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VISA Required with off-ship tour company?

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Los Angeles
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VISA Required with off-ship tour company?

I will be taking a cruise to St. Petersburg in June 2009 and understand that taking tours offered by the cruise ship do not require having a Visa but one must stay with the tour at all times. I found a tour company not connected with the ship that states that it has Russian government authorization to offer tours without a Visa. Does anyone know if that is true? A more independent tour suited to my needs seems like what I would like, and I prefer not to go through the Visa process. Thanks for any help anyone can offer.

Florida
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1. Re: VISA Required with off-ship tour company?

Hi Alec, I can't say if it is truth for the company you found, but in general, if the company is authorized you can go shore without visas. We booked our tour with a private travel company and have received tour tickets for going ashore. I understand, you will have to have the same document from the company you are using. Gil

St Petersburg Russia
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2. Re: VISA Required with off-ship tour company?

Yes, it is true, the only party involved that CAN'T conduct tours is the ship. They are not authorized tour companies so they resell tours conducted by Russian or authorized foreign tour companies and simply mark up the price 50-80%.

For a 2-3 day port call it does not make sense to apply for a visa, luckily it is not needed if an authorized tour company sponsors your visit. This only applies to St Petersburg port calls.

Have a great visit

West Vancouver
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3. Re: VISA Required with off-ship tour company?

Hi Alec, what cruise are you going on? a group of us are going in June on Azamara Journey and we have the same questions!! It is very confusing!!

Los Angeles
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4. Re: VISA Required with off-ship tour company?

Hi, WVantraveller: I will be taking a 3-day cruise from Helsinki. I had thought that only a tours through the cruise line could be taken without visas, but from what I can tell, there are government authorized tour guides just outside the ship who offer their own local tours. It makes sense, otherwise the cruise lines would have a monopoly on tours. Still, I need to be assured that the local tour guides are in fact authorized as I don't want any risks at being stopped for having the wrong people taking me around. I will be there the second week of June.

St Petersburg Russia
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5. Re: VISA Required with off-ship tour company?

To be sure, use only the established shore excursion specialty companies, there are a number of them that primarily focus on shore excursions. The main ones offering these tours are Red October, DenRus and a new one that just became licensed a year ago, Alla Tours. One big one pulled out of that market for this season was Baltic Travel. The largest by far is Arctur but they do not have any tour to individual or custom designed itineraries, that concentrate on selling buss tours to ships so most likely they will be contracting with your ship to provide the ship tours.

Each of these companies can provide customized itineraries for you and one offers fixed priced set programs as well. The customized programs are more expensive because they are private tours for just you and your guests.

You can get comments about these companies from past cruisers on www.cruisecritic.com a sister web site to Trip Advisor that focuses on cruising. Look in the Boards section for the forum and then find Baltic Ports.

Los Angeles
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6. Re: VISA Required with off-ship tour company?

Thank you, Stani, for that great advice. I feel much more comfortable now and know I will enjoy myself without worry. I'll check the companies you listed. Thanks again for you help.

West Vancouver
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7. Re: VISA Required with off-ship tour company?

Thank Stanj, that confirms what I was able to find out. I understand that Tatyana Churikova can offer Visa free tour as well. Are you familiar with her service?

Alec, have a great trip.

Los Angeles
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8. Re: VISA Required with off-ship tour company?

Thanks, WVantraveller. I hope you enjoy your trip also. It should be exciting and beautiful.

florida
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9. Re: VISA Required with off-ship tour company?

stanj,

After reading many threads from you and others-we decided to venture on our own to St. Petersburg. You will be happy to know that we are over the Visa hurdle-they arrived today! We are ready to go.

Booked through Pulford real estate and have a two bedroom apartment for two couples. Thanks for the encouragement. Coming in early July and looking forward to seeing this great city!

Casa

St Petersburg Russia
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10. Re: VISA Required with off-ship tour company?

That's great Casa, you will love your visit! But to be sure keep reading Trip Advisor for more tips and suggestions.

Pulford is a reputable company with UK ownership, so the apartment will be as advertised and in the city center.