we are very happy that we did not take the cruise ship tour but opted, instead, for a private tour through KURS-Spb. Because we were not a "group" our guide, Irena , was able to get us into the Hermitage immediately, rather than standing in long queues, and also was able to grab a sandwich and a drink for me, bypassing another LONG line on tourists (there is only one place to get food and drink in the whole museum). We structured our trip to include 4-5 hrs in the Hermitage rather than just 3, and also added a canal cruise, which was one of the highlights of our 2 day, whirlwind tour in St. Petersburg. Our guide was pleasant and knowledgeable and knew her history. If you are arriving in SPB via cruise ship, you have no option but to take the boat tour or a private /small group tour as it is impossible and expensive to secure a Russian Visa.
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