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Elvis fans, your ship has come in.
River cruise giant Viking this week announced plans for new Mississippi River sailings that feature a rare treat for Elvis Presley fans: A private, after-hours tour of Graceland.
Scheduled for December 2022, the seven-night Mississippi Holiday Season sailings will bring an entire evening of special access to the king of rock and roll’s Memphis home including a private exploration of his mansion and private access to Elvis Presley’s Memphis, the Elvis-themed entertainment and exhibit complex located just behind the mansion.
The evening will be capped by a private dinner at the Presley Motors Automobile Museum, which is part of Elvis Presley’s Memphis, and a gospel choir performance.
The sailings will take place on the new, 386-passenger river ship that Viking is building for Mississippi River cruises, Viking Mississippi. They’ll be one-way trips between Memphis and New Orleans that include two nights and three days in Memphis and day stops in Vicksburg and Natchez, Mississippi; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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Scheduled to debut in August 2022, Viking Mississippi will be Viking’s first vessel in North America. Currently under construction at a shipyard in Louisiana, it’ll be significantly bigger than the typical Viking river ship with five passenger decks.
It’ll also be a modern-style vessel, featuring the same streamlined Scandinavian design that’s found on Viking’s existing ships in other regions of the world. That’ll make it different than many river cruise vessels on the Mississippi River, which often have a traditional steamboat design with big paddlewheels, fluted stacks and gingerbread-ornamented wheelhouses.
Mississippi River cruising has been making a comeback over the past decade after years of decline. Connecticut-based American Cruise Lines entered the Mississippi River cruise market in 2012 with one vessel and now has four on the river. Two are modern in design and two are traditional paddlewheelers. The company is in the midst of adding more.
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The Indiana-based American Queen Steamboat Company has added two traditional Mississippi River paddlewheelers to its fleet since 2017, bringing its total to three. The company operates the best-known Mississippi River vessel, the American Queen.
Viking currently dominates the market for river cruises in Europe aimed at North Americans. It’s also a significant player in river cruises in Asia and on the Nile in Egypt. But it’s never offered voyages on rivers in North America — the home to the majority of its customers.
The company operates more than 70 river vessels across the globe and in recent years also has begun adding ocean ships.
Viking currently has four departures of the new holiday sailings planned, on Dec. 10, 17, 24 and 31 of 2022. Fares for the trips start at $3,999 per person, based on double occupancy.
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In keeping with Viking’s no-nickel-and-diming philosophy, fares include a complimentary shore excursion in every port as well as all onboard meals; port charges and taxes; beer and wine with lunch and dinner; and onboard WiFi access.
For those curious about Viking’s new Mississippi cruises, the line plans a week of live-streamed television episodes about Viking Mississippi and the destinations it will visit starting on Monday at its online streaming site, Viking.TV. The episodes will include a Tuesday briefing on the ship’s design and inspiration from Viking ship designer Richard Riveire.
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Featured image courtesy of Viking
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