Hello.

We are 2 adults and 2 children aged 11 and 13 who will be sailing on the Norwegian star to arrive in St Petersburg on 4 July at 8am and departing the next evening 5 July at 19:00. In our party are me, a 45 year old from USA who has been living and working in Switzerland since 2009, My two children ages 11 and 13, and my Boyfriend, a UK citizen from Wales.

The cruise lines are charging prices which seem unfair to walk around in St. Petersburg for the two days we are there. I am looking for another way, even though there is not much time before we arrive.

What is required to leave the ship and come ashore in St. Petersburg on your tours? We are interested in several, including the KGB tour which seems to have been canceled.

I am really excited to see Russia. As a girl, my school said silly things about the Russian people, but my Mother always told me people are people, wherever they are. Since living in Switzerland I have two Russian colleagues and 1 Russian friend outside work (and friends and colleagues from 20 other countries) and in my opinion, my mother was right and the school was wrong, people are people, perhaps with different perspectives. I would like to get to see the local perspective in St Petersburg, not some glossed over glitzy cruise ship tour.

If I am asking too soon before the trip, this is fine and I will see what I can arrange with the cruise line. I am also on a limited budget. Is it possible to get off the boat and explore the city without spending too much?