Need info re:St Petersburg DenRus/Red October private tours
A group of us are booked on Princess cruise to arrive St Petersburg on June 18. We have decided to use either DenRus or Red October. We have a couple of questions we need help on - in case you have experienced these two private tours:
1. We have read reviews that Red Oct have means of getting through long lines at various sites without waiting, does DenRus have the same ability to do that?
2. Princess specifically said that they would allow passengers who signed up Princess tours to disembark the ship first prior to other passengers who signed up on private tours. Is that your experience?
Yes, DenRus has the same means to bypass the lines. I have read on another cruise message board that Princess does not enforce that policy of making you wait while the tours disembark. Just go down to the deck where the gangway is and exit with them. Noone will even know.
There is a huge amount of information on the message boards of cruise critic dot com if you have not already discovered this website.
I believe if you take an "independent" tour in Russia you will need to purchase a visa (at approx $250 per person).
If you take the ship's tours, there is no need to pay for a visa. When we visited St. Petersburg, the ship supplied tours started prior to the official opening time of the Hermatige Museum. This gave us a head start on all the crowds.
We also had the ship's tour of Peterhof Palace prior to the official opening, and had a "private" dinner, folk show, and tour of St. Catherine's Palace.
I want to thank everyone for your input. I know it takes time for you to do so, and I truly appreciate it. I find it extremely difficult to choose between DenRus and Red Oct, but i know I will not go wrong choosing either one. Both came very highly recommended.
Thank you again ....
Note to SLOT1 - I found out from others web responses that there are better and cheaper ways to go than the cruise ship's tours. The cruise ship's tour typically have a bus full of people. When you go to local tour operators like Red Oct and DenRus, you can go in much smaller groups and surprisingly, a group of 6 of us can get a private van cheaper than the ship's tour. With these two tour groups you do NOT need your own VISA. And you can change the itinerary or duration of stay at each location at your choice. They are not subject to a set time schedule.
We used "Red October" in '04 and could not have been happier. We didn't do it to save $ but rather to maximize the $ we were spending. We had a private driver and guide with "RO" for the same $ the ship was charging to put us on the bus tours. At the "Hermitage," we did get to cut into the front of the line which was embarrassing. At the prison, we had a private tour since they timed our tour in between bus tours. Their radio communications with spotters at the various sites made it seem effortless since they helped time our arrival and even suggested alternate gates/routes to our guide. We did up the amount of the tips since we were their only customers for two days but we had SUCH a great time, we never regretted the expenditure. Our guide also took us on the "Metro" which wasn't on the tour but quiet an experience! We have tokens as souvenirs.
I'm sure "Princess" does try to encourage guests to use the ships tours the same way "RCI" did to us but the prior post about heading down to "customs" is correct. "RCI" had guests with independent tours meet at a specific location before disembarkation. That was to keep us there so they could process all the guests who had purchased ship's tours first (still referring to St Petersburg). The second day we wised up and headed on out but we had plenty of time to see everything we wanted to, and more.
The only thing I have read that puts either Red October or Denrus as the the better of the two is that Denrus appears to be more flexible if you are doing a private tour and want to do something a little different than the norm. Everything I have read about both companies has been very complimentary. The problem customizing the tour was about the only negative I have read, and it was only one person's opinion. I think you will not go wrong in using either one of them. We selected Denrus due to the Value Excursion pricing and it included everything we wanted to see.
we're on Princess May 25th sailing. we did much research and decided to go with Denrus mainly because they are an American company with full insurance and long time experience doing cruise tours. they are currently the official shore excursion company for P & O shipping out of Britain. they are cheaper than the ship tours. they have the early access to the museums etc. they are prompt in returning phone calls (USA phone number). Also, the reviews on the different travel websites for Denrus are glowing. Who did you decide to go with?
thank you everyone for your responses. It wasn't an easy choice picking one of the two tour companies. We ended up going with Red October only because we liked their proposed itinerary slightly better, they accept credit card payment for the balance without a fee, they turned out a little lower than DanRus... None of these are important issues. Like Virgenia said, I don't think we will go wrong with either one. Again, we feel very fortunate to have found out about them instead of joining a hugh bus tour with the cruise. There will only be 6 of us, and amazingly it's cheaper than going with the cruise.