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Radioactive in Russia

If a medical procedure ever causes you to run afoul with Russian security authorities, your Program Director is a very good friend to have.

Posted on 12/15/2015 12:47:00 PM in Traveler Insights

By Marion D., 5-time traveler from Tempe, AZ

Experienced travelers approach unexpected circumstances with good humor—but even the most flexible of us would be tested by an extended visit to Russian security at the port in St. Petersburg. Thanks to Marion D. for sharing this cautionary tale with a positive attitude—and for making Grand Circle aware of this potential side effect so we can warn future travelers. If you have advice for your fellow travelers, share it in an email to harriet@gct.com.

One doesn't expect to be detained by Russian security when traveling, to say the least! Nor does anyone expect a medical procedure, done over a month prior to traveling, will require a letter from medical professionals so a traveler can pass through security at a port call in St. Petersburg. Those two unconsidered possibilities collided during our recent Grand Baltic Sea Voyage Cruise Tour—and the result is a travel story which may last me for at least the next ten years! But, thanks to Evgenia Beralinova, our Grand Circle Program Director and a resident of St. Petersburg, I'm not telling the story while still sitting in Russia.

Over a month prior to our trip, I was given a radioactive pill in order to kill my malfunctioning thyroid. Unbeknownst to me, my doctor, or anyone at Grand Circle, the Russian government had lowered its radioactivity monitoring level—and anyone ringing the bell of that machine is stopped and held in security until they can prove why they are showing unacceptable levels of radioactivity. It was just my luck that I rang the bell in early August of 2015. Evgenia to the rescue!

It took well over an hour, with me sitting in a small metal chair and two or three Russian young women making phone calls up their bureaucratic chain of command, but Evgenia ultimately had me approved to leave and rejoin our tour. While I sat, and my husband paced, Evgenia had sent everyone else from the ship off on the tour of St. Petersburg. She then worked her magic with the security folks, called a taxi, and drove with us (providing us with our own specialized introductory tour to her hometown) to meet our group. She missed her own day off, and her only opportunity to visit her own mother, but she rescued me!

I cannot rave enough about Evgenia's professional reactions and solutions. However, what meant the most at the time was her caring: She kept my husband informed, she let me know where she was and what was happening, she dealt with this new-to-everyone situation with humor and courtesy, and she anticipated what needed to be done to put everything back on schedule. She deserves all the accolades we can give! I bless her and Grand Circle every time I tell this story.

Experience Grand Baltic Sea Voyage—without the optional stay in security—with Grand Circle Cruise Line. Program Director Marta Horsta, who you’ll meet in this video, would certainly come to your rescue in any unexpected situation.

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