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SHORE EXCURSIONS USE SHIP OR OTHER-WHICH IS BEST

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Dec 19th, 2004, 11:05 AM
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SHORE EXCURSIONS USE SHIP OR OTHER-WHICH IS BEST

This July we will be traveling the Prinsendam to Northern Europe. We will be making stops at Ronne, Visby, Helsinki, St. Petersburg (we were there when it was Stalingrad 35 years ago),Tallin, Stockholm, Warnemunde, and Copenhagen. My question is we would like to take tours in all these places but the prices the ship wants for them is outrageous. What website or where would we go to find GOOD AND RELIABLE tours in these places that are reasonable? I have read where if you go to off ship tours you can run into a lot of problems. Especially taking the train from Warnemunde into Berlin. I would appreciate any and all help and advice.

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Dec 19th, 2004, 08:45 PM
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St Petersburg used to be named Leningrad, it became St Petersburg again in 1991. It used to be named Petrograd but was named Leningrad after Lenin's death in 1924.

Stalingrad is the former name of the present day city of Volgograd, a city on the lower Volga.

For photos of both cities and other cities of Russia have a look at:

http://community.webshots.com/user/wu687
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Dec 20th, 2004, 12:24 AM
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We took a private tour in St. Petersburg arranged by ship. Was very expensive but worth every penny. I see many people mention using Red October there. You might check into booking directly with them. You'll need visa there. For as far as I know, the private guide the ship arranged could have been with Red October. I don't think there are too many tour companies there.
For Berlin I'd go with the ship. I don't want to take a chance when so many different logistics involved. Berlin was the most disappoining. I've been there, I'm glad I've done it, and I won't do it again. In every other port you can just walk or take a taxi from the pier. Once you are in the center, you can walk everywhere. In Copenhagen there's a sightseeing bus coming to the cruise dock area every thirty minutes or so. Very cheap. Just hop on.
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Dec 20th, 2004, 12:22 PM
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Some information for cruise ship passengers that visit St Petersburg,

See: http://www.russianguidenetwork.com/new_page_58.htm
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Dec 20th, 2004, 03:18 PM
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Garfield:
Thanks for your info about the information about the web site for cruise passengers.

As I said in my post, we were in the Soviet Union (now Russia) 35 Years ago. We were there for 6 weeks and went to many of the cities that have now had a name change so we are quite familiar with Russia. St. Peterburg was Petrograd for hundreds of years util the Communists named it Leningrad. Petrograd was Peter the Great's major accomplishment. He built it. You see, Peter the Great, in my miind, was one of the greatest rulers the world has ever seen. Read his biography and you will see why I say that.
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Dec 20th, 2004, 04:03 PM
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The original name for Saint Petersburg was Sankt Pietr Burkh ( Saint Peter Burg). Peter named it after his patron saint.

At the outbreak of WW1, the name St Petersburg was deemed too Germanic and replaced with the more Russian-sounding Petrograd.

Petrograd was renamed Leningrad after Lenin's death in 1924.

In 1991 the citizen's of the city voted to bring back the name of St Petersburg. The region around the city is still known as Leningradskaya oblast.
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Dec 20th, 2004, 05:25 PM
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Hello, We will be on a ship that leaves Copenhagen on a Sat. night, traveling to Finland, and we have 2 1/2 days in St. Petersburg. How far is the city from the dock? I would love to have English speaking tour guides for 8 people for private tours. Please let me know who you reccommend. Arlene [email protected] Also, which hotels in Stockholm, at the end, and Copenhagen, beginning of cruise would you say are the nicest? thanks [email protected]
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Dec 21st, 2004, 08:28 AM
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For information about visit to St Petersburg and guide service see:
http://www.petersburgguide.com/index.shtml
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Dec 22nd, 2004, 08:32 AM
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I was in St. Petersburg on an RCCl cruise in 2003. I opted for the ship's tours because I didn't want to do much shopping and I didn't want to buy a visa ($50US PP). I was very frustrated by the number of people on my tours who fussed and complained because they weren't able to shop. When I asked them why they hadn't picked a different tour, they said, "The visas are too expensive."

I was glad that I had chosen the all day tours each day as Legend of the Seas was berthed at the commercial piers and it took an hour to get into the pier. Going back to the ship after a 3 or 4 hour tour and having lunch and going back out would have been a huge waste of time. Maybe a smaller ship would have been closer in.

The other advantage of ships' tours of course is the cruise line knows which tour companies to trust and usually picks very good buses and guides. Your museum tickets and reservations are made so lineups are minimal. That was very important at the Hermitage. Our lunches both days were at the very nicest restaurants, with excellent local cuisine, bottled water, clean restrooms, and folkloric entertainment. We did have brief (30 minute) shopping opportunities, but the emphases was on the sites. Also, there is a crew member with the tour that can contact the ship quickly if necessary. In a technologically different place, that has been important, when e.g. there are unforeseen weather or accidents or road closures.

So, please, know what you want before you book. If you want to shop, check out whether you need a visa with the private guide you hire. If you go with the ship's tours, don't expect that the 45 other people who paid for the tour will miss their reservations and wait 90 minutes for your 4 members to go shopping just because you didn't want to buy 4 visas.
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Dec 22nd, 2004, 06:17 PM
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My DH and I were Stockholm, Helsinki, Warnemunde, St. Petersburg and Tallin. Unfortunately I didn't disembark at Tallin because of a severe cold but it is a city that you can walk from the dock to see everything. In Stockholm, we took a Hop-on, Hop-off bus. Our highlight was the Vasa Museum. In Helsinki we did the same but you can take a tram which go the tourist route for the same fare as the other trams. Don't miss the Rock Church.

For Berlin take the ships tour or transportation to Berlin. We didn't go there but it is too risky with the time schedule. The ship waits only for their own tours.

I saved the best for last. We hired a guide and driver from Denrus. We were a group of four. We were always able to hear the guide and see what she pointed out to us.We did not have to wait for 40-50 people to board the bus, disembark the bus, buy souvenirs or use the washroom facilities. We had preplanned our itinerary and they got us in to everywhere without waiting on line (many of them were long). We did not need to get a visa as Denrus arranged it for us. We saw many more places in the 2 days then you could have on the ship's tours because we didn't have to wait.

I believe that only 2 companies will get your visa; Denrus and Red October. This is truly the best way to go.
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Jan 4th, 2005, 05:47 PM
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For a ton of information on the ports you are calling on, I would recommend that you visit the following:
cruisecritic.com, boards, scroll to PORTS OF CALL, click onto BALTIC PORTS

There is a lot there to help you. We took the Red October tour for three days last June and it was fantastic. No visa required, they take care of it for you. Hooked up with two other couples for good rates.
Wonderful ports and really there is no need to take ships tours if you are the slightest bit adventuresome. Most times there are taxis available to take you around, or try to hook up with others for a van with driver/guide. Just takes some advance work on the internet or use a good guide book. In Tallin, a cab took us to a few sights and then dropped us off in the center which was very walkable. Taxied back, but others walked. Have fun.
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