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Watch: Cruise lines continue development even during COVID-19 shutdown

Even though the Mississippi River cruise industry has been shuttered since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that does not mean the industry has stopped its announcements and development.

Last week, Viking, who is scheduled to begin its Mississippi River cruises in 2022, added more cruises to its itinerary with a cruise around Christmas 2022 and unveiled a virtual fly-through of the company’s riverboat — Viking Mississippi — currently under construction. The Viking Mississippi is shown in the video accompanying this article.

Viking is set to begin cruises on the Mississippi in summer 2022.

Also recently, American Cruise Lines announced its latest riverboat, the American Jazz, passed sea trials and was accepted by the company from Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md.

The 190-passenger American Jazz is the latest in American’s series of five riverboats.

“American Jazz and the modern riverboats we currently have under construction demonstrate our commitment to leading the U.S. river cruise market by adding new small ships each year,” Charles B. Robertson, President & CEO of American Cruise Lines, said. “The outlook for 2021 is tremendous and we look forward to American Jazz’s first full season on the Mississippi, as well as the introduction of American Melody, the next new ship to follow in our modern riverboat series.”

The American Jazz is the company’s third modern riverboat following the launches of American Harmony in 2019 and American Song in 2018, each of which has made numerous visits to Vicksburg.

As for the industry’s return to cruising the Mississippi River, Laura Beth Strickland, executive director of Visit Vicksburg, said four cruises are still planned for the river beginning on Dec. 24, when the American Jazz is listed to arrive.

Strickland said that the schedule could still change.

The last riverboat to visit Vicksburg before the industry shut down in March was the American Duchess on March 14. Since then, Vicksburg has seen a total of 160 visits canceled thus far.

In 2019, Vicksburg welcomed 26,158 visitors by way of the riverboat cruises, which accounted for a $2.26 million in economic impact on the local economy.

Before the pandemic, Vicksburg was set for a record year when it came to riverboat traffic in 2020. In 2018, the city saw 118 total dockings with 131 in 2019. In 2020, the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau was expecting 181 visits from riverboats.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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