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schmerl

Oceania Renaissance of Culture cruise July 6, 2020

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We just booked the Renaissance of Culture cruise though the Baltics. This is our first Oceania cruise and we are really looking forward to it. 

Do most of you take the ship's shore excursions or book your own?

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It's always hard to know what each and every member here does.  Sometimes it looks like most do their own, other times it seems that a majority prefer ship's tours.

 

Private tours are smaller and less expensive.  But there are times when a ship's tour can be safer.

 

We personally do a mix of both -- we've taken more ship's tours since oLife came into existence, but they are never a majority of the tours we do.  Like Lyn we seek for "fellow travelers" on our roll call.

 

Mura

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We have returned from the Baltic on Nautica just today.    This time we took 6 Oceania tours as they were included in our cruise fare.  We think all of them were very good indeed .  The guides were excellent and the tours very well organised.  The tours are however, very expensive if you book and pay for them as an extra.    Only you can decide if this is for you.   J 

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23 minutes ago, Jay23 said:

We have returned from the Baltic on Nautica just today.    This time we took 6 Oceania tours as they were included in our cruise fare.  We think all of them were very good indeed .  The guides were excellent and the tours very well organised.  The tours are however, very expensive if you book and pay for them as an extra.    Only you can decide if this is for you.   J 

 

Thank you.

We have signed up for the O Life package that includes 6 tours and will take advantage of them. We will probably book a private tour in St. Petersburg. 

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If you're not doing a ship's tour in St. Petersburg, make sure you know the lay-of-the-land re: any visa requirements.

 

I am married to a Russian national and it is still a PITA to go there.

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18 hours ago, schmerl said:

 

Thank you.

We have signed up for the O Life package that includes 6 tours and will take advantage of them. We will probably book a private tour in St. Petersburg. 

Look at Alla tours in St. Pete.  We used them twice and they were great.   Private guides and drivers.  

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1 hour ago, Shawnino said:

If you're not doing a ship's tour in St. Petersburg, make sure you know the lay-of-the-land re: any visa requirements.

 

I am married to a Russian national and it is still a PITA to go there.

 

As long as you use a tour company you will not need to get a separate visa.  They provide you with one as part of the tour.  

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1 hour ago, RJB said:

Look at Alla tours in St. Pete.  We used them twice and they were great.   Private guides and drivers.  

Thank you. I have also heard good things about Anastasia Travel. 

 

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27 minutes ago, schmerl said:

Thank you. I have also heard good things about Anastasia Travel. 

 

We have used both Alla and SPB tours - both excellent.

SPB offers tours in other Baltic ports as well as Berlin - might save some money that way.

Edited by Paulchili

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Also used Alla last summer and were very satisfied.

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6 hours ago, Paulchili said:

We have used both Alla and SPB tours - both excellent.

SPB offers tours in other Baltic ports as well as Berlin - might save some money that way.

I think Alla also offers tours in other ports. Do not remember which one's but you could  check on the web site.  Again Alla was great. 

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Our experience in St. P. is very old -- back in May 1999 on Renaissance.  In that case we got our own visas and had a private guide (this was before Alla and the others were opened).  We had a wonderful guide for $60/day (yes, that's right).  It also appeared to me (I could be wrong) that it was less $$ for us to get our own visas through a private agency (that I think no longer exists) than through official sources.

 

But I agree that while ship's tours have generally been satisfactory when we have taken them, I'd definitely book a private tour in St. Petersburg.

 

There are ports where a ship's tour can be fine, and others where you really want a smaller group.  St. P. is one of those in my opinion.

 

Mura

 

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We actually are considering booking a private tour for just the two of us so we can go at our own pace. 

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These groups will permit you to do that.  Unfortunately, I can't recommend the woman we used since she's no longer doing tours.  But from what I have seen here groups like Red October and others will take two people.  You just pay more is all!

 

Mura

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1 hour ago, schmerl said:

We actually are considering booking a private tour for just the two of us so we can go at our own pace. 

If you look on the Baltic forum there are recommended guides that still provide  the group visa  so you do not need to get your own VISA 

I believe  SPB-Tours  will also do custom tours 

I would email a few 

 

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We took a private tour for 2 with Dancing Bears Tours when we visited in July on the Marina.

Our guide was an academic who teaches Russian Literature.

They drove us around in a black Audi A6. It was excellent. I felt like an oligarch!

We customised the agenda to include the Artillery Museum and siege memorial.

Never had to line up for anything. Highly recommended.

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43 minutes ago, schmerl said:

Thanks. We are looking into Alla and also Anastasia Tours. 

One heads up note - if you happen to be there on a Monday, arrange a visit to Hermitage on Monday. The museum is closed to the public but open to private tours.

We did that thanks to SPB tours and were almost alone in the Hermitage - a very rare treat indeed compared to the masses one usually encounters there.

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10 hours ago, Paulchili said:

One heads up note - if you happen to be there on a Monday, arrange a visit to Hermitage on Monday. The museum is closed to the public but open to private tours.

We did that thanks to SPB tours and were almost alone in the Hermitage - a very rare treat indeed compared to the masses one usually encounters there.

That would be fantastic but I think we're there Wednesday and Thursday. Oh well. 

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We went with Alla and on the day we toured the Hermitage we started before they opened. There was a huge line later to get in as we were leaving. Definitely a bonus to tour with one of these companies that have these contacts. 

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47 minutes ago, ORV said:

We went with Alla and on the day we toured the Hermitage we started before they opened. There was a huge line later to get in as we were leaving. Definitely a bonus to tour with one of these companies that have these contacts. 

Another vote for Alla Tours; in 2017, we selected their tour that included the Fabergé Museum and ended up to be the only ones to book this tour from the Marina ship; as they guarantee their tours, we had a private tour with one of their excellent guides and driver in a Mercedes for the two days of touring. Highly recommend.

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1 hour ago, schmerl said:

That would be fantastic but I think we're there Wednesday and Thursday. Oh well. 

Besides all the standard advantages of using a private company for St. Petersburg, smaller group, less expensive, etc.  These companies will often get you into the museums before the 'regular' opening times.  Your standard midweek tour you are there, (along with their other tour groups so not alone) while there is a huge line outside the door waiting for it to open up.  This was just the first stop of the day so the rest of the day you know just how crowded these places can be.  

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On 9/4/2019 at 12:45 PM, schmerl said:

We just booked the Renaissance of Culture cruise though the Baltics. This is our first Oceania cruise and we are really looking forward to it. 

Do most of you take the ship's shore excursions or book your own?

We are on this cruise as well and its also our first Oceania cruise

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