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mevs904

Planning for Currency in St. Petersburg

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We will be sailing on the Regal in August 2019 and we’re wondering how much currency in rubles we should bring with us.  Our practice has been to get foreign currency prior to our trip at AAA as we do not like to rely on ATMs in other countries.  Our plans in St. P will be to take excursions either through Princess or a well reviewed company like Alla.  For those who are familiar with St. Petersburg what would your recommendation be?

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We took “zero” rubles to St.Petersburg and didn’t need them.  We paid for our tour in advance with a credit card; our meals on the tour were included; we tipped our guide in USD; and any small souvenirs we bought were priced and paid for in USD or Euros. 

 

If you will be buying your own meals and/or prefer to pay for your souvenirs in rubles, you can carry some.  But I’d say you’d need no more than the equivalent of $50 total for two people. 

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Thanks, GradUT, I guess that our main concern would be souvenirs since the tours that we are considering include meals.  When we looked at the excursion details on the Princess website they just indicated rubles for the currency at the shopping stops and markets.  We are not looking at doing any major spending, but it would be nice to purchase a few items.

     BTW, we love your city and visit it often to see our grandchildren.

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If you are using a decent local tour company such as Alla or TJ Tours, we would suggest not getting any Rubles,  You will likely be able to do OK with US Dollars and can use them to tip your guide and driver.   When we did a small group 2 day tour with TJ Tours we did search out a restaurant in town (near Nevsky Prospekt) where we all at on our own.  Like most restaurants in STP, they did accept major credit cards which is actually the way to get the best exchange rate if you have a card that does not charge foreign exchange fees.  

 

Hank

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Thanks, Hank.  Sounds like good advice.  We are looking at the Alla 2 day Grand Tour.  I believe that there may be a meal or two included in that tour.

Edited by mevs904

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18 hours ago, mevs904 said:

 

 

Edited by GradUT

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We did the 2-day Grand Tour with Alla a couple years ago and it did include lunch on both days.  There was only one stop for shopping and the store accepted USD and Euros.  Likewise, the gift shops in the museums accepted USD and Euros as did the kiosks in the port terminal.  I really don’t think you’ll need any rubles unless you want them. 

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We went in July and toured with TJ Travel.      Took NO rubles and never needed any.

 

Paid either with Credit Card or US Dollars.

 

My husband even bought a Soda off at cart in front of St. Catherine's Palace with US Dollars.    Said they guy didn't even hesitate when he asked.  No issues.  

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We normally would use a credit card but were hesitant to do so in Russia.  We did not expect to have much in expenses so took about $25 in rubles, figuring if we didn't use it we could always combine it with euros or dollars to tip the guide and that is what happened. 

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I travelled to st. Petersburg in the height of the crisis in the Ukraine several years ago, and when I called chase to put a travel alert on my credit card, I was told to bring dollars just in case since they were worried if things destabilized further that the credit cards might suspend operations in Russia.  Things are different now (but still a little tense) so maybe it isn't such a bad idea to have some US $ at least in your safe just in case things go south again.  When I've reposted this advice in the past, other CC members have strongly disagreed, arguing that if there is an economic crisis Russians will stop taking US $ immediately.  I honestly don't know if the is the case but wanted to let you know what my bank's advice was.

Edited by kitkat343

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Not planning on any Rubles.  Paid for tour in US credit card and meal in included.  Any extra purchases will be credit card or euros. 

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I am considering a ship's tour which is a guided Hermitage tour, followed by 3 hours on your own in the Nevsky Prospekt area.

Does anyone have any advise for on your own for 3 hours in that area ?

I guess some Rubles may be a good idea in this case ?

 

Thanks.

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That depends on where on Nevsky - it's a pretty long street.

I don't really know how these "on your own" arrangements work - I would assume the starting point would be somewhere near the Palace Square, close to the Hermitage. You could walk towards st.Isaaqs and then up to Kazansky/Spilled blood, or venture a little farther to Arts sq. You don't have to stick to Nevsky proper, though (unless required otherwise) - smaller streets and embakments also have a lot of character. You could even cross the bridge by the Hermitage and get to "Strelka" (Vasilievsky island) to take a look at Rostral columns and the Avrora - but I'd first check to see if all that is already included in your ship's tour.

Google maps is your friend. Just make sure you're back to the meeting point on time 🙂

 

If on your own and planning to buy anything at all, roubles wouldn't be a bad idea - there are many banks/ATMs in the area, - but most places other than very touristy souvenir peddlers will take credit cards.

Edited by napoxoguk

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LOL...the madness on board our ship with people lined up at the exchange desk waiting for their share of rubles was pure insanity. As it turned out (and others have already mentioned), we really didn't need them and wound up giving all of them to our Alla tour director for tips! 

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On 10/21/2018 at 2:28 AM, Hlitner said:

If you are using a decent local tour company such as Alla or TJ Tours, we would suggest not getting any Rubles,  You will likely be able to do OK with US Dollars and can use them to tip your guide and driver.   When we did a small group 2 day tour with TJ Tours we did search out a restaurant in town (near Nevsky Prospekt) where we all at on our own.  Like most restaurants in STP, they did accept major credit cards which is actually the way to get the best exchange rate if you have a card that does not charge foreign exchange fees.  

 

Hank

You can add Best Guides to this list of decent companies. We did a group tour with them which inbcluded meals and used USD only for tips. We paid for the tour at the middle of the second day by card. No prepaiment at all.

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We were in SPB last July. We had a private tour and really had no need for cash, I suppose even less so for a ships tour. We were not hesitant to use our cc and had alerted our cc company ahead of time.

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We took small crisp US bills and had no issues. Actually brought a few Rubles we received as change home as souvenirs.

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We were on a private tour and didn't need any Rubles. We paid everywhere by CC, and tipped our guide and driver in US Dollars. Actually, I asked our tour company before the trip if I needed any local currency. They told me not to worry 🙂 As they said, tips in Dollars and Euros are appreciated, and souvenir shops take foreign currencies easily. Most restaurants take CCs. Don't bother getting Rubles.

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On 10/20/2018 at 3:04 PM, mevs904 said:

We will be sailing on the Regal in August 2019 and we’re wondering how much currency in rubles we should bring with us.  Our practice has been to get foreign currency prior to our trip at AAA as we do not like to rely on ATMs in other countries.  Our plans in St. P will be to take excursions either through Princess or a well reviewed company like Alla.  For those who are familiar with St. Petersburg what would your recommendation be?

There is really no need to obtain rubles if you are planning on touring with Alla or another private operator. When we arrived via cruise ship, all of our expenses (meals, tour tickets, etc.) were pre purchased by Alla and the souvenir vendors all accepted credit cards and/or cash (USD or Euro). I have since traveled to St. Petersburg/Moscow multiple times (via air) and I do carry some rubles simply because I am usually staying with friends in locations that do not cater to tourists and a few venues in these areas do not accept credit cards. With that said, although I use a bank ATM in Russia (as safe to use as anywhere else, BTW), I don't spend a lot of rubles - I use my credit card almost exclusively.

So, bottom line, I agree with other posts - don't bother with the expense of obtaining rubles.

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