Viking River Cruises will offer cruises in North America for the first time in 2017 along the Mississippi River.
The Woodland Hills company, one of the largest river cruise operators worldwide, will launch two new vessels that will be docked in New Orleans and travel as far north as St. Paul, Minn. depending on the season.
Each boat will carry up to 300 passengers and the company expects to expand to a six-boat domestic river fleet within two years of starting the service.
“We are excited about the prospect of bringing modern river cruising to the Mississippi,” said Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen in a prepared statement.
The venture is expected to bring 400 jobs to Louisiana and boost tourism in the state. The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge said the boats are expected to cost $100 million each to build.
Viking currently offers cruises along the rivers of Europe, Russia, China and Southeast Asia. It also has been expanding into ocean cruising. Last year, it announced it was adding to its single ocean vessel with two more ships to debut in 2016 and sail in Scandinavia, the Mediterranean and the British Isles.
It currently has a fleet of more than 60 smaller river cruise ships.