NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Port of New Orleans will soon be home to another cruise line. Viking River Cruises will not only take people on scenic routes along the Mississippi River, it'll also bring big business to New Orleans.
After 25 years in business, the general manager of Mulate's on Julia Street says sales are better than ever. Murphy Christina credits a robust cruise line industry saying, "Anytime there's a cruise, it's docked right here along the river so we see a lot of that right before they leave or when they get back."
In just two short years, Christina and other local business owners will see even more people traveling to the city, now that Viking River Cruises is making New Orleans its home port.
"This project will create for Louisiana 416 direct permanent jobs for operations and vessel crews with an average salary of over $40,000 before benefits," Gov. Bobby Jindal said.
Six new boats will be built in U.S. shipyards over the next three years. Each one will take people from New Orleans to Memphis, St. Louis or St. Paul, Minnesota, with stops at ports in between.
Viking River Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen says, "We are designing a new type of ship, it will take 338 passengers, unfortunately, it will not have paddle wheels, it will be modern."
Headquartered in Switzerland, this venture is the company's first foray into North American cruises. It's an idea tourists we spoke, think would be a big hit.
"We talked about a cruise, I'm not much for the ocean, but rivers, yeah!" said Charlotte Dean.
Dean's husband, Bo, adds, "You'd have to come down here a day or two and stay a day before or a day after or even longer than that to enjoy the city, there's lots to do."
That of course, is the goal of tourism officials and people who run nearby businesses, like Murphy Christina. "Anything that New Orleans can get, it helps everybody out, brings more people to the city and we're excited about it," Christina said.
The deal with Viking River Cruises is one that was three years in the making. City leaders believe it'll have long term benefits, far surpassing expectations.
Viking River cruises isn't the only new addition to the river. American Cruise Lines plans to introduce the 150 passenger "American Eagle" later this month. It's a riverboat that will also offer trips between New Orleans and Memphis.