Posted by: cruise2 | 5 March, 2015

Six New Vikings For The Mississippi

by Kevin Griffin of our London office

Viking Cruises chairman Torstein Hagen announced the selection of New Orleans as the home port for Viking River Cruises’ first North American river cruise itineraries.

The Mississippi River cruises will dock at new facilities near the French Quarter in New Orleans. Viking claims it will create 416 new direct jobs for Louisiana-based operations and vessel crews, with an average salary of $40,000, while Louisiana estimates the project will generate an additional 368 indirect jobs, for a total of more than 780 new jobs in the southeast region of the state.

Plans call for the construction of six new vessels over the next three years at an estimated cost of $90 million to $100 million per vessel, all in US shipyards and crewed by US citizens.

Viking Longship Freya in Cologne - Photo Viking River Cruises

Viking Longship Freya in Cologne – Photo Viking River Cruises

The vessels will be owned by Los Angeles-based Tennenbaum Capital Partners, an alternative investment management firm, and will be time-chartered to Viking in compliance with US coasting laws. They will carry up to 300 passengers each, more than 50% more per ship than the 190-berth Viking Longships that serve in Europe, where bridge, dock and lock sizes limit vessel dimensions.

The Mississippi has fewer such limitations, with the river already featuring the 436-berth American Queen.

Commencing with the launch of cruise operations on the Mississippi in late 2017, two vessels will be commissioned per year, for a total of six over three years. Cruises will take passengers on voyages along the river from New Orleans to or from Memphis, St Louis or St Paul, depending on the season.

Hagen said, “we are excited about the prospect of bringing modern river cruising to the Mississippi, a river that has been travelled by explorers for centuries. We know our passengers will enjoy the rich history, culture and cuisine of all the great cities and towns along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St Paul.”

Viking River was founded in 1997 with the purchase of four ships and the launch of river cruise operations in Russia. Since that time, the company has grown to become the world’s leading river cruise line, holding the largest share of the market and operating the largest fleet of cruise vessels along rivers across the globe.

The company’s fleet currently features sixty modern, deluxe river vessels, including its new Viking Longships. The company first expanded into the US by establishing US headquarters in Los Angeles.

The Mississippi River itineraries will be the company’s first cruise offering on that continent.

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