The Russian Ministry of Transport held preliminary talks with Rosmorport and Sovfracht Group to launch regular passenger service to seaports of Crimea. The decision followed orders by President Vladimir Putin, a source familiar with the matter told IAA PortNews.
To implement the project in 2017 the Ministry intends to deploy the cruise vessel Knyaz Vladimir (formerly Roy Star, and Royal Iris). Provisional estimates show that the project may cost around RUB 700 million, including the ship acquisition and refurbishment
Estimates also show that a cruise ticket might be something around RUB 4,500 / day. This is comparable with the cost of accommodation in the 3-star hotels in Sochi or Yalta.
Previously, in late December 2016 Deputy Minister of Transport, head of Rosmorrechflot Victor Olersky chaired a meeting of the Russian Governement's Marine Board on establishing a regular passenger service to the ports of Crimea. The official told the meeting there were only few proposals from businesses. The only company that was interested in launching the service was Sovfracht Group and now is in talks with the Ministry of Transport.
The Ministry of Transport experts said the most effective solution could be a regular cruise line on the route Sochi - Novorossiysk - Yalta - Sevastopol - Istanbul - Sochi. The cruise ship will fly Russian flag. Since the service includes calls at the ports of Crimea (now under sanctions), time-charter as an option was excluded. Therefore, the Ministry offers to purchase the cruise ship.
In September 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Ministry to organize during the 2017 tourist season, regular air and maritime traffic between Sochi and the Crimea.
The Panama-flagged passenger / cruise ship (YB 1971) has the following specifications: LOA - 142 meters, Beam - 22 meters, Draught - 5.96 meters GT - 9159 tonnes, DWT - 2085 tonnes.