St Petersburg Russia – Winter Palace – Hermitage Museum – Church of Savior on the Spilled Blood
It was a two day stop in St Petersburg Russia during a Northern Europe cruise aboard the Holland America ship Nieuw Statendam that would included many of the most famous monuments of the city. This would be the highlight of our 25 day trip that included 3 days in Amsterdam, and then 21 days cruising on Holland America’s newest ship.
When visiting Saint Petersburg via a cruise ship, you basically have three options to visit the city. Option one is to take one of the excursions your ship offers which should include the visa required to visit Russia. This will be the most expensive option, but it will be the easiest. Another advantage to use your cruise ship is that many of the cruise lines pay extra for early entrance to the Hermitage and Catherine Palace. By chance we were in the first group of Holland America tours to get in the Hermitage. Getting in before the crowds build up allowed us to see more and have a less crowed enjoyable experience.
One disadvantage to taking the ships tour, was that we were kept away from local vendors, and in fact were sold to a rest stop/tourist items store. You weren’t required to purchase anything, and the rest rooms were free, BUT the only people in this store were the people on the ship’s tour. Not really the way to get the best price on local merchandise. Even though the official policy is that everything is to be paid for in Rubles, the local street vendors accepted Euros knowing that this was the only cash currency the ship’s visitors had. If you had some Euros in your pocket and were ready to make a quick deal, you purchase from the local vendors. ( Note: there was no official policy by the ship preventing purchase from the local vendors, but we weren’t allowed ANY TIME to look around on our own at any stop ) Leaving one stop, I was able to purchase three genuine Faberge eggs from a street seller for just 5 Euros. Of course they weren’t real, but they were priced right at 5 Euros for the three.
The second option is to book tours of St. Petersburg through local tour operators, who also include the visa required to visit the city in the price of their packages. Doing these tours can cut your excursion prices by as much as 50%. The one possible disadvantage to doing a local tour, is that if your tour operator is late getting you back to the ship, it may sail without you. Tours booked through the cruise line won’t leave without you if the tour is late getting back.
As this was a two day stop over, getting back later than the scheduled time on the first day is no problem. We did take the ship’s tour and we along with 500 or so other passengers were late getting back the second day. Or course the ship waited for us. Interestingly the trip through customs/border control was much, much faster on the second day getting back on the ship, when the ship was already late leaving port.
The third option for visiting Saint Petersburg would involve you individually getting the visa from the Russian government and then doing the city on your own. Getting the visa can be take a couple months and isn’t a straight forward process.
This video which was compiled in Proshow Producer features still images from Canon cameras, movies from the YI 4K+ action camera, and my Photoshop 3D effects action to create pans and tilts from a single image.
You can view more of my European travels at my site.