April, as my mother and I were overnighting in St. Petersburg we decided we would love to see the Ballet at The Mariinsky Theatre on June 3rd. Having researched wwwBalletAndOpera.com on here, we called them and booked specific seats with a person called Sergei Mikhailov. I understood from their website that our tickets would be delivered to the ship, but Sergei said that this only applied to RIVER cruise ships (not Ocean) and told us that our tickets would be delivered to us by courier at 6.30pm on the night outside the theatre, holding a yellow sign with my name on it. We paid by credit card and the booking was acknowledged in full by email within 30 minutes, together with confirmation of delivery of tickets outside the theatre as Sergei had advised.
We arrived at the theatre at 6.20pm, and arranged to be picked up for return to the ship at 11pm. At 6.30 there was no sign of the courier, nor at 6.40, 6.45. We showed our confirmation email to the theatre staff but they spoke little English and hinted our arrangement might be invalid, saying their system showed the performance was fully booked. Even at this late stage we still hoped he was delayed in traffic and would arrive in time for the start of the show (7 pm), and at 6.58 we still hoped the theatre staff would see our seats (D2 & D3 in a designated box) were empty and realise they were ours. This didn't happen, and the show started with us outside in the foyer having paid $284 plus taxi costs, and seemingly stuck there until 11 pm. We managed to contact Alla Tours (who were providing our Visa cover as we were their clients on tour) and although our driver was on the other side of St P, he got back to the Mariinsky by 8 pm and we were back on the ship by 8.30 pm.
It was massively disappointing to say the least. The next day (the second of our St P tour) we paid Alla for their (excellent) 2 day tour, and had a separate envelope with $75 for the theatre taxi run, as the ticket fiasco was not their fault or indeed anything to do with them. They refused to take this money, so badly did they feel for us, which was a lovely gesture.
We were back in England late on June 10th, and before we could send an email to BalletAndOpera.com, we received one from them stating their representative with the tickets waited for us nearby the theatre until 8.20 p.m.but 'you didn't come' and would we inform them what happened.
We immediately emailed back explaining exactly what we had done, and asking for a refund of the ticket price. After a week, having heard nothing, I again asked for the refund before I contacted our credit card company, and this time I was given a full refund in a few days. When I thanked them in acknowledging receipt of same, I asked if they could tell me how such a mismanagement or mistake could have occurred, since it does not give one any confidence for future bookings on their site. To date, I have heard nothing at all from them, and I am very disappointed that they made no effort to explain what happened, because at all times one of us was outside the front of the theatre (not a large area) looking for someone holding a yellow sign. It was one of the great disappointments of all our holidays, and, although we did get our money back, I do wonder whether, without the back-up of a Russian firm to corroborate our movements on that night, we should have been able to prove our case, and get this reimbursement from them, rather than try to recover it through our crdit card company.
I am certainly not saying don't use BalletAndOpera.com, because, although we lost an experience of a lifetime, we were not out of pocket, but I would advise that you make doubly sure of the arrangements for ticket collections when you book, or, ideally, try and see if you can get the tickets delivered to the ship. That way you will have a little time to clarify the situation before you leave for the evening.