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Old 10-09-2019, 10:25 PM   #19
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Join Date: Sep 2008

Originally Posted by Strange Brew View Post
Definitely avoid the cruise line's tours whenever possible, but my point was you can't leave the ship and explore on your own. You have to be part of a tour group to avoid getting a visa.

When we went, the private tours were not yet an option IIRC. But now as I understand it, you can do those and you may get a little free time to roam but you're still generally herded around. I just can't stand that. We went to the Winter Palace which was beautiful but the crowds and the lines were awful.
I agree that tours are generally speaking terrible. We almost never do them anywhere. For us, the savings on the visa were material enough that we were willing to do a tour. The thing I liked about doing it privately vs through the ship (other than the huge savings) was the smaller group size.

We had about 12 people in a van as opposed to 60 people on a coach bus. Tours move at the pace of the slowest person in the group, so a smaller group is way better imo.
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