We just returned from a fantastic Baltic cruise (Azamara Journey), which I selected in part because I wanted to spend as much time as possible in St. Petersburg -- and other cities where it would be cool. Well, cooler than the 100 degrees every day here in Texas. I had originally thought about just using the ship's excursions, especially when they sent out a "sale" email -- but was so glad I didn't when I saw their groups of 50 or so people being led around no where near their guides, who often sounded horrible. Then I looked into Den Russ, but was a little put off by their style, so I kept looking and saw the rave reviews here about Ulko. I'm so glad I went with Elena Ulko. She was easy to work with, especially with her 800 number and rapid responses to my emails. And the guide she gave me, Julia, was a wonderful young woman who my wife, daughter, and I adored. She was warm, intelligent, and sweet. Her knowledge of the sites was encyclopedic, but she really loved SP and wanted us to love her beautiful city too. We were able to quickly get to the front of lines and dart through the museums and other amazing sites - especially with a great driver and huge 9 passenger van just for us. She took us to a local blini restaurant that served delicious pancakes that were inexpensive, and a cafe at Peterhof, and when we didn't have time to have lunch on the third day, she wasn't the least bit bothered. She was flexible and understanding. And on the second day, as we were walking down the Nevsky Prospect, she bought a small bouquet from an older woman (because she just wanted to support her), then presented the flowers to my daughter. And she bought us Russian cookies. At the end, we all hugged and cried a little, and she asked us to return asap. We wanted to adopt her. Then I met Elena to pay her, and she was just as nice as she had sounded. So use Ulko Tours. And ask for Julia.