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Holly1225

Private tours in Russia - any experience

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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 http://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

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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 (http://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.

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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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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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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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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.

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In St. Petersburg we supplemented our river cruise tours with a company called Tour de Force. I think they can be reached at http://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

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In St. Petersburg we supplemented our river cruise tours with a company called Tour de Force. I think they can be reached at http://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

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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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Try Denrus (http://www.denrus.ru/) for St Petersburg. We used them for a two day package and were very satisfied. They will vary itineraries and group sizes to suit you. Plenty of reviews on the Trip Advisor site. We loved St Petersburg.

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