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Comparing SPB & Alla Tours in St. Petersburg


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Just returned from my Baltic cruise yesterday and we also had a great time on our Alla 3 day private tour of St Petersburg. It was very not when we were there and what we really appreciated was the early admission to the Hermitage (when we left it was packed) and also the fact that there were long lines everywhere, but we by passed those lines and went straight in to the different museums, churches and castles. Great job Alla!

 

Welcome back! I was originally booked on your cruise, but had to postpone it until next June on Legend. I'm glad you enjoyed your 3 days in St. Petersburg with Alla.

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Welcome back! I was originally booked on your cruise, but had to postpone it until next June on Legend. I'm glad you enjoyed your 3 days in St. Petersburg with Alla.

 

Nancy

 

The Legend isn't going to cruise the Baltics next year. better check with

your TA. :D:D:D:D

 

Cheers

 

Len

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My fault Nancy, when you said the Legend, I assumed it was the Carnival Legend which IS cruising the Baltics this year, but not next.[/b]

 

Sorry to scare you.:):):):)

 

Cheers

 

Len

Edited by Giantfan13
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Oh, lucky you ... you have 3 days in St. Pete. I also like that your cruise begins in CPH & ends in Stockholm. :)

I LOVE the itinerary!

My fault Nancy, when you said the Legend, I assumed it was the Carnival Legend which IS cruising the Baltics this year, but not next.[/b]

 

Sorry to scare you.:):):):)

 

Cheers

 

Len

 

Len, I thought you were just being funny! Carnival Legend never occurred to me.

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I used SPB for a custom tour for four groups of 14. And they were amazing. Nothing was too much trouble for Victoria. We got to taste pickles at the market, do canal and subway tours plus the main sights. Very highly recommended! Also used them in Berlin!

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  • 2 weeks later...
We are going with alla tours brillance of the seas 8/7/2013

do they provide head sets for all the tours they offer.. Thanks

 

We toured with Alla off the Brilliance as well last month. GREAT cruise and beautiful ship! We had headsets in SPB which really came in handy. They are the ones that hook on around your earlobe with a small speaker that rests on your ear. Not the uncomfortable ear buds. We did not have headsets or needed them on her tours in Stockholm, Helsinki or Tallinn. They were a huge convenience and very well needed in SPB. All of Alla's tours were fabulous. You are in for a real treat! Enjoy your cruise!

 

 

Dolfans from Miami

Edited by dolfans0704
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We had the headsets for all of the Alla tours except in Tallin. The tours in SPB were so good. They were right up there with the best we have had. Top notch tour guide who knew her info, was very pleasant, funny and was able to manage everyone well.

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We took the Alla Tours but only had headsets in St Petersburg. We did not have headsets in Tallinn, Helsinki, Stockholm or Germany. In Germany we did not go to Berlin - we took the Schwerin Tour. It would have been nice to have headsets in Tallinn as it was crowded and hard to hear the guide. We had no issues with not having headsets at the other ports.

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We took the Alla Tours but only had headsets in St Petersburg. We did not have headsets in Tallinn, Helsinki, Stockholm or Germany. In Germany we did not go to Berlin - we took the Schwerin Tour. It would have been nice to have headsets in Tallinn as it was crowded and hard to hear the guide. We had no issues with not having headsets at the other ports.

 

I think you are right. I forgot that we didn't have them in Helsinki.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi,

I have a slightly different problem...I e-mailed Dancing Bear & SPB based on the personal recommendations of two CC friends...both Julia & Victoria were responsive. However, after reading all 10 pages of this thread...well, I e-mailed for newlaxfan's spreadsheet...like an early poster said, it may come down to "feel" and not just $$ & cents, or even itinerary.

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This thread has been very helpful...thank you to the OP and everyone who has posted their experiences!:)

I just booked two days ago for 2014, and have spent many of the hours since researching tour companies. I sent e-mails to Alla, SPB, and TJ, and received a response from all of them within 24 hours. Right now, my "gut" is that I will book with TJ. Their response was personalized to answer my specific questions whereas the other two sent me a more canned response.

I've devoured everything recent I can find here, and everything since 2012 on Trip Advisor. It sounds like we'll be happy with any of the three operators, so I might as well use the one that gives me the most "warm fuzzies!":D

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Since I started this thread, I thought I'd tell everyone about our Baltic Tours. We used Alla (St. Petersburg, Stockholm), SPB (Berlin including Sachenhausen), and TJ (Helsinki) for different tours on our Baltic Cruise.

 

TJ was very willing to personalize our tour in Helsinki. We did a highlights of Helsinki Tour and included a visit to a Finnish home. It was a wonderful, personalized tour which I highly recommend.

 

Alla & SPB were good, but we thought our guide to Sachenhausen & Berlin from SPB was excellent. She knew how to manage our small group and made our day with her a day to remember. Our Alla guide in St. Petersburg was sweet, but not as experienced as the excellent Alla guide we had in Stockholm. So, the enjoyment of your excursion so much depends on the guide and there are differences between them. I'll be happy to answer any other questions, if you want to email me. :):)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Since I started this thread, I thought I'd tell everyone about our Baltic Tours. We used Alla (St. Petersburg, Stockholm), SPB (Berlin including Sachenhausen), and TJ (Helsinki) for different tours on our Baltic Cruise.

 

TJ was very willing to personalize our tour in Helsinki. We did a highlights of Helsinki Tour and included a visit to a Finnish home. It was a wonderful, personalized tour which I highly recommend.

 

Alla & SPB were good, but we thought our guide to Sachenhausen & Berlin from SPB was excellent. She knew how to manage our small group and made our day with her a day to remember. Our Alla guide in St. Petersburg was sweet, but not as experienced as the excellent Alla guide we had in Stockholm. So, the enjoyment of your excursion so much depends on the guide and there are differences between them. I'll be happy to answer any other questions, if you want to email me. :):)

 

Sounds like you had a great time. I’m booked on the NCL Star for a Baltic cruise June 2014, so I’m starting to research all the different excursion options. I’m interested in knowing what the deciding factors were for you choosing to go with so many different companies verses sticking with one. Did you arrange customized tours, or did you go with the advertised group tours? What were your itineraries? How many people were in your groups? I’m especially interested in hearing about your Berlin tour including Sachenhausen, as I was already starting to research doing this as well for our cruise. I appreciate any information you are willing to share.

Sorry for all the questions J

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Sounds like you had a great time. I’m booked on the NCL Star for a Baltic cruise June 2014, so I’m starting to research all the different excursion options. I’m interested in knowing what the deciding factors were for you choosing to go with so many different companies verses sticking with one. Did you arrange customized tours, or did you go with the advertised group tours? What were your itineraries? How many people were in your groups? I’m especially interested in hearing about your Berlin tour including Sachenhausen, as I was already starting to research doing this as well for our cruise. I appreciate any information you are willing to share.

Sorry for all the questions J

 

Hi. I was on the NCL Star Baltic cruise this year, so I will offer my perspectives.

 

First of all, as you read here, and on Tripadvisor, all the major St Petersburg tour agencies are almost all uniformly praised. Everyone likes the one they chose. You don't run across very many reviews where someone has been on tours with different agencies, and therefore can make an apples to apples comparison.

 

That said, we went with SPB Tours. We also booked them as a private tour (group of four), and had a slight customization of their 2 day deluxe tour. We wanted to see the palace at Peterof, so we had to eliminate the hydrofoil ride and the "city tour", which were not big deals. You're driving around St Petersburg both days anyway. However, I would advise you that, IMHO, the private tour option is NOT worth the extra cost. One big reason is that, at least for SPB, their maximum tour size is only 16 people. At the various venues, we were frequently right along side many of their 16 people groups. Their groups were getting in and out of places just fine. The other thing is that with a small private tour group, you don't get the audio headsets so that you can clearly hear the guide. We thought this was a huge disadvantage for our small private tour group. The venues will be crowded, and you need to be able to clearly hear your guide. We thought the extra money we paid, which was substantial, for a private tour was a waste.

 

If you read the reviews on TripAdvisor carefully, you'll see that the reviews for the other ports (if considering a multi-city tour package) are not always as glowing as the St Petersburg reviews. We used SPB Tours for Warnemunde (we went to Schwerin, as we had been to Berlin before). SPB did a good job on the Schwerin tour. We did all the other ports on our own. They are all certainly do-able independently. For Berlin, you will definitely want to go with a tour agency.

 

Are you by chance staying in a suite on the Star? If so, I would recommend you take advantage of the early debarkation option for suite passengers in St Petersburg. The first day there will be long lines and delays getting through Russian immigration. Even if you aren't in a suite, line up early in the area by the deck to disembark.

 

Will be glad to answer any other questions you have about the Star or the cruise.

Edited by RJ2002
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If you read the reviews on TripAdvisor carefully, you'll see that the reviews for the other ports (if considering a multi-city tour package) are not always as glowing as the St Petersburg reviews. We used SPB Tours for Warnemunde (we went to Schwerin, as we had been to Berlin before). SPB did a good job on the Schwerin tour. We did all the other ports on our own. They are all certainly do-able independently. For Berlin, you will definitely want to go with a tour agency.

 

Are you by chance staying in a suite on the Star? If so, I would recommend you take advantage of the early debarkation option for suite passengers in St Petersburg. The first day there will be long lines and delays getting through Russian immigration. Even if you aren't in a suite, line up early in the area by the deck to disembark.

 

Will be glad to answer any other questions you have about the Star or the cruise.

 

Thanks for the reply. We actually are staying in a suite. I was debating against it given that we will be so busy with port excursions, but the early debarkation options was what sold me to stick with the suite.

 

How many people were on your Schwerin tour? Was it just the advertised tour on their website? This tour sounds very appealing to me as well, as an alternate to the Berlin driving tour.

 

It's good to know your feedback about the private tour options in SPB. I was wanting to see the Peterhof palace as well, but maybe I will re-think that now if the only option is to go with a private tour, and if the extra costs weren't really worth it.

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Thanks for the reply. We actually are staying in a suite. I was debating against it given that we will be so busy with port excursions, but the early debarkation options was what sold me to stick with the suite.

 

How many people were on your Schwerin tour? Was it just the advertised tour on their website? This tour sounds very appealing to me as well, as an alternate to the Berlin driving tour.

 

It's good to know your feedback about the private tour options in SPB. I was wanting to see the Peterhof palace as well, but maybe I will re-think that now if the only option is to go with a private tour, and if the extra costs weren't really worth it.

 

I think you will enjoy the suite. One of the more valuable perks, IMO, is the ability to have breakfast in Cagneys. You can avoid the hectic Lido buffet. They will get you in and out pretty quickly. On several of the port days, we had full breakfasts in the room. It is a nice treat, and saves time as well.

 

On Schwerin, yes it was the tour on the SPB website. I would say there were about 12-14 people if I recall correctly. The tour guide will meet you at the ship, and then will escort you to Rostock and Schwerin via public transportation (street cars and trains). Actually it was very interesting to take the public transportation instead of a bus.

 

The Peterhof is really not that much different inside as St Catherines. St Catherines is larger, of course. Doing a private tour vs. group is a personal decision. We actually prefer private tours, but in this case, I just didn't think it was the right decision since SPB's "normal" group size is only 16 people. And the lack of the audio headset was a definite disadvantage. The venues will definitely be crowded, and it simply can't be avoided, even on a private tour. The days we were in port, there were 6 or 7 other ships, plus it was peak summer tourist season for locals. It can be difficult to hear your guide without the headsets.

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We just got back end of July from Baltic's. We were in St Petersburg for 3 days on the Marina and arranged via CC roll call Private Tour with SPB Tours, 10 people in our 3 day Tour of SPB and they provided head sets . Excellent 3 days with Elena as our Tour Guide.. We were in a very comfy van that could have fit 15 and bottled water was provided. We used SPB Tours in Berlin, private group of 8. Long day with 3 hr ride to and from Berlin. Highly recommend SPB and especially Elena. She was extremely knowledgable and knew how to navigate us thru crowds.we loved Peterhof and Catherine's Palace. Having 3 full days in SPB made our days busy but not as hectic as our long day in Berlin.

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