St Petersburg - Ballet or Canal Boat Ride or Neither? Opinions???

ajgardner

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jun 27, 2012
I’m finalizing my itinerary for St Petersburg with the tour group (private customized tour). We will be having dinner and thought we would go for a boat ride on the canals and river after. But now we are feeling like we should see a ballet (The Nutcracker) while in Russia. Our family is not really a major theater loving group and have never been to a ballet, so we have no idea if we would love it or hate it (especially concerned about 13 year old son). We aren’t able to do both a boat ride and the ballet, so it’s one or the other. Or, just go back to the ship and get a good sleep. Any recommendations or thoughts from experiences?
 

FSU Girl

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 20, 2016
Have you taken your son to any type of theater? Like musicals or plays? The 13 year old boys I’ve known would have hated a ballet, but only you know if your son might. I personally would love to see the ballet. Their ballets are famous and I’m sure will be the best you’ll see. But it’s a lot of dancing and classical music with little to no speaking. It’s not for everyone. I’m sure the boat ride at night will be really nice.
 

ajgardner

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jun 27, 2012
Have you taken your son to any type of theater? Like musicals or plays? The 13 year old boys I’ve known would have hated a ballet, but only you know if your son might. I personally would love to see the ballet. Their ballets are famous and I’m sure will be the best you’ll see. But it’s a lot of dancing and classical music with little to no speaking. It’s not for everyone. I’m sure the boat ride at night will be really nice.
He’s been to couple broadway plays - but they were Disney ones (Alladin and Lion King). He loves the shows onboard the ships, but part of that appeal is that they aren’t overly long. He shrugs when I ask him his opinion, so not much help. I just feel like seeing The a Nutcracker in Russia is a once in a lifetime type thing, but I am not even sure I can handle 3 hours at the ballet!
 
  • jdb in AZ

    It could end up curdled
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2011
    The Nutcracker is very kid friendly, and the ballet school in St. Petersburg is top notch. I would definitely recommend the ballet. The ship is a lot more fun than a canal boat anyway.
     

    hrhdhd

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 9, 2010
    I'd probably do the boat ride. Or maybe you can visit the Faberge Museum in the evening. I know some private tours do that.
     

    Karin1984

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 5, 2012
    I was used to musical theater, went to see as many shows as I could. I was in my late teens/early twenties when I saw my first ballet, Giselle. And for a large part of the performance I thought: Is no one going to sing, or speak? At all? :P

    I saw the Nutcracker last year in Copenhagen in Tivoli, it is a child friendly story, about 2 hours with an intermission, but I am not sure if I would do it with a 13 year old. I would look at some footage on youtube (of this ballet or others) to see if it would interest him for that long.

    Whatever you do, don't confuse the Nutcracker ballet with the Disney movie The Nutcracker and the four Realms. Some elements are the same, but mostly there are different stories.
     
  • flowsoul

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 29, 2019
    I think your son would enjoy the Nutcracker. Ballet shows in Russia are really exceptional and definitely a must-see. I don't think you can really substitute a ballet show with a canal boat ride.
     

    aggiedog

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 13, 2012
    So, I love ballet, danced for years and years until graduation and then off and on as an adult. Two of my daughters danced until they graduated HS.

    I'd do the canal ride, to see SPB from a different perspective. My 13yo son would be bored to tears, and you will all be tired by evening if your SPB private tour is anything like ours. We chose to go out to a late dinner, and by the time we got back to the ship at 10:00, were all exhausted. If I'd had to sit in a dark theater, I'd've probably had a hard time staying awake. You could also ask your tour company for suggestions if you want to add something short to the canal ride. We added a stop to the Cat Museum for our daytime tour, as a nod to my cat loving daughter.
     

    nancipants

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 18, 2013
    I went to St. Petersburg 10 years ago and did a three-day tour. One of the add-ons through the cruise line was an excursion to the ballet at night. My then-husband refused to go and I didn't want to go without him. Not seeing the ballet in Russia is one of my biggest regrets. I'm not sure how the canal tour would be at night; we did one during the day and it was nice but not overly memorable.
     

    julesthecircusfreak

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Oct 27, 2012
    I would recommend the boat tour. St. Petersberg lit up at night should be stunning. I also always love getting acquainted to a city with a boat tour! Not the ballet. Unless you know for a fact that it's a reputable Russian ballet company.

    We did a tour including ballet and a dinner with Disney (their own excursions), so not the private route- but I'll share my experience with you anyway. We were on the first Northern European Capitals cruise and did the excursion at night where we were given dinner and then went to the ballet- it was Swan Lake. We were super excited (seeing a ballet and Swan Lake even in Russia!!!), but it was a huge let down. None of the dancers were synchronized- the dancing was not the notch you would expect it to be at. We also had a very poor dinner- but it sounds like this is a part you're fine on.

    Granted, this may all be because it was Disney's literal first time doing this cruise and therefore this excursion, but I just wanted to give you what my experience had been with this trip. Hopefully others can give you better, more recent insight. I hope and expect that our bad experience was just because they were still working out the kinks. Again, a private tour may offer something completely different to this- I have no idea.

    That being said, overall, our experience in St. Petersberg was absolutely amazing! We did only Disney excursions because we figured with being in Russia and everything it would be easier. The other excursion we did (although I do not remember the name) went to St. Catherine's Palace (highly highly recommend- one of the most amazing places I have been to; they have an entire room made out of amber!). We also went to the Hermitage, although I can't remember if this was a separate excursion or combined. The Hermitage I believe is either the 2nd or the 3rd largest museum in the world (1st of course being the Louvre). It has an amazing collection.
     
  • TikiThunderPirates

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 7, 2018
    Suggestion, have your son watch some youtube clips of Nutcracker ballets..... last time I checked there were even some from Russia, including the entire 3 hours. You both can get a grasp on if he may like it.

    Side question, did you have to go through the process to get the visitor visa for Russia since your not using DCL or does booking a private tour cover the need for the visa like it does when booking through DCL?
     

    DahliaRW

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 17, 2008
    Suggestion, have your son watch some youtube clips of Nutcracker ballets..... last time I checked there were even some from Russia, including the entire 3 hours. You both can get a grasp on if he may like it.

    Side question, did you have to go through the process to get the visitor visa for Russia since your not using DCL or does booking a private tour cover the need for the visa like it does when booking through DCL?
    I can answer that (even though I'm not the OP). If you book with a licensed tour company they take care of the visa. It's very easy and a whole lot less expensive. The company will send you the paperwork you need to go through customs at the port. You do need to stay with a guide the entire time you are in SPB. The entire cruise DCL will try to scare you into booking with them, but you do not need to. We used SPB tours and did a private tour for our family only and it was FANTASTIC! We spent less for 2 very full days of touring with our own guide, driver, and van than two half day DCL excursions would have been for our family.
     

    pixiedustedme

    Planning is half the fun
    Joined
    Mar 4, 2019
    My son is 14 and would prefer the ballet to a touristy canal boat ride. I agree with you that the Russian ballet (esp. the Nutcracker, given that Russia is its country of origin), is once in a lifetime and should not be missed. Your son will probably always remember it in a positive way.
     
    Last edited:

    ajgardner

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 27, 2012
    Thank you everyone! We are still undecided but will watch some clips on you tube, look over the itinerary for everything else and have a family discussion about preferences.
     

    kiford

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2012
    I really love ballet and had seasons tickets locally for a few years when I was younger. However, I figured while I may not necessarily get a chance to see a Russian ballet troupe at home (although there are occasional visits), I'm never going to have a chance to see the canals and river unless I'm there and I may never be there again. So we did the boat tour (7-10 pm) and I'm really glad we did. It gave you a real sense for how important the canals and river were (from a historical perspective) and you get great views of the major buildings of the city.
     

    GPaLarry

    Have earned one ear!
    Joined
    Jun 28, 2016
    We experienced this cruise a couple of years ago and, when in St. Petersburg through DCL, visited Catherine's palace, the Hermitage and, one evening, a ballet performance, (Swan Lake in the theater where it was performed for the first time). Our grandkids are into dance, from hip hop to ballet, so we have seen a lot of it on the amateur level. The Russian performance was truly awesome, so precise and magical...no amateurs. However, it is an acquired taste and not for everyone, no matter what the age. The river cruise might be more to your liking, from the sound of your notes. In any case, there is history around every corner there, some good, some bad, almost all beautiful...take a camera for sure. Make note of the comments above if you want to book your excursion(s) though an outside vendor...a visa is required, etc. Russia is a country of contrasts that should be seen and heard...the day to day people make it a real.
     

    CruiseTraveler7

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 22, 2019
    We chose the canal ride at night. It was part of our customized tour with a local agency anastasia.travel. We decided for the ride instead of the ballet because it was only me and my husband and we thought the canal ride would be more romantic. And it was just beautiful! Hopefully we get a chance to visit St.Petersburg again and go to a ballet as well. Because going to ballet in St.Petersburg is also a must!
     

    ajgardner

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 27, 2012
    We chose the canal ride at night. It was part of our customized tour with a local agency anastasia.travel. We decided for the ride instead of the ballet because it was only me and my husband and we thought the canal ride would be more romantic. And it was just beautiful! Hopefully we get a chance to visit St.Petersburg again and go to a ballet as well. Because going to ballet in St.Petersburg is also a must!
    We are also using Anastasia travel. Do you recall about what time you did the canal ride and if it was dark? That’s part of our decision indecisiveness, we would like to see the city all lit up at night, but know that it doesn’t get dark until later...
     

    Connect

    Disney News and Updates

    Daily Updates and News


    Book your Disney Cruise through Dreams Unlimited Travel and receive a Shipboard Credit and an Exclusive Gift Basket!



    CASTAWAY CAY PHOTOS

    DECK PLANS


    STATEROOMS


    ITINERARIES




    Top