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6 American River Cruises to Consider This Summer

Sail along America's iconic waterways on a floating retreat to remember.

U.S. News & World Report

6 American River Cruises to Consider This Summer

Astoria, WA USA - August, 27 2015. Paddle Wheeler Queen of the West is docked at Columbia Maritime Museum.
Credit

(Getty Images)

Rediscover America's heartland on a U.S. river cruise.

The U.S. river cruise market is experiencing unprecedented growth with major lines adding new ships and itineraries, and new companies entering the marketplace. Viking Cruises, the world's largest river cruise company, has even announced plans to launch in the U.S. While cruising the Mississippi River may not sound quite as romantic as sailing along the Rhine River with its fairy-tale castles and legendary vineyards, many Americans are opting to stay closer to home and explore their own shores rather than take long-haul flights. So, if you're yearning to explore the country's beautiful mountains, plains and rivers along iconic waterways, climb aboard a U.S. riverboat for an unforgettable floating vacation.
American Queen - st. louis
Credit

(Courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company)

Sail at a leisurely pace on American Queen.

American Queen Steamboat Company invites guests to step back in time on its old-fashioned operational paddlewheel boats. The largest steamboat ever built, American Queen is designed with Victorian-themed decor, can carry up to 436 passengers and travels along the Mississippi River System. Sailing from the lively culinary hub of New Orleans to Beale Street in Memphis and farther northward on the upper Mississippi River, guests can relax on the expansive outdoor decks in swings and rocking chairs and relive the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn on Ol' Man River. On the ship, you can enjoy the atmosphere and grandeur of times gone by.
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Rediscover America's heartland on a U.S. river cruise.

The U.S. river cruise market is experiencing unprecedented growth with major lines adding new ships and itineraries, and new companies entering the marketplace. Viking Cruises, the world's largest river cruise company, has even announced plans to launch in the U.S. While cruising the Mississippi River may not sound quite as romantic as sailing along the Rhine River with its fairy-tale castles and legendary vineyards, many Americans are opting to stay closer to home and explore their own shores rather than take long-haul flights. So, if you're yearning to explore the country's beautiful mountains, plains and rivers along iconic waterways, climb aboard a U.S. riverboat for an unforgettable floating vacation.

Sail at a leisurely pace on American Queen.

American Queen Steamboat Company invites guests to step back in time on its old-fashioned operational paddlewheel boats. The largest steamboat ever built, American Queen is designed with Victorian-themed decor, can carry up to 436 passengers and travels along the Mississippi River System. Sailing from the lively culinary hub of New Orleans to Beale Street in Memphis and farther northward on the upper Mississippi River, guests can relax on the expansive outdoor decks in swings and rocking chairs and relive the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn on Ol' Man River. On the ship, you can enjoy the atmosphere and grandeur of times gone by.

Explore the Pacific Northwest aboard the American Empress paddlewheeler.

The American Empress, sister ship to the American Queen, is a smaller paddlewheeler that can accommodate up to 223 passengers and boasts a similar design. Sailing along the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest, passengers can follow the historic path of Lewis and Clark and their exploratory mission from 1804 to 1806 in search of an inland route to the Pacific Coast. On the cruise, you can visit the homelands of the Nez Perce tribe, climb to the top of Multnomah Falls, cruise the scenic Columbia River Gorge, jet boat through America's deepest canyon, Hells Canyon, and taste the terroir and richness in the wines of Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Discover the heart of America on a journey aboard the brand-new American Duchess.

American Queen Steamboat Company's American Duchess will debut in August as the first luxury all-suite paddlewheeler to operate in U.S. waterways. More intimate than the company's other riverboats, American Duchess will carry 166 guests, and will offer many of the same amenities as its sister ships. American Duchess will sail the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. All three of the company's ships feature an old-fashioned cruise experience, regional cuisine, a "riverlorian" (or river historian), hop-on, hop-off bus tours and lively nightly entertainment in the theater and lounge areas. "Seeing the heartland of America from an iconic, wedding cake-styled, paddlewheel vessel augments the experience," says Ted Sykes, president and chief operating officer of American Queen Steamboat Company.

Consider climbing aboard the ships of American Cruise Lines.

American Cruise Lines offers both river and coastal itineraries. They currently operate four paddlewheelers and five small cruise ships with 35 itineraries covering 28 states. These intimate ships with a more contemporary design carry between 100 and 185 passengers. Their newest addition, American Constellation, began sailing in April. While many riverboats on America's waterways are refurbished and refitted older ships, only one of the company's ships, Queen of the West, is a refurbished vessel. Its new riverboat is scheduled to begin service in 2018 and will offer a more European-inspired style reminiscent of the longboats operating across the pond; it is one of six new ships the company plans to launch.

Roll the dice on a sternwheeler.

The Grand Majestic, a 70-passenger sternwheeler casino boat that's being refurbished, is scheduled to set sail later this year with the new Grand Majestic Riverboat Company. It will sail along smaller waterways that larger boats can't navigate, including historic routes that haven't been traversed by the larger lines. This family company is also the first to be owned by a river cruise captain. "We're reaching back in time with our itineraries focused on the historical significance of these places and want guests to experience the traditional steamboat era, all while traveling on a luxury vessel with modern amenities," says Capt. Joe Baer, president and CEO of Grand Majestic Riverboat Company.

Consider embarking on a smaller riverboat for an atypical cruise experience.

Another U.S.-based line, Blount Small Ship Adventures, operates two ships, the Grande Caribe and the Grande Mariner. Each ship accommodates just under 100 passengers and feels more like a small yacht than a riverboat. These ships attract a younger, more active and eco-conscious crowd. UnCruise Adventures, as its name suggests, also offers a less traditional experience along the Columbia, Snake and Willamette rivers. The company is planning an even more adventurous itinerary in that region for 2018.
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