This is part of a series of posts about our Baltic Cruise. If you’re interested in our other ports of call, check out the links below:
St. Petersburg is the reason many people take a Baltic Cruise, visiting Russia is intimidating and expensive with the visa requirements for Americans, plus the language isn’t one I could easily pick up. Visa requirements are waived if you stay with an approved tour provider for your time in Russia when traveling on a cruise boat. This tour can either be arranged through the cruise ship or not, but they are responsible for ensuring you are on the port list and your immigration paperwork. Going through immigration at the cruise port in Russia was not nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be, you just need to make sure to have your passport and your tour tickets printed if that’s the route you’ve chosen for leaving the boat. We found that the cruise line tried to project the image that traveling with an independent company was risky and to be avoided, this is not at all the case. Many people, including ourselves, use independent companies, and we found the tour was much better value for money.
We used SPB Tours, who are St. Petersburg based and I would recommend them to anyone looking for a cruise package. The Two Day Deluxe tour was cheaper than the one offered by the boat and visited more sites and less souvinier shops, in fact we only visited one for about 15 minutes the entire tour, the rest of the time was spent sight seeing. While I’m not generally a fan of guided tours, it was a really efficient way to see the major sights of the city and subburbs, and we even fit in a ride on the gorgeous city metro! We also did the evening ‘Go Out Like a Local’ Tour, which which involved a private canal boat ride and lots of vodka. We also got to wander around a bit on the Nevsky Prospect, and visit a department store. It was worth it because of the private boat ride and white nights, but I think the tour name is a bit device ing. I’d like to go back and visit St. Petersburg on my own, especially now that I’ve seen that it’s not too intimidating! Maybe at the 2018 World Cup….