Almost all cruise ships dock in St. Petersburg in the Marine Façade, a newly built terminal, established back in 2008. Read our post to get informed on how to get from the cruise port to the center of St. Petersburg, disembarkation rules, visa free stay for 72 hours and what you can see in case you have only one day here.
What’s My Terminal In St. Petersburg?
There are two sea passenger terminals in St. Petersburg, both located on the Vasilievsky island not very far from each other, which can get you a bit confused.
• The Sea Façade, serving cruise ships. That’s the one this post is about.
• The sea passenger terminal Morskoy Vokzal. Its address: ploshad Morskoy Slavy, 1 (1, square of Sea Glory). It serves the ferry Princess Anastasia operated by Moby SPL.
Some cruise ships also dock at the Angliyskaya (the English) and Leitenanta Shmidta (the Lieutenant Shmidt’s) embankments in the very center of the city.
If you are not sure where your ship docks in St. Petersburg, then check it out the schedule of the Marine Façade or leave a comment below the post.
Facilities, Address, Location And Transport From The Sea Façade To Center
Address of the Sea Façade: 1 Bereg Nevskoy gubi V.O., St. Petersburg, 199405 Russia
Contact: email@example.com, phone: +78123036740
Facilities. There are souvenir and duty-free shops, ATMs, vending machines, cafes, a taxi desk, an information desk inside each of port’s four terminal buildings.
Terminal No 1. also has a tourist information center which opens after arrival of ships, Terminal No 3. – a post-office and a café of Russian cuisine.
How to get to the city center from the Marine Façade
There are two options here if you don’t book a guided tour and get picked up by a travel company or an individual guide.
Two taxi companies are officially accredited by the port to work within its territory: Leon and Presto Car. You can book them at taxi desk. Their tariffs for 2018 are not known yet, but we don’t think they will be much different from usual rates of other companies. On an average, taking taxi from the Marine Façade to the Hermitage with an English-speaking driver costs about 500 rubles ($9).
City bus route №158 connects the port and the nearest subway station Primorskaya. Bus stops are opposite each of the four terminals. Intervals are about 30 minutes, travel time is 15 minutes. You have to do two things:
• Withdraw some cash from an ATM to pay for a bus ticket (40 rubles per one ride);
• Come out of your terminal and wait for the bus. If you’re not sure which direction you should take (there are two stops near the terminals in different directions), inquire at an information desk available 24/7.
The stop at Primorskaya station is the last one on the route, so you’ll not miss it. The bus stop is just a few meters from the subway. Buy a ticket at a subway’s ticket office, we’d recommend you a Podorozhnik card as the most convenient and simple travel card serving as an electronic wallet: you some money on it and then pay with it at any transport mode (including commercial mini buses, or “marshrutkas” within the city).
From Primorskaya you go to Gostiny dvor subway station (just 15 minutes including elevators), that’s located in the very center of the city, on the Nevsky avenue. From Gostiny dvor, it takes 15 — 20 minutes to get to the Hermitage on foot (or 10 minutes by bus or trolleybus).
Shore Excursions In St. Petersburg
There are two options to book shore excursions in St. Petersburg:
• From the companies authorized by cruise lines. You can book them at any moment on board.
• From the companies which are not authorized by cruise lines, but which have contracts with the Marine Façade.
At the moment, more than one hundred travel agencies have contracts with the port, and only five of them work with cruise lines.
Is there any difference here? Regarding the quality of the tours, no. Regarding the prices, yes. Regarding the speed of disembarking, it depends on traffic. On busy days, those who bought from the authorized travel agencies disembark first with the rest being forced to wait at least one and a half hour. This rule is applied only on busy days, but the forecast for the season 2018 assumes that nearly all days will be some overcrowded.
Some Important Rules For 72-Hour Visa Free Stay In Russia
All cruise and ferry passengers have a right to stay in Russia for up to 72 hours without obtaining a Russian visa (which is a rather difficult process for many nationalities).
A couple of very important moments here:
• You cannot go on your own without a visa. You must book a shore excursion and stay “within of a tour route”.
• Such a tour must be booked a few days prior to your arrival as it takes some time for your guide to inform authorities and get permission and all papers needed. Not that it’s a complicated process with secret service agents scrutinizing your profile and reading all your messages in social networks about Vladimir Putin, but it requires time for approval anyway.
Here is a very useful tip. Suppose, you don’t spend much time for seeing museums and other sightseeings as you like to stroll in a city’s streets on your own (just like many travelers, including us, do). What to do in such a case? That’s simple: you book a guide, he picks you up at the port, takes you to where you want (wherever you want, not what your booked program says), then tell him: “Hey, block, have a couple of hours (or more), go drink a cup of coffee, while we will be walking”. Then after you’ve finished he takes you back to a ship. Nobody will check where you really had gone and what you had done while being in St. Petersburg if you return in time.
In case you have a Russian visa, things get much easier, but there are some pitfalls here. One of them is a single-entry visa. Such a visa gives you a right to disembark your ship for one time only what can be a problem if your vessel docks for two or three days here. So, you disembark, go seeing landmarks and museums, then come back to the ship (i. e. cross the border), and that’s it, you’re stuck onboard. Of course, as a cruise passenger you have a right to a visa free stay up to 72 hours, but you must book a tour (see information above) which is likely to be impossible due to limited time.
If you are not eligible for the e-visa, you need to obtain a traditional visa. For this you will need a Russian invitation letter applying to a Russian embassy or a consulate.
Photo credit: website of the Sea Façade