According to Captain Mato Bozovik, President of International Cruise Center (ICC), government trade negotiations are presently underway between U.S. and Soviet officials in order to discuss permitting Russian cruise ships to sail to and from U.S. ports. In 1982, President Reagan banned Soviet cruise ships as part of his economic sanctions imposed in conjunction with the Russian engagement in Afghanistan.
Although cruise ships cannot call in the U.S., cargo ships can as long as they are sailing directly from Russia without calling in any other countries en route as most freighters do. The cross-trade agreement being discussed involves both cargo ships and cruise ships since they come under the same jurisdictional umbrella. Therefore, Bozovik noted that negotiations are complex and could not guess when such an agreement may come to pass.
Bozovik's company, ICC, is the general agent for numerous Russian ships sailing in other cruise areas, excluding the U.S. Some of the cruise ships include the Maxim Gorky, Odessa, and the Feodor Dostoyevsky, along with Russian river cruises. Their sailings are labelled "Russian Holidays at Sea"; Bozovik explained that from the Russian crew to the entertainment, their cruises are a Russian cultural experience for passengers.
Prior to 1982, Bozovik was with March Shipping's Passenger Division. This Canadian-based general agent specialized in Russian ships. After the sanctions, March Shipping lost its product and Bozovik then formed ICC to market Russian ships sailing worldwide to Americans.
Bozovik felt that since interest in travel to Russia has been steadily increasing, cruise ships would not have a problem marketing to Americans if they could eventually ply U.S. waters.
Meanwhile there are reports from the Soviet Union that there are plans afoot to rebuild the Soviet fleet of passenger vessels.