For those planning Baltic cruises

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ShipMaven

Guest
#1
There may be a possible change in visa requirements by Russia for cruise passengers visiting St. Petersburg. Up until now, cruise passengers staying no more than 72 hours and taking only ship's tours (not going out on their own) were not required to obtain Russian visas. That may change...here's an article in the St. Petersburg (Russia) Times

http://www.sptimes.ru/archive/times/1027/top/t_14327.htm
 
T

thomaseu

Guest
#2
Thanks for the info. We had a 'blanket visa' from DenRus but this would definitely had complicated our travels in St. Petersburg. It will be interesting to follow this.
 
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stanj

Guest
#3
The policy allowing a visa for passengers arriving in Russian ports on cruise ships( all other ship type passengers did not qualify) to come ashore if accompanied by a registered tour guide holding a blanket group visitor has been in effect for about 60 years. Hotel and other land based tour interests have never liked the fact that thousands of visitors come to St Petersburg each season and don't live off the local economy, eating and sleeping on board ship. Recent reaction to US policies regarding treatment of Russian visa applicants have upset some factions of the electorate and it is widely known that American visitors normally come on cruise ships instead of land and air based tours . These has resulted in the passage of tthe first reading of the proposed bill to require cruise ship passengers to abide by the normal visa rules by a wide margin. There will 2 additonal "readings" before sent to Putin for signature. A lot can happen in the mean time and the Duma is notorious for acting very slowly. It took 8 years to pass a land ownership bill formalizing procedures that had already been adopted and used universally unofficially for 10 years;>)

Since St Petersburg is the crown jewel of Baltic cruises and getting a visa is not a big deal, if the bill ever becomes law, it should not cause major problems despite what major hotels wish. As with everything in Russia there are more than one way to get something done so expect an agreement that still allows business as usual or a modified visa application process.

Additonally, reading the St Petersburg Times is a sure way to get a bad impression of Russia and St Petersburg. The editor, a New Zealander, hates Russia and it is well known policy to print only negative toned articles. We often wonder why he accepted the job when still in N.Z, if he disliked it so much. It is better to get to know the city and country for yourself or ask people with less of an agenda to promote for a more balanced view.

So, do not worry about the proposed law interfering with your visit, it is not going to happen.
Have a great visit
Stan
 
P

Petert

Guest
#4
Hi Stanj,

Thanks for the information. We are leaving on a Baltic cruise aboard the Constellation in early May, and we are a little concerned that an early implementation of some changes in the visa process could leave us high and dry. We took a cruise to St Petersburg from Helsinki aboard the Russian cruise ship Konstantin Symanov back in 1991. At that time we had to get a Soviet visa, and it was a rather lengthy process. We are very interested in seeing what changes have taken place since our last visit.

Peter
 
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stanj

Guest
#5
Hi Peter
Getting a visa is not much different now in process but practical application, it is much easier to actually get it. Now you can get a Tourist voucher combinedf with Visitor acceptance document by email attachment or FAX within a few hours from a Russian travel service , hotel or hostel . Include the voucher with an application form also avaialable on line for download, a passport photo( any travel agency, photo shop or many drug stores can provide that for $6-10), and Russian Consular fee, plus your passport and a self addressed stamped envelope which as a package is sent to the nearest Russian Federation Consulate and a week later you have a full passport page sticker in your passport that allows you to explore alone in Russia without the requirement of being with registered excurion company's guide.
It gives a lot of options but the best option is to just stay for an extended time and fly home from St Petersburg.;>)

Have a great visit
Stan