As a follow on from the following question: Do I need a visa if I go with a cruise line to St. Petersburg? What are the different options/what is required to organize a cruise from Helsinki to St Petersburg?
Its not clear whether I can:
Purchase a return trip and organize my own accommodation in St Petersburg. Or would I only be allowed to stay on the Ferry?
Purchase a cruise package and stay presumably stay on the Ferry (would I be able to stay in St Petersburg with this option?)
Purchase one of the few hotel packages which I'm guessing includes the cruise and hotels.
What are the differences between these (in terms of paper work and things I need to organize) if I simply want to visit St Petersburg for 72 hours? Are there any alternatives?
I've found another site which has a nice booking section:
This seems to imply you have to book a hotel with the tour company. This company allows you to book a place on the Princess Maria Ferry Boat which is run by St Peter Line anyway.
According to the FAQ we need proof of hotel and tour shuttle and officially you are not meant to explore by yourself but stay with the tour bus group
Do I need a Russian Visa? No, a Russian Visa is not required if: – Your stay in St. Petersburg is no longer than 72 hours* – You book a return ferry and a shuttle bus tickets** through Tour de Force – You carry your passport, ferry and shuttle bus tickets at all times while you are in St. Petersburg – You are not traveling with a vehicle.
If we arrive without visa do we sleep on the ship while in St. Petersburg, or do we need to book a hotel? If you stay in St Petersburg overnight you will need to book a hotel as the ship runs between St. Petersburg and Helsinki every day.