Viking River Cruises Plans American Debut

Viking Cruises has revealed plans to operate Mississippi River cruises, announcing its first homeport in the USA and a fleet of new riverboats for a 2017 debut.


The European giant will sail itineraries from New Orleans, with docking facilities located at the Bienville Street Wharf next to the Steamboat Natchez paddle wheel and within walking distance to the French Quarter. Additional infrastructure investments by the port include plans for a bus terminal for passengers, who are expected to travel to the city and boost its tourism sector.


The industry leader has outlined 6 new vessels to be introduced over 3 years. All will be built in the USA, with the first sailing in 2017. Each will accommodate 300 to 380 passengers and will be similar to Viking River’s award-winning European river cruisers rather than the paddle wheelers currently plying the American waterway and its tributaries.


Itineraries will take passengers from New Orleans along the Mississippi River to stops in St. James, East Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes. These then continue upriver to Memphis, St. Louis or St. Paul, depending on the season. The line will bring added choice for cruisers, joining incumbents American Cruise Lines and the American Queen Steamship Company on the river.


The largest river cruise line in the world, Viking Cruises operates 60 river boats on waterways in Asia and Europe through its Viking Rivers division. The company continues to expand aggressively, adding new ships every year (which it had done for the past decade), including the new 928-passenger Viking Star, scheduled to launch later this year and kickstart its foray into the ocean cruising market.


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