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Finally Russia

Hello everybody,

My name is Jessica. My husband and I love to cruise and a short while ago my husband surprised me with a last-minute cruise to the Baltic. So like every time, I am going crazy to find the best shore excursions and arrange it all. We will be sailing with Princess cruises for the first time. Now one of my questions is: should I book via the cruise line or via a local travel agent? I am not so fond of the tours arranged by the cruise lines.. they have generally such big groups and it always feels like you are just waiting for the rest to catch up....
So what is the best way to go for tours in St. Petersburg?

Thank you!!

Posted by
316 posts

Hi Jessica,
I think the general consensus (if cruisecritic is to be believed) is that local tour companies offer the best bang for the buck. There's several dozen of these, and you can't really go wrong if you pick one of, say, top 20 picks on TripAdvisor.

One thing to bear in mind, though, is that a shore excursion is still just that - a super compacted and rushed itinerary striving to zip you through top 3 to 5 attractions over a course of several hours - and bring you back to the ship in time for dinner.

Posted by
1615 posts

I took a tip from a poster on this forum and arranged a two day private tour in St Petersburg with toursbylocals.com. Nikolai M was the guide recommended. He met us at the dock in his car, having arranged the necessary documents for our visit. We had worked with him via email to determine the itinerary. It was an excellent experience. I think it was very close to the price the ship wanted for the two day group tour. Great experience, great value for the money. Good luck, safe travels.

Posted by
96 posts

We found our tour guide for St.Petersburg online. We just read reviews and compared prices. You can check all of them out on Trip Advisor.

The best thing was (and we didn't expect it) the discount we got after we booked two more ports (Stockholm and Berlin) with the same agency on the same Baltic cruise.

For St.Petersburg I recommend booking a tour of no more than 8.

Our agency was Anastasia Travel.

Posted by
50 posts

We visited St. Petersburg last May and we booked with Anastasia Travel. I, too, am not so fond of cruise ship tours as I find them very expensive and inflexible. I like how we can customize the itinerary with local travel companies and do the tour in a small group instead of a bus full of people. We contacted and corresponded with a lot of tour companies and we were able to finally choose Anastasia Travel because they were responsive and they really helped us customize the itinerary to fit our needs and preferences.

We had a wonderful time during the whole tour. Everything was arranged perfectly and our guide was the best. She was a lot of fun and gave interesting and informative insights about each sight we went to. You might want to contact them and consider booking with them if you are looking for a hassle-free and customized tour for you and your husband.

Posted by
7153 posts

We visited St Petersburg (not on a cruise) and also used toursbylocals.com to book a trip with Nikolai M to Pushkin to see Catherine's Palace - WOW. If you have time to go there and see it's simply out of this world!

Posted by
97 posts

Such coincidence, we are also using Anastasia tours. Katharine helped us to make the perfect day for us. She also told me they could even be flexible on the day itself. Very friendly, she even made some suggestions of places we didn’t even think of.…
So we will be leaving very soon. I will let you know how it went!!! Baltic here we come

Posted by
50 posts

Such coincidence, we are also using Anastasia tours. Katharine helped us to make the perfect day for us. She also told me they could even be flexible on the day itself. Very friendly, she even made some suggestions of places we didn’t even think of.…
So we will be leaving very soon. I will let you know how it went!!! Baltic here we come

Wow, that's great! I bet you'll have a wonderful time with Anastasia Travel. I can vouch for them since we were really a very satisfied client. Please do let us know how your trip went! Hope you have a wonderful time in St. Petersburg!