While St. Petersburg is enjoying with e-visas which seem to have been effective in attracting tourists during low season, there is an uncleared question as to how to use it in cruise business. Is it allowed to use this one-entry visa for multiple entries or not?
As we reported, if you a citizen of one of these 53 countries, you can fill in an application on the website of the Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in four days get a right to come into Russia. An e-visa gives you a right for one entry into the country and a stay for up to eight days within St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region.
It would be reasonable to assume that this will make the life of dozens of thousands of cruise passengers arriving to St. Petersburg much easier. This year the St. Petersburg passenger cruise port Morskoy Facade (Sea Facade) will see nearly 645,000 visitors, many of them are from the European Union and other countries whose citizens are eligible for an e-visa.
But there is one issue which makes thing look not so easy, and that’s why:
— most cruise ships (almost all vessels) come to St. Petersburg for two or even three days. Just because to let the passengers to see all the major landmarks, including Peterhof and the Tsarskoe Selo located in the suburbs;
— the e-visa is an one-entry visa. See what we mean? When you come ashore, you cross a border. As you have a right to cross the border for only one time, it’s logical that with an e-visa you must come ashore and stay here in a hotel for your whole stay or confine yourself with only one day in the city.
But Russia is not a country where a logic and regulations work properly. We heard what professional guides say about the situation and learned that Russian Frontier Guards at the Sea Facade sometimes let people with one-entry visas go back and forth, and sometimes not. What does it depend on? Not on regulations, but solely on how a guard which checks your passport sees it.
How come there is no a unified approach to this important issue? Well, that’s how things often work in Russia.
So, what to do if you are a cruise passenger and have a right to an e-visa and want to use it when visiting St. Petersburg with you cruise tour?
You have four options:
— first of all, follow our website. We hope this issue will be cleared up, so we will report it immediately. Next navigation starts in late April 2020, so all the parties have enough time to finally sort it out;
— if not, then it’s reasonable to book a hotel and stay there for two or three days;
— quit the idea of getting an e-visa, book a shore tour with a cruise line or an independent local travel company (but consider this important thing) or just a guide to get a right for a 72-hour visa free stay in Russia:
— get a «traditional» Russian multiple-entry visa, though it’s rather complicated and costly.
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.