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New owner reveals plans for bankrupt Boston cruise company Vantage Travel
The new owner of a bankrupt Boston cruise company said he hopes to rebuild customers’ faith and trust in the brand with a relaunch in 2024.
Aurora Expeditions Chairman Neville Buch said Vantage Deluxe World Travel will be renamed Vantage Explorations and will offer “Vantage style” trips in the new year.
“We are fully committed to restoring value to Vantage customer creditors and at the same time delivering exceptional travel experiences. Unfortunately the speed of the process and the uncertainty of outcome until only a few weeks ago has meant that everything is ‘work in process,’” Buch said in an email to Boston 25.
The Australian-based Aurora took over Vantage’s assets this month after making a $2 million bid in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Vantage filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June after coming under fire for months . Hundreds complained about a lack of refunds for canceled or postponed trips and its estimated Vantage owes $108 million to its customers.
Under the terms of the acquisition, Aurora is offering 100 percent future travel credits to Vantage customers owed money. If a customer decides to try an ocean cruise with the new company, they may use 50 percent of their travel credits at a time based on a cruise’s list price and based on “availability.” If a former Vantage customer wants to take a river or land trip, they can use 20 percent of their travel credits per trip.
The travel credits are valid through Nov. 2028 and Vantage customers may share their credits with friends and family.
“We plan on beginning communication with customer creditors in the next two weeks and hope that they will consider our offering in the spirit that it is intended,” Buch said. “For Oceangoing product we have our fleet of Infinity class ships and will expand the offering to include more Vantage style trips which we can offer right away. For river and land we are in discussion with various operators looking for the right partner which we hope to complete in the next few months.”
An Aurora spokesperson said the company is developing itineraries in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Middle East and British Isles.
“The credits are good for five years so you have plenty of time to wait and see. That would be my recommendation,” said Consumer Rescue founder Michelle Couch-Friedman. Couch-Friedman has reported extensively on Vantage’s financial issues and has been in touch with hundreds of Vantage customers. She recently wrote a consumer guide for Vantage customers and posted a Q&A with Buch .
“If you decide you’re done traveling and you don’t want the credits, the customer should still take the credits because you can give them away. You can give them to friends and family,” Couch-Friedman. “There’s no benefit to any Vantage customer to reject the credits.”
Karrie Szatek in Fairhaven said she’s not planning to use her travel credits. She said Vantage owed her around $30,000 for two overseas trips that never happened and she’s hesitant to book another trip with the new company.
“At this point, no. I want to wait and see,” she said.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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What to know about Vantage Travel, the embattled Boston cruise ship company
Boston-based luxury cruise company Vantage Travel made headlines this week for a spate of last-minute trip cancellations , spoiling travel plans for customers who were given a wide range of explanations for the disruptions.
In the case of this week’s cancellation of a 10-day European “spring tulips” cruise , which begins and ends in Amsterdam, the company blamed a “possible ransomware attack.” Two other tulips cruises have been abruptly scrapped in the last month: A customer on one said Vantage told her the ship was in drydock for repairs and wouldn’t be ready in time for the trip, and a ticketholder on the other said she was told “the boat had some damage issues on the river.” Another cruise, this one along the Nile River in Egypt, was cancelled because “people on the ground were seeing signs of unrest,” a customer said.
Answers about refunds, meanwhile, are in short supply. All travelers really know at this point is that Vantage’s website and call center are down, and many of them are, for the moment, out thousands of dollars.
Here are five things to know about the embattled cruise ship operator, its history in Boston, and what may be on the horizon.
1. The company has been in Boston for four decades
Vantage Travel launched in 1983, starting with tours to Australia and New Zealand, according to an archived version of the company’s website . Initially based in Brookline, the company later moved its headquarters to Bulfinch Triangle in Boston and currently has an office on Canal Street. Its fleet of about 20 ships — a combination of owned and leased vessels — sail to all seven continents.
The company advertises an all-inclusive experience, pledging on its website to handle everything “from airline tickets to hotel reservations, transfers and baggage handling,” with some bookings costing tens of thousands of dollars.
Most of the ships are relatively small: The $70 million Ocean Explorer, which debuted in 2021 , accommodates about 160 passengers. To date, Vantage has sent half a million travelers around the world, according to the company’s Linkedin profile.
2. Vantage’s owner has had run-ins with the law before
Vantage Travel founder and CEO Henry Lewis is no stranger to controversy and has been named as both a plaintiff and a defendant in a number of lawsuits over the years , according to court records.
One high-profile case involved Lewis and his brother, Alan Lewis , who ran another travel agency, Grand Circle Travel, before his death last year at 74 .
In 2007, the brothers donated some of their shares of the Paul Gauguin, a cruise liner, to the Boston Foundation, a local philanthropy. But about a year later, Henry Lewis “devised a scheme intended to force TBF into selling its shares ... at a discounted price” to a corporation he was operating under, according to a 2011 court ruling . In the end, the court ruled against Henry and ordered him to pay the Boston Foundation $29.2 million for its shares.
Also during this time period, a planned merger of Grand Circle and Vantage fell through , with Henry Lewis accusing his brother of shady business practices. The brothers stopped speaking and filed competing lawsuits.
“I had a lot of faith in his word,” Henry said in a 2009 interview with the Globe . “Now, I learned not to trust anybody. Not even your brother.”
3. Both employee and customers have criticized the company
Besides the jilted customers who have spoken out recently about the canceled trips, the company’s digital footprint is littered with grievances stretching back years. On TripAdvisor, a website where people can leave reviews of companies, Vantage has racked up more than 50 one-star reviews . Many users warn people not to book with the company, describing protracted wait times for refunds for canceled trips and difficult customer service experiences.
“If you book with this company you might as well throw your money down the toilet,” wrote one user last year.
Many former workers also condemn the company, according to the anonymous employee review website GlassDoor . A number of people who said they used to work there described a “toxic” work environment.
“The owner is belligerent and regularly yells and is rude and dismissive to employees,” wrote one user in 2018.
“‘Do you have any sense of self worth?’ If yes, do not work at Vantage,” wrote another in 2019.
4. The Massachusetts Attorney General has gotten involved
On Tuesday, the state Attorney General’s office released updated data about Vantage. The number of complaints filed against the company from Massachusetts residents? More than 700, mostly for trips canceled due to the pandemic . The office said it has secured more than $1.2 million in refunds for more than 80 customers,
“We encourage Massachusetts residents having trouble seeking refunds from Vantage to file a complaint with our office online,” Attorney General Andrea Campbell’s office said. “Out-of-state consumers are encouraged to file with their state attorney general.”
5. Some trips are still “expected to embark as scheduled.”
Despite the controversy, three upcoming trips are still “expected to embark as scheduled,” according to a temporary website Vantage set up . This includes a trip scheduled to embark Thursday from Boston to Montreal, a cruise from Greece to Italy on Friday, and a Holland to Switzerland voyage early next month.
The page, which points to “a data security incident” as the cause of the cancellations, asks customers to email [email protected] for additional information.
“We will update this site daily with additional information on future trips,” the page says.
Sean P. Murphy of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Dana Gerber can be reached at [email protected] . Follow her @danagerber6 .
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Vantage Travel Cruise Line charters Ocean Odyssey in 2022
The Boston MA -based premium river cruise brand Vantage Travel announced that its new 162-passenger Ocean Odyssey ship is scheduled for launch in March 2022.
After the introduction of sistership Ocean Explorer in 2021, the newbuild (currently under construction) Ocean Odyssey will mark a major milestone in the company's 36-year history by bringing travellers to all the seven continents and new for Vantage Travel destinations, such as the Pacific Ocean's Coral Triangle (Indonesia, Malaysia, PNG, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste), Komodo Island , Borneo Island (world's 3rd-largest), northern Australia.
MS Ocean Odyssey is an ice-strengthened (polar class 1A / PC6) expedition cruise ship owned by SunStone Ships (USA) and to be operated under charter by Vantage Travel.
Ocean Odyssey is the fourth in a series of ten "Ulstein CX103" design (Infinity-Class) expedition vessels, with sisterships Greg Mortimer (2019-Aug), Ocean Victory (2020-Sept), Ocean Explorer (2021-Feb), Sylvia Earle (2021-Oct), Ocean Discoverer (2022-Sept), Ocean Albatros (2022-Oct) plus 4 more (TBN) units. The patented ULSTEIN X-BOW design is one of the unusual for expedition ship features, The vessel also utilizes the latest technologies in naval engineering. The ship is technically managed by Cruise Management International ( Miami -based passenger vessel/fleet management company). CMI Leisure Miami handles hotel operations.
The expedition vessel features dedicated outdoor observation areas (including fore-located Observation Deck with two Hydraulic Platforms and two Viewing Platforms), stern marina (watersports platform serving company's sea kayaking, snorkelling, and scuba diving programs), a fleet of 20x Zodiacs (large-capacity motorized boats used for passenger transportation - tendering and landings). The aft-located Zodiac loading platform is a new design and allows easier and faster boarding. Sun Deck (top-deck forward) is furnished with premium garden furniture (sofas, armchairs, sun loungers) and used for both relaxation and wildlife viewing. The top-deck bow is the Observation Lounge (served by its own Bar) and midship is the funnel (with four stacks/engine exhaust pipes).
Other facilities include Medical Centre (Infirmary), Change Room (Mudroom), Bar Lounge (lecture theater forward on Deck 5), Dining Room Restaurant, Ship Shop, Lobby area (Reception Desk), Library, Art Room, Wellness Centre (Fitness, Spa, Sauna Room, Treatment Rooms for Massages), Lower Sun Deck (Deck 7 aft, with lifeboats and liferafts), Upper Sun Deck (Deck 8 midship, with sunbathing area and two whirlpool hot tubs). Four Zodiac Docks (2 on each side, hull access at sea-level) serve as boat launching platforms.
MS Ocean Odyssey has 10 decks and offers 15x single-occupancy cabins (out of total 80 staterooms) .
Vantage Announces New Expeditions and Itineraries for 2023-2024
- January 22, 2023
Vantage Deluxe World Travel is offering new expedition and discovery cruise itineraries for travelers in 2023-2024, the company announced in a press release.
The newly announced voyages include shorter cruises to Antarctica and first-time itineraries to South America, the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
“From the shores of the Mediterranean and Latin American marvels to the dramatic wilderness of Antarctica and lively cultures of the Caribbean, Vantage’s new 2023 and 2024 journeys will take our guests to the most remote and exciting destinations in the world,” said Deirdre Dirkman, EVP of worldwide operations & marketing at Vantage Deluxe World Travel.
“We hope everyone discovers their dream journey with Vantage this year,” Dirkman added.
Vantage’s recently released expedition cruising itineraries offer what the company calls “fresh opportunities” to see destinations that include the Arctic, Antarctica and the Amazon.
New in 2023, Vantage will offer a shorter length Antarctic cruise named Antarctic Express Expedition. The seven-night cruise begins in Ushuaia, Argentina, and features fewer days at sea, in addition to two days in Antarctica.
New sailings from Central and South America including Argentina, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, Barbados and Chile have also been announced.
These journeys enable travelers to spend more time enjoying experiences ashore and place a major emphasis on exploring natural habitats, Vantage said.
The 2023-2024 season will also mark Vantage’s first full season with two ships, the Ocean Explorer and the Ocean Odyssey – which joined the fleet in late 2022 .
The small vessels were built for global luxury expedition travel, the company said, and will navigate worldwide with 48 itineraries that will bring travelers to all seven continents.
New itineraries include stops in Greece, Slovenia, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Barbados, Bahamas, Scotland, Norway, Ireland and Sweden.
According to the company, its small ship cruising itineraries allow guests to immerse themselves in the culture of centuries-old towns and villages.
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Vantage Travel is bankrupt. But what about its owner? Two lawsuits say he should reimburse customers who lost millions.
W ith the sale of its remaining assets in bankruptcy court last month, Vantage Travel went out of business, bringing to an ignominious end one of Boston’s oldest and most successful international travel companies.
But the battle continues for the thousands of Vantage customers who are still owed large refunds for trips the company postponed or canceled.
Attorneys general in New York and Pennsylvania have set their sights on Vantage’s founder and longtime owner Hank Lewis, suing him personally in an effort to recoup some of the $108 million owed to customers whose trips never happened.
And while the corporation he founded is bankrupt, a check of court records through last week showed no filing by Lewis for personal bankruptcy.
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a suit on Sep. 13 against Lewis personally, and Vantage as a corporation.
“By virtue of the conduct alleged … [Lewis and Vantage] have engaged in repeated and persistent fraudulent conduct,” the suit says.
In June, Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry filed a similar suit that accuses Lewis personally (and Vantage corporately) of engaging in unlawful “deceptive and unfair business practices.”
Yet, the Massachusetts attorney general has not filed suit against Lewis or Vantage. Instead, the AG’s office chose to go after Vantage while it was still in business. But that approach has resulted in just about a dozen settlements for Mass. residents for less than $200,000.
Since 2020, the Massachusetts attorney general’s office has received more than 1,500 complaints about Vantage, including 134 from Massachusetts residents. Thirty of those in-state complaints were resolved without the attorney general’s help, and of the remaining 104 complaints, the attorney general’s office helped mediate 13 for a total of $162,000 in refunds, or about $12,500 each.
The attorney general’s office also successfully mediated on behalf of 72 out-of-state residents for a total or almost $1.2 million, or about $16,500 each.
A spokesperson for Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell said the office opted to pressure Vantage to make refunds while it was still in business, rather than sue the company, as a strategy most likely to produce quick results. Campbell’s predecessor as attorney general, now-Governor Maura Healey, oversaw the issue through the end of 2022.
Almost 80 complaints are still pending at the attorney general’s office. But since Vantage filed for voluntary bankruptcy on June 29, Campbell’s office has been blocked from mediating those complaints due to bankruptcy rules and the company’s recent sale to an Australian travel company.
But Campbell’s office supports the efforts of the New York and Pennsylvania attorneys general and is in regular contact with them, according to her office.
Last month, under the supervision of the bankruptcy court, Vantage sold its customer list and the Vantage name to Pacific Travel Partners, a subsidiary of the Australia-based Aurora Expeditions, for $2 million.
But the bankruptcy case is not closed. A committee representing creditors, including the thousands of customers who are owed refunds, is investigating whether assets controlled by other Lewis-owned companies should be subject to distribution to creditors.
The New York and Pennsylvania lawsuits against Vantage as a corporation are stayed for now under bankruptcy rules. And even if the stay were to be lifted, the company has few, if any, remaining assets to satisfy any eventual court judgment against it, bankruptcy court filings show.
But it’s a different story for Lewis.
“The bankruptcy of a company may protect it from lawsuits, but it doesn’t protect the owner from being sued personally,” said Francis C. Morrissey, a bankruptcy lawyer and Boston University adjunct law professor.
“If the owner of a company personally has money, he’s got exposure,” he said.
Founded by Lewis 40 years ago, Vantage operated expensive river and ocean cruises and land tours around the world, with a customer base of predominantly travelers 60 and older. He was Vantage’s president, treasurer, secretary, chairman, sole director, CEO, and CFO, according to the recently filed suits.
Multiple emails seeking comment on behalf of Lewis were sent to Lewis’s bankruptcy attorneys, who are listed in filings by the New York attorney general’s office with its lawsuit, but were not answered. An email to Lewis at his former Vantage address “could not be delivered,” and there was no response to emails to other Vantage executives seeking comment on Lewis’s behalf.
The New York suit alleges that for more than three years, Vantage, with Lewis at the helm, repeatedly canceled scheduled trips, but instead of acknowledging them as cancellations, called them “postponement.”
The suit says calling them postponements opened the door for Vantage to refuse refunds while instead offering future travel credits, which the suit says violated the company’s own agreement with customers to provide “prompt refunds” for a canceled trip.
The suit cites the example of a 92-year-old woman who paid Vantage more than $20,000 in advance for a cruise scheduled for August 2022.
“Vantage canceled the trip, claiming that it had merely been ‘postponed’ until a year later,” the suit says, noting that the customer by then would have been one month shy of her 94th birthday.
“Vantage told this consumer that she could not get a refund because the trip was not canceled,” the suit says.
When the customer protested she couldn’t wait another year for the trip, Vantage offered her an earlier one.
“But then five weeks before that departure, Vantage again supposedly ‘postponed’ that trip” for more than a year, the suit says.
Vantage offered the woman a credit for future travel “but refused to provide a refund,” the suit says.
In another example, the New York suit cites a couple who wanted to cancel due to a recently diagnosed medical condition. But when they called to demand a refund of $18,000, a Vantage representative told them the company didn’t have to provide a cash refund under a new government policy meant to protect struggling travel companies, allowing them to instead offer a voucher for future travel, the suit says.
There was no such government policy, the suit says.
The New York suit says Lewis had “knowledge of and participated in the deceptive practices … and is therefore liable for” them.
“In emails to consumers who cancelled their trips due to Covid-19, Lewis repeatedly mentioned a ‘risk-free cancellation policy’ for future trips and offered credits or other incentives for consumers to book new trips, which Lewis knew or should have known could not be fulfilled,” the suit says.
In almost every communication, Lewis mentioned the high volume of calls to Vantage’s customer service line and often added that this was “resulting in unusually long wait times,” the suit says.
Despite Lewis’s awareness that consumers could not promptly reach customer service to discuss “postponed” trips, this problem was not rectified, the suit says.
The New York suit seeks an unspecified amount in “restitution and damages” for aggrieved consumers. It doesn’t say how many New Yorkers are owed refunds, but makes reference to 31 customers listed in a “representative sample” provided by Vantage under subpoena.
The Pennsylvania suit seeks “restitution to all customers who have suffered losses” without a specific number. When the suit was filed, the attorney general’s office asked anyone who may be a victim to contact that office.
The Pennsylvania attorney general, in her lawsuit, says Lewis and Vantage promised “‘risk-free’ travel, but in reality, [they] misapply their [contractual] terms and conditions by taking large sums of consumers’ monies and then fail to provide meaningful relief for consumers when they cannot travel.”
“Vantage took advantage of older Pennsylvanians by continuing to hold their refunds hostage,” Henry said in announcing the suit.
“If Pennsylvania consumers pay for goods or services and get nothing in return, our office will fight for those victims,” she said.
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On August 18, 2023, Pacific Travel Partners, a subsidiary of Aurora Expeditions, acquired the business and operating assets of Vantage Deluxe Travel through a competitive bidding process that was supervised and approved by the United States Bankruptcy Court.
Former customers of Vantage Deluxe Travel may wish to ‘opt-out’ of future marketing communications issued by Pacific Travel Partners in connection with operating the travel business, and can do so by emailing [email protected] . Please note that by opting out, customers will forfeit the right to apply a Future Credit on account of a postponed trip.
Vantage Explorations are travel specialists here to help you plan a trip that matches your dreams and sense of exploration. We offer a range of experiences which are operated by Aurora Expeditions.
About aurora expeditions.
Aurora Expeditions is an award-winning expedition cruise company with a legacy spanning over three decades. We take travelers to some of the planet’s most incredible and sought-after places, offering ‘Expedition’ and ‘Discovery’ style voyages to Antarctica, the Canadian and European Arctic, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, Ireland, Latin America and beyond.
Our ‘Discovery’ style voyages take travelers to the heart of nature and offer a fresh perspective on iconic destinations, with an emphasis on culture and history. On these voyages, we visit a unique blend of destinations, landing at ports where possible but also utilising Zodiacs to get passengers to shore in remote historical or natural sites where there isn’t a port or dock nearby.
Aurora Expeditions is deeply committed to environmentally respectful travel to preserve the natural world’s beauty and majesty, by taking real actions for the care of the planet. We want our travellers to experience the environments and places we visit, by learning about the wildlife and history of these locations from experts in their fields.
Our voyages appeal to a wide range of passengers, including solo travellers, couples and multi-generational families. Our focus is on enabling passengers to travel in small groups to experience unique destinations aboard comfortable, safe and ultra-modern vessels. We are proud to offer a comprehensive activity program that enables passengers to choose their level of participation on an individual basis.
View Voyages – Operated by Aurora Expeditions
Discover our full range of immersive discovery voyages, expeditions and trekking itineraries in the polar regions and diverse destinations across the globe.
Explore our Arctic & Global 2024 season, full of enriching, once-in-a-lifetime adventures across some of the most pristine destinations in the world.
Enjoy life changing adventures in the seventh continent – Antarctica – in our latest brochure. Choose from 25 expeditions ranging from 9 to 23 days.
Discovery Voyages: Visit Diverse Destinations
Arctic circle, northern lights, costa rica & panama, classic expeditions: explore life changing places, northwest passage, patagonia & chilean fjords, ultra-modern, purpose-built small ships.
In 2016, Aurora Expeditions committed to three Infinity class ships – the same ship class and design recently launched by Vantage. The Greg Mortimer launched in 2019, the Sylvia Earle in 2022, and we are excited to have the third vessel joining us in October 2025.
These ultra-modern purpose-built ships utilise the latest advances in design and technology, truly revolutionising the small ship experience. Designed for discovery, they carry a maximum of 132 passengers. Travelling in small groups means that, unlike on larger vessels, you have the opportunity to explore the natural environment more by joining every shore excursion.
With expansive observation decks to bring you closer to the environment, spacious staterooms featuring ocean views (most with balconies), modern lecture lounges, multiple Zodiac platforms, world-class restaurants, a gym, sauna, library, bar and Jacuzzis, our ships are comfortable base camps for adventures around the globe. What’s more, the revolutionary Ulstein X-BOW® design allows the ship to cross oceans more comfortably and quickly, while minimising emissions and fuel.
What do our passengers say?
We are here to help! To contact our Customer Service team, call us on 1-800-322-6677 , email customercare@vantage xplorations.com or complete the form below.
Request a customised quote
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Vantage Status Update (Updated: 6/29/2023) .
On June 29, 2023, Vantage filed a petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts. All reservation activity is suspended pending the conclusion of the sale proceedings.
Additional Information will be made available once the process is completed and no later than 1 September, 2023.
See Vantage FAQ for full Details
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Kamaz FTL hauler registers NatCar brand
MOSCOW. Sept 4 (Interfax) - National Carrier JSC, the full truckload freight trucking company headed by former Globaltruck CEO Ilya Sattarov that Russian truck maker Kamaz founded this summer, applied to register the brand NatCar at the end of August, the registry of federal intellectual property service Rospatent showed.
The NatCar brand is also mentioned in the recruitment ads of National Carrier, which is actively looking for E-class drivers. It is offering working with this year's model Kamaz diesel trucks from the flagship K5 line and new dry goods (curtainsider) and refrigerated trailers.
National Carrier was founded on July 7 in Moscow with charter capital of 1 billion rubles, the Unified State Register of Legal Entities showed. The company registered two branches in early August, in Yekaterinburg and Elektrostal, Moscow Region. The company specializes in truck logistics and associated activities, including digitization processes.
A spokesman for National Carrier told Interfax earlier that the company plans to provide FTL trucking services using its own fleet, "as well as the resources of hired truckers." The company's fleet will initially consist of 400 semi-trailer trucks with a 50/50 ratio of curtainside to refrigerated trailers, and it plans to primarily operate on domestic routes, he said.
The company has preliminary agreements with major customers among marketplaces and retailers in the FMCG and DIY segments, the spokesman said. Strong demand for trucking services is expected toward the end of the year, so there is interest from customers, he said.
Kamaz marketing director Ashot Arutyunyan announced at the International Moscow Automotive Forum at the end of August that the truck maker was the principal investor in National Carrier. He did not comment on the new company's shareholder structure, but said it is a Kamaz startup.
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New modification of Russian VVER-440 fuel loaded at Paks NPP in Hungary
DECEMBER 14, 2020 — After the recent refueling at power unit 3 of the Hungarian Paks NPP, its VVER-440 reactor has been loaded with a batch of fresh fuel including 18 fuel bundles of the new modification. The new fuel will be introduced at all four operating power units of the Paks NPP, and the amount of new-modification bundles in each refueling will be increased gradually.
Development of the new VVER-440 fuel modification was completed in 2020 under the contract between TVEL JSC and MVM Paks NPP Ltd. Its introduction would optimize the hydro-uranium ratio in the reactor core, enabling to increase the efficiency of fuel usage and advance the economic performance of the power plant operation. All VVER-440 fuel modifications are manufactured at the Elemash Machine-Building Plant, a facility of TVEL Fuel Company in Elektrostal, Moscow Region.
“Introduction of a new fuel is an option to improve technical and economic performance of a nuclear power plant without substantial investment. We are actively engaged in development of new models and modifications of VVER-440 fuel for power plants in Europe. The projects of the new fuels for Loviisa NPP in Finland, Dukovany NPP in the Czech Republic, Mochovce and Bohunice NPPs in Slovakia, are currently at various stages of implementation. Despite the same reactor model, these projects are quite different technically and conceptually, since we take into account the individual needs and requirements of our customers,” commented Natalia Nikipelova, President of TVEL JSC.
The project of development and validation of the new fuel has been accomplished with participation of a number of Russian nuclear industry enterprises, such as OKB Gidropress (a part of Rosatom machine-building division Atomenergomash), Bochvar Institute (material science research facility of TVEL Fuel Company), Elemash Machine-building plant and Kurchatov Institute national research center. At the site of OKB Gidropress research and experiment facility, the new fuel passed a range of hydraulic, longevity and vibration tests.
Paks NPP is the only functioning nuclear power plant in Hungary with total installed capacity 2000 MWe. It operates four similar units powered by VVER-440 reactors and commissioned one by one in 1982-1987. Currently, Paks NPP is the only VVER-440 plant in the world operating in extended 15-monthes fuel cycle. The power plant produces about 15 bln kWh annually, about a half of electric power generation in Hungary. In 2018, the project of increasing the duration of Paks NPP fuel cycle won the European competition Quality Innovation Award in the nomination “Innovations of large enterprises”. Russian engineers from TVEL JSC, Kurchatov Institute, OKB Gidropress, Bochvar Institute and Elemash Machine-building plant provided assistance to the Hungarian colleagues in accomplishment of the project.
TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom incorporates enterprises for the fabrication of nuclear fuel, conversion and enrichment of uranium, production of gas centrifuges, as well as research and design organizations. It is the only supplier of nuclear fuel for Russian nuclear power plants. TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom provides nuclear fuel for 73 power reactors in 13 countries worldwide, research reactors in eight countries, as well as transport reactors of the Russian nuclear fleet. Every sixth power reactor in the world operates on fuel manufactured by TVEL. www.tvel.ru
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How to navigate the Moscow Metro – a brief guide
The Moscow Metro is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, and one of the largest, with 269 stations and counting! Still, no one is immune from standing flummoxed in the middle of the platform not knowing whether to go left or right, or which of six or more exits to take to escape the subterranean maze. Our guide sheds light on some of the finer points, and will definitely make your life in the subway easier.
These began to appear back in 2014, and are now visible at all the main interchange stations. Huge stickers with arrows on the floor show where you need to go to change line.
The lines are indicated by number and color, with the names written in Russian with English transliteration. For example, the number 7 in a purple circle means the Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line; it is the purple line on the Metro map.
The Moscow Metro has over 20 different types of signs, which all complement each other. So if you look at one and are still confused, try looking at another.
Metro signs answer the key question: “Which way should I go?”, and usually show the end station of the line and/or the general direction (northbound, southbound, to the city center, etc.). Some overhead signs show only the line number and the end station; such a scheme is also used in the Paris Metro.
There are also signs on the platform walls, which tend to be more detailed. They tell you which direction the train is headed and which stations it will stop at. The station you are currently at is marked with a rectangle in the color of the line, and all others are listed in order from top to bottom.
All sign information is duplicated in English: names of Metro stations in lobbies, on platforms, and in rail cars are all shown in Latin script. Stations in rail cars are also announced in two languages, Russian and English. And ticket windows with English-speaking staff are marked with the sticker “We speak English!”.
How to find the right exit
Many stations have several exits. One of the busiest central stations, Kitai Gorod, has no fewer than 15! But numbers, stands, and wall guides will help you out of the labyrinth without needing a ball of string.
Locals often use subway exits as geographical markers. For example, they might say “Let’s meet by the exit at Solyanka.” But for tourists this might not be very helpful. That said, maps showing the local area and main sights are available at exits (not all), or on round colorful stands in station lobbies and on platforms:
But since all exits are numbered, it’s best to be guided by the exit numbers.
There is often an overhead sign at exits listing the nearby sights, streets, shopping malls, and other reference points.
And on platform and lobby walls, you can see more stickers with bus, tram, and trolleybus numbers, showing the way to public transport stops.
The traditional meeting place in the Moscow Metro is v tsentre zala ("the platform center"). But recently, special stickers with the words Mesto vtrechi ("Meeting place") have appeared, making it easier to find one other.
Some stations have a stand with a Metro map in the center of the platform and by the ticket windows in the lobby. But these days, the best way to navigate the branchy subway system is via a mobile app. Armed with one, you can work out the fastest route from A to B, calculate the journey time, see all available transfers and ground transport stops, and get notifications about temporary closures of stations and exits, etc.
MosMetro is the official app of the Moscow Metro:
- Download for Android
- Download on the App Store
Yandex.Metro is a similar app from Yandex
- Download for Android
- Download on the App Store
Some information boards provide a QR code – scan it to find out about the history of the station.
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Rosatom Starts Life Tests of Third-Generation VVER-440 Nuclear Fuel
- 16 June, 2020 / 13:00
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