Many tour companies offer pretty much the same itinerary and price points. MaxiBalt doesn’t have as many online reviews as other well-known companies. What initially drew me to Maxibalt was it came from word-of-mouth recommendation from our travel agent; its website lists a variety of St Petersburg off-the-beaten-path special interest tours along with St Petersburg standard tour packages; and it has a North American toll-free number! The latter proved to be a key decision factor why we chose MaxiBalt.
I was pleasantly surprised when the owner of the company in St. Petersburg picked up the call in late evening Russian time. Alexei listened to my family’s interests & time/budget constraints, and quickly came up with suggestion of must-see attractions and explained why. To fit so many potential sights in a short 2 days and budget, I had to make trade-offs. Alexei’s insight on what some top attractions are really like helped me decide on the itinerary and which places to skip inside visit to save time and money.
Alexei patiently and promptly worked with us over multiple itinerary revisions, even adjusted the order based on ships in port on these 2 days to avoid crowd. Being able to directly talk to the owner of the tour company made all the difference, especially when it comes to things like payment options. I feel Alexei truly understood our needs and delivered a tailored tour for 4 that cost similar to a standard group tour.
Careful planning paid off. Alexei got us early entrance tickets to Hermitage. For the first hour at Hermitage, we were pretty much the only group in each room. It was wonderful to be alone in some of the grandest halls and in front of the most famous paintings at Hermitage. We got to Peterhoff in later afternoon, past the peak tourist hour.
Our St Petersburg guide Olga is quite knowledgeable about art and imperial history. She skillfully navigated us around the crowd. We never had to wait in line even when there were huge lineups of large groups. Our driver Vladimir is very courtesy and prompt. Whether our stop was cut short or delayed, Vladimir was right there when we were ready to leave.
I’d highly recommend Alexei and MaxiBalt to add a personal touch to your St. Petersburg tour experience. Thanks Alexei!