St. Petersburg, RUSSIA – - Can you honestly believe it??? We visited Russia for a three-day stay without a visa and didn’t get arrested. Way back in the BC (Before Kids) days when I visited Russia for work-related reasons, it took me days to obtain a visa, even weeks. Yet this past week when the kids and I visited Russia, we didn’t even need a visa of any kind. Really.
Nowadays, if folks enter Russia via a cruise ship operator, you don’t need a visa. That is, you don’t need one if you sign-up a few weeks in advance for one of the cruise-operated field excursion trips, such as the ones the kids and I signed up for. Next time you think of visiting Russia, consider the idea of saving on visa fees and visiting the country via cruise ship.
At first, I was a bit worried, even confused, by the idea of entering Russia without a visa, but I contacted our American Embassy in Moscow via their website and all my questions and initial concerns were quickly resolved. Needless to say, I highly recommend consulting our American embassies abroad when in doubt about international law and customs, especially when traveling with kids in tow. The resources and top-notch information the embassies can provide to fellow American travelers can be crucial to your comfort and even your well-being in a foreign country.
If you decide to travel via a cruise ship and enjoy their off-shore excursions, the only downside that I see is that the price point might run on the high side. However, the cruise ship excursions solve transportation issues and provide someone at your side who speaks the local language—invaluable advantages that can be complicated and time-consuming if you’re organizing a trip on your own.
In the long run, my family and I decided to remain with our cruise company’s off-shore tour operator, and we’re glad we did. I bet you will be too, especially in this exciting corner of the world.