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Comparing SPB & Alla Tours in St. Petersburg

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11 hours ago, SteveinPhilly said:

 Alla does offer the Fabrege Tour as an EVENING option..........

 

 

7 hours ago, dogs4fun said:

Alla offers the Imperial Splendors and Faberge Museum Tour which covers the Faberge Museum. 

The museum only allows groups of 18 at any one time and this alleviates crowding when viewing the collection.  You have approximately one hour to view the collection during the day tours regardless of with whom you book your tour. Alternately, you can do an evening add-on of the Faberge providing the evening is not a Friday (museum is closed on Friday). The evening option allows extended viewing (more than an hour if you desire) and you view with an audio guide.

 

Thanks to both for the info.

Edited by Tranquility Base

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11 hours ago, Janine S said:

We have not sailed with NCL before, but the reviews seemed pretty positive, so here's hoping we have a good experience!  We have sailed many times with Princess, but they were much more expensive and gave us a minimal discount for being Platinum members.  I looked at RCL as well, but that cruise was 12 days, which was pushing it in terms of vacation days for my husband.  NCL has free nightly shows, but then charges for specialty shows (one looks like Cirque du Soleil).  Anyway, I'm only going to the freebies!   I look forward to watching your video!

 

Our itinerary:

Copenhagen, Denmark (EMBARK)

Berlin (Warnemunde), Germany

At Sea

Helsinki, Finland

St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg, Russia

Tallinn, Estonia

Stockholm, Sweden (Nyashamn)

At Sea

Copenhagen, Denmark (DISEMBARK)

 

 Thanks!

the only show NCL charges for is Cirque and that's because it includes a meal-think of it as another speciality resturant

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11 hours ago, fabnfortysomething said:

the only show NCL charges for is Cirque and that's because it includes a meal-think of it as another speciality resturant

Thanks for the information fabnfortysomething.  That's good to hear!  I had heard about the meal but it was a few months ago that I did may research to pick a cruise, so I forgot about that.  Some reviews implied that it was more than one show that you had to pay for. 

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On 1/3/2019 at 8:20 PM, SteveinPhilly said:

Well we are retired and so the 12 days was perfect. If you go to my YT Channel and look at the playlist for the St. Persburg you will see Copenhagen, Tallin, Stockholm and Helsinki videos. In at leasdt two of those were used the HOHO bus which actually picks you up at port. We did not go to Berlin. I would have loved to. Was there in the 1980s. 

 

Hi Steve in Philly!  We're in a Philly suburb and going on the Baltic cruise in June.  I'm actively looking at the tour companies for our SPB excursion.  How do I get to your YT Channel to look at your videos?  Thanks for all the info you posted.

Too bad about our Eagles, maybe next year.

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PAKathy: Where are you in suburb? I'm in Queen Village. Anyway, here is link to my Playlist of all 25 days including 2 days in St. Petersburg. We used All Tours and loved them. Our guide Alex was amazing. The buses had room too. If you put together your own group on Cruise Critic you might even get more room. And there is a Discount for Cruise Critic members. Contact Anya and mention me. DO NOT book through Viator or other site if using All. With Alla you only pay (with credit card) after the first day of tour (if on a 2 day tour). Hope this helps!

 

 

 

 

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SteveinPhilly,

Thanks for the excellent video.  I feel as if I was part of your tour.  I watched a portion of the video and will finish it at another time.  We're in Delaware County, love being 20 minutes to the airport, and the world.

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On 11/20/2012 at 7:11 AM, newlaxfan said:

We had a hard time deciding which to go with, so I did up a chart to help with the comparison. It showed when and how long we were at each stop, prices, etc. It was much easier to make a decision once we had all that info laid out in front of us!

Have had people asking for the chart I created 7 years ago.  I really don't want to share it because the information is SO out of date now -- I'd hate for people to make decisions on info that's 7 years old.  Unfortunately I can't withdraw my offer to share the info with you -- posts in CC can't be edited.

 

I will however tell you how I did it so you can create your own.

 

I narrowed the list of possible tours down to five or so.  I used only the main tour operators that received positive reviews.  Across the top of the chart were the names of the five tours, along with the appropriate tour operator.  I had a bunch of rows set up so I could enter the tour info. Based on their websites, I typed in (or maybe I copied and pasted...) the tour info -- one cell for each stop on the tour.  I also entered other relevant info -- prices, for instance -- into the cells.

 

I printed it out, and highlighted the parts that were common to all five tours.  What was left -- the unhighlighted parts -- showed the differences.  From there I was able to make a decision.

 

So there you have it.  I'm sure that people who are contacting me for this info aren't realizing that changes are made by the tour companies, and over 7 years many changes have happened.  I won't be responding any more to requests to share the info.  I appreciate the interest in the chart but it's so out of date now that it is no longer useful!  

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2 hours ago, newlaxfan said:

Have had people asking for the chart I created 7 years ago.  I really don't want to share it because the information is SO out of date now -- I'd hate for people to make decisions on info that's 7 years old.  Unfortunately I can't withdraw my offer to share the info with you -- posts in CC can't be edited.

 

I will however tell you how I did it so you can create your own.

 

I narrowed the list of possible tours down to five or so.  I used only the main tour operators that received positive reviews.  Across the top of the chart were the names of the five tours, along with the appropriate tour operator.  I had a bunch of rows set up so I could enter the tour info. Based on their websites, I typed in (or maybe I copied and pasted...) the tour info -- one cell for each stop on the tour.  I also entered other relevant info -- prices, for instance -- into the cells.

 

I printed it out, and highlighted the parts that were common to all five tours.  What was left -- the unhighlighted parts -- showed the differences.  From there I was able to make a decision.

 

So there you have it.  I'm sure that people who are contacting me for this info aren't realizing that changes are made by the tour companies, and over 7 years many changes have happened.  I won't be responding any more to requests to share the info.  I appreciate the interest in the chart but it's so out of date now that it is no longer useful!  

For those that are interested, I made the attached chart a few months ago. 

St. Petersburg tour comparisons.doc

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5 hours ago, Lovetotrrravel said:

Hi! To add perspective to this discussion, I'm posting a link to the spreadsheet I made some months ago when we were planning our Sept 2018 Baltic cruise.I put together some of the City Must-See Sights kind of tours offered by top local tour operators. They are all 2-day flat rate public tours. I didn't only include the cost but other factors - what sights are on the itinerary, how many people in a group, meals, evening options, etc. as well.

 

Please note that those are 2018 season rates.

We opted for a tour with Best Guides, and it was a great experience. Anna, our guide, was unbelievanly knowledgeable and professional. Her stories were always interesting and had a personal touch, yet she never overloaded us with information. Anna had us avoid all lines and showed good spots to take pictures. She gave us an excellent walking tour of the city's main streets which was very informal and a lot of fun, and a metro tour we will never forget. Highly recommended!

Where can I find the link to your spreadsheet?  So many tours, so many options!!

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11 hours ago, Lovetotrrravel said:

 

Wow!  I'm impressed with your spreadsheet.  Now I have two to look at and study.  My husband cannot do long stretches of walking so we are limited to the easier tours.  We'll find one!

Thanks for all the hard work that everyone is putting into helping each other find the best excursions!!

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8 minutes ago, PAKathy said:

 

Wow!  I'm impressed with your spreadsheet.  Now I have two to look at and study.  My husband cannot do long stretches of walking so we are limited to the easier tours.  We'll find one!

Thanks for all the hard work that everyone is putting into helping each other find the best excursions!!

my husband also has difficulty walking long distancees

our private tour guide arranged for a wheelchair especially for Peterhof gardens which re extensive

contact each of the companies outlining your circumstances and ask their advice

their responses will help you whittle down which is right company for you

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12 hours ago, Lovetotrrravel said:

m&pops, make sure to contact each tour provider you are considering to see if they allow for some flexibility. Some folks in our group - we were ten altogether - wanted to taste Russian pies, and we had an extra stop for that. It was a Russian pie chain outlet. We had meat and cabbage pies and tea. Delicious.

Many thanks!

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20 hours ago, NiaGara-Buff said:

We did a two-day tour with Best Guides and got some extras on top of standard itinerary. What I enjoyed best was visiting a jewelry store which used to be Faberge company premises. It still has a sign with the name of Faberge in gold. Now it's a high-end jewelry store totally unrelated to the Faberge. I got an amber pendant, which wasn't expensive but very good quality.

Did you do a private tour or a group tour?  Was the jewelry store visit suggested by the tour company or by a guest?  Sounds very interesting.

 

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Three years ago we  used Alla  Tours. I cannot say enough good things about our experience. We were allowed to make our own itinerary and they followed our wishes exactly. We saw everything on our list.

We did not ask to see the Fabrege museum, nor did we want a dinner and dance performance for our night in SPB.  Instead we opted for a private boat ride on the river with vodka and caviar. 

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We are just starting our research for our Baltic cruise next July and are trying to decide between Alla and SPB tours and you all gave lots of good information.  Thanks!

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We LOVED ALLA.  They are similar but we opted for a box lunch one day to eat while travellinbg and saw an extra palace. I have a video ourr two day ALL tour on my You Tube Channel if it'll help.

 

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19 minutes ago, catz0026 said:

We are just starting our research for our Baltic cruise next July and are trying to decide between Alla and SPB tours and you all gave lots of good information.  Thanks!

As someone else said, it is hard to compare because either people do not go back on once in a lifetime experience, or if they do go back they use the same company as they were extremely happy with them.

 

We may have a unique experience with this. We used Alla (in 2007), and it was wonderful. Our guide, Viktoria, confided in our group that she had gone through all the necessary steps to open her own agency the following season. And that agency is SPB. And given how wonderful she was as a guide plus all the good reviews I have since read, I can recommend her agency without any qualm despite not having used them. You cannot go wrong with either SPB or Alla.

 

Much has changed since 2007. For instance, the agencies who had tours in St. Petersburg then did not also have tours in other Baltic ports (or at least if they did, which I doubt,) we were not aware of it and no one was mentioning it on these boards.

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 These two agencies are well known  on the market for many years and I'm sure they provide great service.  Ask them both what specialties they have. As for me, my husband and I looking for something new about the city, something unusual , for example I've heard about a quest around the city and the idea seems very original.

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8 hours ago, Lagerta said:

 These two agencies are well known  on the market for many years and I'm sure they provide great service.  Ask them both what specialties they have. As for me, my husband and I looking for something new about the city, something unusual , for example I've heard about a quest around the city and the idea seems very original.

 

If you want something unusual, you'll probably have to set up a private tour? We did a standard small-group tour with SPB Tours on our first visit and then a private tour with Red Sun Tours on our second visit, and although both were very good and very well-run, a private tour obviously gives you so much more personal attention and control of your itinerary.

 

Fortunately, most tour companies are very willing and able to organize private tours, and the private tours aren't as expensive as you'd think. I'd recommend searching the master thread (at the top of this forum) for some names of some well-reviewed companies and then emailing several to see which is the best fit for you (itinerary, price, quality of communication, etc.). If setting up a private tour, you don't have to feel constrained by what's on the companies' websites, so use those listings only as sample itineraries.

 

If you do have an interesting and unique private tour experience, be sure to report back to share with others!

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Question...how soon should you get some kind of reply from these tour groups re: tour questions?  I wrote emails to Alla, Best guides, and SPB tours about a week ago and havent heard back from any of them.

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Anna at alla usually answered within 48 hours but the world is not the same now. Many are still trying to stay safe. It seems like you have plenty of time if for 2021. Btw the standard tours for alla and spb are in 16 passenger vans - which are roomy. Any smaller group will be a lot pricier. And the admissions in Russia are high.

Hope this helps some. As I said earlier you can see video of our two day alla tour on YouTube

 

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, dog555 said:

Question...how soon should you get some kind of reply from these tour groups re: tour questions?  I wrote emails to Alla, Best guides, and SPB tours about a week ago and havent heard back from any of them.

There is no way that Alla would not answer your emails for over a week - she is very customer oriented. Check your spam folder. I know from personal experience that Alla answers all emails within 24 hours (weekends excluded). Also, Alla has a phone number in the USA that you can call - check her website. 

Edited by dogs4fun

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Well, I finally heard back from SPB tours yesterday evening, but still nothing from Alla ( sent them 2 requests for info, one a week ago and one 4 days ago from their website contact info) and nothing from Best guides.  I did also check spam but nothing there either.  Will try one more time to contact.

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