Editor Note: UPDATE as of February 24, 2015
Coming soon to a port near you.
Well, if that doesn’t beat all. Mark Twain, an avid world traveler and veteran cruiser, would be bug-eyed if he could see what’s planned for the Big Muddy. Bug-eyed with excitement, I’d hope. Twain loved these lumbering river towns along the banks of the northern Mississippi. It’s only fitting then that this exciting announcement came from a city that grew up during the heyday of river travel.
Earlier this week, someone at the Red Wing, Minnesota Convention and Visitors Bureau let it slip. Red Wing (home of Red Wing shoes and Riedell ice skates) will be one of the downriver stops when Viking River Cruises debuts in America in 2015.
Though it’s not “confirmed,” the soon-to-be-built river cruise vessel will carry 340 passengers between Minneapolis and New Orleans and most likely onto the two main tributary rivers in-between; the Ohio and Tennessee rivers.
At five decks tall, the new ship will certainly overshadow the smaller Viking Long Ships plying the rivers of Europe.
It’ll be nearly double the passenger capacity of the American Cruise Lines‘ new 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi. And slightly less than the recently refurbished 436-passenger American Queen owned by the American Queen Steamboat Company.
I am a river cruise junkie. There. I’ve said it. I’ve gone from Amsterdam on the North Sea to Bucharest and Varna on the Black Sea. Twice. Two months total on the rivers of Europe.
Last spring I cruised the length of the Columbia River in Oregon with American Cruise Lines, aboard the refurbished Queen of the West, complete with an authentic paddle wheel and calliope.
To me, it seems like duck soup to bring the European experience over to America. When newspaper editor, Horace Greeley, fortuitously said “Go west, young man, go west,” little did he know we’d be in for a Viking “invasion.” Reservations will become available in Spring, 2014. Unofficially, of course. Stay tuned for details as they become available.
Next on my wish list – European-style river ships on the St. Lawrence river in Canada. Fingers crossed.
Viking Freya and Europe map photo credit: Viking River Cruises
Mississippi map credit: Wikipedia Commons
Queen of the West: Sherry Laskin