Lines hope weak ruble helps reignite Russia river traffic

Moscow river cruise
A cruise ship sails past the Kremlin on the Moscow River. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

With the dollar gaining momentum and the ruble losing ground, river cruise lines still sailing Russia’s Volga River are hoping the favorable exchange rate might help to re-stimulate bookings for Russia, which have taken a big hit since last year’s rise in tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

In November, AmaWaterways decided it would not operate its 212-passenger AmaKatarina on Russia's Volga River in 2015. Viking Cruises is only operating three of its five vessels in Russia this year — the Viking Helgi, Viking Truvor and Viking Ingvar. And Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is only offering four of its originally scheduled 12 departures in Russia in 2015 on its 202-passenger River Victoria.

But Samo Toplak, CEO of Value World Tours, which sells river cruise throughout the world including in Russia, notes for those that want to go, Russia offers incredible value right now.

“A drop in both the cost of fuel and the ruble by over 50% in the last six months makes Russia the best deal out there to visit,” said Toplak.

Viking said that it too is hoping that an encouraging pricing environment in Russia will increase demand.

“Favorable exchange rates against the ruble, combined with lower prices, will make Russia an exceptional value for North American travelers in 2015, so we are definitely encouraging guests to consider it as a destination this year,” said Viking’s SVP of Marketing Richard Marnell.

Marnell noted that Viking has seen a good response to its current Russia promotions and is optimistic for the remainder of the year.

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