The Viking cruise ship cannot complete its journey because the Mississippi River is too low


A Viking river cruise ship heading north up the Mississippi River cannot complete its journey due to low water levels. (Dave Kettering, Associated Press)

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MISSISSIPPI RIVER — A Viking river cruise ship heading north up the Mississippi River cannot complete its journey due to low water levels, according to a company statement Thursday.

“Abnormally low water levels along the Mississippi River have caused sections of the river to be closed, affecting all northbound and southbound marine traffic,” the statement said.

“The closures have caused delays that will prevent the Viking Mississippi from completing the current navigation and reaching St. Paul, Minnesota for her next scheduled departure on October 15,” the statement said.

The cruise line said customers were notified of the issue, although they did not provide details on the number of passengers affected.

The Viking Mississippi can accommodate up to 386 guests and was built in 2022, according to the company’s website. Viking advertised a 15-day trip in October from St. Paul to New Orleans starting at $12,999.

Passenger account

Thursday was not the first time the Viking ship encountered low water issues on this trip.

Tom Trovato and his wife, Trish, were on the cruise when the ship came to rest in the middle of the Mississippi River. Trovato, who lives in Phoenix, told CNN the ship was stopped Monday night after a barge hit the bottom of the river and blocked all shipping traffic in the area.

“We were caught in the middle of it all,” Trovato said. “We were stopped for about 24 hours without any movement.”

Trovato said about 300 passengers were on board and those he spoke to all had a good attitude about the situation.

“It’s like nothing happened,” he said. “We just sat on the boat, still had our meals, but we just couldn’t do our excursions.”

“It wasn’t Viking Cruises’ fault, it was Mother Nature,” Trovato said. “It’s like that.”

The cruise passed under the Greenville, Mississippi Bridge, which crosses Arkansas on Thursday. Shortly after, passengers were informed that the cruise had been cancelled, Trovato said.

The ship was docked in an area just north of Greenville, about 150 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee.

The passengers disembarked as a group on Friday, then were placed on a two-hour bus ride to Memphis to catch their flight home, he said.

This was the Trovatos’ fourth Viking river cruise.

CNN Travel emailed Viking at noon on Friday to confirm the ship’s location and other details, but had not received a replay by 1 p.m. MT.

Mississippi River caught in growing drought

The Viking Mississippi isn’t the only ship facing problems on America’s First River.

Under drought conditions, low water levels along the Mississippi have forced several barges to run aground over the past week, the U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains a drought information website. His most recent report said nearly 53% of the lower 48 U.S. states are in drought conditions. Much of the West is in a state of drought.

Drought and Abnormal Drought “continue to develop and intensify from the Plains to the Mississippi River Basin, and have now extended farther into the Midwest and Southeast. Low water levels are impacting barge traffic on the Mississippi River during harvest, a crucial time,” the NOAA website says.

CNN’s Friday afternoon weather forecast doesn’t indicate much relief in sight either in key cities along the river until Oct. 15: No rain is expected in Minneapolis. Memphis has morning showers expected for a day. Saint-Louis should receive light showers next Wednesday and Thursday.

Extreme weather has claimed lives and ruined travel plans across the United States this summer and fall: Wildfires have threatened Yosemite National Park; flash flooding crippled the normally dry Death Valley National Park; and Hurricane Ian impacted tourist sites in hard-hit Florida and the Carolinas.

European summer replay?

The Mississippi River situation has unfolded in other parts of the world this year.

For example, a relentless heat wave ignited Europe last summer and the continent’s legendary waterways fell to shockingly low levels.

The Rhine is one of Europe’s most crucial trade routes – and a hugely popular cruising route filled with fairytale castles and breathtaking views. These cruises have taken a hit.

Some river cruise ships were able to lighten the load and carry on. Others had to change routes while some river vessels had to cancel their voyages altogether.

And now those same decisions are revisited on America’s mightiest river.

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