SURRATT: Viking, I’m still waiting on your arrival

Published 4:00 am Friday, September 9, 2022

During the Battle of Leyte Gulf in World War II, Adm. William Halsey redeployed his Task Force 37 away from the landings on the Philippine island of Leyte to chase what was a decoy fleet of Japanese aircraft carriers, leaving the job of protecting the landings to a small group of ships, including two Jeep, or escort carriers.

The small group of carriers, destroyers and I believe several cruisers then had the task of holding off a superior Japanese force that included the super battleship Yamato.

When Adm. Chester Nimitz, the Navy’s commander-in-chief Pacific, realized Halsey was not where he was supposed to be, he sent this message, “Where is Task Force 37? The world wonders.”

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The same might be asked of a certain river cruise boat that was supposed to have made its maiden voyage back in August, “Where’s Viking? The world wonders.”

I remember when Viking announced it was going to begin river cruises on the Mississippi; there was a wave of excitement through Vicksburg’s tourist industry and I was kind of interested in the news myself since I enjoy looking at the riverboats.

I had seen the Viking ads for its European river cruises and was impressed by the boats and I looked forward to seeing Viking’s boat moored at City Front, especially after Viking in November 2020 signed a 20-year ground lease with the city on a 600-foot section of Vicksburg’s riverfront behind the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Depot on Levee Street to build a facility for its cruise boats.

When Viking announced it would begin cruises in August, the anticipation doubled, especially when it was announced at a May meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen that Viking would be leasing mooring space on the riverfront from American Cruise Lines.

But when August came, Viking didn’t, although I remember seeing a Facebook post and photo that said Viking’s boat passed by Vicksburg as it was cruising upstream to some location. As far as I know, there were no other local sightings, putting Viking right up there with Sasquatch and the Loch Ness monster in my mind.

Then this morning, while doing my usual net surfing while getting ready for work, I came across an item on the Internet that Viking last Saturday “quietly launched its first sailing on the Mississippi River — a seven-night voyage from St. Paul, Minnesota, to St. Louis that will include calls at river towns in four states.”

Very interesting.

So now I wonder, does this mean Viking is truly beginning cruises on the Mississippi? Will it stay up North or will it come South so tourists can enjoy our Southern hospitality and history?

We shall see.

Viking, please understand that I am not angry with you, just frustrated and I’d really like to see your boat. But there have been so many different reports about your arrival here that I’ll have to treat it like I do the University of Massachusetts winning the college football playoffs — I’ll believe it when I see it.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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