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St. Petersburg -english speaking tour guide

our family of 5 are taking a cruise to Baltic Capitals and I am looking for a reputable english speaking tour guide(company) when we are in St. Petersburg for 2 days. Would also like to find a private tour guide in Berlin, Estonia and Copenhagen. Tours on cruise ship are expensive when you pay for 5 adults!

Posted by
988 posts

This is just a suggestion - I haven't called them yet about a private tour guide since I don't have my cruise dates in 2013 confirmed yet. But they might be able to assist you. 1-800-884-1721 Travel All Russia agency - the US office is in DC. They do group tours and cruises. I was booked for this summer for Moscow to St Pete but had to postpone until May of 2013. Since their cruises allow a full day of free time, I am sure they occasionally have passengers looking for a private guide for a half or full day and I bet they can make a reccomendation. They are getting my visa and my ballet tickets, so I am assuming, when the time comes, they'll find a private guide for me. You are smart to look for options other than those pricey cruise ship excursions that are EXTRA. Have you looked at River Crusing in Europe? Daily excursions are included in the fare. Of course you still pay - but it feels less painful.

Posted by
51 posts

Hi Susan, We went on a Baltic Cruise with Royal Caribbean last July and August. You will love it. I have a recommendation for you on a St. Petersurg Tour Guide but also a word of warning. We went with Alla Tours and it was great. We saw all the best sites over the two days and our guide spoke perfect English. I would use them again. But here is the word of warning. Be careful about your use of credit cards in St. Petersburg. You may want to pay for the tour in cash. Just a couple of days after returning to the US our bank called us to verify that we really did charge several tickets to Egypt and to Somalia to our account. We had not. Someone had stolen our card numbers and were attempting to charge their plane tickets to our account. The bank stopped payment. They commented that St. Petersburg is one of the worst cities in the world for credit card theft. So pay in cash. And if you have to use a credit card, notify your bank in advance that you will be traveling to the Baltic. We did. They were monitoring our account every day and that is how they caught the theft of our card numbers and saved us. Have a great trip!

Posted by
11798 posts

We used Alla tours for a two day tour from our cruise. You can either get a tour for just your group or let them book you into a larger tour. We went as a couple with eight others, a driver and guide in a van. We paid $300 each, including tip, (in cash) for the tour. I think it was well worth it, it includes transportation, admissions, and the guide. If you do an organized tour, whether with the ship or with a local guide, you won't need a Russian Visa, which is about $150 alone. http://www.alla-tour.com/ http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g298507-d1520734-Reviews-Alla_Tours-St_Petersburg_Northwestern_District.html

Posted by
28 posts

Yes, as much as you can, pay in cash. In Russia if you use your credit card, the entire number is written out on the receipt. It is not very safe. I think in the main street (Nevsky Prospect) in the big stores (like Dom Knigi) it is okay, but otherwise I would be very careful.

Posted by
20 posts

We did the Baltic capitals cruise three years ago with Red October. We did the St. Petersburg 2-day tour and also the Berlin tour. The St. Petersburg tour was amazing and well organized. We had the opportunity to see all the major sites with a private guide and private transportation. We stopped and ate lunch both days in local Russian establishments which was an adventure in itself. Our guide spoke excellent English and took care of all arraignments. I was told by a travel agent that private tours were risky and that a visa was needed, but this was not the case. We tweaked our itinerary to fit our family of six. Did the folk dance/music evening outing which was fun as one of our party was pulled on stage.
We combined the tour with their Berlin tour. Due to the fact the ship docks a couple of hours away from Berlin we decided to use the same private company for transportation and guide. This was a fairly fast pace hectic day. We had listed everything we wanted to see and were successful but it was fast paced to say the least. It would have been better to see Berlin over a several day period but that obviously was not possible. For all the other cities we did excursions on our own using Rick Steves' guide books as our roadmap which worked out nicely.

Posted by
11275 posts

Be sure to go to Cruisecritic.com:
1) to get answers to your questions about guided tours http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=192 2) to learn about the ports so you can see if you can do them on your own (scroll down to the bottom for ports info) http://www.cruisecritic.com/ports/area.cfm?area=14 3) To join your "roll call" to meet others on your cruise, including those you can join tours with to reduce costs http://boards.cruisecritic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=34 (unfortunately, these URL's all have ? marks, so I can't make them active links; cut and paste them into your browser) Note that many say Estonia and Copenhagen are easy to do on your own, even for people who don't do this elsewhere. The cruise ship docks right near their walkable downtowns. However, if you don't use a tour company for St. Petersburg, you have to get a visa (complicated and expensive). And Berlin is almost 3 hours from the port; opinion is divided about seeing it from the cruise port, vs seeing else something closer to the port (everyone loves Berlin, including me; it's the transit distance that's the problem). Everyone agrees that particularly for St. Petersburg, you save money and see much more using a private company compared with the ship's tour.

Posted by
11275 posts

As follow up, here's something I posted in this thread about St. Petersburg: http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm/rurl/topic/85914/st-petersburg-tour-companies.html >>The following companies come up frequently as being good ones: http://www.alla-tour.com/ http://www.denrus.ru/ http://www.redoctober.us/ http://www.spb-tours.com/st-petersburg/en/ Disclaimer: I have never used any of these companies and have no connection with any of them I saw St. Petersburg on my own (well, with my sister) in September 2001 and April 2010. Things that I don't see always on the standard tours that I highly recommend (if you have time) are: 1. The Russia Museum. We actually enjoyed this more than the Hermitage. When we returned in 2010, we didn't go back to the Hermitage (amazing though it is), but made SURE to go back to the Russia Museum. 2. The Yusupov Palace. Rasputin's assassination was started in the basement, but we didn't take that tour, which at the time was separate. The rest of the place was amazing, including the private theater. It felt intimate, despite the opulence.
3. The Sheremetov Palace. A museum of musical instruments, in a fantastic chateau. Of things that often are included in tours, I loved the Church on the Spilt Blood (also went both times) and the canal cruise. I didn't get to any of the palaces outside of town like Peterhof or Catherine's Palace.

Posted by
44 posts

hi susan - i just returned from a 4 day tour of spb, by way of train from helsinki. and i just now posted a reply to a similar question. http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm/rurl/topic/85914/st-petersburg-tour-companies.html it is standard practice to notify your credit card companies to travel and pay for tours in cash, which we did. i never worried about my credit card, as we went to reputable restaurants close to nevsky prospect (gogol restaurant, telop, ribeye, cafe singer) our tour was $200 for 1 day (catherine palace, peterhof) but that was in a group of 2. since you are coming from a cruise, you will more easily be able to find like minded travelers who would like to do a group tour. the bigger the group, the cheaper the price per person. my second choice was alla tours, they were only slightly more expensive. we stayed in the historic centre so we were in walking distance of a lot of major sights - the winter palace, church of the savior of spilled blood, russian museum, kazan cathedral, bronze horseman, isaac's cathedral. and i read up on the area heavily before arriving. feel free to email all companies, they are nearly fluent english and more importantly speedy and courteous in replying. i never once felt like i was inconveniencing them with my many questions. spb is amazing! i loved it more than paris, i must say.
andrea