Viking boats to cruise Mississippi River

Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:23pm EST
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By Jonathan Kaminsky

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Viking Cruises Ltd will establish its first North American beachhead, a homeport in New Orleans, and will offer cruises up the Mississippi River starting in 2017, the company and Louisiana officials announced.

The move is seen as an effort to capitalize on rapidly growing interest in river cruises, which involve much smaller vessels than most ocean liners.

The company - whose boats ply the rivers of Europe, Russia, China, Southeast Asia and Egypt - will begin cruising the Mississippi with two boats in late 2017, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The cruise line plans to expand its fleet on the river to six by 2019, it said.

Depending on the season, the cruises will go as far north as Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis, Missouri, or St. Paul, Minnesota, the company said.

Currently, the cruise market on the United States' biggest river is limited, Mike Driscoll, editor of the trade publication Cruise Week said in a telephone interview.

"The view is that Viking is going to create that market," Driscoll said.

"We are excited about the prospect of bringing modern river cruising to the Mississippi," Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen said in the statement issued by Viking and Louisiana Bobby Jindal's office.   Continued...