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Russia Travel Opportunity?
Old 12-16-2014, 09:33 PM   #1
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Russia Travel Opportunity?

There are obvious reasons why one may want to avoid Russia as a destination, but I wondered if they had any river cruises priced in rubles. Or maybe package deals. Just a thought, but its probably a pain to get visas and manage the logistics. But with the weak ruble, you could afford an experienced travel agent!
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Old 12-16-2014, 09:41 PM   #2
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There are obvious reasons why one may want to avoid Russia as a destination, but I wondered if they had any river cruises priced in rubles. Or maybe package deals. Just a thought, but its probably a pain to get visas and manage the logistics. But with the weak ruble, you could afford an experienced travel agent!
Aside from the obvious logistics and security issues, I doubt that Americans in Russia will be warmly received once the propaganda machine cranks up to 11. If you go, probably a good idea to bring your own food.
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Old 12-16-2014, 09:52 PM   #3
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If you go, change your name to Molotov Dzherzhinsky (or similar) and wear a big heavy coat!
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Old 12-17-2014, 06:32 AM   #4
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Aside from the obvious logistics and security issues, I doubt that Americans in Russia will be warmly received once the propaganda machine cranks up to 11. If you go, probably a good idea to bring your own food.
I can conjure a pretty good Canadian accent!
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Old 12-17-2014, 07:24 AM   #5
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been there, never again.
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Old 12-17-2014, 07:56 AM   #6
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I have never been to Russia. I have been to Ukraine which used to be part of USSR. I am never going back.
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Old 12-17-2014, 08:12 AM   #7
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We went to St. Petersburg in 2003 and loved it. Moscow didn't interest us as much and all the package tours included both, so I pretty much booked everything myself including getting visas.

Our feelings about going back now would be mixed. I wouldn't be concerned about safety and there were very good hotels and restaurants when we were there. I'd do some research to see if they're affected by scarcity of food or any other resources. The people who depend on tourism would probably be thrilled to see you. But hey, the Hermitage is still the Hermitage and the history is fascinating. Still, I wonder about one of the private guides we had, a brilliant philologist who loved answering our history-geek questions and took us to Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin) on a succession of subway trains and taxi vans run by Georgians where you passed your cash up to the front through a succession of hands and your change was returned the same way. My husband suspected he was gay, and a colleague who took us through the Hermitage later volunteered that "(Marco isn't exactly straight". I really wonder how he's faring under the current regime and that saddens me.
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Old 12-17-2014, 10:10 AM   #8
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We went on a river cruise (Moscow to St. Petersburg) - just short of 2 weeks - a few years ago. You would obviously not want to do one of these in the winter (nor would any be available.) We went on UniWorld although there are numerous companies that do essentially the same cruise. We enjoyed it very much - I had studied Russian very intensively years ago and spent a fair amount of time prior to the trip trying to regain long-dormant language skills.

We paid in US$. I'm sure there are ways to do cruises with Russian companies and pay in rubles but I would think you would then run into language problems as most of the passengers and crew would likely be Russian. (Although, a lot of educated Russians do speak English.)

If you go on a river cruise, you have to get individual visas which are expensive and a bit of a bureaucratic pain to obtain. Good news: when you are not on a group tour you can go places on your own. If you should go on a big ship cruise (like a Baltic cruise) where St. Petersburg is a stop, you will be covered by a blanket visa for the ship for the tours you go on. Good news: you don't have to obtain/pay for a visa. Bad news: you can't wander freely; you can just go on group tours. I don't know if the cruise companies will reduce their prices to take advantage of the falling ruble values. Food is obviously not a problem if you are on a cruise.

BTW, all river cruises in Russia are on Russian ships owned by one of several Russian companies. The ships, in turn, are leased to UniWorld, Viking, etc. Except for 3 - 5 managers from the UniWorld, etc., the crews are all Russian as the lease comes with a full crew. We found all the waiters, cabin attendants, etc. to be very friendly and very nice. Many of them were Russian college students on summer vacation who spoke excellent English. They were very good with me as I tried to use my Russian as much as possible. (The people who actually run the ship are, of course, not college students.)

We had some interaction with Russians off the ship and found most of them friendly but some more like what you've heard about Russians in the old Soviet era - stoic, not particularly friendly and not oriented toward customer service.

I would definitely make the trip again. St. Petersburg is far more impressive than Moscow although Moscow is definitely very interesting. The stops between the two give you a
taste of the country outside the major metropolitan areas.
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Old 12-17-2014, 11:32 AM   #9
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My favorite Russian, Barney Ruble, says OK, just don't try and buy a rocket engine while you're there.
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Russia Travel Opportunity?
Old 12-19-2014, 08:10 PM   #10
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Russia Travel Opportunity?

DH was in Russia for about a month this fall, and didn't have too many issues except for a few rowdy guys in various pubs trash talking the US and crowing about their "victory" in the Ukraine. He just acted like he couldn't understand them, which was mostly true, and they lost interest.

We both have the three year Russian visas, which are nice because it is a massive application you have to fill out online through the embassy. I doubt I will use mine again before it expires, but you never know.

He drove all the way from Ulan Ude to St Petersburg, and had no issues with any officials beyond the typical small bribe requests and a bit of trouble with his clean-cut passport photo compared to his "mountain man on a bender" actual appearance.


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Old 12-19-2014, 10:04 PM   #11
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We're going to Saint Petersburg as part of a Baltic cruise next June. Two days. I'm planning on booking two days of city tours/excursions through the cruise line company.


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Old 12-20-2014, 06:33 PM   #12
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Personally, there are lots of other places on earth to visit. I'd like things to settle down a bit before going to Russia.
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Old 12-21-2014, 01:29 PM   #13
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Heading to St. Petersburg in July for a week. Have spent a bit of time in Russia in the mid-2000s and much more in Ukraine - work related. Enjoyed the time very much and hope to spend some extended time in the Ukraine at some point.
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Old 12-21-2014, 02:22 PM   #14
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Russia Travel Opportunity?

6, we loved Odessa when we traveled through the Ukraine last year and hope to someday get back there for a longer visit.


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Old 12-21-2014, 03:20 PM   #15
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We're going to Saint Petersburg as part of a Baltic cruise next June. Two days. I'm planning on booking two days of city tours/excursions through the cruise line company.
We did a Baltic cruise 2 years ago and booked our tour through DenRus:
DenRus Ltd St Petersburg Shore Excursion "Complete St Petersburg"

We were pretty happy and the price was better than the ship's. TripAdvisor has a lot of reviews about DenRus which convinced us. While still a lot of people on our tour (24 or so), it was much fewer people than the cruise's tour. I'd do it again.
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Old 12-22-2014, 12:10 AM   #16
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I'll check out DenRus - thanks for forwarding...
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