Mississippi may offer river cruises

There may be good news ahead for the tourism business in southeast Louisiana and along the Mississippi River as the luxury river liner, Viking River Cruises, makes New Orleans the home port for its first North American cruises extending all the way up to Minnesota.

The company announced last year plans for development of that project, which would create hundreds of new jobs and ferry passengers that would enlarge the tourist and ferry traffic along the river that is one of our major income developers.

The cruise company faced regulatory hurdles in 2013 that developed delays but an extension in the plans have developed a new time frame for the project.

Viking officials are now planning to have two new riverboats built to sail from docks near the French Quarter in New Orleans.

The company also plans to build four more in the next three years at a cost of $100 million each.

The difficulty was thought to have arisen from a federal act that required travel between U. S. Ports be done by vessels built and crewed in the U. S. Gary LaGrange, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans, said he thought that could be overcome and it was a surprise to him why it hadn’t been resolved.

Then Gov. Bobby Jindal declared during his term in office that the new development would create 416 new jobs in Louisiana for the company’s operations and pay $40,000 on average plus benefits for vessel crew members.

State leaders had sought to lure Viking to cruise in Louisiana since 2013 with Jindal going to the company’s St. Paul headquarters in Hagen, Switzerland, for a face to face meeting with Viking Cruise Chairman Torstein Hagen.

The river cruises are slated to make stops in St. James, East Baton Rouge and West Feliciani Parishes. From there, they will then go upriver to Memphis, Tenn.; St. Louis, Mi., St. Paul, Minn., depending upon the season.

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