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“Excellent Tour of St. Petersburg plus Tallinn and Gdansk”

Red October Tour Company
Ranked #40 of 435 Tours in St. Petersburg
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed August 30, 2013

We did a custom two-day tour of St. Petersburg arranged through Mike Finn of Red October USA. We did our tour with a long-time St. Petersburg resident who teaches university-level English in St. Petersburg. Our tour was in a relatively new Mercedes with our guide and her driver. We saw exactly what we wanted and were never rushed at any point in the tour. We were totally pleased with our guide and driver. We followed Mike's instructions for disembarkation and payment and it was a totally effortless experience. St. Petersburg is an amazing place that would take weeks to see but we experienced an wonderful overview. We recommend this company without reservation.

Mike also arranged day tours in Gdansk and Tallinn that were also just as good as St. Petersburg. We were really impressed with our guides and drivers in these places.

8  Thank Oxypete
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"mike finn"
in 48 reviews
"cruise ship"
in 29 reviews
"russian history"
in 18 reviews
"two days"
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"weary travelers"
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"day tour"
in 38 reviews
"private tour"
in 18 reviews
"his knowledge"
in 10 reviews
"catherine's palace"
in 13 reviews
"perfect itinerary"
in 3 reviews
"disney magic"
in 2 reviews
"sights and sounds"
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"via email"
in 9 reviews
"beef stroganoff"
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in 11 reviews
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"beat the crowds"
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102 - 106 of 189 reviews

Reviewed August 29, 2013

When we booked our Baltic Cruise with a 3 day stop in SPB, a friend of ours who had previously done this trip, highly recommended doing a private tour with Red October. He gave me Mike Finn's number and from the first phone call knew I was making the right choice for our group (2 couples), as Mike made me the team captain. We immediately received all the information required for booking and for the next 3-4 months Mike was always available for questions, concerns and guidence in preparing for SPB. He could not have been more friendly and helpful, always assuring me that RO would take care of everything and provide us a wonderful experience. We've just come home and can attest that all was true. Our guide for 3 days (Helen) was terrific getting us early admissions to all the sites we visited - no waiting in lines. Want a wonderful time in SPB? Red October is your ticket!!!

4  Thank Bert K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 28, 2013

We booked our tour of Saint Petersburg with Red October through Mike Finn, Red October USA. Mike was extremely professional and very helpful, providing us with personal guidance so that our tour of SPB would provide memories of a lifetime. It was easy to book with Mike. He provided us guidance, answered our questions and helped us to design our tour around our wants and needs. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and professional. Our driver was very professional and the vehicle was new, clean and comfortable.

When we compared our experience in SPB with others on our ship, it was clear that we had a very superior and enjoyable two days.

4  Thank Susan S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 25, 2013

If looking for an easy way to see the major attractions with a small group, you can't beat Red October. Booking was easy, and everything went as advertised. Mike Finn was easy to work with and we got everything we asked for. Enjoy St Petersburg with a guide and a driver, at a good price.

3  Thank Burt437
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 21, 2013

After reading reviews of different tour companies on Trip Advisor (TA) we decided to cast our fate with Red October. Except for one minor irritation which we will discuss later we were very pleased with our tour with Red October (RO). If you send an inquiry via the RO website you will most likely receive a response from Mike Finn. He is the US based RO point of contact. Mike is very responsive and very detailed in his response. We told him how long we had to spend in St Petersburg and he provided us a sample itinerary based on RO's experience of what we should see. He solicited our comments and any refinements before locking in the itinerary.

Payment was a snap. Once we were satisfied with the itinerary, we sent a 10% down payment to Mike via US mail and he responded several days later via email with a receipt. There are several forms you have to complete so RO can arrange your tour VISAs but if you follow Mike's instructions you will have no problem. Note: in Mike's instructions are directions to make two copies of the inside of the photo page of your passport and bring those to the immigration station when you enter Russia. We did this and the custom's/immigration official handed them back to us conveying they didn't need or want them. No harm in printing them out but they didn't serve any useful purpose that we could find.

Once we were through custom's/immigration there was Helen, our tour guide, holding a sign with our name on it. From then on it was a piece of cake. She had the same itinerary that we had refined with Mike Finn and we reviewed each item to insure we were all in agreement. As the day progressed we ran a little ahead of schedule and we asked if we could see the Jewish Synagogue. She said it was near one of our stops and we could work it in without a problem.

Later in the day we stopped by the RO Office to make final payment. Mike Finn had told us we could pay in Russian Rubles, US Dollars or via credit card using VISA or Master Card. They do not accept American Express. Our invoice was in US dollars, we paid our deposit in US dollars and after calculating exchange rates, commissions and fluctuations in the US dollar we opted to pay the balance in US dollars. Laura, the owner, didn't bat an eye when we pulled an envelope of US dollars out and paid the balance.

As other reviewers have noted, RO provides extremely well qualified English speaking tour guides. We were consistently amazed at the detailed knowledge she had of architects who designed the various buildings and what other buildings around Europe they had drawn their influence or subsequent architects who drew influence from them, the names of artists of the numerous paintings we saw or the lineage of the royal families of Russia. She was a walking Wikipedia.

We had opted to pay a few additional fees to gain early entrance to certain venues or to have a special dinner and entertainment. Here is our only rub with RO. We had paid extra for dinner and folk night entertainment. We arrived early to the restaurant and were promptly seated and our drink order taken. Since we were early there were no other patrons in the restaurant, and we drank our drinks leisurely. The restaurant was divided into three moderate size dining rooms with various tables arrayed in each room. There was a small space in each room where the entertainers would perform.

The evening progressed and other foreigners joined us and the restaurant started to fill us. Since our meal was pre-ordered and pre-paid we enjoyed a very nice salmon appetizer, followed by a rather plain Chicken Kiev with mashed potatoes and broccoli and then a crepe type dessert with toppings. We would rate the meal as good but not great.

When the entertainment started we realized what we thought of as Russian Folk Entertainment and what RO thought of as Russian Folk Entertainment were two different things. What we got was three Russian gypsies, two played musical instruments and one danced. They perfomed in one room, then moved to the next room, did a different dance and then moved to the final room and performed a different dance. You could hear the music in the two other rooms but you couldn't see anything. After the third dance the trio took a break and then the sequence repeated itself.

We chalk it up to "buyer beware". It had been a very long day filled with new sights, people and experiences. Our driver was sitting in the vehicle waiting for us and we returned to our ship to rest up for the following day’s activities.

We definitely recommend Red October. The overall experience and professionalism of the tour guide, our driver and coordination pre-tour with Mike Finn all over shadow the disappointment of the evening entertainment.

4  Thank pmarion222
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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