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Viking Homeland: Is a Visa required for private tours in St. Petersburg?

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Is a Visa required for private arranged tours in St. Petersburg?  Plan to visit there on Viking Homeland cruise in April 2020.   

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Posted (edited)

From Vikings FAQs

 

"Guests traveling to Russia on Viking Cruises organized shore excursions do not require a Russian Visa provided their stay does not exceed 72 hours in Russian ports, and private tours are available that do not require a separate visa. If you intend to step off the ship alone or to explore independently, you MUST obtain a visa before your cruise commences"

 

In other words, if you book with a licensed Russian tour company you do not, if you want to grab a cab and see things on your own, you do.

Edited by ropomo

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In addition to the previous response, if booking with an approved vendor, you must also return to the ship in the evening. To stay ashore for the night you will require a Visa.

 

Best to confirm with the tour operator you are considering if they are on the approved list. When we researched, all the major companies in SPB provided the Visa. When you head ashore, your tour ticket for that day is your defacto Visa.

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We used SPB tours (Celebrity, Baltic) and they met us at the post immigration area and dropped off back at the same place. They were quite clear you could not deviate from the group at any time. Once we booked we had to provide passport details and they sent us by email a Group Tour Visa in cryllic but we could see our names and which we had to present when exiting through immigration. And which on the first morning took a good 90 minutes as there were multiple ships. Next morning was very quick. 

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We used TJ Travel - it was excellent.  Met us right after immigration and gave us an amazing tour on both days we were docked. They took care of everything, and their vans had wifi, so we could all check email while driving through the city.  They made frequent restroom stops in good locations.  The restaurants where we had our lunches were also very nice. We ended up seeing more of St Petersburg than one could ever imagine.

 

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On 3/3/2019 at 1:30 PM, ropomo said:

Another tip.  We are preparing for Viking Homelands the end of May. If you haven't visited the CC Northern European forum, there is a lot more specific info regarding Baltic ports there.  https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/116-northern-europe-amp-baltic-sea/

 

Thank you Ropomo -  this is an excellent forum with lots of useful information.

Appreciate your sharing.

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9 hours ago, CCWineLover said:

 

Thank you Ropomo -  this is an excellent forum with lots of useful information.

Appreciate your sharing.

\

And we used Alla and had the same type experience.  All the larger providers include everything you will need

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We used TJ's Tours, a Russian Company, and they took care of all the paperwork.  Just had to send them information via email.   It was a great 2 day tour and we had a group that got together through Roll Call here and were able to get a good discount from the company.  But you can not go alone in Russia unless you have an individual visa so going with a tour takes all the hassle out of it.

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You might also look at Dancing Bear Tours. We used them for two days. They were excellent and took care of everything incl visas.

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TJ's tours gave us lunch both days at local restaurants  and some time in their shop to purchase items, I purchased Matroka (?? Spelling) Dolls on the ship at the class on how to tell real from fake aka Chinese nesting dolls

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Dancing Bear Tours (and others) will give you what you want. It is a private tour so you call the shots. Yes, they take care of Visa. (Actually no Visa is needed while with them, just as if you were taking a tour through the ship. Don't let the folks with the ship tell you otherwise.

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54 minutes ago, Todocruise said:

Do any of the tours give you free time to shop or stop for a coffee.  

 

You have to stay with your guide at all times; you cannot wonder off on your own, even to grab a cup of coffee.

 

If you put together your own group and design you own tour, you can build shopping and coffee breaks into the tour -- but you still must stay with your guide.

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On 3/4/2019 at 1:44 AM, stretchcruz said:

We used Alla. They took care of the blanket visa.

We used Alla also, all the documents were in English. Look over the various tours they offer and pick the one that best meets your needs.

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Visas are not required for tours taken with licensed Russian tour companies.  Russian law states that no visa is required for tourists arriving by water and staying less than 72 hours if accompanied by a licensed operator.  The law provides for a visa waiver.  The continued use of Visa for private tours in Russia is incorrect since the requirement for the visa is "waived".

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Our guide with Alla gave us an hour's free time along a road with coffee shops, restaurants, other shops. She waited for us at the park and just told us to stay on that street.

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