Go Back   Cruise Critic Message Board Forums > Ports of Call > Europe > Northern Europe & Baltics
 
Register here!
Forgot Your Password?


Notices

Northern Europe & Baltics Aarhus, Bergen, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Greenland, Helsinki, Oslo, Riga, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old November 17th, 2012, 04:04 PM
many cruises's Avatar
many cruises many cruises is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,834
Default Comparing SPB & Alla Tours in St. Petersburg

We are in the process of planning our 2 port days in St. Petersburg and have read much information online about SPB & Alla private tours there. We would like to tour with 8 people in St. Petersburg. From your experience, is one company better than the other? If so, please explain why. We like to hear all the positive and negative as well.
Thanks!
__________________
Many Cruises

email me at: manycruises@gmail.com


Celebrity Equinox- February 2015
Celebrity Eclipse- August 2014
Celebrity Equinox- February 2014
Celebrity Eclipse- July, 2013
Sapphire Princess- October 2012
Golden Princess- July 2012

Golden Princess- February 2012
Star Princess- September 2011
Coral Princess- April 2011
Crown Princess- December 2010
Veendam- July 2010
Star Princess- April 2010
Eurodam- December 2009
Maasdam-July 2009
Emerald Princess- April 2009
Maasdam- August 2008
Crown Princess- March 2008
Summit- July 2007
Diamond Princess- April 2007
Westerdam- November 2006
Infinity- July 2006
Sapphire Princess- April 2006
Caribbean Princess- July 2005
Star Princess- April 2005
Century- July 2004
Mariner of the Seas- April 2004
Grand Princess- August 2003
Enchantment of the Seas- April 2003
Monarch of the Seas- April 2002
Sovereign of the Seas- April 2001
Reply With Quote

Ad Sponsored By
  #2  
Old November 17th, 2012, 09:06 PM
blonde1981 blonde1981 is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 747
Default

I'm planning my trip to St. Petersburg as well and from reading it sounds like they are pretty much the same. It is just which one you feel fits you better. I ended up going with TJ Travel because they were very quick to respond and answer the questions I was asking about tours vs. customized tours, etc. that I wasn't getting from the other 2. So it just depends on who you click with. I found the prices to be similar as well.
__________________


Past Cruises
July 2009 - Splendor of the Seas - Eastern Med (Venice, Mykonos, Santorini, Ephesus, Corfu, Dubrovnik)
April 2010 - Voyager of the Seas - Western Carib (Galveston, Cozumel, Costa Maya, Roatan)
June 2011 - Freedom of the Seas - Eastern Carib (Port Canaveral, CocoCay, St. Thomas, St. Maarten)
March 2012 - Serenade of the Seas - Southern Carib (San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Grenada, Antigua, St. Lucia)
June 2013 - Majesty of the Seas - Bahamas (Miami, Nassau, Cococay, Key West)
August 2013 - Vision of the Seas - Scandinavia & Russia (Copenhagen, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm)
March 2014 - Adventure of the Seas - Southern Carib (San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Aruba (CXL), Curacao (CXL), St Maarten, Antigua)

Upcoming
September 2014 - Navigator of the Seas - Western Carib (Galveston, Roatan, Belize City, Cozumel)
Reply With Quote

  #3  
Old November 18th, 2012, 05:46 AM
John Bull John Bull is offline
5,000+ Club
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Romsey England
Posts: 7,446
Default

All the local operators get excellent reviews, and we all tend to enthuse about the one we've used. Check the many threads on this forum.

Getting a comparison is difficult because there can't be many folk who've been to St Pete's twice, especially who've been twice & used different operators. And even then, it's gonna depend on which actual guide, differences in the weather, the traffic, the sharers, even the mood.

I'll enthuse about Alla, others about TJ, others about SPB, etc.
I contacted those three. In choosing, the only difference I noticed was that Alla & SPB needed a minimum 8 to be charged the standard price, TJ needed 10. Prices were within a few dollars of each-other, all accepted booking without payment, payment was at the start of day 2.

All use 16-seat vans, except I think DenRus who use a 30-seater bus.

JB

Last edited by John Bull; November 18th, 2012 at 05:47 AM.
Reply With Quote

  #4  
Old November 18th, 2012, 11:46 AM
dogs4fun's Avatar
dogs4fun dogs4fun is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,325
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Bull View Post
All the local operators get excellent reviews, and we all tend to enthuse about the one we've used. Check the many threads on this forum.

Getting a comparison is difficult because there can't be many folk who've been to St Pete's twice, especially who've been twice & used different operators. And even then, it's gonna depend on which actual guide, differences in the weather, the traffic, the sharers, even the mood.

I'll enthuse about Alla, others about TJ, others about SPB, etc.
I contacted those three. In choosing, the only difference I noticed was that Alla & SPB needed a minimum 8 to be charged the standard price, TJ needed 10. Prices were within a few dollars of each-other, all accepted booking without payment, payment was at the start of day 2.

All use 16-seat vans, except I think DenRus who use a 30-seater bus.

JB
I agree with John. With few exceptions, people recommend the tour operator that they used. And, as pointed out, few have used another tour operator so they really have no means of comparison.
We also used Alla for both SPB & Berlin. Alla made sure that we were able to visit the Pergamon museum in Berlin which was a deal clincher for us. We had a wonderful time in both cities and our guides were marvelous. Alla herself met us at the pier in SPB and was just delightful to work with.
I would contact all the major players in SPB and see which one best meets your needs. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. JMHO
jill
__________________


May 2013 - Celebrity Constellation - Amsterdam/Amsterdam- Baltic
August 2011 - NCL Sun - Copenhagen/Copenhagen - Baltic

EMAIL dogs4fun
Reply With Quote

  #5  
Old November 18th, 2012, 03:57 PM
gdayhoff gdayhoff is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Austin,Texas,USA
Posts: 207
Default

I have used both Red October and SPB-tours during my two visits to St Peterburg.With Red October there were six of us.Good tour and guide.No problems. Our second tour consisted of five family members.After much research I elected to go with SPB-tours.It was a good choice.I sent my first e-mail to SPS-tours on a Saturday and received a reply from Viktoria on Sunday.It continued that way during our planning.Would sent a question to Viktoria and within hours would receive a reply.Viktoria was such a joy to work.Without a doubt I would use SPB-Tours again.Wouldn't look any further.Outstanding guide who communicated well with all ages.The ages of our family were 17 to 79 years old
Reply With Quote

  #6  
Old November 18th, 2012, 07:04 PM
PC168 PC168 is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Mississauga, Canada
Posts: 570
Default

I emailed all the major tour companies, about 5 of them. SPB came back with the prices that no one can compete with and all of them have good reviews.
__________________


MSC Poesia - Northern Europe Baltic / Russia Aug. 2013
MSC Poesia - Northern Europe Scandinavia / Fjords Aug. 2013
RCCL Oasis of The Seas - W. Caribbean Aug. 2012
HAL Westerdam - Southern Caribbean Dec. 2010
MSC Musica - Eastern Mediterranean July 2010
MSC Splendida - Western Mediterranean July 2010
RCCL Liberty of The Seas - W. Caribbean Dec. 2009
MSC Lirica - Eastern Caribbean Jan. 2009
RCCL Liberty of The Seas - W. Caribbean Aug. 2007
RCCL Adventure of The Seas - S. Caribbean Oct. 2006
NCL Norweigen Star - Mexican Riviera Dec. 2005
Caribbean Princess - E. Caribbean Dec. 2004
Grand Princess - W. Caribbean Dec. 2002
Reply With Quote

  #7  
Old November 19th, 2012, 07:36 AM
KirkNC's Avatar
KirkNC KirkNC is offline
10,000+ Club
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Raleigh NC
Posts: 19,827
Default

I doubt you will find many people who have done a trip with both so all you will get is their experience with one or the other. I think at the end of the day, both do a very good job.
__________________
Kirk







Reply With Quote

  #8  
Old November 19th, 2012, 09:02 AM
SoBaycruiser SoBaycruiser is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: California
Posts: 1,337
Default

I am curious about how heavily accented the guides are. My husband wears hearing aids but still has problems with understanding people with strong accents. I feel I am the visitor to their country and its rude to assume they should speak English like an American or Brit. Obviously, I expect a guide to speak English, but how well? Can anyone comment on this?
Reply With Quote

  #9  
Old November 19th, 2012, 02:08 PM
Nitemare Nitemare is offline
Blue Ribbon Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Boston
Posts: 3,647
Default

Our TJ guide and our driver both spoke very easily understood English.

These companies all train their guides very well so there are never any complaints. Read back on this board a few pages, it's hard to believe, but I have never seen a complaint about TJ, Alla, or SPB, and we've had dozens (maybe hundreds) of reviews of each of them.
Reply With Quote

  #10  
Old November 20th, 2012, 07:11 AM
newlaxfan newlaxfan is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: near Toronto, ON
Posts: 362
Default

We had a hard time deciding which to go with, so I did up a chart to help with the comparison. It showed when and how long we were at each stop, prices, etc. It was much easier to make a decision once we had all that info laid out in front of us!
Reply With Quote

  #11  
Old November 20th, 2012, 08:45 PM
bapaleg bapaleg is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 118
Default

Which travel agency did you decide then. I am still trying to figure it out
Reply With Quote

  #12  
Old November 21st, 2012, 07:35 AM
judyrabbit's Avatar
judyrabbit judyrabbit is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Ancorage
Posts: 30
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Bull View Post
I'll enthuse about Alla, others about TJ, others about SPB, etc.
I contacted those three. In choosing, the only difference I noticed was that Alla & SPB needed a minimum 8 to be charged the standard price, TJ needed 10. Prices were within a few dollars of each-other, all accepted booking without payment, payment was at the start of day 2.
JB
We used I TRAVEL SPB for our St.Petersburg stopover. They said that even if just 2 persons signed up the tour would take place and the price is the same as in a group of 10. That was no lie: we were just 6 persons on the tour and had it for the same group rate of 300 $ pp.
Reply With Quote

  #13  
Old November 21st, 2012, 08:32 AM
dogs4fun's Avatar
dogs4fun dogs4fun is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,325
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by judyrabbit View Post
We used I TRAVEL SPB for our St.Petersburg stopover. They said that even if just 2 persons signed up the tour would take place and the price is the same as in a group of 10. That was no lie: we were just 6 persons on the tour and had it for the same group rate of 300 $ pp.
Yes, I know that Alla offers this as well and the price is only $300 regardless of the number of participants that sign-up (there were only 6 on a group from our ship, but not our group). I believe that other operators offer a set price as well.
I think the situation to which John is referring is a little different from the norm, but I can't remember the details. Perhaps he will return & explain.
jill
__________________


May 2013 - Celebrity Constellation - Amsterdam/Amsterdam- Baltic
August 2011 - NCL Sun - Copenhagen/Copenhagen - Baltic

EMAIL dogs4fun

Last edited by dogs4fun; November 21st, 2012 at 08:33 AM.
Reply With Quote

  #14  
Old November 21st, 2012, 09:26 AM
John Bull John Bull is offline
5,000+ Club
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Romsey England
Posts: 7,446
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by dogs4fun View Post
Yes, I know that Alla offers this as well and the price is only $300 regardless of the number of participants that sign-up (there were only 6 on a group from our ship, but not our group). I believe that other operators offer a set price as well.
I think the situation to which John is referring is a little different from the norm, but I can't remember the details. Perhaps he will return & explain.
jill

Hi Jill,
At least in part, it's to do with which ship you're on.

Yes, on at least one website (TJ Tours) it states that the tour goes ahead, at the advertised price, even if just one person books.
To me that sounds like the road to ruination & it wasn't borne out when we e-mailed - TJ and the others needed minimum bookings from our ship (10 for TJ, 8 for SPB or Alla) to be able to offer their listed price. A slightly higher price from SPB & Alla for 6, significantly more for four or less.
They had this stipulation for our ship, P & O's Aurora, because from experience they didn't get a lot of business from the ship. Surprising because Aurora's a decent size at around 2000 pax & not full of wimps, but hey, they know their business.
They suggested I use CC's RollCall to drum up sharers, which I did as well as a UK-based cruise website. I found sharers via both websites & Alla had direct enquiries from others. SPB also found others, though by that time we & Alla between us had found the minimum numbers. In fact, we ended up with 20 & were all able to choose the tour that we wanted (like others, Alla offer two levels) with 10 on each. Once up to those numbers, I directed later RollCall enquiries to SPB so that they'd get up to a viable number. That reminds me, I haven't invoiced SPB for the introductions

I suspect that for most ships they all offer the set price regardless of numbers because they're confident that they'll very very rarely fail to make a viable number. But they didn't have that confidence with our ship.

So we didn't have the task of deciding which operator to use, it was kinda forced upon us. But we were very pleased with the tour, so was everyone else on both Alla tours. Don't know if TJ or SPB eventually ran tours for the ship - I suspect SPB got the numbers but TJ didn't.

JB
Reply With Quote

  #15  
Old November 21st, 2012, 11:03 AM
Coolcruise02 Coolcruise02 is offline
Blue Ribbon Cruiser
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Coolville,OH
Posts: 3,942
Default

Four of us went with TJ Travels. I did offer to share on our CC roll call but no takers. (we did have a specific itinerary booked with TJ) We did pay a little more than the $300pp set price but in the end we were SO glad it was just the 4 of us. One review I read from our cruise, spoke of the two hours of wasted time on the second morning, waiting in the tour office/gift shop for 7 couples to process payments. I admit this is one thing I had not thought of!
__________________
Carnival Jubilee, RCL Monarch of the Seas, Carnival Pride, Carnival Inspiration, RCL Radiance of the Seas, Golden Princess, Coral Princess, Carnival Legend, RCL Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Century, HAL Zuiderdam, Caribbean Princess, Celebrity Summit, Norwegian Crown, Carnival Triumph, RCL Legend of the Seas, RCL Liberty of the Seas, RCL Rhapsody of the Seas, Carnival Dream, HAL Veendam, HAL Eurodam
Reply With Quote

  #16  
Old November 22nd, 2012, 03:56 AM
judyrabbit's Avatar
judyrabbit judyrabbit is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Ancorage
Posts: 30
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coolcruise02 View Post
but in the end we were SO glad it was just the 4 of us. One review I read from our cruise, spoke of the two hours of wasted time on the second morning, waiting in the tour office/gift shop for 7 couples to process payments. I admit this is one thing I had not thought of!
I totally agree! We were so happy we were not part of a bigger group. I don't think the tour would have been such a pleasure if we were 18 or 20. Have never understood people who book big group tours.
Reply With Quote

  #17  
Old November 22nd, 2012, 11:05 PM
Giantfan13's Avatar
Giantfan13 Giantfan13 is offline
Blue Ribbon Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: West Hempstead, NY
Posts: 4,281
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by many cruises View Post
We are in the process of planning our 2 port days in St. Petersburg and have read much information online about SPB & Alla private tours there. We would like to tour with 8 people in St. Petersburg. From your experience, is one company better than the other? If so, please explain why. We like to hear all the positive and negative as well.
Thanks!
Many Cruises

You have asked a question that is very subjective. As was said, most here toured with one particular company and most, likely came back, with glowing reviews. Most of the major players do an outstanding job showing you St Petersburg, or else they would not be in business.

When we went, we contacted all the major players, and one company seemed to stand out above the rest. That was SPB Tours. Why, because of Viktoria, the owner of the company. She never failed to email us back with 24 hours and always showing a concern for our doubts and questions. I have said this countless times already, I worked in a service industry and customer service was paramount to anything else. From all the replies I received Victoria and SPB Tours had the best customer service than any of the other companies.
PLUS, we booked a set tour from them, their Baltic Pearl package. We also wanted to see the Grand Choral Synagogue which wasn't on the tour. We wrote Viktoria about this and she immediately replied that it would be no problem to also include it as past of our tour. That sold us on SPB.

As I have said, all the companies do a great job, but some just go over and above the regular things to try and make your visit that much more special.

Hope this helps

Cheers

Len
__________________
There are No bad cruises, just bad cruisers

You have seen bits and pieces of our Baltic adventure, now see the entire album.
http://s834.photobucket.com/albums/z...fan13/baltics/

We have also cruised to wonderful Hawaii, check out our wonderful time in this paradise. will be happy to answer any questions if anyone is interested
http://s834.photobucket.com/albums/z...tfan13/Hawaii/

Check us out touring the great Northwest and then our marvelous cruise to Alaska. Again, any questions, just ask away
http://s834.photobucket.com/albums/z.../new%20alaska/
Reply With Quote

  #18  
Old December 4th, 2012, 05:01 AM
judyrabbit's Avatar
judyrabbit judyrabbit is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Ancorage
Posts: 30
Default

For us it was decisive that I TRAVEL guaranteed the advertised price from the beginning irrespective of the number of people booked. I didn't want to "drum up" anyone. We received the booking confirmation with the price fixed straight away. I Travel added the Grand Choral Synagogue to our itinerary without hesitation. As far as I understand it's not a problem to add this stop during the driving city tour.
We didn't even consider buying set of group tours in all ports as we prefer to explore on our own everywhere possible which we did except for St.Petersburg and Warnemuende.
__________________
NCL Sun 06-12
DCL Magic 06-13
Reply With Quote

  #19  
Old December 5th, 2012, 02:25 PM
CaroleLee CaroleLee is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Hartsdale, NY UDSA
Posts: 1,403
Question comparison

Quote:
Originally Posted by newlaxfan View Post
We had a hard time deciding which to go with, so I did up a chart to help with the comparison. It showed when and how long we were at each stop, prices, etc. It was much easier to make a decision once we had all that info laid out in front of us!
Do you still have the chart? If yes pls share- it wuld be so helpful
Thanks
Carole
__________________
Carole-Lee

Reply With Quote

  #20  
Old December 5th, 2012, 04:21 PM
diathoney's Avatar
diathoney diathoney is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Tampa Bay
Posts: 946
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by newlaxfan View Post
We had a hard time deciding which to go with, so I did up a chart to help with the comparison. It showed when and how long we were at each stop, prices, etc. It was much easier to make a decision once we had all that info laid out in front of us!
That's what I did too! I love spreadsheet for planning travel.
Reply With Quote

Reply

Bookmarks


Ad Sponsored By
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 07:35 PM.


© 1995 - 2014, The Independent Traveler, Inc. All rights reserved.
"A Community of People Who Love To Cruise"
All of the information contained within Cruise Critic is protected by copyright. You may, however, download a single copy only for your personal use.
Cookie ConsentCookie Policy