Viking Cruise Lines to debut Mississippi River cruises in August 2022

Published 10:30 am Friday, April 10, 2020

An industry that already generates more than $2 million in economic impact on the city of Vicksburg is set to grow larger.

While Viking Cruise Lines long ago announced it was bringing cruises to the Mississippi River, with stops in Natchez, Memphis, New Orleans and Vicksburg, the company just recently confirmed that the company’s first river cruise will begin in August 2022 with bookings for cruises opening to the general public Wednesday.

“At a time where many of us are at home, looking for inspiration to travel in the future, I am pleased to introduce a new, modern way to explore this great river. We invented the concept of modern river cruising when we got our start 23 years ago—first on the rivers of Russia and then in Europe. Since then, many people have come to appreciate the unique exploration that comes with river cruising—but currently, there are very few options to do so on American rivers,” said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking, in a statement released on the company’s website. “Our guests are curious travelers, and they continue to tell us that the Mississippi is the river they most want to sail with us. The Mississippi River is closer to home for many of our guests, and no other waterway has played such an important role in America’s history, commerce and culture.”

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The cruises will feature the Viking Mississippi, which is currently under construction in Louisiana.

According to the company, the vessel will be able to host 386 guests in 193 rooms that are all outside staterooms. The five-deck ship will include “expansive windows and comfortable amenities,” which according to Viking makes it “the largest and most modern cruise ship in the region.”

While the cruise industry has been docked for much of the past few weeks due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is a significant part of Vicksburg’s tourism industry.

In 2019, Vicksburg welcomed 131 visits from riverboats, bringing more than 26,000 passengers.

Combined, the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, who tracks docking, said those visits contributed $2.2 million to Vicksburg and Warren County’s economy in 2019.

And, the relationship between the company and the city of Vicksburg is more than just the occasional visit by the Viking Mississippi.

Last April, the city of Vicksburg signed a letter of intent with Viking USA LLC to lease a section of the city’s riverfront to the cruise line to dock its cruise boats.

In the agreement, Viking would construct a docking facility for its vessels and then pay the city of Vicksburg $1 per passenger. The proposed agreement would be for 20 years with a 5-year extension.

Friday, Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said while the two sides have agreed, the city is still working on getting easements from the Kansas City Southern Railroad, making sure the city has all of the rights of way in order to begin setting up plats along the riverfront.

“With Viking’s agreement, other riverboats, companies are wanting to look at similar agreements,” Flaggs said, adding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must also agree to the projects before any work can begin.

“This agreement, and others, are great opportunities for the city of Vicksburg,” Flaggs said. “This news could not have come at a better time. At least now we can see some light at the end of the tunnel.”

The two other companies that currently have vessels that dock in Vicksburg are American Cruise Lines and the American Queen Steamboat Company.

The Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau reported in 2017, Vicksburg welcomed 103 cruises with 26,000 passengers. In 2018, the city saw 120 cruises dock, with 25,000 passengers.

Viking said the fare for each of their cruises include “everything guests need, with no surprises or hidden fees.”

Cruise fares include one complimentary shore excursion in each port of call, all onboard meals and all port charges and government taxes.

Aboard the new vessel, all staterooms feature a private veranda or French balcony, king-size bed, large flat-screen interactive TV, mini-bar, large glass-enclosed shower, heated bathroom floor and 24-hour room service.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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