Opening the session, Vitaly Kluyev, Director of the Department of Sea River Transport Policy of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, emphasised the need to improve infrastructure and implement regulations, especially for vessels navigating Russia’s smaller rivers.
Nevertheless, delegates heard that United Shipbuilding Corporation had orders in hand from Moscow River Shipping Company (MRSC) to deliver two river cruise vessels for 300-350 passengers by 2019-2020, and that other ships were planned for more easterly services.
Participants also heard about the cruise vessel Prince Vladimir from Rosmoport’s Deputy Director for Economics and Finance of the Rosmorport Northwest Basin Branch, Nadezhda Kalashnik and Project Manager (Fleet) Artem Fedkin. The refurbished, four-deck ship carried 250 passengers during its first voyage and is expected to accommodate 4,000 cruisers in its first full season operating along the Black Sea coast, connecting Sochi, Novorossiysk, Yalta and Sevastopol.
Opportunities were highlighted by Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, which laid out the company’s extensive experience in both arctic shipbuilding and cruise vessel construction. Managing Director Esko Mustamäki noted: “The cruise industry is the only sector that is currently experiencing growth”. International consulting company Brave Alliance highlighted a related and specific opportunity, identifying potential to develop Saimaa Canal cruises connecting the Gulf of Finland near Vyborg (Russia) to Lake Saimaa and the wider Finnish Lakeland region.
However, Italiantsev Sergey, Head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation ‘River – Sea Ships’ Directorate, saw the need to address specific obstacles. “Inland transportation is fundamental in Russia because often there’s no other way of transporting goods and passengers,” he said. “However, this system is not developed sufficiently and it needs financial support as well as more defined rules. New inland waterways projects are expensive and financial support is needed to build new vessels.”