Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company (ACSC) has signed a memorandum of cooperation with Russia’s Moscow River Shipping Company (MRSC) to support the improvement of cruise shipping in the Caspian region.

MRSC’s passenger cruise vessel, ‘Peter the Great’, is expected to begin sea tours in Baku, Azerbaijan, by the end of 2019 as part of the initiative.

“MRSC’s passenger cruise vessel, ‘Peter the Great’, is expected to begin sea tours in Baku, Azerbaijan, by the end of 2019 as part of the initiative.”

The tours will initially cover the Astrakhan-Baku route and will be expanded to include other Russian cities from 2020.

Construction of Peter the Great is currently underway at the Russian shipyard Lotos in Astrakhan.

The completed vessel is slated to feature restaurants, spa, gyms, bars, and sun decks with a swimming pool and Jacuzzi, as well as various other facilities.

The newly signed agreement will also see ACSC and MRSC work together to undertake studies and develop optimal routes for cruise passenger vessels, including routes covering the ports of the Black Sea, the inland waterways of Russian Federation, Astrakhan in Russia and ports based in the Caspian Sea.

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In addition, the partnership will conduct research regarding the development of other routes, including Moscow-Baku, Astrakhan-Makhachkala-Baku and Baku-Anzali-Nowshahr-Turkmenbashi-Aktau-Astrakhan, among others.

As part of the collaboration, shipping companies from Azerbaijan and Russia will prepare joint investment projects such as joint operation of ‘Peter the Great’, as well as the construction of new cruise vessels for the development of sea tourism along the planned routes.

Furthermore, ACSC and MRSC will jointly work to develop coastal infrastructure such as berths and border posts, as well as customs and sanitary control, bunkering and supply to optimise port charges and organise cruise tours.

The proposed sea cruises are intended to help attract tourists from European Union (EU) countries, US, Australia, China and other regions of the world to Azerbaijan.