The AMERICAN QUEEN DEPARTING NEW ORLEANS AT NIGHT
American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies
Traditional American "Wedding cake" luxury steamers built in modern times to modern standards have successfully carried overnight passengers on the Mississippi / Ohio River Systems since the 1970s. Now the Scandinavian and Dutch consortium Viking Cruises intend to run European style cruises on the American rivers systems. We presume that despite foreign ownership, Viking will form some sort of American corporation and build their boats in America and staff at tleast the navigation personnel with Americans. This is clearly a Jones Act protected trade. Or, maybe Senator John McCain will finally get his way and the Jones Act will be rescinded and we'll let anyone pilot in American waters with vessels built anywhere. That will be an immediate 126,000 American jobs lost just when the count starts, but who's counting? If Viking complies with American cabotage law, and doesn't start lobbying for its abolition this could actually be a bit of a boon for U.S. second tier shipyards and U.S. inland merchant mariners.
Viking operates around the world specializing in river cruises with purpose built river vessels the basic design being long common in Europe , but Viking now operates also in Egypt, China, Southeast Asia, and even Russia. The company has announced that it will home port vessels in New Orleans in 2017. The announcement indicated that the service would open with new boats, so we presume construction in American yards has already begun or waivers extended by Congressional back channels (which would anger us no end) have been conceded.
The CHINA EMERALD A Typical Viking River Boat operating in China
The company states that the new boats will operate on the Mississippi out of New Orleans to points north such as Memphis, St. Louis, or even farther north in summer perhaps to St. Paul Minnesota.
There is nothing that makes the old merchant men here at the AAB happier than seeing brand new big American passenger vessels coming on line. We don't believe the traditional "wedding cake" paddle wheelers have saturated the market yet. Clearly there are some potential river cruisers who aren't looking for a faux 19th century experience. But we are leery of foreign owned shipping operating in U.S. cabotage waters. If Viking forms an American corporation , builds in America, and mans their vessels with American citizens more power to them, they will get friendly and enthusiastic journalistic coverage from us. But if they start to lobby for the abolition or modification of our Jones Act we will be the first to let our readers know and to lobby for their exclusion from the trade. So good luck and smooth sailing Viking we'll be watching with great interest.