Varna, Bulgaria (PortSEurope) March 19, 2019 – Major cruise companies are avoiding Black Sea ports due to the uncertain geopolitical situation after the Crimea annexation by Russia in 2014, according to Bulgarian ports’ sources.
Only two cruise ships visited Bulgarian ports in 2017. In 2018, there were no visits at all. The expectations for the summer of 2019 are for only one visit. During 2014, the last strong year for the cruise tourism in the Black Sea, Bulgaria’s biggest port of Varna was visited by 36 cruise ships with 30,000 tourists. Before the Crimea annexation, there were 25 visits on average per summer season.
The first scheduled cruise ship visit for 2021 is in the spring by the largest private residential ship, The World, with 165 apartments. The World is the largest privately owned residential yacht. The residents, from about 45 countries, live on board as the ship travels, staying in most ports several days. Some residents choose to live on board full-time while others visit periodically throughout the year.
In March 2019, the European Union (EU), the United States (U.S.) and Canada imposed additional sanctions to punish Russia for its November 2018 attack on three Ukrainian navy ships in the Kerch Strait linking the Black and Azov Seas, for Russia’s annexation of Crimea peninsula and for Russia’s involvement in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
The EU has sanctioned eight more Russians (senior security service officials and military commanders accused of preventing Ukrainian ships from reaching port), bringing to 172 the number of Russians and Ukrainians, including people from the inner circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin, now on the EU sanctions list since Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The U.S. sanctioned four Russians and six Russian defence firms operating in Crimea and Canada – 114 people and 15 entities.