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18 hours ago, ontheweb said:

Alla has been in business a long time (we used them in 2007 and they were already well established), and has a wonderful well deserved reputation. I would not worry.

Yes, Alla has a wonderful, well deserved reputation - she is rated #1 on TripAdvisor. In fact, there is a recent post on TripAdvisor from a cruiser whose money was just refunded due to the coronavirus outbreak. I quote:

"Cooperative, Reliable,Efficient

We booked the 2day St. Petersburg tour for June. Due to the Coronavirus we had to cancel. We worked with Polina, and she was totally supportive and helpful.. True to her word, within a week we received $600. A complete refund. We truly regret that we could not travel with this very friendly and reliable company."

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On 3/12/2020 at 9:26 AM, dogs4fun said:

No payment is required until 30 days before your tour - by that time I assume that a person would know if their cruise is a go or a no go. So, for a tour in August, Alla would not require any payment whatsoever until July. 

Does anyone know when this policy  changed? When we used Alla in 2007, payment was not required until the second day of the tour. Cash, crisp new bills, was stated as the best way to pay. IIRC, they would take credit cards, but had to know in advance because they would then have to go to a bank and this would also take some touring time away. Everyone in our tour group set up on our roll call paid with US dollars.

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21 hours ago, ontheweb said:

Does anyone know when this policy  changed?

Much has changed since 2007. Several years ago, one of the big tour operators in Saint Petersburg was arrested for taking cash payments in $$ and failing to report the income - tax evasion.  As a result, the top operators no longer accepted cash payments in USD or any other foreign currency - payment was required in rubles or via credit card. I believe this change was made about 4 - 5 years ago. IMHO, any local operator still accepting cash payments in $$ runs the risk of being charged with tax evasion.

 

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2 hours ago, dogs4fun said:

Much has changed since 2007. Several years ago, one of the big tour operators in Saint Petersburg was arrested for taking cash payments in $$ and failing to report the income - tax evasion.  As a result, the top operators no longer accepted cash payments in USD or any other foreign currency - payment was required in rubles or via credit card. I believe this change was made about 4 - 5 years ago. IMHO, any local operator still accepting cash payments in $$ runs the risk of being charged with tax evasion.

 

Thanks. That is quite a change from paying dollars on the second day with credit card payments allowed but discouraged to pay by credit card in advance. I wonder if the requirement for in advance is to avoid taking away from the tour time. Paying by cash in the van while travelling was easy and took no time away from sites.

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43 minutes ago, ontheweb said:

I wonder if the requirement for in advance is to avoid taking away from the tour time.

That makes sense to me. 😎 Collections from a full group could result in some issues that would slow the group down - especially from those that fail to notify their credit card company of a charge originating in Russia.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/13/2020 at 8:03 PM, Danish viking said:

Denmark is now closed for entrance for all non danish citizens until april the 13th.

 

You can now only enter Denmark if you have a Danish passport, transporting food, goods or medicine or if you have family members that are critical ill. 

Or if you are transiting to get home😉

 

Just want to be thorough, because as I was panicking trying to find flights home to Norway a week ago*, people were adding extra stress by telling me I wouldn't be able to fly through Copenhagen, which wasn't true.

 

 

* Before the judgy people start judging me for traveling in the middle of this, I was on a 6-week expedition to Antarctica and left in early February when there were fewer than 100 cases outside of China.

Edited by kaisatsu

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But transiting via CPH doesn't mean that you are entering Copenhagen and Denmark. 🙂

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On 3/12/2020 at 9:05 AM, John Bull said:

 

 

Yes, that's Alla's policy.

And Alla's is a reliable and responsible organisation.

But a lot of travel businesses are likely to go under because of Covid 19, and altho she is one of the biggest tour operators in St Petersburg, if her business is hit hard (and what travel organisation won't be? :classic_sad:) she may not be able to refund.

 

If you pay by credit card, you card issuer will (probably) be liable - and altho Visa & Mastercard are likely to take a lot of travel hits I certainly don't expect them to fold as a consequence. :classic_smile:

Travel insurance may cover this as well, assuming that you already have it in place - a lot of insurers are re-writing their policies at the moment and may not cover Covid-19 consequences for new business. Best to read the small-print to see if pandemics come into the same category as nuclear war etc.

 

If you're not 100% sure that you'd be refunded by your credit card or travel insurance you may want to switch to another St Petersburg tour operator which doesn't require payment up-front (assuming there are any now). They're all very good.

Or even, contrary to my usual philosophy, stick with a ship-sponsored tour. 

 

Judging by the numbers coming out of Wuhan, the rest of China, and South Korea, the virus seems to have peaked there & been declining for the past week or so. Cause for hope that it may soon peak in places like Europe.

 

For what it's worth, New Jersey greyhound.... 

9, 27, 28, 47, 62.  Powerball 18

Usual 20% tipsters' terms apply.

JB accepts no responsibility for your $2. 

 

JB :classic_smile:

Greetings, I wanted to come back to let John Bull specifically know the details of 'our' lottery scene.  I did indeed purchase the lottery ticket and then promptly forgot to check it that night!  I changed hand-bags and found the ticket, so here are the details:  we had 1 number, it was the 9, we didn't win a thing, not a thin dime, nothing, just the chance to do it again.  One of these days I will replay it and will happily let you know!

 

Also, I am still awaiting Celebrity to officially cancel my May 16th Baltic cruise out of Southampton.  I understand that the Silhouettes' transatlantic has been cancelled, so fully expect the May 16th to be cancelled since the ship clearly wont be there!  

 

Stay well and well washed everyone!

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14 hours ago, mygreyhound66 said:

Greetings, I wanted to come back to let John Bull specifically know the details of 'our' lottery scene.  I did indeed purchase the lottery ticket and then promptly forgot to check it that night!  I changed hand-bags and found the ticket, so here are the details:  we had 1 number, it was the 9, we didn't win a thing, not a thin dime, nothing, just the chance to do it again.  One of these days I will replay it and will happily let you know!

 

Also, I am still awaiting Celebrity to officially cancel my May 16th Baltic cruise out of Southampton.  I understand that the Silhouettes' transatlantic has been cancelled, so fully expect the May 16th to be cancelled since the ship clearly wont be there!  

 

Stay well and well washed everyone!

 

Minor matter first....

Sadly I too am extremely doubtful that your 16th May cruise will happen.

Currently Southampton is scheduled to operate cruise ships from 15th May. But that date may (probably) be put back, and in any case there's not the facilities to dispatch all the Southampton-based ships in two days.

But it's probably it's best that they cancel - whilst  their tourism industries might look forward to a resumption, many countries will be wary of cruise ships for some time. And some (perhaps all) ports would probably be closed to cruise ships in May.

 

The more important matter.....

My apologies for the lottery forecast - there was a problem with the algorithm on my computer, which defaulted to only ensuring that you got your stake back. 

But I have confidence that the algorithm has been sorted, so you can use that free shot to win big on next week's lottery.

I will post the winning numbers for next week's lottery, but please bear with me - due to the lock-down I may not be able to post them until the end of the month.

 

In the meantime, do be sure to follow the coronavirus precautions in the shops.

Although the advice in this bakery might spell disaster :classic_biggrin:

 

92016589_2663900037162921_38567597585433

 

Keep safe

 

JB :classic_smile:

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On 4/6/2020 at 9:32 PM, Danish viking said:

But transiting via CPH doesn't mean that you are entering Copenhagen and Denmark. 🙂

Actually, these days it does! You pass Danish border control even on internal Schengen flights!

 

In my case, it was a concern because I had two separate flight tickets, so I was expecting to need to exit, collect luggage, and then check in again.

 

Luckily the agents in Uruguay were able to check my bags all the way through, including my flight that was ticketed separately! So I just checked in on my phone and stayed in the airside part of the terminal. But I did pass through Danish border control, because there was nothing stopping me from walking out of the airport if I wanted.

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On 4/7/2020 at 4:37 AM, John Bull said:

In the meantime, do be sure to follow the coronavirus precautions in the shops.

Although the advice in this bakery might spell disaster :classic_biggrin:

 

92016589_2663900037162921_38567597585433

Good grief!

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