All aboard! Viking, known for its luxe river and ocean cruises, just released its itinerary for its holiday-themed Mississippi River cruise set to sail in December 2022. This special voyage features light displays, Cajun cuisine, and even special access to Graceland.
The Mississippi Holiday Season is eight days of cruising down the river that stretches more than 2,300 miles. Guests spend the first few days in Memphis before winding down Mississippi (Vicksburg and Natchez), and finally banking in New Orleans.
Viking currently offers four other Mississippi River cruise routes, but this will be the only sailing in December—and it comes with special seasonal perks. Day two of the cruise gives guests special access to the bright lights at festively-decorated Graceland, plus a private dinner and an after-hours visit of Presley’s mansion, exclusive to Viking guests.
Viking announced the Mississippi cruises in late March, their first river cruises in the U.S., at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. "At a time where many of us are at home, looking for inspiration to travel in the future, I am pleased to introduce a new, modern way to explore this great river," Viking's chairman, Torstein Hagen, said in a statement.
"Our guests are curious travelers, and they continue to tell us that the Mississippi is the river they most want to sail with us. The Mississippi River is closer to home for many of our guests, and no other waterway has played such an important role in America’s history, commerce and culture.”
Though these voyages aren’t set to sail for another two years, it’s hard not to think about COVID-19 and what, if any, impact it will have. Viking was one of the first cruise lines to suspend sailing in early March and all operations are currently suspended through Dec. 31. The company says they’re finalizing health and safety guidelines which should be announced soon.
Protocols in place or not, guests are already curious about the Mississippi cruises, which range from eight to 15 days. Shortly after the announcement, some 2022 sail dates sold out, prompting Viking to release 2023 bookings.
"We are very pleased at the initial response and support we have received from guests,” said Hagen. “Like me, many travelers are planning ahead for when we will once again be exploring the world in comfort—to exotic destinations as well as those closer to home.”
The sold-out dates should come as no surprise. Americans are clearly itching to travel beyond short road trips. Or maybe it’s also the anticipation of the actual ship itself.
The Viking Mississippi will be the company’s first custom vessel and set to sail in August 2022. It’s inspired by Viking’s Longships, but specifically built to sail the Mississippi and is described as having a “clean Scandinavian design.”
The five decks hold nearly 400 guests and the ship offers features like a two-story Explorers' Lounge at the bow, a sun terrace with an infinity plunge pool, and a 360-degree promenade deck. All 193 staterooms feature either a private veranda or a French balcony and start at 268 square feet—with the Explorer Suites clocking in at a whopping 1,024 square feet. Suites also include cushy perks like a welcome bottle of champagne, laundry service, and a minibar that’s replenished daily.
Cruise fares, which start at $3,999 include a complimentary shore excursion at each port, like the Vicksburg National Military Park or the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum—and for guests booking before Sept. 30, there’s even roundtrip airfare included from more than 150 U.S. cities.