Squamish tour company taking legal action after ships blocked by Russia
The Sergey Vavilov, also known as the One Ocean Voyager, is seen in this undated image from the company's website. (One Ocean Expeditions)
Published Tuesday, May 21, 2019 3:20PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 21, 2019 8:02PM PDT
A B.C.-based tour company says it's launched legal action after its vessels were ordered by the Russian government to remain in Europe.
One Ocean Expeditions, based in Squamish, says its vessels the Akademik Ioffe and Akademik Sergey Vavilov were withdrawn from their service by the Russian government.
The company had been exclusively chartering the ice-breaking vessels since 2011 and 2012, respectively from Russian government entities.
The company says both vessels had scheduled trips for the 2018-2019 season.
"Their decision comes as a complete surprise to OOE and is out of our control. The withdrawal of the vessels for the 2018-19 season is a breach of the owners' contract with OOE and is now the subject of legal action," said Catherine Lawton, the company's general manager, in a statement.
The company says it had long-term renewal options in every year since their initial agreement.
Both ships were able to accommodate 96 guests, with the company describing both as "the pride of the polar fleet" featuring amenities catering to the demands of guests.
As a result, passengers are being shifted on to the company's latest vessel: the RCGS Resolute, which launched in 2018.
Despite losing one-third of its fleet, the company is staying optimistic.
"We remain focused on the future. OOE is actively advancing a fleet renewal plan and we look forward to announcing further details in the weeks and months ahead," said Lawton.
She says the company is working with passengers to re-book planned trips and provide refunds where necessary.
The company's trips in the Arctic ranged in price from US$7,995 for a 10-day trip to more than US$13,000 for a 12-day trip in the Northwest Passage and Greenland.
The Akademic Ioffe made headlines last year after it ran aground off Baffin Island. All the passengers and crew from it were put aboard the Sergey Vavilov while rescue crews refloated the vessel.