Reading the messages it can take a long time in a taxi to get back to the port. Is it easier to walk back?
>>it can take a long time in a taxi to get back to the port.
depends on a few things: from where? when (tourist season or off season)? what time of a day? do you mean Marine Facade port?
>>Is it easier to walk back?
I see you are from the UK and, if so, do you mean the cruise port?. If so, do you realise that to go ashore independently in Russia from a cruise ship will need a Russian visa? That will cost about £130 each a lot of paperwork (will take a long time to search out the details required) as well as a visit to London, Manchester of Edinburgh to have your fingerprints taken. Visas take a while to process as well - not an instantaneous thing.
If you go on an organised trip by the cruise ship, or a trip organised by a Russian company, you will have that sorted for you for the duration of the trip only. Will be transported to/from the port as well.
We are on a tour that finishes at lunch time so can we walk back to the cruise port
Might be a good idea to check that with your tour provider. I have seen a lot of posts on a well known cruise forum and they state that the tour guides have to take people back to the terminal, or the tour guides would get into lots of trouble for not doing so. At no time have I seen an option of cruise passengers just being able to amble back to their ship when they wanted to go back.
Would be a very appealing option to lots of cruise passengers though if it were available, so I am sure it would be well publicised if it were an option.
We have opted for getting our own visas for when we visit St. Petersburg by cruise ship in August. With a bit of research it was relatively easy. We completed the application online and then went to Manchester where the staff were really helpful. The visas are expensive but the money spent is easily saved by not having organised tours (this is what we wanted to avoid) - for example our cruiseline wanted £350 just for Hermitage and Spilled Blood Cathedral which will cost us £12 on our own (plus travel into the city). No brainer! We're looking forward to going on the Metro too - something you probably don't get to do on an organised tour.
We totally agree Boltonhead. We needed our own visa for a river cruise with hotel stays each end in early May, so we have done the ground work regards getting the info together for the application. Be aware that you should keep a copy of the details you used for the application, because any conflict on a subsequent application can cause problems apparently.
Thinking that if we return on a cruise ship, we may also stay in a hotel overnight to prevent having to/from the port unnecessarily. Many people get a cruise ship which docks in St Petersberg and have no idea of the restrictions. I get the feeling the OP on this thread is one of them.
Can I ask you a question. One thing we were thinking about getting a visa for a cruise ship stop is can you get one that allows double entry, so you can go back to the ship and go ashore again the next day? That is the one thing we do not know, as from what I have read it seems you enter Russia as you leave the ship and go back out when you return to the ship, so need to re enter Russia the next day if you sleep on the ship. An overnight hotel does have an appeal to us though as one of the things we still want to do is St Petersberg at night when the bridges are up. We have done a ballet performance and a fair bit of walking around near our hotel at night (Nevsky Prospect).
There are trips that go onto the metro and our included walking tour from our hotel in St Petersberg went onto the metro. Metros are fine though and the stations can be very ornate - so take a bit of time to look around. We had an included trip just to a number of metro stations in Moscow, which were impressive. Best to just get tickets as you get to the station, there are always counters where you can buy single tickets, which cover you for the time you are in the metro system - you can change trains without coming up out of the station. The tickets cost less than 50 roubles each in St Petersberg, so we had a 100 rouble note in a pocket to cover both of us, which meant we did not need to be seen getting a purse/wallet out, which did not seem a good idea. There are ticket machines, but they did not look so easy. All tour guides warned against pick pockets especially in the tourist areas and from a ship you would need to have your passport with you (as you have to go through passport control going off/on the ship, so it needs to be well secured (and hidden). My husband had learned the Russian alphabet, which was a great advantage when recognizing station name etc. Though SPB was much better than Moscow as there was some English as well.
I am sure you will have a great time, enjoy.
If on a cruise ship, not a river cruise, visa free entry requires an organized tour but there is some confusion as to what an organized tour is. It is any tour created by a registered tour operator who is recognized by the passenger port. The tour can be anything desired from a walking tour to just shopping or any activity you want. The key is registered tour operator. .Most will create any tour you wish. It can even save a lot by not using a private car or van plus driver, as there is public transportation from the port, bus 158. Rules have changes this year to increase security so only two taxi companies are allowed to move from the city side of security to the ship side, one company handles terminal 1 and 2 and the other goes to terminal 3 and 4. Tour operators who have port privileges can return to the ship directly. The exclusive nature of the taxi permits means they will be much higher priced than normal city taxi.
Having a tour designed around your interests means you will have a licensed guide who knows much more than any guide book about the areas of interest. So whether to go on your own or having a professional guide is up to you but I am sure you will get a lot more out of it and see and experience far more with the services of a guide than winging it. 92% of port calls are 2 days so seeing as much of St Petersburg as possible in those two days is going to require the assistance of a tour company.
Stanj, I see you have some great replies to messages about Cruise passengers to St. Petersburg in this and other forums. I have spent hours trying to answer a very simple question and wondering if you can help.
My spouse and I are in the process of getting single entry visas for our cruise to St. Petersburg, we simply want to explore on our own without having to take shore excursions. We were advised by the visa agency that we don't need a multiple entry visa (to get on/off the ship each of the three days we are in port) due to the ship not actually leaving the port. Then last week I got a scary email from our cruise line stating that we have DO need to get a multiple entry visa if we wish to go off shore each of the three days due. I don't completely believe some of the information the cruise has give us, so I am skeptical, but need this clarified to get the correct visas we need.
So I am getting conflicting information and don't know what to believe. When I mentioned the discrepancy to the visa agency they insisted that we would be fine and that there are not any laws restricting cruise passengers from getting on and off the ship while in port....any advice? Or do you know where I can find the correct information, I cannot seem to find anything online that is specific our situation as everyone seems to lean towards just doing shore excursions....
We have been looking into this ourselves, and from what we can see the situation is as I have described below, though we have not been to SPB personally with a visa from a cruise ship, so do not have personal experience.
However, I can say we have been looking into this on a cruise forum as well as details of visa's etc. It seems that each time you leave the ship, passengers have to go through passport control (and keep their passports on them during their time ashore), so it would seem that the cruise ships do not actually 'enter' Russia. Hence I have seen a couple of posts which say they stayed in a hotel overnight so they did not have to return to the ship and only needed a single entry visa. There is some confusion at times as people who come by ferry do not have the same restrictions as cruise passengers and it is possible your advice covered ferry passengers rather than cruise passengers.
We also looked into the price of a double entry vs single entry visa for UK nationals and the price difference was quite high (cannot remember what it was but it was about the £60pp level). So if we get our own visa's for a cruise visit we will get single entry ones and stay in a hotel, the cost of which could be covered by the difference in visa cost and the cost/hassle of getting to/from the port in a taxi. We would be looking to eat out anyway so a no brainer from our point of view.
From our personal perspective we have now booked a Baltic cruise with P&O for next summer and found out, via cruise forums, that P&O offer a day trip in SPB which allows for a total of about six hours free time (without restrictions) in three locations, which costs £42pp this year. As we have been to SPB for several days this year, that trip, possibly plus a 5.75 hour trip to Peterhof (current price £73pp), may well be the way we go. The UK based cruise lines (P&O and Fred Olsen) often charge less for their trips though.
I did inquire with one of the main local tour operators, for the cost of tailor made tours to Peterhof and Peter and Pauls's Fortress (the only main sites we did not rush to see this year), preferably on two different days so we did not need to rush. A totally ridiculous price was quoted on a pp basis. Done as two half days it would cost us a total of about £350 and if all done on one day would cost £300 and there was also a written suggestion that we also give 10% of that cost as a tip! The itineraries given seemed just a tight as any I have seen, so no extra time allowed either. Reading other things said on forums, those sort of prices seem about what you would pay per person, even on a small group tour (e.g. arranged via a role call).
If you are a UK national, you are right, the visa route is a very good idea, but the way forward would seem to be to book a hotel for the night, rather than pay more for a double entry visa and extra transport from/to the port. If you are a national of another country, the price calculations may well work out differently, but I would still recommend staying in an hotel as it would give you much more freedom to come and go, whilst enjoying all times of day in what is a lovely city.
BarbaraEdited: 7:07 am, July 03, 2018
The cruise forum I refer to is Cruise Critic, though you will have to search very hard to find anyone who has gone beyond the "we wanna do a trip and not bother to get a visa and go around on our own" mentality. Just ignore them, they are written by mindless cruise passengers who want to see the world without really experiencing it IMO
They also seem to want to hare round 'seeing' briefly as many sites as they can possibly fit into two days. For that purpose, there is likely a case to doing a tour though, as they will be whisked here and there with timing and entry to everywhere being optimised and can avoid some queues.
If you are from the UK and using a 'Visa agency' you will find you have a large on cost, which would not be needed if you go straight to the official supplier (link can be found on the FCO site) and they are really helpful as well.Edited: 7:21 am, July 03, 2018