Shaw - Answered a Question by Cooper (23 Jan 08 16:51)

St Petersburg is an intensive 2-day trip as you get so little time there and there is so much to see. Are you going to do the ships tours [lots of waiting around for everyone else on the coach] or an independent private tour???? After much research we are taking a private tour with Alla, on her Comfort tour you get City sightseeing tour, Hermitage museum, Peter and Paul Fortress, Church on the Blood, St Isaac Cathedral, Catherine’s palace, Fountain Park, Monplaisire palace, and a hydrofoil ride. This costs only $325pp if there is a group of 10 - compare that to the prices on Celebrity's website.....and more importantly the tour gives you two early entrances to the museums (before ordinary opening time) – Catherine’s palace in Tsars Village (with Amber room) and into the Hermitage which again will make the tour more comfortable for you. Hope this helps. BTW we are also on the Century in June....

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LONG - Answered a Question by Cooper (24 Jan 08 10:01)

I don't know if things are the same now but when we did a Baltic cruise in 2004 with Royal Caribbean, if you wanted to go ashore independently in St. Petersburg, you had to have a visa. However, if you went on the ship's shore excursions, you were covered by Royal Caribbean's "blanket visa".I seem to remember that buying a visa was an expensive and tedious thing to arrange involving an agency as well as the Russian embassy. We decided not to bother with independent visas and went on a couple of ship's tours. However, if we were to vsit St. Petersburg again, I think we would go ashore independently or at least, as Mr Shaw suggests, with a small group. Our visit to the Hermitage in particular was spoiled by the crowds and the need to keep together with out tour group. St. Petersburg is not the easiest place to arrange totally independent travel (very few taxis at the port, for example), so it may well be best to join a small private tour. Whatever you decide to do, it will be a great experience.

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Shaw - Answered a Question by Cooper (24 Jan 08 12:53)

No, you do not need to get a visa if you arrange a tour with an independent registered authorised tour guide [like Alla, RedOctober, DenRus or Anastasia.

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