The Vikings are on the move again.
Last week, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and officials from the Port of New Orleans announced that Viking River Cruises will be coming to the Mississippi.
Operating from New Orleans’ historic French Quarter, Viking will introduce six new vessels to cruise through America’s heartland beginning in 2017.
The full details of Viking’s Mississippi vessels are yet to be released, but I would expect the new North American vessels to share many design elements with Viking’s European vessels.
What is known is that the vessels will be built at a U.S. shipyard in order to comply with the Jones Act. Owing to the Mississippi’s wider spaces and deeper water, the six ships will carry up to 400 passengers each, considerably larger than the current Viking Longships, which carry up to 190.
Who is the ideal Viking passenger, on the Mississippi or abroad? We are. By we, I mean me and anyone else who is 55 years old, plus. We are the Baby Boomers, and we are traveling, or aspiring to travel, more than any other generation in history.
While Viking no doubt hopes to turn a profit on its Mississippi operations, the idea seems to be to introduce Viking cruising to baby boomers close to home in the hopes that it will encourage them to take trips on the core Viking product in Europe.
Viking’s six Mississippi vessels will be owned by Tennenbaum Capital Partners of Los Angeles and placed on long-term charter to Viking, an arrangement that isn’t uncommon for many cruise lines and airlines.
The American Queen
Currently operating on the Mississippi, the American Queen carries 436 guests. Launched in 1995, the paddle-wheeler plays on the nostalgia of the Mississippi and is marketed as offering “all the opulence of the Victorian era.” The American Queen remains — and will remain — the only authentic overnight paddlewheel steamboat in America.
If you’re itching to cruise the Mississippi, the American Queen is a good choice.
I enjoyed my time on the vessel in 2012. Check out my video review of the American Queen below, then check with your Cruise Specialists river cruise expert for more information about Viking abroad or the American Queen right here in our own backyard on one of the world’s greatest rivers. — Ralph Grizzle
Interested in cruising the Mississippi or testing out one of Vikings other ships abroad? Let our team help you find the right ship, the right sailing and the right price.