Payment Details

For shore excursions We kindly ask our guests to make a pre-payment of 20% of the total negotiated tour price via PayPal at least 1 month before their arrival date to St Petersburg. On your e-mail you will receive PayPal invoice which can be paid with your card (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX).

The rest of the negotiated total tour price may be paid only by cash (Roubles, USD, EURO) on the second day of your tour with us. You can prepare the money in advance or make a stop to withdraw necessary amount from the ATM when coming back to the ship after 1st day tour.

Unfortunately currently we don’t accept offline payments by cards. If you want to pay only by card the tour price will be 7% higher.

What you see is what you pay! We do not add any additional fees or levies on top of the tour price you see. The prices you see on our website are all-inclusive gross prices which cover all travel services, port and government dues such as visa-processing paperwork, taxes, port access charges, etc.

We do not charge any extra fee for credit card payments! All credit card payments are processed based on the official Central Bank of Russia exchange rate on the date of transaction. You are advised to use a credit card without a separate foreign currency translation fee.

While it is advisable to have some Russian currency for small incidentals (did you know that some museums charge money to use their bathroom facilities?), usually it is not a problem to get Rubles from one of the many ATMs located in the area

Gratuities are not included in the tour price. Our guides and drivers are experienced travel industry professionals and the amount of tips you may wish to leave should be consistent with Western standards. Our recommended amount is 10% of the tour cost for the guide and 5% for the driver, paid separately. Gratuities will not be included in the credit card invoice so please have some cash with you (USD, EUR or RUB) for this purpose.

Due to extremely high demand for premium venues such as the Mariinsky Theater, tickets must be secured as soon as they go on sale (usually 4 to 6 weeks prior to show date). We will advise you on available tickets and their prices to get your approval before charging your credit card. Please do not leave such decisions to arrival date as it is virtually impossible to buy good seats on the performance day!

If you organize a group of 10 people and more, 1 person from this group receives 50% discount from the announced price per person. For children of 6 y. o. and under participating in any tour is free. In our car we will place a special baby seat upon your request. All children of 7+ y. o. & students will receive $15 USD discount or more (depends on tour). Seniors of 60+ y.o. will receive $20 USD discount.

Booking & Cancellation

To book a cruise shore excursion please head over to our Why Us page and follow online instructions provided there. You will need to answer a few simple questions about your desired tour as well as provide your personal information to allow us to process your Tour Tickets. You will also be offered an option to prepay any amount towards your tour and get a discount commensurate with the amount of such prepayment.

10 business days (2 weeks) prior to your arrival in port. This time is required to process the necessary paperwork to arrange your visa-free entry into Russia.

As we would need to be in receipt of personal information for all group members at least 2 weeks prior to tour start date, unfortunately it is not possible to add new guests you meet aboard the ship.

If you wish to cancel our arrangements, we kindly ask you to notify us as soon as possible by sending an e-mail to mail@ithorosho.com. We can only accept written notices of cancellation. Please don’t leave any voice messages with cancellations.

In case of cancellation no later than 2 weeks in advance before the tour date we refund 90% from the deposit amount (the rest 10% were charged by PayPal as commission). In case of cancellation within 2 weeks before the tour date 90% of the deposit sum can be refunded only if there were no expenses to buy entrance tickets to the museums. For example, we have to buy skip-the-line tickets to the Catherine Palace 1 month in advance before the tour. If they had been already purchased and you decided to cancel our arrangements, we will have to deduct amount spent on tickets from the sum which will be refunded.

There are NO REFUNDS on museum, theatre, opera & folk show tickets if they were already purchased. In this case they become non-refundable at all. We simply will not be able to receive money back according to the terms & conditions of theaters and organizers of the folk show. Usually we buy all tickets to the shows at least 1 week in advance before your tour. We will send you photos or scans of tickets to confirm that they were already purchased. So, if cancelled 1 week before the tour date – 100% refund for tickets; if cancelled less than 1 week before the tour – no refund.

If you cancel after receiving the Blanket Visas (Tour Tickets) we will have to void them on the same day of receiving cancellation notice. You will no longer be able to leave the port of St Petersburg using them.

We will do FULL REFUND if your ship doesn’t dock in the port of St Petersburg at all.

Shore Tours Details

Upon booking a tour with us, you will be receiving either a Tour Ticket (for cruise ship passengers) or a Travel Voucher (for all other guests).

Tour Ticket serves as your entry ticket into Russia which you will present to the immigration officer at point of entry in lieu of visa. No need to worry – we will inform the Russian authorities about your entry into Russia before your arrival and going trough immigration will be a breeze!

Travel Voucher is our official confirmation letter of the travel services you will receive.

Ship Clearance:

It takes approximately 30 to 60 min to clear your ship once it touches its berth in St. Petersburg Port. From the moment the ship is cleared the disembarkation process will begin.

Disembarkation Process:

To disembark from the ship you will need to present the following documents to the Russian immigration official:

Valid Tour Ticket (which you will have received from us upon booking your tour)
Original passport
Photocopy of the passport’s photo page
Meeting Your Guide:

Your tour guide will waiting for you with a sign bearing your name a few meters away from the immigration control point. In case you have difficulty finding your guide please call personal tour manager number or send a quick message from your phone. We have never lost a single client and for sure will be expecting you on the pier on your arrival day!

Many of our past clients reported receiving false information from cruise line personnel regarding private tours. Usually, the story goes 2 ways:

Myth #1: Denied entry to Russia

The claim is that the tour tickets provided by us are NOT a legitimate substitue for visas and “for sure” these tickets holders will not be allowed to go ashore in St. Petersburg.

Upon boarding the ship you may hear things like ” What company? What tour ticket? Sorry but this flimsy piece of paper will NOT get you into Russia. You’d better hurry and sign up for cruise ship tours – unless you want to be stuck on the ship while your fellow cruisers are enjoying St. Petersburg. And do it right now – tomorrow it may well be too late!”

Myth #2: Delayed disembarkation from the ship

Another cruise line’s favourite is a claim that independent tour participants can ONLY leave the ship after the ship organized tour groups have gone ashore. Often 9:30am or even 10:00am are offered as the earliest time private tour guests can start leaving the ship “due to the latest communication received from the St. Petersburg Port Authorities” or simply because “earlier disembarkation by independent tourists causes major delays for ship organized tours.”

Yet, despite these and other similar scare tactics stories we have never had a client who was refused entry to Russia. All our clients with valid tour tickets have gone ashore with no problem!

Your best course of action if faced with a similar communication from the ship is to be prepared.

Please remember the following:

1. Your cruise ship DOES NOT exercise control over your entry into Russia. Only the Russian Immigration Service has such powers under the Russian Law and no commercial cruise line was ever granted the right to decide who can enter Russia and who cannot.

2. Once we send your personal details to the Russian Immigration Service and you get our Tour Tickets, your names will be entered into the Russian Immigration Database so your arrival will not be a surprise to anyone ashore. In fact, the Immigration Service will be expecting you and your disembarkation will be swift.

3. It is not 1986 and there is no Big Brother aboard the ship. Your decision to retain independent tour services does not make you a second-class citizen and so you are free to leave the ship as soon as it clears (usually 30-60 minutes from the moment it docks).

See Visa Section for more information.

Leave your worries behind – Your tour guide is waiting for you on the pier!

Gratuities are not included in the tour price. Our guides and drivers are experienced travel industry professionals and the amount of tips you may wish to leave should be consistent with Western standards. Our recommended amount is 10% of the tour cost for the guide and 5% for the driver, paid separately. Gratuities will not be included in the credit card invoice so please have some cash with you (USD, EUR or RUB) for this purpose.

In very rare cases (we can only remember a handful in over 15 years!) your ship may be moved to a pier which is different from the originally scheduled one. This may happen due to your original pier being unexpectedly unable to receive new ships. In such circumstances we will act quickly and re-direct our tour team to meet you at the correct location. As one of the very few tour companies having full clearance to arrange visa-free disembarkation in Russia, we have the necessary systems in place to monitor docking schedule of all ships in the St. Petersburg Harbour and you are guaranteed we will not miss your ship! Similarly on our departure day – we will get you back to your ship satisfied, safe and on time!
If you are unable to participate in our tour because your ship misses the port altogether, we will offer a refund.

Certain sights and activities on our tour itineraries are listed as either “Optional” or “Upon Request”. “Optional” activities require advance booking and usually entail a separate fee (e.g. Gold Rooms at the Hermitage Museum, private or public boat ride, etc.). “Upon Request” items are free of charge and can be accommodated by merely discussing this with your tour guide while on a tour.

Terms & Conditions

In the event of unforeseen changes to the itinerary (caused by a museum being off-limits due to official delegation’s arrival or an emergency situation) we will do the best we can to offer a comparable replacement to fill your time with good experience. If you decide to skip a museum or other sight with already pre-paid admissions, we will not be able to refund the cost of such admission as it is not refundable to us.

Most museums in Russia charge a separate fee for the interior picture taking and video shooting. Depending on the museum and type of your equipment, the charge may vary from $3 to $12.

Our tour prices include the cost of such “photo permits” and allow usage of 1 camera per couple or a solo traveler in all museums but the Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg (where it costs $5 extra per camera). Please note that video shooting is not provisioned for in our tour calculation and should be paid for extra. If you wish to shoot video inside museums please notify us in advance of your arrival and we will make the necessary arrangement beforehand (so as to ensure quickest entry into museums with no delays).

All our vehicles are clean, Western made (Mercedes, Audi, Setra, Volvo, etc.), air-conditioned and in perfect mechanical condition with all safety features in place. All cars, buses and vans are insured and undergo regular mechanical compliance tests. No smoking is allowed inside our vehicles.

Available vehicle sizes: Sedan (1-2 persons), van (3-6 persons), mini-bus (7-10 persons), medium bus (11-16 persons), large bus (17-25 persons), jumbo bus (26-42).

All drivers undergo regular health tests. Some of them speak English and will be happy to keep an eye on your belongings while you are inside museums.

URGENT VEHICLE REPLACEMENT GUARANTEE:

In the unlikely event of a mechanical failure or a traffic accident, we will arrange for a replacement vehicle or get a taxi for the remainder of your tour day at no cost to you.

The vehicle choice will depend on your exact location and the time we find out about the need to replace the vehicle – if within 3 hours of your ship’s departure your best bet is getting a cab ride back to the ship.

We can arrange child seats for those traveling with infants, toddlers and small kids. Please be sure to send your request in advance to ensure availability.

Please note that while we do not offer a wheelchair rental service, sometimes it is possible to get a wheelchair at major museums when you arrive (like the Hermitage, for example). In this case the wheelchair is meant to be used while on a tour of that museum only and must be returned upon exiting the museum.

If you need to use a wheelchair for the entire duration of your tour, your best bet is to rent one from your cruise ship.

We regret that our tour guides are unable to push your wheelchair during the tour and you are strongly advised to either have your group members help you or, should you travel solo, request such assistance from your ship.

Meals are optional to give you the added flexibility to choose your preferred meal option.

Eat-on-the-go:

Bring your own packed lunch from the ship

Grab a snack:

Enjoy a quick lunch or a sandwich at one of the city bistros. Our tour guides can take you to authentic Russian eateries where you can enjoy real Russian food.

We recommend pirogi at the Stoll Bar, blini at Teremok and U Teschi Na Blinakh, soups and cakes at Shokoladnitsa, etc.

Price: $8-$16 per person.

Lunch reservation:

Savour the ultimate in Russian cuisine by pre-booking a table at the leading restaurants.

Price: $25-$80 per person (depending on your wine choice).

IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR TOUR GROUPS:

Tour groups of 10 people or more must reserve lunches in advance as it is impossible to eat quickly as a group by simply showing up at a restaurant as there may not be enough tables vacant.