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?

It seems that the main operator is St Peter Line and they have quite a lot of info on the visa free rule.

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?

Update 1

I've found another site which has a nice booking section:

Tour De Force

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.

Update 2

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.


First of all, want to note that @jpatokal is right and St. Peter line is really the only operator who serves the ships directly to St.Petersburg - please, review my old answer here:

Are there currently any international ferries that travel to Saint Petersburg, Russia?

Main principle for this kind of journey is that local authorities must know where are you all the 72 hours. So you can't easily go whenether you want - you must use the licensed operators for them to notify locals about your movements. This can be St.Peter line itself or some over tour operator or hotel which will transfer you to it. So you still have to use some kind of transport to get to your accomodation from port - you can't simply go out without any information about your route.

Purchase a return trip and organize my own accommodation in St Petersburg. Or would I only be allowed to stay on the Ferry?

No, you can get an accomodation, if it will be a licensed hotel - you have simply provide the vouncher on exit from 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?)

You can stay all the time on Ferry as the St.PeterLine is licensed operator to manage that situation. But you should note that, according to the law, all your moves should be provided to the local authorities before the ship arrival so you should make sure you got the documents you can go out of ferry.

Purchase one of the few hotel packages which I'm guessing includes the cruise and hotels.

As I've pointed out already, yes, you can do this, if you got all the documents with you (and I think you do :).

As for your question about the bus ticket, you should note that the bus St.Peter line is advertizing is the bus with a given route accross the city center, so, according the law, it is a group touristic trip, and you can use it without visa.

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At the end on Saint Isaac’s Square you can switch the transport to get to your hotel, you should just get the voucher to the hotel and return ticket to the bus. Also you can get on the City-Tour bus from there, and tickets for them are unlimited for hop-on/off count, which is very popular option to explore the city center.

PS: you should review some questions about Russian visas on our site - there a lot of advices you can find there. May be it's easily to get it instead of such restrictive trip.

PPS: all the rules about ferries and 72-hours are appling not only for St.-Petersburg, but for the:







You can see whole the document here(in Russian):


Welcome and good luck!

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My understanding is that St. Peter is the only currently operating scheduled operator, although there are irregular visits by the usual suspects (P&O, Princess etc). Russian immigration rules are notoriously opaque, but my understanding is as follows:

  1. The 72-hour visa-free entry is only available if booked as part of a package, stays over 24 hours require presenting a hotel voucher. So you need to book via a tour operator. Note that this doesn't necessarily have to be the cruise operator: any licensed tour operator is OK, so it should be possible to find a "tour" with a hotel to your liking.
  2. Yes, you can stay on board.
  3. Yes, you can use an approved hotel package.

If you find this restrictive, it's not particularly hard to arrange a Russian visa in Finland, almost any travel agency in Helsinki can sort this out for you (with plenty of advance notice, mind you). With a visa, you can travel by train at your pace, it's only 3.5 hours to St. Peter on the rather pleasant Allegro services.

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  • 1
    According to the St Peter's Line cruise, you need to carry your passport, ferry and shuttle bus tickets at all times. The shuttle bus ticket is supposed to ensure I don't go wondering around exploring the city myself. But am I able to just get the shuttle ticket and explore the city myself? without going on their tours? – EdmundYeung99 May 8 '14 at 20:25
  • +1 thanks for your answer which was helpful but I was looking for something more "complete" – EdmundYeung99 May 28 '14 at 9:25

I went from Heksinki to St Petersburg with my family and it was amazing - the ship just slid across - I didn't feel a wave - amazing food also - it seemed to take exactly 12 hours from 6 pm to 6am.All the Visa stuff was organised by the shipping company and a small tour bus for only English speakers met us and was driven by Ivan (surprise surprise !!) and the guide was Svetlana (surprise! again).
I fell asleep going past "the bronze-horseman" much to my dismay as I had not long before read the novel by this name. Most of the day was spent in the unbelievable Hermitage Museum. One needs another ten visits before you could see everything. I would also recommend taking the ferry to Tallinn in Estonia from Helsinki - only 3 hours across to see what was my first medieval village -beautiful - embarrassingly cheap lovely food and those in the know from Helsinki took a suitcase which I presume was filled with alcoholic beverages bought at a very low price!

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