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Published in: Cruise News

Odessa hopes to become a key homeport for Black Sea cruises, and a handful of cruise calls are back on the calendar for 2019 and 2020 after security concerns have sent cruise ships sailing away from Eastern Europe in recent years.

Voyages to Antiquity is expected to call in 2019, and Azamara has two calls scheduled in 2020.

“Odessa’s passenger terminal is the largest in the Black Sea,” said Mariia Luzhanska, manager of planning and development for the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority.

She said the port offers 1,370 meters of berth space, and can handle five cruise ships at once, and up to 1 million cruise guests on an annual basis. An international airport also plays into future homeporting hopes.

With the support of MedCruise, the Black Sea Conference will take place in 2019 and the MedCruise General Assembly is set for Bulgaria in 2020.

Luzhanska said she hopes the Black Sea event will show cruise lines the region is now viable again, offering a safe and interesting destination mix for guests.

The key ports in the Black Sea are essentially joining forces to convince the major cruise lines to come back.

Meetings at MedCruise in May led to an action plan, bringing together ports in the Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania. Together the ports have penned a letter to cruise operators, detailing the current situation and improved security measures.

“Based on meetings with the cruise lines at MedCruise, we are convinced they plan to return in one to two years,” Luzhanska noted.

Odessa is also seeing a noticeable increase in river cruise traffic, which carries mainly Western European or American guests.

“This is a positive signal,” added Luzhanska.

For Odessa, a number of key attractions are within 10 minutes of the cruise terminal, including the City Theater, the Potemkin Stairs and the Pryvoz Market.

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