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St. Petersburg visa

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We will travel to St. Petersburg on Viking Ocean cruise in May 2021. If we hire a private tour company for a 2 day tour do we need a visa?

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12 minutes ago, dottythecat said:

We will travel to St. Petersburg on Viking Ocean cruise in May 2021. If we hire a private tour company for a 2 day tour do we need a visa?

Probably not.  Typically, when you book a private tour the visa requirement is included in your booking.  You should check with the tour provider to make sure.

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I would also say not. When we were there we used Alla Tours (highly recommended!) for our 3-day stay and having the tour booked with a local company precluded having to get a visa. 

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HOWEVER,  getting your visa through your tour company means that you may only go ashore for your tours and must remain with your guide at all times. If you want to leave the ship on your own in the evenings or you just want to walk around and explore on your own, you will need to apply for a visa. Note also that if you wish to attend an evening concert/ballet etc.,  you can usually do this through your tour company as one of the activities under the visa they provide; they will get tickets for you and provide transportation.

 

 

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Obtaining a visa for St Petersburg is a cumbersome procedure. If you book a tour through one of the many local tour providers you don't need a visa as they will take care of it all. We used Alla Tours and found them very efficient with great programmes, fast track into many venues and flexible depending on group requirements. SPB also have a good reputation.

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Per the FCO website


Cruise ships
Cruise or ferry passengers can stay in Russia for 72 hours without a visa if they have booked tours through officially licensed companies. You are free to use any authorised travel agency, not just cruise ship tour companies.

Cities where this applies are:

St Petersburg
Kaliningrad
Vladivostok
Sochi
Vyborg
Korsakov (Sakhalin Island)
Novorossiysk

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On 7/30/2020 at 4:51 PM, stretchcruz said:

We used Alla as well. They took care of the blanket Visa. Great days!!

 

You know it! We had a group of about 11 people - traveled about with our (terrific) Russian guide in a small van. He seemed to have a knack of getting us just about everywhere before the crowds piled up. Never even used most of our rubles that people fretted over and stood in line for at the ship's currency exchange counter (or whatever they called it) - so they became part of the tip to our guide! 

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Never even got rubles. Alla said we didn't need them. Tipped in USD as they recommended. Any shops we went in took credit cards.

We had 6 people. We paid a little extra for that but not much. Driver and guide for 2 days. Great days!!

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1 hour ago, stretchcruz said:

Never even got rubles. Alla said we didn't need them. Tipped in USD as they recommended. Any shops we went in took credit cards.

We had 6 people. We paid a little extra for that but not much. Driver and guide for 2 days. Great days!!

 

Twelve years ago, we used our roll call to arrange a group of 12 with Alla and my only regret was that we should have bitten the bullet and paid the extra to make it a group of SIX.

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1 minute ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

Twelve years ago, we used our roll call to arrange a group of 12 with Alla and my only regret was that we should have bitten the bullet and paid the extra to make it a group of SIX.

Exactly. There was a group on our roll call that the organizer kept filling up. Why, I don't know, it was the same price for them as a group no matter how many there were. We paid a bit extra (not much, and certainly nothing close to Viking's price) for 6 of us. We spread out in the van, chose to bring food from the ship for lunch so we could see more, stopped a few more places than the other group. She even let us roam on our own in a shopping/park/restaurant area for over an hour. Rode the subway.. .she kept asking "do you want to do this, or that?" Fabulous!!!

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12 hours ago, stretchcruz said:

Never even got rubles. Alla said we didn't need them. Tipped in USD as they recommended. Any shops we went in took credit cards.

We had 6 people. We paid a little extra for that but not much. Driver and guide for 2 days. Great days!!

We used Alla in May of 2019 (  thumbs up all the way). At that point in time we were required to get rubles for the gratuities, which we did before we left home. Not sure if you were before us, or after, but they do change things sometimes. When we went, we did not need to pay any deposit for the small group tour, but now I think they do require one. The Alla website is terrific, so anyone considering them for the future, check all the details.

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1 minute ago, lackcreativity said:

We used Alla in May of 2019 (  thumbs up all the way). At that point in time we were required to get rubles for the gratuities, which we did before we left home. Not sure if you were before us, or after, but they do change things sometimes. When we went, we did not need to pay any deposit for the small group tour, but now I think they do require one. The Alla website is terrific, so anyone considering them for the future, check all the details.

I think we were 2018. I know 2019 was Australia/New Zealand/Bali. Everything runs together the older I get and now with covid19 the only way I know what day of the week it is is what my pill box says. Heaven forbid if I forget to take them one day😅🤣😂

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2 hours ago, stretchcruz said:

I think we were 2018. I know 2019 was Australia/New Zealand/Bali. Everything runs together the older I get and now with covid19 the only way I know what day of the week it is is what my pill box says. Heaven forbid if I forget to take them one day😅🤣😂

I know. Russia and the Baltic Seas in May of 2019 was our last trip, and it  feels like a lifetime ago. Since then, we have had a river cruise canceled and rescheduled an ocean trip  from this October for April of 2021. Even that seems questionable. Oh well, if we never get to travel again with Viking ( a truly scary thought), at least we went out on a great trip!

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1 minute ago, lackcreativity said:

I know. Russia and the Baltic Seas in May of 2019 was our last trip, and it  feels like a lifetime ago. Since then, we have had a river cruise canceled and rescheduled an ocean trip  from this October for April of 2021. Even that seems questionable. Oh well, if we never get to travel again with Viking ( a truly scary thought), at least we went out on a great trip!

 

We did Homelands in May 2018 - our first Viking Cruise.  We didn't have to use Rubles at all in St Pete.  But yes, perhaps it is a changing thing.  Our regret was we had experience in taking private tours so didn't get to experience the joys of Alla Tours.  They must easily be THE most praised and recommended tour group on all the Viking ports according to Cruise Critic.  However, we were fortunate to have some very good guides from Viking, in fact A+ guides, so we didn't know what we were missing!

 

As for forgetting which cruise was when, we can relate for sure!  Our last cruise was just last January (South America) and it seems like years ago after this COVID pandemic.  I can hardly remember the 2018 Homelands cruise.  Will have to go back and look at the pictures!    I do remember it was one of the best itineraries ever - so many interesting ports to explore.

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We used SPB for a 2-day tour and it was excellent. A bit too much Czarist palaces, but you can ask for changes prior. they also do tours in Berlin (outstanding) and Helsinki (OK, rather do on my own next time). And as all have said, if you use an ‘official’ tour company, you don’t need an individual visa. But if you are going ‘on your own’, two years ago, a Russian Visa was $300......a bit pricy for a bit of extra time.

 

Personally, I loved all the other Balkan ports, especially Estonia, and St Petersburg was my least favorite. If I saw one more gold-guilted wall, I’d join the Revolution!! So much other history to that area, the Russian Revolution sites and WWII had an unbelievable battle there (when it was Leningrad) and we spent most all of the time in palaces. But each to our own. 

 

when shopping, the workers there followed us around and I felt they were watching to see if I palmed anything.....I guess they knew me! But not a friendly port what so ever. But historically interesting. 

 

Den

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5 hours ago, CCWineLover said:

 

We did Homelands in May 2018 - our first Viking Cruise.  We didn't have to use Rubles at all in St Pete.  But yes, perhaps it is a changing thing.  Our regret was we had experience in taking private tours so didn't get to experience the joys of Alla Tours.  They must easily be THE most praised and recommended tour group on all the Viking ports according to Cruise Critic.  However, we were fortunate to have some very good guides from Viking, in fact A+ guides, so we didn't know what we were missing!

 

The Alla tour in St. Petersburg is actually the only time we have taken a private tour. We have been quite satisfied with our Viking tours on our cruises. However, we had read so many good things about Alla, and were pretty sure that it would be our only visit to this city. We wanted to see as much as possible in our three days, and Alla did a terrific job. I was a little worried about three straight days of 9 to 5 touring, but they had a nice mix of on our feet/walking time with seated/riding time. Even the three included restaurant lunches were a nice experience.

 

If you rated your Viking guides as A+, then I wouldn't worry about missing anything. All of these places that we visit on a cruise only provide us with a glimpse. If you enjoyed your visit, that's what matters.

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Posted (edited)

Ah...yes. Alla Tours. I look back on that - in light of this COVID crap that's going on - almost wistfully. THOSE were the days, as the old saying goes. I agree on the restaurant lunches they provided - got to try some Russian beer 🥃😄  I'll never forget  how our Russian guide said that when he travels, he loves coming to the US to visit our National Parks - said he is "very impressed" with them. Made me feel good, especially since I also love visiting our Parks. 

Edited by OnTheJourney

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