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Here´s another article... Torstein Hagen first announced the ships for 2015, then 2016... now it´s 2017. 300 to 380 passengers... quite a lot.

 

And you´re definitely right that this will give the exisiting cruise lines (American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines) a completely new competition.

 

Regarding the latest new from the newly formed Delta Queen Steamboat Company which bought the historic steamer Delta Queen a couple of days ago and wants to renovate the boat in Louisiana starting in March and hoping to be back into service by 2016 this is no good news coming from Viking...

 

steamboats

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Great news for us Europeans who love visiting the USA.

 

I was in 2012 told by a Viking tour manager that Viking would be introducing ocean cruising and river cruising in USA, The first has come about and I was wondering when and if US river cruising would happen.

 

I'm up for it, but reading the comments on the articel Steamboats linked to, it seems the locals are very disparaging about the view on and things to do close to the Mississippi.

 

And another concern whether Viking US river cruising will be bookable from the UK, since they don't allow bookings on Vikingsd Egypt Nile cruises.

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One more cog in the wheel of Viking's plan to conquer the world's rivers. They'll saturate the market and take over. I only hope the smaller cruise lines survive based on their superior service and ammenities.

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pontac,

 

At least you can book the European river cruises.

 

Viking started out in Germany bying the river cruise ships and brand from KD. By the end of 2013 they closed down all their business in Germany. Until that they used to operate different ships for German and English speaking guests. Usually the German speaking guests got the old ships which were chartered. The new Longships were never sold on the German market. I doubt that I´d be able to book a US river cruise operated by Viking (unless I use an US TA).

 

steamboats

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Interesting, Steamboat. Sad to hear it, I assume they don't get enough business from German speakers to make it worthwhile to run German language boats.

 

But there are many other companies that run similar river cruises -- do none of them advertsie in Germany

 

I now know Viking run separate boats for the UK and the US market, and that they block users with a UK IP address from even looking at the US site.

 

I wonder how many different nationalities Viking do run separate boats for? Certainly see a lot more Viking boats than are shown in any one brochure.

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Driveslikemario - there doesn't seem much competition on US river cruising, maybe there's more but I only found two companies. An interloper in that duopoly would maybe bring prices down.

 

There's fierce competition on Europe waterways so if Viking are succeeding it must be because they are doing something people prefer.

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Pontac, thats EXACTLY what i was thinking as i read these posts.

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Interesting, Steamboat. Sad to hear it, I assume they don't get enough business from German speakers to make it worthwhile to run German language boats.

 

Not at all. They were doing good business too on the German market. But the market is different. On the German market you pay extra for excursions and of course most of the people do make their own arrangements for getting to/from the ship. We also have different itineraries (just as an example, most Danube river cruises are roundtrips out of Passau). The other thing which might have been a reason to skip the German market was that all boats were chartered. So the contracts came to an end and Viking focussed on the newbuilts.

 

steamboats

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Driveslikemario - there doesn't seem much competition on US river cruising, maybe there's more but I only found two companies.

 

On the Mississippi river system there are basically two companies:

 

American Queen Steamboat Company - operating the American Queen (paddlewheeler, steam engine)

 

American Cruise Lines - operating the Queen of the Mississippi (paddlewheel but basically Z-drives) and starting in April a sister ship called American Eagle.

 

The main problem on the US rivers is the higher price due to the fact that you have to employ US citizens (or green card holders). So you have to pay higher wages (and unions might be involved too). Also the ships have to be owned by a US company (therefore Viking is chartering its vessels from a Californian investment company) and built by an US ship wharf. If you want to know more check out Jones Act or Passenger Vessel Service Act.

 

There´s a third company coming up - the newly founded Delta Queen Steamboat Company LLC. They recently aquired the historic steamboat Delta Queen (paddlewheeler) and want to bring her back into service in 2016. But therefore the boat needs a renovation plus a legal act (exemption from SOLAS law as the Delta Queen has a wooden superstructure).

 

Therefore it´s much more difficult to operate a river cruise line in the US than in Europe. In Europe usually the ship is owned by company A. Marine operations are done by company B, hotel operations by company C. Your contract is with the river cruise line which usually has no direct employee onboard. Even the cruise directors are mainly self employed and not employed by the river cruise line. As an example: The hotel operations company might be located in Romania. So everyone working for them has a contract under Romanian law. Although the ship is running in Germany German labor law does not apply. So you don´t have to pay German wages either. This can´t be done in the US.

 

steamboats

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Steamboats,

Interesting background information! Thanks

 

I might add to pontac's comment about Viking doing something right.....another reason that they are successful is because they flood the U.S. market with advertising. TV as well as mailings. I often receive 2 or 3 brochures in one day and I've never done a cruise with them. Compare this to only a few throughout the year from other lines including the one I have sailed on. Mention River crusing to anyone in the US and they are likely to think of Viking. Guess their ad campaigns are working!

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Guess their ad campaigns are working!

 

You´re absolutely right!! That´s the problem of the current companies operating on the US rivers. They don´t know how to market the cruises! They don´t spend any money marketing the cruises outside the US. It´s even hard to book the cruises (here in Germany - o.k., I do have a good friend who is a TA in the US and who is booking the cruises for us).

 

steamboats

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Well over a year ago, aboard a Viking River Cruise, we were told that Viking is planning to add American rivers to their itineraries. Does anyone have an update?

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Well over a year ago, aboard a Viking River Cruise, we were told that Viking is planning to add American rivers to their itineraries. Does anyone have an update?

 

See the article at the link below for more information.

 

FuelScience

 

http://www.travelweekly.com/River-Cruising/Insights/Vikings-Mississippi-delay-reveals-differences-in-business

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The PSVA (not the Jones Act, which applies to freight), will be a big problem for Viking -- not just building the ships in the US but staffing them with US citizens. NCL found that they couldn't sustain this effort with 3 ships in Hawaii, so it doesn't seem likely that Viking will find the staffing they need especially at the expansion pace they anticipate. But I'm even more worried by this quote in the article: "specs of what those aspirations might ultimately look like: Longshipesque vessels that will carry up to 300 passengers each." The Mississippi is notorious for its shifting sand bars and other navigational hazards -- that's why paddlewheels are so popular for riverboats there. The Viking Longships, on the other hand, are notorious for being the first to stop sailing when the rivers in Europe go into low-water conditions. Put the two together and you can easily foresee regular Viking Mississippi groundings. I hope this delay allows Viking to rethink their fixation on the Longship design and realize that different rivers require different solutions.

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Viking announced the first cruises on the Mississippi river for 2015 and since then we haven´t heard much of them. Last was that the ships won´t enter service until 2018.

 

Ships... yes, they have to be built in the US and I don´t see any shipyard willing and capable to do this. That´s propably their main problem and cause of the delay.

 

Although I´m a big fan of paddlewheel steamboats (or diesel boats) indicated by my nick name it´s completely nonsense this type of propulsion is more popular due to the river hazards. The new boats of American Cruise Line have a more or less decorative paddlewheel. The main propulsion are Z-drives (like the Azipods on cruise ships). The American Queen also has Z-drives although the paddlewheel adds some major propulsion. The "popularity" of paddlewheels is more nostalgic. The major traffic on the Mississippi and it´s tributaries are two boats and those are diesel boats with screws or pods.

 

On the Mississippi and Ohio rivers the US Coast Guard guarantees a 9 foot channel. All the exisiting boats do not exeed that 9 feet draft. I doubt that the Viking boats will :rolleyes:. Even the exisiting boats do have problems with groundings when a sand bar moves or the pilot is steering outside the marked channel.

 

There has been a river cruise company operating a two boat with two barges. One barge was cabins only, the other had all public rooms on it. Length is not a major problem unless you don´t exeed the length of the lock chambers but those are at least made for 15 barges (3 in a row, 5 barges long). No river cruise ship is that long. Sure Viking has to rethink a little the Longship design. But they had to do this for other rivers in Europe too (like the Elbe river which BTW draws much less water than the Mississippi river).

 

Their design problems are on another edge of ship design.

 

steamboats

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Fascinating, Steamboats! Thanks for illuminating. When are you guys heading out to the Mississippi next?

 

Carolyn

 

Carolyn Spencer Brown

Editor in Chief

Cruise Critic

 

Viking announced the first cruises on the Mississippi river for 2015 and since then we haven´t heard much of them. Last was that the ships won´t enter service until 2018.

 

Ships... yes, they have to be built in the US and I don´t see any shipyard willing and capable to do this. That´s propably their main problem and cause of the delay.

 

Although I´m a big fan of paddlewheel steamboats (or diesel boats) indicated by my nick name it´s completely nonsense this type of propulsion is more popular due to the river hazards. The new boats of American Cruise Line have a more or less decorative paddlewheel. The main propulsion are Z-drives (like the Azipods on cruise ships). The American Queen also has Z-drives although the paddlewheel adds some major propulsion. The "popularity" of paddlewheels is more nostalgic. The major traffic on the Mississippi and it´s tributaries are two boats and those are diesel boats with screws or pods.

 

On the Mississippi and Ohio rivers the US Coast Guard guarantees a 9 foot channel. All the exisiting boats do not exeed that 9 feet draft. I doubt that the Viking boats will :rolleyes:. Even the exisiting boats do have problems with groundings when a sand bar moves or the pilot is steering outside the marked channel.

 

There has been a river cruise company operating a two boat with two barges. One barge was cabins only, the other had all public rooms on it. Length is not a major problem unless you don´t exeed the length of the lock chambers but those are at least made for 15 barges (3 in a row, 5 barges long). No river cruise ship is that long. Sure Viking has to rethink a little the Longship design. But they had to do this for other rivers in Europe too (like the Elbe river which BTW draws much less water than the Mississippi river).

 

Their design problems are on another edge of ship design.

 

steamboats

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Wow, "challenges with the Jones Act" and they want to "overcome" it. I doubt that all other river cruise companies would be happy about this... American Cruise Lines does built their own vessels. American Queen Steamboat Company just announced that they´ve bought an old casino boat to use the hull and rebuilt it as passenger vessel. French America Line is on the start with the Louisiane (ex Columbia Queen). So why should Viking get the permission to build boats outside the US (or have non US crew). All the other companies do obey the Jones Act (Passenger Vessel Serice Act).

 

steamboats

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They wouldn't build them outside the U.S. or have foreign crew. They would be built here and leased from a U.S. owner. The issue with Viking is its foreign ownership. There would have to be a congressional waiver to the Passenger Vessels Safety Act (the passenger equivalent to the Jones Act) similar to what NCL did for the 3 NCL America vessels. There would probably have to be assurances that profits stayed in Los Angeles and did not end up in Basel. In the end its probably going to take a Viking America subsidiary where American investment firms own a majority and Viking has a minority with operational control at partners' discretion.

 

The other issue is a shipyard. At 300-380 passengers, they are going to be almost as large as the American Queen (or about 4 times the volume of their European boats). That narrows it down to Jeffboat, Bollinger, and Gulf Island (formerly Leevac) and would have to compete for time with their very lucrative Tug and Barge building businesses. That's one of the reasons that AQSC went with the Isle of Capri Bettendorf hull, its a lot easier to get a conversion slot right now than one for new builds.

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With NCL the ship is owned by and operated an American company. That´s why the founded NCL America. They needed a waiver as the ship hasn´t been totally built in the US. Funny thing is that the building plaque reads "Ingall´s Shipyard No. ..." and then "completed by Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven GmbH".

 

I totally agree their major problem is to find a shipyard. And none of them mentioned have built overnight passenger vessels of that size for years.

 

There are other problems Viking did not expect and did not believe the advisors.

 

steamboats

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I would agree. I would also say its in everyone's best interest that the waiver be granted. The rest of the industry is waiting to see how Viking fares.

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This has been discussed here before, and the consensus was that it isn't going to happen. People here knew about the PSVA but apparently neither Viking nor Louisiana were aware of it [and apparently Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson still isn't aware of which law is involved ;)] -- or what it would mean. NCL America shows that the ownership issue is easily dealt with -- the problems are getting the ships built in the US and staffing them with US workers [not just once, but always]. There will be no waiver from those problems -- NCL got their waiver because the US was on the hook for loans on the hull and NCL did them a favor by completing the build-out -- but even NCL had to bring POA back to a US shipyard for its recent drydock. Viking does seem to assume that they can just go forward with doing it their way and the governments will cave -- that didn't happen in Paris either.

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We're still excited for this one and have been following the new since 2015

We'll be Viking Ocean Cruising in North America and West Indies in 2018 and if this news update works for Viking on the Mississippi River in 2018/2019

Map with Mississippi River Port stop shown.

We'd much prefer the Viking product on their new $100 m Riverboats.

Our TA wrote: Our rep says they may have them ready by summer of 2018.

If so, we will be able to book one about April or May of 2017.

 

Read On:

 

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=viking+mississippi+river+cruises&tbm=nws

 

http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/business/article_2850f2c9-dcad-5c1d-a0dd-2e1e0341d039.html

 

http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/business/article_1bb98ca8-7aa7-11e6-a649-4faa395695df.html

 

http://www.travelweekly.com/River-Cruising/Insights/Vikings-Mississippi-delay-reveals-differences-in-business

vikingmississippi.jpg.0bb175004c1e141f0caec802beefb600.jpg

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