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yamalLack of icebreakers will most likely halt any tourism activity by cruise ships on the North Pole next year. Because of increased traffic by Russian vessels in the Northern Sea Route the icebreakers have enough to do.

Director for Fleet Operations in Atomflot, Andrey Smirnov, has confirmed this in the Russian media.

Russia wants to increase its traffic even more next year but lack of icebreakers and ships who are specially strengthened for sailing in ice covered waters will hinder traffic to the North Pole.

According to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Russia plans to spend RUB 20 billion for the construction of a new nuclear-powered icebreaker in the near future. Funds have also been allocated for the construction of three shallow-draft diesel-powered icebreakers which, because they are part of a newer and more advanced class, will be able to replace five old vessels.

According to Smirnov tourist cruises in the Arctic are only profitable if there are no less than two-three cruises per season: - One single cruise does not pay off.

Cargo transport through the Northern Sea Route is expected to skyrocket in course of the next decade. Russia’s Ministry of Transport believes cargo transport through NSR will increase from last year’s 1.8 million tons to 64 million tons by 2020.

Russian icebreakers have been transporting tourists to the North Pole for 20 years. The agency selling trips to the North Pole has already scheduled a trip with the largest of the Murmansk-based icebreakers, 50 Years of Victory,
for the summer of 2012, the Barents Observer reports.