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Master thread of St. Petersburg advice and recommendations from cruisers who've been!


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4 minutes ago, AuntyJan said:

Just wondering if anyone has used a company called Russian Adventures?  They are highly recommended on Tripadvisor.  I have some mobility issues, can't walk far, problems standing for very long.  So I am thinking we might do a private tour.  She advertises that she can provide a wheelchair. 

 

Will they charge you extra for the wheelchair? We also have the same mobility issues as you and we booked a small group tour with TJ Tours and they are providing wheelchairs and someone to push them at no extra charge. 

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5 minutes ago, schmerl said:

Will they charge you extra for the wheelchair? We also have the same mobility issues as you and we booked a small group tour with TJ Tours and they are providing wheelchairs and someone to push them at no extra charge. 

We haven't gotten that far yet ....  I've just started my research.   I will also check out TJ Tours too

 

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12 hours ago, AuntyJan said:

Just wondering if anyone has used a company called Russian Adventures?  They are highly recommended on Tripadvisor.  I have some mobility issues, can't walk far, problems standing for very long.  So I am thinking we might do a private tour.  She advertises that she can provide a wheelchair. 

I had never heard of Russian Adventures prior to your post. It appears from their website that Russian Adventure Tours is a smallish operation run by a private licensed tour guide (named Tatiana). I did check them out on TripAdvisor (Russian Adventure Tours) - they are rated #64 with 91 reviews (all reviews are positive). Their lack of numerous ratings should not deter you (they have been in operation since 2011) and, often times, these smaller independent operators provide excellent private tours for those with small children or those with mobility limitations. 

Tj is a much larger independent operator with frequent recommendations on the cruise critic boards & high ratings on TripAdvisor (#2).

I would check with both and see which best meets your needs and caters to your desires. I believe that you would be fine with either.

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If I book a tour with celebrity to st Petersburg what is the currency situation ,I have looked at the likes of ICE and they all have minimum of £100 or so and as may like a coffee or small gift I don’t want to change 100 pounds then have to change rubles back again costing a fortune and losing out on exchanges .are there any way to change say 20  pounds either on board or local ATM. 

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5 hours ago, Horace580 said:

If I book a tour with celebrity to st Petersburg what is the currency situation ,I have looked at the likes of ICE and they all have minimum of £100 or so and as may like a coffee or small gift I don’t want to change 100 pounds then have to change rubles back again costing a fortune and losing out on exchanges .are there any way to change say 20  pounds either on board or local ATM. 

 

Both times we were in St.P., our guides were able to help out with small transactions (either finding us places that accepted credit cards or exchanging their rubles for our dollars/euros). But this was with small-group private company tours (SPB and then Red Sun Tours). If you book a Celebrity tour with a large bus of people, the tour guide probably wouldn't be able to help everyone?

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Hello all!

Booked Jewels of the Baltic on Holland America May 10, 2020. Been researching St. Petersburg tours. I got a discout through Get Your Guide for Adventura Russia tour for 2 day St. Petersburg. Anybody heard of this tour company? I have cancellation possibilities but also saw good reviews on Trip Advisor but I am still wondering and trust cruise critic real opinions? Also booked at a discount on a Warnemunde port excursion to Berlin through GetYour Guide for Essence of  Berlin 12 hour tour and wondering if anyone has ever used this tour company (they also show good reviews on Trip Advisor).

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13 hours ago, SUESEABE said:

Hello all!

Booked Jewels of the Baltic on Holland America May 10, 2020. Been researching St. Petersburg tours. I got a discout through Get Your Guide for Adventura Russia tour for 2 day St. Petersburg. Anybody heard of this tour company? I have cancellation possibilities but also saw good reviews on Trip Advisor but I am still wondering and trust cruise critic real opinions? Also booked at a discount on a Warnemunde port excursion to Berlin through GetYour Guide for Essence of  Berlin 12 hour tour and wondering if anyone has ever used this tour company (they also show good reviews on Trip Advisor).

 

Get Your Guide, like Viator et al, is a middleman agency that will book you with another company (like Aventura). Me, I prefer to deal directly with companies if possibly, so I know exactly who and what I'm getting and I know who to contact if I have any questions or concerns or need to make any changes.

 

ETA: As for Aventura Russia (is that the one you meant?), I don't recall that I've seen them mentioned here. Doesn't mean that they're not great: I have uniformly been impressed by the professionalism of the St.P. guides.

Edited by trosebery
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  • 2 weeks later...

UPDATE:

TripAdvisor has finally updated the current rankings and reviews of independent tours offered in Saint Petersburg.

According to TripAdvisor, there are currently 641 tour companies operating in Saint Petersburg and the Baltic ports of call. To access the ranking of these tour companies as well as contacting them, follow the link : https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g298507-Activities-c42-St_Petersburg_Northwestern_District.html

Scroll down the left side of the page and click: “See All Tour Operators in Saint Petersburg

I have copied the rank and rating of the top 25 but there are many more.

In order to actually contact the tour company, you click on the company name and then, on the left side, under the company name, click “more”. Here you can choose their website or email. Hope this helps those looking for independent tours rather than the ship tours.

 

#1 - Alla Tours

4,792 reviews

 

#2 - TJ Travel

2,619 reviews

 

#3 - Petersburg-Hautnah

1,158 reviews

 

#4 - Petersburg-Individuell

454 reviews

 

#5 - White Nights Travel

668 reviews

 

#6 - Dmitry Kaplun's Unusual Excursions

190 reviews

 

#7 - RusLed

164 reviews

 

#8 - SPB Tours

6,163 reviews

 

#9 - St Pete Private Tours

357 reviews

 

#10 - Red Sun Tours

159 reviews

 

#11 - Tailored Tours of St.Petersburg

284 reviews

 

#12 - Dancing Bear Tours

436 reviews

 

#13 - The Best Tours with Yuriy Nezhinskiy

92 reviews

 

#14 - Maxiguide

83 reviews

 

#15 - St. Petersburg Urban Adventures

194 reviews

 

#16 - EratourSpb

102 reviews

 

#17 - St. Petersburg Guided Tours

129 reviews

 

#18 - Reisetreff Petersburg

166 reviews

 

#19 - Tzarina Tours

172 reviews

 

#20 - Hello Russia Tours

106 reviews

 

#21 - Tour-in-StPetersburg. com - Day Tours

458 reviews

 

#22 - Best Guides -Tours in St. Petersburg

777 reviews

 

#23 - Tzar Travel - Natalya German-Tsarkova

155 reviews

 

#24 - Eagle Travel Tours to Russia

125 reviews

 

#25 - Petersburgtrip

208 reviews

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On 11/27/2019 at 8:22 PM, Horace580 said:

If I book a tour with celebrity to st Petersburg what is the currency situation ,I have looked at the likes of ICE and they all have minimum of £100 or so and as may like a coffee or small gift I don’t want to change 100 pounds then have to change rubles back again costing a fortune and losing out on exchanges .are there any way to change say 20  pounds either on board or local ATM. 

I agree with Schmerl that most local restaurants and stores accept Credit Cards and if you need cash, there are also ATMs at the port terminal. The prices for coffee vary from 100 RUB to 350 RUB depending on the place and the coffee of course. I would also recommend checking with local tour companies regarding your tour options as they usually offer better rates and less crowded excursions compare to ones offered by cruise ship.

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5 hours ago, Lagerta said:

I agree with Schmerl that most local restaurants and stores accept Credit Cards and if you need cash, there are also ATMs at the port terminal. The prices for coffee vary from 100 RUB to 350 RUB depending on the place and the coffee of course. I would also recommend checking with local tour companies regarding your tour options as they usually offer better rates and less crowded excursions compare to ones offered by cruise ship.

Do we need some rubles in St. Petersburg?  

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1 hour ago, Anubi said:

Do we need some rubles in St. Petersburg?  

 

I've been twice and didn't need rubles either time. Everything was either prepaid, paid by the guide, or we could use credit cards . . . or our guide could exchange some of our dollars for some of her rubles. (We were with a small-group tour with SPB the first time and a private tour with Red Sun Tours the second time.)

 

You could ask your tour company if they thought there would be any need for you to have rubles on your particular tour, but I'm guessing probably not.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/10/2019 at 8:54 PM, Anubi said:

Do we need some rubles in St. Petersburg?  

No, I don’t think you need any Rubles on you especially if you are on the tour arranged by a travel company. I would also suggest taking the kind advice of Trosebery and check with your tour company if there would be any need for you to have rubles on your particular tour. Good luck!

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On 12/10/2019 at 10:54 AM, Anubi said:

Do we need some rubles in St. Petersburg?  

I spend several weeks between Saint Petersburg & Moscow each year and, to be honest, we rarely need rubles in either of these cities except in rare instances - credit cards (visa & MC - amex not so much) are widely accepted. Smaller restaurants/shops/post offices away from tourist areas & the smaller villages outside the larger cities are more likely to require rubles - this should not be an issue for you. If you are touring with a local company, I would recommend that you ask them if you may need rubles. My guess is that you will do just fine without any rubles - the souvenir shops all accept plastic.

There is an ATM inside the port terminal where you can get some rubles if needed.

Edited by dogs4fun
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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm a new CruiseCritic member!  Thanks everyone for all the tips and reviews on this topic and others -- they're really so helpful!  We're going on a Baltic cruise next summer and have narrowed down options for a St. Petersburg 2-day private tour. For those who have toured St. Petersburg with Alla Tours and TJ Travel, could you please tell us how you felt the pace was? Our itinerary is similar to each company's most strenuous 2-day small group tour, but we substituted certain sites. The two companies came up with pretty different itineraries in terms of time. Was the pace comfortable or rushed, and did your tour end up being pretty close to the itinerary in terms of time (or did it not matter)? 

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9 hours ago, globetrottingfam said:

I'm a new CruiseCritic member!  Thanks everyone for all the tips and reviews on this topic and others -- they're really so helpful!  We're going on a Baltic cruise next summer and have narrowed down options for a St. Petersburg 2-day private tour. For those who have toured St. Petersburg with Alla Tours and TJ Travel, could you please tell us how you felt the pace was? Our itinerary is similar to each company's most strenuous 2-day small group tour, but we substituted certain sites. The two companies came up with pretty different itineraries in terms of time. Was the pace comfortable or rushed, and did your tour end up being pretty close to the itinerary in terms of time (or did it not matter)? 

Welcome to Cruise Critic. The Baltic cruises are special - I hope you have a great time.

I have been to Russia multiple times and have booked with Alla Tours for both cruise excursions and private tours when I arrived via air.

I have no experience with TJ - most people have experience with only one tour operator and extol the virtues of that company. Since we booked with Alla on our very first visit and had a spectacular tour, we have used her on subsequent visits - why tamper with perfection? There are many tour companies in St. Pete and almost everyone seems pleased with their particular choice - don't think you can go wrong with any of them.

To answer your questions: the tour timings with Alla were very close to the times stated on our itineraries - we preferred the more active tours wherein boxed lunches were provided as we didn't wish to waste lots of time languishing in restaurants - we wanted to see as much as possible.

Our private tours with Alla were never rushed, the pace was always comfortable and our guides have always been fantastic. If you have an issue with the pace while on the tour, simply inform you guide and he/she will adjust your tour. 

FYI: Saint Petersburg has become a victim of its own success - the "must see" tourist sights are jammed with hordes of tourists during the height of the summer months. Every year that we visit Saint Petersburg and Moscow we are amazed at the increase in crowds at the main tourist sights from just the year before (Hermitage, Peterhof, Catherine Palace, Kremlin, Red Square, etc.). If you are visiting during the height of summer, be prepared for lots of tourists. The beauty of our tours with Alla was that all of our tickets (museums, palaces, churches, etc.) were pre-purchased and we didn't have to wait in long queues to enter any of the venues. However, there is simply no way to avoid hordes of tourists unless you are traveling during the shoulder seasons.

Edited by dogs4fun
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1 hour ago, Anchor Head said:

Going to St Petersburg in late August 2020 on Seabourn.  Any suggestions on a private tour that could take us to a ballet?  TIA

 

Most of the  local tour companies offer evening tours. We booked a two day tour with TJ Travel and they have an evening at the ballet offered. 

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We just booked a family Baltic Cruise for June 17-27 2021.  As for crowds--is mid June considered super crowded--or will we beat the rush??  Have not been started looking at tours, but reading this thread has helped a lot.  I have a family of 7--so I need to start saving for the tours now, I guess. My (5) kids will be 16-22 years old at the time we travel--hoping that they will enjoy and remember this trip.

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13 hours ago, Anchor Head said:

Going to St Petersburg in late August 2020 on Seabourn.  Any suggestions on a private tour that could take us to a ballet?

There are many private companies with whom you can book a ballet performance. To name a few:

Alla Tours, TJ,  Red Sun, SPB, Dancing Bears, Best Guides ....

7 hours ago, ckmommy said:

We just booked a family Baltic Cruise for June 17-27 2021.  As for crowds--is mid June considered super crowded--or will we beat the rush??  Have not been started looking at tours, but reading this thread has helped a lot.  I have a family of 7--so I need to start saving for the tours now, I guess. My (5) kids will be 16-22 years old at the time we travel--hoping that they will enjoy and remember this trip.

Your kids will, in all probability, find the Baltic itinerary fascinating - what a wonderful experience for them! One suggestion ... I would recommend that you investigate the merits of obtaining ISIC cards for your kids that are students (college) - they will then be eligible for student discounts in the Baltic ports (museums, etc,) and it can add up to a substantial savings (especially if they are considering other european travel). Children under 18 are often eligible for discounted tours without need of ISIC.

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On 9/24/2019 at 9:48 AM, lois1112 said:

I just returned (September 2019) from a Baltic cruise

I used SPB tours in all the ports, and was very happy with them

I received many "scary" e-mails from the cruise lines about the hazards of doing St. Peterburg on my own (or without the cruise line). 

there was no problem. Princess requested that you provide them a copy of your ticket for the tour, then they gave you a time to leave the ship. Customs was very easy. 

No problem at all either day. 

Our group size was about 20

I would highly recommend SPB

Considering SPB or Alla Tours both have great reviews.  Curious if you did evening event, if so which one?

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On 9/24/2019 at 12:00 PM, dogs4fun said:

We booked with Alla Tours on several visits to Russia  - had a wonderful  experience and we highly recommend her tours.

All of the local independent operators offer private, customized tours and flat-rate tours. The flat-rate tours are the most affordable option and the groups are small (10 - 16 in a group with a max of 16 - much smaller than the ship excursions). Of course, the best possible option for us is a completely private tour - these are more expensive than the flat-rate tours and the price is based on the number of people in your group.

 

Everyone really needs to conduct their own research in finding their best option. We always suggest reading reviews and contacting several companies to find your personal best fit.

 

To save everyone time from attempting to navigate the TripAdvisor site (TripAdvisor tends to promote tours booked through Viator, a consolidator,  and we always recommend booking directly with the tour company), I have compiled a list from TripAdvisor ... below are the top independent operators in Saint Petersburg rated from #1 through #10 (there are many more companies and these offer tours as well).

Some are relatively new start-ups and others have been serving the cruise community for many years.

Most also offer discounted tours in all of your Baltic ports of call and the majority of these companies are frequently touted on cruise critic (sister site of TripAdvisor). 

 

#1 - ALLA TOURS (4,705 reviews)

#2 - TJ TRAVEL (2,549 reviews)

#3 - Petersburg-Hautnah  (1,143 reviews)

#4 - Petersburg-Individuell (663 reviews)

#5 - WHITE NIGHTS TRAVEL (443 reviews)

#6 - Unusual Tours of Saint Petersburg (176 reviews)

#7 - SPB TOURS (5,923 reviews)

#8 - RusLed (140 reviews)

#9 - SAINT PETE PRIVATE TOURS (344 reviews)

#10 - RED SUN TOURS (146 reviews)

 

I've also included a few companies that are frequently mentioned on Cruise Critic:

 

#12 - DANCING BEAR TOURS (431 reviews)

#22 - BEST GUIDES (759 reviews)

#32 - ULKO TOURS (838 reviews)

 

Curious if you did one of the evening add ons?  If so which one and did you enjoy it?

 

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56 minutes ago, cruiser551 said:

Curious if you did one of the evening add ons?  If so which one and did you enjoy it?

We usually visit Saint Petersburg via land rather than cruise so we have the benefit of many evenings from which to choose. We have attended ballet, folk performances, concerts, evening Neva music (jazz)/dinner cruise & had great times in some of the local pubs. We have enjoyed them all. 

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