Thinking about what options you have for Mississippi River cruises? These are fantastic adventures and are really a lot of fun. Fact is, people have wanted to travel up and down the Mississippi River ever since Mark Twain wrote “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Life on the Mississippi.” This river has been one of America’s endearing symbols of America’s waterways ever since. The romance of this cannot be truly appreciated unless you take a Mississippi River cruise. The river is 2,320 miles long and goes from Lake Itasca in upstate Minnesota to Pilottown, La., before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Wouldn’t it be fun to take a cruise on this historic river?
Those wanting to experience river boat travel on the Mississippi have several companies to choose from. However, two major ones stand out: the American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines. These are also the only two that offer journeys lasting more than a couple days as their trips take at least a week to reach their destinations.
The American Queen Steamboat Company returned to the Mississippi River in 2012, and it now offers various cruises between New Orleans and St. Paul, Minn. The company promotes its cruises as some of the most sedentary vacations one can sign up for. Passengers will enjoy their trips on a 436-passenger American Queen boat that possesses a beautiful Victorian décor. Cruises cost from about $2,100 and up. This cost includes all meals and entertainment.
The company offers 10-day cruises that depart St. Louis and head north to St. Paul, Minn. Nine-day cruises travel the same route in the opposite direction. The stops that last from 4-9 hours vary depending on which direction the boat is traveling. These places include Hannibal, Mo., Burlington, Iowa, Davenport, Iowa, Dubuque, Iowa, La Crosse, Wis., Winona, Minn., and Red Wing, Minn.
There are also round-trip journeys lasting eight days traveling from St. Louis to Memphis, Tenn., and back. Stops on these routes also depend on the direction taken. These cities include New Madrid, Mo., Paducah, Ky., Cave-In-Rock, Ill., Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Chester, Ill. A nine-day trip from St. Louis to New Orleans stops in Memphis, Tenn., Natchez, Miss., Baton Rouge, La., and Burnside, La.
Nine-day single-way trips in both directions are available between New Orleans and Memphis, Tenn. These trips stop, depending on direction, at Vacherie, La., Burnside, La., Baton Rouge, La., St. Francisville, La., Natchez, Miss., Vicksburg, Miss., and Helena-West Helena, Ark. There are also journeys scheduled that start in New Orleans and head north before turning around and finishing back in the Crescent City. These stop at Vacherie, La., St. Francisville, La., Natchez, Miss., Vicksburg, Miss., Baton Rouge, La., and Burnside, La.
American Cruise Lines utilizes the Queen of the Mississippi riverboat for cruises along this great river. The boat can accommodate up to 150 passengers. The company offers a variety of seven-night cruises with a cost that ranges from $4,200 upward. That cost includes food and entertainment. This company, like the American Queen Steamboat Company, offers service on various routes between New Orleans and St. Paul, Minn.
The cruise from St. Louis to St. Paul, Minn., like the identical trip on the American Queen Steamboat Company, stops in Hannibal, Mo., Burlington, Iowa, Davenport, Iowa, Dubuque, Iowa, La Crosse, Wis., Winona, Minn., and Red Wing, Minn. The trip from New Orleans to Memphis, Tenn., makes stops in Vacherie, La., Baton Rouge, La., St. Francisville, La., Natchez, Miss., and Helena-West Helena, Ark.
Cruises from Memphis, Tenn., to St. Louis stop in Alton, Mo., Cape Girardeau, Mo., Paducah, Ky., Columbus, Ky., New Madrid, Mo., and Tunica, Miss. There are also trips that start and end in New Orleans that make stops in Natchez, Miss., Vicksburg, Miss., St. Francisville, La., Baton Rouge, La., and Vacherie, La.
Many of these stops have interesting features to them.
Hannibal, Mo., is where Mark Twain grew up and where many of his stories are based. Dubuque is Iowa’s oldest city and its largest for much of the 1800s. Winona, Minn., is home to the popular Winona Steamboat Days every June. Davenport, Iowa, is the largest city of the Quad Cities, a metropolitan area that is home to 383,000 people. There were more than 1,000 earthquakes from 1811-12 in New Madrid, Mo. Some are estimated to have reached or surpassed magnitude 8.0.
Cape Girardeau, Mo., is home to the beautiful Riverfront Park. There is a 900-pound Popeye the Sailor Man statue in Chester, Ill. Cave-In-Rock State Park is located near Cave-In-Rock, Ill. Paducah, Ky., is actually just off the Mississippi River at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. Natchez is the former capital of Mississippi and home to an impressive collection of antebellum homes. Louisiana’s capital city, Baton Rouge, is home to Louisiana State University.
The Houmas House Plantation and Gardens may be found in Burnside, La. The Oak Valley Plantation is in Vacherie, La. More than 140 buildings on the National Register are in St. Francisville, La. The Southern Cultural Heritage Center is in Vicksburg, Miss. Alton, Mo., was the site of the last debate between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln in 1858. Columbus-Belmont State Park is in Columbus, Ky. The Civil War’s Battle of Belmont also took place there. Tunica, Miss., is the site of a growing gambling resort area just south of Memphis, Tenn.
There are several companies that offer day cruises along the Mississippi River.
Riverboat Twilight offers two-day trips in addition to its one-day cruises. This company’s boats travel between Le Claire, Iowa, just north of the Quad Cities, up to Dubuque, Iowa. It stops at Fulton, Iowa, and Bellevue, Iowa, on the two-day cruises. Its costs range from $399 and up for the one-day cruises and from $419 and up for the two-day cruises. The prices include meals and entertainment.
Spirit of Peoria offers several cruises. However, only one of them is primarily on the Mississippi River. This is a nine-hour trip that consists of a cruise north from St. Louis to Grafton, Ill., and a coach ride back to the Gateway to the West. Grafton is a city of 674 that is located about 37 miles driving distance from St. Louis right where the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers come together. The Spirit of Peoria is a 487-passenger boat. The cost for this journey is $140. Live entertainment and stops at the Chain of Rocks and Mel Price Locks are included.
Two companies, Natchez and Creole Queen, offer cruises lasting from 2-3 hours that depart from New Orleans and feature breathtaking views of this beautiful city. Many of the journeys include live jazz music and focus on the history of the area. The cost for these trips ranges from $25 and up.
Whatever cruise that you choose, a voyage along the Mississippi River is one you won’t soon forget!