My husband and I are on the Grand, June 28th. From what I gather from the various bulleting boards, no visa's are required. St. Petersburg is another story. You must either take the land tour through the cruise line or go through an independent tour company. If you go through a local company i.e. Red October or Denus (sp?) you fall under their umbrella with regard to the visa. You are not allowed to set foot on Russian soil without your own visa or under the umbrella of someone else's i.e. ship/independent tour company. See site "cruisecritic" for all kinds of additional information. They also have a Baltic ports site. We are using Red October and through them are planning our trip and making minor adjustments to the itinerary they sent us. All the information I have obtained is that they are 1/2 the price of the cruise ship. Good luck.