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Mississippi low-water issues impact some riverboat cruises (updated)

Sections of the Lower Mississippi are closed due to low-water levels, impacting some river itineraries
Viking Mississippi canceled its current cruise and American Queen Voyages adjusted some sailings due to low-water levels on the Mississippi River. All of American Cruise Lines' vessels are currently on schedule.

Sections of the river are closed, including a 184-mile stretch from Tunica to Vicksburg in Mississippi, with all northbound and southbound shipping impacted.

Viking Mississippi

Viking Mississippi is south of that, so the closure prevented the big, new vessel from completing the sailing underway and reaching St. Paul, Minnesota, for its next cruise on Oct. 15.

Passengers onboard were notified Thursday and disembarked Friday for a two-hour drive to Memphis and flights home, according to CNN.

In a statement Viking said it expects the Oct. 29 'Heart of the Delta' itinerary, New Orleans to Memphis, to go ahead.

American Queen Voyages vessels are upriver

American Queen Voyages' Mississippi paddlewheelers are in a different situation. They are located above the current closure.

Grande Dame American Queen is operating as scheduled between Memphis and Grafton (St. Louis).

The Lower Mississippi itineraries for American Duchess and American Countess have been adjusted with alternative ports and will turn around in Memphis instead of New Orleans.

American Queen Voyages said its air desk is making flight changes, a luxury motor coach option to New Orleans is available and impacted passengers are receiving a future cruise credit valued at 25% of the fare on their current cruise.

Other sailings on schedule

'The Lower Mississippi River is the only portion of the river system currently impacted and upcoming Upper Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee river voyages are operating as scheduled,' American Queen Voyages said in a statement.

American Cruise Lines' five boats on course

Oct. 10 update: American Cruise Lines said its five Mississippi riverboats are all operating on schedule along both the upper and lower river. Over the weekend, two of its boats were able to pass the affected areas.

'Looking ahead, it is always possible that some itinerary changes might become necessary due to conditions along the river, but American has been cruising the Mississippi for over a decade and we are well-experienced in addressing possible changes needed due to unavoidable conditions ...' the company said in a statement.

Part of this is thanks to its smaller, shallow-draft vessels. 

US Army Corps of Engineers at work

The US Army Corps of Engineers is at work to deepen some sections of the channel so river traffic can resume.

Follows Europe's low-water issues

The Mississippi situation follows disruptions to European river cruises over the summer when water levels on major rivers there fell amid a record heat wave.