The Russian Ministry of Transport is in talks with the Sovfracht Group and Rosmorport, to create a regular passenger service from Sochi to Novorossiysk, Yalta, Sevastopol and back to Sochi. It is said that President Putin is taking a close interest in the project: in September 2016 he ordered the Ministry to organise the 2017 tourist season, covering air and maritime traffic to the Crimea. To inaugurate the service, it is planned to use Roy Star, a former ferry that is 142m long and built originally to cary 750 passengers. Provisional estimates to acquire the vessel, refurbish it and establish the service are given as 700 million roubles (just over £9 million). Ticket prices for the cruise are estimated to be around 4,500 roubles per day.
Initial discussions were held in December 2016 into establishing a regular passenger service to the ports in the Crimea. Several organisations were invited to tender, but only the Sovfracht Group showed any interest and is now in discussions with the Russian Ministry ofTransport. Roy Star was previously better known as Royal Iris: it was originally built in 1970 as Eagle, for Southern Ferries, and has over the years been known under a variety of names, including Azur and Eloise.