No. of Recommendations: 3
Great trip... Great crew, we enjoyed it all..

When you arrive in St Petersburg, there was a mass rush at the immigration area, and we were unclear whether there were lines (no), we did see some little 5x5 sheets, but didn't know wee needed them. they are divided in two parts, you need to fill in both halves, all the same information, I think it was residence, stay length, departure dat, passport number, maybe contact info, in our cast it was Viking..

We missed that we needed the form, joined the crowd, gradually working our way to the agent.. She, in turn told us, yes, we needed it, spoke no English, but made the requirement clear.. OK, back to the back of the room, found the forms, and luckily there was a Portuguese family also having to fill in the form, and explained what went where a couple times.. If you do the left half, simpler to fill in the right. Then back in line, we tried to stay to the right, and eventually made it back to the window. this time she took it, kept half, checked passports, and gave it back.. But again, no further instructions. The Viking Crew met us just outside, loaded our baggage, and off we went...

Much later as we were ready to leave in Moscow, we found out, yes we need that second half. DW couldn't find hers.. Well, play dumb, go for it.. But at the last minute we did find it, and all was well.. I think they would have been OK without it, but best not to gamble... So a bit of and adventure late in the day long after leaving SFO...

Viking had a dinner waiting for us aboard the ship, the Helgi, and while we dined, the luggage was moved to our rooms... I think we turned our passports over as we came aboard, typical of most hotels anywhere.. I go them back somewhere along the trip, kept them in the safe or on our person, just in case... Getting separated, no papers not a good idea... We always had photocopies of out passport main page as well as copies of our credit cards, separate from the little card case I use.. Again, just in case they are lost....

Constantine our hotel manager was great, actually the whole hotel crew, helpful, handy.. Tatiana,our guide for most tours, excellent, open to discuss anything, historical, political, daily life, family life, the hardships, the lack of men! (She is a divorced, single Mom, grown son) Good sense of humor, doing her job, but obviously caring about all of us... The other guides, were similar, different, and in various areas, villages there were local guides to carry the day...

WiFi, yes, we happened to be near the front desk, and likely near the wifi system, but it was all over the ship, I had brought a laptop, but really only for backup of my photos, after a bit I never bothered to set it up. I used our iPhones in Airport mode, but with wifi ON, easily catching emails, Facebook all through the trip. If I had it to do again, I'd have left the laptop home. If I went again, I'd get a WiFi iPad, many folks had, used them. I helped a few get set up the early days.. I'd have to see how to use it or something as a backup for my Nikon DSLR photos, though.. I think there's a Camera Kit...

There were one or two dressier dinners, but 90% or more it was just simple casual dress, I didn't bring a dress jacket, just some nicer shirts, DW a nice dress or two.. I rolled though a half dozen other shirts, comfy, plus a light raincoat.. Ship has umbrellas as needed...

Passport Service, definitely, the online forms and help line make it happen..

enjoy!

weco
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