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Best Private travel group in Saint Petersburg

Best Private travel group in Saint Petersburg

Old Apr 23rd, 2002, 03:09 PM
Jay H
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Best Private travel group in Saint Petersburg

My wife and I will be on cruise of Baltic areas leaving 8-3-02 from Dover. We are not sure which private travel agency to go with in Saint Petersburg. Two that have been mentioned are Red October and Denrus. Is there any difference between the two? Are there other ones just as good where we would not have to worry about getting Visas. Any suggestions appreciated.
Old May 3rd, 2002, 09:49 PM
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My husband and I are going on a Baltic cruise in July -- and I just spent much of yesterday and today chasing around getting pictures, etc. and sending half a pound of related stuff to get a visa to enter Russia when the ship docks in St. Petersburg. We want to be able to walk around the city ourselves -- not be tied-in to having to take the group tours offered from the ship. UNFORTUNATELY THE RULES ARE THAT IF YOU ARE NOT WITH THE GROUP TOURS ORGANIZED FROM THE SHIP, YOU EITHER GET YOUR OWN VISA -- OR STAY ON THE SHIP. It seems that the group visa for passengers who take the (usually very expensive) shore excursions offered by the ship does not cover passengers who want to do some sightseeing on their own. I would suggest you contact the company whose ship you are going to be on and ask them to send you all papers necessary to process your visa application. It could take a few weeks. They supposedly do it in "not less than two weeks" for $70 -- but faster service costs more. GOOD LUCK!!!!
Old May 3rd, 2002, 10:12 PM
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Poppy is right about requiring a Visa. We too were on a Baltic Cruise. We looked into getting our own Visas and doing our own tours but others suggested forget it....just go with the tours that the cruise line offered. We did and now I'm glad. We saw so much in the 3 days we were in St. Petersburg. It was a busy time but we saw it all, even did a night outing to a wonderful Folklore show. I really would just bite the bullet and go with the organized tour through the cruise line. They're very efficient and so informative. You'll feel like you've spent a month there all in a couple of days. Tom
Old May 4th, 2002, 01:59 PM
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You might want to consider if you are going to most of the sites that the ship tours include you might waste a lot of time in long lines.

From all I have read I felt the private tour guides was the best price and we will see more than the ship tours and didn't have the extra expense of the $70 visa.

We picked Red October because Laura has good referrals from the cruisecritic.com message board. Plus she is very organized and has answered all my questions, added and deleted stops and is just EZ to work with. We are not in the process of adding a few stops so we are able to walk around with the locals. Good Luck with what ever you decide.
Old May 5th, 2002, 03:44 PM
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Jay, I've read that Denrus used to be west-east which was managed by Laura who started up Red October. So I imagine that the tours will be fairly similar. Both do not require visas. Laura was very easy to work with and allowed us to customize the itinerary.

We used west-east last year and really enjoyed our day with the guide, Kira. It was a little more expensive than the ship tour but we got to see a lot more than anyone on the ship tours. And we got to eat lunch with a Russian family and had lots of time to shop compared with the ship tours which was a complaint that I heard from our table mates. Be sure to have Yusopov Palace included on your tour. It doesn't show up on some must see lists but it was an interesting look at how the wealthy lived in St. Pete. And there's the added bonus of the wax statue of Rasputin

Poppy, a couple of suggestions for you if you are going it alone from the dock. Presuming that you dock way out like we did, the walk from the dock to passport control was very long so look for the bus which was free or grab one of the taxis that sit out there. They may charge you $5 but believe me it is well worth it. Once past passport control, we were able to find a bus but it was a couple of blocks away and you will need rubles for it. It's probably easier to take a taxi. Try to get something that notes where the ship is located in Cyrillic before you leave the ship to show the taxi driver. The language barrier is fairly significant in Russia, we were finally able to wave down a private car and have them take us back to the ship (a fairly common practice there, our guidebook said to avoid them if you are not the only passengers). And bring a good map, I liked the one in the Eyewitness guide as it had all the streets on it.

And I initally balked at taking any guided tours but we decided to do one day with a private guide and one day without. Although I really enjoyed wandering by ourselves, the lines can be long and the guides whisk you through them. You might consider doing one day on your own and one day with a guide. It was interesting talking to someone who lived there.
Old May 17th, 2002, 09:44 AM
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Hi Jay
I would like to echo some of the previous comments. My husband and I will be taking an NCL Baltic cruise in August and we too will be using Red October to tour on both days we're in St. Petersburg. You might like to visit the Baltic and Europe sctions of the "Ports" message boards at www.cruisecritic.com - there have been many discussions about various tour agencies, the advantages and disadvantages, visa requirements (the tour agency will get one for your group) etc. Hope that helps! Bev
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