2018 May 21

(Victor Olersky, Deputy Minister of Transport, Deputy Head of Rosmorrechflot - On development of cruise shipping and shipbuilding in Russia )

- Today, Russia numbers about 100 three- four-deckers of different river classes. Their maintenance is not a cheap affair since such vessels are in operation for five months every year with full load lasting for only three-four months…

…No cruise ships have been built for many years, from the soviet period. The last motor ship of Project 302 was built in 1991. They used to be built mainly in CMEA – GDR, Czechoslovakia – as well as in Austria.

The largest ship owner in the soviet times was Volga Shipping Company accumulating the bulk of cruise fleet with Kama, North-Western and Azov-Don shipping companies numbering less vessels. In early 2000s the shipping companies started selling obsolete vessels mostly built in 50-ies – 60-ies. Some of those who acquired such vessels brought them to a marketable condition, some have stopped their development. Anyway, within five-ten years old steamers, which make about a half of the fleet, will leave the market since passengers’ demands are increasing and investments in old ships will soon become unreasonable. As for four-deckers, many of them have been retrofitted to satisfy cruise lovers for a long period of time.

As river transport regulators we certainly see our priority in creating possibilities for construction of the new fleet.

It was quite a long way for us towards the keel-laying of the first cruise ship because investments in cruise fleet were not economically reasonable for a long time. Only with the availability of cheap and long financing ship owners ventured upon their fleet upgrading.

Two state-of-the-art vessels of river/sea class for 30-400 passengers have already been laid down as well as a couple of paddle wheel vessels for the Oka river and other shallow basins where tourists will be offered very interesting programmes. The ice has been broken while further acceleration of fleet upgrading will depend on availability of cheap capital.

From an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta