Last Updated on April 7, 2019 by Irena Domingo
If you travel to Russia on a cruise ship (or take a river cruise) and you need an invitation letter to process your visa to Russia, there are different authorized Russian tour operators that will allow you to obtain the letter of invitation in 5 minutes. In this post I’ll explain how to do it.
I'm going to talk about ...
- 1. Arriving in Russia on a cruise (to St. Petersburg or other Russian ports)
- 2. Traveling on a river cruise through Russia
- 3. How to get the invitation to Russia if you travel on a maritime or river cruise?
1. Arriving in Russia on a cruise (to St. Petersburg or other Russian ports)
More than 600,000 tourists a year visit St. Petersburg on a cruise. To these should be added those who arrive by cruise to other Russian ports such as Kaliningrad, Sochi, Vyborg or Vladivostok. If you travel to Russia on a cruise, you do not need a visa to enter the country if you meet the following conditions:
- If you’re going to be in town for a maximum period of 72 hours and you are spending the night on the boat.
- If you are visiting the city with an authorized guided tour, who will accompany you at all times on your visit to the city. This means that from the moment you leave the boat in the morning (usually around 9:00 am) until you return to it (about 5:00 pm), you have to follow the scheduled time and you won’t have the opportunity to visit the city on your own.
- If the port of entry to Russia is one of the following: Anadyr, Kaliningrad, Korsakov, Novorossiysk, Murmansk, Sevastopol, Sochi, Saint Petersburg (Big port Saint Petersburg and Passenger Port of St. Petersburg), Vladivostok, Vyborg and Zarubino.
The easiest way is to hire a guided tour. However, if you want to be completely free to move around St. Petersburg (or other cities), enjoy the city at night (especially during the time of white nights) or take the Sapsan train to reach Moscow in 4 hours and visit the Russian capital, the best option is to apply for a visa, which will probably mean a lower expense than hiring guided tours.
2. Traveling on a river cruise through Russia
In addition to passengers arriving in Russia on a cruise, there are also many tourists who travel by cruise on the Volga River between Moscow and St. Petersburg or between Moscow and Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Saratov or Volgograd.
To take these river cruises it is compulsory to process the Russian visa and obtain a letter of invitation, specifying the main cities in which you will be. Below I also explain how to do it.
3. How to get the invitation to Russia if you travel on a maritime or river cruise?
Getting an invitation letter or visa support to Russia, if you travel on a cruise, is as simple as getting it if you stay in hotels.
Cruises do not issue tourist invitations. Only authorized hotels or Russian tour operators can issue tourist invitation letters.
However, if you want to get the invitation letter in 5 minutes in PDF format ready to print, it is best to request it directly from one of these authorized Russian tour operators, which I quote below.
Below I’ll explain step by step how to do it with a real example. It’s easy.
Step 1. Book your cruise
Obviously the first thing will be to book your cruise. Once the reservation is made, you should look at only one piece of information: the name of your cruise ship.
Here is a list of the main cruise companies arriving in St. Petersburg between April and October 2019:
- AIDA Cruises (Germany). Ships: AIDAcara, AIDAdiva, AIDAmar, AIDAprima, AIDAluna.
- MSC Cruises (Italy-Switzerland). Ships: MSC Meraviglia, MSC Poesia.
- Costa Cruises (Italiy). Ships: Costa Magica, Costa Pacifica.
- Norwegian Cruise Line (USA). Ships: Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Spirit.
- P&O Cruises (UK). Ships: Arcadia, Aurora, Azura.
- Olsen Cruise Lines (Norway). Ships: Balmoral.
- Royal Caribbean (Norway). Ships: Brilliance of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Explorer ot the Seas.
- Celebrity Cruises (Greece). Ships: Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Reflection.
- Cruise & Maritime Voyages (UK). Ships: Columbus, Magellan, Vasco da Gama.
- Marella Cruises – TUI UK (UK). Ships: Marella Explorer, Mein Schiff 1 NEW, Mein Schiff 3, Mein Schiff 4.
- Ocean Cruises (USA). Ships: Marina.
- Holland Amercia Line (USA). Ships: Nieuw Statendam, Rotterdam,
- Cunard Line (USA). Ships: Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth.
- Princess Cuises (USA). Ships: Regal Princess, Sapphire Princess, Pacific Princess.
- Saga Cruises (UK). Ships: Saga Sapphire.
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises (USA). Ships: Seven Seas Explorer.
- Viking Ocean Cruises (Switzerland). Ships: Viking Jupiter, Viking Sky, Viking Sun, Viking Sea.
- Pullmantur (Spain). Ships: Zenith.
- Disney Cruise Line (USA). Ships: Disney Magic.
- Seabourn Cruise Line (USA). Ships: Seabourn Ovation.
- Hapag-Lloyd Cruises (Germany). Ships: Europa 2.
If you are traveling on a river cruise along the Volga River, you will probably travel on one of the following cruises:
- Vodohod Russian River Cruises (Russia). Ships: Mustai Katim, Mstislav Rostropovich, Sankt-Peterburg, Kronshtadt, Nizhny Novgorod, Nikolay Chernishevsky, Lev Tolstoy, Konstantin Fedin, Zosima Shashkov, Russ, Georgy Chicherin.
- Volga Dream River Cruise (Russia). Ships: MS Volga Dream.
- Uniworld River Cruise (USA). Ships: River Victoria.
- Viking River Cruise (Switzerland). Ships: Viking Akun, Viking Helgi, Viking Ingvar, Viking Truvor, Viking Rurik.
Step 2. Fill in the invitation letter request form
I have requested letters of invitation to Russia from many hotels and from different Russian tour operators. The cheapest and fastest way (5 minutes) to obtain a tourist invitation voucher is through one of these three Russian tour operators, which allow you to get the invitation in PDF format ready to print (choose the one you prefer):
When filling out the invitation letter request form, in the “Hotel” field, you must specify the name of your cruise ship, as follows:
- City: Saint-Petersburg
- Hotel: Regal Princess Cruise Ship
Even if your ship stays two or three days in the port of St. Petersburg, you must choose “single entry”.
For example, the iVisa form would be filled in as follows:
If you travel by boat on the Volga River with stops in several cities, when filling out the form you must specify the main cities and the name of your cruise ship (and, if it is the case, the names of the hotels in which you will stay in Moscow and St. Petersburg). For example:
- City: Moscow / Hotel: Moscow Marriott Royal Aurora
- City: Uglich / Hotel: Volga Dream River Cruise
- City: Goritsy village / Hotel: Volga Dream River Cruise
- City: Yaroslavl / Hotel: Volga Dream River Cruise
- City: Saint-Petersburg / Hotel: Kempinski Hotel Moika 22
Step 3. Download the invitation
After filling out and making the payment of the invitation you can download the invitation in PDF format ready to print. The name of your cruise will be reflected in the invitation. Below you can see a real example of an iVisa invitation letter for passengers of the Regal Princess cruise ship who have processed a tourist visa:
In the example of invitation letter (also called visa support letter or tourist confirmation document) I indicate the 4 data you will need to fill out the visa application form::
- Name of organization: Visa Service, LLC
- Address: Leninsky Avenue 153 А office 706 St Petersburg 196247
- Reference number: 015681
- Confirmation number: 15108 (note that this number differs in each invitation or visa support).
Another example of an invitation letter for travelers on a river cruise on the Volga River (with the Volga Dream Cruise) is as follows:
Step 4. Fill out the application form
There are two types of application forms: a longer one for UK, USA, Canadian, Australian and Georgian nationals, and a shorter one for the rest of the countries.
The application form for UK, USA, Canadian, Australian and Georgian nationals, which is filled out through this link, would be as follows:
- In the “Travel company” section you will have to indicate the information of the authorized agency that invites you (in the example, Visa Service LLC).
- In the “Hotel” section you will have to indicate the name of your cruise ship, the telephone number of the cruise company and the address of the port of Saint Petersburg to which you will arrive: “1 Bereg Nevskoy gubi V.O., St. Petersburg, 199405 Russia – Passenger Port”.
The application form for the rest of nationalities (Indian, European, Chinese, Japanese, etc), which is filled out through this link, would be as follows:
As you can see, in this application form it is not necessary to indicate the name of your cruise ship, only the information of the authorized agency that invites you (in the example, Visa Service LLC) and the cities that you will visit.
You can find a more detailed explanation on how to apply for the visa to Russia is in this article: How to obtain a Russian Visa in an easy and cost-effective way.
If you travel on a cruise to Russia or if you take a river cruise on the Volga, I hope this article has been useful, so you can get your invitation letter quickly and economically. Thanks for reading me