Russian Visa

Is it truly necessary to obtain a Russian Visa (American citizen with valid passport) if you are on a cruise that stops over in St. Petersburg for 3 nights? How do you obtain a Russian Visa in 1 week?!!?

Posted by Charles
Austin, Texas, USA
325 posts

I have looked into what the rules are for a one night stop over, so am not 100% sure it applies with a three night stop over. Here is what I found out...if you book an excursion either with the ship or with a tour company in St. Petersburg and you are with them all the time on shore, you do not need a visa as they will provide a group visa for you. If you go off on your own, you have to get your own visa and it costs $200+. In your situation, you definately want to book an excursion to use the group visa but make sure what I am telling you works for a three night stay. The tour company I am going to use and was recommended on this helpline site was "Alla tours"

Posted by Brendon
Auburn, Washington, USA
513 posts

You do not need a visa visiting Russia on a cruise since the country welcomes you. it is impossible to get Russian visa in one week, it takes up to months.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3180 posts

My understanding is the same as Charles - cruise passengers and ferry passengers can visit visa-free up to 72 hours. Your cruise line should be able to confirm this. Whether you must take one of the cruise excursions or can go on your own is more debatable, but you might be best just to take the organized excursion.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12686 posts

You don't. Charles is correct. You cannot leave the cruise ship on your own without a Russian visa. If you are with an organized tour - local or ship - then you can leave with the group tour. You can also do go with a car and hired driver. But you cannot wonder around St. Petersburg on your own without a visa.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4740 posts

If you're sailing in a week, be sure to book a tour now, either with the cruise ship, or (better) with a local company. Without one of these, as said above, you would indeed need to get a visa; with one of these, you'll be fine (they get paperwork for you that substitutes for a visa, but they do need your passport information in advance to do this, so you can't just wait until the last minute). Right now, go to Cruise Critic for more information about tour companies. Sign up for the Roll Call for your sailing, so you can join up with a tour someone already set up (this way, everyone pays less, but still gets a smaller group than the ship's tours use). If you need other information, go to their Northern European Ports forum. Roll Calls:
Northern European ports forum:

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7870 posts

No way to get a Russian Visa in a week - that won't be an option. You have to mail them your passport (at least that was the case last time I needed a visa), and wait for them to mail it back. One week out is no time to be mailing your passport to anyone. We booked with Alla tours (Red October is another I'd consider). A two-day tour (we chose,as an option, ten people in a twelve person van with a driver and guide) cost us $300 each, including tip. Considering a visa alone was about $160 (in 2010), I thought it was a good value. Alla will take care of booking you with other people from your ship, so you don't have to do it (just tell them the size of tour you want to be on). When you book a tour, you can print everything you need off your computer. Follow their instructions to the letter and you will have no problem at all. Don't listen to the announcements on your cruise saying you won't be able to see St. Petersburg if you don't use a cruise-sponsored tour - that's completely untrue. You should be able to get it all booked in 24 hours or so if you know what you're looking for.

Posted by Paula
Arlington, TX, USA
280 posts

Just returned from a cruise on Holland America with 2 days in St. Petersburg. They hint that you must use their shore excursions if you do not have a visa but this is not true. If you are in port for less than 72 hours and spending the night on the ship you are permitted to use any licensed tour company. I used ALLA Tours two day tour and was pleased with their tour. They do not ask for a deposit up front and infact, do not collect until the second day. See my post under St. Petersburg

Posted by Eric
Pasadena, Ca, USA
29 posts

Quick note: At the request of a helpline reader to Visa pricing into my last post the best I can do is give the full spectrum pricing...the range is from $249 - $759 for single tourist Visas. Variables that dictate pricing fast its needed...single or multiple entry...tourist or business...multiple three year business entry...required medical insurance and more. All of this info can be found on the website that I posted. I would recommend this agency hands down. I received my Visa overnight Fed-Ex on a Thursday flight was at 1p...although these were my personal circumstances. I would apply EARLY!! Eric

Posted by Eric
Pasadena, Ca, USA
29 posts

Hi Sharon... My apologies...Im well late on this reply and am sure youve left by now...but in the remote instance you havent...or could use this information for future reference...IT IS POSSIBLE to receive a Russian Visa within a week. I did it in 3 days...a two day service is even available. It WILL involve some overnight mailing. Of course it can be costly so youre much better off applying way ahead of time. See the below service who is able to help. Hope all worked out with your cruise. Go To Russia Travel Inc. E-mail: 309 Peters Street, Unit A Atlanta GA 30313 USA 1 (404) 827-0099 1 (888) 263-0023 (US toll free) skype: gtrtravel