Friday, November 22, 2013

Murmansk wants to be cruise liners' gateway to Arctic

Source: http://barentsobserver.com/en/business/2013/11/murmansk-wants-be-cruise-liners-gateway-arctic-20-11#!

Cruise vessel at port in the fishery harbor of Murmansk. (Photo: Thomas Nilsen)

Russia is opening their part of the Arctic for international cruise liners and Murmansk is upgrading the harbor to serve passenger traffic.

By Thomas Nilsen

Serious facelift is underway at the central port of Murmansk where the city's new terminal for foreign cruise vessels will open next summer.  The terminal is located a few minutes’ walk from the railway station, also supposed to be totally renovated before Murmansk celebrates 100-years anniversary in 2016.

With the new passenger cruise terminal, new walkways and new railway station, central Murmansk will be opened with easy access to the seaside. 

Development of cruise tourism in the Arctic is one of the strategic targets for Russian Arctic national park, today covering areas like Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya. While the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard for decades has been a key destination for international expedition cruising, very few vessels have sailed the Russian Arctic.  

Speaking at the Murmansk Business Week, Governor Marina Kovtun told the audience that her vision is to develop Murmansk to become the gateway to the Russian Arctic. “The Arctic Harbor project now under construction will contribute to develop cruise tourism,” she said according to the Governor’s official site. 

Cruise vessels' voyages will be developed and promoted to connect Murmansk with the Russian Arctic national park. Arkhangelsk and the White Sea area is another destination to be connected from the new terminal in Murmansk. 

Cruise tourism to Murmansk is today rather limited with less than ten international port-calls annually. Foreign cruise vessels have to stay portside at the remote located fishing harbor because that’s the place with immigration control. Murmansk was in 2010 included to the list of ports where cruise vessels passengers are supposed be allowed on land for a 72-hours visit without holding a Russian visa. 

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