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Helsinki and St. Petersburg Excursion Questions


kcnn

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Our family will be on RC Jewel of the Seas. Has anyone been to the Suomenlinna Island Fortress? Is it as easy to get to on your own as the guide books suggest? How about Porvoo with 2 older children? Also, we would love feed back on itineraries in St. Petersburg as we have booked a car through RC for the two days we will be there. Is it possible to do Peterhof and the Hermitage in the same day? Any info would be great!

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We just came off the Norwegian Dream Baltic cruise on 6/18. We spent two days in St. Petersburgs. Congrats on booking RO--they are wonderful.

 

We did Peterhof on our first day and Catherine's Palace on our second day. We had two days and we spent them both with RO. No regrets. Our first day--there was some type of military graduation and the tour buses and vans couldn't park in Palace Square, normal entry point for the Hermitage. However, we paid early admission and walked past everyone to go in the Hermitage. Great tour--and personalized to our requests. We had a lot of people in our group of eight who wanted to see modern art. We told our tour guide this and she whisked us into an elevator which went to another floor that circumvented the normal tour route through the Hermitage.

 

In all honesty, I'm not sure where we caught the elevator but Lubov, our RO guide knew where it was, took us straight to our request.

 

You get personalization and flexibility with RO. And they don't cost more, maybe less, than the ship excursions. Fantastic deal!!!

 

If you only want to do Peterhof and Catherine's Palace in one day, I truly believe they can work it out for you. Just ask.

 

Feel free to email me for more info slelam@aol.com

 

Enjoy your trip. I'm only slightly jealous that you get to go.

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Last year while on the Oosterdam we visted both Suomenlinna and Porvoo while in Helsinki and had time for a nice lunch in a Finnish restaurant. You didn't mention the ages of the older children - but they might enjoy Suomenlina more than Porvoo. We enjoyed both for different reasons.

 

Suomenlinna is quite spead out - lots of walking but several different points of interest. Obviously in a couple of hours we didn't see all of it. Very easy to get back and forth. The ferry leaves right from the Market area (which itself is interesting).

 

I enjoyed the trip through the countryside and the guide's commentary as much as Porvoo. We booked our own tour online through http://www.helsinkiexpert.fi. It was certainly worth our time.

 

If you have to pick one the kids will probably like Suomenlinna. If everyone is willing to hustle a bit you can do both - assuming the ship is in port all day.

 

Jerry

 

Interesting side note - the guide pictured on the helsinkiexpert web site was our guide last year. She was excellent.

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We did the 3t tram in may off the Constellation and you can get a guide to the stops when you pay.The tram also has an illuminated board which announces the stops so you can't go wrong.

 

If you buy your ticket at the harbour from the ferry office you can get the guide ,an all day ticket for the tram and a ferry ticket return to suommelina fortress and island for 8 euros for two people. is that a deal or is that a deal!!

 

You can get off the tram at the rock church,olympic stadium,senate square etc and see the sights

 

We thought it was a good way to see the city

 

 

Jim

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Helsinki was the least expensive of all ports for us - you can get a group travel pass - good on buses, trams, ferries.... for up to 6 people 8 Euro which is about $12. We (family of 4) Hated Suomelina Fortress - thought it was pretty run down, littered.... very disappointed after reading it was Gibraltar of the North - left Helsinki feeling it really did NOT have much to offer. If you go to Tallin try to hire Ahti as a private guide - he made it our favorite port - my kids even loved him. He is a ex history teacher with fabulous insights and a bargain for 4 compared to the ship. Also it is nice not to have to be hearded around in a big group.

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Buy a Helsinki card. We got it at the daepartment store right where the shuttle bus lets you off in town. Then take the T3 tram ( tourist tram) which explains the sights in English with on off. We also used the card for the boat to go out to the fort. Fort Sou was great. Was easy to get to and tour on your own. There is a small nice museum there. Don't waste time and money to take a tour in Helsinki. In St. Pete we took the Hermitage tour in the am and Peterhof in the pm. We took the ship's tour. The Hermitage is a must in the am. The tour gets you in before the regular crowds.

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I am using Ahti in August and the e-mail that I have for him is

 

tours@hot.ee

 

He was very responsive to my inquiries so if you don't hear from him, then I messed up copying the address.

 

 

How much does Ahti charge for his tour?

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JeanB,

 

I am on the Grand in August; we only have a half day in Tallinn and he quoted us $40 per person for a 4 hour tour. There are 2 of us. He did say that we could expand the group and he would arrange for a larger vehicle. I didn't pursue that since it wasn't necessary. He gave us lots of choices and flexibility in planning the itinerary.

Gail

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