Baltic cruise

Apr 8th, 2008, 10:54 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 81
Baltic cruise

I am trying to book an on shore excursion other than what the ship offers for St. Petersburg. Apparently, the cruise lines are giving these passengers a difficult time with delaying them and saying they can't get off the ship. Has anyone experienced this treatment, and if so, what did you do about it? Also, someone mentioned Tatanya as being a good tour person. I've been in contact with her, and she does seem to be efficient. [email protected]
trapsma is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 12:44 PM
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The cruise ships try to intimidate the passengers by saying they cannot disembark until those passengers who have taken their tours disembark first!!!

I did a trip report on my Baltic Cruise last August and I will copy a portion of it here for you.

Here it is .

"If you are planning a Baltic cruise and going to St.Petersburg, then you either take the cruise ship tour , a private tour or you need a Visa."

"A Visa is about $80.00
As you get off the cruise ship you will have a brass band playing for you as you line up to go through customs."

"The customs building looks like a flat roof construction site trailer .
it has Bertha 32 written on the side in big letters (!!??)."

"For a private tour you will need your passport, a copy of your passport , your tour tickets that you received from your private tour company in St.Petersburg and they may ask for the intinerary of your visits for that day.... so I had all four with me when I disembarked."

"I booked my 2 day tour visit in St. Petersburg with Alla Tours and I highly recommend them."

"Also keep a few things in mind... you will be lining up outside so if it is very hot or raining or whatever, be prepared.
If you had 3-4 cups of coffee at breakfast, then go to the bathroom before you disembark!!! "

"I guess most cruise ship tours start at 8 AM and later because here is what happened to me !!"

"I got off the ship at exactly 7 AM walked right into the Customs place ( not a single person in line),she took the copy of my passport and handed me a red card and off I went."

"Alla Tours was waiting for me( 4 of us ) on the other side of the building.
We got into the van and were off at 7:11 AM ( Wow!!!)"

trapsma ,I just copied and pasted the above from my Trip Report.

You might want to try Alla Tours,they were very good also and Alla herself come to meet you at the end of your second day.

Look!!,when you are ready to disembark,( go early) just go to the disembark area and walk off the ship....don't worry no one is going to stop you or even try to hold you back....

Percy is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 01:50 PM
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Posts: 81
Thanks, Percy. I will look up Alla tours. I've had a number of quotes from various groups. I am a little concerned as to their legitimacy. I'd hate to send money and find out it's a scam. Do you know how I could check them out?

I wouldn't mind sharing a tour with others, except that we'd have to agree on what to see and do.
trapsma is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 02:16 PM
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We used Red October, and were extremely satisfied. We had no difficulty getting off the ship.
abram is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 02:18 PM
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The visa is now $131.
FainaAgain is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 03:53 PM
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God! Thats a huge increase.
jacketwatch is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 03:58 PM
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I have used Red October for 3 Baltic Cruises.

If you haven't seen my post on Cruiscritic......

The 1st link is to our travel journal which has pictures of each port and our St. Petersburg itinerary.

The 2nd link is to quite a bit of information about the ports and overall itinerary!

Bon Voyage
Apr 8th, 2008, 05:55 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 13,716

Having other join your group is a good idea.
I will give you Alla's e-mail later.

Don't worry about deciding to see the same places because I can assure you that Alla has the tour down to a science and you will see everything the ship offers plus more.

Also the 2 days tour is costly for only two people.

I booked Alla in April for August24-25th.

There were four of us going.
Alla e-mailed me and asked if a couple fromMichigan could join us and I said yes.
Then.... after 2-3 weeks later she asked me if a group of four from San Diego could join us and I said yes ...but close it off now at 10 people.

Now notice that Alla always e-mailed me and asked me if it was okay for other to join my group of four.
At any time I could have said no and that would have been it.!!

Having a group of 10 reduced the price quite a bit... but I have to said that the other 6 people that joined us were terrific ...and this was for St.Petersburg only.

Alla Ushakova
E-mail Address is
[email protected]

I am sure Red October is good also but I can personally vouch for Alla.

Alla will e-mail you the information and the tickets for both days.

Oh yes....there is NO up front payments of any kind and we paid at the end of the second day in St. Petersburg !!!.not even after the first day.
Boy that is trusting people a lot !

Hi jacketwatch

Hi isailtheseas.......I enjoyed your website addresses.

Wow visa $131.00 now ( gulp!)


Percy is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 06:05 PM
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Hi trapsma.

Hi isailtheseas:

I agree with a lot you said about all the ports you visited.

In fact in my Trip Report I also said that in Stockholm ,the main places to see are:

1. Vasa Museum...go here first because of the crowds.

2. Drottninholm Place (official residence of the Royal Family..UNESCO site)...go herenext ,it is only 6 miles outside the City.

3. City Hall Tour because this is the place of the Nobel Prize Ceromonies.(tour takes about 1 hour to one hour and 15 minutes..cost is $10.00 US)

This is a lovley place and not the usual City Hall we like to think of .

4. The rest of the time in Gamla Stan( Gamla Stan means Old Town) just walking about and seeing the lovely old buildings.

We are all here to help you just ask away !!

Percy is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 07:22 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
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We were in St. Petersburg in October of '07 and we used a guide named Zhenya Kempinsky. She was excellent. I am including her e-mail address. She spoke excellent english and had great knowledge of history, the sights, and she share a lot of information about the city and the country. Plus that, she gave us a great receipe for beef stroganoff. You can reach her at: [email protected]
Good luck and have a great time. We were on a river cruise and we had no problem with getting off the ship.
phxtrvlr is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 08:27 PM
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i just read your trip report and it brought back wonderful memories!

Trapsma..I with Percy, whatever questions you have just let us know!

phxtrvlr...did you purchase your visa or was your guide able to protect you under the authorized tour operator visa?

Also, would love to have the Beef Stroganoff recipe if possible?!
Apr 8th, 2008, 08:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 13,716
Hi isailtheseas:

Glad you were able to find my Trip Report.

We all learn from each other here.

Jacketwatch went last June so I was able to pick his brain from his Trip Report....

then the year before a fellow called BillJ did the Baltic Cruise and posted I gleaned information from him also.

And now I have really enjoyed your pictures and commentary.

Good Night Everyone.
Percy is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 07:36 AM
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Percy, how did you find Alla? She has a structured tour for 20 persons for a two day tour for $300 each which includes admissions and lunches. I find that to be a good price. She also has a Skype address which is very handy.
trapsma is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 10:12 AM
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Another question I have is: What is the average tip given for guide as well as driver for a two day tour of St. Petersburg? I have just about decided on Alla Tours.
trapsma is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 11:13 AM
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A twenty person trip is a"bit" much I think.!

I think that after 10 people the trip does not become cheaper.

However , nothing wrong with 20 people( but you could do 10 people)!

I found Alla from reading and e-mailing other that went to St.Petersburg.

Alla is a terrific lady.Our driver was Boris and our tour lady was Julia.

Alla and I exchanged so many e-mails before I arrived in St.Petersburg, that we were like old friends by the time I arrived.

At the end of the second day Alla comes to the cruise ship.
First she talked to the other people in our group and then she turned to me with arms wide open and said...." And you have to be Percy"!!!

The price is right though trapsma as this includes Admissions and Lunches.

Please say Hi to Alla for me when you e-mail her.

She knows me well as she e-mailed Easter Greeting to me from St.Petersburg a few weeks ago!!

For Tips:

I gave Boris the Driver $40.00 and Julia $60.00 for the two days.

I hope I was in the proper range...maybe other can tell you what they tipped.

I guess you give what you feel it is worth to you.

I only had $100.00 US on me at the end of the second I just gave it away.

You know tipping is such a personal thing.
I really liked Julia and Boris was quiet and nice.

Julia and I hit it off 100 %. She was amazed at how much I knew about St. Petersburg!!

On the morning of the second day...Julia had a case of Laryngitis.
She turned to me and said, "Percy,if this does not get better, you will have to take over."

I said,"Yeah sure sure Julia!!"

To which she replied ,"And you can do it too,I have not been able to stump you yet."
But thank goodness her voice improved....I was already sweating !!

Any more questions for us !

Percy is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 01:11 PM
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Personally, I would not go higher than 10 people TOTAL for a private tour in St. Pete

I did that my 1st 2 cruises with my mom

My Dh and I splurged and had it just for the 2 of us. To do this we manipulated our budget elsewhere such as having an inside cabin.

I list that tour itinerary on my website, BUT we also went to the Carriage Museum at Catherines Palace, and we had absolutely no lines anywhere not even gift shop purchases, because it was just the two of us. I know Percy loved Alla, I in turn feel just as passionate about my experience with Red October.

We tipped our driver 60 and guide 120.

Drivers in St. Pete are crazier than drivers in LAX and SFO Bay Area rolled into one..our driver more than earned that by just keeping us alive!!!
Apr 9th, 2008, 01:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 13,716
Gee I feel like a cheap skate now tipping Julia only $60.00 but this was my personal tip and not for the four of us.

The others tipped their own.

Oh I am sure Red October is fact it was between Alla and Red October.

So far no one has complained about going with Alla and no one has complained about Red October!!!

BillJ who went in August 2006 used Alla and jacketwatch who went in June 2007 used Alla.... so I used Alla.

Boy whenI got out of that Customs building (more like a shack)Alla tours was waiting right there.

trapsma... I am sure you will do your homework about St.Petersburg...the more you know the more you will enjoy.

Happy Planning
Percy is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 02:22 PM
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I don't think you were cheap!

Just remember we had 19 hours of total immersion. Plus our guide did a lot of little extras for us, since it was just the 2 of us!

We probably overtipped but we just thought that both of them really went out of the normal line of duty for us!!!

Apr 9th, 2008, 04:28 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,087
Percy I have emailed Alla regarding seeing the ballet in the evening and she hasn't answered. I now know what I am doing wrong - I have to tell her Percy recommended her and I am sure we will get special attention!!!!
traveller69 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 07:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I know you are kidding but in reality , you can mention my name as she does know me and Thanks me for the referrals...also I get 50% commission .!!!

Yeah sure in my dreams

(I know this very nice lady tour guide in Egypt(was there in 2005)and we stay in touch and I send tourists over to her... when they mention my name she always "fits"them in even if she is booked.)

I am not anybody important is just that Alla will know ..if you mention my name.

In fact say to Alla, "Percy said you BETTER look after me."!

Hi isailthe seas:

I know what you mean ,Julia and Boris took us to extra places also and they were worth more to me than the $100.00 I gave them.

Well, good at least you don't think I was cheap!!!
Percy is offline  

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