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Pronsias OhAodha

Viking specific St. Petersburg Question

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On 10/10/2019 at 9:18 PM, stretchcruz said:

We used Alla as well and loved it. We limited our group to 6. Had a guide and driver and van. A wonderful 2 days. 

We were part of the 6 on stretchruz's tour.  I totally agree that 6 was an ideal size and Alla did a great job.

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11 hours ago, DGHOC said:

mhb, as you know I'm speaking to Alla too at the moment. They sent me a revised itinerary to fit our arrival and departure times. It states that payment is made at the end of the first day but there is no mention of a deposit. The website states that deposits are only required for the private tours.

 

I asked lots of questions which were answered comprehensively, though only the total cost was given to me. Maybe there has been a misunderstanding about the Group tour versus the Private. On our roll call I was trying to clarify which we'd all like to do as I though it might be better to keep the numbers down, and given that there are eight of us speaking about the tour companies, it would have been an opportunity to do this.

 

This is the revised itinerary sent to me.

 

3-day St. Petersburg GRAND Tour [group]

16 May 2020 Day 1

12:30     Meet and greet at the ship
12:30 - 13:00 City orientation drive tour with the panoramic views on the bridges, squares, palaces, and the Neva river embankments
13:00 - 14:00 Guided tour of Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral
14:00 - 15:00 Traditional Russian lunch at a local restaurant
15:00 - 16:00 Drive to Peterhof Summer Residence
16:00 - 17:30 Guided tour of the Peterhof Fountain Park and Gardens
17:30 - 18:30 Drive back to the city
      Payment for the tour
19:00     Onboard and/or Optional Evening Program

17 May 2020 Day 2

09:00     Meet at the ship
09:00 - 09:30 Subway ride and tour of the most beautiful Metro stations
10:00 - 12:30 Guided tour of the Hermitage Museum (early entry)
12:30 - 13:30 Inside visit to the General Staff Building to admire the Impressionist Art Collection
13:30 - 14:30 Traditional Russian lunch at a local restaurant
14:30 - 15:30 Drive to Tsars Village (Pushkin)
15:30 - 17:00 Guided tour of Catherine's Palace incl. Amber Room and a walk through the park
17:00 - 18:00 Drive back to St. Petersburg
18:00     Onboard and/or Optional Evening Program

18 May 2020 Day 3

08:00     Meet at the ship
08:30 - 09:30 Boat ride: scenic tour along rivers and canals
10:00 - 11:30 Guided tour of Yusupov Palace incl. Gregory Rasputin exposition
11:30 - 12:30 Guided tour of St. Isaac's Cathedral
12:30 - 13:30 Traditional Russian lunch at a local restaurant
13:30 - 14:30 Guided tour of the Faberge Museum
14:30 - 15:30 Guided tour of Church on the Spilled Blood
15:30 - 16:30 City sightseeing tour through the historical downtown and Nevsky Prospect with short walks and photo stops. Time for gift shopping.
17:00     Onboard

 

Thanks for this info DGHOC. Let’s revisit the private tour idea on our roll call. Not sure why they told me one thing about payment and you something quite different. I’ll check back with them. 

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11 hours ago, Rami077 said:

We were part of the 6 on stretchruz's tour.  I totally agree that 6 was an ideal size and Alla did a great job.

Mary and Alfredo, Hi!!! Hope that you are both well! We have such fond memories of our 2 day Alla tour in St Petersburg with you!

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I heard back from Alla. They are changing their payment policy for tours beginning with the 2020 season. Payment in full for all tours will be required 30 days in advance. They will not change the website until after the 2019 season is over in late October she said. 

So now I have to decide if I feel ok with that or not. Suggestions?

Edited by mhb1757

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I'm certainly not an authority on this, our first cruise was just this year and we booked a private Northern Lights chase which we had to pay ahead for at the point of booking. Not with Alla though.

 

Alla seem very well regarded but given that the website information is now incorrect, I would like to ensure no other detail has been changed. For example, refunds if the ship doesn't make it to port or if it is late etc. Did they suggest that there had been other changes mhb? Did you ask that question?

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Only the payment policy was addressed in our emails. I think I’ll put things on hold until they update the website and see what the big picture is. Paying 30 days in advance is not unreasonable although it has not been the norm in St Petersburg. Our roll call may pick up in a month or two and maybe we can get a private tour together. 

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On 10/10/2019 at 6:17 PM, millybess said:

Although ropomo has some good points, we were in St. Petersburg with Viking in July and booked our tours with Viking. Our tours also gained early admission to the Hermitage and the Gold Room (amazing!) and the Catherine Palace, the Yusupov Palace, Peterhof Palace and the Faberge Museum.  We never stood in line at all.

 

You asked about cost and that is probably a motivation to use Alla.  On our cruise we heard many good things and just as many bad things about Alla.

 

Many of our coaches were small with not very many people possibly because there were so many other tours offered in the same time slot.  Overall, we are very happy that we booked our tours with Viking.  We would very much like to go back to St. Petersburg and would book with Viking again.

 

The small coaches are another advantage for Alla.  Sixteen max.  Ours had 14 and everyone seemed to be at the same speed.

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On 10/10/2019 at 7:14 PM, Pronsias OhAodha said:

I'm in the early stages of planing our first ocean cruise, Viking Homelands next summer. 

All of the advice I see about the St. Petersburg stop involves using private tour operators. I'd love to hear the pros(if there are any) and cons of using Vikings own shore excursions.

We obviously want to do St. Petersburg right.

Thanks,

Frank

Forget Viking tours in St Petersburg look at Alla Tours  we used then in June this year spectacular tours including subway we travelled around the city in small 12 seater Mercedes Busses. The viking 60 seat busses were stuck in traffic according to other passengers. Don't just believe me check out the reviews . 

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We were in STP in June of this year and took both included and optional Viking Excursions.   Normally, I am very happy  w Vikings tours  - unfortunately, due to the traffic and the fact we were on the large coaches, we only saw a fraction of what our fellow passengers saw, who had opted for private tours.

 

The early morning optional tours did allow for some early entries which was very nice, but for the afternoon tours (both included and optional) - they were  a major disappointment and had I not previously visited STP years before, I would have been even more unhappy. And I know for many of the motor coach, this was a bucket list item and they were extremely unhappy. 

 

Its not necessarily Vikings fault - because all of the Vikings tour guides were very good,  informative and knowledgeable  - it was simply the logistics of traveling in a large coach in very heavy traffic.  which the guides continued to acknowledge and apologize, although it was obvious there was nothing they -  or the very skilled bus driver could do about the situation.

 

 We would watched the smaller vans and mini buses zip through traffic ( and load/unload familiar faces from our ship!) while we would be circling a destination for 15-20 minutes looking for a place to stop and unload passengers.  We literally spent more time circling  St. Isaacs Cathedral, than we did on the ground visiting the cathedral...and I mean simply circling the block, not traveling to or from the area.

 

Likewise, our afternoon optional canal ride excursion was shortened by a considerable amount as the coach could not reach the docking site due to traffic and after circling and sitting in traffic - on the wrong side of the canal - we  finally got off the bus and scrambled up several blocks, crossed the canal and then hustled back down the embankment to the boat - which turned out to simply be a regularly scheduled commercial  canal boat ( which due to its schedule, then shortened the excursion by  minutes to maintain their "normal" schedule). 

 

I am normally very pleased with Viking provided excursions, but I would STRONGLY urge anyone visiting STP to use one of the several highly recommended private companies to truly be able to enjoy the history and unique sites of this city.

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We will be in STP in early June on Viking  Homelands and we have just two days in port.  We have booked a one day private tour for our first day which visits the some of the highlights (Hermitage, Church of the Blood, Peterhof, subway).   For our group, two 8 hr days of museums and churches would be one day too many.     That leaves us with the second day to plan.  As we haven't gotten any Viking excursions info yet, does anyone know what optional tours Viking offers in StP?

 

Much thanks.  

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57 minutes ago, Eastporter said:

We will be in STP in early June on Viking  Homelands and we have just two days in port.  We have booked a one day private tour for our first day which visits the some of the highlights (Hermitage, Church of the Blood, Peterhof, subway).   For our group, two 8 hr days of museums and churches would be one day too many.     That leaves us with the second day to plan.  As we haven't gotten any Viking excursions info yet, does anyone know what optional tours Viking offers in StP?

 

Much thanks.  

Even before the specific excursions for your tour show up on My Viking Journey, you can view the likely options on the Viking website. Go to the Homelands page, and scroll down to the itinerary page, and click on the St. Petersburg listing. Scroll down below the generic post to find the list of possible excursions that may be scheduled for your specific sailing. To be honest, the majority of places that people wish to visit in St. Petersburg are all museums and churches. We enjoyed our three day visit there tremendously this spring, even though it was almost all museums and churches.

Edited by lackcreativity

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