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“THE GOOD AND THE BAD AND THE UGLY”
Review of Alla Tours

Alla Tours
Ranked #1 of 448 Tours in St. Petersburg
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: TOP NOTCH QUALITY - AFFORDABLE PRICES! Based in St. Petersburg, Alla Tours specializes in group and tailor - made shore excursions and city tours for cruise ship passengers. Our tours in St. Petersburg and Moscow are VISA FREE! Alla Tours is a fully licensed tour company. As a long established, family owned and operated business, we have been delivering a wide range of shore excursions and land-based tours in St. Petersburg and other Baltic ports of call. You may choose from one of our very popular group tours, customize your own private tour or pick and choose from our array of popular and reasonable priced package tours (4 or 5 city tours including St. Petersburg, Berlin, Tallinn, Stockholm and Helsinki). Our friendly, experienced, multilingual tour guides have an excellent command of the English language and will provide you with memorable experience that will be truly unforgettable.
Reviewed July 14, 2013

We booked a two day tour in St. Petersburg with Alla because its tour offered more than the ship's two day excursion.

The good was that the tour company arranges exactly what is offered. It is mostly arranged smoothly except for understandable hiccups and inconveniences. Our guide was very knowledgeable about the art in the Hermitage which was important and the canal cruise was quite enjoyable.

The bad, The lunch was very poor quality and not an actual restaurant experience. It is a packaged inexpensive meal served in an empty second floor dining room of a virtually closed restaurant. The food was in inedible. Not at all a taste of the city. More importantly, the guide had no knowledge of Russian history and instead provided a neo-tsarist rant that smacked of antisemitism and anti-western prejudices. Our tour guide walked ten steps ahead of the tour and droned in a monotone, repetitive, cheerless voice for an entire day about how Russia was a paradise until "Germans" and Trotsky conspired to ruin Russia. According to her, Russia (thanks to Putin) is now back on track although unnamed Western counties are still trying to contain Russia and oppress its peoples.

Members of our tour were robbed outside the Cathedral. While this is not the fault of the tour company, its failure to warn its guest was unfortunate. What was worse was the tour guide made no effort to help the victims and claimed that this had not happened during the last six years she had been touring. In actuality, we learned it is a daily occurrence there and occurred on that very day to other groups. Friends of ours on the cruise, who used another tour company were warned often about pick-pockets and given instructions of precautions to take.

The Ugly! When we decided to skip the tour for the second day, we were told by the owner that she knows what people in our country (United States) are like and we should just stay home and never return to Russia. This from a woman whose entire livelihood is based on Americans and other Westerners! The anti-western bias expressed by the tour guide was given full throat-ed expression by the tour operator.

I have read many of the other reviews that are mostly positive and I understand where the reviewers are coming from. We all like to travel . We all want to enjoy on these tours a small taste of Russia because it is interesting and exotic country that was off limits for too long.
As a result the reviewers expect less and have lower standards for guides there than in other countries.Still if a tour presents a historical narrative, the narrative should be mostly accurate and at very least not insulting to its guests.

One other thing. What's the story with the Russian visa nonsense? When Alla or any other company sells you their tour they claim visas are included. Please be clear that these are not visas merely permission to be on their tour. You are not allowed into the city on your own at all. This is the only country we have been to that prohibits tourists on cruise ships from debarking without a visa purchased from a tour company. Also once you sign up with the tour company you cannot walk around on the streets but are captive of that company. Is this a revenue raising scheme or do they really think that unescorted tourists shopping for a couple of hours are threats to their state security?

Bottom line: the Hermitage is an extraordinary museum and was worth the visit. The rest of the experience was disappointing. Thank you for your advice, Alla, I will not be returning soon. .

34  Thank Clifford K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 14, 2013

We booked the 5 city package with Alla Tours with a private tour for 4 people in St. Petersburg and an evening in St. Petersburg. We paid dearly for the St. Petersburg portion so that we had more control over what we could do and see. We were met on time by a guide who was difficult to understand, but we set off trying to make the best of it. At the very beginning, we inquired about the evening portion and making a restaurant reservation at one of the restaurants in which we were interested. Our guide said she knew nothing about our evening tour, but she would check and told us that we did not need any restaurant reservation. We could just arrive without a reservation.

We were rushed all day, but again we tried to make the best of it. We were never asked what we would like to see even though we had paid more to do what we wanted to do. When we wanted to linger, we received stern admonishments. Taking any photos were a burden to our guide. We remained friendly and did as we were told.

In the middle of the day, we were informed that we would have the same guide and driver even though we have an email from Alla pre-trip that we would have a separate guide and driver for the evening. We didn't mind the change and went with the plan.

At lunch, we were asked to shorten the lunch to see more and directed to an outdoor lunch hut outside of Peterhof where lunch would be cheaper and quicker. The lunch cost $17 per person which shocked us as all we had was a few pieces of chicken, some ketchup, a couple of cucumbers and half a slice of stale bread. We chalked it up to high prices in St. Petersburg. (We later paid less for a much nicer meal at dinner).

At the end of the day, we were told that we were going to make a vodka stop which turned out to be a shopping stop. We did not complain although we were irritated. We then asked our guide to take us to dinner at our chosen restaurant, Tepolo. She kept trying to convince us that we needed to try Stroganoff House. We were finally taken to Tepolo where we could not get in because they were booked for the evening. We were told to come the next night which was impossible.

We asked to be taken to a casual cafe, but our guide kept pushing Stroganoff House. All 4 of us tried to convince her otherwise. She insisted that we go there and check it out and possibly check out a number of other places. To humor her, we finally went there to check it out. It was very fancy and even she said it would cost us $70 per person without wine. We were very underdressed. We declined. On the way back to the car, we spotted another place and decided to have dinner there. After that, we went back to the ship. Our paid for private evening turned into an unwanted shopping stop and driving around needlessly to eat at a restaurant that was not where we had planned. Still, no complaints from us.

The next morning, we were driven to Alla's to pay for our excursions and another unwanted shopping stop. We stood in line to pay and were told that it would cost the 4 of us $3,220 which we were ready to pay. All of a sudden, a woman came up to us accusing us of using her driver 2 hours extra. We had no idea what she was speaking about since we had gotten back to the ship before our allotted evening time was up. In prior arrangement emails, we were told that we did not have time to go back to the ship before our evening tour and that we could not be without a guide in Russia, and later that our guide and driver were going to stay with us for both day and evening. Thus, we did not know what she was making a scene about. We were naturally upset.

We paid our tab. Immediately afterward outside, one of our group gave the guide $160 extra so as to not ruin our second day. Rather than be grateful, she ruined our day and we went back to the ship about 3 hours early missing some of the highlights. She was rude to us the entire day, did not give us any meaningful guidance as she had tried to do the day before, rushed us through everything, and spent a significant time on her cell phone.

We are very easygoing people. All of us have taken many cruises and traveled all over the world. None of us have ever registered a complaint about an excursion ever. We enjoyed our Alla Tours in the 3 previous cities even though they were larger group tours. We got much less for a very expensive private tour. Thus, none of us can recommend Alla Tours- stay as far away as possible at least in St. Petersburg.

36  Thank PeninsulaTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 14, 2013

Although the tour was excellent, around St Petersburg. I was a little bit worred over my diet, as I am allergic to dairy, however the first day for our lunch they did provide a Vegatable Subway sadwich, it was most enjoyable. However on the second day we went to a Cafe for a sit down meal. We was not given a choice of what we wanted to eat, it was a set meal. I had a different Soup then everyone else, of which I didn't enjoy it was to sweet, then when the main meal came I again had a different meal of rice and roasted veg on top. It did look very nice but when I looked it had a hair across the plate, so I asked them to change it, which they did. They brought me a bulgar wheat and mushroom dish that was very nice. However desert was Vanilla Ice Cream even though I can not eat Dairy. I would also like to say that my Husband is not very good at walking for long distances, due to a disability we only booked because it did say that there was not much walking. My husband did the tour for the first day but was unable to do the second, so I went on my own, as I knew it needed to be paid on the morning of the second tour day. Where I was charged full price for my husband even though he was too ill to do it. I'm not saying that I wanted a full discount, but it would of been nice if they had offered to reduce it a little. From my point of view if you are not fit enough to walk for a couple of hours then please do not book this tour

2  Thank gillygjp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 13, 2013

A wonderful way to visit St-Petersboug in 2 short days. We would have not been able to see that much if we would have taken the tours from the ship.
Alla tours took care of everything even the visa, the lunch etc.... They picked up us a the ship terminal and took us back on time. We saw everything that was describe on internet site. Very professionnal people ! They know their business and It was perfect!
Julia, our guide was excellent!

Review collected in partnership with this attraction
2  Thank Dominique D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 13, 2013

We booked a 2 day Grand Tour for 5 of us with Alla when on our Baltic Cruise on the Brilliance May /2013. We were met as soon as we passed customs by Alla and the tour operators. From then we were in the capable hands of Christina and our driver . We had an amazing very full tour for two days . It was about 28 degrees or 87F in St Petersburg and that was very warm. Christina was so knowlegable and so good with each of us . We had a group of about 16 as promised. All of my communications with Alla before the tour from Canada were responded to very quickly and all our concerns and questions were answered and addressed fully. I cant recommend this tour company highly enough. We would at any time tell anyone to definatly put themselves in the capable hands of Alla and her group!!!. We also had Alla for Estonia and once again it was a very memorable tour . Than you Alla and all you group we were definately not disappointed with your agency!!!

Review collected in partnership with this attraction
1  Thank Rosemary C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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