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yapmom

Has anyone used the Princess St Petersburg tours?

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I really did take LOADS of photos, all by myself in the Amber Room.  I find no reason to lie or exaggerate 

Amber Rm close.jpg

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On 5/31/2019 at 12:49 AM, Cruiserkenn said:

Princess shore excursions in St. Petersburg were great, admittedly some years ago.  The tour guides were wonderful!  Especially wonderful sites were Peterhof Palace and also the Hermitage.  It was wonderful to not have to worry about tickets or communicating.  Take Princess tours or shore excursions.🙂🌝🛳😊🚢🙂

On an independent tour, passengers also don't have to worry about tickets - this is done by the tour guide (same on Princess tours). There is no problem with communicating - all the guides are fluent in English, as are the guides on the Princess shore excursions. On both independent and Princess tours, the drivers would speak little English but you don't need to communicate with them.

 

The differences I see between the Princess excursions and independent tours in St Petersburg is that people on the independent tours have to make their own way off the ship (although often as a group). They are then directed towards the independent buses where they meet their guide. On the official cruiseline tours, passengers are led off the ship then directed to the ship's shore excursion buses where they meet their guide. I don't much difference.

 

Independent tours are usually in vans (8 to 20 seaters) rather than in coaches and the price is usually around half that of the cruiselines' tours.

 

If there is a serious mishap on an excursion that delays return to the ship, the ship will usually wait for official tours, but may wait only a limited amount of time for independent tours. This would be an extremely rare occurrence as the tour operators usually plan to arrive with plenty of time to spare.

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On 6/5/2019 at 3:52 PM, yapmom said:

Thank you everyone! We have booked with Alla tours as it provided us with the most sights for the money. After careful reading of both Trip Advisor and here, felt comfortable going with them and convinced hubby that it would be alright.

 We were giving a place to meet before Princess letting us to get off the ship.  We went down there at 7:20 AM, got a ticket when entering the room.  At that time our ticket numbers were 62/63.   They started calling number 1-100 at 8:00 AM,  so we were in the first group got off the ship, there is no line, no waiting at Custom, just hand in your Tour tickets and Passport, took us about two mins got our stamps.   When you waked out the Custom, you will see ALLA's sign right there, show your ticket they will take you to your tour guide.    That's what we went through last month,  probably the procedure is still the same when you are there.

If you still have tour questions, ALLA has US toll free number to call, heard she is based in Chicago, one couple on our tour were very happy with her.

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We did the princess excursion about 4 years ago and it was excellent. I’m still friends with our tour guide on Facebook. We did a lot of research before deciding on the princess tours. Everything we read online seemed to say that the private tours were significantly cheaper, but I don’t think the cost differential was as great as some said. The tours were not exactly the same- the princess tours had a few more items. For example, the private tours we looked at went to Peterhof, but only to the grounds, there was no admission to the house/museum. The princess tour had both.

 

As far as size of the tours goes, it wasn’t a major factor for me. Once you get into the venues, chances are there will be throngs of people anyway. I never had a problem hearing our tour guide. The only place I found it really noticeable that you had to stick with your group was the hermitage, but this was true for all tour groups.

 

For me, the guarantee of not being left behind in Russia was a huge plus.

 

For anyone who’s looking mostly at price, make sure you look closely at the details of each tour option. Some may leave out things that you want or some may have extras that aren’t important to you, but make sure you’re getting everything that’s important to you. The bottom line is I’ve never heard anyone say that they hated their tour in St. Petersburg, private or cruise sponsored

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On 5/30/2019 at 1:33 PM, yapmom said:

Hi everyone! My DH is not very adventurous and would prefer to use a tour from the ship. I am concerned that we will not get as good of an experience as we would in a private tour. BUT this is OUR 30th anniversary trip and want him to be comfortable also. Has anyone been on one of these please and could share their experience? He is mostly thinking about the fact that princess will not leave without their tours.Thank you very much!

We went on a Princess Cruise to StPetersburg last year and used a company called TJ Travel. They were excellent and took care of arranging the visas as well. they use mini buses with no more than 14 passengers in them and also had priority entry to the Hermitage. I would seriously consider them.

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We did St. Petersburg with a Princess excursion about 5 years ago.  It was fabulous.  Our guide was so smart, knew so much about the country, and articulated it all so well.

When we went, there were a couple of different tours offered.  Ours was the more expensive one.  I don't remember how they designated it, but it was the deluxe version -- a two-day tour, which included an evening at Catherine's Palace.

 

Our visit to Russia was really a high point of all our travels.  Highly recommend.

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Princess excursions are sometimes great! We have booked quite a lot with them all around the world. But for places like St.Petersburg we were told there are many agencies for a better value and more private experience. And we did just that! No need to feel bad about it 🙂 We booked with anastasia.travel

back in 2015, for the ports of Stockholm, Berlin and St.Petersburg on our Baltic Cruise and we got more than we expected. Small groups, faster entrance to places, great communication with the guide and on top of that they customized the tour in St.Petersburg to our needs.

Check them all out and see which one will suit you the best. Many posters here have experience with different travel agencies. You should make your choice based on peoples previous experience, the ratings on trip advisor and recommendations.

Good luck and have fun!

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Posted (edited)

Kate - you seem to promote anastasia a great deal. You must have really loved your tours with them four years ago.

Edited by dogs4fun

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On 6/6/2019 at 5:45 PM, miagirl said:

I really did take LOADS of photos, all by myself in the Amber Room.  I find no reason to lie or exaggerate 

I, for one, believe you.

I have visited the Catherine Palace 4  times over the years but never on a private cruise ship tour during the evening. We have always visited during the day and there has always been a sign stating that photos are forbidden in the amber room. Additionally there was always a guard in the room - I assume to ensure that no one touched the amber or took photos. 

I did manage to sneak some photos - my bad. Wish I had the opportunity to take some really good pics. Looks like you took some nice photos - lucky you.

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On 6/7/2019 at 1:49 PM, moonglum said:

We went on a Princess Cruise to StPetersburg last year and used a company called TJ Travel. They were excellent and took care of arranging the visas as well. they use mini buses with no more than 14 passengers in them and also had priority entry to the Hermitage. I would seriously consider them.

I thought I had posted on this thread already but cannot find it so i'll just add my comment here - We also used TJ Travel who we though were absolutely fantastic - Everything covered small group (9 on our tour) brand new A/C mini bus very knowledgeable and extremely efficient guide knew so many even in the big tourist venues to keep avoiding the crowds - A truly excellent two day adventure

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I would always go for tours from independent tour operators as ship tours are too expensive and you do not have much flexibility while on tour. When we went to St. Petersburg we used Anastasia Travel and we had a wonderful experience. We were just a small group so we got to tour around in our own pace and we were able to customize the tour with to include only the places we were interested to visit. They deliver the same exceptional service like that of the ship's tour at a more convenient price.   

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Something to keep in mind that is new this year in St. Petersburg is that ship's excursions have priority over independent tours in passing through immigration.  The information that we were given is that Russian immigration started doing this in 2019 in order to ease congestion. Independent tour passengers have to wait 90 minutes before they can go through immigration.  I can't comment on Princess but we were on Oceania last month and this is what we were told.  

We took the ship's excursions and the way I see it is you have to navigate through the crowds at The Hermitage whether you're on a ship's excursion or private tour.  We only waited a few minutes to get inside, but once inside is where the big crowds are.

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