Hi Beth and Randy
I tried to email directly but your email address is not valid according to the mail server. Since you are running out of time for this information I'll send the private email to the message board.
"Hello Beth and Randy
I noticed your post on Cruise Mates about the van tours you have reserved
with Arctur through Princess. I am an American living in St Petersburg with
lots of personal experience with the sights and sounds of this great city
and wanted to let you know that you can get a much lower price with one of
the independent tour companies in the city. Princess contracts with one of
the local tour companies, there are 4 main companies(Arctur, Baltic Travel,
Red October and Den Rus Ltd) and this year the contract low bidder is
Arctur. All provide good tours but the problem with the ship sponsored tours
is the high commission that the ship demands means the ship sponsored tours
are higher priced or with fewer features due to that 35-45% commission they
take. I think you still have time to reserve on of the independent
company's tours and save a lot of money and also get a more intensive tour.
I recommend Den Rus Ltd because for one I know the owner well and because it
is the only American -Russian tour company and has brought western style
ethics and customer service to an otherwise iffy industry in Russia.
They can be contacted at email@example.com
I know they charge a lot less and have great reviews on the message boards.
A 6 passenger van with driver and a licensed guide is $225/4hours, and $45
for each hour after that plus a $30 port access fee.
A 14 passenger van with driver and a licensed guide is $270/4hours and $55
for each hour after that plus $30 port access fee. I am sure the other independents have similar prices.
Both Princess and Den Rus have no-penalty cancellation policies so you can
cancel any time up to the start of the tour without a cancelation fee. They
also do not require a deposit.
If you have any questions about St Petersburg in general or sigh-seeing here
let me know, I've been visiting SPb for 26 years and finally moved from my
native San Francisco 2 years ago. I love this city and enjoy sharing
information with visitors.
Have a great trip.