There are many exciting boat tours available on the Mississippi River, ranging from two hour sightseeing cruises to paddlewheel tours lasting a week or more! The Mississippi River extends for 2,340 miles from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, spanning a total of 10 states. In addition, the river passes along some of America’s most well known landmarks such as the St. Louis Arch and the Civil War battlefields of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
The American Queen Steamboat Company operates boat tours on the American Queen, the only genuine overnight paddlewheel steamboat in the United States. The company offers voyages ranging from three to 11 nights on both the upper and lower Mississippi River. The American Queen Steamboat Company’s upper Mississippi River boat tours generally travel between St. Louis and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Highlights of these nine day journeys are the historic architecture of Winona, Minnesota, the Victorian town of La Cross, Wisconsin, the museums of Dubuque, Iowa and the battlegrounds of Fort Madison, Iowa. The company’s lower Mississippi River cruises normally tour between Memphis and New Orleans and feature plenty of southern culture. Highlights of this route include the museums and Civil War history of Helena, Arkansas, the plantation lifestyles of Natchez, Mississippi, the quaint town of St. Francisville, Louisiana and the state capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge.
American Cruise Lines features a Mississippi River paddlewheel boat tour on the Queen of the Mississippi. This paddlewheel boat features an intimate experience with capacity for only 149 passengers and attention paid to every detail. American Cruise Lines offers 7 night cruises on the Queen of the Mississippi with various itineraries along the Mississippi River. The eight day lower Mississippi River boat tour departs from New Orleans, Louisiana or Memphis, Tennessee, where guests can visit historic Natchez, Vicksburg and Oak Valley Plantation. The eight day upper Mississippi River tour departs from St. Louis, Missouri or St. Paul, Minnesota. Highlights of the voyage include a visit to Mark Twain’s childhood home of Hannibal, Missouri, Fort Madison in Burlington, Iowa and National Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque, Iowa. American Cruise Lines also offers an eight day roundtrip cruise from New Orleans with stops at Oak Valley Plantation, the Caribbean influenced state capital of Baton Rouge and Houmas House in Louisiana.
In addition to the American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines, a number of companies offer day, evening and overnight boat tours along portions of the Mississippi River. The Spirit of Peoria is a large stern paddlewheel boat that offers day trips with on board entertainment and commentary at various spots along the river. The trips depart from various locations throughout the year. The Riverboat Twilight is a diesel powered paddlewheel boat that provides a two day boat tour with overnight accommodations ashore. The Riverboat Twilight travels roundtrip from Le Claire, Iowa and features an all inclusive fare. The Steamboat Natchez is a classic steamboat owned by the New Orleans Steamboat Company that offers day and evening boat tours along the Mississippi River from New Orleans. The Steamboat Natchez departs from the heart of the French Quarter at the foot of Toulouse Street for 2 hour sightseeing boat tours. In addition to the day cruises, evening dinner and jazz cruises feature a dinner buffet, live jazz music and beautiful views of New Orleans. The Creole Queen also operates out of New Orleans and is a traditional style paddle-wheeler offering two trips that depart from the foot of Canal Street. The Chalmette Battlefield trip travels to the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans where passengers can disembark and explore the battlefield, and the Dinner Jazz Mississippi River Cruise provides plenty of great food and entertainment aboard the Creole Queen.