Viking River Cruises New Venture
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Mississippi River

Although Viking River Cruises are primarily known for their European and China voyages the company has made headlines with a new destination and itinerary that will be available in the very near future.

During the 1800’s, scores of big paddle steamer riverboats floated up and down the Mississippi. That era is just a memory now however tourism in the south will rise again thanks to this famous river cruise line.

The line announced that they will be building state of the art river vessels in the United States. The first two ships will be unveiled in 2017 with the luxury ships tailored for the Mississippi River.

If all goes well, then more vessels are planned over the next three-year period. Viking is keeping most of the details under wraps but hinted that maximum occupancy for both ships will be about 300 passengers.

According to the announcement, the home port will be set up in New Orleans. Vessels will be scheduled to depart from the famous French Quarter and travel up the river with the trips taking place over several nights.

Bourbon Street New Orleans

Along the routes passengers will view historic mansions in the distance with ports of call such as St. James, East Baton Rouge and West Feliciana in Louisiana, Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis. St. Paul, Minnesota may also be a destination depending on the weather and the season.

Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen revealed the details whilst at the Port of New Orleans, Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal stated, “It’s about thousands of tourists coming to spend money at our hotels, our restaurants, in our city and our shops.”

The Red Wing Port Authority in St. Paul, Minnesota plans on spending ₤3.5 million to build dock space exclusively for this venture. Weather can be an issue during late autumn and the winter months and itineraries may have to be diverted from the St. Paul area during this time frame.

Saint Paul Mississippi

Currently, there are only two riverboats sailing on the Mississippi, the American Queen, owned by the American Queen Steamboat Company and the Queen of the Mississippi, owned by American Cruise Lines. However, the Viking River Cruise vessels will not look like the classic steam vessels that used to be seen on the Mississippi.

Viking River Cruises are known for their fabulous outside staterooms, exceptional dining and scenic stopovers. They promise it will be no different for this new operation.

Visitors will certainly have plenty of things to do in New Orleans prior to embarking. Visiting the world famous Bourbon Street is a must as it perfectly emphasises why this city is so magical. The sound of saxophones will be echoing through the night while the bars are filled with noise and partying. Be sure to check out the street markets and pick up some unique crafts that are sold here.

But there’s more to New Orleans than parties. Take some time to check out a thrilling New Orleans Saints football game and cheer with the fans at the internationally known Superdome stadium. Nature lovers will be thrilled at the Audubon Nature Institute.

Named after famous bird artist John James Audubon who resided in the area, the institute features thousands of species at the Audubon Park, the Audubon Zoo, the Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Insectariums.

New Orleans is constantly associated with jazz music and nowhere is this better seen then at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival which is one of the largest music festivals in the USA. The festival also allows patrons to enjoy local foods such as po’boys and jelly rolls.

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An Insight into Viking River Cruise Vessels
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After making cruising history by christening no less than 16 ships in 3 different countries – all in less than 24 hours – Viking River Cruises are enjoying a great start to 2014. Not only were these magnificent events attended by some of the industry’s top brass, but seven ships were even gifted their own ‘godmother’, as hundreds of invited guests watched Champagne smashing against the various hulls via video link.

From Mary Berry, iconic host of The Great British Bake Off, to France’s multi-award winning singer Mireille Mathieu, no expense was spared in the celebration and promotion of Viking’s new range of vessels. But when we take a closer look at the ships themselves, just what is it that makes them stand out of the crowd? Quite simply, the answer is everything.

Longship: The Unprecedented Expansion

The Longship design, which Viking began rolling out in 2012, has helped to bolster the company’s vessel numbers from 35 in 2013 to 52 in 2014 – an unprecedented expansion to say the least. With room for 190 passengers to enjoy spacious and bespoke luxury, the Longship boasts the largest river ship suite in Europe as well as completely redesigned cabins and corridors.

Furthermore, the Longship’s design was voted Best New River Ship by Cruise Critic Editors in 2012, due to their “sleek lines, stunning atrium, balcony cabins with full-sized verandahs, and hotel-style suites.” Viking  aren’t running out of superlatives either, describing their vessels as “revolutionary” and “inspired by Viking gods”, so just why is the Longship so heavenly?

Well, to start with, the Longship series has been built by Neptune Werft, the historic German shipbuilder at their Mecklenburg-Vorpommern shipyards, and designed by one of the world’s leading maritime architect companies, Yran & Storbraaten.

Viking are also awaiting patent on the designs too, which include French balconies, full-size staterooms and verandas offering 270 degree views in their 445 sq.ft Explorer Suites. And that’s not all; the rooms are quite a talking point as well, with HD entertainment and deluxe spa products in the bathrooms as standard.

Environmentally Friendly Features

Based on the ancient Nordic vessels, Viking River Cruises has tried to encapture the spirit of Norse mythology within their Longships by naming them after characters featured in Scandinavian folklore. Furthermore, with more and more people travelling by river and cruise ship than ever before, ensuring vessels are environmentally friendly has never been so important.

Not only is the Longship built with hybrid engines that reduce noise and vibration on board, but they’re also fitted with solar panels too, supplementing the fuel requirements of the engines. You’ll even find an organic herb garden on the sun deck for the chefs to source fresh seasoning.

There’s no doubt that Viking represent the future of river cruising, not only in Europe but also throughout the globe. And although their new range of Longships has been attracting all the attention as of late, they also offer numerous other vessels for their cruises to Russia, China and Southeast Asia.

The Russian fleet, which includes the Helgi, Truvor, Rurik, Ingvar and Kaun, have recently benefited from a comprehensive upgrade, offering deluxe staterooms and public areas comparable to the Longships. Guests can also enjoy panoramic views from the luxury restaurant, laundry service and even an on-board doctor.

Viking Truvor

The state of the art Viking Emerald is the stand alone ship representing the China fleet, and built in 2012 it really is a giant among men. Offering 128 staterooms, an on-board tailor and boutique, spa facilities and even a library, it’s a shame that its longest cruise is only 18 days. This is a ship you really can live on.

Viking Emerald

River cruises have always been popular, but if you’re looking for an alternative type of holiday that packs in the best of Europe’s cities and waterways, it’s hard to look past Viking River Cruises. 2014 is set to be a busy year for the company, and with their huge increases in bookings already, maybe it’s time to order a brochure.

For more information visit www.vikingrivercruises.co.uk