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St Petersburg Private Tour Guides


LGW59
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On APEX May 2022 which has an overnight in Saint Petersburg.  Anyone have any insight on private tour guides, preferably one that you have actually used and can share recommendations based on personal experience.  Of course assuming private tours are allowed by the. TIA

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We used SPB tours a few years back.  We thought that it was quite good. 

 

https://www.spb-tours.com/index.php?plugin=tour_details&action=inrussia&tId=2

 

The only thing was due to the length of time we were in port they tried to drop off the tour of the church of the blood.  One person on the tour complained about this since they had verified that it would be included before booking.  So they included it with the notice time at other locations would be shortened to fit it in.  

 

Overall a positive experience.  Size was good (i think is was a 15 passenger van). Much better than the big bus tours offered by celebrity. 

 

Most of the other Baltic ports we just used the Rick Steve's app

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11 minutes ago, njcanuck said:

We used SPB tours a few years back.  We thought that it was quite good. 

 

https://www.spb-tours.com/index.php?plugin=tour_details&action=inrussia&tId=2

 

The only thing was due to the length of time we were in port they tried to drop off the tour of the church of the blood.  One person on the tour complained about this since they had verified that it would be included before booking.  So they included it with the notice time at other locations would be shortened to fit it in.  

 

Overall a positive experience.  Size was good (i think is was a 15 passenger van). Much better than the big bus tours offered by celebrity. 

 

Most of the other Baltic ports we just used the Rick Steve's app

Thanks very much, I’ll share this on my roll call, others have been asking there as well.

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6 minutes ago, njcanuck said:

verall a positive experience.  Size was good (i think is was a 15 passenger van). Much better than the big bus tours offered by celebrity. 

We used SPB as well. 
Because of my Dairy Intolerance, we were put in the Special Needs van. We had 16 passengers and a very experienced tour guide, who taught the other Tour Guides. 
Excellent all round.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get into St Petersburg in 2018, due to wind ( the channel is very narrow to turn in). Our tour money was immediately refunded back to our Credit Card by Celebrity, as I had used them to book excursions, as I had wanted to see inside Peterhof and they were the only company doing that tour.

 

327546E4-8882-441B-9077-D9509D064C00.thumb.jpeg.0bed46a6e125f354fe998bb0980d2ea5.jpeg

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6 minutes ago, upwarduk said:

We used SPB as well. 
Because of my Dairy Intolerance, we were put in the Special Needs van. We had 16 passengers and a very experienced tour guide, who taught the other Tour Guides. 
Excellent all round.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get into St Petersburg in 2018, due to wind ( the channel is very narrow to turn in). Our tour money was immediately refunded back to our Credit Card by Celebrity, as I had used them to book excursions, as I had wanted to see inside Peterhof and they were the only company doing that tour.

 

327546E4-8882-441B-9077-D9509D064C00.thumb.jpeg.0bed46a6e125f354fe998bb0980d2ea5.jpeg

That’s 2 for SPB tours, I like it, thanks.  Just curious why they’d put you in a special needs van because of dairy intolerance?

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We used SPB tours in more than one port.   Many of the same fellow cruisers also did this, and we formed our own little mutual admiration society.,  Had some dinners together on board, etc.

 

Our guide in St. Petersburg was a wonderful cheery girl named Petra.  The best I have ever had!

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We used SPB Tours in St. Petersburg.  We did not do one of their group tours, though.  We booked a private 2-day tour for just the two of us.  It was fantastic!  We were able to tailor it to our interests. You can e-mail back and forth to discuss the options they have available. They are very responsive. And you get to see so much more than if you are on a large group tour.  It was definitely more expensive, but we thought it was worth it and was not horribly expensive. However, it was ten years ago, so things may have changed. However, with Victoria still in charge, I imagine they still have the same high standards and customer service.  Here is their link.

 

 

https://spb-tours.com

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1 minute ago, Atwell said:

We used SPB Tours in St. Petersburg.  We did not do one of their group tours, though.  We booked a private 2-day tour for just the two of us.  It was fantastic!  We were able to tailor it to our interests. You can e-mail back and forth to discuss the options they have available. They are very responsive. And you get to see so much more than if you are on a large group tour.

 

We did this as well. We found two others to share and we had two days of private touring with just four of us. Our guide was young and fun and it was the perfect thing for my son who had just turned 13. She knew just how to get him to tune in and be interested in all the historical details.

 

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In addition to having great tours one of the unadvertised benefits in St Petersburg is that they get moved to the front of the line or use a private entrance in several locations with long lines.  There were a couple of times where the SPB-Tour walked past the Celebrity groups standing in lines outside attractions.  

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2 minutes ago, Atwell said:

1. Art student copying a painting in the Hermitage. 2. Catherine's Palace. 3. St. Isaac's Cathedral.

 

There is so much to see!  Two days is just barely enough time, so maximize it!

 

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P1030905.JPG

P1030577.JPG

absolutely beautiful, thanks for sharing this!

 

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We used Alla.  Were very happy with them.  Set up a private group of 10.  Skipped the line at the Hermitage--watched the Celebrity tour group standing in line!  Alla also booked ballet tickets for us, not the usual tourist one but a regular one that we asked for.  Awesome seats.  Highly recommend them.

 

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Another resounding recommendation for SPB-tours. We used Victoria and her excellent team for our group of 17 friends in June/July, 2015. We used their services on our Baltic cruise for most of the ports and were so impressed with their knowledge, level of organization, and their kindness. 
 

Although we usually cruise with Celebrity, we chose RCL Serenade of the Seas for that cruise because their itinerary included 3 days and 2 nights in St. Petersburg, which was remarkable, and so worth every minute that we spent there.

 

I made all of the arrangements for everyone in our group, for both the cruise and the tours (in 6 ports) and SPB-tours made everything go SO smoothly, including all of our communications, and our paperwork for entry to Russia. They seem to be very well respected everywhere we travelled with them, including with Victoria’s husband in Berlin (via Rostock). All of their choices for meals in each of our stops were also very appealing to our group, most of whom are avid foodies.

 

Honestly, I can’t recommend Victoria and SPB-tours highly enough. They made our St. Petersburg and Baltic cruise an experience that my friends and I will never forget.

 

 

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In 2017 I used TJ Travel. I had a wonderful two days in St Petersburg seeing all the major sites (skipping the very long queues in some places) plus a couple of extras, including a local market. We were in a small van with free wi-fi and 15 passengers. Had an excellent guide and driver. Totally recommend TJ Travel. 

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33 minutes ago, PurpleTraveller said:

In 2017 I used TJ Travel. I had a wonderful two days in St Petersburg seeing all the major sites (skipping the very long queues in some places) plus a couple of extras, including a local market. We were in a small van with free wi-fi and 15 passengers. Had an excellent guide and driver. Totally recommend TJ Travel. 

 

Another recommendation here for TJ Travel.  We used them in 2018 for a two day tour and they were great.

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Another vote here for Alla .... went back to my emails in 2019. Second visit to St Petersburg for us, had used chip excursion in 2006 [very raw travelers !], Friends used Alla and recommended them.. all that they offered was delivered. Two vans of ship guests, and so much more in the two day visit than possible on a larger capacity ship tour.

 

"Alla Tours were great - your confirmation gave me a good feeling.

The Baltic trip was great, St Petersburg exceeded our memories, We had the best guide in the city. Julia had us in side doors, beating the larger groups [we were 14]. We entered the Hermitage at 10.15am, saw the grand stairs empty and were on our way before the front doors opened at 10.30am !! Time was precious and Julia grasped every moment to add value".

 

Seems as though each of the 3 mentioned tour companies are all very well rated by users. 

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4 minutes ago, PeterGavin said:

Another vote here for Alla .... went back to my emails in 2019. Second visit to St Petersburg for us, had used chip excursion in 2006 [very raw travelers !], Friends used Alla and recommended them.. all that they offered was delivered. Two vans of ship guests, and so much more in the two day visit than possible on a larger capacity ship tour.

 

"Alla Tours were great - your confirmation gave me a good feeling.

The Baltic trip was great, St Petersburg exceeded our memories, We had the best guide in the city. Julia had us in side doors, beating the larger groups [we were 14]. We entered the Hermitage at 10.15am, saw the grand stairs empty and were on our way before the front doors opened at 10.30am !! Time was precious and Julia grasped every moment to add value".

 

Seems as though each of the 3 mentioned tour companies are all very well rated by users. 

Thanks everyone for all this great information! Seems from all your positive experiences it’s a win win either way.

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From reading the boards for several years, I'd say that people are generally quite happy with all the major tour companies.  I would also like to support the above recommendation to consider a private tour for just your family/group if you can afford it.  For us, it was an absolute necessity because we had a 3 year old with us, but even without the toddler the truth is that St. Petersburg has so much to see in 2 days, you will want to maximize your experience.  We were able to identify exactly what art we wanted to see in the Hermitage, and customize our tour, and take breaks whenever we needed to.  This tour is particularly grueling, with a lot to see in Stockholm with a shorter port day if you are docking directly there, and a lot of walking and wonderful sites everywhere I would say that if you can afford it, I would put the extra money to being on the smallest possible tour group.  Also, we were able to easily tour all the other cities independently without tours (even with a 3 year old in tow) thanks to the amazing public transportation available in the Baltic countries.

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11 hours ago, kitkat343 said:

From reading the boards for several years, I'd say that people are generally quite happy with all the major tour companies.  I would also like to support the above recommendation to consider a private tour for just your family/group if you can afford it.  For us, it was an absolute necessity because we had a 3 year old with us, but even without the toddler the truth is that St. Petersburg has so much to see in 2 days, you will want to maximize your experience.  We were able to identify exactly what art we wanted to see in the Hermitage, and customize our tour, and take breaks whenever we needed to.  This tour is particularly grueling, with a lot to see in Stockholm with a shorter port day if you are docking directly there, and a lot of walking and wonderful sites everywhere I would say that if you can afford it, I would put the extra money to being on the smallest possible tour group.  Also, we were able to easily tour all the other cities independently without tours (even with a 3 year old in tow) thanks to the amazing public transportation available in the Baltic countries.

Thank you as well, sound advice.  Very much NOT into group tours, even when I travel solo, always hire a private driver.  On this cruise there will be 4 of us and will def do the same.  Now it’s my husband’s job to research the great suggestions you all have provided.  Thank you!

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We are booked with Royal Caribbean for 2 days in St Petersburg.  We much prefer small group tours.  I have looked at the tour companies that are frequently discussed on CC. 

 

However, We really feel that if we are actually able to stop in St P on our cruise [not a sure thing at this point] we will be required to book a ship tour.  Ugh!  

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I think you will find that basically everyone will recommend the tour agency they used. It will be difficult to find anyone to compare different agencies as if they went back they would again use the one they were pleased with. 

 

We used Alla. I asked in our roll call for others to join. We ended up with a group of 10. We were able to modify the tour as long as there were no objections from other group members. So, when one member wanted to add a synagogue, that was no problem. When my art teacher wife wanted to skip lunch entirely to spend more time in the Hermitage, that was a problem. We did add more Hermitage time taking it from lunch time, but not all of lunch gone.

 

Now despite my first paragraph, I may be one of the few who can recommend more than one tour agency. As I said we used Alla and were very happy with everything. Our guide (this was in 2002) was Viktoria who confided in all of us that she had passed all the necessary requirements to open her own agency for the next season. This became SPB, which many on this thread have recommended. Having read those and others recommending her agency and having dealt with her as our guide, I would have no qualms about recommending SPB as well as Alla.

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