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nattie

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About nattie

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Rockville, MD

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  1. Not to be a detractor, but painting a matryoshka doll would be a punishment for a 10 and up boy (generalizing, but still). From what I have seen of prepackaged "for kids" tours, they tend to cater to under 10 crowd, and OPs kids are 10 and up.
  2. Again thank you very much to Ultima Thule and Hezu. You can never learn from guidebooks what you can from locals! Last questions: - Does Uber exist in Finland? I have just found out that it doesnt in Denmark. - Do we need to buy tix to ferry ahead of time? I have read somewhere that tix machine on the dock is not very reliable and you cannot buy tix when onboard (sounds fishy to me), no such issues were reported for waterbus. - It says on the Suomenlinna website that Main Quay is about a mile away from King's Gate (30 min walk). How accurate is that? Not including stops, just walking? I know it is cheaper to just take tram/bus and than ferry to Suomenlinna (one ticket, etc.), but I think it would be easier to do cab/Uber to and from the ship to Market Square in the interest of saving time. I think we are going to go with the following: - cab/uber to market square - water bus to Kings gate - tour from kings gate (opposite end) to Main Quay - take waterever comes first (ferry or waterbus) back to Market Square Doable? We are in port from 11am to 6pm on Saturday, so will probably get to Market Square no earlier that noon and will want to be back by 5 pm.
  3. Thank you Hezu for great info! If you bu any chance know, is water bus more frequent than ferry? From what I read on Suomenlinna website, water bus might be preferable for us on one of the ways (there or back).
  4. I have not been to SPB since I was a kid either :) We are doing a custom tour in SPB for our June cruise because anything prepackaged will bore my 10yo to death. And at that my DS LOVES history and almost all museums (except for art ones which he absolutely HATES). From experience standpoint, lunch is good, ride on the metro is great (Russian metro system is very different from US in decorations especially). St Isaac's climb was a highlight of my trip to SPB as teenager, so would recommend that. Generally, what are your kids interested in? My DS loves military history, so for us a stop at WWII museum describing Seige of Leningrad and Peter and Paul Fortress was a must. We are also doing evening boat tour with dinner included instead of regular tourist boat tour. There a ton of very interesting places to visit in SPB, that are not Hermitage and Palaces. Like Kunstkamera (I wish I had time for that one!) or cruiser Aurora (Privet, napoxoguk!) or Kronshtadt (another wish list for me). I would start with what your kids would enjoy to visit (in case of teenagers minimally whine about) normally and go from there.
  5. We will be doing just that on our June cruise - taxi to market square, water bus to Suomenlinna and ferry/bus back. If you cruise is later than mine (June 12th, Regal Princess), I'll let you know how it went.
  6. Thank you so much! We will UBER it for sure
  7. So for people showing up 30 min before shows - why? Is it because you want/need specific seats? We have always walked in no earlier than 10 min before the show and had seats available. They are not "prime" seats, but you can see and hear the show just fine. We do go to second showing normally (10 pm?) and are only a group of 3.
  8. I agree with redeeming against card balance as being the most financially savvy, BUT there is nothing better than having under $100 cruise bill at the end of the cruise :). Granted, we spend A LOT on board (wine, excursions, spa, trinkets, etc. pretty much in $ order :)), so we always use up all the credits.
  9. DennStann, I was not really looking for best price per se. What I WAS looking for are accommodations of my special requests. As I have stated before, "Big 3" were somewhat pushy (or at least it felt to me like that) in doing standard itineraries. Granted, their standard itineraries are very good and thought out to maximize "once in a life time" experience for standard tourist. I have previously been to St. Petersburg and I speak the language, so we were looking for very specific destinations and avoiding "shopping on Nevskiy" type of ones. Also why would I pay premium for private tour if I can get same itinerary as part of group tour for half the price? Whole point of private tour is that is fully customized to traveler, at least in my opinion. Anyway, main reason I went with City Break is because they were able to accommodate my special requests, as well as suggest alternatives that I didn't even think of. Now I am all into researching other ports :)
  10. When was last time you did Eastern Caribbean? Not a snark. I used to LOVE St. Maarten, but we just did Eastern/Western combo over the holidays and I found Eastern part of it quite depressing. St. Maarten is a ghost of its former self, especially French side. Orient Beach is completely gone... Dutch side looked more cleaned up but still very battered as you go away from beginning of the strip. For first time Caribbean cruiser, do Western IMHO. I personally love Belize, but to each its own. I believe Princess has great shore excursion to private island in Belize that takes you from ship directly there skipping tender to shore.
  11. Thank you, wing! I'll check them out too just in case.
  12. Alaska is just expensive (overpriced IMHO). For a price of 7 day Alaska cruise in early June, I was able to book 11 day Baltic (on sale plus 3/4/ free and OBC's) for the same time. The pricing for 3rd person in cabin for Alaska is sometimes even higher than 1 / 2nd guest price, it is just obnoxious. I was ambivalent on Alaska, but am super excited about Baltic.
  13. Thats great news on the museum prices! I always thought it was very unfair. I think we will just stick to the excursion for this trip. I might renew the passport if we ever decide to go to Moscow. I have not been back in 10 years, clearly a lot has changed. Thank you for congrats for Rockville, I actually agree that it is nice place to live :)
  14. I wish! First, I can't get Russian tourist visa. Russian government still considers me as its citizen, therefore I can't get visa :) Oh and I cant renew Russian passport either because I am no longer "registered" anywhere in Russia. It is like Catch 22 of pure bureaucracy. Secondly, we would still need english speaking guide and a driver. I want to enjoy sights too and not have to translate non stop! Also, if you ever tried doing Russia on your own you will notice that single entry tickets to any cultural attraction (Kremlin, Hermitage, etc.) for foreigners are 10x the price of Russian citizen's ticket. I highly suspect tour groups get them at steep discounts, otherwise entry fees alone would cost $200 pp at least.
  15. My tour is for 3 people and comes to about $430pp, which I am quite happy with. I was frankly surprised when it was referred as expensive. I think another issue is that we are there during White Nights, so there are probably A LOT of tourists :). I would say everyone I contacted besides ALLA and Anastasia were responsive and pleasant to deal with, however I felt like almost all of them were trying to steer me towards their "pre set" experiences vs what I wanted. Example - all tours stated "Russian traditional lunch", I have to problem with it, frankly I eat Russian food often :), but when I am requesting Hard Rock Cafe as a stop, why not save time and do lunch there? That's what City Break suggested (among other things that made the difference).
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