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Just back from a great Baltic cruise on Arcadia, despite not getting to see Tallinn due to adverse weather when leaving st Petersburgh. One downside of the cruise was the entertainment but you can't have everything,Helsinki,Stockholm,Oslo and Brugge more than made up for it but found st Petersburgh a little grim nevertheless a wonderful cruise

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Nothing wrong with SPB it was great but you cannot order the weather. Although it was a little damp it certainly wasnt cold. We did the panoramic Tour of SPB on the first day and then an excursion to the Peter & Paul Fortress (where all the TZARS are buried) on the second - it was fantastic. Again only my opinion but I would suggest that New York is worse than SPB. Of course it didn't help when the traffic was all snarled up because the Vice President was in town.

It certainly was a lot easier to get into  Russia than if is into the USA. I din'tthink SPBwas in the least drab, in fact the opposite

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On one of our cruises to St Petersburg we did a P&O excursion and on the route there was a road accident and the road was blocked. Due to time restraints we took a different route to the palace we were visiting. She explained that if the "authorities" found out that they had deviated from the route that they are told to use there was a chance they might lose their "tourist guide licence". The route we did take obviously they didnt want "foreigners" to see and must admit it wasnt just drab but totally depressing and the people did not look happy at all. The palaces and museums you visit are out of this world and takes your breathe away but the rest im afraid is perhaps the real Russia.

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Last year was our third visit to St Petersburg, as we had done ships tours we booked a local tour company SPB. We were a small tour of 12, all of our fellow passengers being American or Canadian. We had a great tour seeing far more than we had on previous tours. We certainly didn't stick to the main roads and tourist areas, the driver took shortcuts when he could, as we were ahead of time we even visited the area where our guide lived -a large estate of apartments with narrow roads, lots of trees , and small squares with gardens and children's playgrounds. Very like a lot of council estates in UK (and better than some) . The people in Russia now all own their own home and he did explain that because of that some are not maintained as well as they used to be, often because they use their money to buy a small second home in the country. 

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In May we had 2 days of sundhine in St Petersburg! I agree with all the comments but Russia has not really changed in 40 years. I was there in the 70s when you had intourist guides. I think there are still the same rules but not quite as obvious. The highlight of our cruise was Helsinki - can never tire of it.

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Last year was our third visit to St Petersburg, as we had done ships tours we booked a local tour company SPB. We were a small tour of 12, all of our fellow passengers being American or Canadian. We had a great tour seeing far more than we had on previous tours. We certainly didn't stick to the main roads and tourist areas, the driver took shortcuts when he could, as we were ahead of time we even visited the area where our guide lived -a large estate of apartments with narrow roads, lots of trees , and small squares with gardens and children's playgrounds. Very like a lot of council estates in UK (and better than some) . The people in Russia now all own their own home and he did explain that because of that some are not maintained as well as they used to be, often because they use their money to buy a small second home in the country. 

I beg to differ that all the people in Russia on their own homes. There has been a lot of money into Russia these last few years and some have made a lot of money but the majority working class people are in the same situation than they have been for decades and live in apartments, some only one room, owned by the state

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We spent a week in SPB in 1988 and although the holiday was organised by Intourist there were no restrictions placed on our movements what so ever. We were free to go where ever we wanted and in fact we got lost on the Metro at one stage and were 13 stops away from where we wanted to go. With a little bit of sign language and bowing and scraping we managed to get back to our hotel, but it was quite and experience. In those days they didn't open the shops until there was a queue outside and whilst a lot of the natives looked dour when it came down to the bit they were very pleasant and eager to learn about the west. We had a great holiday in the USSR with a week in Moscow, a week in Odessa, a week in Yalta and a week in Leningrad (now SPB). Things haven't changed too much in the last 28 years.

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