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dbeckett

St. Petersburg independant excursion

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I see on the Princess site there is the following message    The port authority in St. Petersburg prohibits independent tour operators from entering the port for 90 minutes after a ship docks in St. Petersburg. Guests booked on Princess Cruises Shore Excursions will not be delayed and will be given priority disembarkation.  how does this affect anyone taking an independant excursion?  Does it mean that non Princess people will be allowed to leave the port and meet independant shore excursion buses or do independant shore excursions make allowance for this?  We want to do the 2 day excursion with the Faberge museum which is not offered as a package by Princess.

 

Any help wpuld be appreciated before we book and then find it isn't a possibility

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59 minutes ago, dbeckett said:

I see on the Princess site there is the following message    The port authority in St. Petersburg prohibits independent tour operators from entering the port for 90 minutes after a ship docks in St. Petersburg. Guests booked on Princess Cruises Shore Excursions will not be delayed and will be given priority disembarkation.  how does this affect anyone taking an independant excursion?  Does it mean that non Princess people will be allowed to leave the port and meet independant shore excursion buses or do independant shore excursions make allowance for this?  We want to do the 2 day excursion with the Faberge museum which is not offered as a package by Princess.

 

Any help wpuld be appreciated before we book and then find it isn't a possibility

This is true for the cruise ships that dock at the port in Saint Petersburg (Marine Facade) - the independent operators are not allowed to enter the port for 90 minutes & the cruise ships allow their passengers who have booked excursions through the cruise line to disembark first (only on the first day in port). The independent operators are well aware of this regulation & have timed their tours with this in mind. The 90 minute rule will only affect your first day in port - the independent operators can enter the port earlier on subsequent days in port so their tours usually start earlier on day 2.  You can check with the particular tour operator with whom you book to obtain an accurate itinerary - the top companies all receive excellent reviews on cruise critic and TripAdvisor and you should have no problems booking with any of them. We have booked with Alla Tours in the past and we didn't miss a single promised venue (excellent tours, amazing guides) - going again on the X Reflection in September & booking with Alla again.

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Yes, the independent operators start their pickups later . . . But they also drop off later at the end of the day. You'll still get all the promised time and visit all the promised venues . . . And you'll get to sleep in later!

 

Having visited both when the ship would let everyone off at the same time, clogging immigration with long lines, and when the ship made independent tours wait, I much prefer this new system. This last summer, we were through immigration in 5 minutes (and since we on a private tour with Red Sun Tours, we could then leave immediately without having to wait for other cruisers! Loved that).

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2 hours ago, dbeckett said:

We want to do the 2 day excursion with the Faberge museum

Just a thought - you can also visit the Faberge museum in the evening (closed Friday) - we actually prefer the evening visits because the museum is not nearly as busy as during the daytime & my family gets to spend as much time as they want shopping in the Faberge gift shop. Some of the independent operators offer the Faberge museum as an evening add-on.

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The ruling (I don't think 90 minutes is set in stone) was introduced a couple of years back.

 I'm guessing the ruling is down to pressure from the cruise lines after they were chided for trying to "organise" the long immigration lines to give priority to those on ships' excursions. :classic_angry:

(BTW Princess used to advertise that passengers had to get a tourist visa if they didn't take a ship's tour, which is totally  untruthfully because tours with authorised independent local operators have exactly the same visa-free status. Another :classic_angry:. But that's now history).

 

As previous posts, local operators simply set their tour schedules back by 60 - 90 minutes for Day One.

As per Dogs4's post, subsequent days (and evening tours) are unaffected because the paperwork is all done on Day One so after that the immigration process is very quick & painless. 

 

JB :classic_smile:

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35 minutes ago, John Bull said:

The ruling (I don't think 90 minutes is set in stone) was introduced a couple of years back.

I agree - I suspect it also depends on how many ships are in port on a specific day.

 

35 minutes ago, John Bull said:

 I'm guessing the ruling is down to pressure from the cruise lines after they were chided for trying to "organise" the long immigration lines to give priority to those on ships' excursions. :classic_angry:

Or an even more nefarious reason that comports with your supposition  ... I was told that one of the huge tour companies that provides the excursions in Saint Petersburg for many of the mass market cruise ships has some ownership in the port. This company is not one of the independent companies that are frequently mentioned on these boards. In fact, I don't know if it is even possible to book through this company independently. 😠

Edited by dogs4fun

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5 minutes ago, dogs4fun said:

 

 

Or an even more nefarious reason that comports with your supposition  ... I was told that one of the huge tour companies that provides the excursions in Saint Petersburg for many of the mass market cruise ships has some ownership in the port. This company is not one of the independent companies that are frequently mentioned on these boards. In fact, I don't know if it is even possible to book through this company independently. 😠

 

 

I had wondered whether "brown envelopes" had payed a part in the ruling :classic_wink:

 

JB :classic_smile:

I made a typo when typing "played".

But decided not to correct it :classic_biggrin:

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Many thanks to everyone (though really only 2) for the responses.  I've been ready to organise excursions since booking but brother (who I cruise with) tends to leave everything to the last minute.  Now I've got this issue sorted he has no excuse not to get on with it

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Hi, when we were in St Petersburg last we did a customized private tour. The first day arriving we had a "relaxing" breakfast. Most of the passengers left very early and got stuck in immigration. Our travel agent already told us they could only meet us a little later. After the crowd died down, we went out and our local guide was already waiting. A perfect beginning to a fully packed 2-day tour. I loved the Fabergé museum. (Thanks to our tour organizer, Anastasia Travel) cause I didn’t think about it until they mentioned it and that we should not miss it. At night we went to the Folklore show. The guide was very nice and I loved all the stories about life in Russia. 

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23 hours ago, dogs4fun said:

I agree - I suspect it also depends on how many ships are in port on a specific day.

 

 

On the 90 minute wait rule for private tours on first day of arrival, we have a three day tour with Elena at Red Sun (who I think you know Dogs4fun) in August and she has confirmed that we will have to wait two hours after docking for our tour to start.

 

can I slightly hijack this post (apologies)

what happens if your ship docks on the Neva River embankment, which I understand does sometimes happen for smaller cruise ships if the main cruise port is very busy?

presumably there would still be a wait on the first day.

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27 minutes ago, Belfast Taxman said:

On the 90 minute wait rule for private tours on first day of arrival, we have a three day tour with Elena at Red Sun (who I think you know Dogs4fun) in August and she has confirmed that we will have to wait two hours after docking for our tour to start.

 

can I slightly hijack this post (apologies)

what happens if your ship docks on the Neva River embankment, which I understand does sometimes happen for smaller cruise ships if the main cruise port is very busy?

presumably there would still be a wait on the first day.

Sorry, I don't know anything at all about Red Sun Tours (other than what I have read on this board) - I have never toured with Elena or Red Sun. I have experience only with Alla Tours and DIY (I have a visa).

The large ships (NCL, Princess, X, RCCL, Oceania, MSC, HAL, - I might have missed a few) cannot dock on the Neva - they must dock at the Marine Facade on Vasilyevsky Island.

Only the smaller ships can dock on the Neva at the English Embankment or the Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment and I have no experience docking on the Neva. I can't imagine that you would have a two hour wait because the smaller ships have such small passenger loads that one should experience very little to zero congestion in disembarkation and immigration. (Note that the reason provided by the port authority for the 90 minute rule was immigration congestion at Marine Facade - not congestion on the Neva berths.) But, as I said, I have no experience docking on the Neva - it would be best to ask your tour provider and I would be interested to hear their reply assuming that you dock on the Neva.

However, if you are booked on one of the large, mass market cruise lines on which the majority of cruise visitors to Saint Petersburg sail, your question is moot - your ship will be too large to dock on the Neva.

Edited by dogs4fun

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Apologies, mixed you up with trosebery. 

We are on Regent Explorer which I would assume is small enough to possibly dock on the Neva, although Vasilyevsky is the most likely

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43 minutes ago, Belfast Taxman said:

Apologies, mixed you up with trosebery. 

We are on Regent Explorer which I would assume is small enough to possibly dock on the Neva, although Vasilyevsky is the most likely

Hmmmm... I just checked the port schedule for the Marine Facade - the Seven Seas Explorer is scheduled to dock at Terminal 4, berth 2, Marine Facade, August 24 - 26 and August 30 - September 1. Are either of these your ship? 

There are only 3 ships in port on August 24th (Seabourn Ovation, Oceania Marina & SS Explorer) - only Marina & Explorer are utilizing Terminal 4.

There are only 3 ships in port on August 30th (Sky Princess, Amera & SS Explorer) - only Princess & Explorer are utilizing Terminal 4 and Princess arrives 2.5 hours before the Explorer..

I can't imagine that it will take 2 hours for all the passengers to clear immigration on either of these Regent sailings. More likely, Red Sun just uses the 2 hour rule for all ships that dock at MF - why not contact them and ask if you might be able to begin your tour earlier?

You can check for yourself here:

https://portspb.ru/en/Ships_Schedule

I've indicated the terminal and berth on the port map below:

1143432288_StPPortmap.thumb.jpg.5acc1bd90bcd2e1138be840969b29242.jpg

Edited by dogs4fun

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On 1/11/2020 at 10:19 AM, dogs4fun said:

...In fact, I don't know if it is even possible to book through this company independently. 

As a side comment - it is, and the vast majority of their guides I've ever dealt with are excellent, even if waaay overqualified for their regular whistle-stop routine.

 

Dogsforfun, thanks for your port link - it is indeed a very useful planning tool.

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1 hour ago, napoxoguk said:

As a side comment - it is, and the vast majority of their guides I've ever dealt with are excellent, even if waaay overqualified for their regular whistle-stop routine.

 

Dogsforfun, thanks for your port link - it is indeed a very useful planning tool.

I have yet to meet a guide in Saint Petersburg, Moscow or Novgorod who has not been excellent. Interesting that you have used the same company that the cruise lines utilize ... do you have a relationship with that company or did you simply email them and ask for touring options?

On another note, I hope you don't find this intrusive but have been wondering about your cruise critic username - does it mean steamboat? Any special significance? Is your avatar a photo of the Aurora? Russian heritage perhaps ? Just curious.

 

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3 hours ago, dogs4fun said:

...Interesting that you have used the same company that the cruise lines utilize ... 

 

Yes, we first used their services back in the nineties, - way, way, before Morskoy Facade and the accompanying cruise ship traffic came along.  Frankly, I'm not sure if they are just being nice to us at this point for the sake of the old days, but I've been going back to them ever since.

 

 

3 hours ago, dogs4fun said:

 

On another note - little steamboat? Aurora? Russian heritage?

 

Guilty as charged, on all three counts 🙂

Actually, I first picked the avatar pic and then had to come up with a username to match 🙂. Never got around to changing the avatar.

 

I wish this site appreciated the usefulness of private messages - I'll drop you an email instead.

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 Dogs4fun

Thank you very much for the port schedule information in St.P, very useful to have this confirmed. Our tour guide has confirmed that they are not allowed to enter the port area for 90 minutes after the Regent excursion tour vehicles have entered on the first day only. This is not a problem as we shall return later than most of the Regent excursions, so we still get a reasonably full day and a bit longer in bed beforehand 😀.

 

does anyone know of a similar cruise port schedule website for Stockholm? We have a pre-cruise stay there and need to get our own way to the ship For embarkation. No doubt Regent will eventually tell us, but I would like to get a transfer booked from hotel (Sheraton) to terminal (I am assuming Frihamnen) booked sooner rather than later. I have found websites which confirm Explorer being in Stockholm on 28 August 2020, but not which terminal

Edited by Belfast Taxman

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6 minutes ago, Belfast Taxman said:

 

 

does anyone know of a similar cruise port schedule website for Stockholm? We have a pre-cruise stay there and need to get our own way to the ship For embarkation. No doubt Regent will eventually tell us, but I would like to get a transfer booked from hotel (Sheraton) to terminal (I am assuming Frihamnen) booked sooner rather than later. I have found websites which confirm Explorer being in Stockholm on 28 August 2020, but not which terminal

 

 

Yes, Frihamnen, according to the official port website

https://www.portsofstockholm.com/vessel-calls/

Ports' own websites are much more reliable than the generic worldwide websites like crewcenter or cruisett

 

JB :classic_smile:

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22 hours ago, dogs4fun said:

Only the smaller ships can dock on the Neva at the English Embankment or the Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment and I have no experience docking on the Neva. I can't imagine that you would have a two hour wait because the smaller ships have such small passenger loads that one should experience very little to zero congestion in disembarkation and immigration.

 

Encountered no issues with Seaborne at English Embankment. A nicer experience than the Big Terminal too, which can be a bit wet and windy in high wind.

 

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On 1/11/2020 at 5:30 PM, trosebery said:

 This last summer, we were through immigration in 5 minutes (and since we on a private tour with Red Sun Tours, we could then leave immediately without having to wait for other cruisers! Loved that).

 

We too had a tour with Red Sun Tours and immigration was easy and fast. Although we were not in a hurry and left the ship at 8.30 how Elena recommended us to do ( our ship docked at 7 am). I liked the idea as we were not with the first wave at the immigration.

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19 minutes ago, wing said:

 

We too had a tour with Red Sun Tours and immigration was easy and fast. Although we were not in a hurry and left the ship at 8.30 how Elena recommended us to do ( our ship docked at 7 am). I liked the idea as we were not with the first wave at the immigration.

 

I was travelling with a teenager, so I especially appreciated not having to drag him out of bed early, LOL!

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