Viking launched its new Mississippi cruise operation, its first in the United States, on Saturday, September 3, after seven years of planning. The new river cruise ship viking mississippi embarked its first passengers at Lambert’s Landing in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota for an 8-day cruise south down the Mississippi to St. Louis, Missouri.
This was the latest expansion from the company best known for its European river cruises. Viking also recently launched its new river cruise ship operating on the Nile in Egypt and expanded its ocean cruises with its first exploration cruise ship which currently cruises the Great Lakes.
The entry into service of the 450-foot-long river liner had, however, been repeatedly delayed and had to overcome opposition from the Swiss-based company operating a US-flagged vessel. Opponents had repeatedly cited the planned operation as a violation of the Jones Act. American partner Edison Chouest Offshore built the new vessel and it is owned by an American LLC chartered to Viking for eight years. The United States Maritime Administration has repeatedly stated that the charter arrangement complies with US regulations.
Crossing the lock and dam towards St. Paul (US Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District)
viking first announced his plans to expand its operations in Mississippi in 2015. At the time, they announced that they planned to order two vessels owned by Tennenbaum Capital Partners, an investment firm, later acquired by BlackRock and now operating as BlackRock TCP Capital Corp. that they planned to build a total of six ships to operate on the Mississippi. The company was to be based in New Orleans. Viking, however, has spent years making presentations in towns along the Mississippi to secure berthage rights while seeking partners and perfecting ship designs to meet the challenges of full-length operation. from Mississippi.
Local media suggested that up to 300 people were boarding the delayed maiden voyage for a journey that would take them through ports in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, before arriving in Missouri. After repeating this itinerary, the ship will reposition to operate cruises between Memphis, Tennessee and New Orleans, Louisiana as well as round trips from New Orleans.
The vessel was specifically designed for the Mississippi using features of the company’s river and ocean cruiser while adding unique features to its Mississippi operations. It has five passenger decks and a total of 198 passenger cabins that can accommodate 386 passengers. The crew has 148 members and are American to meet American requirements.
Passenger facilities include a two-story lounge near the bow of the ship surrounded by glass and an outdoor seating area. In addition to a main lounge and dining area, there will be alternative restaurants, including indoor and outdoor casual spaces. There is also a sun terrace with an infinity pool and a 360 degree sundeck.
The ship was floated in March 2022 from the Houma, Louisiana shipyard, with plans to enter service in June. Viking, however, later reported that due to circumstances beyond his control, the maiden voyage was delayed. Reports said they encountered supply chain issues and the ship needed finishing touches to be ready for the first cruise this week.
The departure from St. Paul yesterday also marked the first time in perhaps a decade or more that a major cruise ship has called at the town, with the tourist board telling reporters it was “huge for us”. The tourist board, however, told the Pioneer Press newspaper that they had opted for “a low-key arrival” on Saturday, telling the newspaper “Let’s put this first to our credit”.
The cruise line has released itineraries for the Viking Mississippi through 2024 and reports strong interest. Some trips are already showing as sold out on the website. The company has yet to announce plans for more cruise ships on the Mississippi and whether it still plans to eventually build six ships for the river.