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City Break Tours in St. Petersburg - anybody tried?


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I have contacted several companies recommended here and on tripadvisor for St. Petersburg custom tour we are looking for. So far City Break Tours has by far the best price and are extremely accommodating to work with. They have excellent reviews on tripadvisor, but mostly from day tours vs. cruise guests. Has anyone tried them for shore excursion and what was the verdict?

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1 hour ago, nattie said:

I have contacted several companies recommended here and on tripadvisor for St. Petersburg custom tour we are looking for. So far City Break Tours has by far the best price and are extremely accommodating to work with. They have excellent reviews on tripadvisor, but mostly from day tours vs. cruise guests. Has anyone tried them for shore excursion and what was the verdict?

Is this tour company licensed to offer visa free tours to cruise ship passengers? Please make sure so that you are not "stuck" on the ship in Russia.

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On 3/13/2019 at 1:20 PM, dogs4fun said:

Is this tour company licensed to offer visa free tours to cruise ship passengers? Please make sure so that you are not "stuck" on the ship in Russia.

Yes, they are. Again their reviews are quite good on tripadvisor

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g298507-d12364173-Reviews-City_Break_Tours_St_Petersburg-St_Petersburg_Northwestern_District.html

Looks like they are fairly knew. I am going to contact couple people on Tripadvisor to verify just in case.

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20 hours ago, cansas.piligrim said:

How did you manage to find this company? Their rating on Trip Advisor is 84 - not  one of known leaders.

They were on a first page of search under "deafult" setting for "St. Petresburg tours and trips" I have contacted all the companies on the first page with my request. Actually know leader, ALLA, very rudely told me that they cant accommodate my request and to join they pre configured tour. 

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7 minutes ago, nattie said:

Yes, they are. Again their reviews are quite good on tripadvisor

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g298507-d12364173-Reviews-City_Break_Tours_St_Petersburg-St_Petersburg_Northwestern_District.html

Looks like they are fairly knew. I am going to contact couple people on Tripadvisor to verify just in case.

Looks like they have a toll free number that you can call. Have you checked their website? Why not phone them?

http://stpetercitybreak.com/tours

Edited by dogs4fun
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19 hours ago, fabnfortysomething said:

it certainly isn't a company recommended or even heard of here on cruise critic

what price are they offering?

So the price for 3 people (one child) of highly custom tour is $1300 comparing with $1500 plus for others. What is making a difference I think is that others are not really listening to what I am asking and are trying to fit my requests into there pre-existing tours. For example Treasure room in Hermitage is extra cost of $200/$350 (depends on company I asked) per group for private viewing, BUT it is only $20 pp for join-in. I speak fluent Russian, therefore we opted for join-in thus saving $. Nowhere else "join in" was even offered, only private. Same goes for the rest of tour, I wanted dinner cruise on Neva instead of boat tour during the day. Most companies said no, cant do, except for private boat w/o dinner. And so forth, I am pretty confident they are legit, but will check with some Tripadvisor reviewers and post to let everyone know.

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How many days touring is that $1300 price for? I did a lot of research for my upcoming summer trip and I ended up booking Dancing Bears which is #16 on TripAdvisor. They are a 5* company with close to 400 reviews. The reason I went with them is because I wanted a fully customized tour for only 4 people and their prices were not only the best, but my communication with the owner, Julia, was fantastic. She answered emails immediately and she came up with a full 3 day itinerary for us based on our interests. 

I realize that I'm not supposed to recommend a company here on cruise critic when I haven't taken the tour yet. I just wanted to put it out there that there are other companies besides the big 3, that might be better and more cost effective for a small group private tour. There have been positive reviews here on cc from people who have taken the tour. 

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Thank you bonnieg! I feel like I am in the same boat. "Big 3" were very dismissive to what I actually want, while small company was able to customize for me. Communication team there is stellar also. The price is for 2 day tour for 2 adults and one child.

 

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$1300 seems a bit high to me??? We used Anastasia's Travel. If I remember, they were right around $1,000 (but this is dependent on the tour, of course) and let us customize our own tour. They did provide all travel documentation and were amazing to work with. We loved our tour guide and would use her again in a heartbeat. She was so thorough with the tour and was able to provide all the extra tidbits that weren't in the guidebooks. We loved the fact that they keep kids in mind when touring and were prepared for ours to be there. 

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On 3/18/2019 at 11:42 AM, nattie said:

Thank you bonnieg! I feel like I am in the same boat. "Big 3" were very dismissive to what I actually want, while small company was able to customize for me. Communication team there is stellar also. The price is for 2 day tour for 2 adults and one child.

 

You're welcome. I also feel $1300 is a bit high. We're  paying only $24 total more for a full 3 day tour for 4 people. I would check a few more companies for a comparison. 

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Thank you Angie and Bonnieg,

 

I did check with 7 companies, including Anastasia. Prices I got for my excursion were:

Alla                         didnt have capacity to accommodate, referred to SPB

TJ                            $1,575

Ulko                       $1,608

SPB                        $1,719

Ludmila Tours      $1,415

Anastasia              didnt respond

 

I think this has to do with what I am asking, since we want Faberge museum(extra $), Diamond room (extra $), river cruise and WWII stop.

 

I wish it was cheaper :)

Edited by nattie
misspelling
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I’m surprised to hear someone say “the big 3” were dismissive.....I only reached out to SPB in the big name category for a custom 2-day tour for just 2 people this summer, but they were very prompt and created exactly what I wanted for $590pp. Obviously adding some more fee-heavy attractions could drive that price up. I also got a quote for the same custom itinerary I created from https://www.st-petersburg-essentialguide.com/ — they were super responsive and very eager to please, so maybe you should ask them for a quote as well 🙂 

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14 hours ago, nattie said:

 

 

I did check with 7 companies, including Anastasia. Prices I got for my excursion were:

.....$$$.....

 

I think this has to do with what I am asking, since we want Faberge museum(extra $), Diamond room (extra $), river cruise and WWII stop.

 

I wish it was cheaper 🙂

Nattie,

Thank you for publishing this - I'm sure many will find it extremely useful (including the management of one particular company that may realize that manning their inquiry desk is more important than posting dozens of "reviews" on every imaginable travel site).

 

Actually, I think yours is a rare case when applying for a regular tourist visa (at about $200pp) and going DIY way would actually make sense. 

Edited by napoxoguk
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11 hours ago, GlennaRoseGoes said:

I’m surprised to hear someone say “the big 3” were dismissive.....I only reached out to SPB in the big name category for a custom 2-day tour for just 2 people this summer, but they were very prompt and created exactly what I wanted for $590pp. Obviously adding some more fee-heavy attractions could drive that price up. I also got a quote for the same custom itinerary I created from https://www.st-petersburg-essentialguide.com/ — they were super responsive and very eager to please, so maybe you should ask them for a quote as well 🙂 

My tour is for 3 people and comes to about $430pp, which I am quite happy with. I was frankly surprised when it was referred as expensive.

I think another issue is that we are there during White Nights, so there are probably A LOT of tourists :). I would say everyone I contacted besides ALLA and Anastasia were responsive and pleasant to deal with, however I felt like almost all of them were trying to steer me towards their "pre set" experiences vs what I wanted. Example - all tours stated "Russian traditional lunch", I have to problem with it, frankly I eat Russian food often :), but when I am requesting Hard Rock Cafe as a stop, why not save time and do lunch there? That's what City Break suggested (among other things that made the difference).

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8 hours ago, napoxoguk said:

Nattie,

Thank you for publishing this - I'm sure many will find it extremely useful (including the management of one particular company that may realize that manning their inquiry desk is more important than posting dozens of "reviews" on every imaginable travel site).

 

Actually, I think yours is a rare case when applying for a regular tourist visa (at about $200pp) and going DIY way would actually make sense. 

I wish! First, I can't get Russian tourist visa. Russian government still considers me as its citizen, therefore I can't get visa :) Oh and I cant renew Russian passport either because I am no longer "registered" anywhere in Russia. It is like Catch 22 of pure bureaucracy.

Secondly, we would still need english speaking guide and a driver. I want to enjoy sights too and not have to translate non stop! Also, if you ever tried doing Russia on your own you will notice that single entry tickets to any cultural attraction (Kremlin, Hermitage, etc.) for foreigners are 10x the price of Russian citizen's ticket. I highly suspect tour groups get them at steep discounts, otherwise entry fees alone would cost $200 pp at least.

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2 hours ago, nattie said:

Also, if you ever tried doing Russia on your own you will notice that single entry tickets to any cultural attraction (Kremlin, Hermitage, etc.) for foreigners are 10x the price of Russian citizen's ticket. 

This is no longer the case. The tickets to Hermitage, for instance, are RR700 ($10.5) flat. Same with Kremlin. I've seen a couple of places that still have the "dual price" policy, but even there the difference is not huge. You'd have a really hard time finding $200pp worth of cover fees, especially over a 3-day visit. I do agree that having a guide would make sense, but not sure about the driver - it might be more cost-effective just to uber between far-between places, and use public transportation for everything else.

 

 

As to red tape - I do agree it can get quite annoying, but if you've ever carried a Russian passport (vs. the USSR one), the procedure for getting a new one is quite straightforward - it's about 3 months and $250. With the price of a 3-y visa currently at $160+35, renewing your passport seems like a viable option.

 

Given where you live (btw, congrats to Rockville for making it into some mysterious list of Top Ten Most Livable Places in the US for a third year in a row), it should be easy-peasy.

Edited by napoxoguk
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7 hours ago, napoxoguk said:

This is no longer the case. The tickets to Hermitage, for instance, are RR700 ($10.5) flat. Same with Kremlin. I've seen a couple of places that still have the "dual price" policy, but even there the difference is not huge. You'd have a really hard time finding $200pp worth of cover fees, especially over a 3-day visit. I do agree that having a guide would make sense, but not sure about the driver - it might be more cost-effective just to uber between far-between places, and use public transportation for everything else.

 

 

As to red tape - I do agree it can get quite annoying, but if you've ever carried a Russian passport (vs. the USSR one), the procedure for getting a new one is quite straightforward - it's about 3 months and $250. With the price of a 3-y visa currently at $160+35, renewing your passport seems like a viable option.

 

Given where you live (btw, congrats to Rockville for making it into some mysterious list of Top Ten Most Livable Places in the US for a third year in a row), it should be easy-peasy.

Thats great news on the museum prices! I always thought it was very unfair.

 

I think we will just stick to the excursion for this trip. I might renew the passport if we ever decide to go to Moscow. I have not been back in 10 years, clearly a lot has changed.

 

Thank you for congrats for Rockville, I actually agree that it is nice place to live :)

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On 3/18/2019 at 12:07 PM, angie7911922 said:

$1300 seems a bit high to me??? We used Anastasia's Travel. If I remember, they were right around $1,000 (but this is dependent on the tour, of course) and let us customize our own tour. They did provide all travel documentation and were amazing to work with. We loved our tour guide and would use her again in a heartbeat. She was so thorough with the tour and was able to provide all the extra tidbits that weren't in the guidebooks. We loved the fact that they keep kids in mind when touring and were prepared for ours to be there. 

I remember it was no more then $200 pp for the 1-day tour. I am talking about a group of 8, and this was also with the same agency, Anastasia's Travel.   We made some changes to the tour as we didn't want to visit the Hermitage, but it didn't cost anything extra to customize the tour to our needs. We also got discounted prices because we booked the Berlin Tour with them and this was back in June, 2015. Anastasia agency did an awesome job! We enjoyed our day very much, I still remember it so clearly. 

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On 3/21/2019 at 7:17 AM, nattie said:

My tour is for 3 people and comes to about $430pp, which I am quite happy with. I was frankly surprised when it was referred as expensive.

Yeah, there is a significant price jump from 2 to 3 people! SPB told me ours would drop from $590pp to $395pp if we found one more couple!

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On 3/25/2019 at 11:46 AM, Kate P.C said:

 ... agency did an awesome job!

 

That's wonderful news indeed, especially considering they were the only agency to not have found the time to respond to OP's inquiry.

 

Nattie, btw, I stand corrected - I have just checked the pricing for Peterhof museums for April, and there is some difference in fees between Russian tax residents vs. foreigners. The difference is not huge, though, typically something like RUR350 vs. RUR500, or RUR750 vs. RUR1300, varying among attractions. 

 

Come to think of it, resident/non-resident tickets to Peter's bathhouse at Monplaisire cost about as much as resident/non-resident pass to Rockville swim center, so I don't find it totally unfair 🙂

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DennStann,

I was not really looking for best price per se. What I WAS looking for are accommodations of my special requests. As I have stated before, "Big 3" were somewhat pushy (or at least it felt to me like that) in doing standard itineraries. Granted, their standard itineraries are very good and thought out to maximize "once in a life time" experience for standard tourist. I have previously been to St. Petersburg and I speak the language, so we were looking for very specific destinations and avoiding "shopping on Nevskiy" type of ones. Also why would I pay premium for private tour if I can get same itinerary as part of group tour for half the price? Whole point of private tour is that is fully customized to traveler, at least in my opinion. Anyway, main reason I went with City Break is because they were able to accommodate my special requests, as well as suggest alternatives that I didn't even think of.

Now I am all into researching other ports :)

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  • 2 months later...

Just to report on my experience, we had a great tour! Masha (our guide) and Yuri (driver) we fantastic! Extremely personal experience, with no waiting time at any sights. And one of the days we were there was Sunday! Masha suggested couple different spots my DS would enjoy visiting AND we managed to fit everything on our list to boot! I would highly recommend the company and our guides.

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