Cruise market gains momentum despite various hurdles

Vladimir Savelyev, 25.08.2014 14:27
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According to experts, the demand for river cruises in Russia’s European part is higher than the year before. Neither the shallowing of the River Volga nor Rechtourflot LLC taking French leave without fulfilling the obligations to its clients could affect the cruise industry.

As reported previously by TRN, a criminal case was initiated against the CEO of Rechtourflot LLC, who is suspected of gaining RUB 28m by selling cruises and not organizing them.

The company was selling part of those cruises via its partners Infoflot, Mosturflot and Rechflot.

Alexander Sosnin, Chairman of Infoflot’s Board of Directors, confirmed to TRN that the company was selling cruise packages of Rechflot LLC intended for motor ships Richard Sorge and Alexander Svirsky.

“We did not sell tours for the maiden cruises of these ships – only for those that came after these vessels had completed a few trips. We wanted to err on the side of caution, but still ran into trouble,” he said. “In early June Rechtourflot canceled further cruises for Richard Sorge and Alexander Svirsky. By that time we had already sold a dozen of cruises and had to take care of the situation on our own. Some people agreed to take their trips on board of our ships, and those who declined the offer were given a refund.”

According to Sosnin, Infoflot did not transfer all the money for the canceled cruises to Rechtourflot, which is why the latter now owes Infoflot a relatively small amount.

He said that three other ships owned by Rechtourflot LLC (Plekhanov, Ryleyev, Mamin-Sibiryak) were not used for this navigating season because they did not pass the annual certification in the Russian River Register. Moreover, the crews of these ships have quit due to not getting their salary for several months.

Alexander Sosnin also spoke about the effect of the Volga’s shallowing between Gorodets and Nizhny Novgorod on the river cruise market.

“The situation is not catastrophic by any means, and has affected the market only slightly,” he said. “Cruise companies had to adjust their routes, which led to a small number of tourists refusing to go on some cruises. For instance, our company substituted the cruise Moscow – Astrakhan – Moscow that starts on September 1 for the cruise Nizhny Novgorod – Rostov on Don – Astrakhan – Nizhny Novgorod of the same duration and for the same period. We will be transporting our clients to Nizhny Novgorod by train.”

According to the Chairman of Infoflot’s Board of Directors, only a couple of companies that had to cancel their cruises have suffered significant losses due to the current conditions.

Still, Sosnin believes that, despite the said hurdles, the market is growing this season.

“For instance, our sales have grown 20%, and tickets for almost all of our motor ships had been sold out until mid-August. Reliable cruise operators that offer quality service experience smooth sailing this navigating season, with tourists from companies with inferior offers switching to their services,” he said.

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