Vodohod splashed into the Russian river cruising market 15 years ago and has quickly become among the largest cruise providers in the Russia, said UK-based Managing Director John Warner. The line owns and operates 25 river cruise boats, nine speed boats, and five pleasure boats, all on Russian waterways, according to the 2020 European River Cruise Market Report by Cruise Industry News.
“Apart from having the largest fleet, most departures and itineraries in the market, we pride ourselves on being the forward thinking and innovative Russian river cruise brand. The team is constantly looking at ways we can improve the customer experience,” Warner said.
Roughly 105,000 river cruise passengers sailed with Vodohod in 2018. Warner projected that to increase to 120,000 this year and 135,000 in 2020.
“Russia is our biggest market but we have travelers from all over the globe. The largest increase in passenger numbers is coming from Europe, the U.S. and also Australia and New Zealand. The demographic follows the traditional river based market as tending toward the more experienced 50-plus traveller but we are also seeing the rise of a younger river cruise traveller – perhaps as a consequence of Russia being perceived as more adventurous than say traditional European river cruising,” he said.
A new London office was opened recently to better service English-language requests.
Vodohod launches two new river boats and a dramatically refurbished one in 2020. The new 141-meter long, Russian-built Mustai Karim will start plying the Volga in May with 338 passengers aboard. She’ll sail 10- and 11-night tours between Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
In July, the brand launched a 100-passenger, five-star expedition river vessel called the Maxim Gorky along the Yenisey River – a first for the company. The new 2020 program “will allow travelers to experience one of the world’s most glorious unexplored regions and peoples,” he said.
On the other end of the spectrum, the 1977-built Nizhny Novgorod has undergone a massive renovation, adding modern navigational equipment and updated cabins for its 204 guests.
“We own and operate all of our riverboats. We have our own private port in St. Petersburg and the ability to service our vessels in our space at Nizhny Novgorod (the city),” Warner said.
Vodohod largely sails the Volga but is adding routes on the Yenisey in 2020 and 2021, he said. The Siberian river is the world’s fifth largest, flowing northerly past reindeer herds and into the Arctic. “As a proud Russian brand we want to try and pave the way for people to see all that Russia has to offer,” Warner said.
About the 2020 European Cruise River Market Report
The new European Cruise Market Report provides a comprehensive look at the river cruise business with capacity metrics by river and brand, company profiles and much more. 100+ pages of insights. Learn more.