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 ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??

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Bibb
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PostSubject: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Sun Jun 08, 2008 4:07 pm

Sleep Sleep Sleep ThreadBump

The board seems a little quiet so I thought I would wake a few of you up and ask a couple of questions.

We're doing a "3 fer" next June. A cruise out of Stockholm to St. Petersburg and Tallin, a couple of days in Stockholm, and visiting with old friends in Sweden for a few days.

Does anyone have "must see or must do" things in any of the above cities?
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Wed Nov 19, 2008 3:28 am

Hi there, I did the Baltic cruise with Celebrity Galaxy few years back and I would say The Jewel is St. Petersburg Russia, a few must see: Hermitage Museum, Catherine's Summer Palace in Pushkin, St. Nicholas Cathedral, The Cathedral of Our Savior on Spilled Blood to name a few. We did private tours and is the best way to go if you travel with a small group. Please let me know if you still read this and I will get you in touch with my sister who did all the planning for this trip.

Best wishes
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Thu Nov 20, 2008 1:19 am

Ken,

We have booked tours at both stops. We picked tours that cover many of the places you mentioned. We think this will be one of our best cruises. We're doing our 20th cruise the 29th on this month and the one to Russia will be #21.

Thanks for the reply.
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:32 pm

I was on the Crown Princess for it's Baltic Cruise Sept 7, 2008. Tallinn is a beautiful city (the old city) and it is very easy to do it own your own. It was only about a 10 mintue walk from where the Crown P. docked to Fat Margrets Gate.

In St Petersburg we (about 16 people) used Alla for our 2 day tour and it was very nice. We let her know what we wanted to see and she incorporated it into the schedule.

The Vassa is a must see in Stockholm - again all of Stockholm is very easy to do on your own.
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:18 pm

I agree with everything that has been said, especially the Vasa museum in Stockholm. You may also want to look into a Moscow excursion in St. Petersburg.
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:33 am

I loved the Baltic itinerary last summer - so much so that I am doing it again this summer - and love having sunlight until 11 p.m.

St Petersburg has so many riches to see I am glad that Crystal allows for three days there. Celebrity allowed for two days there and that is pretty standard from what I see advertised. The Hermitage, Pushkin and Peterhof were even more splendid than I expected. The one "hidden gem" for me was the interior of the Cathedral on Spilled Blood which is a work of mosaic art from top to bottom. So many people just pose outside but don't set foot in it and I would highly recommend you take the time to do so. There was also some of the best shopping we found in street stalls a block up the river.

I am curious about Moscow too but the excursion was $750 for one day there - about 15 hours with a flight at dawn and a return after dinner. Really loved seeing the ballet and the festive atmosphere of St Petersburg so much I can't imagine missing out on another day there, but chacun a son gout.

The fortress wall at Tallinn was the most well preserved and impressive I have seen. Lots of interesting shops up in the "old town" area so it is well worth doing. But I would say that if you are at all concerned about a long walk or feel directionally challenged - doing it on your own is a challenge. Several people from our ship had trouble finding their way back down to the port. Ships don't always dock in the same places from year to year so maybe it was easier where the other Cruise Freek above was docked.

I saw downtown Stockholm on my own in the morning but the distance from the port would be a problem for some folks. In the afternoon we did a simple sailing tour for an overview. This time I will do the Vasa museum as everyone raved about it.

The best thing about sailing into Sweden was a total surprise to me. The archipelago takes three hours to sail through from the Baltic Sea. Very glad the Captain had advised us to get up early to view the amazing islets and islands of all shapes and sizes. Very interesting and worth repeating. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:55 am

I'm not positive but I beleive you need a visa for Russia if you are not taking a ship's excursion. Check with either your TA or the cruiseline to be sure.
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:33 am

Barbee524 wrote:
I'm not positive but I beleive you need a visa for Russia if you are not taking a ship's excursion. Check with either your TA or the cruiseline to be sure.

If you are not doing a ship's excursion in Russia you MUST have a Russian visa, and it is your responsibility to obtain it.
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:56 am

I have found two independent tour companies online that offer the visa-free excursions in St. Petersburg. They meet all the requirements (tour guide meets you at the ship and stays with you all day, you sleep on the cruise ship) so they can do this. However, the Moscow excursions they offer need visas, because they don't have a tour guide accompany you on the plane.

AlohaTad, where did your ship dock in Stockholm? It must have been the out of town port (forget the name). When I was there on Millenium, we docked downtown and were about 2 minutes' walk from the Gamla Stan. We were easily able to walk all over downtown, including to the ferry docks to get to the island with the Vasa museum.
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:34 pm

If you book with Alla, Red October, Denrus and I can't remember some of the other tour companies, their invoice is basically the visa authorizing you to go ashore. You just have to stay with them the whole time and no wandering off on your own. We used Alla and had a great 2 day tour.
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:25 am

AlohaTad, where did your ship dock in Stockholm? It must have been the out of town port (forget the name). When I was there on Millenium, we docked downtown and were about 2 minutes' walk from the Gamla Stan. We were easily able to walk all over downtown, including to the ferry docks to get to the island with the Vasa museum.[/quote]

Ha - heck if I know the name of the dock but other ships were there too. scratch They are building a "new state of the art" cruise terminal where we docked as well as an ABBA museum. We were downstream from the Vasa and pretty much right across from their version of Tivoli Gardens. The walk to downtown was a long and tricky 30-40 minutes thru train tracks, cargo container loading operations, etc. I was determined to do it on my own but your comment makes me think, no wonder our ship staff didn't know how long it would take to walk as they may not have known which dock we were pulling up to.

And on the Russian "visa" situation - we learned how serious (and humorless) they were about it once we docked in St Petersburg. We could see a building labelled "gift shop" about 100 feet across the parking lot from our gangway so we thought we would give it a try. Soviet soldiers at the checkpoint asked, "VISA"? We were not allowed to walk anywhere beyond the ship perimeter without having purchased that visa in advance. Tour groups are granted a group visa and we had to show the ticket for that excursion along with our passport in order to get past the soldiers.


Last edited by AlohaTad on Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:28 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : misspelling)
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:28 pm

AlohaTad wrote:
Ha - heck if I know the name of the dock but other ships were there too. scratch They are building a "new state of the art" cruise terminal where we docked as well as an ABBA museum. We were downstream from the Vasa and pretty much right across from their version of Tivoli Gardens. The walk to downtown was a long and tricky 30-40 minutes thru train tracks, cargo container loading operations, etc. I was determined to do it on my own but your comment makes me think, no wonder our ship staff didn't know how long it would take to walk as they may not have known which dock we were pulling up to.

That's good to know. I have a 2008 ports book that says that most ships still dock downtown (and Crystal would do their utmost to be in the more convenient location, I am sure!) but it may be if they are building a big cruise terminal out of town they are trying to get more ships there and denying access to the ferry port downtown.

Quote :
And on the Russian "visa" situation - we learned how serious (and humorless) they were about it once we docked in St Petersburg. We could see a building labelled "gift shop" about 100 feet across the parking lot from our gangway so we thought we would give it a try. Soviet soldiers at the checkpoint asked, "VISA"? We were not allowed to walk anywhere beyond the ship perimeter without having purchased that visa in advance. Tour groups are granted a group visa and we had to show the ticket for that excursion along with our passport in order to get past the soldiers.

Yes, we found this too (not that we tried, but we heard about others who did). We are definitely not leaving the ship except on an organized tour! But the independent tours qualify for this.
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:31 pm

thevacationstop wrote:
Barbee524 wrote:
I'm not positive but I beleive you need a visa for Russia if you are not taking a ship's excursion. Check with either your TA or the cruiseline to be sure.

If you are not doing a ship's excursion in Russia you MUST have a Russian visa, and it is your responsibility to obtain it.

See I knew a TA would know for sure, that's what makes TA's priceless Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:10 pm

Barbee524 wrote:
thevacationstop wrote:
Barbee524 wrote:
I'm not positive but I beleive you need a visa for Russia if you are not taking a ship's excursion. Check with either your TA or the cruiseline to be sure.

If you are not doing a ship's excursion in Russia you MUST have a Russian visa, and it is your responsibility to obtain it.

See I knew a TA would know for sure, that's what makes TA's priceless Very Happy

As others have pointed out though, it is any organized tour group, not just the ship's tours. The tour group can get a group visa. They must have a guide with you at all times. You can not tour on your own without getting your own visa.
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Thu Jan 08, 2009 5:33 pm

We sailed the Baltic capitals on Q Victoria in July '08 and loved the trip BUT we did not enjoy St Petersberg and thought it quite depressing. We had a 2 day excursion with Alla and it was well organised. However, having 7 cruise ships in at the same time meant that everywhere we went despite being early, there were huge crouds. Trying to see palaces and churches in mass groups was not fun and the only way to get good photos ( when you were allowed to photograph or video) was to break away from the group every now and again! The prices are exhorbitant and the traffic horrendous! Maybe it is better in shoulder seasons! Our guide from Alla was good as she was very knowledgeable and flexible to acomodate any requests.

One little tip if you tour privately - ALWAYS have the tour ticket with you when disembarking the ship otherwise the Customs agent WILL NOT let you through - even if you have just passed through the gate just to run back to the ship to get something or change clothes!. The ticket is your visa and the customs people love that little piece of paper
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:47 pm

mezza wrote:
7 cruise ships in at the same time meant that everywhere we went despite being early, there were huge crouds. Trying to see palaces and churches in mass groups was not fun and the only way to get good photos ( when you were allowed to photograph or video) was to break away from the group every now and again! The prices are exhorbitant and the traffic horrendous! Maybe it is better in shoulder seasons!

Ah yes, I went in May, so that would be quite different than mid-summer. There were four ships in port and still we had crowds and lines to contend with. We were there on the biggest public holiday of the year, the birthday of the city in May, and had to abandon our tour bus and walk through the parade crowds and under the street via the Metro stations so we could reach the museum and Cathedral on Spilled Blood.

Seven ships in port and thousands more tourists would be so much more challenging.

Since the Crystal sailing will be in early August, one suggestion I can make to avoid some of the masses is to take any "private gala" type excursions if offered. We had the Hermitage to ourselves (70 of us) and saw all of the major pieces in two hours. The guides said we had just seen what would take six, taxing hours on the day tours. Plus - the piece de resistance, a ballet with full orchestra in Catherine's "private" theater. To a person, everyone who went said it was the highlight of the cruise. In fact, the best night of ANY cruise.

Yes, it was costly at $300 for four hours (at the Hermitage, not counting the bus in and out). Everyone said it was worth every penny. Celebrity was only in port for 34 hours so we could choose only one of those 'private' tours as we were sailing away by dinner the second evening. The other such option was for a ballroom dance and concert at the Summer Palace in Pushkin. I can only hope that Crystal will offer something comparable as it is so nice to miss the lines and throngs in such amazing settings you might never get to see again.

Anyone know if Crystal offers similar tours?


Last edited by AlohaTad on Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:51 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : incomplete sentence)
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:30 pm

I see the RCCL has 4 days cruises from Stockholm in 2009 which would be perfect for me as I cannot take more than a week off work so there is no way that I could do a 12 day Baltic cruise, are there any other cruise lines that do short cruises to St. Petersburgh?
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:48 am

A lot of good reading and information from all of you. Thanks.

mkmommy - The cruise that started this thread is RCCL's Vision of the Seas 4-night cruise June 16, 2009. We couldn't get in a longer cruise and still visit with our friends in Sweden.
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PostSubject: Re: ?? St. Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia ??   Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:29 am

http://www.allreaders.com/Topics/Info_26462.asp

Russka is a book by John Rutherford I'd recommend for those of you that are interested in the history of St Petersburg (PEter the Great) I picked it up in 1990 when Iwas to cruise the Black Sea and reviewed it again last year before our 7 day Baltic cruise. GREAT FICTIONAL historical book.

It opened my eyes to why the city was built like it was in long straight blocks that never have a break or alley.. and the reason it looks so European as well as why it was called the Venice of the North.. EVeryone enjoy your time there!
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