Peggy: Check with your TA, but I feel certain that a visa is required if you plan to
go ashore "on your own". On a previous try to Russia we took a cruise tour withou
a visa, but were denied reentry without one. If you have any plans to go "on your
own" it would be wise to make sure.
This is absolutely the way it is. You stick with the ship's tours, and that does include private car and driver booked by the ship. but anything you do on your own, you need visas, that includes getting off the ship and walking around.
(In St. Peetersburg two years ago WITH visas)