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How to choose a Baltic Cruise

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    #16
    The tour market is wide open with research resources available to pick guides or tour companies that can deliver far better than the ships in all ports around the world.

    ​​​Roll calls can be good to share the research load and put together small compatible groups.

    Good guides in some ports get booked out years ahead.

    If thinking of a region research tour options early even if you don't have ship and dates set.

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      #17
      We went to St Petersburg on a Baltic cruise in 2011. I organised a private group tour, 10 of us who met on the roll call, and after researching tour guides, I decided to book with a small start-up company called Best Guides. They were amazing. We had a wonderful boat trip around the smaller canals of St P which the tourist boats can't get into and they tailored our trip to accommodate everything we wanted to do, including a Russian banquet lunch in the grounds of the Catherine Palace. Larger companies do not seem to have that flexibility and also have have larger groups. As far as I recall Denrus and Alla fill up buses.
      Our tour guide also arranged visas for us.
      Barb

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        #18
        With the more established companies their join a group tours are still moderate sized and you can set your own group sizes for many of the options.

        eg
        Alla 2day royal the standard join a group size is max 16 at $285, or you can set your own group size from 2-16, 10 is $300pp, 16 is $245pp
        denrus offer similar

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          #19
          Originally posted by Topdeck, London View Post
          With the more established companies their join a group tours are still moderate sized and you can set your own group sizes for many of the options.

          eg
          Alla 2day royal the standard join a group size is max 16 at $285, or you can set your own group size from 2-16, 10 is $300pp, 16 is $245pp
          denrus offer similar
          We chose SPB tours when we visited St. Petersburg for our family group of ten. There seemed to be very little difference in price between the major companies, but SPB promised us a guide suited to our group which ranged in age from eight to seventy-two. We were impressed with their choice, a history teacher who could hold the interest of the children while providing useful information to the adults. I don’t recall the exact price, but it was about three quarters of the cost of a large group tour with Princess.

          While we didn’t choose this option, the Russian tour companies mostly offered tours in Helsinki, Oslo Warnemund etc and gave a substantial reduction if you booked a package of tours. We decided that two days of intensive sightseeing were enough for the children, so we explored on our own at the other ports.

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            #20
            Originally posted by Haworth, Wokingham View Post

            Just for clarification, what extra professionalism were you looking to see?

            John
            John too much to give an explanation. U just have to accept that my views differ from your trips to this port. Will give though one example Faberge tour not allowed to visit the museum shop, but time for all the group to be taken to a tacky shop elsewhere, fairly obvious guide was on commission. Such a shame as the shop in this museum enjoys a good reputation. Its possible my experience of living in a communist country provides me with a more jaundiced view which possible most cruisers wouldn't have this

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              #21
              I spent ages in the Faberge museum pondering on which book to buy [CC accepted by the way], after my Cunard trip, the one with the very competent guide. I spent rather a lot of money on a lovely coffee table book, to add to my Faberge book collection.

              Mind you, we took in the tacky shop too, a stop off which was extremely well received by most of the coach. CC accepted there too although I didn't bother flexing it.

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                #22
                Originally posted by wavell, edinburgh View Post

                John too much to give an explanation. U just have to accept that my views differ from your trips to this port. Will give though one example Faberge tour not allowed to visit the museum shop, but time for all the group to be taken to a tacky shop elsewhere, fairly obvious guide was on commission. Such a shame as the shop in this museum enjoys a good reputation. Its possible my experience of living in a communist country provides me with a more jaundiced view which possible most cruisers wouldn't have this
                As you say, I wasn't party to your experiences and am happy to accept what you say, it does however seem to be a minority view and in a forum such as this "balanced reporting" is an integral part off the process.

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                  #23
                  Originally posted by wavell, edinburgh View Post

                  John too much to give an explanation. U just have to accept that my views differ from your trips to this port. Will give though one example Faberge tour not allowed to visit the museum shop, but time for all the group to be taken to a tacky shop elsewhere, fairly obvious guide was on commission. Such a shame as the shop in this museum enjoys a good reputation. Its possible my experience of living in a communist country provides me with a more jaundiced view which possible most cruisers wouldn't have this
                  Was this ship or private/local?

                  What you described is fairly common everywhere in the world.

                  When we put our St.P trip together the 2 days itinerary was customised, including the lunch option(eat on the coach between stops to pack more in) and shopping experiences(short).

                  Can the local independents afford to get the bad reviews for sloppy tours off cruise ships even with the overriding influence of lack of independence/kickbacks built into the prices in a lot of regions?

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                    #24
                    Thanks Topdeck for posting this information and for everyone else adding their knowledge. It's really useful for people who haven't cruised the area.

                    Comment


                      #25
                      We have just returned from a Baltic cruise which included Copenhagen, a Port we have visited three times previously. However when we arrived, there were already four ships in our previous docking area, near the elevated parade of shops and Little Mermaid.

                      We were moored overlooking an expanse of wasteland next to a shabby building marked Terminal 1, apparently designated as the new terminal! Overlooking a group of wind turbines and power station? on the seaward side it was some way out of town and only accessible by a lengthy shuttle bus ride partly through an area of building regeneration.

                      So if previous visitors are used to being within reasonable pleasant walking distance of the town or a short shuttle ride....it may not be the case on your next Baltic cruise!

                      Comment


                        #26
                        Copenhagen the main terminals are now at Nordhavnen.(Oceankaj)
                        (served by 25,27,HOHO buses)
                        https://maps.app.goo.gl/y9ZbTZezaSBuwzNB8

                        Not all the large ships can use Langelinie



                        ​​​​​​
                        Last edited by Topdeck, London; 8th October 2019, 06:09 PM.

                        Comment


                          #27
                          Originally posted by Topdeck, London View Post
                          Copenhagen the main terminals are now at Nordhavnen.(Oceankaj)
                          (served by 25,27,HOHO buses)
                          https://maps.app.goo.gl/y9ZbTZezaSBuwzNB8

                          Not all the large ships can use Langelinie



                          ​​​​​​
                          That is where we docked on Royal Princess. It was an easy journey by public transit from our hotel. Instead of taking four taxis for the ten of us, we sent Grandad in a cab with all the suitcases and the rest of us took the bus, which stopped about fifty yards from the ship. We saw a HOHO bus stop there too. It isn’t as convenient as the other dock, but quite doable. (is that a real word?)

                          Comment


                            #28
                            Originally posted by smtcan, Scarborough View Post

                            That is where we docked on Royal Princess. It was an easy journey by public transit from our hotel. Instead of taking four taxis for the ten of us, we sent Grandad in a cab with all the suitcases and the rest of us took the bus, which stopped about fifty yards from the ship. We saw a HOHO bus stop there too. It isn’t as convenient as the other dock, but quite doable. (is that a real word?)
                            Yes - I use doable all the time

                            Annie

                            Comment


                              #29
                              Originally posted by annie, Glasgow View Post

                              Yes - I use doable all the time

                              Annie
                              Do you understand the context?

                              ​​​​​​

                              Comment


                                #30
                                And if you use the HOHO in Copenhagen, don’t do what we did. We had an evening departure and were enjoying stopping here and there. About 5pm, the bus came to a stop in the city centre. That was it for the day and we were too tired to walk back to Langeline so took a taxi - 2 taxis as there were too many of us for one. We just didn’t think that the bus stopped late afternoon and had assumed stupidly that it would continue on its loop and take us back to the ship.

                                Comment


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