While at the Viking Longships Christening in Amsterdam last month, we learned that Viking River Cruises is looking seriously at offering cruises along the Mississippi River. Details of the project are still being revealed, but one aspect appears to be certain: The company has no intention to build one of the paddlewheel-style vessels that have come to symbolize Mississippi river cruising.
Viking intends to begin operations along the Mississippi in 2015, using a European-style river cruise vessel that likely draws much of its influence from the highly successful Viking Longships.
River cruising along the Mississippi had all but died out a few years ago but has experienced a remarkable resurgence as of late. Both Avalon Waterways and Tauck have entered into agreements with American Queen Steamboat Company for space aboard the recently relaunched American Queen. In further expansion, American Cruise Lines took delivery of the Queen of the Mississippi this past August.
The mighty Mississippi is now moderately busy with passenger river cruise vessels.
Both of the latter vessels are traditionally styled sternwheelers that draw on the rich history of passenger travel along the Mississippi. But there’s no technological or navigational reason to feature a stern-mounted paddle-style propulsion system. It will be interesting to see how Viking’s European river cruise ship product evolves along the Mississippi, where there are no strict restrictions on physical length, height and width of the vessel as there are in Europe.
Viking reports that it has a design in mind for the new U.S.-based river cruise ship, but the company has not yet secured a shipyard to build it. Viking’s current European-based Viking Longships are constructed in Rostock, Germany.
For the moment, Viking stands poised to become the first European river cruise operator to enter into the North American market using its own hardware.
More information on Viking River Cruises can be found by viewing our complete company and fleet profiles here on River Cruise Advisor.