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We are on this cruise and have booked with Red October.At present the group for the St Petersburg tour is just 4 and could be added to if you are interested.Red October will provide details if you contact them.
Unless you have a Russian Visa you will have to take the ships tours of St P. If you do get your own visa then the most recommended independent tour guides are Denrus, Red October and Alla, who of course will tailor the tours to suit your wishes.
We decided on Red October and we had the most fantastic time. Our guide was Tatianna and our driver was Galdimir. Both were simply amazing, nothing was too much trouble. Always able to provide a comfort stop when requested, alter the itinerary as required, fit in more than was detailed, eat our picnic lunch happily - I could go on and on.
Red October were fantastic throughout the planning stages and in the delivery of their product. Tatianna and Galdimir were the icing on the cake and are a credit to Red October.
There were five of us in our group and the price was approx. just under $350 pp for the two full days. We got to see and do everything we wanted to plus more. Cannot recommend them enough.
We went to St Peterburgh in May and booked a tour with a company called Red October. We e-mailed them to arrange an itinerary for four of us and it worked out cheaper than the ship's advertised tours. Also, our guide and driver were brilliant, spoke excellent English and took us to the front of every queue as if we were VIP's. We had been told by P and O that if we didn't go on their excursions we would have to buy our own visas, and enquiries we made indicated a charge of anything between £55 - £90 each. This was untrue, as Red October advised us that just by going with them, we were all covered to travel under their 'sponsorship' and arranged the necessary paperwork at no extra charge. We only did a whole day which we found enough to satisfy us. If we had any regrets,it was not going to the ballet which a lot of people raved about, but that is a personal taste.
Actually if you book a tour with an agent listed above then you do not need a visa - your tour tkts allow you into the country.
We are also going on the Constillation in May and fancy taking the St Petersburg tour I have heard of Red October, I have also heard of a company called Denrus, any info on this company?
In the end we decided to take the celebrity tours and were highly delighted with them. The problem with St Petersburg is that there is just so much to see and one either has to try and pack as much in as one can in two days by taking a Red October or Denrus guided day ( and I believe both are good) or do what we did and prioritise. We did not really fancy two 12 hour sightseeing days as we would have found it a little tiring so we decided on a morning tour of the main sights with numerous photo stops and then in the evening we went on their costly but as it turned out, utterly magnificent visit to the Hermitage and the ballet in the adjoining Winter Palace. What one is paying for is the fact that there are no crowds... in fact there were only 50 of us in the whole of the Hermitage. Yes very expensive but I will never forget the experience and many of the people who went to the Hermitage during the day said it was like going to a football match. The next morning we went on a half day trip to the fortress where the royal tombs were, a cathedral and a river trip on the Neva which we very much enjoyed.
The down side was that we did not get to see any of the Royal palaces which I am told are tremendous.... but hopefully there will be a next time.
So in summary my advice would be - decide how long you want to sight see each day and decide how much you want to spend ... then your decisions are a lot easier. The cost can be offset to a certain extent by the fact that most of the other ports of call do not require paid excursions eg Tallinn, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo,Warnemunde (unless you want to go to Berlin). The standard of the cruise itself we found a total delight but it is important to have a balcony if at all possible as the sails out of such places as St Petersburg, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen are simply stunning and several take a few hours going past incredible scenery. Have a great time. Steve