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Tours in Russia and visa- Sailing on the Voyager


wholelotta

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I have booked the June 5 2010 Voyager Baltic Cruise. Has anyone taken the "Moscow" one day flight and tour while in St Petersburg. Also, is getting a visitors visa worth the effort- how much is the cost and is it necessary. Has anyone used a agency or did you use Russian Embassy?

 

Any suggestions on this cruise---wonder how chilly the weather will be in early June??;)

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Our exprience is that if you take a ship's tour or use one of the Russian tour agencies you don't need an individual visa. If you tour on your own you'll need a visa. We obtained Soviet visas in the 1980s for a land tour and it was a bit of a pain, as I recall. Plus, I'm always nervous when I mail out our passports for visas.

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We took the one-day flight to Moscow during the Mariner's stop in St. Petersburg. It was well worth the expense and bit of hassle due to the noisy, hot Russian Tupolev airplane. The Kremlin tour of the Royal jewels with its few remaining Fabrege eggs as well as the beautifully restored Russian Orthodox churches behind the Kremlin's walls was worth the trip. We opted to tour with Regent and avoid the time and hassle of obtaining a Russian visa on our own.

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We got our own Russian visas. I asked our Travel Agent to get what is called "Visa Support" - ie a letter of invitation - from Regent, which she did. She then sent it along with our passports to an agency in Zurich (we live in Switzerland) and they took care of sending it along to the Russian Embassy in Bern. The whole process took about 10 days and cost around $100 (US). It was totally painless for us, except that we didn't have passports for 10 days and that, at that time, was an issue since we couldn't leave the country. Wouldn't be an issue now because we don't need them to visit the neighbouring countries! And surely wouldn't be an issue in the US or Canada.

 

The great benefit was that we could get on and off the ship at will, for example in the evenings we went for walks in the lovely neighbourhood around where we were moored. (We moored up the river, near the first bridge). And we could go anywhere on our own as well as on the private tours I arranged. We do speak a little Russian, and we read it quite well. We had no problems and I am really glad we had the visas.

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We had planned on doing the one-day Moscow trip on our August Baltics cruise this year. But when I found out the price was going to be $1099 per person and we considered all the things to see in St. Petersburg under Regent's new "free" excursion program, we decided to forego it. I'm sure it will be great as we've heard very good reviews. The only caution we were given is that it is a very long day.

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