Frequently Asked Questions – Updated 17/02/2013
1) Are you an officially registered company?
Yes, we are. Our registration number in the Russian Federation of Tourism is МВТ#009410 As we are officially authorized by the Russian government we will supply you with a tour ticket which will allow you to easily pass through customs and immigration. In addition, we have a contract with the new St Petersburg sea port “Morskoy Fasad”, to which most of the cruise ships will arrive in 2010, and the old sea port “Cargo Port”. From this we can guarantee to meet you directly near your ship. Lastly, we are board members of the “Cruise Industry Association.”
2 ) Do we need a Russian Visa if we arrive by cruise ship?
No. We are one of the very few companies in St. Petersburg which can provide you with visa free excursions. This can save you at a minimum of $130 per person! According to the Russian Federation, a Russia Visa is not required for shore excursions if you book your tour through a company officially licensed and authorized by the Russian government to receive foreign cruise passengers and to operate inside St. Petersburg’s port area. As we are officially authorized by the Russian government we will send you a tour ticket (also called a “blanket visa”) via e-mail, which you can print at home and bring along with you to St Petersburg. We will send you instructions on how to pass through customs immigration as well.
3) What documents should I have with me when leaving my ship?
A valid passport
The tour ticket (sent to your e-mail by TJ Travel)
4) Where do you meet our tour group? Near the ship? Inside the port?
We will meet you inside the commercial port area, just outside of your ship.
On the morning of your ship’s arrival, we are there waiting for you! We will meet you after you pass the customs officers with a sign of our company (TJ TRAVEL) and introduce you to your private guide and driver. We are waiting by your ship well before you arrive. If for some reason you can’t find us, you can call us using the telephone number on your tour ticket, 25 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Please, note: the time of the beginning of the tours mentioned in the programs is given approximately and will be adjusted depending on your ship arrival time
5) What information do you need to book a tour?
We will send you a tour ticket (blanket visa) by e-mail and you will have to print it at home and to bring it with you to pass through Russian customs control. . The following information is required to issue your Tour Ticket:
- Your full name (as it reads in your passport)
- Date of Birth
- Passport number
- Passport Issue Date and Passport Expiration Date
- Arrival and departure dates in St Petersburg
- The name of your ship
6) Is there a deposit to book with TJ Travel?
No. One the advantages of a tour from TJ Travel is that you don’t have to send us a deposit in advance. You just need to confirm the tour of your choice and send us your passport information. We will reply with a blanket Russian Visa by e-mail, which serves as a reservation confirmation.
7) How can I pay?
You can pay us in the morning of the second day of your tour either in dollars, euro or rubles.
If you pay by credit card (we accept only Master Card or Visa), please, note that we do not charge any bank fees for the transaction
Please, note that if you travel with kids under 7 the tour for them is for free. Elder kids and students (7-21 years old) receive special discount (25/35/50$ pp) depending on the lenght of the tour in Saint-Petersburg and 10% discount for any Baltic tour.
Students (17-21 yo) must have valid ISIC card – please, let us know about students in your group in advance so that we can book the right tickets for them.
We kindly ask you to bring clean, crisp, un-torn US dollars and euro, as our banks do not accept notes with even the slightest damage.
9) How much cash should I bring with me for some shopping and lunches?
Do they accept US Dollars or Euros for souvenirs and lunches?
In all souvenirs shops they accept Euros and US Dollars, or you can pay by credit card. Regarding lunches, in small local cafes they accept only Russian Rubles (credit cards are not accepted there), but you don’t have to worry about this as we provide our guides with enough Russian Rubles and you can simply pay your guide for the lunch in US Dollars or Euros. We kindly ask you to bring clean, crisp, un-torn US Dollars and Euros, as our banks do not accept notes with even the slightest damage.
10) How much tip should I leave to the guide and driver?
Gratuities to the guide and driver are not included in the tour price. The sum you wish to give to your guide and driver after a well-done tour should be up to the western standards (approximately 15%). It is a good idea to divide gratuity between your guide and driver and give it separately to them: 10% to the guide and 5% to the driver. Please have some cash with you (USD, EUR or RUB) for this reason, but it is always up to you.
Please note, we cannot include gratuities on a credit card.
11) How experienced are your guides?
We strongly feel that your trip’s success depends on your guide’s knowledge, personality, and the ability to create a friendly atmosphere. We take this very seriously and pride ourselves on giving you a truly memorable experience in St. Petersburg. We provide you with full service excursion packages: both inside and outside excursions. As we are a small company, we pay strict attention to choosing only the most experienced guides with an incredible record of success – our guides are the best in the industry, and are natives of St. Petersburg – so you will see our city through the eyes of a local! They speak excellent English, are fully licensed, have a good sense of humor, and create excursions that are flexible – depending on your interests, on your pace, and whether you are with children or not.
12) What about your drivers?
We use only air-conditioned, non-smoking, western cars, mini vans and buses (mostly Mercedes).
All of our drivers are friendly, professional and some even speak English – which is rare for Russia. Each has great experience working only with cruise passengers.
You can be sure you will never be late to your ship at the end of the last day.
13) What happens if we are late back to the ship on the departure day?
We are always prepared for the unexpected and always have a special extra van in case of the emergency to provide you with another vehicle or whatever means necessary to return you to your ship at the appointed time, at our expense. All of our itineraries are insured to take into account unforeseen circumstances which may arise on the way back to the port.
If by any reason you are late and miss your ship we will take the responsibility to deliver you to the next port at our expense.
13) What type of vehicles are utilized for the tours?
We use only air-conditioned, western cars, mini-vans, and buses (typically Mercedes). All of them are smoke-free.
14) Do we have to stand long lines to enter the museums?
If you travel with us you don’t have to stand in long lines – unlike those tourists who are on their own. This, as you’ll see, is a big time-saver in Russia! The exception can be Catherine Palace and The Grand Palace in Petergof. Sometimes tourists have to wait about 15 minutes to enter the Palace because the guards limit the entrance.
15) What happens if we have to cancel our tour?
You can cancel your tour reservation two weeks before your tour without any cancellation fee.
We do not charge any penalties for the cancellation as we do not ask for a prepayment, so the only thing we kindly ask you to do is to inform us about your cancellation as soon as possible.
Concert and theatre tickets: There are no refunds for evening tours (theatre, tickets, folk show or boat ride), if they are cancelled less than 7 days before your arrival in St. Petersburg.
16) Do you organize evening programs as well?
Yes, and in fact, we recommend you to take advantage of this unique chance. Don’t miss the opportunity to see a Russian ballet or to enjoy an evening of Russian opera in one of the best theatres of St. Petersburg. We also highly recommend a visit to the Folk Show or a night boat trip along the famous canals. Or perhaps to feel yourself as a Russian aristocrat and enjoy an extravagant dinner in one of the former royal Russian palaces. Upon your request we will send you additional information about our “optional evening” programs
17) Where do you recommend having lunch?
We don’t include the cost of lunches in our private programs for small parties / groups because we want to give you more freedom and flexibility. Our guides will recommend a restaurant or cafe where local Russians frequent, rather than “touristy” restaurants. We want our guests to experience real Russian life with Russian people! The cost of an average lunch is $10-$15 per person in such places like” Pie” Caf? (where there is a wonderful variety of freshly-baked pies, salads, and soups) Blinny Domik (famous Russian pancakes or crepes, tasty soups such as Russian Borsch, and Chicken Kiev). Please note that it is more difficult to find inexpensive caf?s when you travel to the Summer Palaces in the countryside.
On your request, it is possible to include the meal into the cost of the tour, and we usually highly recommend that for the groups of more than 10 people, as it is a great time saver. The cost of the lunch in a small local café will be 20$ per person for three course meal in Russian style, if you prefer upscale restaurant, the cost of the meal will be 30$ per person.