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Natchez prepares for docking Viking river cruise boats if they come
from Staff Reports - NEWS
May 15, 2019 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey
 
NATCHEZ, Miss. - The Board of Aldermen has approved moving forward on a proposed lease agreement for Viking vessels to dock at Natchez on city-owned land by the Mississippi River.
 
Natchez city attorney Bob Latham said Tuesday the board agreed to work with Viking on the details of a lease that would have its riverboats anchoring on property at the end of Natchez Under-the-Hill’s Silver Street. It’s not a done deal yet, Latham said, since there are various unresolved issues, such as land-ownership questions and getting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval for Viking’s planned docking facilities.
 
According to Viking, the cruise line is "currently finalizing all the nautical logistics" for its "upcoming Mississippi River cruises."
 
“We are actively working with our partners to launch on the Mississippi River, but at this point in time we do not have any details to share regarding product specifics or a launch timeline,” said a Viking spokesperson.
 
Various news outlets report that Viking – which has ocean and river cruises throughout the world – is preparing to enter the U.S. river market with cruises up and down the Mississippi River potentially starting in 2021. Arrangements are being made with several cities on the Mississippi River for Viking to dock with passengers disembarking to shop and visit local attractions.
 
Latham said the agreement approved Tuesday by Natchez aldermen includes provisions, if finalized, for a three-year lease that has Viking paying the city $1 per passenger when docked. The site to be leased was long known as “Little Mexico” beyond the boat ramp where the Isle of Capri casino boat was berthed until it left in 2015.
 
The Board of Aldermen and Mayor Darryl Grennell on Tuesday closed the public out of their discussions about the details of the Viking lease agreement and later approved it in an open meeting that divulged little information.
 
Viking currently operates a fleet of 72 river vessels around the world, according to the company’s website. Based in Switzerland, Viking announced plans in 2015 to expand to U.S. interior waterways. However, it has reportedly encountered hitches, including a federal law that requires passenger ships traveling within the U.S. be built and flagged domestically and manned by U.S. crews.
 
Passenger river boats that currently visit Natchez include those owned by the American Queen Steamboat Co. and American Cruise Lines.




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