It may not be a classic paddlewheel riverboat, but travelers can live out their Mark Twain fantasies by climbing aboard a series of new cruises on the Mississippi River.
The cruises don’t begin until 2022, but demand has been so strong that Viking announced this week it has opened up sailing dates through 2024.
The cruises will run from St. Paul, Minnesota, to New Orleans and numerous ports in between. The full-length cruise runs 15 days, while several eight-day trips are available for just a portion of the nation’s longest river.
“As we begin to restart ocean operations this spring, we also look forward to a new chapter in 2022 when we begin sailing our first U.S. river voyages,” Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said in a statement.
The cruises will take place on the Viking Mississippi, hosting 386 guests and 193 outside staterooms. The five-deck ship, currently under construction in Louisiana, will feature a Scandinavian design and numerous public spaces reimagined for Mississippi River viewing.
The staterooms will range in size from 268 square feet to 1,024 square feet, and each will have its own private veranda or French balcony, a king-size bed, flat-screen TV, mini-bar, glass-enclosed shower, heated bathroom floor, and 24-hour room service.
The ship will have a main dining venue on the first deck, a cafe on the top deck, a pool at the aft, and more.
“Viking’s arrival to the Mississippi will represent a major commitment to tourism and economic development in many communities along the river,” the company said in a statement. “The new cruises are expected to bring more than 5,800 guests to the region in 2022, and 17,600-plus during the first full sailing season in 2023.”
Prices And Itinerary
While the experience is something special, the price tag isn’t cheap. Pricing starts at $10,999 per person for the 15-day New Orleans to St. Paul cruise.
The eight-day cruises, which begin at $3,999 to $4,399 per person, include St. Louis to St. Paul, New Orleans to Memphis, Memphis to New Orleans, and a journey starting and ending in New Orleans.
The boats will dock at numerous locations along the routes, giving travelers a chance to experience day trips such as Graceland, the Gateway Arch, and civil rights focal points in Mississippi and Tennessee.
Ports will be located in seven states:
- Louisiana (New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Darrow, St. Francisville)
- Mississippi (Natchez, Vicksburg)
- Tennessee (Memphis)
- Missouri (Hannibal, St. Louis)
- Iowa (Burlington, Dubuque, Davenport)
- Wisconsin (La Crosse)
- Minnesota (Red Wing, St. Paul)
Several of the sailings in 2022 and 2023 have already sold out, prompting the company to release 2024 dates earlier than expected.
“We are pleased with the continued response and support we have received from loyal guests and valued partners ahead of our new Mississippi River sailings,” Hagen said.
Competition On The River
Viking isn’t the only company sailing the Mississippi. With the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention allowing cruises with less than 250 passengers, several are already on the river.
Among them is American Queen Steamboat Company, which runs four ships with a 166-person capacity. Founder and CEO John Waggoner told The Bulletin that business is good.
“There’s a big push to buy in America,” Waggoner said. “So, U.S.-flagged vessels, built in America, manned by U.S. employees, I think there’s a big move toward that.”