River cruises in Russia 2021. New reality, new ideas.
During the global pandemic, a big boost was given to domestic tourism in Russia. Here, severe restrictive measures in 2020 were in effect for not more than three months. So the Russians began to travel again, now within their own country. One of the new trend is the growing demand for river cruises.
This year, the cruise companies offer tours on ships which were previously used for foreign tourists only. Obviously the companies need to adjust the product to the new reality. For example, foreign tourists prefer the classic routes Moscow - St. Petersburg or St. Petersburg - Moscow. The Russian tourists are interested in more diverse routes with the duration from 3 to 22 days. The onboard program for Russian tourists includes many activities for children and teenagers. Russian travelers are offered travel radio stories; broadcasting on the ships for foreign guests is usually limited by a few informational announcements. At the same time, foreign tourists buy significantly more additional excursions in the cities of ship parking.
Cruise companies are looking for alternatives to the well-known wealthy cruises. For example, instead of the Norwegian fjords, the cruise company Mosturflot offers cruises Moscow - St. Petersburg with a call to the Ladoga sea cliffs. At the same time, low cost options are also offered. A day on the ship will cost about 30 €, allowing the travelers to choose excursion and meal boards.
Olga Goncharova, deputy general of the company doubts the restore of the tourist flow 2021. The Russians will not be able to fill the entire volume of the market. This year, two companies have not started operation used to be focused foreign tourists. This means a loss of 17 course ships in the season. Only about 60% of the river fleet has been put into operation. At the same time, the Russian market is overloaded with offers. For the moment the demand is high. Firstly, this is facilitated by the program of Federal Tourism Agency and the Russian payment system "Mir" called "Tourist cashback"(*), secondly, by very limited outbound tourism possibilities.
The Radisson Royal Flotilla, the only river shipping company in Moscow, which provides year-round passenger navigation in Moscow, announced this year excursions on the water in the Hop-On Hop-Off format. A tourist, buying a ticket for 24 or 48 hours, gets the opportunity to get off at any provided stops, walk around the city, and then return to the river trip again. The ticket price is 17 € for 24 hours and 23 € for 48 hours.
River navigation was opened in Moscow on April 24. This event means the summer season start. It is difficult to make predictions in this unusual situation, but the cruise companies hope for the best.
Tourist cashback is a state program to subsidize travelling across Russia. The program was launched in 2020 and extended till the end of 2021. According to the cash back program any traveler can get 20% of the cost - not more than 240 € - for a trip in Russia. To get cashback, a traveler needs to pay for the trip online by card of the Russian payment system "Mir". The tour should start from March 18 and end no later than June 30, 2021. The program involves Russian hotels, tour operators, sanatoriums, booking services and cruise companies.
Natalia Klimenok, graduated from two the most popular Russian universities, Moscow State Linguistic University in 2001 (specialization - linguistics and intercultural communication) and Moscow State University in 2002 (specialization - PR and publicity), several years worked on radio station, before to come to tourism industry in 1995. 8 years she worked in one of the biggest tour operator in Russia, Labirint Travel Company, the main wholesales for such destinations as Greece, Finland and Scandinavia. Natalia has experience in MICE industry, including cooperation with federal organisations. Natalia has PhD in social science. Recently Natalia works in Baginet Sales and Marketing Agency as Executive Director.