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The Stokes  
#1 Posted : Sunday, August 7, 2016 3:57:11 PM(UTC)
The Stokes

Posts: 3

We are going the end of Sept. 2016. A few questions for previous travelers.
1. Do you need to pay tips in rubles or will they accept US $.
2. Are ATM's available by the port or should we use one in the airport on arrival (St. Petersburg)?
3. Is there a grocery store nearby to pick up some things?
4. Do you know the cost of getting laundry done on the ship?
5. Is there many "local guides" or does the main tour guide handle most of the excursions?

Any additional advice (optional tours - we usually do all), what to be sure to bring, etc.

Thank you in advance for any help, advice or suggestions. This is our 4th tour with Gate 1 and have been impressed with all of them!

The Stokes
2016 Israel and Jordan
2015 India and Nepal
2013Cambodia and Vietnam Nam
#2 Posted : Thursday, August 11, 2016 10:04:23 PM(UTC)

Posts: 16

I did this tour in Aug 2015. There are numerous ports, but it's possible to get to grocery stores, particularly in Moscow and St Petersburg. You'll want to buy 1-2 gallon or half gallon bottles of water and then refill those you have. Equivalent of 50 cents each in these sizes. Some also bought wine. FYI There was only one elec plug in each cabin. Re washing clothes. We did hand washing in the bathroom. It would be a good idea to bring several plastic hangers and clothespins so you could hang your stuff to dry.
Tipping is in Rubles and the expect you to tip EVERYONE. They actually requested that each of us tip the crew the equivalent of $100, plus extra for persons who did a particularly good job. Our tour manager gave some to the tours but for Catherine's Palace, Hermitage, et al we had an excellent and very professional guide. For most of these we paid extra and then they expected a tip in addition. One of the "extras" was a dance/musical performance in Moscow for abt $65. Since I arrived early, I went on my own for $30 (all tickets the same price)...It's OK if you're interested in spending a couple of hours watching dancers in elaborate costumes but performances really had little to do with the history or culture.
Re ATMs...I suggest you open an account with Fidelity and/or Charles Schwab ...It won't cost a cent to open or to withdraw funds round the world. First you open an investment acct (on the phone or online) and once its opened, you open a checking acct. Neither requires a deposit. However, if you deposit at least $50 in the checking acct, you'll get an ATM card and some checks and then will be able to withdraw funds. I have both so I have a backup if there is a problem with an ATM.
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Shirley in San Diego

Shirley in San Diego
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