13
Boca Raton, FL
168 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
In St. Petersburg we supplemented our river cruise tours with a company called Tour de Force. I think they can be reached at www.tours-russia.com. We planned everything on line and had excellent email communication. They worked with us and the day was EXCELLENT.
Hope your time works out as well. Good Luck!

cruzin'd
#14
Boca Raton, FL
168 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
In St. Petersburg we supplemented our river cruise tours with a company called Tour de Force. I think they can be reached at www.tours-russia.com. We planned everything on line and had excellent email communication. They worked with us and the day was EXCELLENT.
Hope your time works out as well. Good Luck!

cruzin'd
#16
Deep South Texas
5,300 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
We did Moscow to st. Petersburg this past June (2011). I had been in contact with both Ally and Red October about doing a short private tour to a couple of places that interested me.

I checked with my travel agent and she advised me that the river cruise lines often change the times of their excursions. Since we were on a new ship, and the tour company wanted payment in advance, she advised me not to book any tours in advance. The cruise director would have been happy to help find us a private tour to what we wanted to see, but frankly, we were just too toured-out to use the one afternoon of free time we had.

We will return to St. Petersburg another time to see the things we did not have enough time for on the ship tours. I do have to say that the ship's tours were excellent given the limited time we had. I don't feel that I missed experiencing Russia in any way by not doing other tours, but there were places that needed more time.
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Janet
Mexico, Texas
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