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Devon61

St Petersburg

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Hi 

we are going to the Baltic in May with Cunard on the Queen Victoria, been looking at the shore excursions and wondering if anyone can recommend any , already booked the ballet , we can access the shore excursions on the Cunard website but it doesn’t give details or timings of them , any information would be appreciated, also guidance on weather,

thanks 

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You  should also look at private excursions. You will find that most who have been there recommend going that route.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Devon61 said:

Hi 

we are going to the Baltic in May with Cunard on the Queen Victoria, been looking at the shore excursions and wondering if anyone can recommend any , already booked the ballet , we can access the shore excursions on the Cunard website but it doesn’t give details or timings of them , any information would be appreciated, also guidance on weather,

thanks 

Weather in the Baltics is unpredictable - layers will be your friend. If you are looking for tours specific to Cunard's Queen Victoria, you might want to post on the Cunard forum here:

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/32-cunard-line/

As previously mentioned, many of us book tours independent of the ship.

Edited by dogs4fun

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Posted (edited)

Hi, and welcome to Cruise Critic.

 

Take a look at Cruise Critic's Baltic forum

https://boards.cruisecritic.co.uk/forum/116-northern-europe-amp-baltic-sea/

you'll find lots of recommendations for independent shared tours with local tour operators - we used Alla but they're all very good.

 

Be aware that if you want to explore unaccompanied you'll need a Russian tourist visa. These are a real pain, for Brits that means requiring your biometrics, amongst other things. 

Cunard have doubtless told you that if you take a ship-sponsored tour you won't need a visa.

That's correct.

But what cruise lines fail to tell you is that tours booked independently with accredited local tour operators have exactly the same visa-free status. They're in 16-seat minibuses, more personal, more flexible, quicker thro traffic and closer parking, no waiting while 50 bard or alight at the sights, beat-the-queue facilities, and generally cheaper than ships' tours.

 

JB :classic_smile:

Edited by John Bull

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Devon61 said:

Hi 

we are going to the Baltic in May with Cunard on the Queen Victoria, been looking at the shore excursions and wondering if anyone can recommend any , already booked the ballet , we can access the shore excursions on the Cunard website but it doesn’t give details or timings of them , any information would be appreciated, also guidance on weather,

thanks 

 

Howdy Devon61and welcome to Cruise Critic!! emo22.gif

 

Thank you for your first new thread on the Ask a Cruise Question forum that is for general questions about cruising. 👍  Since your thread concerns a specific cruise line and shore excursions in a specific Port of Call, I have moved your thread to the Cunard Line forum where it will be on-topic. The majority of your fellow Cruise Critic members that have sailed or will be sailing Cunard frequent that forum.

 

Regarding St. Petersburg, I suggest you research the Ports of Call - Europe - Northern Europe & Baltic Sea forum. That is where all things Aarhus, Bergen, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Greenland, Helsinki, Oslo, Reykjavik, Riga, St. Petersburg, Stockholm & Tallinn are discussed. Please browse through the thread titles there looking for threads of interest. You will probably find your fellow Cruise Critic members will have already posted questions and received answers that will help you.

 

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Edited by Host Kat
Typo due to fat fingers & skinny laptop keys!

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19 hours ago, John Bull said:

 

But what cruise lines fail to tell you is that tours booked independently with accredited local tour operators have exactly the same visa-free status. They're in 16-seat minibuses, more personal, more flexible, quicker thro traffic and closer parking, no waiting while 50 bard or alight at the sights, beat-the-queue facilities, and generally cheaper than ships' tours.

 

JB :classic_smile:

To the OP:  The quoted advice is spot-on; ignore it at your peril.  I would add that these are the same local tour operators who provide the so-called "ship's tours."  And in addition to the 16-person tours described by Mr. Bull, they can arrange "private" tours for groups as small as one or two persons, at no great additional cost, and will customize an itinerary to meet your personal needs and preferences (the Internet makes that research easy).  Like Mr. Bull, we used Alla Tours and were entirely satisfied --- for example, two separate visits to the Hermitage, hitting exactly the rooms and paintings we specified (after consulting the Hermitage website in advance).  And the cost savings over so-called "ship's tours" are enormous.

 

Operators such as Alla will even provide you with a car and driver to and from the opera or ballet, which counts as an "escorted tour" for visa-waiver purposes.  (You can buy your own tickets online at the Bolshoi or the Mariinsky, just like the Russians do.)

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Posted (edited)

On P&O this summer we did a small group 2 day tour 16 person mini bus. Around £220. Excellent tour and good value. Arranged via the ship. We saw the lot. Many used local tour companies and when we spoke they reckon we got a better trip.

Of course it would be no surprise to find Cunard offer the same tour but at a vastly inflated price. They usually do. 
But go for the best you can afford. St Petersburg is magnificent.

Edited by simonpjd

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15 hours ago, simonpjd said:

On P&O this summer we did a small group 2 day tour 16 person mini bus. Around £220. Excellent tour and good value. Arranged via the ship. We saw the lot. Many used local tour companies and when we spoke they reckon we got a better trip.

Of course it would be no surprise to find Cunard offer the same tour but at a vastly inflated price. They usually do. 
But go for the best you can afford. St Petersburg is magnificent.

 

Hi Simon,

 

Altho the great majority of cruise lines offer their  excursions only in large coaches (or private excursions by car at eye-watering prices) I was aware that P&O also offer tours in 16-seat minibuses - and the product is very similar to those of the local tour operators (they should be, it's the same local tour operators that they use :classic_wink:).

Subject to the price being competitive (which your £220 for 2 days seems to be) it's well worth folk considering one of those P&O minibus excursions.

BTW for our P&O cruise, one local operator declined to quote because they were contracted by P&O. Naturally they didn't want to upset a big customer. 

 

Bu I don't think Cunard offer small-group excursions.

I can't be sure - since I don't have a Baltic cruise booked with them I can't seem to access their excursion details.

Those like the OP who have booked a cruise can at least find the basic details. If there's a similar product its well worth considering.

But as I'm sure you know, for multiple reasons joining the herd on a big coach is vastly inferior to those small-group tours.

 

JB :classic_smile:

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Posted (edited)
On 1/6/2020 at 3:19 PM, Devon61 said:

Hi 

we are going to the Baltic in May with Cunard on the Queen Victoria, been looking at the shore excursions and wondering if anyone can recommend any , already booked the ballet , we can access the shore excursions on the Cunard website but it doesn’t give details or timings of them , any information would be appreciated, also guidance on weather,

thanks 

 

Hermitage with THE GOLD ROOM - The Gold Room guide will be a senior Museum Professor.

The Gold Room (One of Russia's National Treasures) visit is worth the price of the whole tour.

Not many people will pay the extra for the Gold Room, therefore your tour should be with a very small group.

Think..... And try and get your head around....These people (The Scythians) were mining, producing then working gold and gems to a fine level while we were running around in bear skins.....  wow!

Then when you exit the Gold Room you're next into the Egyptian Room....(not known to the General Tours)

 

Purchase the Gold and Jewellery Room book from the Bookshop as a memento.  Is a must...

 

Edited by PORT ROYAL
Egyptian Room

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We did a 2 day tour with Alla. It was a great tour, although we crammed a lot in (a couple of long days). Mini bus was comfortable and provided food was ok-good.

 

Russian immigration asked me on the first day if I was police or military, then admitted me into the country with proof of the tour being booked. Pretty easy.

 

I'd echo the comments about the weather. It was very mixed when we were there (mid May).

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Just one more echoing of the delight that was Alla Tours.  We sailed with Holland America Line for the Baltics and they did offer small group tours for a greater cost than their general large group offering.  By booking privately with Alla, we paid about the same price as HAL's LARGE group and had a wonderful guide for our group of 12 people [who were also from our ship].  HAL's small group tour was at least 50% more expensive than we paid for our Alla tour and they did not go to the Faberge Museum [a must for me as they have the largest collection of the original eggs] or take a ride in the famous subways [quite a sight] as we did.  I would not recommend a ship's tour unless you have a huge amount of OBC to burn so that it comes out not costing you anything.  Either way, do enjoy St. Petersburg; it is the jewel of the already fabulous Baltic itinerary.

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On 1/6/2020 at 3:19 PM, Devon61 said:

Hi 

we are going to the Baltic in May with Cunard on the Queen Victoria, been looking at the shore excursions and wondering if anyone can recommend any , already booked the ballet , we can access the shore excursions on the Cunard website but it doesn’t give details or timings of them , any information would be appreciated, also guidance on weather,

thanks 

 

Good morning Devon61.

 

Please forgive my late entry to your thread: I've been busy cruising in Asia the last two weeks.

 

I notice a number of given answers recommend 'Alla' Tours.

 

I too can recommend them very highly and can also give you the link to my blog where I reviewed my two day excursion with them...

 

https://solentrichardscruiseblog.com/2013/05/14/one-way-to-do-st-petersburg/

 

 

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