You still can ride this 108-year-old Russian steamboat

Shiprepairing Center «Zvyozdochka»
Russia’s oldest steamboat, N.V. Gogol, was built during the Russian Empire. However, instead of being relegated to the role of a museum or monument like many ships, it’s still ferrying passengers along Russia’s northern rivers.

The oldest passenger vessel in Russia, the steamboat N.V. Gogol, is still in service. In 2019 it celebrates its 108th anniversary.

Launched in 1911, for its entire life the steamboat has served on the rivers in the north of Russia, connecting dozens of small towns between Vologda and Arkhangelsk.

During its life, the steamboat has witnessed the fall of two empires and the birth of the modern Russian state. Unlike many vessels, it’s never been renamed and has always honoured the great Russian writer Nikolay Gogol, known for both his terrifying and satirical prose, which are still widely read today.  

During the Civil War (1917-1922) the vessel was used as a military transport/floating hospital –  the same role it played during WWII.

In 1972 the ship faced destruction after the powers that be earmarked N.V. Gogol for the scrap heap. Fortunately, it was turned into a resort base for the workers of the Zvezdochka ship repair factory instead.

After just a year of being a floating resort, the ship reverted back to ferrying passenger traffic. Officials decided that despite its age, N.V. Gogol was still in good enough shape to continue its service on Russia’s rivers. It was too early to write it off.

Russia’s oldest ship has needed repair work to keep it going. The last major renovation took place in the mid-1990s: it was modernized and it was decked out with new cozy cabins.  

Today N.V. Gogol has 29 rooms, (including two luxes), which can host up to 53 passengers.

Notable passengers of the steamboat include Swedish royal couple King Karl XVI Gustav and Queen Silvia, who enjoyed a trip back in 2001.

N.V. Gogol is not the only veteran ship in the country. The Russian Navy has another dinosaur among its ranks in the form of a 104-year-old vessel called Kommuna, which is still serving as a submarine salvage ship in the Black Sea.

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