River city working to secure docking deal with Viking River Cruises

Published 8:26 am Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The City of Natchez is in the process of finalizing a deal with Viking USA LLC. to add a docking facility for the cruise line on the Natchez banks of the Mississippi River, Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said.

“The exact location of the docking facility will be determined after Viking completes its due diligence,” Grennell said. “I’ve been told Viking is not ready to make a statement until they are ready.”

The news follows an announcement last week that Viking had made a similar arrangement with Vicksburg.

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While Grennell said he did not have terms of the proposed lease, he confirmed it would be similar to the terms of the agreement Viking made with Vicksburg.

“We are still in the process of trying to finalize that,” Grennell said. “The city is not going to sell anything, no. It will be a lease agreement.”

The Vicksburg Post reported Wednesday that terms of Vicksburg’s 20-year lease with a 5-year extension state that Viking will pay Vicksburg $1 per passenger.

The Vicksburg Post reported that a letter from Viking states the first boat is expected to be completed in 2021 and the second boat in 2023 and each boat is expected to accommodate approximately 390 passengers.

If Viking terminates the lease, the letter states, the facility the company builds, which will be attached to city property will become city property.

Vicksburg city officials told The Vicksburg Post that Viking has been approaching all of its proposed ports with letters of intent prior to coming in and building its facilities.

“It’s (the letter) general terms, but once they get all those (letters) from the other ports up the river,” the Vicksburg official told the Post, “then they’ll start doing the actual lease agreement and the improvements. My understanding is they’re moving forward with everybody.”

Grennell said the addition of Viking cruise lines to the City of Natchez is great news.

“This is actually a great economic benefit to the City of Natchez,” Grennell said. “This will be tremendous in terms of bringing visitors and tourists to Natchez and also it will have an economic impact on the city. This is a tremendous, positive endeavor for the city.”