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“Wonderful guide for our three days in St. Petersburg”

Red October Tour Company
Reviewed 5 August 2013

We were two couples on a Baltic cruise which included three days in St. Petersburg, Russia. I booked the cruise with Red October as a result of reviews in Trip Advisor and we were not disappointed.

We arranged the tour with Mike Finn in the United States and everything fell into place without a hitch. Great information provided beforehand and no problem leaving the ship (in spite of what the cruise lines tell you about visas, e.tc) and our guide, Elena, was waiting on the pier.

Elena, a university English professor, is wonderful. Her knowledge and especially her passio, for the sights and sounds of St. Petersburg are incredible. She really makes the extraordinary sights come alive.

What an enjoyable three day experience! We would highly recommend Red October to anyone wanting to participate in an informative tour of this delightful city. We went on this cruise because we always wanted to visit St. Petersburg. With Elena and Red October, we were well rewarded.

1  Thank Ronfromvirginia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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122 - 126 of 197 reviews

Reviewed 4 August 2013

On recommendation of friends, we (6) contacted Mike Finn to discuss Berlin one day and SPB 3 day tours. He laid out itineraries and assured us we could make any changes. We wound up following Mike's itineraries without change.
In SPB, (Svet) Lana knew how to get us by all the waiting groups at Hermitage and other museums and churches. We never had to wait in any lines......that alone is worth the fee!!!!
The guides and drivers and vehicles (M.B 7 pass. vans) were top notch. Being a car enthusiast I enjoyed the driving on the high speed autobahn roads in Germany. We will use RO again when we return.

Thank BostonJoel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 August 2013

We did red october tour July 25-26 and it was wonderful. We booked thru Mike Finn who made the paperwork quite easy. Our guide,HELEN, was very informative and was fluent in English. I was a bit apprehensive when first booking this tour, but was pleasantly surprised,and would highly recommend this tour. It was the highlite of our trip.

Thank speish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 August 2013

I chose Red October over the competition for two reasons. One was all the great reviews it had and secondly they were one of the few who didn't demand to be paid in advance.
I was in contact with Galina in the St. Petersburg office and it was a pleasure to work with her. She took the time to understand what we wanted, what our special interests were and gave us a number of different itineraries. I'm sure at some point she got fed up with all my questions but it never came through in her replies.
We had explicit instructions as to what we would need to disembark without getting a visa for Russia. We mad sure that we were one of the first people to get off the boat and had no trouble going through immigration with the forms that Red October had supplied us with.
Once we exited immigration there was a young man standing there with a Red October sign. Apparently they had a number of clients on the same ship as he took our name and passed as on to the proper guide and driver.
Marina was a marvelous guide. She was well informed and very cultured which played a role in places like the Hermitage it was obvious that she not only had learned the material but understood it. She had a love of fine art and if she was tired of seeing it 2-3 times a week it didn't show.
I told her that I had read about the metro stations and even though it wasn't in our itinerary she took the time to take us down to one of the stations and for a short ride on one of the trains so that she could show us what she considered the most interesting of the stations.
Instead of wasting time in fancy restaurants she suggested that we try Russian quick lunches. Each day we were with her she took us to a different place where not only was the service quick and the food good but we enjoyed seeing how the locals lived rather than going to a "tourist place".
My husband and I are both looking forward to a return visit to St. Petersburg and will definitely be working with Red October and Marina again.

3  Thank vdl2ca
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 30 July 2013

we had seen reviews on Trip advisor, which were overwhelmingly positive- there was one negative review, which I did not put us of, and now I understand it, I would definitely not consider that review a problem.

We were on a cruise with 5 people, one of whom was my father, who at 87 years old has some mobility challenges (wheelchair for long distances, or needing to go fast)
The Red October package was significantly less expensive (half to 2/3 the price), and we had a guide an driver w/ a vehicle instead of being on a large bus w/ 20-40 people.

The guide and driver were very attentive to my father's needs, and we were able to be slightly more flexible with timing, or altering the tour, ( ie skipping parts of the hermitage when he got fatigued and did not have interest, and then being able to go slower in areas where he was interested.

we did not have infinite flexibility, but certainly more so than with a large bus.

Also, based on our 3 day trip, traffic can be quite bad in St Petersbug, w/ even small fenderbender, snarling traffic, and in our smaller minivan, we were able to adjust to the traffic and take alternate routes that a large bus could not do.

Re the one negative review, where they said the guy on the phone was "rude", I would say rather that he was very curt, but his emails were pleasant and very detailed.
I called initially because I had missed some points in the email, and he was curt in scolding me that I had to read the email. So that was not great, but he did answer my question, and when I re-read his email, I saw that he had infact already answered the question, and that the email was very detailed with what to do in what order, what to fill out, what to print. So I would definitely give a pass to the phone skills. His email replies were prompt and courteous. So if you read the emails carefully, and conduct business that way, you will have clear and courteous communication.

You do not need an individual visa if you are on a cruise ship and will be accompanied by the tour from when you get off the cruise ship at port until you return. They provide vouchers that you must print and bring thru the passport control. but if you follow the instructions you will be fine.

2  Thank Allan R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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