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2 day SPB tour priced at 199USD....is there a catch ???

Cumbria
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2 day SPB tour priced at 199USD....is there a catch ???

Hi

We are visiting St Petersburg in July 2010 with six adults and one small child. Shorex have offered us a 2 day tour for only 199 USD each. This price seems too good to be true......approx 100 USD less than all other quotes.

Does anyone have any experiences with Shorex and whether there will be a catch in this price.

The pricewas for a private tour as well and I have stressed I only want our party on the vehicle (mostly because of the hassle of the young child)

Thanks

Steve

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1. Re: 2 day SPB tour priced at 199USD....is there a catch ???

I have been working on private tours in STP for a while now, for our June visit. I have never heard this company mentioned on Trip Advisor or Cruise Critic. There are many "cautions" out there about using a company no one is familiar with. If it sounds too good to be true, then, it is. Go elsewhere. We used Den Rus.

St Petersburg Russia
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2. Re: 2 day SPB tour priced at 199USD....is there a catch ???

It is possible to have a tour for that price but whether it is a good deal or not depends on the specifics.

ShoreEx is a new company that just popped up and posts here on this forum so there really is not much of a track record.

Is this for a cruise shore excursion or for land based? If for land based it is probably normal since the average is only 2 ticketed destinations a day. A shore excursion however is a much more detailed and coordinated sort of itinerary. To give an idea of the costs, the average ticket price plus camera tickets for venues such as museums and palaces is $15-20 and the typical cruise intensive tour would include 8-11 ticketed entrances.

So for that price, it must either be a driving tour or the other shoe has not dropped.

Even the large companies who have contracts with the museums and palaces and buy tickets for 50,000 people a summer do not get a discount on ticket, in fact, for the early openings and entrances on closed days, those companies are charged a much higher price than the public pays, to be able to accommodate the cruise passenger's schedule which is not always compatible with museum and palace hours of operation.

So we need a lot more information to judge whether it is worth the price, it could be too much or it could be less than the cost of tickets just to the museums, parks and palaces.

Actually, all the prices for legitimate tour companies are similar to each other because the bulk of any tour cost is tickets which are the same for the larger companies and a little higher for the smaller ones(if they do not have contracts with the museums the smaller companies buy the tickets from the larger companies and pay a small service charge). Some try to limit ticketed entrances as a way of appearing like a better deal. Usually, they are actually higher if identical tours are compared.

There are other costs involved that vary a lot between total cost of being on shore. One that is seldom added in but is a real cost which is travel insurance. You are not covered by ship insurance when off the ship even when buying the ship sold tours. The ships contract with tour companies which have western approved insurance however which is why only a small group of tour companies are allowed to bid on the ship contracts to provide the ship sold tours. You should ask right in first correspondence if the any company proposing a tour if they have insurance that covers you, and if so, is it recognized internationally so claims can be made away from Russia. I can't think of more than 3 companies who do have that. For all the others travel and medical evacuation insurance should be purchased automatically. That might add $100-200 per person to the trip but it will cover you for the entire trip.

The cruise line industry is self insured, they created their own industry wide insurance pool and a few tour and shore operators have been invited to join it. Look for companies that are part of that cruise industry insurance pool that guarantees coverage and honors claims internationally, and it assures the tour company is held in high regard by the international cruise industry.

Also make sure any tour company you deal with has a Russian federal registration which should be posted on their web site labeled as a MBT number. That is needed to be able to invite and host foreign guests. Most offering services on the internet are small guide services which are not licensed to host foreign guest, but they can offer guiding services to tourists who are already here. The port authorities are getting tighter about requiring that registration this season, in the past, a lot of fly by night one-person guide services managed to work their way in. it does not sound like a big difference between a guide and a tour company but there really is in how you are protected in your purchase and in case of problems.

If you are on a land based vacation and want a guide for a day for some specific museums or destinations, just pick up one of the English newspapers here and call one who advertises there. You are in little risk, they are not sponsoring your presence in Russia and did not invite you which entails legal and financial responsibility for you. That is why only federally registered tour companies or hotels are legally able to invite a foreigner and provide the visa support documents to get a visa.

For comparison, the lowest price comprehensive group tour including meals in the city by an established tour company that is registered and had international insurance is $325. That is less than similar tours by smaller companies

Cumbria
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3. Re: 2 day SPB tour priced at 199USD....is there a catch ???

first of all, thank you very much for contacting us. My name is Dinara, and I am Shorex.RU cruise manager. We will be more than pleased to offer you 2-days tour. The basic tour includes panoramic with metro-ride, Pushkin Palace and Park with unforgettable Amber room, Peterhof Lower Park and Upper garden (it is possible to visit Grand palace as well, but in fact I wouldn't recommend it to you because of too many people inside and because of it looks like Pushkin one). Both attractions are located in the city suburbs at a distance of about 40 km from the city.

The second day includes the Hermitage and St. Peter and St. Paul fortess as well as continue of the panoramic with visit the OUTSIDE visit of the St. Isaac's cathedral and OUTSIDE of St. Savior on the Blood cathedrals.

This was the reply I got from Shorex. Ignore the seven adults as I have same quote for six. I have asked for the hydrofoil ride and procehas gone us to 219USD. Cannot find any mention of a MBT number. It is a shore excursion trip and P&O boat.

I have been quoted a price of 295 USD bu SPB-Tours........getting tempted to go with them as I am not getting reassurances from either this thred or one I have on cruise critic. I'd rather pay extra with a well respected company.

Thanks for all the help so far

Here's the standard itinerary for 2 days:

Day 1

07.00-08.00 Meeting at the sea-port

City tour in St Petersburg

09.00-09.30 Metro tour

09.30-10.00 Transfer to the Tsars Village

10.00-12.00 Inside visit of the Catherine Palace with Amber Room, outside visit of the park

12.00-13.00 Transfer to Peterhof

13.00-16.00 Visit of the Peterhof Upper and Lower fountain parks. Lunch (optional). Grand palace or Small palaces (Marli, Montplaisir, optional)

16.00-17.00 Transfer back to the city, panoramic in Nevsky prospect

18.00 Return to the ship or evening optional program (theatre/folk show/boat trip/retro-tram trip)

Day 2

9.00 Meeting at the sea-port

10.00-11.00 St. Peter and St. Paul's Fortress

11.30-12.00 Inside visit of the Sr. Isaac's church. Nevsky prospect. Outside visit of St. Saviour on the blood church

12.00-13.00 Lunch (optional)

13.30-15.30 (or a bit longer- depending on your interest) Inside visit of the Hermitage Museum (The Gold room is optional)

16.00-16.30 Everyday life of the city (shopping)- can be excluded - you spend more time in the Hermitage

16.30 Return to the ship

Transport and English-speaking guide for both days included. You DO NOT require Russian visa if you book with us and save about 100USD.

Both days the lunches are not included. It is possible to have lunch at the Russian restaurants if you want for a fee or our guide can recommend you the restaurant. Sometimes our tourists prefer snacks and even McDonalds to save their time. Photo or video permisiions for the museums aren't included. Children under the age of 6 travel for free, and do not enter the number of tourists.

The price for basic tour for your group of 7 persons and 1 child will be 199USD per person.

We have a special offer for 2010 season - best price guarantee. We will cut 2% of the lowest price, offered by our colleagues (eg. DenRus, RedOctober, Anastasia, SPB-Tours, Alla Tours), if you find any offer better than ours.

Cumbria
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4. Re: 2 day SPB tour priced at 199USD....is there a catch ???

This is email I have from Shorex. Ignore seven adults quote......I have has same price for 6 adults. I have added hydrofoil and proce has risen to 219 USD.

Think I am getting tempted to go with SPB-Tours as they have quoted 295USD for similar tour and seem to be much more respected.

Thanks for all your help so far

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5. Re: 2 day SPB tour priced at 199USD....is there a catch ???

It sounds reasonable. The reason is your group is big. The major cost is the driver + the van.

You should check with other companies like Anastasia, Red Oct...Denrus, ectc .. they are the well reviewed companies.

St Petersburg Russia
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6. Re: 2 day SPB tour priced at 199USD....is there a catch ???

There are only 3 ticketed entrances spread over 2 days so the cost of this tour itinerary is low, with a higher margin than normal. Any tour company would match or beat that price if you are really happy with that itinerary. But most would suggest more sights to see since you are there for such a short time it would be a shame not to explore more deeply. The first day will be consumed primarily of two palaces away from the city so your entire St Petersburg experience will be with in 2 blocks, plus a ride over the bridge to Peter and Paul fortress.

Did you ask specifically for an relaxed pace tour?

A group of 7 people will waste a lot of time with lunches unless prearranged. A couple would have no problem with stopping by any cafe and staying on schedule but a group of 7 will not be able to just drop by and expect fast service. Unless prearranged any meal will take an hour or more so you should specify your meals so it will be ready when you arrive at the restaurant.

Cumbria
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7. Re: 2 day SPB tour priced at 199USD....is there a catch ???

Thanks for your replies.

I have decided to go with SPB-Tours and Viktoria. Just too much uncertainty with no good reviews of Shorex

This is itinery we have gone for...

Tentative itinerary

Thursday, JULY 8 8.30AM-5.00PM

08.00-8.30 am Meet at the ship

08.30-09.30 am City sightseeing tour. Subway ride. A visit to the local farmers’ market

09.30-10.30 am Drive to the Tsars’ Village (summer residence)

10.30-12.30 pm A visit to the Catherine's Palace with the Amber room and a walk in the park

12.30-01.00 pm Lunch at a local blinis’ place (optional)

01.00-02.00 pm Drive to Peterhof summer residence

02.00-03.30pm Walk in the Peterhof Lower fountain park and the Upper gardens

03.30-04.15pm Hydrofoil ride to St.Petersburg (summer residence)

05.00 pm Return to the ship or optional evening activities, for example ballet or folklore show

OPTIONAL:

05.00-06.00 pm CANAL BOAT RIDE (narration in English)

06.45/07.00 pm Return to the ship

Friday, JULY 9 8.30AM-4.00PM

08.30 am Meet at the ship

08.30-10.00 am City sightseeing tour

10.00-11.00 am A visit to Peter and Paul's fortress and cathedral

11.30-12.00 pm A visit to the Church of Christ the Savior on Spilled Blood

12.00-12.30 pm Lunch at "Stolle" piroggi place (optional)

12.45-02.45 pm The Hermitage museum

02.45-03.30 pm Wak along the main street Nevsky prospect

04.00 pm Return to the ship

Peter and Paul's fortress and the cathedral - inside visit

Spit of the Bazil Island and Rostral Columns - photo stop

Senate Square/Decembrists Square and the Bronze Horseman (monument to Peter I) - drive by or optional photo stop

Admiralty- drive by

Sphinxes- photo stop

Cruiser „Aurora“ - optional photo stop

Log cabin of Peter I - optional photo stop

Field of Mars and the Michael’s castle (Palace of Paul I) and the Trinity bridge - drive by

Summer garden - drive by

Church on the Spilled Blood - a visit or a photo stop depending on your itinerary

St.Isaac's cathedral - a visit or a photo stop depending on your itinerary

Isaac’s Square and the Mariinskij palace with a monument to Nicholas I - photo stop

St. Nicholas Marine Cathedral - inside visit

Theatre Square and Mariinsky Opera and Ballet House - photo stop or drive by

Yusupov's palace - a visit or a photo stop depending on your itinerary

Nevsky prospect - photo stop (upon request) or drive along

Uprising Square - drive by

Kazan Cathedral - photo stop (upon request) or drive by

Catherine’s garden and the monument to Catherine the Great - photo stop (upon request) or drive by

Rossi street and the Alexandrinskij drama theater - drive by

Palace Square with Alexander Column, Arch of the General Headquartes and the Winter Palace - a visit to the Winter Palace (present Hermitage)

The Square of Arts and the Michael’s palace - drive by

Smolny Convent - photo stop - If time permitting: driving time 20 minutes one way*

Do you think we are missing anything significant or is it OK for SPB first timers ???

8. Re: 2 day SPB tour priced at 199USD....is there a catch ???

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9. Re: 2 day SPB tour priced at 199USD....is there a catch ???

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10. Re: 2 day SPB tour priced at 199USD....is there a catch ???

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