From historic sites to exciting cities, rivers run through almost every corner of the United States. Here are some river cruises that allow a slower and more relaxing view of the country.
1. New York’s Erie Canal and More
The Locks, Legends and Canals Tour provides an opportunity to retrace the waterways that made New York the Empire State. Starting in Manhattan, each port of call for the “small boat” cruise offered by Blount includes history, culinary delights, and shopping opportunities. The cruise hits 11 ports of call over 14 days, ending in Montreal. Anyone familiar with the Hudson River will know that it peters out to a thin stream in the Adirondacks, halfway between New York City and Canada. How does a cruise boat make up the distance? By following the Erie Canal that branches off upstate. Along the way, cruisers experience the military academy at West Point, Central New York Lakes – including an excursion to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown – and reaching Quebec City and Montreal via the Sait Lawrence River. The ship – the Grande Caribe – is small and luxurious, accommodating only 84 passengers in spacious cabins with a sun deck, lounge and dining room.
2. American Revolution Cruise
For a big taste of American history, check out the cruises that operate along the rivers and bays that surround the Washington, D.C. area. On these cruises, passengers visit key sites of the revolution from a different vantage point. Trips start in Baltimore, where the “Star Spangled Banner” was penned, and include stops in Norfolk and Williamsburg, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and Annapolis, Maryland. Onboard, you experience luxurious meals and accommodations. The dining room serves American regional cuisine to complement historical sightseeing. As a bonus, each stateroom includes its own private balcony so that passengers can view the revolutionary waterways in comfort.
3. Lower Mississippi
No cruise of American river waterways would be complete without an itinerary on the majestic Mississippi. The lower Mississippi region comprises roughly Tennessee to the Gulf of Mexico at Louisiana, and the sights between this stretch of river are impressive. Start with a day in Memphis, where a visit to Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion is always in order, as well as a tour of the home of the blues on Beale Street. Continue to Mississippi, with excursions in Vicksburg – a key city in the Civil War. Your boat will paddle on to visit four cities in Louisiana, including Baton Rouge and vibrant, fun New Orleans.
4. Great Rivers of Florida
When most people think of Florida waterways, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico come to mind. The state also has numerous interior waterways that are served by river cruise companies. In the northern part of the state, cruises begin at Amelia Island and traverse the Tolomato and St. Johns rivers. Soak up Spanish colonial history in St. Augustine – the oldest city in the United States, while exploring Florida’s largest metropolis in Jacksonville. Ports of call also include Green Cove Springs, Palatka and Lake George in the Ocala National Forest. The boat provides first-class staterooms and world-class cuisine influenced by the Sunshine State’s flavors.
5. Puget Sound Islands
The west coast also offers beautiful waterways, besides the Pacific Ocean. Visitors to Seattle or British Columbia can slowly take in the nature and grandeur of the Puget Sound. Passengers travel aboard a small ship outfitted with 350 square foot cabins, resulting in an intimate and luxurious experience. Reviewers liken the experience to being on a floating serene hotel suite. The vessel features a lounge, sun deck, dining room and even a putting green area, too. Passengers can enjoy the sights in exciting Seattle, while also getting lost in the natural beauty of northern Washington’s San Juan Islands.
6. Upper Mississippi
Travelers looking to see the midwest can cruise from St. Louis to Minneapolis along the Mississippi River. This itinerary focuses on America’s pioneer period, where explorers and settlers moved westward. Some of the cruises branch off the various tributaries of the Upper Mississippi, allowing excursions to Chicago. Other cruises explore Wisconsin and Idaho, with trips to the historical cities of Prarie du Chien, Dubuque, LaCrosse, Winona and Red Wing.
7. Columbia River and Portland
For some more pioneer flavor mixed with one of the hottest wine regions in the world, travelers can check out Oregon. A trip to the Columbia and Snake Rivers in Oregon provide access to the Pacific Northwest wine trail and all the excitement of Portland.
The historical focus is on the expeditions of Lewis and Clark, who mapped out the Pacific Northwest and found a clear passage to the Ocean from the Midwest. At Fort Clatsop, cruisers get to see a replica of Lewis and Clark’s winter lodge. There are also geological marvels, such as the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Multnomah Falls.
River cruises offer an unparalleled view of the country. Surround yourself in luxury and comfort and slowly take in the history and natural beauty through these river cruises.