(5 p.m. EDT) – Viking will offer its first-ever river cruises in the United States in August 2022, sailing the Mississippi River aboard a brand-new, purpose-built vessel that evokes the best features of the company's European-based Viking Longships.
The company's first vessel on U.S. waterways, Viking Mississippi, will operate voyages along the Lower and Upper Mississippi River, traveling from New Orleans to St. Paul, Minnesota when it debuts in the summer of 2022.
Ports and Itineraries
Ports of call along the way will traverse seven U.S. states, including Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Darrow, New Orleans and St. Francisville); Mississippi (Natchez and Vicksburg); Tennessee (Memphis); Missouri (Hannibal, St. Louis); Iowa (Burlington, Dubuque and Davenport); Wisconsin (La Crosse); and Minnesota (St. Paul and Red Wing).
Viking's ambitions on the Mississippi have long been rumored, but today's announcement marks the first concrete commitment by the popular river and ocean line to U.S. waterways.
Viking Mississippi will sail four separate itineraries, including America's Heartland (8 days, St. Louis to St. Paul); Heart of the Delta (8 days, New Orleans to Memphis); Southern Celebration (8 days, New Orleans-Vicksburg-New Orleans); and America's Great Rivers, a 15-day journey from New Orleans to St. Paul.
Bookings for Viking's new Mississippi river cruises are open today to Viking's past guests and will be available to the general public starting April 15.
"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," Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said. "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."
Cabin and Ship Features
Currently under construction in Louisiana, the purpose-built Viking Mississippi will have a total capacity of 386 guests that will occupy 193 all-outside staterooms with French or full step-out balconies. The ship will continue Viking's trademark Scandinavian design influence but will offer features tweaked specifically for Mississippi River cruising.
The five-deck ship will be one of the largest on the river when it debuts along the Mississippi in 2022. Seven categories of accommodations will be available, ranging from 268 square feet to 1,024 square feet, including Veranda, French Balcony, Deluxe Veranda, Penthouse Veranda, Penthouse Jr. Suite, Terrace Suite and Explorer Suite.
All cabins feature a private veranda or French balcony, king-size bed with luxury linens, large flat-screen interactive TV, mini-bar, large glass-enclosed shower, heated bathroom floor and 24-hour room service.
The suites are true suites, with two rooms and a full-size balcony off the sitting room. Passengers in the Penthouse Jr. Suites (400 square feet) and Terrace Suites (425 square feet) receive early stateroom access; expanded double-sink bathroom; mini-bar with alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, water and snacks replenished daily; welcome champagne; and laundry, pressing and shoe shine services. Those who book the Explorer Suites (657 square feet to 1,024 square feet) will have a wraparound veranda and complimentary Silver Spirits Beverage Package.
Other features include Viking's iconic, forward-facing two-story Explorers' Lounge, which on Viking Mississippi will open to a unique space called The Bow, which will offer plenty of forward-facing outdoor seating.
The ship will also offer a new dining venue, The River Cafe, which will offer indoor and outdoor seating serving up everything from American classics to popular dishes served up at Mamsen's, the Norwegian-inspired café that first debuted aboard Viking's ocean ships.
Viking Mississippi will also offer the Aquavit Terrace, which debuted in 2012 aboard Viking's European-based Longship river cruise vessels. Combined with the River Cafe, Viking says Viking Mississippi was designed to offer the most al fresco dining options on the Mississippi.
Topping the ship off will be an expansive sun terrace and a glass-backed infinity pool similar to those found aboard the line's oceangoing vessels. Deck 1 will also have a full Promenade deck, where passengers can stroll the entire ship outdoors.
Enrichment and Inclusions
Enrichment onboard the ship will include destination performances representing the music of the region. The ship will also have guest lecturers focusing on the area's art, architecture, history, culture and natural world.
Extra excursions will continue some of the themes that Viking already highlights on its other river and ocean cruises, including Privileged Access, Local Life and Working World excursions. Sample excursions listed by the line include taking a guided kayaking trip in the Louisiana bayou; visiting a working farm in Iowa's Quad Cities; or taking a Privileged Access excursion to the Rural Life Museum of Louisiana State University.
Viking Mississippi fares will include one complimentary shore excursion in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes, as well as beer and wine with lunch and dinner service, lectures, alternative dining at no extra charge, self-service launderettes, 24-hour room service and free Wi-Fi.
The Mississippi announcement comes on the heels of another recent expansion in the world of expedition cruising, with Viking planning to debut two purpose-built expedition vessels in 2022. Viking Octantis will launch in January 2022 in Antarctica before sailing on the Great Lakes, while Viking Polaris will set sail in the Arctic in August 2022. Both ships will carry just 378 passengers, despite being nearly as large as Viking Star and its other oceangoing fleetmates that carry 930 guests.
Since 2012, Viking has introduced more than 60 new river cruise ships and a fleet of six oceangoing cruise ships. Its total worldwide fleet now includes 79 vessels.