Cruises are very far away
Saint-Petersburg Government has initiated the exclusion of the border check point at the passenger terminal on Vasilyevsky island from the limits of Great Port of Saint-Petersburg. According to PortNews, the Transport Ministry’s commission may consider this issue before the end of 2022. The passenger terminal is run by Marine Facade which could lease out the territory to finance its activities amid the absence of international sea cruises to Russia’s Baltic region.
The sea checkpoint for crossing the state border of the Russian Federation located at the passenger terminal of Saint-Petersburg can be excluded from the limits of Great Port of Saint-Petersburg, Kirill Polyakov, Vice-Governor of Saint-Petersburg in charge of the transport segment, told IAA PortNews. According to him, that will let the Smolny make better use of the territory the access to which is currently limited due to its official status of a checkpoint. The Government of Saint-Petersburg, owner of Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg “Marine Facade” which operated the passenger terminal, can develop a public space in the terminal building and on the embankment. Transport Ministry’s commission can hold a meeting on this issue on December 20, Vadim Kashirin, General Director of Marine Facade told IAA PortNews. No comments have been obtained from the Ministry.
According to the press service of Saint-Petersburg Governor Aleksandr Beglov, the priorities of further development include the capital repair of the passenger terminal building and the berths. Besides, the creation of a public business area is under consideration. It foresees the creation of a paid parking space and a yacht marina as part of a yacht club. Meanwhile, the city takes into account possible resumption of welcoming international ferries and cruise ships at the terminal.
The construction of Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg “Marine Facade” began in 2005 through public private partnership. In 2020, the property of the passenger terminal located close to cultural entity Sevkabel Port was handed over to the authorised capital of Marine Facade.
The record-high result in terms of cruise passengers was registered in 2019. The port welcomed over 543 thousand people delivered by 265 liners. The largest cruise company working with the port was Carnival Corporation. The port also welcomed ships of Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and Norweigian Cruise. Before 2020, the terminal used to service cruise liner Princess Anastasia owned by shipping company Moby SPL. According to media reports, it was later used as a hospital at NOVATEK’s center for construction of large marine facilities in the Murmansk region. With the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 cruises were suspended worldwide. In 2022, when Russia’s special military operation began in Ukraine, cruise operators halted their calls to Russian ports.
The ships of Europe and the USA make the core of the global cruise fleet. Vadim Kashirin says no calls of foreign companies’ ships to Marine Facade are planned up to 2024-2025. Seaport Sochi JSC resumed servicing marine cruises in 2022 with Astoria Grande making cruises to Turkey. The cruise terminals in Vladivostok and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky are still out of operation.
With the infrastructure of Marine Facade not being fully operational from 2020 the decision to lease out part of its territory is reasonable, according to IAA PortNews’ sources. Total investments into creation of Marine Facade are estimated at RUB 31 billion including RUB 23 billion of private investments and RUB 7.9 billion of municipal resources.
IAA PortNews earlier supposed that with the absence of cruise navigation the regional authorities would have to subsidize the activities of the company previously maintaining and servicing that infrastructure at its own expenses. In 2020, the revenue of Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg “Marine Facade” plunged almost 10 times to RUB 111 million, the net loss totaled RUB 367 million. In 2021, the revenue rose to RUB 189.2 million, t hent loss totaled RUB 248.2 million.
Among the ways to use the terminal building, its conversion into a hotel was discussed. Azimut Hotels Company used to express its interest. According to the agency’s sources, removal of restrictions on the access to the passenger terminal building and embankment can attract catering companies, retailers, cultural and entertainment centers. One of the sources supposed that the area could be used as a continuation of the Sevkabel Port’s walking zone. The sources in the Smolny emphasize that the comprehensive development of the territory and its leasing out will be put up for the competition.
Ilya Reznikov, expert of transport development of territories at the Laboratory of Urban Planning, believes that the use of the building as a passenger terminal was unreasonable after Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg “Marine Facade” was put into operation on the reclaimed land. “The facility would be in use if shipping intensified but in the current situation even the new port capacity is excessive. Strictly speaking, it is not clear when those facilities will be demanded in full since it is not clear when foreign cruise calls can be resumed,” he said.
According to the expert, it is more reasonable to the use the area as a public space than to build it up with residential or commercial buildings. He also emphasized the significance of preserving the berth infrastructure. “It is expensive to build berths and they cannot be built at any location. Yes, it is not clear now when the berths will be required here, but it would be better to preserve the technical possibility of receiving ships for the future,” explained the expert. In his opining, taking over some river cruise ships arriving in St. Petersburg from Lake Ladoga could be one of the solutions. However, the number of such ships will be limited since the passage through St. Petersburg is possible only at night when the bridges are lifted, he admits.
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