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The World Cruise this year from Australia will have a two-day stop in St Petersburg. A few of us have been advised by private tour companies in Russia that if we book a tour with them, the tour tickets act as a visa waiver and we do not have to separately obtain a Russian visa. On the other hand, Princess advises that passengers who do not go on the ship's tours, have to have a Russia visa.

 

Can anyone who has been to Russia in the reasonably recent past, advise what happened on their cruise?

 

Thank you.:)

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The World Cruise this year from Australia will have a two-day stop in St Petersburg. A few of us have been advised by private tour companies in Russia that if we book a tour with them, the tour tickets act as a visa waiver and we do not have to separately obtain a Russian visa. On the other hand, Princess advises that passengers who do not go on the ship's tours, have to have a Russia visa.

 

Can anyone who has been to Russia in the reasonably recent past, advise what happened on their cruise?

 

Thank you.:)

 

It is true that the tour companies that most here on Cruise Critic use get the Visa for you and you do NOT have to get your own. It is a tactic that is sometimes used by Princess to get you to buy their excursions. You will have to provide your passport information to the tour vendor in advance of the trip but you'll be all set and will likely get a more comprehensive tour with a smaller number of people at a lower price than doing a non-Princess excursion.

Edited by azbirdmom
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Princess is using scare tactics to get you to buy one of their over-priced excursions.

 

We were on a cruise to St. Petersburg in July and EVERYBODY I spoke with on the cruise had booked with a private tour company. If you go to the Northern Europe and Baltics forum on the Ports of Call Forum, you can read all about the various private tour companies that people use. They all get fabulous reviews and I would say the top three are SPB, Alla and TJ Travel. (We went with Alla and had an amazing 2-day tour.)

 

The private tour company will get your info when you book and take care of the visa and send you all the documentation you need to get through passport control when you enter St. Petersburg. (And, these companies don't require you to pay until the first day of your tour!)

 

Don't get sucked in by the Princess propaganda--go with a private tour company!

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Princess is correct when they say you must book a tour in order to leave the ship HOWEVER they don't tell you that it can be any tour, a PRIVATE land based company or one of their tours. GradUT is correct, it's a scare tactic so just research which company is right for you.

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The World Cruise this year from Australia will have a two-day stop in St Petersburg. A few of us have been advised by private tour companies in Russia that if we book a tour with them, the tour tickets act as a visa waiver and we do not have to separately obtain a Russian visa. On the other hand, Princess advises that passengers who do not go on the ship's tours, have to have a Russia visa.

 

Can anyone who has been to Russia in the reasonably recent past, advise what happened on their cruise?

 

Thank you.:)

 

Why not post this on the Europe ports board.

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=&f=192

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If you can afford it, you might want to consider a private tour for just your family in St. Petersburg. It is an amazing city, and this will give you the maximum flexibility over your itinerary. Also, please note that the lines are quite long on the first day of disembarking in St. Petersburg - Russian custom officials will very carefully check everyone's documents.

Edited by kitkat343
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If you can afford it, you might want to consider a private tour for just your family in St. Petersburg. It is an amazing city, and this will give you the maximum flexibility over your itinerary. Also, please note that the lines are quite long on the first day of disembarking in St. Petersburg - Russian custom officials will very carefully check everyone's documents.

There are just the two of us so we have joined a tour with SPB that someone on our roll call has organised. We have been to St Petersburg on a land tour several years ago, and it will be interesting to see it again.:)

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If you can afford it, you might want to consider a private tour for just your family in St. Petersburg. It is an amazing city, and this will give you the maximum flexibility over your itinerary. Also, please note that the lines are quite long on the first day of disembarking in St. Petersburg - Russian custom officials will very carefully check everyone's documents.

 

A private tour doesn't have to cost any more than one with a group. We were in SPB last September and spent two magical very full days with Anastasia Travel for $300 per person. It was just myself and my husband, along with our guide and a driver. We had an itinerary and visited all the major sites, but since it was just the two of us we were able to add things as we wished or as our guide suggested. They arranged all the paperwork and entrance tickets, of course, and it even included a private canal boat tour. All in all, it was pretty much perfect! Anastasia may not be one of the "big three" but they sure way exceeded our expectations!

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I think Princess is just using a blanket statement to let people know, one can't just wander off on their own in St. Petersburg with out a visa. It would be too involved to say some private tours arrange a group visa and others do not.

 

All the above people are correct - you can book with several companies and they will arrange the group visa for you. Those companies are listed on the Baltic page of CC by other posters.

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There are just the two of us so we have joined a tour with SPB that someone on our roll call has organised. We have been to St Petersburg on a land tour several years ago, and it will be interesting to see it again.:)

 

 

Most definitely do the private tour. We did both days - Peterhof was by far the better experience. Heritage was far too crowded.

Enjoy!

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The World Cruise this year from Australia will have a two-day stop in St Petersburg. A few of us have been advised by private tour companies in Russia that if we book a tour with them, the tour tickets act as a visa waiver and we do not have to separately obtain a Russian visa. On the other hand, Princess advises that passengers who do not go on the ship's tours, have to have a Russia visa.

 

Can anyone who has been to Russia in the reasonably recent past, advise what happened on their cruise?

 

Thank you.:)

 

So, they are still using those scare tactics, the same as when we were on the Star Princess in 2008. We also walked off as soon as immigration was available. We did not have to wait for the Princess tours.

 

I can recommend both Alla and SPB. We used Alla, and our wonderful guide Viktoria, confided in us that she was opening her own tour company. That company is now SPB.

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We did the 2 day private tour with Alla. Highly recommended. Visa is included so long as you stay with the tour group, as will be the case with all of them.

 

You can't go wrong. We praise Alla, because that is who we went with, but anyone else we speak with always highly praise their choice also (as listed above). Princess were using the same visa tactic on our cruise, but those in the know (which was just about everyone thanks to cruise critic) had pre-booked private tours. All easy, and straight forward on arrival.

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Thanks everyone. We are booked on a group tour with Viktoria from SPB. I am sure it will be great.:)

 

We used Viktoria at SPB for four ports in the Baltics! It was the best private tour company we've ever used. Her husband met us in Berlin and when we ended our tour in St. Petersburg she personally thanked us for using her company. I can't emphasize what a great tour it was!

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We used Viktoria at SPB for four ports in the Baltics! It was the best private tour company we've ever used. Her husband met us in Berlin and when we ended our tour in St. Petersburg she personally thanked us for using her company. I can't emphasize what a great tour it was!

We are also doing a tour to Berlin with Viktoria's company. At first we weren't going to bother because we have spent time in Berlin several years ago, but her tour is very extensive, so we decided to do it. :)

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Thanks everyone. We are booked on a group tour with Viktoria from SPB. I am sure it will be great.:)

 

Do make sure you get off the ship as soon as the gangplank is lowered (i.e. be one of the first off the ship) despite Princess telling you ONLY ship-based tours can get off for the first hour or so (just another threat).

The Immigration people don't care whose tour you are taking only that you have necessary tour documents. Line to enter immigration does get long as almost everyone on the ship is getting off and the immigration people do look at your documents. So get there pronto.

Once you leave the immigration area, your SPB rep. will be there with a sign and passenger list directing you to the proper tour bus. And somewhere during your 2-3 day tours, Vika will be there to meet you personally.

 

SAS

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We are also doing a tour to Berlin with Viktoria's company. At first we weren't going to bother because we have spent time in Berlin several years ago, but her tour is very extensive, so we decided to do it. :)

 

Be ready for a long day, but well worth it if you haven't been to Berlin lately. Well you can sleep on the bus ride down and same on the way back to ship. Many of the sites in Berlin are seen from the bus window only, but still an exciting day in Berlin. If there is something in particular you'd like to see, merely ask the tour guide, I'm sure they'll accommodate your request if time permits.

 

Martin, Viktoria's husband runs the tour operations in Berlin, he'll greet you in Berlin.

 

SAS

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We sailed on the Emerald to the Baltics a couple years ago and were given the same scare tactics about not taking the official Princess tours. We ignored their advice and used SPB tours and thoroughly recommend them. They organise the visas so there is not a problem. SPB tours are in groups of 15 in mini vans and you have the individual walkie talkies so you can hear the guides without having to be next to them. In the evening we went to the Folklore show and again definitely recommend it for a great evening out. The recommendation to get off the boat as early as possible is good advice as the queue to get through immigration can be long.

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We used Viktoria at SPB for four ports in the Baltics! It was the best private tour company we've ever used. Her husband met us in Berlin and when we ended our tour in St. Petersburg she personally thanked us for using her company. I can't emphasize what a great tour it was!

 

Ditto. We used SPB for St. Petersburg and Berlin and they were amazing. You do not need a visa if you use SPB Tours.

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That's not quite true. You need a visa, but it is provided to you by the group visa for SPB. The same applies to the other Russian tour companies.

 

Being able to get those visas is why they need your passport information.

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