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Comparing SPB & Alla Tours in St. Petersburg

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We are in the process of planning our 2 port days in St. Petersburg and have read much information online about SPB & Alla private tours there. We would like to tour with 8 people in St. Petersburg. From your experience, is one company better than the other? If so, please explain why. We like to hear all the positive and negative as well.

Thanks! :):)

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I'm planning my trip to St. Petersburg as well and from reading it sounds like they are pretty much the same. It is just which one you feel fits you better. I ended up going with TJ Travel because they were very quick to respond and answer the questions I was asking about tours vs. customized tours, etc. that I wasn't getting from the other 2. So it just depends on who you click with. I found the prices to be similar as well.

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All the local operators get excellent reviews, and we all tend to enthuse about the one we've used. Check the many threads on this forum.

 

Getting a comparison is difficult because there can't be many folk who've been to St Pete's twice, especially who've been twice & used different operators. And even then, it's gonna depend on which actual guide, differences in the weather, the traffic, the sharers, even the mood.

 

I'll enthuse about Alla, others about TJ, others about SPB, etc.

I contacted those three. In choosing, the only difference I noticed was that Alla & SPB needed a minimum 8 to be charged the standard price, TJ needed 10. Prices were within a few dollars of each-other, all accepted booking without payment, payment was at the start of day 2.

 

All use 16-seat vans, except I think DenRus who use a 30-seater bus.

 

JB :)

Edited by John Bull

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All the local operators get excellent reviews, and we all tend to enthuse about the one we've used. Check the many threads on this forum.

 

Getting a comparison is difficult because there can't be many folk who've been to St Pete's twice, especially who've been twice & used different operators. And even then, it's gonna depend on which actual guide, differences in the weather, the traffic, the sharers, even the mood.

 

I'll enthuse about Alla, others about TJ, others about SPB, etc.

I contacted those three. In choosing, the only difference I noticed was that Alla & SPB needed a minimum 8 to be charged the standard price, TJ needed 10. Prices were within a few dollars of each-other, all accepted booking without payment, payment was at the start of day 2.

 

All use 16-seat vans, except I think DenRus who use a 30-seater bus.

 

JB :)

 

I agree with John. With few exceptions, people recommend the tour operator that they used. And, as pointed out, few have used another tour operator so they really have no means of comparison.

We also used Alla for both SPB & Berlin. Alla made sure that we were able to visit the Pergamon museum in Berlin which was a deal clincher for us. We had a wonderful time in both cities and our guides were marvelous. Alla herself met us at the pier in SPB and was just delightful to work with.

I would contact all the major players in SPB and see which one best meets your needs. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. JMHO

jill

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I have used both Red October and SPB-tours during my two visits to St Peterburg.With Red October there were six of us.Good tour and guide.No problems. Our second tour consisted of five family members.After much research I elected to go with SPB-tours.It was a good choice.I sent my first e-mail to SPS-tours on a Saturday and received a reply from Viktoria on Sunday.It continued that way during our planning.Would sent a question to Viktoria and within hours would receive a reply.Viktoria was such a joy to work.Without a doubt I would use SPB-Tours again.Wouldn't look any further.Outstanding guide who communicated well with all ages.The ages of our family were 17 to 79 years old

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I emailed all the major tour companies, about 5 of them. SPB came back with the prices that no one can compete with and all of them have good reviews.

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I doubt you will find many people who have done a trip with both so all you will get is their experience with one or the other. I think at the end of the day, both do a very good job.

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I am curious about how heavily accented the guides are. My husband wears hearing aids but still has problems with understanding people with strong accents. I feel I am the visitor to their country and its rude to assume they should speak English like an American or Brit. Obviously, I expect a guide to speak English, but how well? Can anyone comment on this?

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Our TJ guide and our driver both spoke very easily understood English.

 

These companies all train their guides very well so there are never any complaints. Read back on this board a few pages, it's hard to believe, but I have never seen a complaint about TJ, Alla, or SPB, and we've had dozens (maybe hundreds) of reviews of each of them.

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We had a hard time deciding which to go with, so I did up a chart to help with the comparison. It showed when and how long we were at each stop, prices, etc. It was much easier to make a decision once we had all that info laid out in front of us!

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I'll enthuse about Alla, others about TJ, others about SPB, etc.

I contacted those three. In choosing, the only difference I noticed was that Alla & SPB needed a minimum 8 to be charged the standard price, TJ needed 10. Prices were within a few dollars of each-other, all accepted booking without payment, payment was at the start of day 2.

JB :)

We used I TRAVEL SPB for our St.Petersburg stopover. They said that even if just 2 persons signed up the tour would take place and the price is the same as in a group of 10. That was no lie: we were just 6 persons on the tour and had it for the same group rate of 300 $ pp.

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We used I TRAVEL SPB for our St.Petersburg stopover. They said that even if just 2 persons signed up the tour would take place and the price is the same as in a group of 10. That was no lie: we were just 6 persons on the tour and had it for the same group rate of 300 $ pp.

 

Yes, I know that Alla offers this as well and the price is only $300 regardless of the number of participants that sign-up (there were only 6 on a group from our ship, but not our group). I believe that other operators offer a set price as well.

I think the situation to which John is referring is a little different from the norm, but I can't remember the details. Perhaps he will return & explain. :)

jill

Edited by dogs4fun

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Yes, I know that Alla offers this as well and the price is only $300 regardless of the number of participants that sign-up (there were only 6 on a group from our ship, but not our group). I believe that other operators offer a set price as well.

I think the situation to which John is referring is a little different from the norm, but I can't remember the details. Perhaps he will return & explain. :)

jill

 

 

Hi Jill,

At least in part, it's to do with which ship you're on.

 

Yes, on at least one website (TJ Tours) it states that the tour goes ahead, at the advertised price, even if just one person books.

To me that sounds like the road to ruination :eek: & it wasn't borne out when we e-mailed - TJ and the others needed minimum bookings from our ship (10 for TJ, 8 for SPB or Alla) to be able to offer their listed price. A slightly higher price from SPB & Alla for 6, significantly more for four or less.

They had this stipulation for our ship, P & O's Aurora, because from experience they didn't get a lot of business from the ship. Surprising because Aurora's a decent size at around 2000 pax & not full of wimps, but hey, they know their business.

They suggested I use CC's RollCall to drum up sharers, which I did as well as a UK-based cruise website. I found sharers via both websites & Alla had direct enquiries from others. SPB also found others, though by that time we & Alla between us had found the minimum numbers. In fact, we ended up with 20 & were all able to choose the tour that we wanted (like others, Alla offer two levels) with 10 on each. Once up to those numbers, I directed later RollCall enquiries to SPB so that they'd get up to a viable number. That reminds me, I haven't invoiced SPB for the introductions :D

 

I suspect that for most ships they all offer the set price regardless of numbers because they're confident that they'll very very rarely fail to make a viable number. But they didn't have that confidence with our ship.

 

So we didn't have the task of deciding which operator to use, it was kinda forced upon us. But we were very pleased with the tour, so was everyone else on both Alla tours. Don't know if TJ or SPB eventually ran tours for the ship - I suspect SPB got the numbers but TJ didn't.

 

JB :)

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Four of us went with TJ Travels. I did offer to share on our CC roll call but no takers. (we did have a specific itinerary booked with TJ) We did pay a little more than the $300pp set price but in the end we were SO glad it was just the 4 of us. One review I read from our cruise, spoke of the two hours of wasted time on the second morning, waiting in the tour office/gift shop for 7 couples to process payments. I admit this is one thing I had not thought of!

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but in the end we were SO glad it was just the 4 of us. One review I read from our cruise, spoke of the two hours of wasted time on the second morning, waiting in the tour office/gift shop for 7 couples to process payments. I admit this is one thing I had not thought of!

I totally agree! We were so happy we were not part of a bigger group. I don't think the tour would have been such a pleasure if we were 18 or 20. Have never understood people who book big group tours.

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We are in the process of planning our 2 port days in St. Petersburg and have read much information online about SPB & Alla private tours there. We would like to tour with 8 people in St. Petersburg. From your experience, is one company better than the other? If so, please explain why. We like to hear all the positive and negative as well.

Thanks! :):)

 

Many Cruises

 

You have asked a question that is very subjective. As was said, most here toured with one particular company and most, likely came back, with glowing reviews. Most of the major players do an outstanding job showing you St Petersburg, or else they would not be in business.

 

When we went, we contacted all the major players, and one company seemed to stand out above the rest. That was SPB Tours. Why, because of Viktoria, the owner of the company. She never failed to email us back with 24 hours and always showing a concern for our doubts and questions. I have said this countless times already, I worked in a service industry and customer service was paramount to anything else. From all the replies I received Victoria and SPB Tours had the best customer service than any of the other companies.

PLUS, we booked a set tour from them, their Baltic Pearl package. We also wanted to see the Grand Choral Synagogue which wasn't on the tour. We wrote Viktoria about this and she immediately replied that it would be no problem to also include it as past of our tour. That sold us on SPB.

 

As I have said, all the companies do a great job, but some just go over and above the regular things to try and make your visit that much more special.

 

Hope this helps

 

Cheers

 

Len

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For us it was decisive that I TRAVEL guaranteed the advertised price from the beginning irrespective of the number of people booked. I didn't want to "drum up" anyone. We received the booking confirmation with the price fixed straight away. I Travel added the Grand Choral Synagogue to our itinerary without hesitation. As far as I understand it's not a problem to add this stop during the driving city tour.

We didn't even consider buying set of group tours in all ports as we prefer to explore on our own everywhere possible which we did except for St.Petersburg and Warnemuende.

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We had a hard time deciding which to go with, so I did up a chart to help with the comparison. It showed when and how long we were at each stop, prices, etc. It was much easier to make a decision once we had all that info laid out in front of us!

 

Do you still have the chart? If yes pls share- it wuld be so helpful

Thanks

Carole

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We had a hard time deciding which to go with, so I did up a chart to help with the comparison. It showed when and how long we were at each stop, prices, etc. It was much easier to make a decision once we had all that info laid out in front of us!

 

That's what I did too! I love spreadsheet for planning travel.

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We had a hard time deciding which to go with, so I did up a chart to help with the comparison. It showed when and how long we were at each stop, prices, etc. It was much easier to make a decision once we had all that info laid out in front of us!

 

I would love to see your chart. Would appreciate if you share it. 4 of us are booked on the Eurodam June 30th. Love to travel and looking forward to this cruise.

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I would love to see your chart. Would appreciate if you share it. 4 of us are booked on the Eurodam June 30th. Love to travel and looking forward to this cruise.

 

If you email me at newlaxfan at yahoo dot com, I'll email it to you when I get home tonight.

Edited by newlaxfan

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May I ask if anyone is willing to share the spreadsheet? We are in the process of making the decision for our August Baltic cruise. We have jotted down ideas and looked at the sites, but this sounds wonderful!

Thanks

Suez

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I think I've responded to all the email requests so far for the chart I did. If not, please email me at newlaxfan at yahoo dot com and I'll fire it off to you. Just make sure you mention it in the title of your email.

 

Suzanne

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