Old March 30th, 2005, 11:31 PM
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Default Visa to Russia - confusing, please help

We are going with Celebrity in June and thought about doing St-P without a guide. A friend just sent a link to this:
"No visa is required for foreign tourists traveling as cruise passengers on board foreign ships or ships registered in Russian ports and going ashore in Russian ports if they are in possession of a valid national, international or foreign passport, and on condition that:
- the stop in the port of call does not exceed 48 hours;
- travelers stay overnight on board the cruise ship and leave port on board the same ship."
This is on the MCM travel company Web site.

And one more:
"On January 10, 2003, the President of the Russian Federation V. Putin signed Federal Law No. 7-FZ (the Law) ”Concerning Amendments and Additions to Federal Law No. 114 – FZ of August 15, 1996 «Concerning the Procedure for Exiting from the Russian Federation and Entering the Russian Federation.»“ The Law comes into effect three months after its official publication, i.e. on April 13, 2003.... According to the new Law, foreign passengers aboard cruise ships with a passenger transportation
license entering the Russian Federation through sea and river ports can stay in the Russian Federation for 72 hours without any visa." From Ernst & Young Newletter.

Now we are not sure what to do about our visas. Shall we still get them? Anyone heard anything about this new law?
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Old March 31st, 2005, 02:04 AM
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Default Re: Visa to Russia - confusing, please help

Go to the source....the Russian consulate website. We had to get a visa as we were not using the ship's tour, and had hired a private guide and driver through Cosmos in St. Petersburg (which by the way was perfect). However, we were there several years ago, so you should check for yourself. There is a Russian consulate here in San Francisco...I even called them to check on Cosmos to make sure they were licensed, since I had found them by an internet search.
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Old March 31st, 2005, 12:03 PM
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Kuki Kuki is offline
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Default Re: Visa to Russia - confusing, please help

If you are on a cruise ship tour you don't need a seperate Russian Visa. There are several private tour companies you can book with as well, where you won't need a visa.

However, if you want to travel totally indepenantly in Russia you DO need a Visa!

Unless you speak Russian, touring Russia on your own will be very difficult.

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Old April 1st, 2005, 12:13 PM
Margie Stinson
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Default Re: Visa to Russia - confusing, please help

If you live in a major city, call a passport agency and ask them if visas are required for independent travel while traveling on a cruise ship. Business travelers use passport agencies because they know all the rules for different countries. I got my Russian visa through an agency in Houston and it was quick and painless aqnd not expensive. I would do it regardless of what you have read because rules change by the minute in Russia still. it is not expensive and is very good insurance.

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Old April 1st, 2005, 12:16 PM
Margie Stinson
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Default Re: Re: Visa to Russia - confusing, please help

And regardless of what you see, many people do independent sightseeing in St. Pete and say they like it and found it easy. I wouldn't do it because the guides provide so much information and enrichment. Also, if you are with a guide you don't have to wait in line at any of the places you really want to see, and the lines can be very long. The places you want to see are sometimes very far apart, and the car and driver are very helpful. Just my opinions...

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Old April 2nd, 2005, 03:40 AM
Richard Wong Richard Wong is offline
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Default Re: Visa to Russia - confusing, please help

Come to think of it, the customs and immigration officials at the port never asked for our visa when we disembarked. We had to show them our passports, which they stamped, but nobody asked for a visa. We showed the bureaucrats our paper "tickets" (more like receipts) for the shore excursions, but those wouldn't serve as a visa, nor was our visa information indicated on those mass-produced tickets. Katik may be on to something here!
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Old April 24th, 2005, 06:56 PM
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Default Re: Visa to Russia - confusing, please help

We used Red Ocotber last May and they had submitted our names so that all we had to do is show the passaports and they gave us a red Ticket to get off the ship. Red October was wonderful.

On another note, I had to go to the hospital that night and had some difficulty getting off. The doctor on the ambulance convienced them to let us go. The next day we had some difficulty going back to the hospital and it took some time for the ship's clinic to get it accomplishedfor us and another couple.
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Old April 26th, 2005, 08:31 AM
redglass redglass is offline
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Default Re: Visa to Russia - confusing, please help

I just returned from a cruise in the Caribean. While on board i attended the "Future Cruises" presentation ans Scandanavia and Russia cruise is on our next years trip. We were told that if you book a tour thru the cruise line a visa is not needed, otherwise yes you need one. Also we were advised Russia is not very safe to be going out on you own. You need to be with an organized tour for safety.
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Old April 26th, 2005, 09:57 AM
luv2cruise luv2cruise is offline
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Default Re: Re: Visa to Russia - confusing, please help

Hi redglass,

The information the cruise line gave you is generally correct. I have traveled many times to Europe, and this is my 2nd trip to the Baltics. I can tell you for sure that the laws have not changed in the last few years and you do NOT need a visa to tour with an independent tour company such as Red October or Denrus. In my humble and educated opinion, the independent tour companies provide the best experience in St. Petersburg, so I hope you can work that out. You do need a visa for independent sightseeing. You do not need a visa to go on ship's shore excursions, which the cruise lines push due to the 40-70% profit. Wouldn't you rather put the profits into upgrading your tour to see much more in the same amount of time for less money? That's our choice!

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Old April 26th, 2005, 08:19 PM
jaxon jaxon is offline
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Default Re: Re: Re: Visa to Russia - confusing, please help

We are going to Russia the latter part of May and are having some difficulty trying to decide between the ship's package tour and Denrus. Red October never got back to me. I'd appreciate your insights as the Denrus tour seems quite a bit more expensive --add visa and vat taxes, cost of lunch (included with the ship tour), photo costs (included with the ship tour), a much greater tip, and extra for night entertainment, and it's a couple of hundred more, for really not much more in sights. I have to decide soon and just wonder if shorter lines and a few more sights are worth it.
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Old April 27th, 2005, 10:21 AM
luv2cruise luv2cruise is offline
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Visa to Russia - confusing, please help

Hi Jaxon,

I'm going in a group of 10 that I formed on the roll call board for my sailing, and it's cheaper than the ship's tours. If you are going in a group of 2, it will probably be more expensive. Also, did you make any changes to the standard suggested itinerary from the tour company? We did, and we are seeing twice as much as the ship's tour. Everyone is different, so the ship's tour may be better for you. I prefer not to wait for 2 hours while a large group eats, 1/2 hour while a large group potties, 10-15 minutes to load or unload the bus, etc. Also, the private tour companies will take you inside the palaces as well as outside and many ship's excursions go outside only at Peterhof. I have a lot of experience with ship and private tours, and I promise you will see more on a private tour.

One time I was in Germany on a ship's excursion and was dragged away from a number of Renoir paintings (my favorite painter) by the tour guide who insisted that we go to another room. I decided right then and there that never again would I be in a position of not calling the shots with my precious vacation time.

You need to be very careful with the ship's tours. My husband had hurt his leg (minor injury on the ship that took two days to heal and fortunately we also had a day at sea) last year, and we really wanted to go to Montserrat in the port of Barcelona because we have been there several times. With the train schedules and all, we decided that we would have to take the dreaded shore ex. I asked a lot of questions, and I was assured that we would have 3 hours at Montserrat. Well, over an hour and a half of that was spent eating, and we had a total of about a ½ hour in the monastery itself. The boy’s choir was singing that day, and there was also the 11th century black Madonna to see, and we had to choose between the two. If you saw the Madonna, you didn’t see the boy’s choir. I could go on and on and on about the time wasted on shore ex tours in large groups while we could have actually been seeing something. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, such as passengers with limited mobility, but it’s worth paying extra to go on our own if we need to (we usually pay much less).

Our first preference is to go out on our own, but there are ports such as St. Petersburg, Villefranche/Monte Carlo, and Livorno in which a private driver is ideal.

If you want to review our 2-day St. Petes itinerary, you can e-mail me at [email protected].

Hope you have a great time,

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