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Hello to everyone.

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I joined the forum some time back but have never posted, it is about time I didsmile.png


Can I jump in at the deep end and ask for some advice.  We are on Eclipse next July with a two night stay in St Petersburg and I know many cruisers use the private companies for tours. Alla is one that crops up quite a bit and so does SPB anyone have any advice if one is better than the other?


I am also concerned that they are very full days and we will be totally exhausted, so again if anyone has any better ideas of what we could do to enjoy the experience without being too tired.


In the past we have used Celebrity's tours and so have been to Catherine's Palace (twice) and the Church of the Spilled Blood plus the Hermitage. 


Any hints and tips would be most gratefully received and I look forward to contributing to your forum...Carol

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Welcome Cat...as you have posted there are now numerous tour companies for St Petersburg but Alla would seem to be the most prolific with some of the best reviews.

If you have been before why not ask them to tailor make a tour for you for either one or both days..that way you will be in control and will be able to dictate the speed of the tour if that is your concern.

It will of course cost more but that could be possibly shared if you advertised your itinerary on the various roll calls..there is always someone else who doesn't want a rush around with the crowds type tour.

Good luck and I'm sure there will lots of alternative suggestions from my fellow contributors.



Don't listen to what they say about me..I'm just a pussycat really..meooow

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As I understand, unless you take a tour with the ship you need a visa.

When we were St Petersburg, we did a canal trip, that was enjoyable, then did the gardens, of St Cathrin's we had coffee and cake, we a sit down, we took this trip because we had our granddaughter with us who was about four at the time.

It was not worth the effort of getting visas for us all BUT that mention we could not get off the ship the next day.

I am sure you will have a wonderful time.

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Hi Jenjen, the beauty of using the tour companies is that you are covered by their visas for you. You are quite right that you cannot just go ashore without a visa which I understand is expensive.

The canal trip sounds like a nice activity and not strenuous at all and I am partial to coffee and cake..Carol

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This is not correct. You do not need a visa if you are doing a ships tour or a tour with one of the land based tour companies.


The ship will arrange visas for their trips so just make sure, whatever company you dcide on, they also arrange visas. We were in SPB in May and I woukd agree that it is better to negotiate your 2 day trip as full days can be very exhausting.

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It is a lot easier to get into Russia than it is to the USA.

So long as you show your tour ticket or confirmation at immigration then there is no problem stamping your passport

We did the ships trip to Peter & Paul's Fortress + a sail on the Neva and it was very good.

Only problem we had a couple of weeks ago was that a storm got up and we were stuck in St P overnight. Even though we were tied up to the quay it still felt very rough and we had to miss Tallinn the next day as we didn't sail until 9-15  the following morning.

St P was very busy and lots of traffic jams.

From what I heard Alla Tours got glowing reports

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We did a two day tour with Alla in June 2014 and it was excellent with a very good guide (Alex). Modern 14 seater mini buses were used so no delays waiting for others and much less expensive than the ship tour. Meals were also included. A visa is not required if a tour is taken. It was all very done over the internet. It is not oaid for until the tour commences. It was extremely well organized and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

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We were on St. Petersburg last summer and booked a 2 day tour with Viator.com who were remarkable In many ways.

They were about half the price of the ship's tour and included more.

They covered passengers with a group visa.

They gave a written guarantee that they would cover all costs of getting you to the next port if they failed to get you back to the ship on time.

The guides spoke very good English.

I have recommended this company many times and have used them before in European cities.

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We used Red October several years ago with a party of six, and cannot praise them highly enough. Since then our daughter and her husband used them and they were paired up with another couple they didn't know from the ship. The second day the other couple didn't turn up so they had the car and guide to themselves. Maybe the other couple wanted to get out of paying as you don't pay until the end? This year two friends also used Red October and were very impressed. Just make sure you use the .ru website as the other one is American and it costs you more. We paid in US$.

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We cruised in to St Petersburg last year and it is well worth trying to do as much as possible.   There is so much to see you can only 'scratch the surface' but it is worth it.


We went into which company to choose or whether to use a ships tour but eventually decided to use SPB tours.  We were not disappointed they were excellent and we would use them again.  They are authorised by the Russian authorities so there is no need to apply for a visa as they handle all necessary paperwork.  They do not use large coaches but a fleet of smaller vehicles max 15 to a tour guide.  We did not have to watch out for a raised umbrella or paddle as we all had ear phones and receivers so our guide could talk to us and keep in contact with us (much better system).  Each day we were provided with a bottle of water.  In the evening we went to the Folklore show which was excellent and included a buffet.  Do not be put off by cruise companies telling you if you do not take one of their excursions then you will have problems and need to get you own visa as it is not true.  Alla tours are also very reliable.


Whatever you do have a great trip 

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