We were once again with TJ Travel for the day. Our second day in St Petersburg started with a river cruise. Then we went to the Hermitage for a long look at the art galleries inside then a walk to cross the Nevsky Prospect. Before we went for lunch we went on the underground and to get there we rode down the deepest escalator in the world.
From RCI Port Information:
“All onboard is set for 5:30 PM on 30th June
Ship will dock at Marine Facade, located at approximately 30 minutes from the city center. There is a local bus #158, every half an hour, which will transport you to the nearest metro station Primorskaya, only a few rubles. Take the metro to Gostiny Dvor / Nevsky Prospekt, the city center. No Shuttles are available in this port.
Guests must have a Royal Caribbean Shore Excursion or privately arranged tour in order to go ashore. All guests will be processed by Russian Immigration both going ashore and coming back onboard.”
Our first cruise on Royal Caribbean took us to Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Stockholm, Skagen, Stavanger and back to Southampton.
Day 8 Sunday 30th June: Saint Petersburg Russia
We had an early start for our second day in St Petersburg as it was another full day with TJ Travel. After looking at the daily bulletin we realised that the Windjammer Buffet would not be open for me to go up and grab food to eat back in our room. We called our friends to double check that they were up and about and they warned us about the lack of open restaurants.
Once dressed, we headed down to Deck 5 and the Royal Promenade. We could see a mass of people outside the cafe at the opposite end of the parade. As we walked closer we could see 50 or more people jostling in a loose queue for the food counter and a shorter queue for the coffee service. All the tables around the cafe were taken and had piles of discarded plates food and cups in the centre of them.
Once in the queue the mood of the fellow passengers was not that of a happy bunch. As we neared the counter we could hear passengers shouting insults at the crew. This morning there was no menu posted and we watched as the food in the displays was rapidly vanishing. Then we heard the explanation that there were no more Danish pastries, no more sandwiches and that all the small packets of cereals had now gone.
The nearer the counter, the more the jostling increased, not helped by fellow passengers pushing in from the much shorter coffee queue. The lack of Danish pastries or cereals was really upsetting the passenger in front of us. After a short shouting match, the server suggested a sausage and egg roll instead. After a few more rounds of complaints he took the roll. This was too good an offer so I asked for one too, when my turn came.
The fried egg and sausages may have been cold but they were better than nothing. All around us we could hear lots of complaints to the crew or to anyone who would listen. At 7.15 am a ship’s officer shouted over the crowd that the Windjammer Buffet had been opened early.
The impending departure time for tours and all the delays also added to the stress as I’m munched my way through the cold breakfast roll. Around us, we watched lots of food being abandoned as passengers dashed to catch their tours. What a waste.
We met up with our friends at Reception and headed down below to leave Explorer.
Off the ship and to our river cruise
This morning there were no ship’s officers stopping us from leaving and we were soon in a much shorter queue at Immigration. We were quickly through and outside looking for Svetlana to begin our final day in St Petersburg. Outside in the car park we waited for our coach to arrive – we were out much earlier than planned much to our surprise.
This was the day of the St Petersburg marathon and Svetlana explained that getting to the boat for our scheduled river cruise would not be easy because of all the closed roads. Valeri did his best, once in the city by driving down closed roads which had no police. But one block away from the boat he had to turn back and go around a different way.
We were dropped off at the next street and walked through the road blocks to wait by a small jetty.
A man was preparing a motor boat, taking down the awning and stowing boxes and bags. Further down the canal we could see the river cruise boat also been prepared. While we waited more TJ travel groups joined us on the slope down towards the dock. The motor boat moved away as the river cruise boat began to reverse back up the canal to the dock. The emblem on the stern was an interesting take on a whale.