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MiamiBeachMomma Apr 29th, 2016 11:41 AM

St Petersburg 3 day Shore Tours from Cruise
 
We are on a cruise this summer that has a 3 day stop in St P. I'm looking at the different options for visa free tours. I have been looking at Allah Tours - they have great reviews. Wondering if anyone has any feedback on the option to go to Moscow for the 2nd day via train vs spending the 3 days in St. P. Its tempting!!!

http://alla-tour.com/tours/

Any other advice?

Evening ballet?

Jewish Heritage Tour option?

We are also in Stockholm (arriving 3 days before sailing), Helsinki - 1 day, and Copenhagen - (overnight stop) if anyone wants to throw in advice on those ports, I'm all ears!!

We finish in Hamburg - we we are flying back from Berlin - we are spending 2 days in Berlin.

jtgarland May 2nd, 2016 02:12 AM

I have done the same cruise, one of the best we have taken.

Three days will give you the basic overview of St Petersbug. It is the "Imperial" city; if you are interested in how the Tsar's lived, their palaces, cathedrals and tombs then stay in St Petersburg. Get reservations for the Gold and Diamond rooms at the Hermitage if possible.

I have friends who took the day trip to Moscow. It is not possible to visit many places in one day, most of it will be spent on the train. Then arriving you will drive by the important sites, i.e, that is the Kremilin on the right, St Basils on the left, Lenin's tomb up above, etc. If you do got to Moscow try to at least get inside the Kremlin and visit the Armoury where the Romonov's jewels, crowns and carriages are displayed.

Have a great trip, it has been one of our highlights in 35 years of traveling.

traveller1959 May 2nd, 2016 07:17 AM

Although we did not use Alla Tours but a competitor (Anastasia), I understand that all this private VIP tours are excellent. You will be treated like royalty and see twice as much as the cruise ship excursions.

These tour operators offer highly personalized tours. Just send them an email with your wishes before you finalize the booking.

I can strongly recommend an operar or ballet performance at the Marinskii. We did it this way:

The private tour guide picks you up at the dock. Then they drive you with a minivan through town. We made them bring us back to the ship in the afternoon. Then we had a quick dinner in the ship's buffet restaurant, dressed and went out again. The bus picked us up, drove us to the theatre and brought us back after the performance. All brilliantly done.

Moscow or not? Sankt Petersburg was the old captital and it is MUCH more beautiful than Moscow which has a very small historic centre. So, from a point what to see and to do, a third day in Sankt Petersburg has more to offer than half a day in Moscow (subtract the boring train ride).

However, if you want to go home and tell afterwards that you had made it to Moscow, it is a story.

danon May 2nd, 2016 09:36 AM

Moscow is a huge city ,there is so much to see ...
Although SP is very beautiful, Moscow is more interesting IMO.
( and older than SP)
There is enough to keep you busy in SP for 3 days.

MiamiBeachMomma May 2nd, 2016 03:29 PM

We are nixing Moscow - not worth the expense to sit on the train for 8 hours in one day and see very little. I guess we will have to venture back via plane with a visa in the future :)

Any other comments on the other ports?

jan47ete May 2nd, 2016 06:47 PM

There is nothing to see during the day, so would you consider taking the night train?

traveller1959 May 3rd, 2016 06:27 AM

Stockholm has a beautiful, yet compact Old Town and many museums. It is easy to fill three days there - look into a guidebook, you will need it for three days. A highlight of your cruise will be cruising through the skars, the little islands. So, do not miss it - or do it with a small boat during your first days.

Copenhagen belongs to the most beautiful cities in Europe, because its Old Town is very large. The ships docks in walking distance to the Old Town (in fact, you walk along the place where the Little Mermaid is - it is very small indeed), but it may be advisable to take a taxi or shuttle bus, because the main experience is walking through Old Town.

There are several Royal Palaces, museums and historical buildings as well as picturesque historical ports (Nyhavn is the most picturesque one, lined with dozens of restaurants). If you have good weather, a boat trip on the canals is a very good experience.

Helsinki has a rather small and compact city centre. Usually the ships dock in the industrial port, so you have to take a taxi or shuttle bus into the city centre. There you find a mix of historical and modern structures (including the "rock church"), both quite appealing.

am_expat May 9th, 2016 01:55 AM

Of the Baltic destinations, the cutest is Tallinn's historic old town, while the rest of the city is not interesting, Stockholm very nice walking in Gamla Stan, the small perfectly restored very old town...the rest of the city is just like 90% of other European cities, but the reason to even be on that cruise itinerary is St Petersburg. It is the jewel of the Baltic. I agree with others that Moscow is interesting but it is not tourist oriented except in the very heart around the Kremlin. It is a very large city where tourism is a very minor portion of its commercial activity so there is less catering to visitors on holiday. The areas you will want to see is limited to a very small region in the very center. Save Mosocw until you can spend a 4-5 days in a city center hotel. Berlin deserves a lot more time but by the time a train of or bus ride is added into the timing not much can be seen on a 16 hour day.
St Petersburg can be seen in 3 days if the tour is carefully planned. There are about 150 companies registered at the port for accepting cruise passengers. They all have similar tours and copies of tours developed years ago by Red October which has faded during the internet promotion and forum spamming promotion current era, and Denrus which had a great reputation in the industry, has also faded with new ownership, was developer of the private and first guaranteed departure tours that form the basis of all the current companies programs. In the last few years some new-comers with more internet savvy have taken over, the biggest one that dominates is starting to fade and under investigation in 3 countries. Alla is now the second largest, with about 22,000 visitors in the 4 month season, so thinking there is personal contact is an illusion of the internet and marketing more than reality. As with all of them, you get a good tour regardless of company. The individual guide makes 10 times more difference than company that booked them.

A comprehensive 3 day itinerary will cost on average $300 per person, some higher and some lower. The same destinations, vans, drivers and guides are used between all the companies so price is mostly determine by number of reviews. Some companies do not solicit or pay for reviews and some do, a lot.
Get to know the people who recommend any company before taking their advice. That means people you know from face to face personal contact, not forums and user review sites which are very corrupted with fake reviews. The worst is Cruise Critic and second worst is Trip Advisor so it is far better to know who you are actually reading. If in doubt look at their posting history. You will find some of the most influential long time posters with "100 cruises" and 10,000 forum posts really only have one topic, to recommend one company in 90% of those posts and about one visit to one town. Those posts are worth millions in profits so there is a very great incentive to post paid spam.
I have heard of very few people having anything but great opinions of their tour choice. More relaxed tour which are not so rushed to get it all in run $199 now. Ship sold tours are impersonal 50 member bus tours for about $380 so are really the only bad deals.
If France and Italy end the sanctions as their parliaments have voted in July, the ruble will jump in value so prices will have to go up a lot. Even without lifting sanctions the economy has started growing and the ruble has gained 12% in 2 months so expect all prices in dollars to increase over their bargain prices now. Museums increased prices and guides are wanting 20-30% more this year so current low prices will not last much longer. Some museums has risen so much that tour operators and guides have cut them out, for example the Faberge Museum. Those which still visit cut back to a mini-tour only seeing part of the collection.
Have fun, it is a great city and fun. A word of advice, tell your guide right at the start of the tour what style you are interested in. Guides are trained by the museums and who industry in St Petersburg that it is an educational experience. If you like dry history lectures that are filled with dates and 20 facts a minute, which is the norm, tell them you want an overview, conversation instead of lecture. Many guides won't or can't turn off their professor persona. For all, traditionally, the best guides were those who could recite more facts per minute than their cohorts. Cruisers do not travel for travel, they travel as a social activity related to the ship. A Russia visiting the same venues would complain that the guide was not serious if they did not fill the time with facts and detail but it overwhelms most cruise passengers since the background is little known by the visitors so less males sense.

MiamiBeachMomma May 17th, 2016 11:09 AM

expat.....Is there a list anywhere of the approved companies for cruise passengers?

Also you mention issues with unnamed guide companies - can you share those to avoid?

lyn May 20th, 2016 03:04 PM

MiamiBeach Momma,

Have you looked at cruisecritic.com? You can look at a roll call for your specific cruise and do research on any port or any question you might have. It's a great resource.

Good luck.

MiamiBeachMomma May 21st, 2016 06:11 AM

Thanks all!! I found a friend who did a similar cruise and used a private guide they liked! I booked with them. Will report back in the fall with a review!

barry3040 May 26th, 2016 03:19 PM

I would like someone's opinion/recommendation on the following companies for a 3 day tour in StPetersburg -

ALLA
SPB
TJ

thanks !

janisj May 26th, 2016 03:38 PM

barry3040: I'd check either Denrus https://www.denrus.ru

or Tickets & Tours St Petersburg http://www.tickets-and-tours.com

Percy May 26th, 2016 07:14 PM

I took Alla Tours and they were terrific.

They have a "standard tours" where they take you to the major places every tourist wants to and should see.

However you can add any other place you want and Alla will add it in.

My advice is to get off the cruise ship as soon as you are able to and have Alla's people pick you up.

Go early and stay late. never resting, you can do that when you get back home.

Forget going to Moscow, there is too much to see here.

Make a list of all the places that you want to see, then you will not miss what you want to see.

It would help of you knew a bit about St.Petersburg and location of some places.

For example as you drive along, you can ask your guide for a slight detour anytime.

When we were coming from the Peter and Paul Fortress ( across the Neva from the Hermitage), I asked our guide

" Just before you cross the trinity Bridge ,could you please make a left hand turn as I would like to see Peter the Great's original log cabin", ... " then a few block further down is the aurora Cruise , can we take a quick tour there. "?

Boris said " Sure no problem".

As we were approaching the Field or Mars, I once again asked Boris to stop so I could walk over to the Eternal Flame for a picture.

The when we were only a few block away from the Faberge Building I asked him to drive us past the building.!

When you go to Cathrine's Palace and Peaterhof, have the guide drive you one way going there and another way coming back.

For example Moscow Prospekt ( Avenue) going there and the Triuphal Nava arch Gateway coming back.!!


Don't forget your tour guide IS your Visa, so you cannot go wandering on your own !! Alla is responsible for you.


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