The Best New Orleans River Cruises

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Two river cruise companies – American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines – offer departures from the port of New Orleans, sailing on the Mississippi, one of the longest rivers in the world. These all-American cruises introduce passengers to the people, places, and culture of cities and towns along the way.

“The best part about a river cruise departing from or arriving in New Orleans is that you can explore this city — and all of its musical and culinary delights — before you leave,” says Chris Gray Faust, Editor-in-Chief of cruise review. “The cruise port has a nice waterfront including outlet stores if you need anything for your trip.” And for those who like to walk, the French Quarter is not far away (taxis and rideshares are also readily available). Another popular tourist attraction near the harbor is Mardi Gras World, where you can see some of the floats used for the annual carnival celebrations.

Another advantage: There is a wide choice of hotel accommodation near the port ranging from luxurious Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans on the edge of the French Quarter for the more modest Hampton Inn & Suites New Orleans Convention Center in the heart of the arts district.



American cruise lines

the american queen, the largest steamship ever built, carries up to 428 passengers; smallest, boutique style american duchess carries 166 guests. American Queen Steamboat Company currently offers five different New Orleans routes on these boats with plans for the first launch of the American countess in April 2020.

American Queen Steamboat Company

Antebellum South (New Orleans to Memphis and Memphis to New Orleans)

During these 9-day voyages with the American Queen Steamboat Company (with departures every two weeks alternating between the american queen and the american duchess), guests get a taste of authentic Southern culture along the lower Mississippi River. On a virtual journey through living history – past fertile cotton fields, sugar cane plantations and imposing pillared mansions – guests can soak up the romantic spirit of the era. of Antebellum which takes place along the banks.

Mardi Gras river cruises in February and holiday cruises around Thanksgiving and Christmas are especially popular.

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Authentic America on the Mighty Mississippi (New Orleans to Red Wing and Red Wing to New Orleans)

These trips of 16 or 23 days, also on american queen or american duchess, travel the entire length of the Mississippi between New Orleans and Red Wing, located about 50 miles from Minneapolis. Two highlights: On this quiet, romantic trip, guests visit vibrant small towns and cities, including Memphis, known for its iconic blend of music and history. In Hannibal, Missouri, stop by the highly interactive Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum.

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New Year’s Eve Celebration (Round Trip to New Orleans)

These 6-day cruises on American Queen, American Duchess or in 2020 on the new American countess let guests ring in the New Year with a gala that includes live music and a champagne toast. The trips make them discover the beauty of the cultures of the South, Cajun and Creole.

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A Creole Christmas (round trip New Orleans, or Memphis to New Orleans)

9-day festive cruises on the american duchess and american queen allow guests to experience the timeless traditions of Cajun and Creole cultures as they travel through welcoming towns brimming with good humor and lavish mansions draped in holiday finery. Christmas is also celebrated on board with special decorations and opportunities to create ornaments and decorate Christmas cookies.

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Southern Sampler (round trip to New Orleans)

These 9-day trips on the American Duchess, American Queen and American countess (in 2020) are designed to introduce guests to the diversity of culture, stories, songs and flavors of this historic region. A resident “Riverlorian” provides lectures and talks explaining their traditions and the evenings are filled with festive live entertainment.

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Other hotel options within walking distance of the Port of New Orleans include the Hyatt Place New Orleans/Convention Center and Harrah’s New Orleans. for those who want to take advantage of the pre-cruise slot machines, poker and other table games.



Road Scholar Steamboat Adventure on the Mississippi from Minneapolis to New Orleans

Road Scholar, a non-profit organization inspiring lifelong learning since 1975, offers a 26-day learning adventure on the American Queen Steamboat Company american duchess. Cruising the full length of the Mississippi, the onboard focus is on the life and legacy of Mark Twain, with onboard lectures given by a resident expert in Riverlorian history and culture. Participants visit the childhood home of Samuel Clemens in Hannibal, Missouri, as well as the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The National Rivers Hall of Fame (located in the museum) tells the stories of men and women whose lives have been intertwined with America’s rivers. Sold out for 2019, but still available for 2020.

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American cruise lines

American Cruise Lines has three ships with departures from New Orleans in 2019: America, queen of Mississippi and American Harmony, and will add a fourth ship with Mississippi routes in 2020, american jazz. A nice perk: American Cruise Lines is offering complimentary hotel and pre-cruise transportation to the riverboat for all of its 2019 cruises departing from New Orleans.

8-Day New Orleans Round-Trip Cruises

Guests board one of the company’s newest riverboats to celebrate Lower Mississippi music, history and culture. The journey begins in New Orleans, a melting pot of French, African and American cultures, where guests enjoy exclusive access to its vibrant music scene and Cajun and Creole cuisine. Organized excursions include visits to plantations such as Oak Alley, Frogmore and Rosedown and opportunities to explore historic towns and beautiful gardens. Passengers are also treated to a classical piano concert at the famous JN Stone House in Natchez, Mississippi.

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8-Day Cruises on the Lower Mississippi from New Orleans to Memphis

Immerse yourself in the culture of the region as you stroll along the Mississippi. This includes personalized tours of the iconic ports of Oak Alley, Lousiana, and Natchez Mississippi, with their classic antebellum homes and stately plantations. Throughout the trip, there is also evening entertainment in keeping with the rich musical heritage associated with the river.

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American cruise lines

Highlights of 5-Day Round-Trip Mississippi River Cruises in New Orleans

American cruise lines

These cruises begin and end in New Orleans year-round. Guests head to the beautiful Houmas House Plantation and enjoy its beautiful gardens and unique collection of Louisiana art, and can sip a mint julep on the West Lawn of the Old Oak Alley Plantation.

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