I hope you enjoyed my recent posts on St Petersburg to start off this Russian series. In this post I am going to be covering how to do the Helsinki to St Petersburg ferry visa free journey. Covering everything from how to book the ferry tickets and for those wanting an answer to ‘how long is ferry from Helsinki to St Petersburg’ to prices and what to expect around the rules for the 72 hours Russian visa while visiting St Petersburg then this post is for you!
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- 1 Travelling From Helsinki To St Petersburg By Ferry Visa Free
- 2 How To Book Ferry From Helsinki to St Petersburg
- 3 Helsinki To St Petersburg Ferry Time / Ferry Duration
- 4 St Petersburg Ferry Terminal Heading Back To Helsinki – (Leaving Russia)
- 5 The Russian SendOff At The Ferry Terminal In St Petersburg
Travelling From Helsinki To St Petersburg By Ferry Visa Free
The ferry trips from Helsinki to St Petersburg leave from the city twice a week and visiting St Petersburg is not as completed as I thought it would be even thought I did have a bit of a glitch but I put that down to the type of passport I have. Hello, fellow African passport holders! #TheStruggleIsReal. I will come to that in a second. So visiting St Petersburg visa-free is as easy as buying a ferry ticket and boarding the cruise liner run by St Petersline to qualify for Helsinki to St Petersburg ferry visa.
Also, note that this is the only cruise line you can travel with to qualify for the 72-hour visa-free. For example, you cannot use the train from Helsinki to St Petersburg to qualify for the 72-hour visa. For that, you have to go through the whole visa application and 10-year history long-winded application that I just didn’t have time for, considering I am well used to applying for visa travelling with a Zambia passport. #AintNoBodyGotTimeForThat. In saying that you will need to have a Schengen visa to even be able to travel to Russia on the 72-hour visa if you would normally need a visa to travel into the EU. If you hold a European passport or a passport that doesn’t require a visa to visit the EU or Finland specifically then you can travel to St Petersburg as you would need to have a visa or hold a passport allowing you the return journey into an EU country in this case Finland.
Checking In For Departure In Helsinki And Getting To The Ferry Terminal
You need to come with your booking printouts to check in at the Helsinki ferry terminal. Compared to the return journey from St Petersburg, the checking in at Helsinki involves major queues to check in as there isn’t much flexibility on when you can get on board the cruise ship. I don’t know whether it was whether there are just a few check-in winds or the fact that it was just a slow day but we were in the queue for what seemed like forever. You then collect your boarding pass before going through passport control even though at check-in your passport and ferry ticket are checked.
Getting to the ferry terminal is also easy as there is a tram just outside Helsinki central station which stops right outside the ferry terminal. We came in straight from the airport and took the train from the airport to Helsinki and then the tram. The whole journey is super easy. I had to change my plans around to do St Petersburg immediately after arriving in Helsinki before the cruise leaves on specific days which also meant that you also need to factor in plans like seeing a Russian ballet in St Petersburg.
Food and Entertainment on the boat: We tried out a cafe and a restaurant which offered basic menus and nothing to sing home about. However, they made up during breakfast as that offered a wind range of selection. I actually thought I had taken more pictures of these but perhaps I was too hungry to left up my Nikon. They offered the usual selection as well as a buffet area and an area to order eggs/omlettes to your preference. There are a couple of bars, a small casino, spa and duty-free.
St Petersburg 72 Hour Visa Free Rules And Cruise Disembarkment
The journey itself is an overnight ferry from Helsinki to St Petersburg and as with any visa situations/arrangement you still have to be prepared with details of where you will be staying during your visit whether you are travelling visa free or one way to Russia. The 72-hour visa-free ferry from Helsinki to St Petersburg Russia also provides the option to stay on the cruise liner during the night in which case you have to be back by a certain time every day of the 3 days in St Petersburg. For those like myself choosing to stay in the city, you need to have your accommodation details with your at immigration just in case you are asked. In addition to that you also need to add a city bus tour to your ticket to qualify for the 72-hour visa. You can do this easily when buying your ticket.
If you have a passport from outside the EU then prepare for additional questions and if you have an African passport prepare for even more questions. I noticed I was one of 3 black people on the board at immigration and one out of all with an African passport so, of course, I knew I was going to be the ‘center of attraction’. Which also meant I was the last one to leave immigration because of course, I had to be asked about what I was doing in Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia(I assumed they thought I was some sort of drug smuggler or something.) So I left them to get on with the questions, at one point I had to wait for some supervisor to take pictures of me and ask more questions. They had no idea this is the norm for me and I wasn’t about to put a hissy fit that the Swedish lady next to me pulled, which saw her butt match back to the cruise line as her entrance into Russia was denied. By this time I everyone had gone and husband had already gone through as we mistakenly used two different booths which were right next to each other. After what I assume was a little research or probably starting a file on me on the Russian database I was allowed in. This all probably took 40mins, maybe an hour. Then I was FREE!!
Rules of disembarkment on the cruise line. Even though you are arriving into Russia at 9am, having left Finland at 7pm the night before, you cannot leave the boat until 2 pm. You also have to return by 2pm on the day of departure. Below is a picture of the timings and what is available on the ferry.
How To Book Ferry From Helsinki to St Petersburg
The 72-hour visa is operated via the St. Peters line ferry from Helsinki to St Petersburg and needs to be booked through the St Peter line website. The site will prompt you if your details fall over the 72-hour visa rules when searching your dates. To read more about the rules of the visa-free rule check out their page here.
Helsinki st Petersburg Ferry timetable
You have a couple of options for the ferry trip from Helsinki to St Petersburg. We travelled on the Wednesday arriving on Thursday and leaving St Peterburg on a Sunday evening. There are other options for a one day trip where you can leave on Friday which only gives you Thursday to explore. For some of these arrangements, it also means you get to leave the boat almost as soon as you arrive. If you are on the 720hour visa then you have to hang around the boat and leave at 2pm. Also before you leave the boat to get to immigration your ticket I think passport (if I remember correctly) is checked to make sure you qualify to leave earlier. I am not really sure how or which ticket qualifies you to leave earlier but certainly Russian returning home from Helsinki get to disembark as soon as you arrive.
Below are the times of the ferry trips from Helsinki to St Petersburg. Also notice that you can do this trip from Tallin or Sweden but it means you will have to have a day in Finland before getting to Russia.
- Helsinki(on Wednesday) – St.Petersburg – 1 night in St.Petersburg (possible to stay overnight onboard or in the hotel) – Helsinki
- Helsinki(on Wednesday) – St.Petersburg – 3 nights in St.Petersburg (passengers must have the hotel reservation) – Helsinki (arrival time on Monday at 07:30) or Tallinn (arrival time on Monday at 12:30) or Stockholm (arrival time on Tuesday at 09:30)
- Arrival day THURSDAY – passengers can disembark from the ship only from 14:00 – 15:00 (local time).
- Departure day SUNDAY – passengers have to embark strictly from 12:00 – 13:30 (local time).
- Helsinki(on Saturday) – St.Petersburg (day in St.Petersburg) – Helsinki (arrival time on Monday at 07:30) or Tallinn (arrival time on Monday at 12:30) or Stockholm (arrival time on Tuesday at 09:30)
- Helsinki/Tallinn – Stockholm – Helsinki – St.Petersburg ( 1 night in St.Petersbourg, possible to stay overnight onboard or in the hotel) – Helsinki.
|Saint Petersburg overnight*|
Helsinki To St Petersburg Ferry Prices
The ticket prices for the ferry trip from Helsinki to St Petersburg will vary depending on the type of cabin you choose. We paid 308 Euros for a 2-bed cabin as all doubles had sold out. The cabin came with a shower and toilet. Cruises are not my preferred mode of travel but I did, however, appreciate not having to share a bathroom/shower with other guests as that was something that isn’t as clear on the St Peterline website when buying ferry tickets.
We had a cabin that was inside the boat or the middle of the boat so no windows. I am a little claustrophobic but it wasn’t too bad I guess. So just bear that in mind and book your tickets earlier. The prices may also be more if you are travelling from Tallin or Sweden as it means you need the cabin a lot longer than our 3 days. When you are booking it does show you where the room is on the boat in terms of level on the boat, outer or inner cabin and all that jazz.
Helsinki To St Petersburg Ferry Time / Ferry Duration
The ferry is overnight so the duration of the ferry from Helsinki to St Petersburg is about 14 hours before factoring in the wait time to disembark on the 72-hour visa rules. You can also travel on the 4-day cruise that do Helsinki to Helsinki. This does Helsinki, St Petersburgh, Tallin, Stockholm and then back to Helsinki but you only spend about a day in each country. Prices range from about 290 Euros and up. So I don’t think you can do a fast ferry fHelsinkiinki to St Petersburg without having to get a prearranged visa in which case you might as well fly or take the train which are a lot faster!
St Petersburg Ferry Terminal Heading Back To Helsinki – (Leaving Russia)
As I mentioned above there are strict rules around disembarkment and check-in in for departure(see timetable image above). If you are on the 72-hour visa you need to be back on the boat by 2pm. Considering my entry into Russia I wasn’t about to have them turn me upside down with more loony questions about being late so we left our Marriott Hotel in St Petersburg and took an Uber to St Petersburg cruise port terminal. Having checking and boarded the board this was straightforward. We then had to wait until 6pm before the boat left…but the Russians did put on a show for us…see below. Once we got on board we had wait about an hour before having access to our room again. We had the same room we checked into when leaving Helsinki.
The Russian SendOff At The Ferry Terminal In St Petersburg
I dont know if they do this for every cruise leaving Russian but we certainly were not going to complain! We had a series of F-16s (I think) doing stunts right past our cruise line which kind of reminded me of the airshow we watched in Eastbourne, UK. Off course everyone rushed to the top deck to witness the commotion and a demonstration of Russian might and technology…It was a nice touch to end a great 3 days in St Petersburg.
So have your travelled by ferry from Helsinki Finland to St Petersburg Russia before? What was your experience?
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