I used alla-tour and would happily recommend her and her services to anyone. $300pp for a 2-day tour.
We too are visiting St Petersburg with Celebrity 2/5/09 from Harwich and I've read that Anastasia and Red October are also good. Apparently the cost depends on how many in the group, with the cost going down if about 6 and double if only 2 of you. We may be on the same cruise?
Alla is a set $300 for her Complete Tour max of 20 in the group. You can do a customised tour -we paid $325 and there were 11 of us for the Comfort tour. Friends on board used DenRus and were also very pleased.. I suggest both of you sign up for the party that Celebrity throw on board - good way to meet fellow travellers before you board and you find people to share shore excursions like this with.
Thanks for information,it was very helpful. We have already sign up for the Celebrity party for our sailing, we've reached the magical 25 so far. People are only enquiring about possible tours at the moment but we will definitely see about sharing excursions once we've decided what we want to do.
I have organised tours through Red October on two occasions. Excellent guides and provided you can get in a group of about 8 or 10 it is very cost effective.
Buses are airconditioned but not luxurious, rather they are adequate. I would recommend them and would definitely not pay the cruise line premium prices. They also organise all visas etc, just loke the cruise companies.
We don't usually take excusions, preferring to 'do our own thing' but it seemed easier in St Petersburg, partly because of the visa thing, and partly our lack of knowledge of the Russian language, to take the trips. We went to Peterhof, which was beautiful, but with very long queues (you have to pay for a permit to take photographs) and to Catherine's Palace at Puskin. The Peterhof trip was a full day and included lunch in a hotel in St Petersburg and a city tour. The other trip was half a day. Generally, in Russia, you expect to queue for everything, but we did not have to wait very long for anything. Oh, and the stewards in the palaces are nothing like our own friendly National Trust volunteers. One of our party remarked that they had failed the KGB entrance exam for being too scary!