The Heart of America – River Cruises on the Mississippi
Native American Indians called it The Big River (Messipi). At 3780 kilometres, the Mississippi River is the world’s 3rd longest river and considered a transition from east to west. Immortalized in Mark Twain’s books, the huge river as is it is seen in Missouri starts off much smaller in Minnesota. Due to the large stretches of navigable sections, the Mississippi River was an important means of passenger and cargo transport in America’s formative years and at the start of the country’s industrialisation.
While the growth of road, rail and air transport has gradually diminished the role of the Mississippi in transportation, it is still possible for one to enjoy the magic of an era gone by via any one of the several river cruises available. Vessels range from massive, luxurious steamboats to small, unassuming boats.
The following is a list of some Mississippi river cruise operators:
Mississippi River Cruises
The cruise is aboard the over 85 year old Delta Queen steam boat. Rich in history, the boat was used by the US navy troops during the Second World War. The Delta Queen’s interior features teak rails, hardwood panels and elaborate finishing. Enjoy the scenery from a rocking chair atop the main deck or from the specially designated viewing area. If you fancy formal dinners, you will find the Captain’s Dinner on the second day of the Delta Queen cruise, appealing.
Riverboat Twilight Cruises
Though the Twilight riverboat was constructed fairly recently (1987), it draws heavily from the Victorian designs of earlier times. The boat has 3 decks, sundecks and dining salons. This heated and air conditioned boat starts the journey at Le Claire Iowa, proceed to Port of Dubuque then turn back to Le Claire. Guests do not spend the night aboard the ship and instead disembark in Dubuque to sleep at the Grand Harbour Resort.
Paradise Cruises provides short cruise packages ranging from brief sightseeing cruises to Friday dinner sailings. The sightseeing cruise is hugely popular and advanced booking is important if you do not want to be disappointed. It sails past St Anthony Falls and Minneapolis. An experienced guide provides on board narration of the most important sites during the trip.
Like Paradise cruises, Paddlewheel offers dinner and day cruises. The ships use traditional paddle wheel technology. Guests may hire the entire a vessel or one of its main rooms for a private function.
Minneapolis Bus and River Tour
As the name implies, the trip starts with a bus ride through central Minneapolis before passengers get on the Mississippi river cruise boat.
Padelford Crew Cruises
The cruise starts off at Harriet Island not too far from St Paul city and sails past caves, islands, forts and bridges. The old fashioned designed boat creates a uniquely Victorian atmosphere on board.
Ideal for travellers that have several days to spare, Cruise West offers 2 week long cruises on the Mississippi. Both are on small ships with the first starting in New Orleans, LA and terminating in Memphis, TN, and the second begins in Memphis, TN and ends at Nashville, TN. The length of the cruise has a lot to do with the number of land excursions. Passengers will for instance visit major plantations such as Myrtles and Oak Alley as well as explore Vicksburg Military Park and historically significant towns like Natchez.
Blount Small Ship Adventures
Expect friendly and personalised customer service from this family-managed cruise ship company. The use of relatively small ships means Blount cruises can sometimes get to places that would otherwise be inaccessible to the larger ships of major Mississippi cruise companies.
Small Ship Cruises Inc
Beginning in La Crosse, WI, the Julia Belle Swain Steamboat embarks on a 2 or 3 day cruise of the Mississippi. The boat either goes up river to Winona, MN or downstream to Prairie du Chien, WI. Like the Twilight riverboat, no accommodation cabins are provided on board.