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St Petersburg Private Tour Guides


LGW59
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Another vote for Alla.  We booked a 2 day Imperial Splendors and Faberge Museum group tour.  Their communication was excellent and answered all of our questions quickly.  We booked a group tour however, when we were met by the tour guide, he informed us that there were only the two of us who booked this tour on our ship which meant we had a private tour in a comfortable Mercedes.  Lunch was included each day and we were seated at a table for two each time.  Wonderful tour guide, driver and the sights were so impressive.  As well, we only paid for the tour while on the tour - no deposit when booking required. Hope you are successful!

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We had a wonderful 3 day tour with Alla in July of 2019.  Can't say enough good things about them.  Saw everything on our list and more, along with great lunches each day.  We were with Viking and there were enough people from our cruise that Alla had 2 small vans, each with a guide and driver.  There were about 15 people in our group and we never waited in any lines and were able to see so much more than Viking was offering.  Our guide, Angie, was not only knowledgeable but funny.  It was a great trip.

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On 10/22/2021 at 4:45 PM, ontheweb said:

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. 

 

Agreed 100%.

Elsewhere in the world its far more important to check for reviews and opinions about any product or service to AVOID rather than to get opinions on which is the best.

Now check out all the posts on this thread and the sticky St Petersburg master thread at the top of this forum. Then check the rest of the web - TripAdvisor, TrustPilot etc etc.

I doubt you'll find a single negative review. 🙂

 

As ontheweb pointed out, very very few cruisers have ever used more than one St Petersburg tour operator, so whilst  they have been very happy with their tour, they're not in a position to compare.

For instance, ships' tours are almost-always in full-size coaches, with the disadvantages that cannot be avoided with large groups, so the experience cannot be as good. But everyone I spoke to who'd been on a ship's tour enthused about their experience 🙂. That's not entirely surprising, because those same local tour operators also provide the ships' tours - but they don't know how much better it could have been in a small-group tour.

 

So if you're lazy and just close your eyes & stick a pin in a list of local accredited operators you'll still get a good tour.

They all operate 16-seat vans (I think only DenRus also operate full-size coaches), most offer pretty-much the same itineraries, all guides are knowledgeable and speak understandable-to-excellent English.

I think they all include a visit to a souvenir shop. Not a bad thing, because the stock is wide-ranging and you can do some un-hurried and un-hustled browsing & comparing. Good rest-room & often free snacks / drinks.

Differences between tour operators are minor - some offer a visit to one of St P's magnificent metro stations (and a metro ride if time permits), some offer travel to Peterhof by hydrofoil, some include restaurant lunch while others provide a packed lunch in order to maximise sight-seeing time, etc.

And some operators are particularly good for special-interest tours, whilst some (incl Best Guides) have a reputation for great tours for those with kids.

Some - including SPB and Alla - offer a discount for those who also book tours at other Baltic ports (though IMHO they're very easy to DIY).

Prices are generally in the ballpark, so I suggest you don't bother with spreadsheets & such, or be swayed by the prospect of saving a few dollars.

 

One small point - for St Petersburg don't use a consolidator (Viator, City Breaks, Cruising Excursions, etc) . They're an extra cog in the system, information from them is always limited, and they'll just book you with THEIR choice of those local operators). 

 

For the record, we used ALLA.

Were they good? "Yes, excellent"

Were they the best? "Hmmmm - read the whole post again 😏"

 

JB 🙂

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On 10/16/2021 at 10:07 PM, kitkat343 said:.  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.

Thanks for this prospective.  Are you recommending private tours for both St.Petersburg and Stockholm?  We we considring the same option.  We would prefer to skip lunch and maybe a few other things in St.Petersburg.  We end at Stockholm, so would be a plus to be dropped at our hotel for overnight.  

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On 11/5/2021 at 8:42 AM, John Bull said:

 

For instance, ships' tours are almost-always in full-size coaches, with the disadvantages that cannot be avoided with large groups, so the experience cannot be as good. But everyone I spoke to who'd been on a ship's tour enthused about their experience 🙂. That's not entirely surprising, because those same local tour operators also provide the ships' tours - but they don't know how much better it could have been in a small-group tour.

 

 

 

 

 

I spoke with several passengers who had done ship tours, and most thouroughly enjoyed them. However, I did hear some complaints. I heard of a bus whose air conditioning broke down (and it was in the high 80s temperature wise when we were in St. Petersburg in the summer of 2007.) Another said their guide lamented the end of communism. And another when I said our guide (who would the next year start SPB Tours) had 18 years experience said their guide was 18 and told them their questions were stupid. Probably the exception, but complaints about ship tours do exist.

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On 11/8/2021 at 10:01 AM, milolii said:

Thanks for this prospective.  Are you recommending private tours for both St.Petersburg and Stockholm?  We we considring the same option.  We would prefer to skip lunch and maybe a few other things in St.Petersburg.  We end at Stockholm, so would be a plus to be dropped at our hotel for overnight.  

Definitely a private tour for just your family/tour group if you can afford it in St. Petersburg.  If you can't afford a private tour for just your group, a small group tour with Alla/SPB/best guides/any of the other highly rated tour groups on this forum.

 

In Stockholm, it is possible to use public transportation to get around fairly easily, so then it becomes a question of logistics for your individual situation.  Are you docking directly in Stockholm or Nyashamn?  It's supposed to be fairly easy to travel via train from  Nyashamn to Stockholm, but with luggage that could be a bit more difficult.  Also, please be aware that if you are sailing a larger ship if there is wind they may need to divert to Nyashamn.  

 

The public transportation system is excellent in Stockholm.   Additionally, early in the morning (at least prior to covid), the hop on boats went from where you dock straight to the Vassa.  This was a great option when you could purchase a one ride ticket on them but they stopped selling those, and now you'd need to consider if you would use the hop on hop off boat enough to pay for a whole day's hop on hop off ticket.  It was a lovely way to see the city, and extremely convenient for the two rides we purchased (one directly to the Vassa and the second from the palace directly back to the dock).   We were able to fairly easily navigate Stockholm with public transportation with a 3 year old  in tow, but didn't have luggage and lost a little bit of time asking for directions/figuring out where the tram/train/bus was.  I would say it depends on where you dock and how far you need to schlep your luggage.    I'd probably price out the transportation and see how much it is and then make a decision.  If the hotel is close to the port, you can drop off the luggage first and then tour, since you have more time in Stockholm than most travelers (if it isn't the end point, it's usually a shorter day due to the difficulties of navigating through the archipelago.)

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On 10/16/2021 at 1:36 PM, Happy Cruiser 6143 said:

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.

 

I might be interested in this.  How do you find out if there is a performance on the night you are there?

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