Centuries after their marauding namesakes sailed the high seas, cruise ships bearing the name Viking will chug up the Mississippi River into Minnesota.
Viking River Cruises announced Tuesday that it will expand its fleet to the Mississippi River with six New Orleans-based boats that will cruise as far north as St. Paul, the Associated Press reports.
The ships accommodating at least 300 passengers will be built over three years with Viking planning to start its Mississippi cruises in 2017, CruiseCritic.com says.
According to the AP, river cruising has exploded in popularity in recent years, with some passengers preferring the smaller vessels to megaships.
The New Orleans Times Picayune says the river boats Viking plans to build will be about one-tenth the size of a standard Carnival cruise ship.
The newspaper says Viking River Cruises started in 1997 by launching four ships in Russia and now has 60 ships cruising rivers in Europe, Egypt, China, and Southeast Asia.
The ships will dock at ports in Memphis and St. Louis, as well as St. Paul. River cruises tend to be more destination-oriented than their ocean counterparts, the AP says.
The president of the Port of New Orleans tells the Times Picayune Viking River Cruise passengers typically have good incomes and will probably make a strong economic impact on the city. The company expects to host tens of thousands of passengers on the Mississippi.
The St. Paul Port Authority was still learning about Viking's plans this week and did not comment to the Associated Press.