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Comparing SPB & Alla Tours in St. Petersburg


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5 hours ago, dog555 said:

Well, I finally heard back from SPB tours yesterday evening, but still nothing from Alla ( sent them 2 requests for info, one a week ago and one 4 days ago from their website contact info) and nothing from Best guides.  I did also check spam but nothing there either.  Will try one more time to contact.

 

These are unusual times. They may be running short-staffed. They may be trying to determine how they will deal with the current changing situation and the unknown future. Unless your questions are urgent, I would definitely give them more time.

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16 hours ago, trosebery said:

 

These are unusual times. They may be running short-staffed. They may be trying to determine how they will deal with the current changing situation and the unknown future. Unless your questions are urgent, I would definitely give them more time.

I emailed Alla yesterday and received a response this morning. There is no issue with the booking managers answering questions in a timely manner as they are already booking for the 2021 season. I did tell her about the issue that  dog555 described but since they have no idea who it might be as I cannot provide an actual name or email address. 

 

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We figured out the problem with Alla and best guides and it was an issue with my email address.  So now we have heard back from all.  We are really leaning towards the Alla Grand tour as well as their Berlin Grand tour.  The St. Petersburg tours will be busy and probably exhausting, but you definitely see everything with that tour.

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When we dealt with Alla 3 years ago, my emails were promptly answered. But of course, times are much different now and so that may be the problem. Since dogs4 fun has received an answer, you might want to try again.

i have read excellent reviews on SPB, so I think whichever you choose you will be happy.

My only caution is to pick a private tour company and not go with the cruise excursions. A private tour will be less expensive in the long run, allow  you see much more, and most importantly, give you the opportunity to plan your own adventure.

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19 hours ago, trivia addict said:

When we dealt with Alla 3 years ago, my emails were promptly answered. But of course, times are much different now and so that may be the problem. Since dogs4 fun has received an answer, you might want to try again.

i have read excellent reviews on SPB, so I think whichever you choose you will be happy.

My only caution is to pick a private tour company and not go with the cruise excursions. A private tour will be less expensive in the long run, allow  you see much more, and most importantly, give you the opportunity to plan your own adventure.

Our private tour was with Alla and the now owner of SPB was our guide. (Yes, this was long ago, 2007 to be exact.)

 

I spoke afterwards with many who had did ship tours, and actually most were satisfied. But I did hear a few complaints. One said their bus air conditioning broke down (the temperature was in the high 80s.) Another responded to my saying that our tour guide had 18 years experience by saying their tour guide was 18. Another said their guide bemoaned the fall of Communism. And one more said that their guide when asked a question answered by saying "why would you ask that?".

 

Yes, contact the various private agencies, and find one you are comfortable with. What I did after that was ask for others on our roll call. We ended with a group of 10 who bonded together very well.

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4 minutes ago, ontheweb said:

Our private tour was with Alla and the now owner of SPB was our guide. (Yes, this was long ago, 2007 to be exact.)

 

I spoke afterwards with many who had did ship tours, and actually most were satisfied. But I did hear a few complaints. One said their bus air conditioning broke down (the temperature was in the high 80s.) Another responded to my saying that our tour guide had 18 years experience by saying their tour guide was 18. Another said their guide bemoaned the fall of Communism. And one more said that their guide when asked a question answered by saying "why would you ask that?".

 

Yes, contact the various private agencies, and find one you are comfortable with. What I did after that was ask for others on our roll call. We ended with a group of 10 who bonded together very well.

In our case the Cruise Line (it was RCI) kept sending alerts to say that unless you had a VISA or were on their Tour - same places at 40% more than Alla - you could not get off ship.  This scared folks though they don't mention that ALA and SPB have "group Visas". ItIS TRUE that - even with the ships tour or ALLA or SPB you MUST stay with the group. If you want to get off on your own, you need a visa which costs $400.

 

Good luck with booking your tour Dog 55. You are obviously more optimistic than me at this point. Not only are we not certain it will be safe to travel next summer but - depending on how the November election goes and any repercussions we don't know what political situation will be in Russia next summer. Just make sure you have a way to cancel if need be. Glad we could help you here and thatyou found out the problem for you was your email address.

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We were a group of ten. Four of us booked and planned our private Alla tour and the other six were afraid to be in Russia “by themselves”, so did the ship tours.

As mentioned, the cruise lines will imply erroneously that you need a visa for a tour without them. 

 

The six on the cruise tour were perfectly happy with their experience, but when comparing our tours at the end of the day, it was obvious that our private tour was more comprehensive, less crowded and had the individual attention of the guide who answered all of our questions. Much better! 

Also, important to remember that with a private guide you get to go into the museums without waiting in the immense lines in which the bus tour people are waiting, Private tours are immediately given entry. Obviously this saves time that can be spent inside those museums. 

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Have a great time on your cruise.  As others have said the Scandinavia and Baltic cruise is a once in a lifetime experience.  With so many ports of call you get to see the splendor of the countryside and the cities.  I would definitely recommend a guided tour in St. Petersburg.  We used Alla Tours and did their "Comfort Tour".  My husband has some mild mobility issues so we wanted to see a lot without a lot of walking.  Our lunches were delicious.  My sister and BIL did the ship's two day tour,  they were afraid of being left in Russia.  We saw almost as much as they did, at a better pace, and for less money.  The Hermitage, Peterhof Gardens and Church on the Spilt Blood were some of our highlights.  In the evening we saw the Folkloric show on the Regal Princess which was excellent and free.  Others paid for the outside show and said we saw as good a show as they did.

My husband is a retired social studies teacher.  We did the tour to Berlin to see the remains of the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate and the other historic spots.  That was an outstanding tour.  A long train ride to and from Berlin, but totally worth it.

 

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9 hours ago, PAKathy said:

Have a great time on your cruise.  As others have said the Scandinavia and Baltic cruise is a once in a lifetime experience.  With so many ports of call you get to see the splendor of the countryside and the cities.  I would definitely recommend a guided tour in St. Petersburg.  We used Alla Tours and did their "Comfort Tour".  My husband has some mild mobility issues so we wanted to see a lot without a lot of walking.  Our lunches were delicious.  My sister and BIL did the ship's two day tour,  they were afraid of being left in Russia.  We saw almost as much as they did, at a better pace, and for less money.  The Hermitage, Peterhof Gardens and Church on the Spilt Blood were some of our highlights.  In the evening we saw the Folkloric show on the Regal Princess which was excellent and free.  Others paid for the outside show and said we saw as good a show as they did.

My husband is a retired social studies teacher.  We did the tour to Berlin to see the remains of the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate and the other historic spots.  That was an outstanding tour.  A long train ride to and from Berlin, but totally worth it.

 

We also did an Alla comfort tour, and it was wonderful. And on the Star Princess we also had a Russian folkloric show onboard on the overnight in St. Petersburg.

 

Our cruise did not have Berlin; it had Olso instead and we had a very good day there exploring on our own including the Munch Museum (DW is an art teacher) that was not on any excursion list.

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  • 1 month later...

I didn't read this entire thread, only a couple of pages, but I thought it warranted a reminder about the real SPB Tours website.  If you want the original SPB Tours the website name is SPB-Tours.com (with a hyphen).   An imposter agency has opened another SPBTours at SPBTours.com (no hyphen).  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  🤔 We used the original SPB-Tours a couple of years ago in St Petersburg and a couple of other cities and they were great.

 

 

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