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Comparing SPB & Alla Tours in St. Petersburg


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We are in the process of planning our 2 port days in St. Petersburg and have read much information online about SPB & Alla private tours there. We would like to tour with 8 people in St. Petersburg. From your experience, is one company better than the other? If so, please explain why. We like to hear all the positive and negative as well.

Thanks! :):)

I would like to hear comments about the Friends of Dave tours(on his web site seems to be a bit different from Alla site. Also, there seems to be very little comment about the tours to Berlin. Right now leaning towards Friends of Dave when I do this region.

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I would like to hear comments about the Friends of Dave tours(on his web site seems to be a bit different from Alla site. Also, there seems to be very little comment about the tours to Berlin. Right now leaning towards Friends of Dave when I do this region.

 

Alla Tours features 2 of Dave's tours: the Complete Hansa (Warnemunde and Wismar) and Straddling the Wall (Warnemunde and Rostock). Alla's tours to Rostock and Schwerin, and to Warnemunde and Rostock are not Dave's tours. The reviews of Friends of Dave Tours on Trip Advisor are excellent: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187364-d1647222-Reviews-Friends_of_Dave_Tours-Warnemunde_Rostock_Mecklenburg_West_Pomerania.html. I am touring St. Petersburg and Moscow with Alla Tours, but booked my Friends of Dave tour directly with Dave.

Edited by NancyIL
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I have used both Red October and SPB-tours during my two visits to St Peterburg.With Red October there were six of us.Good tour and guide.No problems. Our second tour consisted of five family members.After much research I elected to go with SPB-tours.It was a good choice.I sent my first e-mail to SPS-tours on a Saturday and received a reply from Viktoria on Sunday.It continued that way during our planning.Would sent a question to Viktoria and within hours would receive a reply.Viktoria was such a joy to work.Without a doubt I would use SPB-Tours again.Wouldn't look any further.Outstanding guide who communicated well with all ages.The ages of our family were 17 to 79 years old

 

I totally agree SPB tours is the best - they are the only ones with professionally made signs for the guides - the others had loose leaf paper in a page protector - so Viktoria invests in her company's image - the drivers wear SPB shirts and they have a logo with SPB on the vans - so though I only traveled with SPB I saw all the others - aside from the professional image the major difference in the Grand tours is SPB provides an excellent lunch between the Peterhof and Catherine's Palace - Alla provides a box lunch that I think you eat in the van - ugh! - I heard some of our Roll Call say they didn't care - I think Russian meals are a part of the experience. I was proud that I was with SPB - we met other Roll Call friends notice SPB beautiful signs - Im still working on my photos but will post my share site info when Im finished - We were on the Eurodam in late August SPB had 20 vans - I don't think the other companies had nearly that many

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I totally agree SPB tours is the best - they are the only ones with professionally made signs for the guides - the others had loose leaf paper in a page protector - so Viktoria invests in her company's image - the drivers wear SPB shirts and they have a logo with SPB on the vans - so though I only traveled with SPB I saw all the others - aside from the professional image the major difference in the Grand tours is SPB provides an excellent lunch between the Peterhof and Catherine's Palace - Alla provides a box lunch that I think you eat in the van - ugh! - I heard some of our Roll Call say they didn't care - I think Russian meals are a part of the experience. I was proud that I was with SPB - we met other Roll Call friends notice SPB beautiful signs - Im still working on my photos but will post my share site info when Im finished - We were on the Eurodam in late August SPB had 20 vans - I don't think the other companies had nearly that many

 

 

We loved our tour with Alla and were quite pleased that we didn't have to spend time at a restaurant the first day. We had a great lunch at a restaurant the second day.

 

I will say that the SPB people did look nice in their uniform outfits. But our guide in St Petersburg was just awesome.

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  • 7 months later...

Do any private tour groups offer better deals if you book more than one tour with them, such as St. Petersburg and Berlin ? Also, which tour company do you recommend? Slater2

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Do any private tour groups offer better deals if you book more than one tour with them, such as St. Petersburg and Berlin ? Also, which tour company do you recommend? Slater2

 

We booked 5 cities with Alla at a very good price. I believe SPB does also.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've had some people contact me recently about the comparison chart I did a few years ago. It's really out of date, so am going to withdraw my offer to share it. I'd hate to be responsible for misinformation going out! Hope you understand!

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I did a comparison and Alla, SPB, and TJ were all essentially THE SAME. you will not go wrong with any of these. the only difference I found was SPB gave 2 restaurant lunches and Alla gave 1 boxed lunch. I chose SPB and was very happy. one of the lunches was horrible the other passable.

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We just did Alla in St. Petersburg and hated the restaurant lunch and loved the box lunch that had a hot sandwich in it - go figure! I agree that you are fine with any of these 3 - we saw them in the same places all day long!

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We toured with I Love Travel and paid with visa - no credit card fee with this tour company. But when I was just choosing and e-mailed several tour companies, most of them mentioned surcharge for cc payments.

 

Alla Tours and SPB Tours don't charge a fee for paying by credit card.

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We just did Alla in St. Petersburg and hated the restaurant lunch and loved the box lunch that had a hot sandwich in it - go figure! I agree that you are fine with any of these 3 - we saw them in the same places all day long!

 

I'm touring with Alla next month. What in particular did you "hate" about the restaurant lunch?

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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

 

The Alla comfort tour has a restaurant lunch on both days. One of the SPB days people talked of going to a "pie shop" which is a Russian fast food stop I understood so it is really a comparision of a pie shop vs box lunch with a hot main.

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I was REALLY looking forward to the pie shop but we were given a horrid lunch in a tourist restaurant instead. I spoke to Viktoria about it afterwards and she said something about their not being enough time or too many crowds or something and I suggested the guide gets the pies in the morning and to not bring anyone to that restaurant again!

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I'm touring with Alla next month. What in particular did you "hate" about the restaurant lunch?
We did Alla's comfort tour last year. The first day was a restaurant not far from the Church of Spilled Blood - I couldn't tell you the name. Lunch was a vegetable soup, entree (I think the meat was pork but can't exactly remember), and a dessert. Second day was the Orangerie at Peterhof. Another vegetable soup, chicken and rice entree, and another dessert. Service was polite but slow. I'd describe the meals as okay but unmemorable. Still, both meals gave us a nice break in a very busy schedule - busy even with the "comfort" tour.
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I'm touring with Alla next month. What in particular did you "hate" about the restaurant lunch?

 

 

The appetizer was herring salad which was Inedible for the majority - so fishy - and I love sardines! The soup was mostly broth with very few veggies. Entree was good, but tiny portion and beef was stringy. Dessert was a breakfast pastry.

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We did Alla's comfort tour last year. The first day was a restaurant not far from the Church of Spilled Blood - I couldn't tell you the name. Lunch was a vegetable soup, entree (I think the meat was pork but can't exactly remember), and a dessert. Second day was the Orangerie at Peterhof. Another vegetable soup, chicken and rice entree, and another dessert. Service was polite but slow. I'd describe the meals as okay but unmemorable. Still, both meals gave us a nice break in a very busy schedule - busy even with the "comfort" tour.

Thanks for the info. We are on the Grand Tour, so I think we'll have a box lunch when we are at Peterhof.

The appetizer was herring salad which was Inedible for the majority - so fishy - and I love sardines! The soup was mostly broth with very few veggies. Entree was good, but tiny portion and beef was stringy. Dessert was a breakfast pastry.

 

Thanks! I think I'll skip the herring salad, as I'm not a big fish eater. :D

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  • 5 months later...

We used Alla last year for St. Pete and Stockholm. Excellent tour guides! I was told that the people who run SPB used to work for Alla!! Lunches were very good; one in a restaurant and a boxed lunch on the high speed boat over to the summer palace. A lot better than those who took the ship's tour I was told!! We saw so much more with Alla than any of the ship's tours. Our group of 48 was divided up into small groups of up to 14 and we never ran into the other groups except for lunch time.

 

Our ship was parked near the Hermitage so we were right in the center of the city!! The larger ships were docked a lot further out as we saw on the high speed boat!

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  • 5 months later...

I'm trying to compare Alla Grand vs SPB Deluxe.

 

Since Alla's Grand comes with a packed half hour lunch on the first day vs SPB's hour lunch at a cafe, does this mean you have half an hour more time to see stuff with Alla?

 

How much time do they spend on shopping? I want to avoid that and spend more time on sightseeing but they both include that and will favor the one that spends less time on that.

 

On Alla's second day, you meet at 7:30 and at 8:30 you go on a canal city tour. In between, from 7:30-8:30, there's time for city tour and shopping but it doesn't specify how much time is on shopping.

 

SPB's Deluxe 2nd day, from 8-8:30, you pay for the tour and there's time for shopping.

 

I don't like the idea of wasting time at the beginning of the day paying for SPB's tour instead of afterwards. Does anybody remember how long it took to do that on a SPB tour?

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I'm trying to compare Alla Grand vs SPB Deluxe.

 

Since Alla's Grand comes with a packed half hour lunch on the first day vs SPB's hour lunch at a cafe, does this mean you have half an hour more time to see stuff with Alla?

 

How much time do they spend on shopping? I want to avoid that and spend more time on sightseeing but they both include that and will favor the one that spends less time on that.

 

On Alla's second day, you meet at 7:30 and at 8:30 you go on a canal city tour. In between, from 7:30-8:30, there's time for city tour and shopping but it doesn't specify how much time is on shopping.

 

SPB's Deluxe 2nd day, from 8-8:30, you pay for the tour and there's time for shopping.

 

I don't like the idea of wasting time at the beginning of the day paying for SPB's tour instead of afterwards. Does anybody remember how long it took to do that on a SPB tour?

 

Yes, the idea of a packed lunch is to avoid wasted time. We took Alla's "comfort" tour, with restaurant meals so I don't know whether the packed lunch is for a half-hour somewhere like a park, or you graze as you go. So mebbe saves a half-hour, mebbe a full hour.

 

I think you'll find that "shopping" at the start of day two is actually just a (very good) souvenir shop, where you can browse & buy while the guide take payments ie she treats the place like her office. Two birds with one stone.

I believe that the routine is the same with both Alla & SPB, & that its just the phraseology that's different.

The shop has a wide selection of well-presented stock to suit all pockets, all priced, no pressure to buy, free coffee, clean toilets, various currencies or plastic. No doubt some of the stuff is available cheaper from stalls or street hawkers, but you don't have to barter, you can browse & examine without being hassled.

(I used to like haggling in the street but the shop is so much more civilised, I think I'm getting old & tired ;))

 

The "city sight-seeing" is just what happens to be en-route between ship & shop & canal trip, but you'll see plenty of the city during your two days.

 

Do the tours include a walk down the main shopping street, Nevsky Prospekt? Theoretically you have a little time to do a tiny bit of shopping there, but its more for soaking up the city & people-watching. May be deleted or switched to a drive down Nevsky Prospekt depending on time or weather.

 

From my experience, and the experience of others, differences between the standard tours offered by most operators are minimal. You can spend hours deciding and then easily choose the "wrong" one & not even notice a difference. :)

 

JB :)

Edited by John Bull
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I'm trying to compare Alla Grand vs SPB Deluxe.

 

Since Alla's Grand comes with a packed half hour lunch on the first day vs SPB's hour lunch at a cafe, does this mean you have half an hour more time to see stuff with Alla?

 

How much time do they spend on shopping? I want to avoid that and spend more time on sightseeing but they both include that and will favor the one that spends less time on that.

 

On Alla's second day, you meet at 7:30 and at 8:30 you go on a canal city tour. In between, from 7:30-8:30, there's time for city tour and shopping but it doesn't specify how much time is on shopping.

 

SPB's Deluxe 2nd day, from 8-8:30, you pay for the tour and there's time for shopping.

 

I don't like the idea of wasting time at the beginning of the day paying for SPB's tour instead of afterwards. Does anybody remember how long it took to do that on a SPB tour?

 

Many people base their choice on meals. We did SPB 2 day deluxe June 2014, The meals were nothing special and not exactly Russian - I can state this as father was Russian from St. Petersburg. One meal was a meat dish the other was a chicken dish. Both were so-so.

The plus was that restaurants had restrooms ( bring tissues and wet naps-some had toilet paper and towels other had but towels were questionable.)

Shopping- SPB brings you to a shop where there is "free" vodka. Giftware is of fair to poor quality unless you spend $$$$-and even then be careful -check the workmanship.. Have the vodka shot and then walk out the door & cross the street to the river. Docked there is a submarine- now a restaurant- makes for good photo ops.

SPB on the last day stopped the bus just outside the port gate until Viktoria came aboard to thank us * cajole us into writing a positive review & stressed tipping.

Have to say that the actual tour was very good. Hermitage is just overwhelming- read & research prior to your trip so that you will not feel pressured when the guide starts rushing through the galleries. Canal boat ride, Peterhof gardens etc wonderful photo ops and (again if you researched)very interesting.

Have a great trip as either firm will give you a good overview of St. Petersburg.

Carole

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