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Thoughts on Using Private Tours in St Petersburg Russia on Baltic Cruises

Thoughts on Using Private Tours in St Petersburg Russia on Baltic Cruises

Nov 20th, 2006, 03:16 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,426
Hi Percy: Well I just don't like to be late for anything. The cruise is 10 days, has two sea days, begins in Copenhagen and has stops in Stockholm, Helsinki, two days in St. Petersberg, Oslo, Tallinn and Gdansk. Cheers, Larry
jacketwatch is offline  
Nov 20th, 2006, 05:24 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 13,024
Hi jacketwatch

The tour sounds pretty good to me.

You are hitting all the major points,

In June , you say, you never know, might see you there.!!

Take Care
Percy is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2006, 02:08 PM
Posts: n/a
Couple years ago we were in the Baltics, and we hired a private guide for 4 days in St. Petersburg. Not so good, she was habitually late, spoke limited English, and had her own routine. She dragged us all over, notwithstanding we have her a list of priorities, but she had a 'format' and a 'program' and wouldn't be disuaded. Her speaking was canned, and if you asked her a question, she had no idea how to answer, so simply didn't. Wish I could remember what outfit she was with...but it pays to have some references and feedback. This guide was arranged thru our travel agent who assured us that she was good.
Nov 24th, 2006, 06:36 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,426
Percy: i haven't booked yet but will let you know when I do. Perhaps we can meet. Cheers, Larry
jacketwatch is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 04:37 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 22
In 2002 we toured St. Petersburg with Denrus. We were 2 couples and were delighted by Olga,with whom we corresponded and set up our schedule, the tour guide whose English was wonderful and the driver. We had a comfortable van and had all of our objectives met.

Anyone who plans to go on their own or who uses a private guide that cannot get group visas, will require a visa which they must get at home. At the time that we were there only Denrus and Red October were permitted to get the group visa as is used`by the ship's tours. Now I hear of Alla.

As I have posted in various places, the reasons for choosing one of these tours are no waiting for 40-50 people to;
get on the bus
get off the bus
use the washroom facilities
buy souvenirs
With a small group you can hear everything the guide says and can ask more questions. Private guides get into the museums without waiting. (I remember passing our shipboard friends who were waiting on long lines and waving to them.)This allows you to visit many more places than the ship's tours do.

As a word of caution, make sure that the company or guide that you choose can get that special visa for your visit. Without a visa you may not be able to disembark in Russia as the ship's tours may be filled at that time.

Do your homework. The payoff is big

Canam is offline  
Nov 26th, 2006, 01:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 13,024

I know that you were on the Celebrity Century Cruise ship for your Baltic Cruise.( 12 days)

This ship has 1870 passengers, so it is a nice sized ship.

Did you run into any turbeluent waters where people became seasick due to the motion of the ship.?

Holland American also has a 14 days cruise leaving about July 10th 2007.

This ship ( The Prinsendam) has only 793
Has anyone been on this ship and if so, what was the crusing like.

Finally there is the Star Princess which sails from Copenhagen in June 2007 ( for 10 days) , and this ship has 2600 passengers and therefore is a large ship.

I just came off the Grand Princess last month after a 16 days Mediterranean Cruise, so I know what a larger ship is like .

The problems is in trying to figure out what ports of call you want to have besides the usualy ones.

For example, the Century one has no Poland and No Germany.

One of the Star Princess cruises has no Oslo but has Germany and the other has Oslo but no Germany.

Of course the 14 day Holland American has them all...

I am going with 4 other people , so they have a say also , right now we are in the "thinking " stages.

Any help would be greatfully appreciated


Percy is offline  
Nov 26th, 2006, 07:55 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 56
RE Percy's question about the Prinsendam, we toured on her for 16 wonderful days from Rome to Istanbul in September, 06. We prefer to steer clear of the mega ships and this is one of just a few moderately priced cruises on a ship of this size. The comfortable, well-designed cabins and public rooms are more than adequate, the food was very good (and the specialty restaurant, the Pinnacle, was excellent). Surprisingly, the entertainment on our cruise was well above average and the "Enrichment Series" speaker was SUPERB. Would I prefer to be on the Regent Seven Seas ships of the same size? You bet! But at about half the price, the Prinsendam was great!

alcorjd is offline  
Nov 26th, 2006, 08:12 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Thanks alcorjd

Nice to know that you found the Prisendam a good ship.

Their cruise is for 14 days, so it is something to consider.

Once again thank you for your helpful advice.

Percy is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 06:28 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 56
To BillJ--we are planning a Baltic cruise and like your suggestion about a private tour in St. Petersburg. How do you contact Alla Tours? I've tried all sorts of combinations and also google...with my level of internet expertise I need help!

alcorjd is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 07:10 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 955
Alcorjd: You can find alla at http://www.alla-tour.com/

Percy: We picked our cruise largely on the basis of itinerary and time of the summer. I wanted to be on board on July 1 for my wife's birthday, and the itinerary offered by Century matched my desired ports. St Pete was a must. Then it was a matter of what cities we wanted to see, or didn't mind not seeing. Process of elimination.
We are not "cruisers" This was our first one, and honestly, probably not another one for some time. Not our preferred style of travel. Having said that, we enjoyed our on-board times immensely, and thought the ship was terrific. It was a perfect way for us to see what we wanted to see. We did, however, view the ship as a conveyance (a pretty classy one at that), clearly not the way most on board viewed the ship. Some people did not go ashore, even in St Pete. That amazed us.
After narrowing down the ships to the desired time period, I was drawn to the Century in part because of its size "smaller" than many. Had there been a smaller ship with my itinerary available for the time period, I probably would have taken it.
Don't know about sea sickness. The North Sea out of Amsterdam was a bit rough, but once in the Baltic Sea, smooth as glass.
BillJ is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 11:11 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Thanks BillJ

I have saved and /or printed all your reports and comments.

If I go I also want to go in June as our summer is too nice to be away from and our winters are too cold.!

Thanks very much for your help and comments


Percy is offline  
Mar 6th, 2007, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5
We were visiting St.Petersburg with the Baltic Cruise last year in June. It is the period of White nights in St.Petersburg. It is the breathtaking and the most romantic time in St.Petersburg. It is unbelievable - you can read the newspaper at 3 am without any extra light. There is only one disadvantage, it is difficult to fell asleep. Our guide Anastasia (http://www.anastasiaworld.com) offered us the most exciting tour in our life: river and canal night cruise under the open bridges. That was outstanding. Glad to share. We really like Anastasia's service. It was very flexible and personal.
Cruiser56 is offline  
Jun 27th, 2007, 11:45 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 167
Bill J, Many thanks for all the info. We are going on a Star Princess Baltic Cruise in August...getting very excited. I have been doing lots of research on St. Petersburg and looking at Red October for private tours. We have 2 kids with us, so don't want to totally wear them out, so think a private tour would be very beneficial.

Jacketwatch, did you end up going on the Star Princess Baltic in June...would love to hear your view?
swissgirl is offline  
Jun 27th, 2007, 12:29 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Yes Swiss miss we did and returned June 21. My review is posted here and on cruisecritic. I talked to some folks who did take the RO private tour and they, like all the others I have read about who used them rave about them. The ships tours begin no later than 0715 both days and end between 1630 and 1700. Thats a long two days for adults, let alone kids. Also I wonder if the kids may get bored by all the museum stuff and palaces. A private tour, though more $$$ would seem to be a very good option, esp. with kids. I don't know what seating you have but we had first which begins at 1745. What we chose to do was have dinner at Sabatinis the first night in St. Petes. That way you can make a later reservation and have some time to relax B4 dinner when you get back to the ship. for convienence dinner the second night in Russia, if not he first was open seating due to the long tours. Cheers, Larry
jacketwatch is offline  
Jul 1st, 2007, 05:30 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 56
We just returned home June 16 from a Baltic cruise (Holland America). Our two-day experience in St Petersburg on a private tour (Alla) was the absolute highlight of our trip. At least 4 small groups (10 and under) went with Alla and a few others with Red October and DenRus--with unanimous rave reviews. If possible, try to leave the ship before or, if you must, after the hordes on the ship's excursions. Otherwise, the lines can be long going through Russian customs/security. The small tour companies park their vehicles very close to the security exit and are very easily accessed. We envy you--would like to repeat the experiences!
alcorjd is offline  

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