Peter, A group of friends and I are considering a trip to Russia, among other spots, on a cruise ship in the near future. Do we need a visa, and exactly what does that entail? How would we go about getting one, or would the cruise line take care of that for us?
–C.M., Gainesville, Va.
The general rule for visiting Russian ports of call is that you can do it without a visa, provided you have a valid passport and the port stop doesn't exceed 72 hours. Your shore excursions must be escorted or supervised by an authorized tour company, and you cannot stay overnight on land. Virtually all cruise-ship companies stopping in Russia ensure that passengers meet these requirements, so you won’t need to arrange a visa in advance.