Best river cruises in the United States

Stef Zisovska
Sailing Hudson River

When we think of river cruising in the United States, there are many rivers popping up to our minds: a ride down the Mississippi River on a historic paddleboat, float alongside the glaciers in Alaska, or sliding down the Hudson River on a boat that carries around 150 passengers.

A river cruise is an amazing way to spend a summer vacation and learn more about the history and the landscape of the area you’re traveling through. Also, smaller boats are better than mega ships because they can go where the big ones can’t. River cruises include shore excursions as well. Here are some suggestions of cool river cruises in the United States.

Historic Antebellum South

Dolphins gliding in front of the Haig Point private ferry – Author: Jeff Morgan – CC BY 2.5

One of the best history cruises in the country orientated around the Civil War is the 52-stateroom American Star. This cruise lasts for 7 days including a visit to a Daufuskie Island where a small, native population lives. Destinations visited on this cruise are Beaufort and Daufuskie Island/Hilton Head, South Carolina; Savannah, St. Simons Island, Jekyll and Amelia Islands, Georgia; and Jacksonville, Florida.

Southeast Alaska

Traveling the Inside Passage aboard BC Ferries M/V Queen of Prince Rupert- Author: Heqs – CC SA 1.0

A cruise through the picturesque glaciers of Alaska on a 32-passenger ship is something you can’t miss. No other boat gets that close to the whales and gives you an opportunity to get close up to bears, seals, moose, and eagles. Island Spirit is sailing from Sitka to Pitsburg, making this 8-day voyage through ice fields a remarkable experience that you’ll never forget.

Mississippi River

Lower Mississippi River near New Orleans – Author: N/A – CC BY-SA 3.0

A traditional riverboat will take you down the Mississippi River to explore the American spirit. Queen of Mississippi and America are the world’s newest paddle riverboats that will take you on an incredible journey. Upper Mississippi River cruises visit St. Louis, Missouri, and St. Paul, Minnesota. Lower Mississippi River Cruises sail from Memphis, Tennessee, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Columbia/Snake River

South Fork of the Snake River in BLM Idaho – Author: Bureau of Land Management

This 7-night sailing trip from Portland, Oregon, to Clarkston, Washington, goes through Hells Canyon on the Snake River and offers views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood. On this cruise, you’ll hear plenty of Lewis and Clark stories. Portland, Astoria, and Pendleton, Oregon; and Rainier, Stevenson, and Clarkston, Washington, are the stops made during this voyage.

Erie Canal to the Saguenay River

Sunset over the Erie Canal in North Tonawanda, NY. – Author: Joshua Karn – CC BY-SA 3.0

The best to time to schedule this cruise is during the fall when you can see the best autumn sceneries. The passenger ship makes stops in towns along the Hudson River and sails through the Thousand Islands in Saint Lawrence River. The 12-night cruise ports are New York, Kingston, Troy, Amsterdam, Sylvan Beach, Oswego, Clayton, Alexandria Bay, Dark Island, Ogdensburg, New York; St. Lawrence Seaway, Quebec City, and Montreal, Quebec.

If you’re tired of across the ocean cruisers but you still want to travel on water, this is a perfect solution. The United States is full of big, navigable rivers that offer different cruises for all tastes.

If a floating trip is what you’ve always imagined, you will love this cruise list. Safe journey and good luck!

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