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Saga Tours - St Petersburg


wowzz
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I'm just doing a little advance preparation for our Saga Baltic cruise next year.

Does anyone have any experience of the included Saga excursions in St Petersburg ? Are they basically a coach "drive by" or a little bit more in depth?

Other than the free excursions, do Saga offer paid for trips, or would we be better off booking through one of the well known excursion companies operating in SP?

Any advice would be most welcome. .

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Go with a Russian company. Better value smaller groups , all guides are licensed and have passed exams. We used SPG ,  but many others available. Everyone  we spoke to thought private tours far better ships tours.

 

You can go individually,  we had a car driver and guide, with all entrance fees  for 2 full days only about 50% more than ships tours.

 

They do mini bus tours of max 16. Or if you go on a roll call for your cruise see if say you can get six like minded people then a private tour will be better and cheaper than ship tour. We looked at all the itineraries , and cherry picked our own tour .

 

Tour company will sort out visa for you

Edited by Windsurfboy
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7 minutes ago, Windsurfboy said:

Go with a Russian company. Better value smaller groups , all guides are licensed and have passed exams. We used SPG ,  but many others available. Everyone  we spoke to thought private tours far better ships tours.

 

You can go individually,  we had a car driver and guide, with all entrance fees  for 2 full days only about 50% more than ships tours.

 

They do mini bus tours of max 16. Or if you go on a roll call for your cruise see if say you can get six like minded people then a private tour will be better and cheaper than ship tour. We looked at all the itineraries , and cherry picked our own tour .

 

Tour company will sort out visa for you

Thanks for the quick reply. Do you know what the Saga provided tours were like?

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I presume  Saga publish a full intinerary of the tour, compare it to what the private tours offer.

 

St Petersburg was the raison d'etre for our Baltic cruise,  so we wanted to see what we wanted, at a pace we wanted,  so we choose a private tour. It was the one port we didn't want to skimp on. On a private tour there was a different queue to that for coaches at many places, and our guide seemed to be able to go to front. We managed to see more than the coach tour , but never felt rushed

 

I presume Saga inclusive tours will go at the pace of the slowest, plus the time taken to load and off load a full coach at each stop. 

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My understanding is that ALL the included tours are simply sight-seeing drives.

On the old ships, Saga tours were usually very good - based on my experience on two Discovery cruises, not so confident about them now.

My first  cruise with Saga on the Saga Rose (back in 2006 - 15 years ago) included St Petersburg , and I did three extremely good tours with Saga - a full day with a local lunch, an evening, and a half day.

Some coach, a fair bit of walking, entry to museums, and a lot of information, gossip and history both at the attractions, and in between from the local guide (a mathematics professor) along with a fair bit of vodka and champagne.

 

My first cruise on the Discovery also included St Petersburg, and we had planned to do a tour each day.

Day one was riding the St Petersburg metro trains, which was interesting (especially when one of our party did not get off) and then some free time shopping in the tourist area.

Day two was totally b*s up by Saga tours office, and we never made it off the ship.

We heard from other passengers that their tours seemed to include a lot more "free time for shopping" and a lot less information than they expected.

The general feeling was of a combination of cost-cutting and dumbing-down - which is sad.

 

 

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On 11/16/2021 at 12:27 PM, Windsurfboy said:

Go with a Russian company. Better value smaller groups , all guides are licensed and have passed exams. We used SPG ,  but many others available. Everyone  we spoke to thought private tours far better ships tours.

 

You can go individually,  we had a car driver and guide, with all entrance fees  for 2 full days only about 50% more than ships tours.

 

They do mini bus tours of max 16. Or if you go on a roll call for your cruise see if say you can get six like minded people then a private tour will be better and cheaper than ship tour. We looked at all the itineraries , and cherry picked our own tour .

 

Tour company will sort out visa for you

I totally agree with Windsurfboy. 

 

We used Alla Tours when we visited St Petersburg with Cunard and did an excellent 2 day tour in a small, very modern minibus. The guide was excellent, even clearing a path through the crowded Hermitage for her group and even shepherding the females of her flock into vacant loo cubicles at one stop (!!!). I confess we were dubious but a Russian friend investigated the company for us beforehand. The ticket did act as our visa and we wizzed through immigration. As a further reassurance, we were not asked for any payment until the end of the first day. We saw and visited sites that would have required several ship's tours, some of which would have overlapped. It was one of our best cruise decisions.

 

The only issue we had was that the jobsworth staff on Queen Victoria tried to prevent passengers who weren't on Cunard tours from leaving the ship before their tour passengers, even changing the disembarcation route and then standing with arms outstretched to clock the way. They failed as there were numerous people booked on private tours with Alla, SPB and Red October. 

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