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Comparing SPB & Alla Tours in St. Petersburg


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  • 4 weeks later...

We are planning to take the SPB Deluxe tour. Looking at past CC remarks, it appears that the Hermitage, Peterhof and Catherine's Palace were all built by the same architect and it was suggested that as long as you saw the Hermitage and one other palace, you could feel good about your choice. Of course if you had three days instead of only two..... We are hoping to get a smaller group for the deluxe tour - perhaps 8 total. We are a family of four (we have 2 young adult children in their 20s) and would be interested in knowing if there is another group of 8 that would like to explore this option with us. I think the price would be about $380 pp but will check with Viktoria to see if this is a possibility and if so the exact price.

Thanks,

Barbara

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We are planning to take the SPB Deluxe tour. Looking at past CC remarks, it appears that the Hermitage, Peterhof and Catherine's Palace were all built by the same architect and it was suggested that as long as you saw the Hermitage and one other palace, you could feel good about your choice. Of course if you had three days instead of only two..... We are hoping to get a smaller group for the deluxe tour - perhaps 8 total. We are a family of four (we have 2 young adult children in their 20s) and would be interested in knowing if there is another group of 8 that would like to explore this option with us. I think the price would be about $380 pp but will check with Viktoria to see if this is a possibility and if so the exact price.

Thanks,

Barbara

Hi Barbara,

Your roll call is where you will find tour shares for your sailing. Per board rules, we are allowed to solicit tour shares only on our roll calls. :)

Yes, I had heard the same information regarding the architect Peterhof & Catherine's Palace.

jill

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Thanks for helping with explaining procedure. I am new and don't fully understand how to post and what the rules are. I didn't even know I was posting to someplace other than the roll call. I am still trying to figure out how to post to roll call.

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Which Cruiseline, Ship, and Date of Sailing? We can help you.:) p.s. Vika will help you find others if you can't find someone yourself.

Thanks for helping with explaining procedure. I am new and don't fully understand how to post and what the rules are. I didn't even know I was posting to someplace other than the roll call. I am still trying to figure out how to post to roll call.
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  • 5 weeks later...
We are planning to take the SPB Deluxe tour. Looking at past CC remarks, it appears that the Hermitage, Peterhof and Catherine's Palace were all built by the same architect and it was suggested that as long as you saw the Hermitage and one other palace, you could feel good about your choice. Of course if you had three days instead of only two..... We are hoping to get a smaller group for the deluxe tour - perhaps 8 total. We are a family of four (we have 2 young adult children in their 20s) and would be interested in knowing if there is another group of 8 that would like to explore this option with us. I think the price would be about $380 pp but will check with Viktoria to see if this is a possibility and if so the exact price.

Thanks,

Barbara

 

What ship are you sailing on and when will you be in SPB? We are a family of 3 with a 21yr old and would love to join with someone for a small private deluxe tour with no more than 7-8 people. We are sailing on the Eurodam leaving Copenhagen on May 21 and will be in SPB May 24-25. I have checked with Alla, SPB and TJ tours and they all seem fine.

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What ship are you sailing on and when will you be in SPB? We are a family of 3 with a 21yr old and would love to join with someone for a small private deluxe tour with no more than 7-8 people. We are sailing on the Eurodam leaving Copenhagen on May 21 and will be in SPB May 24-25. I have checked with Alla, SPB and TJ tours and they all seem fine.

 

Go to the Roll Call section of this site, find your cruise line, your ship and the date you are sailing. Surely there will be many people who are on that cruise already posting. That's where you need to ask if people want to join you or if you could join them for any tours.

 

If you get no response or no one is interested, contact the tour company that you want to sue and ask if they can hook you up with a tour4 maybe from another ship. They are very accommodating that way.

 

Cheers

 

Len

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Go to the Roll Call section of this site, find your cruise line, your ship and the date you are sailing. Surely there will be many people who are on that cruise already posting. That's where you need to ask if people want to join you or if you could join them for any tours.

 

If you get no response or no one is interested, contact the tour company that you want to sue and ask if they can hook you up with a tour4 maybe from another ship. They are very accommodating that way.

 

Cheers

 

Len

Hi, thanks for the info. I have already posted in the Eurodam roll call section but no luck. Seems like everyone has already signed on for the group tours. Sorry about posting here too. I responded to the post then read further and saw where posting in roll call is preferred. Sorry for the rookie mistake.

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Contact SPB, that is why I chose them. I didn't want to be bothered with trying to gather a group and have the headache, etc. I simply signed up, told them I wanted a group of 12 and they responded, "no problem". I can't remember Vika's assistant's name, but he is quite helpful and articulate in English. They even mentioned getting folks from another cruiseline, if necessary.

Hi, thanks for the info. I have already posted in the Eurodam roll call section but no luck. Seems like everyone has already signed on for the group tours. Sorry about posting here too. I responded to the post then read further and saw where posting in roll call is preferred. Sorry for the rookie mistake.
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I have contacted all the tours and amazed that it seems to me many did not actually read the specifics that I set forth before they responded the first time. And a few companies, apparently my email went to spam the first time.

As I am traveling with multi-generations with medical needs/issues and there are specific places and things we want to do I knew from experience that we needed and wanted a private tour solely for the 6 of us. Our cruise (Celebrity 7/7/13 sailing from Amsterdam) travelers will be me (turning 50 - my birthday present) Roger my partner (he is 51) my 3 boys twins 16 and oldest 20 and my mom who is 74.

My 3 boys all have a mitochondrial disease (genetic metabolic disease). They are all stable but it makes them tired and at times they need mobility assistance (we have a wheelchair for them like a stroller if needed). My mom needs a wheelchair for any distance and will use that for excursions and we booked her a scooter for use on the ship.

So when I wrote to each company - I was trying to find one that could do all the cities for us but Copenhagen (where none go to as my understanding guides are unionized there). I set forth certain specific things we wanted to see in each country, that we needed private tours only and that we would have a wheelchair. Some comapnies responded with information on their group tours, one totally ignored certain locations that were must sees for us and one indicated that they could not do a tour in Tallinn for us at all as ALL their tours were walking tours. I will not mention yet which company I am leaning towards yet but the one that said sure we can do a drive around Tallinn and then about 45 minute walking tour and there are lots of cafes your mom can sit at or Roger can push her in the wheelchair or she could use her cane, But at least we were given options. Also one comapny told us that for the evening all 6 of us had to go to the same program - but my mom and I most likely will want to see the ballet and Roger and the boys are either going to go on a boat cruise with vodka tasting or to this huge indoor water park in St., Petersburg - one of the largest in the word - that is open to 11pm in a very cool recreational mall like complex.

Here is the sample itinerary for us in St. Petersburg

8.00 am Meeting by the ship

City tour includes driving and photo stops in the most beautiful, historical places of St Petersburg.

10:30-11am Travel to Petergof by hydrofoil ( please, let me know if your mother can do some steps and walk a bit as there are steps tp get on to the hydrofoil and boat and if not, we will replace that by driving by car)

11:00-12.30am guided tour of the Upper gardens and Lower Fountain Park

12:30-1:30 pm Lunch

1:30-2:30pm Driving to Pushkin city

2:30-4:00pm Inside guided tour of Catherine Palace with the Amber Room

4;00-5:00 pm Driving to the city with a short visit of the subway station on the way.

5.00-5.30 guided tour pf the Spilt Blood church

6.00pm Return to the ship or evening optional program (theatre/ folk show/boat trip)

7.00 pm pick up from the ship

Sharon and Mother - ballet ( the play list will be available in late May)

boys and Roger - a trip to the aquapark

23.00 return to the ship

DAY 2

8am Meeting by the ship. Second part of the city tour, visit to the Grand Synagogue - we will appoint a guide who know the Jewish Heritage Tours very well and she knows the Jewish community in St.Ptersburg , so among other sights you will see/ hear a lot about our Jewish community

8.30-9.30 am a boat ride along the rivers and canals0 non- private but in English ) , but we can organise a private one , it will be just more expensive )

9.30-12.00 pm guided tour of the Hermitage museum (early admission, before the official working hours)

12.00-12.30 guided tour of St isaac's cathedral

l12.30-13.30 lunch (optional)

13.30-14.30 guided tour of the Kunstkamera

14.30-15.30 guided tour of Peter and Paul fortress

6.00- pm Return to the ship

So here is a list of what we are looking to see.

 

Tallinn tour, as i mentioned , it is one of the most picturesque baltic capitals, and I would recmmend to have a driving city tour, though it is not 100% driving, there will be a short 45 minutes stroll , and your mother can stay inm one of the numerous cafes in the centre eg on the TownHall square and have a cup of coffee or tea while you are exploring the city.

Berlin - We would like to initially stop at Sachsenhausen, the concentration camp outside of Berlin on our way to Berlin. We do not plan to spend a long time there – just would like to see it. yes, it is possible to add that to your tour We also would like to see Hitler’s Bunker, the Brandenburg Gate & checkpoint Charlie, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Holocaust Memorial), Jewish Quarter in Berlin or see the cars at Classic Remise Berlin. All of the boys and Roger really like cars also so was trying to see if we could incorporate some of that with the history

Helsinki - With my mom needing a wheelchair for long walks (and likely one of my boys) the HOHO is not an option for us. In Helsinki I would like to do a panoramic tour (without a lot of walking) and see the Olympic Stadium, the Opera House and the Rock Church, City Hall, Parliament House, and Finlandia. We need to keep in mind that my mom cannot do a lot of walking and we do want a tour with just the 6 of us.

Stockholm - Clearly in Stockholm looking forward to the Vasa Museum and funny my boys have all seen or read part of the Dragon Tattoo series (I have read them all) and we are thinking of a little stop by in Södermalm, (which I hear is now sort of like the village in NYC). Also would like to see Fjällgatan and Old towne, City Hall. We would like to avoid a long walking portion of the tour but we can do some as long as the wheelchair can be pushed along the route.

So I will be making some decisions soon. Need to find a guide in Copenhagen although we know that Tivoli Gardens will be the main focus of us stop.

Sharon

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I carefully compared ALLA & SPB tours - Alla provides a box lunch on the 1st day - this did not appeal to me - I know the days are busy - but I want to relax at a restaurant - SPB has a standard meal - so the serve time is not long - that is why I chose SPB tours

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I carefully compared ALLA & SPB tours - Alla provides a box lunch on the 1st day - this did not appeal to me - I know the days are busy - but I want to relax at a restaurant - SPB has a standard meal - so the serve time is not long - that is why I chose SPB tours

 

You will love the lunch. Be sure to try the Borscht.

 

Cheers

 

Len

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  • 1 month later...

With the Baltic cruise recently completed, here are some thoughts about the experiences with some points for consideration for future cruisers. There were three things that turned out as I expected. 1) St. Petersburg was indeed the place requiring primary consideration for shore excursion experiences with the other ports of call relatively easier to arrange tours. 2) The tours offered by the ship had a larger number of participants in each group and were more costly with the only worthwhile item, in my opinion, was that the ship wouldn't have sailed if a ship-organized shore excursion got back late. 3) No matter which private tour provider was chosen the majority of participants reported that they had a good time. I now feel more enlightened about why the vast majority of previous cruisers have been so passionate and enthusiastic in reviews of their tour provider. There were so many sites to see that the two days were packed with activities and the conclusion invariably was that not much more could have been accomplished. Even though there may have been some glitches they were considered minor or forgivable from the overall perspective. There are differences in the way the tour operators conduct their tours and cruisers generally played down things that other providers did differently and were happy with what they themselves got. Here are some specific incidents to illustrate the experiences. As a reference point I selected TJ Travel for touring St. Petersburg and the ship arrived on the day before the 310th anniversary of the founding of the city. Before the van started off our guide Victoria proposed an itinerary that would try to avoid the road closures anticipated for the anniversary events and over the two days we encountered only one traffic delay because of a parade on a street ahead. The delay was a few minutes. Victoria's planning was much appreciated when it was later learned that another tour promoter with more years of experience had booked a restaurant in the city that was difficult to reach because of the road closures and the clients had to walk a long way to get to their lunch appointment. This was particularly distressing because one of the clients on this other tour provider's comfort tour was handicapped. Our lunch was at a restaurant in the suburbs.

 

On TJ's tours each client was provided with a personal audio receiver on a lanyard for use in the museums so that there was no need for the guide to shout. The device came with an earpiece that could be hung around an ear with a flexible band that was comfortable enough such that I forgot to remove it when not needed while riding on the van. Another tour provider supplied clients with receivers without lanyards and with earbuds to insert into the ear canal. These became uncomfortable for some folks over the long day and in addition these tourists had to find a place to carry the receiver. One creative lady explained that she put it in her breast pocket, aka bra.

 

One tour provider offered a subway ride (for 3 stations) while another arranged a visit to one subway station to see the interesting architecture and design but not to ride the train. Some have called the subway ride a great experience while others have said that all they got was tunnel vision. The difficulty in coming to an objective evaluation is that one cruiser may have considered the St. Petersburg subway ride to be a highlight while another cruiser considered a ride to nowhere to be a non-starter.

 

TJ took our group for a swift hydrofoil ride to Peterhof Gardens and this gave us a different travel experience and a waterside view of the city. It was a worthwhile experience and we then returned to the downtown area by van. Another tour provider used a van to go to the fabulous gardens for both the outward and the return trips. Cruisers who took the van for the round trip were pleased that they were treated to a land view. Different travel modes, same result - happiness all around.

 

Another example is the lunch arrangements. One tour program included sit-down lunches with typical Russian dishes, e.g. beef Strogonoff or borscht, and while some cruisers have delighted in this arrangement others in the past have felt the time could have been better spent touring other sites. In some instances the lunch may have been take-out packages that, of course, received both positive and negative reviews. It's a matter of taste and some previous reviewers have reported not being delighted by the Russian cuisine, even when taking it sitting down. For them the chicken Kiev was perhaps one for the birds. In our tour group we were happy with the local offerings, and although they could not be considered haute cuisine they were tastier than similarity-titled dishes provided on the ship. Such dietary matters may be important for some cruisers so it could be important to check what is being offered by the tour provider to determine if it fits with your expectations and needs.

 

Some tour operators may include a visit to a certain site without saying explicitly that it would be only a drive-by opportunity to take photos. Some examples are St. Isaac's Cathedral and the Grand Palace. Depending on the type of tour program chosen, a visit inside the cathedral may not be included. The same situation goes for the Grand Palace. However, if the tour program includes a visit inside Catherine Palace you would be exposed to the same style of architectural grandure and opulence because both palaces were designed by the same person and, of the two, Catherine's is the more palatial, an evaluation that the majority of Trip Advisor contributors have come to agreement.

 

A number of fellow cruisers used smaller private tour providers that catered to smaller groups, from 4 to10 people. Some of these cruisers had specific interests, e.g. spending a longer time at the Hermitage (which could easily take up half a day and still see only a small fraction of the massive collection). Others preferred to tour with a closer-knit group consisting of family and friends. These small groups also had enjoyable visits of St. Petersburg, although some participants did tell me that in hindsight they would have liked to have gone to more sites. In these cases the merits of being with a small, close or special interest group need to be balanced with what can be effectively accomplished. The ability to cater to special interests was not exclusive to the small tour providers because TJ, on request by fellow cruisers, was able to include visits to specific sites, such as the Grand Choral Synagogue. In theory small tours should be better able to cater to those who may be physically challenged in walking for extended periods and it is important to recognize one's limitations in selecting an appropriate provider and program.

 

All the tour providers offer tours of varied intensities, typically classified as easy, moderate and active. In general, the providers recognize that senior and retired people make up a significant proportion of their clientele and even the active program can be handled by elderly participants who are in reasonable physical shape. Perhaps the cobblestones, uneven paths and stairs can be more challenging that the duration of the tour. In our case the visit to the suburban sites was well planned and Victoria advised that the almost one hour ride on the van would be an ideal time to take a nap, especially considering that the tour program started very early in the morning. It was good advice.

 

A large number of fellow cruisers took a moderate tour while others, including myself, went on an active tour that visited more sites. These two kinds of tours were like apples and oranges. Both were tasty and the apple folks were invariably happy with the apple diet and the orange folks were invariably happy with the orange diet. All were satiated and this situation is what makes it difficult to say that one program is better for a cruiser because there is no "one size fits all" solution. Before I had picked a tour provider I looked at past reviews and the experiences with different providers were so overwhelmingly positive that it was hard to make the "right" choice. I found it really useful to look more closely at the less favorable reviews to see what problems had been encountered and how they were handled by the tour providers. In my opinion, it would be worthwhile spending some time carefully examining the advertised itineraries of the various providers and communicating directly with a few selected providers to see how your specific interests could be accommodated.

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Thank you Trevsaq! For your very well written and though-out comments concerning choosing a private tour company in SPB! I think all the major points were covered. The bottom line is what might be the "right" company for your needs, might not be the same as the next poster.

 

Before you book your tour think very carefully what is your tourist style? For example Trevsaq wanted the deluxe tour with sit down meals. For hubby and me, we knew ourselves, and went with a moderate tour, with quick meals. But the point is, we both thought it through.

 

As stated several times on these threads, there are several very well respected tour companies. But each, are slightly different, and it is up to you to do a little research to find the one that fits YOUR style. Email a few of the ones that you think you might like and then go from there.

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Trevsaq,

 

I agree with the other postings, too! Thanks you are your valuable insight in choosing a tour company. Different strokes for different folks. We have not yet taken our trip, coming up soon......But I feel confident we will be happy with our choice. Most people usually are, just for varying reasons. We will be touring in small private group with SPB and others from our CC Roll Call. Should be a memorable experience.:)

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Trevsaq,

 

I agree with the other postings, too! Thanks you are your valuable insight in choosing a tour company. Different strokes for different folks. We have not yet taken our trip, coming up soon......But I feel confident we will be happy with our choice. Most people usually are, just for varying reasons. We will be touring in small private group with SPB and others from our CC Roll Call. Should be a memorable experience.:)

 

You are so correct. Each traveler has their own style. There are the planners, the go with the crowd and the lost souls and as you stated each person makes their journey what THEY want.

In a port intensive cruise there will be +/- but at the end of the journey-usually when viewing the photographs- you will have had a great time.

So everyone have a great time & post your experiences for our future CCers' benefit

Carole

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We were also on the May 20th Baltic cruise and had a fantastic tour with Dancing Bear Tours. There were just 10 of us and the personal attention was amazing! In our 400 days of cruising, Julia was one of the top 5 tour guides we have ever had. She is very well educated and well informed and was able to answer all our questions (and we had many)! Our group ranged in age from 50s to 80 and our tour was pretty active. We saw everything we wanted to visit.

 

The highlight of our tour was a visit to the Grand Chorale Synagogue. We also did a subway ride (3 stations) on the way back to the city from Peterhof, a morning visit to a local market, and a canal cruise. We had no issues with road closures or traffic delays.

 

Each of us were given a personal audio receiver with lanyard for use in the Hermitage and Catherine's Palace. On the first day, we had a great tour of the Hermitage, including the Treasury (Gold and Diamond) Rooms and grabbed a quick lunch there. On the second day, we had a really yummy 3-course Russian lunch at a restaurant near Peterhof. The food was pre-ordered so it didn't take a lot of time (meat or fish was chosen in advance).

 

I think the small groups (Julia will handle groups of all size, but I would not want to do this with more than the 10 we had!) and excellent pre-planning makes Dancing Bear stand out from the rest. Julia recommended a book for each of us to read before we went in order to better understand the city's history (to be fair, only one of us finished the whole thing). She gave us a parting gift of a video of the Hermitage so we could see more of the extensive collections than we had time to view in our half day.

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This is a great discussion, thanks for all the info. We're headed out on Emerald Princess to Baltic in July and trying to book private tours so this thread is really helpful!

 

Someone mentioned the Day 1 Lunch when comparing Alla to SPB and TJ - Alla's box lunch doesn't sound great but they claim it allows more time in the Peterhof gardens - however, when I look at total time spent there, it doesn't seem to be any different - 1.5 hours for every tour company. So I don't really understand Alla's statement on their website that the boxed lunch offers some time advantage over a sit down??? Any thoughts?

 

Second (related) difference I saw was the subway - TJ's offers a sit down lunch and then makes up for it by seemingly skipping the subway ride and just making a stop by a subway station, if I infer from their description correctly. Is that correct? Does anyone who's taken the subway with one of these tours have any thoughts on whether it is worth the experience? From what I've read, the subway ride itself doesn't sound THAT interesting: it's that the stations are the deepest in the world and have some interesting architecture...

 

thanks in advance! :)

Karyn

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This is a great discussion, thanks for all the info. We're headed out on Emerald Princess to Baltic in July and trying to book private tours so this thread is really helpful!

 

Someone mentioned the Day 1 Lunch when comparing Alla to SPB and TJ - Alla's box lunch doesn't sound great but they claim it allows more time in the Peterhof gardens - however, when I look at total time spent there, it doesn't seem to be any different - 1.5 hours for every tour company. So I don't really understand Alla's statement on their website that the boxed lunch offers some time advantage over a sit down??? Any thoughts?

 

Second (related) difference I saw was the subway - TJ's offers a sit down lunch and then makes up for it by seemingly skipping the subway ride and just making a stop by a subway station, if I infer from their description correctly. Is that correct? Does anyone who's taken the subway with one of these tours have any thoughts on whether it is worth the experience? From what I've read, the subway ride itself doesn't sound THAT interesting: it's that the stations are the deepest in the world and have some interesting architecture...

 

thanks in advance! :)

Karyn

 

 

We were on the May 27th Brilliance sailing and did the 4 city tour with Alla...IT WAS GREAT! All the tours went as planned and had wonderful guides in all the ports. We did inside visits to City Hall and Vasa in Stockholm and were able to get in and out with no waiting in line. Both sites were amazing. We also got to spend some free time in Gamla Stan where we ate lunch in a cafe in the square which was really nice before meeting to go back to the ship. Well organized tour and we felt we made most of our time in Stockholm. Helsinki as well was very organized and did visits to the Rock Church, Sibilius Park/Monument, Lutheran Church and passed by the Olympic Stadium. Did the walking tour in Tallinn and the ride up the Toompea Hill was well worth the price of the tour. You walk down the hill with the tour guide from old town to new town and are given 2 hours of free time after the 3 hour walking tour. Ate lunch at the Peppersack in the center of the village which was fantastic! It was one of our favorite ports! SPB was the highlight of the cruise. We did the Grand Tour and were on the go from early morning morning till 5:30 pm or so. We thought it was very organized and the "box" lunch was a hot Russian chicken sandwich, apple, drink and a tasty chocolate bar which we ate on our hydrofoil boat ride to Peterhoff. It was really good and could not imagine having as much time as we did at the fountains if we had a sit down lunch like the first day. We appreciated Alla arranging this to save time for touring. It was not easy for the guide to get the lunches, carry them to the boat and pass them out to our group to make sure we got them while still hot for us to enjoy. Super thoughtful and accommodating with not only the lunch, but with every detail. The subway ride was one of the highlights of our tour. We enjoyed seeing the stations and riding along with the "locals". It gave us a great insight to their daily work lives. I would not pass this chance up if possible. We did not have to wait in any lines to get into any of the sites and the early entrance into the Hermitage is a must. Others who did the ship's tour were very disappointed with the large groups and lack of time/organization of their tours. The headsets are super comfortable which are actual headphones that attach around your ear lobe, not the uncomfortable ear buds. Also, those who did Comfort Tour had the same opinions as us on the Grand Tour. Every detail has been thought out with great consideration by Alla. I can highly recommend using her!

 

 

Dolfans from Miami

Edited by dolfans0704
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So glad you had a great time my Dolfan from Miami.

 

Your report was great.

 

I have one silly question, if you don't mind. What is the difference between a Russian chicken and any other chicken??

 

Just making a joke.:D:D:D

 

Cheers

 

Len

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We were also on the May 20th Baltic cruise and had a fantastic tour with Dancing Bear Tours. There were just 10 of us and the personal attention was amazing! In our 400 days of cruising, Julia was one of the top 5 tour guides we have ever had. She is very well educated and well informed and was able to answer all our questions (and we had many)! Our group ranged in age from 50s to 80 and our tour was pretty active. We saw everything we wanted to visit.

 

The highlight of our tour was a visit to the Grand Chorale Synagogue. We also did a subway ride (3 stations) on the way back to the city from Peterhof, a morning visit to a local market, and a canal cruise. We had no issues with road closures or traffic delays.

 

Each of us were given a personal audio receiver with lanyard for use in the Hermitage and Catherine's Palace. On the first day, we had a great tour of the Hermitage, including the Treasury (Gold and Diamond) Rooms and grabbed a quick lunch there. On the second day, we had a really yummy 3-course Russian lunch at a restaurant near Peterhof. The food was pre-ordered so it didn't take a lot of time (meat or fish was chosen in advance).

 

I think the small groups (Julia will handle groups of all size, but I would not want to do this with more than the 10 we had!) and excellent pre-planning makes Dancing Bear stand out from the rest. Julia recommended a book for each of us to read before we went in order to better understand the city's history (to be fair, only one of us finished the whole thing). She gave us a parting gift of a video of the Hermitage so we could see more of the extensive collections than we had time to view in our half day.

 

Out of curiosity, what was the name of the book?

 

I've never heard of Dancing Bear tours, but I'm going to look them up now:)

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We did Alla tours on May 27-May 28th - the Grand tour.

 

The subway part was just a trip into the subway, down to a platform and back up. Interesting though. 45 mins at their shop was a bit boring (we did payments there).

 

The lunch on day 1 was fine, had it on the hydrofoil boat so saved time as we ate whilst we travelled.

 

The tours are KNACKERING. We saw so much and it was totally overwhelming how much history was crammed into it all. Glad we did one. Saw so much more than anyone else on the ship.

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