By Sea, Saint Petersburg
We paid A$500 including buffet dinner and breakfast, no car. We sailed at 6.30pm but could board about 3 hours in advance - no need, collect your boarding tickets (which act as cabin keys) and meal vouchers, and head back up the quay to a bar to fill in time. Don't worry about filling in the immigration form, as a printed one is given to you on arrival at St P. Once you go through passport control, you can't go back so don't board till after 5pm.
We had really enjoyed the ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn. This is fine but not the same!!
For one thing it is a much older vessel and bigger. The cabin floors are a labrynth of dark red corridors which are initially confusing. On level 6 there is information, exchange and a cafe. Information staff need to remember they work in hospitality and should be more interested in their clients!!
Our cabin was fine (bunk beds) with en suite bathroom.
There is a bar up on the rear deck for a beer to set sail with. We had booked on the later sitting for the buffet but asked if we could go in earlier. Buffet has a salad bar, cold meat and fish, hot dishes, calamari, dessert, cheese, coffee, water. and a complimentary champagne or vodka. However there is also wine on taps. Not too busy. We did have to vacate by 8pm for next sitting. Breakfast buffet is fine.
You will need Patience to get off and go through passport control.
Once people started disembarking we went down to level 4 but had to wait for over half an hour whilst day trippers are allowed to get off first they have stickers. So don't rush if you have visas and are staying in St P. There is only one set of stairs to allow you to disembark. Relief to get off is short lived as you then queue in an old, dark, hot, small immigration hall!! Inch along trying to get in a queue for a gate - stay left as that queue opens to extra gates plus the gate for Non Europeans. Most of the gates say Customs Union (EEC) or something similar but at the far end is one with nothing over it other than Passport - as we are Australian we took that one which seemed to work.
On arrival you can take the free shuttle bus to St Isaac's and then get a taxi to your hotel. Ensure that the driver actually zeroes the meter before you start driving!! Then you can enjoy St Petersburg.
St Peterline - St Petersburg - Helsinki
Good crossing and comfortable trip . We had the dinner buffet , with the included glass of champagne .We ate enough caviar to do us for a long time.
Before dinner we had the Happy Hour Martina's and bloody Mary's and enjoyed the piano music.
After dinner we watched the show...It was a group from Brazil ...singing and dancing...not bad ...a good sleep and welcome back to Finland.
Customs was a walk through when we arrived in Finland. We ere happy we went to the exit early to avoid the huge lines. As it was it took 30 minutes to get through customs.
St Peterline to St Petersburg
We checked in early 3pm , a very painless process. They looked at our passport , online Reservation and hotel booking ( which we made our selves at Nevsky Grand). They gave us our boarding card , which also served as a room key, departure card , arrival card and immigration paper...then we simply walked on to the boat....
So easy .
Our room was simple but clean and adequate ...shower was good...lot,s of hot water. We stayed on the 4th floor...just down the hall from guest services.
We decided on the buffet at 29euros as it included , appetizer ,main and dessert , plus a glass of champagne , vodka shot and unlimited wine...hated the wine but still thought it was good value. We enjoyed trying the different foods ...especially the red and black caviar.
After dinner we went to the nightclub and stayed for three hours. Watching the entertainment. All in all a very enjoyable night.
Hydrofoils to Peterhof - travel time: 30 min.
A fast and comfortable way to get to Peterhof, avoiding delays and traffic jams.
Hydrofoils depart every 30 minutes from 10:00 until 18:00 from the center of the city and take you directly to the Lower Park of Peterhof with fountains and the Great Palace. Hydrofoils are equipped with air-conditioning systems, which are very important in hot weather!
Hydrofoil departure address: metros. Admiralteiskaya, Gostiniy Dvor, Nevsky Prospekt.
Admiralteyskaya embankment.,2, at the Dvortsovy Bridge "Descent with the lions".
Admission: adults 500Rbl, students 400Rbl, children up to 12 years old 250Rbl. Discounts for return journeys. You can also book your tickets online.
A visit to St Petersburg would not be complete without a trip to one of the fabulous palaces located out of the city centre - We chose to visit Peterhof.
There are couple of ways to get there from town ? the fastest method (available from May till September is by hydrofoil.
The hydrofoil departs every 20-30 minutes from the pier across the road from the Hermitage museum, and takes 30 minutes to get to the palace.
An alternative is to catch a train and then a tram, or a take a bus. All not as exciting as the hydrofoil, but cheaper.
We caught the hydrofoil there and back, at a cost of R450 each, and I would highly recommend it as a relaxing option, and a good way to have a look at the harbour.
One of the most convenient ways to get to St. Petersburg is by cruise ship. There are many visits by cruise ships in the summer. One advantage to this is that you don't have to get a visa provided that you use either the ship tours or a licensed guide tour as the tour ticket counts as your visa.
The cruise ship terminal where most of the ships go is in an industrial area so it is a drive of about 20 minutes before you get to the tourist part. I have photos of AIDA and Jewel of the Seas at the cruise ship terminal, but the only one I have of the Rotterdam is the one taken from the Peterhof hydrofoil (photo 5)
If you are lucky, your ship will come in and tie up right on the river by the Hermitage like the Zenith (photo 2) did. We saw her turning around when we went to the ballet
You can also take a river cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg or v.v. If you do this, you have to get a visa.
Several parks in St. Petersburg offer row boats, catamarans or paddleboats for rent.
the central park for relaxation on Yelagin Island (Metro Krestovsky Ostrov)
It costs about 200 rubles an hour plus a deposit that is returned.
You can navigate several canals and lakes in the island in addition to passing the apes :)
Also at Park Pobedy (Park Pobedy Metro) you can rent rowboats.
During the summer the bridges across the Neva are raised for ships. It is a great time to take a boat and enjoy the night sounds and views. Many large and small boats load on the Neva after midnight. Listen to the water, voices across the river, the chugging of boat engines, the reflections of lights or imagine a scene from "African Queen." Or even better, go with a friend to keep warm.
Here is a short clip of what happens when the night boat goes under a low bridge -- watch out!
Numerous boats can be used to see the rivers and gulf.
It is a favorite for tourists to board on the Neva at the Hermitage to go to Peterhof and see the palace and fountains.
You can ride one-way or round trip.
About one hour to Peterhof.
Saint Petersburg is the Northern Venice and has numerous canals.
There are tour operators near Nevsky Prospect and the Neva River at every major road. The best canal tours are small boats from Moika, Griboeova or Fontanka canals. Many organized tours take the big boats but they cannot go under the low bridges and smaller canals.
At night many boats in summer offer rides to see the bridges open after midnight.
After so much walking it is really great to sit for an hour and watch all the great architecture scroll by. :)
Late afternoon evening light it is really beautiful. :)
Since we didn't have a russian visa, we took a cruise from Helsinki. I highly recommend you do this. The ship is your hotel and they take care of you all the time. We took the Kristina Regina Cruise. The ship was a bit old fashioned but was just perfect. Small and cozy.
If you have your own Russian visa and wish to travel independently first you have to leave the cargo port. We were advised not to walk the 2-3 miles to the gate and the longshoreman shuttle was not recommended, nor was it claimed to be dependable.
We did not see any taxi's until our 2nd day at port when the Princess ship arrived. Then the taxi's came. The fare was $10 to the gate, but we were grateful since we were meeting an independent guide that day and she didn't have access to the port.
My husband liked this Russian Immigrations Officer's legs and had fun taking photos of her. This one is for you Bob even though you rarely, if ever look at my pages.
Well this was our view for 3 days. The larger cruise ships dock at the cargo port as shown.
Starboard - a view of the containers
Port - a semi-river view (with it's share of debris) overlooking a verdant peninsula with some high-rise apartments and the Baltic.
Ok our view certainly was not attractive but the worst part was the noise from containers being moved day and night....not that it was noisy all the time, it wasn't.
Radisson Seven Seas Voyager, Holland America Noordam and a Princess ship dock at this port. The smaller Radisson Song of Flower docks in town along the Neva River.
If you decide to go to town independently you will need to obtain a Russian visa in advance before embarking on the cruise. This process will take at least a couple of weeks. If you opt to take tours offered by the cruiseline exclusively, then there's no need to obtain a visa....you'll be covered under the ships visa. The cruise ships offer independent tours. In the long run it is probably cheaper this way since our visas were VERY expensive.
Leitenanta Shmidta Bridge 1.40-5.00
Liteiny Bridge 1.50-4.40
Troitsky Bridge 1.50-4.50
Dvortsovy Bridge 1.35-3.05, 3.15-4.55
Bolsheokhtinsky Bridge 2.00-5.00
Volodarsky Bridge 2.10-3.45, 4.15-5.45
Alexandra Nevskogo Bridge 2.30-4.55
Birzhevoy Bridge 2.10-4.50
Tuchkov Bridge 2.10-3.05, 3.35-4.45
The hydrofoil is very quick and has(like most things in SPB) 2 prices. One for locals and one for tourists.
The ride was quick albeit bumpy.