Does anyone have experience with visiting St. Petersburg prior to/after a cruise with the 72 hour visa-free visit of St. Petersburg? We're starting/ending our cruise in St. Petersburg and wanted to tour St. Petersburg 2-3 days prior to getting on the ship. We could tour after we end the cruise if that works better.
I don't think it's possible the way you are imagining. The "visa free visit" rules are very specific. As I understand it, you either need to be on a cruise during your entire visit...or arrive and depart by ferry, not a combination. You can't just get off the ship in St. Petersburg after your cruise and have a 72 hour visit without a visa and then fly out or something. If you arrive by ferry, you have to leave by ferry, too. (Like I did in 2016.)
No. As was explained to me, you cannot stick one little toe off the ship without being under the supervision of someone from the cruise line. You need to be either on an organized tour coordinated by the cruise line or you need to be with in the supervision of a local tour company. But the visa free conditions limit you to only 72 hours. By 72 hours and one minute, you have to get your own individual visa.
I didn't understand that the ferry had to be round trip.
If you start/end your cruise in St.Petersburg, you MUST have a Russian visa (unless you are a citizen of a visa-free country).
You're not allowed to stay longer than 72 hours with a cruise line booking. Get a separate Russian visa for that
No, if you want to stay in St.Petersburg before or after your cruise, you definitely need a different visa.