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Old April 15th, 2009, 01:33 AM
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Default St Petersburg, Russia - Port Excursion or Visa?

I am going on a cruise which includes 2 days in St. Petersburg, Russia and learned that you need a visa to go there. The booking agent stated it was both difficult and expensive to get a tourist visa and recommended the shore excursion. If you get the shore excursion, the cost of the visa is included and they get it for you. However, you have to stay with the tour group at all times.

Has anyone traveled here and done either the excursion or the independent visa? I would like to know about your experience and if you recommend it.

In terms of the excursion, it seems there is only one available through the cruise company. Do you know if any others are available?

In terms of the visa, where did you get it, how much did it cost, and how long did it take to obtain it. (I'm leaving in around a month.) Did you feel safe being there without a tour group?

Thanks for your input!
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Old April 15th, 2009, 05:59 PM
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Don't know what cruise line you are on but all I can offer you is what has been written from Carnival's side.
The following is from Johns Blog while they were on the Baltic sailings, specificly St. Petersburg.....

http://johnhealdsblog.com/2008/07/31...ass-of-home-2/
Yes, there were longish lines at the huts used for Immigration but overall things went very well. The Carnival tours and the guests on private tours were allowed to disembark at the same time contrary to speculation on some of the boards. Once ashore, there are two lines……..one for Carnival tours and one for “Independents “as they are called by the Russian officials.
Now, the independent line takes a little longer to go through and that’s got nothing to do with Carnival. This is because the guests on Carnival tours have tickets in their hands which the Immigration Officers recognize as their Visa as well. In the Independent line the officers have to read the letters and information of the group or individual on tour. They are checking to see if they are indeed with a reputable company who have also included visas for the guests. This takes time and again…….this is the same for every cruise line as I saw today with the same situation for guests on the MSC Opera and The Crystal Symphony docked alongside us.
The only guests who were refused entry today were a handful of people who had neither a Carnival Tour or a private excursion.

http://johnhealdsblog.com/2008/08/10...turn-of-bubba/
Day 1
Patience………lots and lots of patience……………that’s what you need here in Russia this morning as the authorities check every passport and tour ticket. I disembarked the guests on private tours first this morning because last week it took the average guest 30 minutes to get through Russian Immigration. This morning, it’s the same. You see, the Carnival Tour ticket serves as a visa but privately booked tours are checked much more carefully to make sure that indeed the tour operator is reputable and that guests are not just hoping to have Sergei the cab driver take them to town.

[url]http://johnhealdsblog.com/2008/08/11/st-petersburg-and-the-right-to-reply/http://<br /> Day 2<br /> The unfo...il & Liz<br />
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Old April 21st, 2009, 12:28 PM
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I highly recommend taking a tour - you want commentary and direct access to the sites. I have done a "day on my own" in St Petersburg and I believe I walked 20 miles. It was great and I saw many things other people have not seen, but I have been there four times anyway.

Off the beaten path but well worth it: the Yusopov Palalce (where Rasputin was murdered). Also the museum of Russian Politics (in the same house as Lenins office) and the apartment museum of Kirov - first communist mayor of Leningrad and first Stalin murder victim.

These are AFTER you see Catherine's Palace, the Summer Palace, Nevsky Prospect and the Hermitage.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 11:38 AM
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I'm currently in the process of getting the visa to do St. Petersburg on our own (I've been before and speak Russian), and to be fair the visa isn't the hard part (fill out a few forms, pay the fee and you're done) - the stupid cargo port is what seems to be making everything difficult. I don't know what ship you're on, but if it is one of the very large variety (like the Emerald Princess), then you'll be in the cargo port, which is a restricted zone. I've gotten a lot of conflicting information from visa companies about whether or not extra permission is required. Some say yes, others say no. If I can ever get a straight answer, then I'll let people know.

If you are up for a little adventure and lots of walking, then I think the DIY route would be very worth it. If you are uncomfortable being on your own and not speaking the language, then a group tour might be better for you.
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Old July 12th, 2009, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: St Petersburg, Russia - Port Excursion or Visa?

Quote:
Originally Posted by readysetgo
I am going on a cruise which includes 2 days in St. Petersburg, Russia and learned that you need a visa to go there. The booking agent stated it was both difficult and expensive to get a tourist visa and recommended the shore excursion. If you get the shore excursion, the cost of the visa is included and they get it for you. However, you have to stay with the tour group at all times.

Has anyone traveled here and done either the excursion or the independent visa? I would like to know about your experience and if you recommend it.

In terms of the excursion, it seems there is only one available through the cruise company. Do you know if any others are available?

In terms of the visa, where did you get it, how much did it cost, and how long did it take to obtain it. (I'm leaving in around a month.) Did you feel safe being there without a tour group?

Thanks for your input!
I totally agree with Paul. St Petersburg is not someplace that you want to try and navigate on your own if you have never been there before or do not speak some Russian.

There are many reputable companies that will handle the visa and supply an excellent tour.

When we were there in May we used Alla Tours/2 Day Complete Tour
http://www.alla-tour.com/interface

For $300US we were in a van with 15 people, taken to all the highlights spots with analysis including Peterhof on the hydrofoil, early entry into the Hermitage, Usupov Palace Visit, Catherines, Peter and Paul's, Church of the Spilled Blood, etc etc. It really covered everything you could possibly want to see, and if you consider what a visa on your own costs, a real bargain. It even included lunch on both days/ 1 a picnic which we ate in a park near a lovely cathedral and the other in a restaurant.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the site in St Petersburg are over vast distances... getting around with a driver who is reliable and honest and knows his stuff is worth every penny!
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 02:53 PM
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What I recommend you is to use tour from independent companies. It is much more cheaper, but it helps you not to do the visa.
When we cruised last year on NCL, we have chosen Shorex.RU. Before that we compared prices and proposals of DenRus, Anastasia, Alla, and realized, it was the best one.
We had 2-day-call, and Shorex.RU organized a very beautiful tour for us, which included Pushkin palace, Peterhof, city sightseeng tour and 2 cathedrals - St. Isac's and St. Savior on the Blood - Spas-na-Krovi in Russian. The last one is the highlight of St. Petersburg. We had an opportunity to taste typical Russian food (very tasty!!!!) and even to take a ride in Russian subway!! These were unforgettable holydays
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