Scandinavia, Baltic & Russia

Old Jun 13th, 2012, 11:35 AM
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I wonder if E is back by now?
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Old Jun 13th, 2012, 01:53 PM
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Melozone:

I was on Princess and I was told that there could be trouble disembarking in St. Petersburg with a Private Tour.

I booked Alla ... terrific time .

Here is an excerpt from my Trip Report on St. Petersburg.

" 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 Berth 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 as I was the First One
off the Cruise ship)
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!!!)

Because of our early morning start each day we saw many extra places. "

End of quote of my Trip Report.

I had NO trouble with Princess Cruise Ship but I know others from other cruise ships were held back until those taking the cruise tours were disembarked.

About weather:

There was no cold weather anywhere.

I has a slight rain drizzle when I arrived at Catherine's Palace, but the rain stopped in about 10 minutes ,the sun came out and it was a glorious day.



In Gdansk Poland , there was a mist falling as I disembarked, this too stopped before I reached the tour guide's vehicle.

All the other ports were sunny and hot .. I was lucky, I guess !
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Old Jun 13th, 2012, 01:56 PM
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jacketwatch

I do not think Eschew is back yet.

Last I heard he was swimming the Gulf of Finland from St. Petersburg to Tallinn...as he missed the ship .
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Old Jun 13th, 2012, 02:58 PM
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I knew it.
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 05:14 PM
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Percy, I did not miss the boat at St. Petersberg but we did get back late from Berlin (but so did almsot everyone else) and late again in Stockholm. Luckily, the ship waited so we didn't have to swim from Stockholm to Copenhagen!

There was a question earlier about St. Petersberg disembarkation. For our trip on the Emerald Princess, all independent excusrion passengers were directed to go to a desiganted waiting area (Dining room) and the Princess excursion passengers were directed to go to the Princess theatre.

We were at the waiting area very early, we waited for about 15 minutes before we were "sent" to the gangway. We were one of the earlier group going through immigration, ahead of the Princess excursion passenegers. Going thorugh the immigration was quick, taking only a few minutes with many lines open and only 2 to 3 deep on each line.

However, listening to other people later on, once the Pricness excursion passengers started leaving in their groups, it was a much longer wait for the independent passengers. Someone had said they waited for half an hour in the dining room before they are told to go to the gangway, and then another 15 minutes in line for immigaration.

The moral is if you are there before the designated time for the Pricness excursion, you are good to go and there is no lines. If you disembark during or after the Princess excursion groups, you will be in line for a long time.

Also, they are very strict about people "joining" other people alrady in the waiting area, so for a group on a private tour together, if someone is late, they are not allwoed to join the people who were alrady in line to disembark.

For the independent tour passengers, everyone leaves pretty close to the order of their arrival to the dining room. The ship's staff was quite strict and I witnessed them telling a couple to remove themself from the area where an ealrier group had assembled and was rady to leave. She yelled: "go to the back of the line" and threaten to call security, as well as telling their group mates who let them "butt in" that no one will disembark unless the couple in question go to the back of the line (talking about peer pressure!)

I will see if I have a chance to post a TR, but in he mean time, if tehre are quetsions, I will be more than happy to answer.

By the way, the weather wasn't pleasant. It was cold and windy most days with scattered showers. There were a few days that the wind was almost gale force. The warmest day was probably lower 60s and the coldest was around low 50's. We dressed in layer and was finr but we bundled up quite well.

There were hardly anyone on the open deck at all.
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 07:55 PM
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Man I am amazed and surprised about the disembarkment procedure in St. Petersburg.

Princess must have changed their disembarkment Policy since I took Princess on the same cruise .

I hear there is a nice new Terminal at the St.Petersburg disembarkemnt location.

I have seen pictures of it.

When I disembarked I had to go into what looked like a construction site trailer !!

I see where you mentioned about being there BEFORE the excursion passengers got off , then you were okay.

St.Petersburg was the first time ever that I was the FIRST one off a cruise ship.
I can see why I perhaps got no hassle.

Not great that you cannot join your group that is already waiting in line.

I quickly reviewed some on my Baltic Cruise pictures and I was in short sleeves all the time.

I remember telling jacketwatch , how lucky I was that weather was always great.

Well , you are home safe now

Waiting for your Trip Report.

Hope there were no other problems at anyy other disembarkment points.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 08:17 AM
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Sorry to hear about the bad weather man. I hope it did not put too much of a damper on things, no pun intended of course .

I also hope that the overall experience more than made up for the weather issues. As we hand only one dreary day, in Helsinki, I suppose we were lucky.

The embarkation process in SPB takes me aback as well. So if yo had a private tour planned and the entire party was not assembled at the same time then what?? Does than mean they could not get off all at once and if so were they late or left behind?? I too am dismayed at how the Princess crew spoke to those people. Threatening to call security?? I'd be call CS on the ship AND when I got back. Thats no way to talk to a guest.

Here's hoping you can get a TR done. Cheers, Larry
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 08:29 AM
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I think what might have happened when the entire party was not assembled at the same time is that.........

those from the party that were ahead in the line , after going through customs , would now have to wait for the others in their party to clear customs....

that could be a half hour wait , depending on the length of the line. Hmmm!, not a good start to the day.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 12:01 PM
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Larry, tegh answer to your question would be they can wait as group and disembark together, go through immigration together, or tehy can disembark individually, and wait after immigration. Either way, the people who were early had to wait for the late comers. Waiting on baord or at the dock or the curb makes no difference. The problem is wit hthe late comers.

I may come across as defending the ship, but if you have a party of 10 and they cannot assemble themselves and everyone be there at the desiganted area on time, then they should have to deal with the late comers who took their sweet time and stroll in after the whole room is full.

Would it be fair that 2 people wait at the front of the line and then a couple stroll in, butt in front of other people, cut in line and joined the 2 that were there? and then a few minutes later, another couple stroll in and joined the 4, and eventually, the whole party of 10 are all at the front of the line although only 2 had been there early to begin with.

How fair is it to the other hundreds of people who were there earlier and had been waiting for 15 or 20 minutes or maybe even half an hour to have the latecomers butt in front?

If you are at the front of the line, does it mean the late comers have rights over everyone else? Does it also mean that people have "squatters rights" at the line up so that I can pay people to line up for me and "save" a spot for me at the line up?

I disagree with the manner on how the ship's crew communicated the message but I totally agree with the decision of not letting them butt in.

There are always 2 sides to the story so what maybe missing here is how the couple cut in, or how beligerent, or obnoxious, or how rude they were to other passengers or maybe they had threaten physical volience to the staff.

Since we were among the first group to disembark so there were no issues. Our group of 12 get off at the same time and as a matter of fact, not all the booths were open when we were at immigration. Maybe only 8 lines were operating. (24 lines were working when we return to the ship)

I would guess that most independent passenegrs disembarked before the Princess tour passenegers so it wasn't really a big issue.

I didn't persoanlly see blatant situation where they let Princess tour passenegers off first before they let the indepedent tour passenegers off. When you ahve a few thousand people leaving all at once, line ups and waits are invitable.

To the ship's credit, they did warn everyone the day before through various means (Princess patter, the chatter by the cruise directors after the shows, TV port talk etc) that the immigration process is going to be long, and it will take proabbly an hour to disembark all the passengers and through immigration, and they asked everyone to be paitent and please assemble your entire group before you proceed to the designated waiting area.

They don't specifically talked about the indpendent tours but they said get your whole group together if you want to be on the same bus with your friends while going on the Princess excursions.

Alla Tour had 7 vans there and ours was the second one to leave; and when we were at the first stop, there were 4 Alla tour guides that I spotted so they had obviosuly caught up and most indepedent tours passenegers got off okay.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 12:59 PM
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Thanks for the clarification E. I would not want to see line jumping either. How was Alla?
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 01:40 PM
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I was thinking about the line jumping also. Certainly not fair to the others who made an effort to be on time.

I told our group to make sure we are all together 15 minutes before we disembark.

Since I am a fast walker, I was at the head of the group, when I reached the disembark place ( Gang Walk), the fellow unhooked the chain and said "Have a nice day."

And that was it.!
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 03:09 PM
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Larry, Alla Tour is great and I will definietly recommned them for Tallinn and St. Petersberg. We didn't use Alla for Warnermude (Berlin) or Stockholm, but we did use their service for Helsinki.

We had a great guide in St. Peterberg. Tallinn's guide is good also. Helsinki is not so hot as the guy is probably very green. More on that on my TR.

We didn't use Alla for Stockholm but the people we are with in St. Petereberg booked Alla Tour for Stcokholm. We ran into them several times throughout Stockholm and when I talked to them back on the ship, their comment on the Stockholm guide was "the same as Helsinki".

Weather played a very big part on this trip. The wind was strong at Copenhagen. the outside staircase at Vor Frelser Kirke (Our saviour’s church) was closed due to weather.

Percy, we stayed at the Scandic Weber (2 blocks from the Tivoli Garden) and it took us about half an hour to walk from there to the church. I thought it was breezy but not all that windy (having been to St. John's Signal Hill just a few days earlier, and yes, it's really windy there, probably worst than Chicago) so we were quite disappointed that the outside stairs were closed.

I guess if I wanted to go up that outside staircase that badly, I will have to go back. Copenhagen is on our return list, in addition to St. Petersberg, and a few other places.

The wind was so bad at Aahaus that we ended up missing the port. It was gale force wind which would be a minimum of force 7 wind (Beaufort scale).

The captain annonced that in consultation with the pilot and port authority, it was determined that it would be unsafe for the ship to navigate through the narrow channels even with the aid of tug boats as the wind was too strong. So, we ended up with an extra sea day.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 03:40 PM
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Wow!

Did you ever have bad weather. The luck of the draw I guess ,what else can one say.

I am sure in Copenhagen, the outside staircase was closed, they would not want anyone climb those stairs in the wind.

I can recall that is was a gorgeous day when I climbed the stairs but when I got to the top ,I was surprised as to how windy it was at the top.

So yes, I can see why they closed it on a bad weather day.

I know exactly where the Scandic Weber Hotel is, so you were very close to Tivoli and the Town Hall Square, and The Central Train Station.

I agree with you Signal Hill is always windy.... it was when I was there, but the view is nice.

Gee whiz, you missed Arhus..... what a bad break.

Looking forward to the Trip Report.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 04:55 PM
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I am looking f/w to the TR as well. Cheers E!
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