Viking River Cruises, the world’s top river cruise company, have confirmed that they are building a new ship to operate on the Mississippi River in 2015. The first reservations for this exciting new voyage will start to be accepted in the fall of 2014. The ship will be similar to the Viking Longships that the company currently operates throughout Europe, which will be in contrast to the traditional paddle wheeler boats that currently operate on the Mississippi River. The 340 passenger ship will be built in a yard in the United States and the company is currently considering several U.S. yards to build the vessel. Since the ship will be operating in U.S. waters, the new ship will be required to have a U.S. crew based on U.S. regulations.
Viking River Cruises has been around for 175 years and prides itself on luxurious ships, knowledgeable guides, delicious cuisine and impeccable service. The company owns and operates the most deluxe cruise ships designed for river travel. Although based in the United States, Viking River Cruises operates a fleet of 31 ships throughout Europe and Asia. Trips aboard Viking River Cruises have a duration of anywhere from seven to 23 days, with some voyages including both river cruising and hotel stays on shore. Each of the vessels is quite intimate with an average capacity of approximately 168 passengers, and cruises are marketed to guests of 55 ages and older. The vessels all feature spacious accommodations including luxurious suites and all of the Viking cruises are all inclusive. Therefore, the fares include all meals, activities, port charges, shore excursions, and on board lectures and programs. Complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks are also served on the ship with lunch and dinner. All of the cruises feature excellent shore excursions with expert guides and also include leisure time at ports. When Viking River Cruises begins their operation on the Mississippi River, this dedication to quality and excellence is sure to continue.
The Viking River Cruises vessel will join two other overnight cruise boats that currently operate on the Mississippi River, the American Queen and Queen of the Mississippi. The American Queen Steamboat Company operates trips on the American Queen, the only authentic overnight paddlewheel steamboat in the United States. The company offers voyages aboard the American Queen ranging from three to 11 nights on both the lower and upper portions of the Mississippi River. American Cruise Lines operates the Queen of the Mississippi, a paddlewheel cruise with eight day trips on the lower or upper portion of the Mississippi River. The company also operates eight day roundtrip cruises aboard the Queen of the Mississippi from New Orleans. There were several years that passed without overnight cruise service on the Mississippi River. Although built in 1995, the American Queen was put back into service in the spring of 2012 after a refurbishment and the Queen of the Mississippi was just put into service in the fall of 2012. The addition of the Viking River Cruises vessel on the Mississippi River in 2015 will make an exciting modern alternative to these traditional paddlewheel cruises.