Known officially as Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, this port city is the largest settlement on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Founded in 1741 by Vitus Bering, the Danish-born Russian captain who discovered the straits that bear his name, the settlement was very slow to develop. Even a hundred years later, there was little more than a cluster of log cabins and a small, green-domed church. Bering named the town for his two ships, the Svyatoy Pyotr (St. Peter) and the Svyatoy Pavel (St. Paul); hence the name, PetroPavlovsk. In the years to follow, it became the tsar's major Pacific seaport and was used as base for explorations that resulted in the discovery of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska.
During the Soviet Era, the town retained its military role and served as the submarine base of the Pacific Fleet. Today, Petropavlovsk owes its prosperity entirely to the fishing industry. Trawlers bring in a million tons of fish each year, a third of which is sold to Japan. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the most striking building in town is the fisheries' headquarters facing beautiful, serene Avacha Bay. Most of Petropavlovsk's other buildings are comprised of low-rise concrete blocks that are dwarfed by two active volcanoes, Avachinskiy and Koryakskiy.
In addition to a few museums that include the Regional Museum, the Museum of Volcanology and the Museum of Geology, Petropavlovsk is home to a monument to Captain Charles Clarke, who visited in 1779 with two ships that formerly belonged to Captain James Cooke. Clarke intended to continue Cook's work with an expedition to the Arctic, but was stricken with consumption and died in Petropavlovsk.
The remote Far East Russian outpost sees few cruise ships; the only other way in-or-out of Petropavlovsk and the rest of Kamchatka is by plane. Even a short cruise call here is a rare occasion, as well as a unique and memorable visit for our guests.
Please note: The tourism structure in this port is limited. Therefore, guests are encouraged to participate in the organized excursions.
Going Ashore in Petropavlovsk
The ship is scheduled to anchor in Avacha Bay. Guests will be taken ashore via ship's tenders to the Pacific Network passenger pier. While taxis are generally available, few drivers speak English.
Guests participating in the organized excursions or using private cars and guides arranged through the Tour Office do not require a Russian visa. Likewise, if going ashore independently and staying within city limits, no visa is required. The only visa requirement is for guests travelling independently outside the city or disembarking/embarking in this port.
Souvenir shopping is available pier-side and in the passenger terminal. Popular items include matrioshka dolls, hand-painted lacquer boxes, and fur hats (mink, fox, Arctic fox and sable) in a wide range of quality and prices. National souvenir items created by Kamchatka's indigenous people are also for sale. A department store is located within a half-mile (0.8 kilometres) from the pier, and offers a wide range of local souvenir items. The local currency is the Russian Rouble.
There are several good restaurants located within the city, and at better hotels. Some Russian specialties include borsch (beet-soup) and blinis (pancakes), while the Russian Far East, and especially Kamchatka, is renowned for fresh fish that includes various types of salmon. Locally-brewed beer is considered among Russia's finest because of the pure Kamchatka water used for brewing. Due to its remote location, service and quality may vary from Western standards.
Places of interest may include the Kamchatka Natural History and Military Museums, monuments to the Apostles Peter and Paul, Vitus Bering, Charles Clarke, and J. La Perouse, and the Chapel.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship, but are subject to the availability of English-speaking guides.