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Russia Eyes Own Arctic Cruise Liners

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“The expedition cruises, including the Arctic, will become a trend. And we have already seen that this segment shows growth, faster than the rest of the cruise market, the tickets are commonly sold out six months ahead of the cruise departures,” Alexei Rakhmanov, president of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, Russias largest state-own shipbuilding company, said.

Rakhmanov was speaking at an Expert Council meeting under the State Duma Committee on shipbuilding industry and marine engineering and was quoted by PortNews.

“The Arctic expedition cruises are promising and significant for our country. I am sure that there will be customers for building vessels for such cruise,” he added.

United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) has now revealed three different designs for ice-classed cruise ships, named Almaz, Vimpler and Iceberg. The projects are currently in an initial phase.

Like several of the new-buildings sailing towards the Arctic in the years ahead, USCs ships target the well-paying luxury market with various onboard activities and a fleet of smaller crafts and helicopters for shore landings. Unlike the others, however, the Russian ships will have casinos in hope for boosting the return of investment, Kremlin-controlled RT reported.

With up to 350 passengers, the ships are in the upper-end of expedition cruise ships, but still medium-sized compared with the larger cruise ships sailing north to Svalbard with thousands of passengers.

Estimated building costs are up to $300 million each ship.

Franz Josef Land

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Russia wants more tourism up north and has recently opened its Arctic National Park for foreign cruise ships, including both Franz Josef Land and the northernmost tip of Novaya Zemlya.

This summer, the cruise liners Hurtigruten and Poseidon sail to Russias Arctic archipelago of Franz Josef Land. While Poseidon starts and ends its voyages in Longyearbyen, Hurtigruten sails from Tromsø via Murmansk to the Russian Arctic.

For Murmansk, which opened a brand-new cruise port in 2016 with a 206-meters dedicated pier, the booming Arctic cruise market is so far a disappointment. Aimed at becoming the “gateway to the Russian Arctic,” Murmansk has actually had less port-calls by cruise liners in recent years than a few years ago.

Few sails to Murmansk

In 2012, nine-passenger vessels came to Murmansk, many who sailed further into the White Sea region with Solovki and Arkhangelsk as highlights. In 2015, cruise vessels made 13 port calls to Murmansk, bringing more than 10,000 visitors.

Last year only six foreign flagged cruise ships made port calls and four ships have Murmansk in their itineraries for the 2019 season.

Spitsbergen sails via Murmansk on two voyages from Tromsø to Franz Josef Land. Seven Seas Navigator and Oceania Nautica both make custom clearance and immigration control in Murmansk en route to the White Sea. Silver Explorer sails the entire Northern Sea Route from Nome in Alaska to Tromsø in northern Norway Read More – Source

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