Use the ship's shore excursions in St Petersburg because arranging a visa for Russia is very expensive and you will see far more, safely with the ship's tours. Other than that you do not need a visa and part of the pleasure and excitement is going off on your own and not being shepherded around. Look at the tourism sites for each country on the net and get an idea of what there is to do and see and print it off together with some maps. It's so easy to do your own thing and can be even nicer if you pal up with other cruisers.
When we went you had to have a Visa if you were not on an organised ship tour.
I did this trip on Constellation a few years ago and yes, apart from St Petersburg, it is easy to go ashore at the other ports without booking a shore excursion. I actually found it easier to go ashore on this trip than any other I have done.
Yes you acn but will need to get a visa before you travel. Than you can always arrange a private acr to take you o a tour around , brilliant and beautiful. May be good if there were 2 couples may work out cheaper. Go on the internet and find agents who may ararnge for a meet and greet driver or book through the ship /shore excursion-not bad if you can afford their pricess. Good luck and have fun.
We have just returned from a cruise to the baltics on the constellation and we went on an organised tour with the ship to St.Petersburg as going independantly you require a visa also we had to have a photocopy of our passport and that was handed in at pasport control when we came off the ship,you are not allowed off the ship without a visa unless you are going on the ships own organised tou.