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Starbar

St Petersburg Visa Requirements

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We are travelling to St Petersburg at the end of August on NCL Getaway.

We have booked one tour with NCL but OH would like to do another one. I have read so much conflicting evidence about Visa's 

 

He has narrowed it down to one of two Viator tours 

 

1) A metro tour https://www.viator.com/tours/St-Petersburg/St-Petersburg-Metro-Tour/d908-176018P1

 

This picks you up at the cruise port but drops you at Admiralteyskaya Station, St Petersburg, Russia, 191186 would this be an issue? Do you have to be dropped to the port.

 
Some places I have read you have to be with your tour guide at all times? Although the tour with NCL mentions that we have 2 hours at our own leisure?

 

2) A photography tour https://www.viator.com/tours/St-Petersburg/Rooftop-Tour-in-St-Petersburg/d908-11498P48

 

This picks you up at a destination you chose (no mention of port not sure if this is an available option) and leaves you at St Issac's.

 

Is there a list of approved agents that I can see? I have used Google but it couldn't find anything. Thanks!

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Posted (edited)

I think you've been looking in the wrong places - the Viator option doesn't sound suitable, without a visa you're supposed to be brought back to the ship. And Viator is merely  middle-man - they don't operate tours, they're merely a ticket agency for local tour operators. Hence probably more expensive than booking direct. More importantly they're an extra link in the chain, and Russia isn't somewhere you want mis-communication / misunderstanding by using a middle-man, especially with no visa.

 

Browse thro the St Petersburg threads on this forum, there's stacks of info & recommendations for about a dozen local operators offering visa-free tours specifically for cruisers - both tours shared with others from your ship (you just book seats-in-van, max 16 passengers in a van) and private tours (obviously more expensive). Alla Tours, SPB Tours, TJ Travel, Best Guides, Anastasia, DenRus, Red Oktober, and more. And they're all very good.

 

The only difficulty is going to be finding a shared tour that doesn't duplicate parts of your NCL tour.

Are you committed to NCL for one day? The local operators offer two-day tours which of course cover the main sights & that would avoid complication / duplication.

If you stick with one day NCL and one day local operator it's better to do the NCL tour on Day One -  those on ship's tours have priority disembarkation, and the procedure is slow on Day One. All very quick on Day Two.

 

Visa situation is very simple, those on pre-booked tours - both ship's tours & approved local operators' tours (all those mentioned above are approved) - can disembark visa-free for their tours, the tour ticket issued by the ship or e-mailed to you by the local operator gets you thro immigration for the tour without a visa.

Beware of crafty cruise line phraseology that suggests you need a ship's tour to go ashore - local tour operator's tours have exactly the same visa-free status as ship's tours. You need a visa only if you want to get off the ship & explore entirely on your own.

You have to stick with the tour group but there's some leeway, you're not tied to the guide's apron-strings. NCL's 2 hours "free time" is very probably in Nevsky Prospekt, the main shopping street. You won't be allowed to jump on a metro or whatever to explore elsewhere.

A tour ticket for just Day One won't get you thro immigration on Day Two, and you need an evening tour ticket to get off in the evening.

Without a visa you must over-nite on the ship.

 

Visa-free is absolutely the way to go for a first visit.

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

Edited by John Bull

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Thanks John.

 

The NCL tour is only 4 hours long its called PANORAMIC ST. PETERSBURG & LEISURE. I'll post a summary of the tour in a separate post. TBH its only so our daughters can get off the ship one of the two days in St. Petersburg as we have two sea days after this. They are 3.5 and 7 so attention span won't be great. 

 

I have looked at a lot of the tour operators mentioned above but I can't find a tour similar to these on their websites. We may just need to bin them and take the traditional tours. We were just looking for something a bit different. But if its not possible then that is that. 

 

The first tour (metro one)surprises me that it picks up at the cruise but doesn't drop back 

 

Thanks for your help! 

 

 

 

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View some the city’s most architecturally and culturally important landmarks during a panoramic drive, and enjoy approximately 2-hours of free time to explore Nevsky Prospekt and surroundings, on your own.

 

Enjoy a panoramic tour of St. Petersburg, the grand city that Peter the Great founded on the Neva River in 1703. Cultural, historical and architectural landmarks abound, and you will see many of the most significant examples.

 

While pausing for photos at the Spit of Vasilievsky Island, you will enjoy a marvelous view of the riverside Rostral Columns, which served as lighthouses in the early 1800s. Another photo stop presents glorious St. Isaac’s Cathedral, whose gilded dome dominates the skyline. Religious sculptures and red granite columns decorate the façade.

 

In time, you will drive along the main thoroughfare of Nevsky Prospekt, which cuts through the historical city center, an area that boasts several UNESCO World Heritage sites. Highlights include the Kazan Cathedral, whose design was inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood, which was constructed on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in 1881.

 

A couple of hours of free time around Arts Square follows, during which you may shop at Gostiny Dvor, the city’s oldest department store, and at the 19th-century Passazh Arcade. Or you may continue sightseeing before returning to the pier. Some of the sights you’ll find in the area are the beautiful Art Nouveau building of the House of Books, Ostrovsky Square with a monument to Catherine the Great and Alexandrinsky Theater, Eliseev Delicacy Food Store, Grand Hotel Europe and many cafes, restaurants, bars, shops and boutiques.

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1 hour ago, Starbar said:

Thanks John.

 

. TBH its only so our daughters can get off the ship one of the two days in St. Petersburg as we have two sea days after this. They are 3.5 and 7 so attention span won't be great. 

 

 

No personal experience of them, but Best Guides have a great reputation for tours for little-uns.

https://www.bestguides-spb.com/children-page.html

 

JB :classic_smile:

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17 hours ago, Starbar said:

I have looked at a lot of the tour operators mentioned above but I can't find a tour similar to these on their websites. We may just need to bin them and take the traditional tours. We were just looking for something a bit different. But if its not possible then that is that. 

 

I'm pretty sure you can do a customized tour with the local tour operators. We customized our tour with Anastasia Travel when we visited last May. We had specific places we wanted to visit and they were very helpful in creating an itinerary that fits our needs. We were a big group with children and older ones so our group's interest was really very varied. Good thing they were able to help us customize a tour that satisfied everyone's needs and desires. You might want to consider them and I'm sure they can help you arrange a tour based on your preference. 

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JB covered it all - the viator tours would not be a viable choice if you do not have a Russian visa.

The independent operators offer customized tours - you can check them out if interested. The more affordable options are their group tours - small group sizes with fixed itineraries. It appears that you are already considering what would be most appropriate for your children. I would not recommend a group tour for a 3 year old - too exhausting for such a little one and, others in the group often do not appreciate a fussy child.

I highly recommend the Grand Maket for the kids - a customized tour can accommodate this museum & the kids would love it. 

 

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Went to Grand Maket yesterday with a 9 and a 5 year old. Spent about 3 hours there with a long lunch break - and still that was about an hour longer than the younger kid could comfortably handle. Still, a great place for both the kids and the adults.

Also did a 2hr run through the Hermitage - the crowds are much more manageable after 7pm, but Wednesdays is when they do their weekly winding of the Peacock clock - so that room was PACKED at 8. Still, I feel like I did my bit for my kids' artistic education -  there was nobody but us by the Prodigal Son, and only a couple of people by Da Vinci  🙂

The bottom line, though, is that I'm not quite sure how comfortable it would be with a 3yo - and without a "real" visa you'd also be paying substantial amounts for private tours.

 

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3 hours ago, napoxoguk said:

🙂

The bottom line, though, is that I'm not quite sure how comfortable it would be with a 3yo - and without a "real" visa you'd also be paying substantial amounts for private tours.

 

 

Just to clarify..........

 

Yes, if the OP's party is 2 adults & 3 kids, a private tour will cost more. Vans hold up to 16, & private tours work out at about the same cost as seats in shared tour for private groups of at least  8 to 10.

 

But no, they don't need a visa for a private tour - private tours have the same visa-free status as shared tours.

 

And yes, wit three kids a shared tour can be problematic for all .

But well worth checking out prices from local tour operators (do include Best Guides) for a private tour.

Two days, two half-days, one day, one half-day - whichever you feel comfortable with.

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

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Thanks everyone for your hep. We wanted separate tour as we felt it would be too long for the 3.5 year old to do a full on half day you so we booked the NCL tour with minimal walking but they would get to see St Petereburg also. 

 

I have been emailing Ulko Tours (Red October I think?) and I have sorted a private tour that actually incorporates kids and us for 5 or 6 hours yet to decide which to do. 1 hour metro tour, 2 hours in Matryosi Doll Museum where the girls can paint the Russian Dolls which they will love and either a one or two hour walking tour, I would prefer two OH thinks it may be too long. 

 

As an aside did I read somewhere about a cruise critic members discount for tours booked with Ulko?  

 

I never would have thought to contact them about changing the tour if it hadn't been for the thread so thank you very much! 

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3 hours ago, Starbar said:

I have been emailing Ulko Tours (Red October I think?) and I have sorted a private tour that actually incorporates kids and us for 5 or 6 hours yet to decide which to do. 1 hour metro tour, 2 hours in Matryosi Doll Museum where the girls can paint the Russian Dolls which they will love and either a one or two hour walking tour, I would prefer two OH thinks it may be too long. 

 

As an aside did I read somewhere about a cruise critic members discount for tours booked with Ulko?  

Sounds like you have a great plan.

Ulko and Red October are separate companies and, AFAIK, not affiliated.  Ulko receives very good reviews on TripAdvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g298507-d1873615-Reviews-ULKOtours-St_Petersburg_Northwestern_District.html

Red October has a number of recent negative reviews on TripAdvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g298507-d1469573-Reviews-Red_October_Tour_Company-St_Petersburg_Northwestern_District.html

I have not toured with either of the above companies but most of the local operators offer discounts to Cruise Critic members - I would check with your tour operator to be certain.

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Thank for your help.

 

I wouldn't have looked into a private tour as I would have assumed it was too expensive. But this gives us the both of best world, we can see some things we want to see and keep the kids entertained for a while too

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On 8/8/2019 at 10:46 AM, flowslow said:

 

I'm pretty sure you can do a customized tour with the local tour operators. We customized our tour with Anastasia Travel when we visited last May. We had specific places we wanted to visit and they were very helpful in creating an itinerary that fits our needs. We were a big group with children and older ones so our group's interest was really very varied. Good thing they were able to help us customize a tour that satisfied everyone's needs and desires. You might want to consider them and I'm sure they can help you arrange a tour based on your preference. 

We booked with Anastasia Travel too. We all loved that they could tailor our excursion!

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