St. Petersburg sea port needs dredging to attract more cruise tourists

Credit: Getty Images.

The Passenger Port of St. Petersburg will begin a large-scale modernisation and dredging campaign aimed to secure the status of the major tourist hub on the Baltic Sea for the northern Russian capital, said Vadim Kashirin, director of the port, speaking during a press conference on 24 October.

Currently, the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg is able to accommodate vessels with a length of up to 330 m and sea gauge limited to 8.8 m. The target is to be able to accommodate big cruise liners of the Freedom class with a length of up to 339 m in 2020, and cruise liners of the Quantum class with the length of 348 m in the future, Kashirin said.

This would require building of new mooring posts and dredging, Kashirin said. The target is to increase depth in the harbour of the port to 11 m.

The port authorities have already reached a preliminary agreement with the government agency Rosmorport, which is running the dredging project, Kashirin said. The funding programme under the upcoming modernisation has already been approved by Russia’s General Board of State Expert Review, he added.

The cost of modernisation is estimated at RUB130 million (USD2 million), and an additional RUB85 million would be spent on dredging works, Kashirin said.

No alternative

In 2018, the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg registered 265 vessel calls with 647,700 passengers on board. Compared with the previous year, the number of calls slightly reduced, while the passenger flow increased by 4%, Kashirin said. This is likely to continue, as 248 ship calls and 648,000 passengers are expected in 2019, Kashirin said.

This is associated with the global tendency as cruise companies shift to the bigger liners. The sea port is evidencing the rising number of cruise liners of the biggest classes with the increased capacity, Kashirin added.

In 2020, the port expects ship calls from 11 new cruise liners, including the Norwegian Escape with a capacity of 4,500 passengers. To accommodate ships of that size, the port virtually has no choice but to increase the length of the mooring and to conduct bottom dredging, Kashirin said.

Speaking earlier this year, officials from St. Petersburg City Hall have also suggested that infrastructure modernisation in the passenger sea port could make navigation in the region year-round. As of today, cruise season in the Baltic Sea takes place from May to September, as during the winter almost no cruise liners call at the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg.