Kiev-based Chervona Ruta had a robust product on the Dnieper River before war broke out in 2014. Even though the conflict was largely to the east in the Donbass region and in the southern Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, no one wanted a Ukraine vacation, said Lesia Boguslavska, the cruise line’s sales director.
“For the majority of the people, even in Europe, which is much closer than U.S. and Australia, they think the area we are cruising, the area where the war is, they are identical. Even though we cruise in the area that is quite safe,” Boguslavska said in the 2020 European River Cruise Market Report by Cruise Industry News.
Chervona Ruta went from 10,000 passengers during its short May-to-September season to zero. It didn’t sail for three years. It sold the Dnieper Star (now the Lunnaya Sonata, or Moonlight Sonata) and General Vatutin (now the Lebedinoye Ozero, or Swan Lake). Both ships are now operated by Moscow-based Infoflot.
In 2017, Chervona Ruta’s remaining cruise ship, the 250-passenger Dnieper Princess, cruised again. In 2018 she mounted five cruises, and seven in 2019.
“This year is a tremendous success,” Boguslavska said. “This year we have some over booked.”
If all goes well there is a chance of bringing on more tonnage, she said. But that would not be in 2020 or 2021.
The majority of Chervona Ruta’s passengers are not new to river cruising but new to the Dnieper River. They’ve done the Rhine and Danube and are looking for unfamiliar waters to ply.
Less than five percent of passengers come from Ukraine, Boguslavska said. The majority are from Western Europe, with Germans leading the way. The UK, Scandinavia, Spain, and Israel also sail the Dnieper. Most are over 65 years old.
Chervona Ruta offers a three-plus star product, sailing eight-, 12-, and 13-day cruises between Kiev and Odessa.
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.