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St Petersburg Shore Excursions


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We'll be taking our first Oceania cruise next year which includes an overnight stop in St Petersburg.  

 

We've been to St Petersburg with another cruise line some years ago and did an exhaustive two day tour with a private company.  This time we want to hone in on a few particular spots.  I noticed there are a lot of half day shore excursions offered which may suit us just fine.  My question for anyone who has been to SP on Oceania before, can you take two in one day?  Are they timed so that you can come back to the ship and pick up an afternoon tour if you want?

 

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I have been looking for St. Petersburg tours for our May 2022 cruise.  I printed off 15 pages of tours offered over the 2 day period.  According to the offerings for our itinerary, yes, you could do tours morning and afternoon.  There are even shorexes that are evening ballet, music,  & dinner experiences.  So theoretically, you could possibly do 3 in 1 day.  But that may repeat your previous "exhaustive" experience.  

I started a dummy booking of excursions.  The booking site is quite intuitive and will give a pop-up of conflicts in the schedule.  That could be helpful in your decision.  Good Luck!

 

Katie

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If you really want to specialize your itinerary use a local tour guide like SPB, Alla or any of the others recommended on the Ports of Call board for Russia. The last time I was there on a cruise and I arranged a specialized tour with SPB and the small group of 6 got to do everything on our joint list without herding and rushing. One in our group needed a wheelchair so we did not move swiftly. We all benefitted from our planned itinerary with a knowledgeable guide.

If you are on one of the larger ships you will waste quite a bit of time going back and forth to the ship. If you are on a R class ship docking within sight of The Hermitage that's not as big a problem.

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6 hours ago, Cruise NH said:

We've been to St Petersburg with another cruise line some years ago and did an exhaustive two day tour with a private company.  This time we want to hone in on a few particular spots. 

You could also check with the same company about the cost to do a private 2 person tour of your choosing. Perhaps including joining up with their larger group tour for specific items only.

 

When we were last there I recall we had about 3 separate  groups all join together for the boat trip. This included 1 couple who were on a private 2 person tour.

 

It would be interesting to compare the cost & flexibility gained versus multiple ship tours.

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If it's been a while since your last visit there, I have 2 suggestions for you.

1) If you are there on a Monday, visit Hermitage with a group on Monday. The museum is closed to the public but open to private tours allowing you private access to the exhibits

2) There is a very interesting Faberge museum well worth visiting.

BTW - the Impressionists are no longer in the Hermitage. To see them you have to visit a separate museum.

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Thanks for all the good information.  Paulchili - we will be there on a Monday so that's great news for the Hermitage, I had no idea that option would be available.

 

Katiebelle - I hadn't thought of doing dummy bookings, you're right you can learn so much doing that.  It's good to hear we could do two tours in a day if we want.

 

We were on a private group tour the last time.  The tour guide was great, the sites fantastic...some of my fellow passengers...meh.  One couple kept trying to bring up politics with the guide and another, even though they advertised the tour as extremely strenuous, kept trying to slow the group down and demanding breaks because they were tired.  We will be looking into private tours but I like to have the option of ship tours as well.

 

One thing I noticed is that a tour I saw available early on is not on the list now.  It was a high speed train ride to Moscow for the day.  Maybe it doesn't run anymore?

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3 hours ago, Cruise NH said:

One thing I noticed is that a tour I saw available early on is not on the list now.  It was a high speed train ride to Moscow for the day.  Maybe it doesn't run anymore?

The trip to Moscow  usually only run on the 3 day stopover cruises

If yours overnights for  2 nights  maybe it will show up once the ships are sailing again

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The Faberge Museum is fantastic and definitely worth a visit. (If you chose the free shore excursions on OLife, that excursion's eligible.) We did that one during the day and saw the ballet in the evening- actually, that was two years ago today! We did the Hermitage tour the next morning and had talked about doing another excursion that afternoon, but we were so wiped out after the Hermitage tour that we decided not to. (There's A LOT of walking, climbing stairs, etc. involved on that tour!) 

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3 hours ago, SisterHavana said:

We did the Hermitage tour the next morning and had talked about doing another excursion that afternoon, but we were so wiped out after the Hermitage tour that we decided not to. (There's A LOT of walking, climbing stairs, etc. involved on that tour!) 

A leisurely cruise on the Neva gives one a chance to both rest and sightsee at the same time.

Some of the Palaces one sails by will give you an idea what life might have been like for this privileged group of nobility during the Czarist regime.

The church of "The spilled blood" is not to be missed.

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The Faberge Museum is on top of our list, I don't even think it was there when we visited on a previous cruise.  After that, I'm not sure because we've seen the palaces and the Spilled Blood church. We did the river cruise and really enjoyed that.  You're right that is very relaxing.

 

I'm still trying to figure out the pricing on Oceania shore excursions, we haven't purchased the unlimited package and probably won't but I think if we book so many tours we can get a discount.

 

We did not spend enough time at the Hermitage so we want to go back there.  There's plenty of time to plan and maybe other excursions will be offered before we sale.

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I can highly recommend SPB tours - knowledgeable guides, small groups, and flexible scheduling,  We used them in 2018 and were in St Petersburg on a day when Brazil was playing in the world cup.  SPB re-arranged our visit schedules to avoid road closures and traffic, and got us into the Hermitage early enough so that we could see the art before the place filled.

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3 hours ago, navelgunner said:

I can highly recommend SPB tours - knowledgeable guides, small groups, and flexible scheduling,  We used them in 2018 and were in St Petersburg on a day when Brazil was playing in the world cup.  SPB re-arranged our visit schedules to avoid road closures and traffic, and got us into the Hermitage early enough so that we could see the art before the place filled.

We can also highly recommend SPB tours. We used them on our Baltic cruise on Marina in June 2016. We used their tours in several cities and were also v happy!

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1 hour ago, PhD-iva said:

We can also highly recommend SPB tours. We used them on our Baltic cruise on Marina in June 2016. We used their tours in several cities and were also v happy!

Ditto here.

We had the good fortune of having the now owner and founder of SPB as a private guide when she still worked for Alla before opening her own Co SPB.

Since then we've used SPB twice to great satisfaction. The last time we were there she surprised us and greeted us at lunch with a bottle of Russian "champagne" 😀

That said. if Alla's works better for you scheduling wise you would be just fine.

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2 hours ago, Paulchili said:

Ditto here.

We had the good fortune of having the now owner and founder of SPB as a private guide when she still worked for Alla before opening her own Co SPB.

Since then we've used SPB twice to great satisfaction. The last time we were there she surprised us and greeted us at lunch with a bottle of Russian "champagne" 😀

That said. if Alla's works better for you scheduling wise you would be just fine.

@Paulchili - don't you mean a bottle of "Shampanskoye"?  😲

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On 7/7/2021 at 2:16 PM, Paulchili said:

Ditto here.

We had the good fortune of having the now owner and founder of SPB as a private guide when she still worked for Alla before opening her own Co SPB.

Since then we've used SPB twice to great satisfaction. The last time we were there she surprised us and greeted us at lunch with a bottle of Russian "champagne" 😀

That said. if Alla's works better for you scheduling wise you would be just fine.

We have used Alla twice and it was great both times.  Also have heard that SPB was very good.  A private tour is the way to go to get the most out of your visit to SPB

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On 7/7/2021 at 1:18 PM, Homerody said:

@Paulchili - don't you mean a bottle of "Shampanskoye"?  😲

LOL

Have no idea of how it tasted as we passed it on 😀

A Faberge Egg we would had kept 😀 😀

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9 hours ago, Paulchili said:

LOL

Have no idea of how it tasted as we passed it on 😀

A Faberge Egg we would had kept 😀 😀

Can"t argue with that logic or choices!

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In 2019 we did a Marina itinerary with 3 days in SPB.  We were in a roll call organized private tour with Alla.  I highly recommend the 3 day SPB itinerary and ditto for Alla, or one of the other private tour groups.  We have a group of 10 and although I would have preferred a slightly smaller group, it was a wonderful experience.

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We also did the 3 day itinerary in SPB on Marina using SPB tour for our group of 4.  We did the one day Moscow which we enjoyed but which limits what you can see in SPB and is a very, very long day (early departure and arrival back late at night (it was still white nights when we went and interesting that the city was jumping all the way back to the docks out of town after 11 pm).  To the good we saw what was then available to see in Faberge eggs in a Moscow museum (the SPB Faberge museum was not available yet) and many scenes from the past in the cold war years.  Now I would opt for the 3 days in SPB in order to see the Faberge Museum and also the Impressionist Collection which was in the Hermitage but is not anymore.  If anybody takes the Moscow option, take the lunch option as the restaurant food was good but the first class train food was not.

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Posted (edited)

Just a suggestion: I asked SPB for a 4 hour tour of the subway, Main Street shopping and restaurant area, and a market. It was SO much fun and a change from all the history!!! We were on the subway in AM rush hour, and the guide said everyone will know you are tourists, as you are smiling!(not that our cameras/backpacks/runners didn't give it away) We got to split up and eat at a restaurant of our choice as well!

 

Edited by tropicalkerry2002
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The subway in SPB is amazing. Since the city was built on swampy/marshy land, when they built the subway they had the dig extremely deep to get to bedrock. The escalator to descend to the train platform is scary steep!
I think I have attached a photo from July  2019. My DIL is from SPB and she escorted my family for a week in SPB and Moscow, along with meeting her family.

185CEB27-83DD-4C74-B2DC-4F7F1B53944D.jpeg

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6 hours ago, tropicalkerry2002 said:

Just a suggestion: I asked SPB for a 4 hour tour of the subway, Main Street shopping and restaurant area, and a market. It was SO much fun and a change from all the history!!! We were on the subway in AM rush hour, and the guide said everyone will know you are tourists, as you are smiling!(not that our cameras/backpacks/runners didn't give it away) We got to split up and eat at a restaurant of our choice as well!

 

What a good idea, Kerry.  That's the kind of tourism my husband and I enjoy.  Doing what the locals do.  Did you do this with a small group of your own friends/travelers?  BTW we sure missed you Canadiens in Florida this winter.  Come back soon.🌴

Deb

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Yes, I had arranged a group of 8, I think, on the roll call, and we did the whole 3 days together.

Believe me, WE missed Florida as well!

The subway was incredible! The trip down the escalator took 2 minutes, I think the guide said, and was incredibly steep. The stations are gorgeous. I have always loved to see what the local life is like in places I visit, and enjoy the local architecture of houses. Here is another photo of the trip down, and one taken at a subway station

 

D90BC0EF-0FDD-48CB-B8B1-C489671C39FA.jpeg

6DCAA5B2-FE19-4293-8CD8-52894EA7C404.jpeg

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Posted (edited)
On 7/2/2021 at 4:11 PM, Cruise NH said:

This time we want to hone in on a few particular spots.  I noticed there are a lot of half day shore excursions offered which may suit us just fine.  

I have visited Saint Petersburg multiple times and, as you are aware, there is much to see - a week barely scratches the surface.  We sailed on the Marina on one of our cruise visits and booked our shore excursions with Alla Tours - they were superb. I have a Russian visa and when I fly into Pulkovo, I now easily get around on my own. Any of the top rated independent tour operators will provide you with a good experience 🙂 but I think that you will do just fine with the tours offered by Oceania. 

I assume that you have two days in port rather than three? The highspeed train to Moscow (Sapsan train) makes sense only if you have 3 days in St. Pete wherein you travel on the middle day.

I don't know what Oceania is offering but below are a few things to whet your appetite that you may not have seen on your previous visit & if you have questions or want more ideas, feel free to shoot me an email (address included in my signature):

The Faberge Museum (opened in 2014) - over 4,000 items (including nine imperial eggs) are displayed in the restored Shuvalov Palace: https://fabergemuseum.ru/en/

Another unique and interesting museum that opened fairly recently is an interactive miniature museum, The Grand Maket Russia: https://grandmaket.ru/en

Does Oceania offer any tours of Peterhof? Most cruise ship visitors visit only the fountain park but there are some wonderful palaces to visit in addition to the fountains. The Grand Palace is spectacular but my absolute favorite is the Cottage Palace: https://en.peterhofmuseum.ru/objects/aleksandriya/dvorets_kottedz

The Staraya Derevnya - the Hermitage storage facility contains an unbelievable collection http://www.saint-petersburg.com/museums/hermitage-museum/storage-facility-staraya-derevnya/

A visit to the gorgeous Art Nouveau masterpiece on Nevsky - The  Eliseyev Emporium - love shopping there and just having a cup of coffee & gawking at the items on display. http://www.saint-petersburg.com/buildings/eliseyev-emporium/

and

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliseyev_Emporium_(Saint_Petersburg)

Lenin Memorial Museum (Smolny Institute) – you can visit Lenin’s office and living quarters. It was from the main hall that the October Revolution was proclaimed in 1917.

http://www.russianmuseums.info/M109

Porcelain Museum - Part of the Imperial Porcelain Factory which can include a tour of the factory workshops. Gorgeous, small collection containing some of their finest creations of the past 250 years – fantastic!

https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/visitus/porcelain-factory

and

http://www.saint-petersburg.com/museums/hermitage-museum/museum-porcelain/

Are you a fan of the famous Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky? 

Dostoevsky Museum – I'm a huge fan of Dostoevsky and enjoyed my visits immensely (have taken friends here as well).  It is a reconstruction of the Dostoevsky apartment (he returned here and lived until his death) including many of his belongings. Also contains items devoted to Dostoevsky's literary life. http://eng.md.spb.ru/

Impressionist Collection – General Staff Building – located across Palace Square from the Winter Palace - opened in 2014. Five big atriums, covered with glass roofs, houses Impressionist and Post- impressionist paintings, Russian and European decorative art, paintings and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries as well as contemporary art. The exhibition includes the renovated historical interiors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire and the personal apartments of the Chancellor Count Karl Nesselrode.

http://www.saint-petersburg.com/museums/hermitage-museum/modern-european-art/

http://www.saint-petersburg.com/museums/hermitage-museum/general-staff-building/

 

 

 

 

Edited by dogs4fun
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dogs4fun

Thank you for your informative post.  Should we get to cruise next June, we will be in STB 2 nights.  I have printed off approx. 25 pages of tours offered over the 2 day period.  I will be looking through the offerings to find the Cottage Palace.  Didn't even know that should be on our radar!  We may be coming back with more questions.  Stay tuned and thank you again.  -Katie

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