Cruise ship Viking Mississippi docks in downtown St. Paul

A 368-passenger luxury cruise ship was parked on the Mississippi River at Lambert’s Landing in downtown St. Paul on Saturday, drawing dozens of onlookers.

The Viking Mississippi, a ship specifically designed to sail the great river, arrived early on Saturday and was scheduled to leave for St. Louis at 10 p.m.

As many as 300 travelers from all around the globe were anticipated to board the five-deck, 450-foot-long, and 75-foot-wide ship on Saturday, according to the Swiss-based Viking River Cruises. It is the first premium cruise ship to dock in downtown St. Paul in around ten years.

To determine the size of the ship, Minneapolis residents Paul and Laura Gagnon traveled to St. Paul.

Paul Gagnon said, “I never imagined a cruise company would come up here. We wondered whether it could go any farther up the Mississippi, but it seems that this is the maximum distance it can travel.

When she saw the cruise liner moored, Barbara Bezat of St. Paul pulled over to the side of the road and went to investigate. She remarked, “Now I see why my friends go on cruises.

Since they had taken cruises and are boat owners, Kevin Laukkonen and his wife, Jane Gough, packed up their electric bikes and traveled from Coon Rapids to view the cruise ship on Saturday.

Jane Gough said, “It’s great to see your own hometown from a fresh viewpoint,” as she saw the Viking Mississippi.

Kevin Laukkonen said, “It’s fantastic to see all much activity on the waterfront.”

Gough said that she also found it very appealing that a structure had been constructed specifically to allow visitors to see the heart of the US.

From Apple Valley, Teresa Mitchell traveled up to observe and take pictures of the cruise ship.

She said that although she used to work in downtown St. Paul and see the large riverboats on the Mississippi, she was forced to go here to learn how a cruise liner might be berthed.

It’s enormous, she said. It’s incredible. My favorite. It resembles oceanic ships exactly.

During the Festival of Sail on Lake Superior, Mitchell said she enjoys taking pictures of the tall ships as well. The Two Harbors festival for this year ended on August 7.

She said that she admires big ships and other huge vessels but that she would not go on a tour due to her fear of the ocean.

The “America’s Heartland” cruise will make stops and provide guided city excursions in Red Wing, LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Dubuque, Iowa, the Quad Cities, Burlington, Iowa, Hannibal, Missouri, and St. Louis over the course of eight days.

On September 17, after arriving back in St. Paul from St. Louis, the ship departs Lambert’s Landing for the 15-day “America’s Great River” voyage, which is fully booked. In the middle of October, another sold-out departure from St. Paul is planned.

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