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


trosebery
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  • 3 weeks later...
1 hour ago, Nok977 said:

Question for frequent visitors: read recently that a regular Uber app does not work in Russia, only a kind of local edition. Is it correct? I wonder if I can still use my Uber account in this case or not. 

The old Uber app (the standard international) no longer works in Russia. Uber sold out to Yandex awhile ago. You can either download the Yandex, Gett or Uber Russia app- all are easy to use. I installed the Uber RU app while in Russia - I couldn't install in while in the states.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ru.yandex.uber

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  • 3 weeks later...
21 minutes ago, Nok977 said:

Oh really? What a shame (( Hopefully USA can be added in the next round, if the program proves its success

I wouldn't hold my breath. An educated assumption based on past practices between the US and Russian Federation ... this will not happen unless there is reciprocity for Russian nationals in acquiring a tourist visa to visit the USA. Tit for tat. 

Edited by dogs4fun
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1 minute ago, Nok977 said:

True. This is a little bit sad, isn't it? Although I have no clue how hard is it for a Russian to obtain a US Visa, I assume it might be quite complicated. Well, it is as it is... We still have tour companies to help us out

The US visa application for Russian nationals is about as cumbersome as the Russian visa application for US nationals.  However, if you are anticipating a trip to Russia, you can apply for a 3 year visa & you will be able to visit multiple times over a 3 year period. Makes sense to procure a visa - especially since you have some unusual things you would like to do in Russia (like taking the Red Arrow to Moscow, which sounds very interesting). Honestly, applying for a Russian visa may be cumbersome but it is not that difficult. 😎

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  • 2 weeks later...
4 minutes ago, Nok977 said:

I am a big fan of travelling, Russia is beyond any doubt  one of the countries I would love to visit, and probably not just once, but there are many other places around the globe I want to go to. 

Totally understand - I also love to travel.  I add my trips to Russia onto my yearly jaunts to Europe (unfortunately, no trips this year). For example, last year I visited Italy & Germany and then flew to Russia from Germany. Hence, no need for multiple transatlantic flights (which I absolutely detest). :classic_angry:

Anyway, good luck with whatever you decide.

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  • 10 months later...
On 5/31/2021 at 11:05 AM, dogs4fun said:

The link to Tom's Port Guides no longer works - hope all is fine with Tom! Here is a workaround to his PDF guide to Saint Petersburg:

https://cruisetohome.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/st-petersburg-russia-port-guide.pdf

I contacted Tom last month and got this answer:

 

The website company that hosted my website went out of business around August of last year.  There was no one to reach by phone or email.  My website was shut down, but that's OK for now because cruising, as we knew it, won't be available for another year or two.

 

I am rewriting my website.  The new website should be available later this year or early next year.

Tom

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2 minutes ago, Anubi said:

I contacted Tom last month and got this answer:

 

The website company that hosted my website went out of business around August of last year.  There was no one to reach by phone or email.  My website was shut down, but that's OK for now because cruising, as we knew it, won't be available for another year or two.

 

I am rewriting my website.  The new website should be available later this year or early next year.

Tom

Thank you Anubi! I am happy to hear that all is well with Tom. 

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  • 5 weeks later...

Hello all!

 

We're scheduled to go to St. Petersburg in July of 2022. My brother is a huge history buff and has read a lot about WWII and is interested in any tours that might deal with the Siege of Leningrad and other stuff from that time. Does anyone know of any tours or tour companies that might cover that era?

 

Thank you!

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Radbooks said:

Hello all!

 

We're scheduled to go to St. Petersburg in July of 2022. My brother is a huge history buff and has read a lot about WWII and is interested in any tours that might deal with the Siege of Leningrad and other stuff from that time. Does anyone know of any tours or tour companies that might cover that era?

 

Thank you!

I am not aware of any group tours that would fit your needs but a private tour would be able to cover the history of WWII in St. Petersburg. Of course, private tours are more expensive than group tours but if there are eight or more people in your group, it may be about the same price as a group tour. 

Your brother should not miss the Museum of the Defense and Siege of Leningrad!

Although I have no experience with them, I have heard good things about the private tours offered by Red Sun Tours - why not check with them?

 

 

Edited by dogs4fun
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Red Sun Tours is run by our tour guide from SPb tours.  This was in 2013 and she did an excellent job. At that time she mentioned she wanted to start her own company.  I'm sure she will do a good tour for you.  We have not used her as our last trip was in 2016 and she was not in business then.  Since then we have had two Baltic cruises canceled but we hope to go next year.  In 2016 we had a VERY private custom tour with Best Guides that was great.  We told them what we wanted and they set everything up perfectly.  Will use either Red Sun or Best Guides for our cruise next year.  By the way, the cost for our tour in 2016 for just two people was only a bit more then the average cost of a group tour.  It included a day trip to Novgorod, a three hour drive from St Pete each way and the guide!!!

 

<<<Karen>>>  

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Any suggestions for a 1 day / night tour that does not involve the major sites?  We don't want to repeat the  main itinerary that most agencies offer.   Also, don't want to pay our cruise ship prices.  Since our cruise is this Aug/Sept -- there is also the question whether the ship will sail to SPB.  Our roll call is so quiet, I believe it wouldn't be possible to organize a private group tour, so would likely be just the 2 of us.

We might be interested in a vodka/canal tour  === and possibly the ballet -- without paying the cruise ship prices.  Most agencies seem to require a full day tour to add an evening event.  What could we see during the day that would be more of a local experience. 

Thanks in advance!

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Posted (edited)
On 7/2/2021 at 8:10 AM, BarbaraM said:

Any suggestions for a 1 day / night tour that does not involve the major sites?  We don't want to repeat the  main itinerary that most agencies offer.   Also, don't want to pay our cruise ship prices.  Since our cruise is this Aug/Sept -- there is also the question whether the ship will sail to SPB.  Our roll call is so quiet, I believe it wouldn't be possible to organize a private group tour, so would likely be just the 2 of us.

We might be interested in a vodka/canal tour  === and possibly the ballet -- without paying the cruise ship prices.  Most agencies seem to require a full day tour to add an evening event.  What could we see during the day that would be more of a local experience. 

Thanks in advance!

Yes, most independent tour operators require that you book your day tour with them in order to add an evening event. How many days do you have in St. Petersburg? How do you plan to get around - are you booking a tour through your ship, do you have a Russian visa, or do you plan on utilizing the services of one of the local tour operators? 

There are many, many things to do in St. Petersburg that do not involve the major sites. If you provide a little more information, someone may be able to help you on this forum.

Just so you are aware - the ballet and the vodka canal cruise are definitely not local experiences, they are tourist experiences and you won't find any locals at either of these events. 

IMHO, there is a very good chance that you won't be cruising to Russia in 2021 - Covid 19 is not contained & US citizens are not allowed in Russia at this time. Of course, things could change, but I rather doubt that there will be any cruise ships docking in Russia this year.

Edited by dogs4fun
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On 7/4/2021 at 1:09 PM, dogs4fun said:

Yes, most independent tour operators require that you book your day tour with them in order to add an evening event. How many days do you have in St. Petersburg? How do you plan to get around - are you booking a tour through your ship, do you have a Russian visa, or do you plan on utilizing the services of one of the local tour operators? 

There are many, many things to do in St. Petersburg that do not involve the major sites. If you provide a little more information, someone may be able to help you on this forum.

Just so you are aware - the ballet and the vodka canal cruise are definitely not local experiences, they are tourist experiences and you won't find any locals at either of these events. 

IMHO, there is a very good chance that you won't be cruising to Russia in 2021 - Covid 19 is not contained & US citizens are not allowed in Russia at this time. Of course, things could change, but I rather doubt that there will be any cruise ships docking in Russia this year.

 We will be there for 1 night overnight x 2 -- about a week apart

 I was interested in an organized tour by a local tour operator that was for those who have been to SPB before -- without paying the private tour prices.  

 (why would a local need a tour about vodka??)    

 

Based on your reply, we will not pre-plan anything for our 2 stops in SPB.  Thanks for the info. 

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6 minutes ago, BarbaraM said:

(why would a local need a tour about vodka??)    

Indeed, I can't imagine why a local would need a tour about vodka. My apologies - I mistook "What could we see during the day that would be more of a local experience" to mean that you were looking for experiences that were authentic to locals.

 

On 7/2/2021 at 8:10 AM, BarbaraM said:

Our roll call is so quiet, I believe it wouldn't be possible to organize a private group tour, so would likely be just the 2 of us.

As I'm sure you are aware, there is normally much more traffic on the roll calls.  Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Baltic cruises have come to a virtual standstill - the only cruises still scheduled are two on Hurtigruten and three on Oceania.

 

18 minutes ago, BarbaraM said:

We will be there for 1 night overnight x 2 -- about a week apart

Four days in Saint Petersburg would, ordinarily, be amazing B2B cruises - you must be booked on the Marina. 🙂 If you book a cruise to Russia in the future, you might consider procuring a visa - that is what I did after my first visit.

I wish I was aware of an independent operator that offered evening tours without the necessity of booking your day tours with them but, unfortunately, I don't. Even Viator (normally offers a ton of tours in St. Pete) has very little in the way of 2021 offerings. Worst case scenario in the unlikely event that your ship docks in Saint Petersburg - stay on the ship or bite the bullet and book your excursion(s) with your cruise line. 

In any event, I hope you have an enjoyable cruise & a wonderful time in the Baltics. 

 

 

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Welcome back everyone after this long travel haitus.  This cruise will be our "maiden" voyage, post-covid!

 

We have just one overnight in St. Petersburg on Regent Seven Seas Splendor in July 2022. For better or worse, Regent provides excursions that are "free", included in the fare, plus other, value-added excursions at a subsidized price.

 

This makes it tough for us, because my husband's mobility is not great, and we'd have loved to get together with perhaps 2-6 other people and do customized private tours where walking could be minimized and the pace fairly slow.  But with the included excursions, we're kind of stuck--either just stick to "overview"-type tours, or go completely private for big bucks. The fact that you probably can't just leave a tour half-way through while in Russia, or simply take a cab, makes it worse.

 

I will put out the query on our roll-call, but the chances are slim since the included excursions are pretty darned good.

 

Meanwhile, we've put our names in for a number of tours, and will adjust over time as we can.  Here's what we chose:

 

CANAL CRUISE AND SHOPPING

HERMITAGE, A WEALTH OF ART & HISTORY

ST. PETERSBURG CATHEDRALS

EVENING OF RUSSIAN SONGS AND DANCE

 

With just one overnight, I know we can't do everything, and don't want to. The canal cruise seems like a good way to get around and see the city overall, although there is a Panoramic bus tour or a private HoHo bus tour we could do instead.  I'm worried that the Hermitage might be overwhelming with too much walking--would Catherine's Palace be more adaptable to one who doesn't walk well? And we still have one morning free, but will try to squeeze something in later.

 

It will be great to cruise again, believe me, albeit a year from now!

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Wendy The Wanderer said:

I'm worried that the Hermitage might be overwhelming with too much walking--would Catherine's Palace be more adaptable to one who doesn't walk well? And we still have one morning free, but will try to squeeze something in later.

Hi Wendy,

Both the Hermitage and Catherine Palace are huge - between the two, I would choose the Hermitage because of its fabulous art collection (and it was the former Winter Palace of the Tsars).  There is an elevator for use for those with mobility issues - your tour guide can also reserve a wheel chair in the museum (free & hence, no long walks). Catherine Palace also has an elevator but, to my knowledge, there are no wheelchairs for use. It would make sense for your husband to utilize a wheelchair in the Hermitage so that he can enjoy the magnificence of the Hermitage while still remaining comfortable.

Both Catherine Palace and the Hermitage have defined tour routes that the guides follow - you don't wander about the entire palaces (good grief - one could spend the entire day if on your own). 

Your tour selections look great - I hope that your tour of the cathedrals includes Church on Spilled Blood - it is simply gorgeous and, IMHO, not to be missed!

The canal cruises are nice - great photo opportunities from the water. I'm assuming that the evening option is a Russian Folk show?

You mentioned that you have another free morning? Is Peterhof a choice? There is a little tourist train that one can take in Peterhof - the fountain park is simply spectacular (think Versailles).

The Faberge Museum is also very worthwhile (if you have a choice)  - the collection is confined to several upstairs rooms in the refurbished Shuvalov Palace & there wouldn't be much walking required. Bonus: there is a wonderful shop on the first floor where one can purchase various items including books & reproductions of the eggs/jewelry.  https://fabergemuseum.ru/en/

 

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On 7/8/2021 at 4:18 PM, dogs4fun said:

Hi Wendy,

Both the Hermitage and Catherine Palace are huge - between the two, I would choose the Hermitage because of its fabulous art collection (and it was the former Winter Palace of the Tsars).  There is an elevator for use for those with mobility issues - your tour guide can also reserve a wheel chair in the museum (free & hence, no long walks). Catherine Palace also has an elevator but, to my knowledge, there are no wheelchairs for use. It would make sense for your husband to utilize a wheelchair in the Hermitage so that he can enjoy the magnificence of the Hermitage while still remaining comfortable.

Both Catherine Palace and the Hermitage have defined tour routes that the guides follow - you don't wander about the entire palaces (good grief - one could spend the entire day if on your own). 

Your tour selections look great - I hope that your tour of the cathedrals includes Church on Spilled Blood - it is simply gorgeous and, IMHO, not to be missed!

The canal cruises are nice - great photo opportunities from the water. I'm assuming that the evening option is a Russian Folk show?

You mentioned that you have another free morning? Is Peterhof a choice? There is a little tourist train that one can take in Peterhof - the fountain park is simply spectacular (think Versailles).

The Faberge Museum is also very worthwhile (if you have a choice)  - the collection is confined to several upstairs rooms in the refurbished Shuvalov Palace & there wouldn't be much walking required. Bonus: there is a wonderful shop on the first floor where one can purchase various items including books & reproductions of the eggs/jewelry.  https://fabergemuseum.ru/en/

 

Thank you for the great advice.  Peterhof is an offered tour on our ship, but doesn't fit into our timetable for some reason, so I'd have to revisit that and think about a private guide for a half day.

 

Also interesting to think about wheel chairs.  I'll wait and see what the future holds--his mobility may improve, and I may not be able to push him around in a wheelchair by then, ha ha.  

 

I appreciate your time answering me.

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HI,

 

We just book the Baltic cruise on Sky Princess for July 2023.  I have been planing this trip  for year so I have information all over the place.  But we are looking into doing a private 2 day guided tour.  Does anyone know if Alla Tours will let you customize the itinerary?   

 

 

Thanks

 

Karen

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1 hour ago, K922 said:

HI,

 

We just book the Baltic cruise on Sky Princess for July 2023.  I have been planing this trip  for year so I have information all over the place.  But we are looking into doing a private 2 day guided tour.  Does anyone know if Alla Tours will let you customize the itinerary?   

 

 

Thanks

 

Karen

Hi Karen,

I have used Alla Tours - her tours are excellent & the guides are top notch.

Yes, you can certainly customize the itinerary on a private tour.

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On 7/16/2021 at 8:24 PM, K922 said:

HI,

 

We just book the Baltic cruise on Sky Princess for July 2023.  I have been planing this trip  for year so I have information all over the place.  But we are looking into doing a private 2 day guided tour.  Does anyone know if Alla Tours will let you customize the itinerary?   

 

 

Thanks

 

Karen

We had a group of 10 put together from our roll call. One couple wanted to see a synagogue that was not on the tour; it was ok with Alla as long as there were no objections, which there were not. My DW is an art teacher and wanted to skip lunch entirely and put the extra time into the Hermitage. That did have objections of course, but there was a compromise to take some of the lunch time away and add it to the Hermitage.

 

When the tour started our guide (who has since opened her own agency SPB tours) asked if there was anything not on the tour that anyone wanted to see. I replied that I had read that the subway stops were interesting. She took us to a few subway stops having our driver meet us.

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