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  • Writer's pictureConnie George

17 Compelling Reasons Why an American Riverboat Cruise Should Be Your Next Vacation

Updated: Mar 27, 2022

New Orleans buildings skyline Mississippi River night

Sailing the U.S. rivers has continued to grow in popularity resulting in more ships being built here for that purpose. But due to Covid, we are seeing an even greater interest in American river cruises. People want to travel and realize there’s so much to see “in our own backyards.”

Are you considering riverboating in the U.S.? I have 17 reasons why many people choose it for their vacation.

elderly couple woman man with beard and tattoos convertible car ride
You can drive, fly or train to your cruise. Some ships sail round trip. If yours doesn't, and you want to combine a cross-country road trip with your cruise, plan to fly from your end port back to your starting port.

1) Enjoy the convenience of sailing within the United States. Your ship is only a short flight, car drive, or train ride away. Your benefits are:

  • Less expense on transportation.

  • No need for a passport.

  • No need to be tested for Covid before flying back into the U.S. since you've never left the country.

Drawing Mark Twain on tan paper
It's hard to think of an American river cruise, especially on the Mississippi River, without thinking of Mark Twain.

2) An American river cruise is one of the few places where you can travel as Mark Twain did:

3) Is it a ship or a boat? If you tend to break the "rule" that an ocean vessel is a SHIP, not a boat, you’ll love this:

  • It’s said that ships are built for oceans, and boats are built for rivers and lakes. You can call your vessel a “boat” and be right every time. But no one is going to get upset if you call your temporary home a “ship.”

large white house with multiple columns and black shutters trees hanging over walkway
Oak Alley Plantation is a popular visit when on a Lower Mississippi River cruise.

4) Traveling single doesn’t mean paying double:

  • Solo travelers are often stuck paying 150 – 200% of what one person pays when sharing a double cabin. But American Queen Voyages (previously American Queen Steamboat Company) and American Cruise Lines have ships with single occupancy cabins.

compass navigation tools
Navigation tools used through centuries.

5) You’re interested in nautical distances but hate math:

  • On oceans, distance is in “nautical miles.” For those of us who are interested in how far we are from somewhere but are “math-challenged,” you’ll be happy to know that distance on river cruises in the U.S. are in good ol’ regular miles.

Learn about Lewis & Clark's expedition on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

6) Experience history:

  • It’s one thing to learn history in school, but seeing it come alive in front of you immerses you in the stories of our heritage. Here’s your chance to be where history took place- Lewis & Clark Expedition, Mark Twain, Revolution, the Civil War and so much more.

Jazz is one example of music theme cruises available.

7) Enjoy a theme:

  • There are special sailings devoted to food and wine, lobster bakes and crab fests, various music, flower, holidays, and even ‘70s theme sailings. Which would you choose?

white riverboat docked balconies red white blue banners blue sky white clouds
Holding up to 436 guests, American Steamship Voyages' iconic American Queen is the largest riverboat in the U.S.

8) Size counts, as in intimate where you get to know how to get around the boat quickly and get to know your fellow passengers:

  • Boats range in size from American Cruise Lines’ American Independence, American Spirit, and American Star, which hold 100 guests, to American Queen Voyages’ American Queen’s whopping 436 guests. Most American riverboats range from 190 to 245 passengers. The newest line to enter the market will be Viking River Cruises’ Viking Mississippi in July 2022, accommodating 386 guests.

river lock dam
You can enjoy the mechanical marvels of locks in the U.S..

9) You don’t have to cruise through the Panama Canal to experience the incredible engineering of locks:

  • Our Columbia River, Mississippi River, and Ohio River each have locks for you to experience.

white tablecloth, plates of food, filled wine glasses
Regionally inspired dishes, local fresh food, and outstanding chefs create lovely dining experiences.

10) Delicious dishes:

  • You'll enjoy regionally-inspired, fresh meats, seafood, and produce purchased as close by as possible. Yum!

two men two women black red and white costumes black hats
Regional themed entertainment may include singing and dancing. This ensemble is been enjoyed on American Queen Voyages' sailing.

11) Wonderful entertainment:

  • Locally inspired entertainment

  • Remarkable musicians

  • Enrichment programs

illustration sick woman brown pants green shirt ponytails
Sailing on calm rivers and with land nearby makes seasickness unlikely.

12) No worries about seasickness:

  • You are sailing on smooth rivers, and your riverboat doesn’t rock side-to-side. But that also means no being rocked gently to sleep, either!

lounge brown chairs white grand piano small round tables
With public spaces to enjoy evenings onboard ACL's Melody, no wonder guests are eager to come back.

13) Loyalty counts:

  • Loyalty to a business counts for that company, for sure. But it also means a lot to potential new clients. On a typical American riverboat cruise, you could find as many as 40% of the guests on that line for at least the second time.

woman brown shirt nametag carrying tray with coffee cup greeting another woman
U.S. river cruises are staffed with Americans who are eager to make sure you have a wonderful vacation.

14) Attentive service:

  • The energetic staff on the smaller ships tend to thrive on offering exceptional service.

wood background American flag text says made in the USA
Following the Jones Act and Passenger Services Vessels Act, U.S. sailing riverboats are built in the U.S.A. and staffed by Americans.

15) They are made in the U.S.A. and staffed here:

  • You’re fully supporting American workers because U.S. law requires that all vessels sailing wholly within the United States must:

o Be built in the U.S. You’re supporting American shipyards.

o Be staffed by Americans.

  • Logistically, the ships need to buy provisions nearby. Therefore they are supporting American workers, including farmers and manufacturers.

white boat on river trees
Enjoy the intimacy of being one of only 100 guests on American Cruise Lines' American Star. Enjoy the atmosphere of the world going by slowly.

16) The pace is relaxing:

  • There's a gentle pace to sailing down a river. A peacefulness, a letting go of schedules and rushing. Some wonderful vacations are quick-paced; leaving you joking that you "need a vacation from your vacation." You'll likely slide back into the arms of the gift of this slower pace more quickly than you expect.

mountain blue sky river green grass trees purple and yellow flowers
What beautiful views of the Columbia and Snake Rivers from your American Cruise Lines' ship!

17) So many choices! You can cruise our rivers multiple times without repeating the same itinerary:

· Lower Mississippi

· Upper Mississippi

· Ohio River

· Hudson River

· Columbia & Snake Rivers

· Chesapeake Bay (technically not a river, but it’s similar)

· St. John’s River

With so many river choices to pick from and so many reasons to cruise, is it time for you to plan your American riverboat cruise vacation?

Because of the small size of the ships and the large demand in exploring the U.S. waterways on our rivers and lakes as well as coastal sailings on small ships, it’s essential to reserve your cabin early to avoid disappointment. I’d like to work with you to plan your trip

Happy Traveling!


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