Photo: One Ocean Expeditions/Facebook

Cruise Ships Unexpectedly Seized by Russia Leave Travelers Stranded

by Eben Diskin Jun 21, 2019

If your upcoming holiday plans involve a cruise through One Ocean Expeditions (OOE), your vacation could be in jeopardy. Two ships from the Canada-based cruise company — the MV Akademik Ioffe and MV Akademik Sergey Vavilov — were seized by Russian authorities and returned to Kaliningrad for unexpected repairs, leaving many would-be travelers stranded. OOE had leased the two ships from Russia, and often uses them to carry small contingents of passengers through the Arctic and Antarctic.

According to the OOE, last month “the vessel owners unexpectedly decided to return the vessels to Kaliningrad, Russia, for purported repairs. This was not communicated to OOE in advance.” Despite filing legal action, they conceded that, “It is now clear that no matter what the OOE does the vessels will not be provided for the upcoming 2019-20 cruising seasons, despite our contract.”

Matador Network editor Morgane Croissant saw her Arctic trip on the Akademik Sergey Vavilov operated by OOE canceled at the last minute this past May. “I received an email seven days before the departure. I was packed, ready to go. This was devastating news.” According to Croissant, refunds have been sent for the canceled expedition she was to be part of, but no financial compensation was offered to the travelers for their trouble. “It’s the second year in a row that this trip gets cancelled by OOE. Last year (in 2018), the Akademik Sergey Vavilov had a major mechanical fault, which could not be fixed in time. It’s getting old.”

After seizing the ships, Russia claimed that they needed to be returned to Kaliningrad as part of a modernization project. When the vessels will be returned to OOE (or if they will be returned at all) is still unclear.

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