Just received our Shore Excursion Guide for Constellation July 31 Scandinavia & Russia cruise. We have booked with DenRus for a 2 day tour for 4 persons. According to DenRus we will be covered by a blanket group visa and do not need to get individual visas. We have received individual daily tickets to show we are traveling with DenRus. But according to the guide [page 4] "Guests who have not purchased a Celebrity Cruises shore excursion and who do not have an individual Russian visa will not be allowed to go ashore in St. Petersburg."
How have those of you with Red October and/or DenRus made out. Did you have trouble departing the ship? How did it all shape up.
I just downloaded the 9 page instructions from Zierer Visa Service, as outlined in the Shore Excursion Guide and the price for visas through them and vouched for by Celebrity is $307 for two persons.
In a quandry at the moment. Don't want to go on the Constellation shore excursions but don't want to be sitting on the ship for two days! Help please.
I am in the same situation, but going with Radisson, Aug. 20. We are also doing a post cruise tour to Moscow. We are going to get visas through Zierer Visa Service just to be safe. I figure we're spending enough to do the cruise, we might as well be safe and spend some more to get a visa. Hope you have a great trip. Be sure to report back when you return for the rest of us who are going after you.
Well, we're leaving Wednesday for England to catch the Connie for the Baltic. We're doing St. Petersburg with Red October, and they have sent us official letters with their license number and other data which they assure us will get us off the ship.
If you read the posts from others who have used Red October (and I presume the other tour operators as well), they say without exception that these documents work fine with no problem. The reliable Kuki of this board is one of the many people who have done this with no problem.
Now, it is true that the cruise line says exactly what you say it says. But it's not hard to imagine why. They will do everything they can to induce you to take ship's tours, up to and including saying that you can't get off the ship without an individual visa unless you go with their program.
They've conveniently omitted reference to other licennsed tour operators who have the same priviliges as the one(s) they use for their own shore excursions.
When you look at the markups they receive as middleman for the ship's tours, it's not hard to imagine why they stack the deck to convince you to go with them.
We haven't gotten individual visas, and we fully expect not to have any problems in St. Petersburg.
We used Red October last August without any trouble. I think the cruise lines are just trying to intimidate you into taking their tours. We got off the ship and showed our passes from R.O. and our guide was waiting just five feet away in case of any problems. If you are using R.O. or Denrus, DO NOT apply for a private visa. Some people on the cruisecritic board got all screwed up because they booked R.O. and got their own Visa through the Ship with Zierer visa Service. The cruise line info appears on your info sheet for Immigration and you can't go with R.O. or Denrus and you'll be stuck on the ship. Just keep checking this board and cruisecritic's "Ports of Call" board for info.
Thanks to all for the input.
Just got an email from Olga at DenRus and she noted that the cruise lines trying to prevent passengers from using outside agencies. Now that more people are using the internet, they realize that there are many more opportunities out there.
Looked at the visa application from Zierer and will not do that as we will be covered by the 'blanket' visa from DenRus. We already have the passes for the two days of tour.
I'm confused as to what you mean about booking a tour with RO, and getting Russian visas, and not being able to get off the ship, because the immigration forms have the cruise line name?? The reason I'm asking, I am touring with RO in July, AND am getting visas so I can sightsee independently. I have vouchers and an invitation letter from RO, but will also have a visa. Just followed their directive.
I'm one of many who went with Red October last year using their group visa and did not have an individual visa. I've never heard of anyone who booked through Red October or Denrus having a problem. I also agree with the speculation that this is the cruise line's attempt to ensure that the tour dollars are spent on the ship. On our Mediterranean cruise a couple of weeks ago, the shore excursions were really being pushed, and I heard a number of statements that I would consider to be not quite truthful from the shore excursion staff such as that private drivers are more expensive (that's just not true if you have someone to split the costs), the taxis will not be waiting, etc.