Best Riverboat Cruises on The Mississippi [New Orleans]

Louisiana is a culturally unique place to visit. From its music to its food, to life along the river, you’ll find a rich and diverse culture that has been well-preserved. For instance, steamboat, paddleboat, and riverboat tours still cruise up and down the mighty Mississippi River each day. Read on to learn more about these amazing riverboat cruises on the Mississippi. You won’t want to miss this experience, especially if you’re planning a visit to New Orleans.

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In this article, you will find out more about:

  • The History of Mississippi Riverboats
  • Riverboat Casinos
  • Live Jazz on Riverboat Louis Armstrong
  • Riverboat City of New Orleans (with Video)
  • Natchez Steamboat Tour
  • Final Thoughts

The History of Riverboat Cruises on the Mississippi

Mississipi Steamboats at New Orleans pier; a large-scale means of transportation for passengers and freight on the river during “The Golden Age of Steamboats”
Image: Adobe Stock Photos

Since the early 1800s, steamboats navigated the shallow waters and strong currents carrying freight and passengers along the Mississipi River. By the 1830s, more than 1200 cruised the river using steam power and fueling economic development and tourism in the US. It was the Golden Age of Steamboats.

Today, riverboats are a popular attraction on the Mississippi. Though they can be found throughout major hubs like Monroe and Baton Rouge, we recommend these unforgettable riverboat experiences in Louisiana that are based in New Orleans.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day on the water or an up-close look at local wildlife beyond the city, a riverboat tour is an excellent and affordable way to get around.

And, you may want to try your luck on board, too.

Riverboat Casinos

All the way from Illinois down to Houma, Louisiana, boats are allowed to operate casinos—or, more officially, ‘games of chance’ in the water. Even back in the 1800s, this was commonplace on riverboats.

Trips to the likes of the Amelia Bell in Lake Palourde, Louisiana make for a fun night, but many of these riverboats are antiquated and located off the beaten path.

While these old casinos are a beautiful sight, there are now websites that provide deposit bonuses and matches for trusted gaming anywhere in the world—so long as there’s service.

More contemporary riverboat cruises on the Mississippi offer another alternative. For instance, Riverboat Louis Armstrong features four decks of entertainment, while the riverboat City of New Orleans hosts themed parties for each holiday. These are both excellent options for those who associate the home of jazz with ceramic chips and want to find a way to game on the water.

Live Jazz on Riverboat Louis Armstrong

Riverboat Cruises on the Mississippi: Louis Armstrong
Riverboat Louis Armstrong | Photo by Alonso Reyes on Unsplash

The Louis Armstrong arrived in 2019 as a fully renovated 3,000-passenger boat. This is one of the city’s newest riverboats that offers tours for visitors and locals.

The stunning riverboat offers guests four separate decks (mentioned above) to drift between, which includes a live jazz club and restaurant.

Since its start, the riverboat has received positive acclaim for its ambiance, music, and food. It may look like it’s been plucked from an 1800s American tale, but it features modern, state-of-the-art facilities and resources to make the trip unforgettable.

If you enjoy smooth jazz, you shouldn’t miss this tour. After all, the riverboat’s name is an ode to one of the great jazz musicians to come from New Orleans.

City of New Orleans Riverboat

Much like the Louis Armstrong, the City of New Orleans Riverboat is a new edition to the Mississippi. It made its debut in 2018 as a riverboat tour that offers a very special look into the New Orleans lifestyle: celebrating holidays.

Every year, the City of New Orleans fills its decks and takes to the water to help passengers ring in holidays like New Years, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Thanksgiving. They even feature Christmas caroling tours with Santa on deck.

See and hear the Riverboat CITY of NEW ORLEANS!
Video by Aggie Canales (Source: YouTube)

For this reason, tickets are slightly more expensive. However, passengers can board the City of New Orleans with full trust that they’ll deliver a fabulous holiday experience.

Just be sure to reserve your tickets in advance.

Natchez Steamboat Tour

riverboat cruises on the Mississippi: The Steamboat Natchez
The Steamboat Natchez | Photo by Mary Hammel on Unsplash

As the only running steamboat in New Orleans, the Steamboat Natchez is a liner that provides daily cruises for those in the Southern City. Passengers are allowed an up-close-and-personal look at historic areas of New Orleans—all from the water.

Self-guided tours are available onboard, which point out important locations and provide information on the city’s fascinating history.

The tour lasts two hours and comes with a lunch buffet, though we recommend travelers take advantage of the Sunday Jazz Brunch Cruise. The Sunday Jazz Brunch Cruise features live music, as well as an expanded menu at the buffet.

Keep in mind that the Sunday Brunch scene may detract from the time spent in the ship’s museum or listening to tour guides. For this reason, it’s best to choose to take the Natchez Tour for educational or leisure purposes.

However, if you’ve picked up on the New Orleans lifestyle, you’ll find a way to incorporate both.

Final Thoughts on Mississippi Riverboat Cruises

A visit to New Orleans might be incomplete without experiencing a cruise of some sort on the great Mississippi. We think these riverboat cruises on the Mississippi are your best bet.

In an instant, you’ll step back in time to imagine yourself in the Golden Age of Steamboats!

Have you ever been on a riverboat cruise? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Riverboat Cruises on the Mississippi
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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

14 thoughts on “Best Riverboat Cruises on The Mississippi [New Orleans]

  • Avatar
    August 6, 2020 at 12:45 am
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    I’ve never been on a riverboat cruise, but now I want to go. I imagine that listening to jazz music while cruising the rivers really takes you back in time. I’m happy there are companies that try to keep our history alive.

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      August 6, 2020 at 9:24 am
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      That’s a perfect way to envision a riverboat cruise, Kathleen! Dreamy, isn’t it?

      Reply
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    August 4, 2020 at 3:42 pm
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    The deep south was the destination I visited first on my trips to the US. Besides the civil rights movement, I was, of course, interested in the ‘culture’ I knew from Tom Sawyer. Steamboats are just so romantic, I’m getting all sentimental. We have one in the harbor of Hamburg, too, but when it’s not on the Mississippi, it’s not the real thing 😉

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      August 5, 2020 at 11:13 am
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      That sounds like a wonderful cultural experience, Renata. The civil rights movement was and is such an important cause. I’m glad you had the opportunity to experience the riverboats on the Mississipi. Interesting to hear that Hamburg offers their own, too!

      Reply
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    August 4, 2020 at 8:57 am
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    The riverboat cruises of Mississippi reminds me of the classic book Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, in which Tom lives in a village by the side of the river on which steamboats pass by. These cruises promise a unique experience from partying to experiencing the history of the region. My favourite though would be the only running steamboat cruise, the Natchez cruise.

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      August 4, 2020 at 11:45 am
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      It’s hard for me not to think of Tom Sawyer when it comes to the Mississippi, too! I agree, there is something for all tastes when it comes to these cruises. (Natchez is a great choice!)

      Reply
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    August 3, 2020 at 3:37 pm
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    This would definitely be one amazing way of spending time in New Orleans. I’ve read about and even seen some of these river cruise steamboats, but never really did a river cruise, like from Point A to Point B. However I think I’ve had a similar experience when I was cruising along a lake somewhere in India and there was some live entertainment followed by a buffet meal on board, but then it was dark, so didn’t really get the opportunity of admiring the beauty of the surrounding area.

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      August 4, 2020 at 11:43 am
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      I’m sure an evening cruise has many of its own merits, Arnav. I imagine the sparkling lights around the lake would have been magical!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    August 1, 2020 at 5:19 pm
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    New Orleans has always been one city in the States that I’ve always wanted to visit. I love the vibe it gives off from shows and movies I’ve seen it in. Thanks for the great tips on the different river cruise options – they all look great!

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      August 1, 2020 at 7:51 pm
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      You are absolutely right, Krista. New Orleans is such a unique place! Hope you get a chance to visit soon.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    August 1, 2020 at 2:45 pm
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    Thanks for the history on riverboats, I didn’t realize so many traveled rivers! I remember seeing the Natchez in NOLA. I haven’t been on a riverboat; it seems like it would be a fun trip! Watching “The Princess and the Frog” also makes me want to explore bayous and go on a riverboat! 😉

    Reply
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      August 1, 2020 at 7:53 pm
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      In its heyday, it must have really been something to see all those riverboats on the Mississippi, Kendra! Thanks for the movie tip. I’ve never seen that one!

      Reply
    • Avatar
      July 29, 2020 at 4:01 pm
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      Thanks, Jerry. Glad you found it useful info for your audience. I appreciate the share!

      Reply

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