Am I being overcharged for a driver in St Petersburg ?

I’VE PAID IN ADVANCE FOR A CRUISE FROM ST PETERSBURG TO MOSCOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT OFFER. THE TRAVEL AGENT SUGGESTED A CAR FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE PORT. THIS WILL COST $266 FOR CAR WITH DRIVER AND ENGLISH-SPEAKING GUIDE. A CAR WITHOUT THE GUIDE WOULD BE $120. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS, AND OBTAINING CURRENCY?

The car fee does seem expensive but according to Jayne Thomas of Sydney’s Eastern Europe Travel , the pricier option means you’ll be met at the  airport in St Petersburg, right off the plane, by an English-speaking guide, who will ensure that the driver will take you directly to the vessel on which you are booked. The cheaper option means that you will be dropped of at the port by your non-English-speaking driver, but not necessarily right at your vessel, and there might be several at the wharf. You can also take a taxi for a much lower price but this is not something I’d recommend. You really don’t want to be trying to communicate with a driver who barely speaks English, and trying to find your vessel, especially at the end of a long flight from Australia.

You can safely use ATMs to access whatever cash you need. Most cards will charge a currency conversion fee, which is usually about 2-3 per cent. A couple that do not are the Citibank Plus Visa Debit Card  and the 28 Degrees Platinum MasterCard .

This question and answer first appeared in The Tripologist column of Fairfax’s Traveller. Read more at www.traveller.com.au




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