St. Peter Line Cruise: the No-Russian-Visa Way to Visit St. Petersburg

  • 01 of 06

    St. Peter Line Cruises: the No-Visa Visit to Russia

    ••• M/S Princess Maria of St. Peter Line, the no-visa route to St. Petersburg, Russia. © St. Peter Line.

    St. Peter Line in a Nutshell:

    St. Peter Line is a cruise ship line whose home port is magnificent St. Petersburg, Russia. The line's two deluxe ships look like cruise ships but act like ferries. They transport passengers on one-night-long cruises to and from St. Petersburg.

    St. Peter Line's two cruise ships connect St. Petersburg with other Baltic Sea port cities. These include Stockholm (Sweden), Helsinki (Finland), and Tallinn (Estonia). Ships dock close to or right in the center of town.

    Fares are available both one-way and round-trip. Passengers can come from one port to St. Petersburg and return to another, a convenient way for travelers to experience the Baltic's beautiful cities.

    St. Peter Line ships are appointed like cruise ships. They offer numerous restaurants, bars, a casino, duty-free store, gym, wi-fi, kids' club and babysitters. The ships' tourism and concierge pros efficiently arrange St. Petersburg tours and excursions. (Many passengers will have...MORE already booked hotel rooms with St. Peter Line tourism partners in St. Petersburg.)

    The Best Reason to Take St. Peter Line Cruise Ships:

    St. Peter Line's two ships provide secure and enjoyable journeys across the Baltic Sea. The ships observe the highest standards of safety and maintenance. They are well-appointed, with comfortable cabins, enjoyable restaurants and bars, a dazzling dance show, and a casino.

    But the best reason to take St. Peter Line to St. Petersburg, Russia, is logistical: if you arrive by ship in St. Petersburg, you do not need a Russian visa for stays under three days (72 hours).

    Explanation: ordinarily, travel to Russia requires a visa for citizens of every other country, except a few former Soviet republics. And obtaining a Russian visa is your basic visa nightmare. The process is devilishly complicated, time-consuming, expensive, and slow. And you can avoid it if you come by ship and stay under three days. (To stay longer, some St. Peter Line passengers depart St. Petersburg and sail back again.)

    Another condition applies to no-Russian-visa visits via St. Peter Line. Your hotel must supply you with a voucher showing that you have reserved a room. This step is relatively simple.

    Another condition may apply, requiring the purchase of a St. Petersburg tourism bus ticket. Check with your booking agent. (More no-visa info can be found on St. Peter Line's website.)

    Recommended Hotels in St. Petersburg, Russia:

    See a luxury cabin on no-Russian-visa ships to St. Petersburg >>

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  • 02 of 06

    St. Peter Line Cruise Ships & Cabins

    ••• Deluxe Cabin aboard M/S Princess Maria, a St. Peter Line cruise ship. © St. Peter Line.

    The Ships of St. Peter Line:

    St. Peter line operates two sparkling, impeccably maintained ships that ply Eastern Europe's Baltic Sea. These deluxe ships operate like ferries to and from St. Petersburg, Russia, and passengers can bring their cars. But these vessels are closer to cruise ships in design and amenities.

    St. Peter Line's ships are Princess Maria and Princess Anastasia. Their port of registry is Valletta, Malta.

    Princess Maria:

    • Was built in Finland in 1980
    • Was extensively renovated in Denmark in 2010
    • Is 552 feet long and 92 feet wide
    • Has a capacity of 1,762 passengers
    • Contains 606 passenger cabins
    • Can hold 395 cars belowdecks

    Princess Anastasia:

    • Was built in Finland in 1986
    • Was extensively renovated in Lithuania in 2011
    • Is 581 feet long and 93 feet wide
    • Has a capacity of 2,500 passengers
    • Contains 834 passenger cabins
    • Can hold 580 cars belowdecks

    Cabins and Staterooms Aboard St. Peter Line Cruise Ships:

    St. Peter Line passengers have a wide choice of cabins and staterooms. Deluxe Cabins ...MOREare the luxury-travel pick aboard St. Peter Line.

    Deluxe Cabins are spacious and well appointed (if not the last word in sumptuous décor). They are air-conditioned, and their picture windows afford enchanting views of the Baltic Sea, its coastline, and its islands.

    Deluxe Cabins feature a large living room with ample seating, a dining table, plasma TV, minibar, and fresh fruit basket.

    The bedroom offers an inviting and comfortable queen bed with reading lamps. A closet has hanging space, drawers, a safe, and full-length mirror. The cabin's entrance vestibule has additional space to hang clothes and stow luggage.

    The Deluxe Cabin's silver-and-white bathroom has a separate shower stall, hairdryer, L’Occitane toiletries, robe, and one-time-use slippers.

    Deluxe Cabins offer this opulent Russian gesture: a Champagne and caviar breakfast is included in the fare.

    Wi-fi is free throughout the ships, but the signal is strongest in a central lounge area, which is outfitted with plenty of cushy chairs.

    St. Peter Line cabins are non-smoking, but passengers can light up in certain venues aboard.

    Check out the tempting restaurants aboard St. Peter Line cruise ships >>

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  • 03 of 06

    Dining on St. Peter Line Cruises

    ••• Expect culinary discoveries in Explorers Restaurant aboard St. Peter Line ship M/S Princess Maria. © St. Peter Line

    Dining Aboard St. Peter Line:

    Dining is a high point of a St. Peter Line journey, with numerous, high-quality dining options on each ship.

    Explorers serves a la carte breakfast and dinner. Diners can expect top-notch French, Italian, and Scandinavian cuisine, with an accent on fresh seafood. Explorers presents a good opportunity to try Russian dishes. You'll find tasty specialties such as pelmeni dumplings and borscht.

    Seven Seas restaurant is an excellent buffet that serves breakfast and dinner, with an early and later seating.

    Seven Seas dinners begin with a vast appetizer selection strong on salads, fresh seafood, and all manner of Baltic herring (smoked, brined, pickled, spiced). Entrees include tender roast beef, salmon, turkey, chicken, and pork dishes. Dessert brings a cheese assortment and a vast selection of cakes, ice cream, and fruit concoctions.

    Sicily restaurant on St. Peter Line's Princess Anastasia ship serves pan-Italian dishes. Anticipate Tuscan-style grilled lamb,...MORE Neapolitan red-sauced pastas, and Venetian seafood risotto. The wine list is strong on Italian vintages including Nero d'Avola from the restaurant's namesake island.

    Troika restaurant on Princess Anastasia focuses on Russian dishes. The Russian chef's creations range from hearty (like pork loin with potato croquettes) to elegant (such as blini with caviar). Naturally, Troika's vodka selection is impressive.

    Further dining possibilities aboard St. Peter Line ships include Bake & Coffee Café and Kampai Sushi Bar, featuring ultra-fresh Baltic fish.

    Find about the beautiful dancers & casino aboard St. Peter Line cruise ships >>

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  • 04 of 06

    Entertainment, Nightclub, & Casino on St. Peter Line Cruise Ships

    ••• You'll be thoroughly entertained on a St. Peter Line cruise to St. Petersburg, Russia. © St. Peter Line.

    Entertainment Aboard St. Peter Line:

    A stage show aboard a cruise ship is not a surprise. But it is a pleasant surprise to encounter a show of the quality of St. Peter Line's productions. Passengers are urged to check out the nightly show after dinner.

    The production is a variety show. There are a couple of musical acts with a jazz saxophonist and a sultry chanteuse. But the show is mainly ensemble dances.

    This is amazingly high-caliber dancing – or not so amazing, considering that ballet's historical hub is St. Petersburg, the ships' home port. A troupe of a dozen professional dancers, mainly female, perform various numbers alluringly clad as Gypsies, harem girls, flappers, disco dollies, and so on.

    A dance floor beckons passengers to kick up their heels. Many do.

    St. Peter Line's onboard show is not to be missed. Admission is free and seating comfortable. VIP seating, drinks, and snacks carry a charge.

    Casino Aboard St. Peter Line Ships:

    The onboard Nemo Casino is a popular...MORE shipboard pastime. The casino opens after dinner, and the roulette wheel spins till the last gambler departs.

    Nemo Casino tempts with both slot machines and table games. (Blackjack seems to have a devoted following.) Chips are bought and cashed out in Euros, and there's an exchange window.

    What else can you do aboard a St. Peter Line cruise ship >>

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  • 05 of 06

    Duty-free Shopping, Fitness, & Other Activities Aboard St. Peter Line Ships

    ••• M/S Princess Anastasia pampers passengers on their no-Russian-visa journey to St. Petersburg. © St. Peter Line.

    Duty-Free Shopping and Other Things to Do Aboard St. Peter Line Ships:

    St. Peter Line ships offer cruise-ship-style activities and options beyond dining and entertainment:

    • Several shipboard bars, a cigar lounge, an after-hours club, and a sushi lounge
    • Open-air decks for taking in the scenery and fresh Baltic air
    • Free wi-fi and a comfortable lounge
    • A small gym with cardio machines and free weights
    • A small swimming pool, hot tub, and coed sauna, with locker rooms
    • A movie theater screening classic and new films in three showings nightly; the first is for kids (and includes babysitting). A modest fee applies to all shows
    • An inviting kids' club done in crayon colors, with attentive staffers
    • On Princess Anastasia, Kivach Aqua Spa for Russian-style face and body rejuvenation

    Duty-free Shopping Aboard St. Peter Line

    St. Peter Line ships offer duty-free stores as big as in many airports. These onboard duty-free stores feature:

    • A vast selection of vodka, from Russia and all over the Baltic
    • Other liquor...MORE such as Scotch, wine, and Baltic specialties (Aquavit, anyone?)
    • Many brands of cigarettes
    • European makeup and perfume
    • Candy and snacks, many gift-packaged
    • Toys and souvenirs
    • Jewelry, apparel, carry-on luggage
    • Convenience items such as toothpaste, batteries, etc.

    Connect with St. Peter Line & plan your no-Russian-visa trip to St. Petersburg >>

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  • 06 of 06

    Planning Your No-Russian-Visa Cruise to St. Petersburg Aboard St. Peter Line

    ••• On deck aboard Princess Anastasia, cruise ship to St. Petersburg, Russia. © St. Peter Line.

    Where to Get Information and Tickets for St. Peter Line

     

    As is common in the travel industry, the Luxury Travel Expert was provided with a complimentary cruise for the purpose of describing it. While this arrangement has not influenced her article, About.com believes in editorial transparency. For details, see our site's Ethics Policy.