Tickets and Tours is registered with the port, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and city government as an authorized tour operator. That allows us to host foreign visitors, issue official visa invitations and received cruise and ferry passengers visa-free if they use our services for tours.
Some of the ships promote the claim that only the tours they sell permit their passengers to enter Russia. They issue warnings that only their tours are legal or authorized when in fact they have no right to conduct any tours or sponsor anyone for visa-free entry. That right is reserved for the federally authorized Russian tour operators. The ships contract tour operators to create and conduct tours, retaining a substantial portion of the selling price as their commission.
We, as authorized tour operators have been conducting visa-free tours for 2 decades.
For the 2019 summer cruise season, the ships have adopted a policy of not letting passengers who did not book the ship sold tours to disembark later than the ship’s large bus tours. This was tried last year for selected large ships and it actually reduced time waiting in the Passport Control lines. The port immigration inspectors are rather efficient and many passport control booths are manned for each of the 7 passenger terminals. The delay for independent tour members will still allow for ample time to disembark before the museums and palaces open so there are no activities missed. This logic is the ship tours had a disadvantage since they are usually large 50 member bus tours, long delays between venues are the norm and their 50 members find their buses and all members are accounted for. Our small group and private tours are far more flexible, agile and more is seen in the smoother organization throughout the day.
The group tours we offer have a maximum of 15 members and use comfortable Mercedes touring vans so we can get in and out, and get closer to the entrances of the inside-visit destinations. Overall, you will see and experience more than your shipmates who believed their only option was booking with the ship.
Our private tours are as small as an individual or as large as a large party, service club, social or travel club wishes. It is a private tour so all the activities and members are those you choose.
BBoth styles of tours have a free option on the first evening: extending the time out in the city. After the regularly scheduled program ends in the late afternoon, our members have the choice of continuing by staying out in the city to do as they wish. Those who prefer to rest up or having dinner on the ship are returned to the ship. The members who wish to extend into the evening have a wide range of options to consider. Some want to shop, or fine dining, visits additional night entry into a few museums, or just sit in a pub or outdoor cafe and people watch. There are also ballet, folkloric shows, jazz clubs, walking around doing photography etc.
To conform to regulations, without a visa you will need an escort and one will be provided. Usually, the escorts are English speaking University students who are working for us as interns while studying tourism in their last year at the university. They tend to be well traveled, know the city very well and are picked for outgoing friendly personalities.
All this is FREE but if your chosen activity has ticket purchases involved, you need to pay for those. If you inform us in the morning of what ticketed events you would like to attend, we can usually arrange tickets by noon. Sometimes, activities groups form, such as one of us hosting a pub crawl to allow pubbers to meet and chat with locals, enjoy the festive fun atmosphere of the very active pub scene. There are approximately 250 English or Irish style pubs in the city center and 11,000 restaurants. Most locals are college age or a bit older, know English and very well educated.
This an exclusive Tickets and Tours feature.
After booking your tours with Tickets and Tours we will need the passport information for each member of your party so we can register them with immigration prior to your visit. We will send, by email, a Tour Ticket that you show to passport control both mornings when disembarking. This ticket shows passport control that we are hosting and sponsoring your visa-free entry. The ticket will be individualized for each member. We will send it in PDF printable format
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