St. Petersburg Options

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We're going to be on a cruise in the Baltic Sea; of course every cruise and touring group stops in St. Petersburg, usually two days; we've seen St. Petersburg on a river cruise a few years ago and spent 4 days there; can anyone suggest an alternative tour or two for the area? Maybe a local guide or touring company? And confirm we'll still have to have a Russian visa if we don't do the cruise only shore excursions.

Before giving you any suggestions, you need to tell us what you've already DONE. You should have done a considerable amount in the four days you spent there. So, what have you done? As far as the visa is concerned, if you take the ship's shore excursions, you won't need a Russian visa. If you book your shore excursions with a third-party company, you may. You need to contact the company. some of the larger ones have arrangements with the Russian Government similar to the arrangements the cruise company has. But if you want to be safe, get the Russian visa; it's good for three years. We took a land trip to the Baltic States that included two days in St. Petersburg, but since we were on a land trip, we needed the Russian visa, which is good for three years. To get our money's worth, we went back the next year and took the Trans-Siberian Railroad across Russia; not the Russian trains. We took one of the tourist trains, which are a bit more expensive but are a world apart from what you would get on the Russian trains. In fact, the wife wrote a feature article on our trip that appeared in ITN.

Furthermore, if you're on a cruise, most companies spend two days and a night in St. Petersburg. So there's a limited number of things you can do with day trips.

I have read that at least some cruise companies are not going to allow passengers to leave the ship unless they are going to be on one of their excursions because of the covid-19 virus. Undoubtedly your cruise is next summer after a vaccine is available but you should check with the cruise company to determine what their procedures are anticipated to be. You definitely will need a separate Russian visa (or at least we did several years ago).