Viking has brought American travelers to destinations around the world on its cruises, but until now has not had a river ship based in North America.
The company operates close to 100 river and ocean vessels and 82% of its guests come from America, Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking, told USA TODAY.
“But we had one white spot on our map, and it said USA,” Hagen said.
That was part of the motivation for the company to design its first vessel purpose-built for the Mississippi River, aptly named Viking Mississippi. The five-deck ship welcomed its first guests in Saint Paul, Minnesota on Sept. 3.
The ship will sail itineraries on the Upper and Lower Mississippi River between St. Paul and New Orleans, where Hagen said Viking saw an opportunity to sail a modern ship in the company’s style “right in the heart of the U.S., where all our guests come from in the first place.”
“It’s a wonderful country you have, and I’m proud that we can play our role in it,” he added. 
Here’s what guests can expect from Viking Mississippi.
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The Viking Mississippi will sail itineraries on the Upper and Lower Mississippi River between St. Paul and New Orleans.
The ship has 193 staterooms, all of which are outside, and can accommodate up to 386 passengers, according to a news release. Across seven cabin categories, rooms range from 268 to more than 1,000 square feet, and each has a French balcony or private veranda, heated bathroom floor and king-size bed.
The ship boasts a 360-degree promenade deck that wraps around the ship, along with a sun terrace that has a glass-backed infinity pool and a library curated by Heywood Hill, a bookstore in London.
Dining options include The Restaurant, the ship’s primary eatery featuring classic dishes and regional offerings on rotating menus, and the indoor-outdoor River Café, which serves both American food such as Southern barbecue and Norwegian cuisine from Mamsen’s, a flagship Viking’s offering that has a separate counter within the cafe.
As part of their cruises, guests can also take in lectures on topics such as the history, architecture and art of the region, and attend performances of local music, from Delta blues to New Orleans jazz.
Available rooms on a Jan. 7 round-trip cruise from New Orleans with stops in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Natchez, Mississippi, among others, start at $3,999 per person based on double occupancy, according to Viking’s website.
The fare includes port taxes and fees, a shore excursion at each port, complimentary Wi-Fi, all meals, wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner and more.
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The Viking Mississippi has nine accessible staterooms. Viking asks guests with disabilities to travel with “an able-bodied companion who can assist them as the staff is not permitted to lift guests or push wheelchairs,” according to its website.
Passengers who use wheelchairs must bring their own – with the exception of emergencies – and fill out an Accessibility Form at least 30 days before their trip. They can request a copy of the form by calling 1-877-668-4546.

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