This Week in Cruise: Big Moves in the U.S. River Market

viking us river cruises announcementIt's been a wild week for the U.S. river cruise market, with a major announcement by Viking Cruises and new offerings from The American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines.

Viking Cruises made big waves this week with the announcement that the line is set to launch Mississippi River cruises in 2017, homeporting out of New Orleans

“We’re proud to welcome Viking River Cruises to New Orleans,” said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. “This investment will not only bring great new jobs to our state, but it will also showcase Louisiana and the Mississippi River to the rest of the world.”

Viking plans to build six new U.S. river cruise vessels over the next three years. The ships will be built in U.S. shipyards and crewed by U.S. citizens, and will cost an estimated $90 million to $100 million per vessel. 

The American Queen Steamboat Company, meanwhile, has announced that American Queen has entered her new season after undergoing a six-week refurbishment. 

A number of engineering and cosmetic upgrades, such as a new yacht white polymer paint finish on the exterior refinished decks, new and upgraded mahogany accents and brand new paddlewheel greeted guests that boarded for the launch of her fourth season on February 21.

Finally, American Cruise Lines has announced a new, 15-day itinerary on the Mississippi River, dubbed the Heartland Celebration Cruise.

The 15-day cruise is being offered on one of the line’s newest riverboats, the 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi. It begins in New Orleans on the Fourth of July and ends in St. Louis, MO, stopping in 10 towns along the way. The cruise starts out with guests enjoying a complimentary pre-night aboard the Queen of the Mississippi, which will be positioned several hundred yards upriver from the Dueling Barges Fireworks Extravaganza in New Orleans. By Sunday afternoon guests arrive in Oak Alley for a Summer Under the Canopy of Oaks.

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