Regent cruise/St Petersburg port

Old Jun 21st, 2009, 05:03 AM
  #1  
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Regent cruise/St Petersburg port

Hello everyone

My husband and I are taking an all inclusive Regent cruise to the baltic at the end of July. We are trying to decide whether to sign up for their free excursion tours or hire our own tour guide in st Petersburg? Does it pay for us to get a visa to do St Petersburg at our own pace? We have 3 days.
Does anyone know if the ship docks within walking distance of the center of town?

Thank you
Cherine is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2009, 06:37 AM
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Private companies like Alla's Tours or Red October are hands down better than ships tours. There are some good news. I heard visa is no longer required for cruisers when you go on your own in SPB as Russian government signed a new law. And new port has been open close to downtown. However, it has limited capacity and depending on number of ships docking on your day, you may end up in the old cargo port.
spurs is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2009, 07:08 AM
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Perhaps Regent's tours are better than the average cruise line tours I don't know anyone who has done them. However the private tour companies are excellent and we speak from experience with Alla. You do not need a visa if you are going with them or the other tour companies spurs mentioned. They get a blanket visa for everyone in their tour but you cannot go off on your own. They will fill the days for you with everything you want to see. You should really sign up if you haven't already with cruisecritic.com and go to the boards then roll calls and find Regent and your ship and then I am sure you will find someone who is planning a private tour. It is an excellent way to share information and I am sure there will be someone who has done one or the other of the tours. That is definitely the best place to get the information you want.
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Old Jun 24th, 2009, 11:33 PM
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Thank you both. I have been corresponding with Red October and they have been most helpful. A private tour seems to be the better route. We just have to pick one and they are all well recommended.
Any suggestions in st petersburg other than the main tourists attractions?

Thanks
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 12:05 PM
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Hi Cherine,
We are booked on Regent's Baltic cruise. What is your advice on the shore excursions, particularly in St Petersburgh?
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 01:00 PM
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Actually if you use a Russian tour co. such as Alla or Red Oct. I think that suffices for the VISA. At least it used to.
jacketwatch is offline  
Old Nov 10th, 2009, 01:54 PM
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We were just in St. Petersburg in July on a cruise. There is so much to see in the "main tourist sites" that we didn't have a whole lot of time left over. We were docked for 2 nights in the pier that was closest to downtown. We toured with DenRus and their blanket visa covered the 6 of us. One thing DH and I did that no one else from our group (and there was only us and one other couple for a total of 4 from our entire ship) did was book through DenRus for an evening Folklore shore. Everybody else I spoke to said they chose not to because the ship was also sponsoring one on board. I have to tell you that the one we saw was 10 times better than what was on the ship (we saw that one too) and so we were glad we did the evening show.

I also highly encourage you to go to Cruise Critic and see if there is already a "Roll Call" thread for your sailing. In addition, there is a "Europe" thread that has a subfolder for "Baltic and Northern Europe" where you can run a search for your question and also get lots of ideas.

You're welcome to e-mail me with questions too. Just click on my user i.d. and it will give you my e-mail address.
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Old Nov 11th, 2009, 02:26 PM
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I would recommend yo to take ship tour because you have already paid for it. The quality of ship tour is always good one, the thing people don't like in them is their price, but having booked SevenSeas Voyager, you have already paid for them
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Old Nov 12th, 2009, 05:47 AM
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We took a Regent Baltics cruise in August. It was terrific. We took 8 excursions, 5 of which were in St. Petersburg. Friends took even more in St. Petersburg, going back to Catherine's Palace for an evening excursion or going to the ballet. In St. Petersburg, we took the (1) Classical St. Petersburg tour (all day, including Catherine's Palace), (2) Peter the Great's Grand Palace--Peterhof, (3) Yusupov Palace and Canal Cruise, (4) Hermitage and Gold Room, and the (5) Metro Ride and Shopping excursion. Regent had excellent guides, and while I'm sure private tours have their advantages, personally, we wouldn't waste the money. This was our first Regent cruise with "free" excursions, and they were every bit as good as the paid excursions we've done on other Regent cruises. We can't wait until our 30-day S. American cruise in January.
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Old Nov 12th, 2009, 06:09 AM
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I guess I'm not understanding why you'd pay extra (and not a little but rather a lot) for something you have already paid for with Regent. Since the ship docks for so long and is a relatively small ship, the number of tours is rather extensive, and almost everyone on board goes on more than one, especially since they are included.
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Old Nov 14th, 2009, 10:43 AM
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Doug, I would pay extra if it is worth extra only because I have heard complaints (not on Regent) that people spend hours on line getting into the Hermitage while private guides whisk you in. I am hoping this is not ther case with Regent. Dreps- were you wisked or waiting? Also, Dreps, was the full day tour too tiring or a good idea? twistergirl- This all-inclusive shore excursions concept with Regent is relatively new and the cruise price was comperable to their major competiors...so maybe they are really "free".
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Old Nov 16th, 2009, 07:29 AM
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We were not kept waiting in long lines anywhere. There was some wait a few times over the three days in St. Petersburg, but it was never a major issue. The three days in St. Petersburg were jam-packed because that's the way we wanted them. I don't know exactly how to answer about whether the full-day tour was "too tiring." It involved a bus ride to and from Catherine's Palace, so there was time to snooze and regain one's energy. Also, the lunch was fairly leisurly. As I mentioned, some of our friends still had the energy to do evening excursions.
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Old Nov 16th, 2009, 02:39 PM
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Thank you. Your choices from Regent's excursions seem perfect. As they have yet to post the times, I was unaware one could fit all of this in. We will probably do the excursions to the ballet & the folk show in the evenings. And bring on the caviar & blinis!
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Old Nov 27th, 2009, 02:42 PM
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Dreps, I hope I am not asking too many questions......but-
Were you happy with your tour choices or would you have eliminated any of them or substituted for a different excursion.
I am tending to go for the Classical St. Petersburg. Did it take you INSIDE the Church of Spilled Blood?
Was the time spent at the Hermitage sufficient? Was there free time to visit the gift shop there (I am told it is fabulous)Did your friend think the evening at Catherines's Palace was worthwhile?How many were in the Regent groups?
Hope you all enjoyed your turkey!!!And Dreps, your next trip sounds fantastic!!!!!
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Old Nov 30th, 2009, 11:30 AM
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The only excursion I would have changed was the Metro ride and shopping. I don't know what would have been available instead. No, we were not taken inside the Church of Spilled Blood. We took some pictures outside of it, and there is some of the best shopping in an open market across from it. There is a tour that focuses on Cathedrals, and that may be better if that's what you want. I think the time at the Hermitage was sufficient. There definitely was some time to visit the gift shop. I think there are several, and we weren't particularly tempted to buy anything. Maybe we wereen't at the most "fabulous" one. Yes, I think our friends enjoyed the evening at Catherine's Palace, it was just that everyone was pretty tired--it made for an extremely long day. And dinner was at a nearby restaurant, which I think is fairly "touristy."
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Old Nov 30th, 2009, 12:05 PM
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Thanks for your input!
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Old Nov 30th, 2009, 12:42 PM
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Cherine:

I have been reading this thread with interest.

It depends how much and what you want to see in St.Petersburg.

I do not know about the "all- inclusive " that you are getting with Regent.

I assume you have already paid for this "all - inclusive " when you pay for your cruise of the Baltics.

I agree with traveller69 and spurs........... the private tours are much better ( smaller groups,and cheaper).

I highly recommend Alla, which is who I had.

Dreps: For you to be in front of the "Church of the Spilled Blood and NOT be taken inside is almost criminal.!!!

I wish they would have taken you inside.

If you go all the way to St. Petersburg and then not go inside some of these major places, thenI have to wonder just what the Regent Tours is showing you.

( Dreps ,I am, jealous of your next trip )

Just a short example, with Alla ,I also visited Catherine's Palace and then had about 45 minutes to walk the grounds...
that is

why I would say, do your homework...so you know what is outside of Catherine's Palace.

Also ,I toured Peterhof BOTH inside and out..along with a full tour of Monplasir Palace...as this was Peter the Great's favourite place....right along the Gulf of Findland.

I walked the grounds of Peterhof...as I knew where 95 % of the fountains and other smaller palaces were.

The inside of Church of the Spilled Blood is really something to see. Do Not Miss going Inside... if the ship tour does not take you inside INSIST on it !!

Also you want to see and go inside Peter and Paul Cathedral ,across the Neva River from the Hermitage.

ALL the Tsars are buried here ( except one..he is buried in Moscow...... do you know which one !!)

Also you have to tour and go inside St. Isaacs Cathedral, it is nicer inside than the Vatican ( in my opinion)

Also you want to go on the Cruiser Aurora... I mean go on it walk around ,touch things, it is spit and polished to a "T"

It is the Cruiser Aurora that fired that single ( blank) shot
in October 1917 .. at the Winter Palace during the Russian Revolution.

Alla and I made a list of places I wanted to see and I saw everyplace on the list.

Oh yes and if you are going to the Cruiser Aurora ...then ask the tour guide to stop off at Peter's original Log Cabin....as it is only a few block away.

Make a list of places YOU want to see and take the list with you..you will never remember all the places unless you have the list.

For example: When we were driving about, I knew we were just a block or two away from the House of Faberge..so I would say to Boris ( our driver)..

"Boris would you just turn here please, I would like to see the famous House of Faberge"

You have 3 days in St. Petersburg and if you are organized you will see ( almost ) everything !!

Here is my Trip Report of the Baltics.......just scroll down and read the St.Petersburg part ( if you want )

http://www.fodors.com/community/crui...acketwatch.cfm
Percy is online now  
Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 06:40 AM
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Thanks, Percy.I've been waiting for you to jump in! I have been researching but evidently not enough. As I am going on a quick Carribbean cruise in a few days with my mom & sisters-- leaving my husband home to earn the bucks to pay for these trips- I may be inactive for awhile.
I am new to these boards, but rapidly becoming addicted!
To those who are curious:
There seems to be a little confusion about Regent's all-inclusive. Here goes- You pay for the cruise.In addition to the usual, it includes gratuities, most alcohol (If you want Dom Perignon you are on your own- but that is fair!), and most recently, they have included shore excursions. I believe this was an enticement to book Regent as opposed to a few competitors. It sweetened the pot. It helps to make your cruise care free. Whatever you pay up front is what you pay(Unless you go to the spa or casino). Whether or not you take these excursions (and you do have many choices, although a few require a supplement) is up to you. You know in advance.
You are not paying extra, you are not opting in or out, you are making a choice . The only place we are considering private, or a combo of private and ship excursion is St Petersburg as there is so much to see and even three days in port(Thank you Regent) requires homework to fit it all in.
One last comment for now- There is something very nice about the all-inclusive concept. Although you are paying for it in the cruise fare, it makes socialization with new friends less awkward etc,etc,etc. I can still remember sitting around the pool and being approached by a bartender who said -"Mrs N, You look like you need a sorbet with cassis".
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Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 09:51 AM
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We did a Baltic cruise this past July/early August. We did a private tour (4 of us) using Alla in St. Petersburg.

I cannot speak from experience as to the quality of the Regent excursions, but I did see some of their tour groups around at various locales in St. Petersburg. The size of the groups that I saw were not huge, but did have anywhere between approx. 15-20 people.

At some of the sites (especially the Hermitage) there were long lines of tour groups waiting to enter. As we were only a group of 4, our tour guide would go to the front of the line, confer with whoever was controlling the entry and/or a tour guide with their group at the front and we would squeeze in ahead of those waiting in line. I felt rather uncomfortable in some instances (I hate cutting in line), but our tour guide assured us that with such a small group it was ok and she was getting the ok for us. Still, it felt uncomfortable because even though we got the ok, the other tour group members didn't want us going in front of them and we literally were pushed through by our guide. Unless you have an early entry to the Hermitage, I'm not sure how a larger group would be able to avoid standing in the line.

Also, some of the sites are jam packed inside also. So crowded in some areas you feel like a sardine in a can. With our smaller group we were able to better navigate around to see things. I heard people in larger tour groups (not necessarily Regent) complaining that they didn't have a chance to see what the guide was talking about before the group moved on because it was so crowded.

The benefits of a small private tour are obvious, but I am not sure I wouldn't take the inclusive Regent tours if I had the option, either. Does Regent provide info on the max number of people allowed on each tour and whether they have any special early entries?
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Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 01:04 PM
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Noriboating:

Thanks for explaining the Regent "all inclusive" style.

it make is a bit difficult to book with a private tour since you have sort of already paid for the Regent Tours.

Like chepar says ( Hi chepar ) you do not want to be squeezed "like a sardine" !!

This is the big thing about the private tours...you are in a smaller group, you move about faster, and you have more options to see more places and things.

We had no lineup wait at the Hermitage at all .!! ( lucky)

We were the ONLY and first people when we arrive at the Yusupov's Palace.

At Cruiser Aurora we just parked beside the Cruiser and walked on.

When I was at the Church of the Spilled Blood and Peter and Paul's Cathedral, I was able to take pictures with no one else in the background......so although there were people, it was not yet "packed."

We started out the morning by first going to St.Nicholas Church and then visiting some Monuments and Memorials..

we arrived at Catherine's Palace about 9 AM , but don't forget like my trip report states ...we got off to and early start .

Out driver and tour guide tried to take us first to the places that would get crowded quicker, as the day went on.

I think the first thing I would want to know is the names and places you are going to see on the Regent Tour .

Then when you know that......ask some of us here on Fodors if that is a "good deal"...maybe not so much a good deal as a good time plan !!

Keep us posted.

Oh yes the Best Gift Shops during your tours is at :
1. Peterhof
2. Church of the Spilled Blood
3. Hermitage( Winter Palalce)

So don't waste time at the other gift shop places..use this time to see things.!
Percy is online now  

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