The Viking Mississippi’s maiden voyage and its maiden docking in Iowa have again been delayed due to remaining work on the five-deck, 193-room cruise ship.
The new ship is now scheduled to stop alongside Burlington Harbor on August 29, but that could change.
“Due to circumstances beyond our control, construction of Viking Mississippi has been delayed,” Viking said in a statement posted to its website July 20. “As a result, some early departures from the first season of Viking Mississippi have been cancelled.”
This is the second postponement of the river cruise ship’s docking in Burlington — the first of three stops it will make upstream from Louisiana.
Originally, the ship was scheduled to dock in southeast Iowa on July 18, but supply chain issues pushed back the necessary final touches on the new ship, and its first docking was postponed until August 15.
Some of the work that caused the initial delay remains to be completed.
“This is a brand new boat that was built just for Viking, just for the Mississippi River, and they have very, very, very high standards,” said Della Schmidt, president and CEO of the Greater Burlington Partnership. “They’re the #1 river cruise company in the world, and they want their boat to be exactly a certain way, and until it is, it’s not taking passengers.”
When the ship docks in Burlington, he and his nearly 400 passengers will be greeted with “pomp and circumstance,” Schmidt said.
Chris Gram, Program Director of the Greater Burlington Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Michael Dear, Executive Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, are hosting a welcome ceremony to be held the morning of the inaugural docking.
“We encourage everyone who is available, everyone who is free and interested to come to the dock and be part of this experience, be part of the crowd, be part of the Greater Burlington welcoming committee, if you will. “, said Gram.
Gram said the ceremony would resemble a ribbon-cutting ceremony involving city officials and Vikings. Attendees will also be able to gather with the passengers of the Viking Mississippi for a photo in front of the ship.
Other details remain pending due to the fluidity of the cruise line’s schedule, but Gram estimated the ceremony will begin around 7:45 a.m. on August 29. This will change if the docking date changes.
Even if construction of the vessel is completed in time for its currently scheduled departure date, river conditions could lead to further complications.
After:Iowa’s river towns are buzzing with excitement as the Viking cruise ship gears up for summer excursions
‘Tour guides did an amazing job’: American Countess passengers enjoy extended stay in Burlington
The consequences of the unpredictability of weather and river conditions on the river cruise industry became apparent last week with the arrival and continued presence of the American Countess.
The American ship Queen Voyages was due to arrive in Burlington early on Sunday, but river conditions brought on by storms and mechanical problems delayed its docking for several hours and kept it there until Wednesday.
The unexpected turn of events required Burlington volunteers and organizers to meet the needs of the ship’s passengers during their extended stay.
“It was great because of the tour guides we have and because of the people downtown, especially at the heritage museum,” Gram said, referring to Colton Neely, the new executive director of Des Moines County. Historical Society, and new deputy director Tim Blackwell, who both started on July 12. “Colton and Tim have done an amazing job of getting their staff to put on a great show for visitors, and the tour guides have done an amazing job of turning their schedules upside down.”
The Countess passengers who had arrived on Sunday traveled by bus on Tuesday to St. Louis, where another wave of passengers were picked up and taken to Burlington.
“Both sets of passengers had a full experience,” Gram said.
While Viking passengers will be able to choose from five themed excursions in Des Moines and Lee counties, as well as one in Nauvoo, Illinois, American passengers are immersed in the history of Burlington with a visit to the Des Moines County Heritage Center and its nine galleries, plus a live cabaret show at the Bart Howard Lounge and downtown with hop-on hop-off tours.
“They have three or four coaches, depending on the ship and how many passengers they have, that go around downtown Burlington passing or stopping at different sites, and they do that at 20-hour intervals. minutes,” Gram said of American Queen. .
“There are five different places in downtown. The coaches will stop and let passengers get off or let passengers load the bus, so passengers can get on or off wherever they are in downtown and just walk walking around, seeing the sites, shopping and catch the next bus 20 or 40 minutes later and then return to the port.”
Downtown businesses see more shoppers on mooring days, Gram said, explaining the same was true even last year when there were just three modest American Queen moorings so that the cruise industry remained slowed by the pandemic.
After:Mississippi Viking cruises delayed by supply chain issues; additional tour guides needed in Burlington
The Greater Burlington Partnership expects the Viking stops to further boost the local economy.
“We know these customers are spending money while in town and leaving a significant economic impact on our tourism and retail business,” Schmidt said.
Dear and Gram said they are always looking for tour guides to help out on docking days.
Tour guides are paid $15 an hour and should expect to work from 7:30 a.m. to anywhere between 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on mooring days.
“Anyone touring for the first time this year – the few who went through practices and those who docked last week, are blown away by the quality of the experience,” Gram said.
Michaele Niehaus covers business, development, environment and agriculture for The Hawk Eye. She can be reached at [email protected]