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In St. Petersburg

charlotte
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In St. Petersburg

Too tired to write much, but we arrived in St. Petersburg this morning and had a very busy day. Took the St. Peter Line M/S Maria. We had a good time because we knew some others on board (co-workers of my husband), plus we also met some very nice people from Finland and Canada. The drinks were good, the entertainment cheesy but cute, and the duty-free vodka and wine prices good. The bad: our cabin was not very good -- tiny, cold and the engine noise and vibration kept us awake. Not to mention the crackling sounds made during the night as the boat plowed through the ice. As people had been talking about the Titanic anniversary, of course that made us all the more nervous (not really, but it was disconcerting).

We booked a Class A cabin, but next time I would book a higher category.

As others have reported, the food is just average.

No problems getting through passport control, but it was a madhouse getting off the ship. Took the official shuttle bus to the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge, which is a terrific hotel.

Our guide, Sasha, from Insider Tour, was wonderful. Will post a review later, but we had a fabulous city tour, Hermitage visit, little bit of shopping and lunch at a traditional tea room. Sasha even walked back with us to our hotel to make sure we didn't get lost.

Must get sleep, but so far impressed with people and sights in this beautiful city. Weather could be better but it's not miserable.

As others have reported, the food is just average. Edible but nothing more.

charlotte
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422 posts
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1. Re: In St. Petersburg

That last sentence refers to the ferry food. Typing on dang Kindle Fire last night wouldn't let me move that sentence, and couldn't scroll to it to delete it.

The food in St. Petersburg so far has been excellent. Had cabbage pierogi and borsch for lunch and chicken kiev for dinner.

Edited: 08 April 2012, 05:06
San Juan, Puerto...
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2. Re: In St. Petersburg

I'm taking the St Peterline in July as well. can you explain what you mean w the "official shuttle bus"?

I was planning on booking a cabin class A. Why would you recommend a higher cabin class?

Do you recommend bringing your own food on board?

charlotte
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3. Re: In St. Petersburg

By official shuttle, I mean the van the ferry organizes to take passengers to the hotels they use as part of their package deals as well as one other city stop. This is how you get around the visa rule, as this is considered an "official" cruise shore tour. What happened with us is our driver loaded his van with passengers all staying at the Palace Bridge Hotel and took us there directly (very fast, I might add!). The ship also offers more normal sightseeing tours, but we didn't sign up for any of those, because they didn't have any other English speakers signed up for those ahead of time, so they were only offering those in Finnish. We booked a private tour, which was expensive but worth it, in our opinion.

We have taken cruises on nice, new ships in the Caribbean (most recently, the Celebrity Eclipse), so this ship was a real let-down. It is just old and not very comfortable. As I mentioned, the cabin was tiny, cold and noisy. Our hotel is so nice, we are dreading the return trip tomorrow night back on the ship.

As for bringing your own food, they have a sign posted when you go through security that food is not allowed, but we had snacks in our luggage that were fine to bring. I know one person who tried to bring a bottle of wine on board, and it was confiscated.

We are going to try the a la carte restaurant for dinner on the return trip; surely it will be better than the buffet.

I would still take the ferry again; we may try to return to St. Petersburg in August or September, so we can visit Peterhof and Pushkin in nice weather. It had been cold and snowy this trip so far; hopefully, it will be sunny tomorrow.

San Juan, Puerto...
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4. Re: In St. Petersburg

Thanks for your quick reply. I am taking the ferry one way, from Helsinki to St Petersburg. Haven't plan my transportation to the hotel yet. Will look for info for their shuttle.

Yes, probably a ferry is much more casual than the big cruises. I also think the MS Maria is an old boat, just recently renovated.

Hope you have a nicer return trip!

St Petersburg Russia
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for St. Petersburg
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5. Re: In St. Petersburg

Regarding bringing aboard; security checks bags and purses coming boarding the ferry to prevent bringing food since that it one of the main income producers for the ferry company. The food, as I remember it was pretty forgettable but not terrible,. The buffet seemed a better deal than the more formal restaurant. My guest only wanted a small dinner salad, the bill was 32 euros, as was mine which, being a buffet, I made sure we made up the difference. On the return trip we hid dried fruit in hidden pockets in my camera backpack so at least we had something to eat on the second overnight passage.

Overall, the overnight and return to St Petersburg was a good deal, and the cabin was decent although showing its age. Spent most of the night on the return in the XXXX bar/dance club where I knew about half the people working, DJ, both bartenders, waitress and the DJ's GF, that was a fun, reasonably priced night out...er..night in.

charlotte
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6. Re: In St. Petersburg

We have returned from our ferry trip. The M/S Maria is definitely an older ship, but it is fine for the purpose it serves. We did change to a higher floor on the trip back, and the noise/vibration was much less noticeable. The biggest noise was from the drunk holiday revelers singing in the hall at 4 a.m.!

As I mentioned, we had no trouble bringing snacks on board. We tried to eat at the sit-down restaurant on the trip back, but we didn't make reservations ahead of time, and they would not seat us, despite the fact that the restaurant was only about half full. We walked by there several other times during the evening, and it was always half full. So we ended up sharing a pizza at the "Rabbit Bar." It was okay.

The old bunk-style beds -- one on each side of the tiny cabin sport thin mattresses that we think were there since the ship was built! The pillows were also very thin. Our room also had two fold-down bunks above the lower beds.

You are issued one bath towel and one hand towel. There is a dispenser for soap but no other toiletries. The soap dispenser in the shower was empty in both cabins we stayed in -- and others also reported they had no shower soap, either. The spray goes all over the bathroom from the shower, as there is just a flimsy curtain and the floor is even with the shower floor. Just be forewarned!

We had the A class cabin. It has a window. I believe the B class cabins are interior cabins. The Deluxe cabins look to be a bit larger. The St. Peter Line website does have photos.

While it was not the most comfortable ship, it is a good price and a great way to travel to St. Petersburg without the visa. We had no trouble whatsoever and would take the trip again (especially since we currently live in Finland, and it is convenient).

San Juan, Puerto...
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7. Re: In St. Petersburg

Although we have the option of taking the train to St Petersburg, I feel taking the ferry will be a nice experience, and it seems to be the "thing" to do. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Plymouth, Minnesota
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8. Re: In St. Petersburg

Note trains will NOT get you any visa-free wiggle-room...not sure if you were looking for this angle...

San Juan, Puerto...
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9. Re: In St. Petersburg

No, not at all. I'll be in Russia for a week. Definitely need a visa.

10. Re: In St. Petersburg

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