In a scene that might come to resemble the header image above, Viking River Cruises will soon expand its operations to North America along the Mississippi River starting in 2017. According to a Louisiana Economic Development announcement that sets New Orleans as the initial homeport, six new U.S.-built vessels are planned for construction at an estimated cost of $90-100 million each that will also be crewed by U.S. citizens.

“The Viking team is very proud to partner with the State of Louisiana, and we are grateful for the support of [Louisiana] Governor Jindal,” Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen said. “We are excited about the prospect of bringing modern river-cruising to the Mississippi, a river that has been traveled 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. Together with our U.S. partners, we take great pride in the economic benefit that river-cruising provides to the regions our guests visit, from the shipbuilders to the local businesses.”

Details regarding itineraries, vessel design and the final launch date will be forthcoming from Viking River Cruises. Two 300-passenger riverboats are expected to launch on the Mississippi each year beginning in late 2017, with anticipated seasonal stops from New Orleans including St. James, East Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes of Louisiana; Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis, Missouri and St. Paul, Minnesota.

“New Orleans is on a roll, and this investment is yet another example of the continued growth across industries in our city,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “With the creation of nearly 800 direct and indirect jobs, Viking’s project will generate major opportunities for our citizens, boost our tourism industry, and continue to turbocharge the Port of New Orleans. I am thrilled to welcome Viking River Cruises to New Orleans.”

Stay tuned to Popular Cruising for more information.

HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: JASON LEPPERT

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