Jump to content

Wheelchair User In St Petersburg


torty

Recommended Posts

Having read some forums re: disabled passengers on Princess Cruises has given me some food for thought. I have MS and use a (collapsible) wheelchair although I have some mobility and can walk short distances and climb stairs (slowly) We have cruised with Princess twice before, once on Pacific Princess to Bermuda in 2000 and then on Star Princess to Alaska in 2003 and encountered no problems on either of these cruises. However, we have booked a Baltic cruise on Star princess for 23 August, the highlight of which was to be the 2 days in St Petersburg but it would be appear from the Princess website that very few of their shore excursions show the logo indicating they are suitable for wheelchair users which is rather surprising and very disappointing, particularly regarding the visit to the ballet which we really wanted to do and from which we wouldn’t have expected to be excluded. Presuming transport is arranged to and from the theatre which could carry my wheelchair, once inside the theatre I could manage stairs (albeit slowly). Having read a comment somewhere about the rumour that Princess discourage disabled passengers I am now wondering if there is some validity in it. So we are now looking into hiring a personal guide and vehicle to enable us to make the most of our visit and have been searching various forums to get some advice from someone who’s been there, done that, in a wheelchair in St Petersburg (particularly visiting the ballet) with limited success. (Are there so few visitors to St Petersburg in wheelchairs?)

 

 

So I would be extremely grateful to hear from anyone who can offer advice for the wheelchair user in St Petersburg.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Torty,

 

You might try contacting DenRus Tours. They have a specially adapted wheelchair van for roundtrip transportation to evening performances of ballets and folklore performances at several theaters. They seem pricey, but I do not know how many passengers can be acommodated.

 

I am doing the same research as you for a September Baltic cruise. Right now I have been trying to find out which museums, cathedrals and palaces I might realistically be able to see the inside of. I will share what I find here. Perhaps I can benefit from what you find also.

 

Rascal Rider Ruth

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We did St Pete last year with wheelchair. It is very challenging but not impossible if you can do some walking. Several of the Palaces have no elevators and you will need to walk or have several people carry your chair and you up the steps. The problem we faced was the that some of the guides like to move quickly and wanted my husband carried up each flight of steps. Search this thread -- Del did a great review by each place. The churches also all have step entry with no ramps.

 

We used Red October for our guide. I would also suggest them over a ship tour. We had a male guide and driver which I there to help with the chair at every stop. In the evening, we attended a folk show at one of the hotels (not the one from the ship) and it was totally assessible. Red October arranged this also for us.

 

St Pete was definatly the highlight for us of the Baltic cruise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks HEBE, I emailed Red October this afternoon to see what assistance they might be able and/or willing to offer me and if they could suggest the most appropriate sites to visit. I travel with a scooter. I will be solo on this trip and have no one to push a chair. I can use crutches for short distances, but really have to struggle with stairs. I am hoping to share a St. Pete's tour with other CCers and have already viewed a tentative itinerary.

 

I believe I did read Del's post stating what her DH missed out on. I will check again for it. Thanks.

 

Rascal Rider Ruth

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ruth and torty, I've been to St. Petersburg twice and I honestly don't think Princess is trying to discourage you from traveling with them. St Pete's is one of the most difficult of the ports of call. They haven't entered the 21st Century as far as accessibility is concerned. When I signed up to see the ballet, I had no idea how many stairs were involved to get to the theater. It was nearly impossible as the stairs were marble (very slippery) and there are no handrailings. It was three flights up and the stairs are quite steep. No elevators whatsoever. Plus, once you get inside the theater, there are steps to get to the seats--only a few were available for disabled, and there were a number of us there. This is the same for most of the sights in SP. The palaces are not accessible, for the most part, and have lots of steps to enter. While the guides made a nice effort to get me into the Hermitage, it was a tough tour. I did a private tour with Red October, but again, while they tried to be of assistance, they can't do anything about the physcial barriers that abound in SP.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kitty,

 

Thanks for the information. I discovered an organization for the disabled in St. Petersburg and sent them an email to see if they had any suggestions for sites that might be accessible other than the gardens. IF I receive a reply, I will post it. It seems a shame to pay RO nearly $300 for 22-day tour if all I can see is the exteriors.

 

Kitty, do you remember how which attractions are within scooter range of the dock if I were to get a visa and drive around on my own? Are the sidewalks and streets such that I could do that?

 

Thanks,

Rascal Rider Ruth

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ruth, there's absolutely nothing near the port for you to see. It's in a very industrial area with lots of container ships and not very safe looking. You would have to go at least 5 miles to get to the town area and some of that area near the port is very rundown and not too secure. If you were on one of the smaller luxury ships like Seabourn, they actually dock on the river, and that is near to some things like the Military Museum, but even that dock area isn't really near to the best tourist spots.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darcie,

 

Thanks for the heads up! I will definitely nix the idea of cruising into St Petersburg on my own ... does not sound very safe.

 

Splinter,

 

Thanks for telling me about Lapina Daryna. I have emailed her and will post her reply when received. It is great that someone has recognized the needs of wheelchair/scooter travelers and is stepping in to offer services.

 

Ruth

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Torty,

 

There is hope for us! I just got the following response on another board from an American resident of St. Petersburg! The other thread is under Baltic Ports of Call and is New!!-baltic Cruise Review-part 1 http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=3118230#post3118230

 

This knowledge could make our trips much more fruitful! Kudos to Stan!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ruth Creasy

Hi Mary Lou,

I have a special problem, however, as I primarily use an electric mobility scooter to get around. I use crutches for short distances, but have difficulty with stairs.

 

What I need to know is how many steps are involved in visiting the Grand Palace of Peterhof, Catherine's Palace, Savior on the Spilled Blood Cathedral and the Hermitage? Are there any handrails? Are there any elevators or ramps? Would I be able to ride the scooter inside the buildings if I managed to get it inside? Would I be able to ride the scooter through the gardens at Catherine's and Peterhof? Are the sidewalks scooter friendly with curb cuts?

 

Rascal Rider Ruth

 

 

 

Hi Ruth

The ground floor of the Grand Palace is accessible without stairs but there is not elevator. By approaching by van into the main parking area, the path is flat right up to the palace. The spectacular fountains and grounds on the Gulf of Finland side are lower than the palace which normally requires steps to descend but by going around, past the palace a few dozen yards there is an access road that your scooter should have no problem descending down to the gardens. Even if you did not go that way, the view from the terrace on the palace down towards the fountains is one of the best views possible anyway.

 

The bottom floor of Catherine Palace is at ground level so access is not a problem but the main approach requires short steps in the front in the formal gardens but that can be handled with help from your guide/driver.

 

The full tour of Church on Spilt Blood is on street level so I imagine it would be quite accessible but I don't know the polices of that museum, I think it is allowed however for the scooter.

The Russian Museum has free wheelchairs so they might not allow your scooter which is fine, a larger wheelchair might be more comfortable and saves your batteries. There are 4 building to the museum complex, spread over several block and 3 have accessibility enhancements:

 

 

the Mikhailovsky Palace and the Benois Wing

the Mikhailovsky Castle

the Marble Palace

The Hermitage has been renovated to include new elevators, one, a glass and metal Italian elevator was installed last year which opens on two sides allows direct access to the fabulous Jordan Staircase.

 

Most stairs have hand rails almost anywhere I can remember in both public and private buildings around the city.

I have no idea whether R.O. has special provisions for mobility impaired visitors but I know that Den Rus specializes in it and has a lot of experience helping reduced mobility visitors see everything they want to, including canal boats and shopping plus all the museums, parks and restaurants. That need is probably due to their western origins where access is an important civic responsibility. It is still a rather limited concept in Russia but getting a little better.

Have a great trip Ruth, I know you will love your visit.

__________________

Stan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Torty:

 

Do not be discouraged. Yes, St Petereburg has limited accessibility, but it is a fascinating city and we saw many things in our 2 days there (see my response in the the "Baltic with limited Mobility" postings.) The canals, buildings, etc are fascinating. It was the highlight of our cruise.

 

My husband can not walk so we did not attempt the ballet because we understood that getting to the theatre required many steps. We did get to see the Hermitage and it sounds as if it is more accessible now than we were there. We would have happily spent a whole day there, but were unable to because we did not have visas so we had to take ship's tours. The Peter and Paul Cathedral including the Czar's tombs area was also accessible. Peterhof was not, but the building and gardens were worth a visit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Torty,

 

I have been in communication with Ilya from DenRus tours. She says they have vans with wheelchair lifts that will hold 3 people with folding w/c and 6 able-bodied people. She suggested tours of Peter-and-Paul Fortress, The State Russian Museum (3 of the 4 buildings are supposed to be accessible), Peterhof Fountain Park and "Russian Village" complex plus a city drive-by tour of many other monuments, cathedral, etc.

Stanj says the ground floor of the Peterhof Grand Palace is accessible.

Per Stanj, The Hermitage has new elevators and have w/c for loan, but there are exterior steps to negotiate. The Church of The Spilled Blood is street level so is probably accessible ... still trying to verify that.

 

DenRus also does evening tours of ballet and theater with their w/c van. You might ask them about accessibility AT the theaters.

 

Rascal Rider Ruth

 

What accesible sites have you uncovered Torty?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Torty,

 

I have been in communication with Ilya from DenRus tours. She says they have vans with wheelchair lifts that will hold 3 people with folding w/c and 6 able-bodied people. She suggested tours of Peter-and-Paul Fortress, The State Russian Museum (3 of the 4 buildings are supposed to be accessible), Peterhof Fountain Park and "Russian Village" complex plus a city drive-by tour of many other monuments, cathedral, etc.

Stanj says the ground floor of the Peterhof Grand Palace is accessible.

Per Stanj, The Hermitage has new elevators and have w/c for loan, but there are exterior steps to negotiate. The Church of The Spilled Blood is street level so is probably accessible ... still trying to verify that.

 

DenRus also does evening tours of ballet and theater with their w/c van. You might ask them about accessibility AT the theaters.

 

Rascal Rider Ruth

What accesible sites have you uncovered Torty?

 

 

Hi Ruth

 

Thanks for all your info.

 

As no doubt you have, I've been busy on the internet researching accessibility, amongst other things, in St Petersburg and have saved all the snippets of info I've found from various sources. So thought it might be a good idea to transfer all this info to this message board in the hope that parts of it might be helpful to anyone viewing this site. I have to say it's rather long and might be a bit garbled but hopefully it might save others having to spend the amount of time it's taken me to amass this information.

 

 

 

NO ELEVATORS AND ALL REQUIRE NUMEROUS STEPS TO VISIT THE FOLLOWING

 

 

Catherine Palace (has 40 steps to the first floor and 10 steps to the terrace. 2 steps to Carriage Collection, 8 steps to the restaurant

 

The bottom floor of Catherine Palace is at ground level so access is not a problem but the main approach requires short steps in the front in the formal gardens but that can be handled with help from your guide/driver.

Summer Palace

 

Smolny Cathedral

 

Yusupov Palace, Menshikov (in the city) and Grand Dukes Palaces.

 

the palaces at Oranienbuam.

 

Wheelchairs are not allowed inside the Chinese Palace at Oranienbaum because of the parquet floors.

 

 

Podvorye; no elevator is available.

 

 

Hermitage Museum has 12 steps to the entrance and 145 steps inside.

 

There is an elevator available however this is not conveniently situated. Tours to this venue involve considerable walking within the Hermitage museum and seating is limited. Passengers using the elevator would become separated from the main group if on a regular tour as the elevators are in different areas from the stairs. There is a level access toilet on the ground floor which would facilitate wheelchair passengers on a private tour, even if it meant coming down from an upper floor.

 

 

The Hermitage has been renovated to include new elevators, one, a glass and metal Italian elevator was installed last year which opens on two sides allows direct access to the fabulous Jordan Staircase.

 

 

The Hermitage was acessible except for entering/exiting. There were two sets of steps (about 15 steps all together) with no hand rails at the entrance. I thought my husband would not be able to go, but he was determined to. My daughter and I supported him up the steps while another passenger brought up his wheelchair. Once inside, there were tiny elevators available to take us from floor to floor. There were about 12 steps at the exit, again with no handrail.

 

 

Most stairs have hand rails almost anywhere I can remember in both public and private buildings around the city

 

 

Smolny Cathedral there are 7 steps and cobbles from the parking area.

 

Peterhof Palace and gardens has approximately 120 steps and uneven gravel paths and cobblestones. There is no elevator facility.

 

 

Peter & Paul Fortress & St Nicholas Church have only 2-3 steps to access but uneven approaches (cobbles at Peter & Paul Fortress).

 

 

We did not have to cross any streets to get from where the bus parked at the Peter and Paul Fortress to the fortress so I am not sure about curb cuts, but its an old city and I do not remember seeing any. Of course that was 4 or 5 years ago and perhaps things have changed. I do remember, however, that the ramp to get into the fortress itself was not great. Of the restaurants used for tours, only the Corinthia Nevsky Palace Hotel has elevators.

 

 

St Petersburg Highlights is appropriate for wheelchair passengers, assuming they could manage the coach steps and if they stayed on the coach at photo stops.

 

 

Peterhof Palace) has all the main points of interest on the upper floor and there are no elevators at this venue. The gardens and fountains, plus possibly some of the small minor palace buildings by the shore such as Monplaisir in the Lower Gardens would be appropriate for private tours, but there are about 9 steps at the adjacent Catherine block. There are suitable toilets in the Lower Gardens (but of poor quality) and by the coach park.

 

 

Peterhof was more difficult. We did not visit the "palace" because all the rooms of interest were up a full set of stairs. We did go down to the gardens though. which we enjoyed.

 

 

The stairs are interior at Peterhof. In fact, we got into the main floor before I found out that there was no elevator so my husband could not access the viewing areas. I stayed with him and did not go upstairs, but I believe it was a double set of stairs with a handrail and landing - perhaps 20 to 28 in all. Note: My daughter said there was not a lot to see upstairs.

 

 

The gardens are fairly extensive. In addition, you need to either go down a long set of stairs or use a U shaped access road that goes from the parking lot, down a slope to the gardens. We were having difficulty with my husband's whhelchair so we just looked at the gardens from the terrace of the building.

 

 

My memory was that the garden paths at Peterhof were gravel or hard dirt, but I am not sure because as I mentioned in my previous post we did not actually go down to them because of problems with my husband's chair.

 

 

Ballet Evening at the Alexandrinsky Theater has no passenger elevator at the theatre.

 

 

The ground floor rooms of Peters Summer Palace and the adjacent Summer Gardens, are attractive and could be visited by wheelchair passengers. Tour passengers on Following the Footsteps of Peter the Great visit both floors of the Summer Palace.

 

 

The ground floor of the Grand Palace is accessible without stairs but there is no elevator. By approaching by van into the main parking area, the path is flat right up to the palace. The spectacular fountains and grounds on the Gulf of Finland side are lower than the palace which normally requires steps to descend but by going around, past the palace a few dozen yards there is an access road that your scooter should have no problem descending down to the gardens. Even if you did not go that way, the view from the terrace on the palace down towards the fountains is one of the best views possible anyway.

 

 

The full tour of Church on Spilt Blood is on street level so I imagine it would be quite accessible .

 

 

The Russian Museum has free wheelchairs . There are 4 building to the museum complex, spread over several block and 3 have accessibility enhancements:

 

the Mikhailovsky Palace and the Benois Wing

the Mikhailovsky Castle

the Marble Palace

 

The major museums have ramps but many buildings do not. Elavators are common in buildings taller than 3 stories. The streets that have been renovated on the northern end of Nevsky Prospekt, around the Hermitage, Admiralty, Arts Sq, Palace Sq, the Russian Museum and the wide grand busy sidewalks of Nevsky Prospekt would be easily navigated by chair or scooter. Further out, the sidewalks have steep curb cuts that might take a little getting used to but I see people in chairs handling them well. Some of the new shopping palaces have original 18th and 19th century exteriors but modern beautifully designed and crafted interiors that are fully accessible. The Metro(far underground subway) is hard to deal with however because the only access is via escalators decending 200-300 feet down.

 

 

Most of the streets are asphalt and relatively smooth but have trolley tracks in the middle of many. They used to be a problem for small wheeled scooters or wheelchairs but the surfaces and tracks have been redone in the last few years making crossing most streets easier. Some small streets are cobble stone but very few. Nevaky prospek has wide red granite sidewalks which are smooth and pretty.

 

The city tour and fortress were fairly accessible and should not be a problem . The only part of the tour that my husband could not do was a visit to a ship.

 

 

Lunching

Dining is not necessarily a culinary experience in St. Petersburg, but a handful of restaurants are good options for lunching out. Among them: Aquarel (Birzhevoi Bridge, on the river, from noon), the city's first fusion-cuisine eatery, has the best view -- across the river from Hermitage. Rossi's (Nevsky Prospekt at Mikhailovskaya, part of the Grand Hotel Europe) is a pleasant sidewalk cafe just off that busy boulevard; the food's adequate, the people-watching sublime. Mollie's (#36 Rubinsteina, just off Nevsky Prospekt, from noon) offers Irish pub-style fare.

 

 

FROM RUSBALLET

 

"Hello.

There will be performed the ballet "Giselle" 28-29 August in the Hermitage theatre. The beginning - at 20-00.

We'll be glad to see you in the Hermitage theatre.

Best regards."

 

 

RED OCTOBER ADVICE

 

"The price R.O. quoted us included all the entrance fees. So it did not make a difference what rate they were charged. The tour guide went into the museum with us and pointed out the highlights. We never waited on line, except for the one time we got to the site before it was open, since we were first off the ship. We had no problems with bathrooms since R.O. has clean bathrooms in their stores and they have several stores. Our guide asked us in advance when we wanted bathroom breaks and planned for a stop at the museum or at the R.O. store."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Torty,

 

Thank you so much for your compilation. I was just starting to do the same thing! Now I will just compare my many notes and fill in any additional information that I uncover. Thanks again ... this is very time-consuming.

 

Ruth

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Information from DenRus:

 

the Church on Spilled Blood has two steps up and two steps down and fairly narrow doors.

 

there are very fast escalators that go down 200-300 feet to the Metro.

 

At Peterhof Grand Palace the only thing on the ground floor is the cloak room. All else is on second floor - no elevator. Grounds are accessible by ramp or sevice road.

 

Ruth

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Welcome to Cruise Critic
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Cruise Critic News & Features
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...