Nova Scotia

Russia cancels polar cruise ship leases, company says

Two high-end cruise ships will not be stopping in Sydney, N.S., this summer after the Russian government cancelled their leases, according to One Ocean Expeditions.

The high-end cruise operator says the move was unexpected and is now part of a legal action

The Russian government has unexpectedly cancelled leases on the high-end cruise vessels Akademik Ioffe and Akademik Sergey Vavilov, according to One Ocean Expeditions. (One Ocean Expeditions)

There will be two fewer cruise ships stopping in Sydney, N.S., this summer.

One Ocean Expeditions said in a news release on Tuesday the Russian government unexpectedly cancelled the leases on two of its ships.

The ice-class charter vessels Akademic Ioffe and Akademik Sergey Vavilov were used on Arctic and Antarctic cruises.

They also toured around the Gulf of St. Lawrence and occasionally stopped in Sydney for provisions.

Legal action underway

No one from One Ocean Expeditions was available for comment on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman said no one would likely comment on Wednesday because the cancelled leases are now part of a legal action.

In an emailed statement, the P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanography at the Russian Academy of Sciences, which owns the Ioffe and the Sergey Vavilov, said it does not have a contract with One Ocean Expeditions and is not responsible for the company's cancelled cruises.

The Russian institute said the two ships have since been chartered to Terragelida Ship Management, a company in Cyprus, until later this fall.

Andrew Prossin had hoped to make Sydney the company's home port, which he said could bring millions of dollars in business to the region. (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

Meanwhile, One Ocean Expeditions is scrambling to rebook passengers on its third ship, the RCGS Resolute.

The company is also refunding passengers who can't be accommodated.

The polar cruise operator is based in Squamish, B.C., but was founded by Andrew Prossin, a native of Sydney.

Prossin had hoped to make Sydney the company's home port after the Cape Breton Regional Municipality finishes construction of a second cruise ship berth.

He has said that could bring millions of dollars in business to the port of Sydney.

The Akademik Ioffe was in the news last year when it grounded near Kugaaruk, Nunavut, in August.


UPDATED: This story has been updated to include a statement issued by the P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanography, which owns the two ships.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 17 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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