Greatest Mississippi River cruises for seniors, historical past buffs and Americana lovers


Mississippi River cruises have surged in reputation in latest many years. They’re particularly interesting to mature vacationers trying to get pleasure from guided excursions of prime cities and small cities in a number of Southern and Midwestern states.

Add in regionally impressed delicacies loved aboard an expensive river ship, plus the camaraderie of different culturally curious vacationers, and cruising probably the most celebrated river in the US guarantees satisfaction on a number of ranges.

Three main cruise traces sail the Mississippi River, which stretches 2,340 miles from New Orleans to Minneapolis-St. Paul: American Cruise Traces, American Queen Voyages and Viking. Every line affords a number of comparable itineraries starting from eight to 22 days, however the ships themselves differ. Some are retro-inspired paddlewheelers, others modern trendy riverboats. The onboard eating and leisure, in addition to the excursions in port, additionally fluctuate throughout the traces.

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We’ve rounded up the very best Mississippi River cruises for seniors, historical past buffs and Americana lovers, so you could find your good U.S. river cruise itinerary based mostly in your pursuits and journey preferences.

Greatest cruise for Civil Warfare historical past: Decrease Mississippi (round-trip New Orleans)

Steamboat River Boat Natchez docked on the Mississippi River in New Orleans French Quarter. EDWIN REMSBERG/GETTY IMAGES

The Deep South attracts historical past buffs with its Civil Warfare battlefields and cemeteries and 18th- and Nineteenth-century mansions guarded by regiments of dwell oaks. All three cruise traces provide a Decrease Mississippi river cruise, crusing round-trip from New Orleans, however just one options a number of excursions geared to these with a eager curiosity within the Nineteenth-century battle.

On American Cruise Traces’ eight-day New Orleans to New Orleans itinerary, cruisers can go to Vicksburg, Mississippi, the place the Nationwide Navy Park commemorates the marketing campaign, siege and protection of Vicksburg in 1863. In Louisiana’s capital, Baton Rouge, a guided tour explores crucial places within the Civil Warfare’s Battle of Baton Rouge and Port Hudson.

Different ports carry to life the pre-war South. In Oak Alley, Louisiana, visitors can tour a Greek Revival mansion on a sugar plantation constructed and maintained by slaves. Whereas no Civil Warfare preventing befell in Natchez, Mississippi, town is house to lots of of lavish mansions from the period and the Historic Natchez Cemetery, which dates to 1822.

This itinerary is obtainable on 5 American Cruise Traces ships, starting from the 150-passenger basic paddlewheeler American Heritage to the 180-passenger trendy riverboat American Serenade. American Cruise Traces is thought for its regionally impressed delicacies, served with complimentary wine and beer at lunch and dinner, plus complimentary cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and hosted leisure in the principle lounges.

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Some excursions and a pre-cruise lodge keep within the Massive Simple are included within the cruise fare. You may guide further day excursions for an additional price.

Associated: Greatest river cruise traces all over the world

Should you’re particularly obsessed with Civil Warfare historical past, search for American Cruise Traces’ particular Civil Warfare-themed cruises on restricted dates, which permit a deeper dive into the interval. These embrace an eight-day Decrease Mississippi itinerary from Memphis to New Orleans (or vice versa).

Along with visiting monuments and museums, you’ll get pleasure from onboard lectures and displays and interplay with different Civil Warfare buffs. These sailings are aboard 180-guest American Serenade and American Symphony.

Greatest cruise for music: Decrease Mississippi (New Orleans to Memphis)

Viking Mississippi in Louisiana. VIKING

Should you love the musical genres of the South, a Mississippi River cruise from New Orleans to Memphis (or vice versa) must be your alternative.

From Crescent Metropolis, the birthplace of American jazz, to Memphis, generally known as the Residence of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll, this itinerary celebrates the area’s homegrown rhythms. All three cruise traces provide itineraries between New Orleans and Memphis, however Viking and American Queen Voyages characteristic extra excursions and onboard experiences tailor-made to music lovers.

Viking’s 12-day Coronary heart of the Delta itinerary features a two-night pre-cruise lodge keep in New Orleans (starting with 2024 itineraries). This enables ample time to benefit from the metropolis’s avenue musicians and jazz golf equipment.

In Baton Rouge, you may go to the Capitol Park Museum, which showcases reveals devoted to Louisiana’s musical heritage and Mardi Gras traditions. Whereas in Natchez, Mississippi, classical music (performed on a 1903 Steinway piano) and Southern delicacies are the celebs of the tour to Lansdowne and Joseph Stone Home.

The port name in Greenville, Mississippi, is steeped within the blues with an opportunity to go to a museum devoted to hometown legend B.B. King. The grand finale of the cruise is 2 nights in Memphis, the place you may get pleasure from all issues blues, barbecue and Elvis Presley.

Viking is a newcomer to the Mississippi River, and all sailings are aboard the 386-guest Viking Mississippi. The riverboat debuted in 2022 and incorporates a trendy Scandinavian design.

Visitors can get pleasure from a solar terrace with an aft infinity pool and an Explorer’s Lounge with panoramic ahead views of the Mississippi. The Restaurant serves each Southern regional delicacies and international favorites, and the ship welcomes native musicians onboard for night leisure.

Should you want a extra nostalgic vibe, American Queen Voyages affords a nine-day Decrease Mississippi New Orleans to Memphis voyage aboard the 417-passenger American Queen.

The most important steamboat ever constructed, the ship was christened in Memphis in 2012 by godmother Priscilla Presley, so musical immersion abounds. You’ll get pleasure from an genuine riverboat expertise with nightly performances within the Grand Saloon, designed to resemble a Nineteenth-century opera home.

The itinerary visits the Decrease Mississippi’s prime ports, together with Natchez and Tunica, Mississippi, house to the Blues Customer Heart and Museum. The attraction is housed in an 1895 railroad depot and options a big show of guitars utilized by well-known musicians. Upon disembarkation, visitors can guide a two-night post-cruise tour in Memphis to benefit from the metropolis’s barbecue and music scenes.

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Greatest cruise for artwork and structure: Higher Mississippi


An Higher Mississippi cruise between St. Louis, Missouri, and St. Paul, Minnesota, supplies entry to among the prime architectural landmarks and inventive treasures of the American Heartland — from Eero Saarinen’s hovering Gateway Arch to Frank Lloyd Wright’s inimitable Taliesin.

All three cruise traces provide Higher Mississippi sailings from July by way of September. Viking and American Cruise Traces’ itineraries and excursions are our picks for followers of American artwork and structure.

Viking River Cruises’ American Heartland itinerary sails from St. Louis to St. Paul (or vice versa) and runs eight days in 2023 and 12 days with pre- and post-cruise stays in 2024. You’ll discover architectural gems aboard Viking Mississippi, itself an instance of modern, Scandinavian-inspired nautical structure.

Highlights embrace St. Louis, the place you’ll admire Saarinen’s circa-1965 Gateway Arch, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis that includes a 41-million-piece mosaic and the Renaissance Revival-style Metropolis Corridor. From Dubuque, Iowa, you may head to Spring Inexperienced, Wisconsin, to go to Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s non-public house, studio and college from 1911 to 1959.

After a day in Redwing, Minnesota, identified for its pottery studios, you’ll finish your journey within the Twin Cities, house to the Walker Artwork Heart and Minneapolis Institute of Artwork in Minneapolis and well-preserved Victorian buildings in St. Paul.

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American Cruise Line’s eight-day Higher Mississippi river cruise covers a lot of the identical floor, with a couple of variations. Sailings can be found on the 150-passenger paddlewheeler American Heritage in addition to on three modern new 180-guest riverboats, American Melody, American Serenade and American Symphony.

Past the landmarks of St. Louis, highlights embrace Davenport, Iowa, the place you may go to the Smithsonian-affiliated Putnam Museum, and Dubuque, Iowa, identified for its colourful Victorian mansions. (An tour to the Discipline of Desires featured within the 1989 Kevin Costner film can be out there.)

Winona, Minnesota, boasts among the state’s most architecturally vital buildings, many that includes the gorgeous stained glass for which town is thought. Then it’s off to Pink Wing, Minnesota, the place you may discover the Pottery Museum earlier than finishing your journey within the Twin Cities.

Greatest multi-river paddlewheel cruise: Ohio and Mississippi rivers

American Countess on the Mississippi River. AMERICAN QUEEN VOYAGES

Kentucky bourbon, St. Louis beer, legendary baseball bats and the nostalgia of cruising each the Ohio and Mississippi rivers aboard a luxurious paddlewheeler make American Queen Voyages’ nine-day Louisville to St. Louis (or vice versa) itinerary a delight for followers of America’s favourite pastimes.

Provided as soon as every summer season, this journey explores eight ports in Kentucky and Missouri. It takes place aboard the 245-passenger American Countess, a Southern-inspired paddlewheeler with a regionally centered culinary program and nightly musical leisure.

In Louisville, you may tour the Louisville Slugger Museum & Manufacturing facility or study Kentucky Derby champions at historic Churchill Downs. The town can be house to the Muhammad Ali Heart (Louisville was the boxing nice’s hometown) and dozens of atmospheric bars serving bourbon straight up or in a basic Previous Long-established cocktail.

America’s sixteenth president is the main target in Brandenburg, Kentucky as you get pleasure from an tour to the close by Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Nationwide Historic Park and the Lincoln Museum. Bluegrass music, artisanal handicrafts and extra bourbon tasting await in different Ohio River ports, akin to Paducah, house to the Nationwide Quilt Museum.

On the Mississippi River, you’ll name on Cape Girardeau, a historic buying and selling publish identified for its 1,100-foot-long mural that includes 24 panels portraying its wealthy heritage. It’s additionally identified for the Missouri Wall of Fame and museums and landmark properties that protect its previous. (The town was visited by Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant, in addition to Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea.)

The historical past of beer is on faucet within the remaining Missouri ports (Kimmswick is house to the Anheuser Museum and Property) and St. Louis, the place you’ll disembark and have an opportunity to discover The Gateway Metropolis, the place Budweiser and different brewery experiences await.

Greatest prolonged cruise: Full Mississippi

St. Paul skyline from Raspberry Island. WALTER BIBIKOW/GETTY IMAGES

Need all of it? You may go to as much as 20 ports in as many as 9 states on a 22-day Mississippi River journey from New Orleans to St. Paul. These itineraries are supplied by each American Cruise Traces and Viking, and are good for seniors with loads of time to discover.

American Cruise Traces affords the 22-day Full Mississippi Cruise aboard three 180-passenger trendy river ships: American Melody, American Serenade and American Symphony.

After a pre-cruise lodge keep in New Orleans, passengers journey by way of all elements of American historical past. You’ll go to ports identified for ornate mansions (Oak Alley and St. Francisville, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi), Civil Warfare battles (Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Vicksburg, Mississippi), music (Memphis and Greenville, Tennessee) and structure (St. Louis and Dubuque, Iowa). You’ll additionally name on historic Missouri buying and selling posts, akin to New Madrid (a Spanish outpost) and Cape Girardeau (a French river port).

Viking River Cruises’ 22-day Grand Mississippi Voyage, out there in 2024 aboard the 386-passenger Viking Mississippi, additionally embarks in New Orleans and visits 16 ports in 9 states because it cruises north to St. Paul, Minnesota.

Throughout this crusing, you’ll in a single day in Memphis, so there’s time to totally savor barbecue, the blues and Elvis Presley’s Graceland. A port name in Paducah, Kentucky, allows you to discover the Nationwide Quilt Museum and colourful avenue murals.

You may get pleasure from excursions in Missouri’s most well-known huge metropolis (St. Louis) and small city (Hannibal) after which go to three ports in Iowa identified for his or her historic structure and agriculture (together with a tour of the John Deere Pavilion). Study in regards to the Norwegian heritage of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and get to know the eagles and pottery of Pink Wing, Minnesota, earlier than disembarking in St. Paul.

Backside line

Historical past buffs and Americana lovers will discover loads to get pleasure from on a Mississippi River cruise. Your ship will cease in main cities and lesser-known cities, providing excursions to historic websites and evenings spent having fun with domestically impressed delicacies and regional music.

The three cruise traces crusing America’s most legendary river provide itineraries for each curiosity on ships designed with mature vacationers in thoughts. Whether or not you wish to go to Civil Warfare websites, see prime architectural landmarks, or get pleasure from our nation’s best-loved musical genres, a number of of the traces will provide a Mississippi River itinerary that can allow you to do it — in consolation and magnificence as you make new buddies on board.

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