Official internet-portal of St. Petersburg, cultural capital of Russia
Petersburg CITY / Guide to St. Petersburg, Russia
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Information For Cruise Ship Passengers

Russian tourist visa information for cruise ship passengers

Cruise ship passengers can currently visit Russia on visa-waiver scheme provided the stop in the port of call doesn't exceed 72 hours and tourists stay overnight on board the cruise ship. This rule doesn't apply to passengers of Finnish and some other cruise companies. This rule doesn't apply either if there is only one port of call during a voyage.

Cruise passengers may disembark from the ship without a tourist visa if they participate on tours organized by cruise companies. Passengers not participating on tours and wishing to disembark will need to obtain a Russia tourist visa. Passengers won't be permitted ashore if they don't present a valid passport, a Russian visa and a voucher issued by a Russian travel company or another authorized organization.

Cruise passengers cannot obtain a visa in Russia. Visas are issued in the country of residence before departure.

We recommend that you check information on organized cruise tours and visas with your cruise company in advance.

Russian tourist visa waiver for liners tour participants

Russian Tourist Visas are not required for liners tour passengers participating on their liners organised tour. All passengers who elect to participate on a their liners' tour in St. Petersburg, including Private Vehicle tours and the tour to Moscow, may disembark the ship for their tour without a Russian Tourist Visa provided they present the following to Russian Immigration:

  • A valid passport.
  • A liner's tour ticket.

Passengers who wish to sightsee outside of a liner's tour MUST obtain an individual Russian Tourist Visa before leaving home; visas cannot be obtained during the cruise. Should you wish to obtain an individual Russian Tourist Visa, you will need to be sponsored by a licensed Russian tour company. This company will provide you with the necessary Visa Support Letter and documentation to obtain your individual Russian Tourist Visa. After obtaining this information, it is necessary for you to contact the visa service of your choice or the Russian Embassy for the procedures to obtain the visa. Passengers on their liner's tours (visa requirements waived) will be disembarked first upon arrival in St. Petersburg; passengers with individual Russian Tourist Visas will disembark after the tour passengers and must present the following to Russian Immigration:

  • A valid passport.
  • Russian Tourist Visa
  • A voucher confirming service arranged by the Russian tour company sponsoring visa

We anticipate independent passengers with individual Russian Tourist Visas being able to disembark at approximately 9:30AM and therefore recommend that any independent services be arranged no earlier than this time. Passengers who have not purchased one of the available tours and do not possess an individual Russia Tourist Visa, or whose visa is not properly supported by the proper documentation, will not be permitted ashore in St. Petersburg. Visas cannot be issued during the cruise. In order to apply for a Russian visa, a guest must have a valid passport, which does not expire within 30 days of the last day of the cruise.

Purchasing tours

We highly recommend that you pre-reserve you tours in advance due to limited space availability and documentation requirements. Participation on a liner's organised tour eliminates the need to obtain a individual Russian Tourist Visa and maximises your time in St. Petersburg.

Shopping and customs regulations

Please be advised that, at the time this tour booklet was prepared, we have been informed that Russian Customs and currency regulations may be subject to revision at any time. This could affect the type of currency necessary, the restrictions on items of purchase, the customs fees and enforcement, and other situations. Once on board the ship, you will be advised of the current regulations as we receive them from Russian officials. Often these regulations can also be at the discretion of the individual officials on duty, and their diligence may vary at any time.

Possible changes

This tour booklet has been prepared with the most current information available at the time of printing regarding Russian visa regulations, policies, and requirements. Russia as a whole, however, is in an ongoing state of change.

St Petersburg by private car or van

Vehicles with an English-speaking guide are offered on a half-day (four hours; morning or afternoon) or full-day (eight hours) basis. No deviations to duration, departure or return time can be made. This is a private arrangement; those accompanying you are the family or friends with whom you agree to share costs. Usually liners do not match groups of passengers to form a private group for the vehicle. Vehicles and guides are of extremely limited availability; reserve early. These are special tours designed to offer the privacy and flexibility of touring with family or friends and the convenience of sightseeing at your own pace. We also recommend private tours for non-ambulatory passengers.

These tours are ordered per vehicle.

The rules for private tours on the liner

One person in your party places the order for the vehicle; the entire cost of the vehicle is charged to that person's shipboard account and cannot be divided among the party. A tour ticket will be issued onboard the ship and delivered to the cabin of the person booking this tour on embarkation day. Once onboard the ship, you will receive a form requesting the names of each individual in your party. This information is required to allow your party to disembark the ship for the tour. Please provide this information promptly to avoid being denied to participate.

Entrance, photography & video fees are included for the venues incorporated on your itinerary. Meals, refreshments and gratuities are not included. It is customary to invite the guide to dine with you, covering his/her meal expenses. Not only will the guide be able to assist you in ordering, but this will also provide you with a valuable opportunity to further discuss topics that might interest you. Your driver will provide his/her own meal and will remain with the vehicle.

St. Petersburg is a large city with the same traffic problems found in other major metropolises. Take locations and travel time into account when planning your visit. We have compiled suggested itineraries to help you maximize your tour. Since these venues are likely to be visited by other tour groups, you may experience crowds at some locations.

Opening hours / driving times

The information is a guideline to assist in your planning; information subject to change without notice due to conditions in Russia.

The drive between the pier and St. Petersburg is approximately 30 to 45-minutes each way; the following venues are located there:

  • Hermitage – Opens Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30am - 6:00pm; Sunday 10:30am - 5:00pm; closed Monday.
  • St. Isaac's Cathedral – Opens Thursday to Tuesday, 11:00am - 6:00pm; closed Wednesday.
  • Russian Museum – Opens Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00am - 5:00pm; Monday, 10:00am - 4:00pm; closed Tuesday.
  • Peter and Paul Fortress – Opens Wednesday to Monday, 9:00am - 5:00pm; Tuesday, 9:00am - 4:00pm.
  • St. Nicholas Church – Opens daily 6:00am - 7:00pm.
  • Synagogue – Opens Sunday to Friday 9:00am - 6:00pm; services at 10:00am; closed Saturday.
  • Cruiser Aurora – Opens 10:30am - 4:00pm; closed Monday and Friday.
  • Peter's Log Cabin – Opens Wednesday to Monday, 10:00am - 5:00pm; closed Tuesday and the last Monday of the month.
  • Peter's Summer Palace – Opens Wednesday to Monday, 10:00am - 4:30pm; closed Tuesday and the last Monday of the month.
  • Menshikov Palace on the Neva – Opens Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30am - 4:30pm; closed Monday.
  • Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood – Opens Thursday to Monday, 11:00am - 6:00pm; closed Wednesday.

The drive between the pier and Peterhof is approximately 50 to 60-minutes each way; the following venues are located there:

  • Grand Palace in Peterhof – Opens Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30am - 5:00pm; closed Monday and the last Tuesday of the month.

The drive between the pier and Oranienbaum is approximately 90-minutes each way; the following venues are located there:

  • Chinese Palace – Opens Wednesday to Monday, 11:00am - 5:00pm; closed Tuesday and the last Monday of the month.
  • Palace of Peter III – Opens Wednesday to Monday, 11:00am - 5:00pm; closed Tuesday and the last Monday of the month.

The drive between the pier and Tsarskoye Selo is approximately 50 to 75-minutes; the following venues are located there:

  • Catherine Palace – Opens Wednesday to Monday, 10:00am - 5:00pm; closed Tuesday and the last Monday of the month. Do to expected delays in the afternoon, itineraries offering the Catherine Palace are only offered in the morning.
  • Pavlovsk Palace – Opens Saturday to Thursday, 10:00am - 5:00pm; closed Friday and the last Monday of the month.
  • Russian Museum – Opens Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00am - 5:00pm; Monday, 10:00am - 4:00pm; closed Tuesday.

Maximum capacity of each car is 3 passengers – maximum capacity requires 3 persons to sit in the back seat.

Please be sure to request this tour by indicating the number of vehicles you wish to have – not the number of passengers.

Special notes

Private vehicle bookings are non-refundable after confirmation of the individuals making up your party.

Actual vehicle type varies depending availability and number of passengers in your party.

Vehicles are air-conditioned and come with an English-speaking guide. (Foreign language guides are also available and may incur additional cost.)

Increasing the duration or adding sites to your itinerary will result in additional fees.

Video recording is restricted at Yusupov Palace.

(c) 2000