Best Mississippi River cruises for seniors, history buffs and Americana lovers

Donna Heiderstadt

Mississippi River cruises have surged in popularity in recent decades. They are especially appealing to mature travelers looking to enjoy guided tours of top cities and small towns in several Southern and Midwestern states.

Add in regionally inspired cuisine enjoyed aboard a luxurious river ship, plus the camaraderie of other culturally curious travelers, and cruising the most celebrated river in the United States promises satisfaction on multiple levels.

Two major cruise lines sail the Mississippi, which stretches 2,340 miles from New Orleans to Minneapolis-St. Paul: American Cruise Lines and Viking . Each line offers several similar itineraries ranging from eight to 22 days, but the ships themselves differ. Some are retro-inspired paddlewheelers, others sleek modern riverboats. The onboard dining and entertainment, as well as the excursions in port, also vary across the lines.

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We've rounded up the best Mississippi River cruises for seniors, history buffs and Americana lovers, so you can find your perfect U.S. river cruise itinerary based on your interests and travel preferences.

Best cruise for Civil War history: Lower Mississippi (round-trip New Orleans)

mississippi river cruise minneapolis to new orleans

The Deep South attracts history buffs with its Civil War battlefields and cemeteries and 18th- and 19th-century mansions guarded by regiments of live oaks. Both cruise lines offer a Lower Mississippi river cruise, sailing round-trip from New Orleans, but only one features multiple excursions geared to those with a keen interest in the 19th-century conflict.

On American Cruise Lines' eight-day New Orleans to New Orleans itinerary , cruisers can visit Vicksburg, Mississippi, where the National Military Park commemorates the campaign, siege and defense of Vicksburg in 1863. In Louisiana's capital, Baton Rouge, a guided excursion explores critical locations in the Civil War's Battle of Baton Rouge and Port Hudson.

Other ports bring to life the pre-war South. In Oak Alley, Louisiana, guests can tour a Greek Revival mansion on a sugar plantation built and maintained by slaves. While no Civil War fighting took place in Natchez, Mississippi, the city is home to hundreds of lavish mansions from the era and the Historic Natchez Cemetery, which dates to 1822.

This itinerary is offered on five American Cruise Lines ships, ranging from the 150-passenger classic paddlewheeler American Heritage to the 180-passenger modern riverboat American Serenade. American Cruise Lines is known for its regionally inspired cuisine, served with complimentary wine and beer at lunch and dinner, plus complimentary cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and hosted entertainment in the main lounges.

Some excursions and a pre-cruise hotel stay in the Big Easy are included in the cruise fare. You can book additional day tours for an extra cost.

Related: Best river cruise lines around the world

If you're especially passionate about Civil War history, look for American Cruise Lines' special Civil War-themed cruises on limited dates, which allow a deeper dive into the period. These include an eight-day Lower Mississippi itinerary from Memphis to New Orleans (or vice versa).

In addition to visiting monuments and museums, you'll enjoy onboard lectures and presentations and interaction with other Civil War buffs. These sailings are aboard 180-guest American Serenade and American Symphony.

Best cruise for music: Lower Mississippi (New Orleans to Memphis)

mississippi river cruise minneapolis to new orleans

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

From Crescent City, the birthplace of American jazz, to Memphis, known as the Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock 'n Roll, this itinerary celebrates the region's homegrown rhythms. Both cruise lines offer itineraries between New Orleans and Memphis, but Viking features more excursions and onboard experiences tailored to music lovers.

Viking's 12-day Heart of the Delta itinerary includes a two-night pre-cruise hotel stay in New Orleans (beginning with 2024 itineraries). This allows ample time to enjoy the city's street musicians and jazz clubs.

In Baton Rouge, you can visit the Capitol Park Museum, which showcases exhibits dedicated to Louisiana's musical heritage and Mardi Gras traditions. While in Natchez, Mississippi, classical music (played on a 1903 Steinway piano) and Southern cuisine are the stars of the excursion to Lansdowne and Joseph Stone House.

The port call in Greenville, Mississippi, is steeped in the blues with a chance to visit a museum dedicated to hometown legend B.B. King. The grand finale of the cruise is two nights in Memphis, where you can enjoy all things 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 features a modern Scandinavian design.

Passengers can enjoy a sun terrace with an aft infinity pool and an Explorer's Lounge with panoramic forward views of the Mississippi. The Restaurant serves both Southern regional cuisine and global favorites, and the ship welcomes local musicians onboard for evening entertainment.

Related: First impressions of a US river cruise on American Queen

Best cruise for art and architecture: Upper Mississippi

mississippi river cruise minneapolis to new orleans

An Upper Mississippi cruise between St. Louis, Missouri, and St. Paul, Minnesota, provides access to some of the top architectural landmarks and artistic treasures of the American Heartland — from Eero Saarinen's soaring Gateway Arch to Frank Lloyd Wright's inimitable Taliesin.

Both cruise lines offer Upper Mississippi sailings from July through September. Viking and American Cruise Lines' itineraries and excursions are our picks for fans of American art and architecture.

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 explore architectural gems aboard Viking Mississippi, itself an example of sleek, Scandinavian-inspired nautical architecture.

Highlights include St. Louis, where you'll admire Saarinen's circa-1965 Gateway Arch, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis featuring a 41-million-piece mosaic and the Renaissance Revival-style City Hall. From Dubuque, Iowa, you can head to Spring Green, Wisconsin, to visit Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's private home, studio and school from 1911 to 1959.

After a day in Redwing, Minnesota, known for its pottery studios, you'll end your journey in the Twin Cities, home to the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minneapolis and well-preserved Victorian buildings in St. Paul.

Related: River cruise packing list: What to pack when traveling by riverboat

American Cruise Line's eight-day Upper Mississippi river cruise covers much of the same ground, with a few differences. Sailings are available on the 150-passenger paddlewheeler American Heritage as well as on three sleek new 180-guest riverboats, American Melody, American Serenade and American Symphony.

Beyond the landmarks of St. Louis, highlights include Davenport, Iowa, where you can visit the Smithsonian-affiliated Putnam Museum, and Dubuque, Iowa, known for its colorful Victorian mansions. (An excursion to the Field of Dreams featured in the 1989 Kevin Costner movie is also available.)

Winona, Minnesota, boasts some of the state's most architecturally significant buildings, many featuring the beautiful stained glass for which the city is known. Then it's off to Red Wing, Minnesota, where you can explore the Pottery Museum before completing your journey in the Twin Cities.

Best extended cruise: Complete Mississippi

mississippi river cruise minneapolis to new orleans

Want it all? You can visit up to 20 ports in as many as nine states on a 22-day Mississippi River journey from New Orleans to St. Paul. These itineraries are offered by both American Cruise Lines and Viking, and are perfect for seniors with plenty of time to explore.

American Cruise Lines offers the 22-day Complete Mississippi Cruise aboard three 180-passenger modern river ships: American Melody, American Serenade and American Symphony.

After a pre-cruise hotel stay in New Orleans, passengers journey through all aspects of American history. You'll visit ports known for ornate mansions (Oak Alley and St. Francisville, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi), Civil War battles (Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Vicksburg, Mississippi), music (Memphis and Greenville, Tennessee) and architecture (St. Louis and Dubuque, Iowa). You'll also call on historic Missouri trading posts, such as New Madrid (a Spanish outpost) and Cape Girardeau (a French river port).

Viking River Cruises' 22-day Grand Mississippi Voyage , available in 2024 aboard the 386-passenger Viking Mississippi, also embarks in New Orleans and visits 16 ports in nine states as it cruises north to St. Paul, Minnesota.

During this sailing, you'll overnight in Memphis, so there's time to fully savor barbecue, the blues and Elvis Presley's Graceland. A port call in Paducah, Kentucky, lets you explore the National Quilt Museum and colorful street murals.

You can enjoy excursions in Missouri's most famous big city (St. Louis) and small town (Hannibal) and then visit three ports in Iowa known for their historic architecture and agriculture (including a tour of the John Deere Pavilion). Learn about the Norwegian heritage of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and get to know the eagles and pottery of Red Wing, Minnesota, before disembarking in St. Paul.

Bottom line

History buffs and Americana lovers will find plenty to enjoy on a Mississippi River cruise. Your ship will stop in major cities and lesser-known towns, offering excursions to historic sites and evenings spent enjoying locally inspired cuisine and regional music.

The two cruise lines sailing America's most legendary river offer itineraries for every interest on ships designed with mature travelers in mind. Whether you want to visit Civil War sites, see top architectural landmarks, or enjoy our country's best-loved musical genres, one or more of the lines will offer a Mississippi River itinerary that will help you do it — in comfort and style as you make new friends on board.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

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Minneapolis to New Orleans

  • Get inspired by the possibilities.
  • Build your ideal trip.
  • Enjoy the musical culture of blues and rock 'n' roll in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Admire the mix of architecture and cultures in New Orleans
  • Discover the monuments and museums of St. Louis, the "Gateway to the West"
  • Explore the history, arts, and culture of Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Learn about Civil War history at a battlefield in Vicksburg, Mississippi
  • Archaeological Site Visits
  • Village Visits
  • River Cruises
  • Urban Exploration
  • Mississippi River
  • North America
  • United States
  • Minneapolis
  • Mississippi
  • New Orleans
  • Gulf of Mexico

Full Itinerary

Day 1: minneapolis, minnesota, day 2: minneapolis, minnesota | embark.

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Dinner

Day 3: Winona, Minnesota

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Day 4: La Crosse, Wisconsin

Day 5: dubuque, iowa, day 6: bettendorf, iowa, day 7: burlington, iowa, day 8: hannibal, missouri, day 9: st. louis, missouri, day 10: scenic river cruising, day 11: memphis, tennessee, day 12: cleveland (terrene landing), mississippi, day 13: vicksburg, mississippi, day 14: natchez, mississippi, day 15: nottoway, louisiana, day 16: new orleans, louisiana | disembark.

  • 1 Breakfast

American Queen

Dates & prices, my preferred start date.

Initial deposit is $250 per person, and most travelers will call our office and pay the deposit with a credit card.

Final payment is due 71 days prior to departure by MasterCard, Visa, Discover, Diners Club or check

See our general terms and conditions:

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  • American Queen Steamboat Company - Terms and Conditions 2022 - American Queen Voyages

For full cancellation policy details, please contact us for a quote.

  • 15 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 14 Dinners
  • 15 Nights Accommodations
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  • Open Bars & Lounges throughout the vessel including a juice bar every morning
  • In-Room Dining
  • Bicycles & Hiking Sticks equipment if needed
  • Live, Daily Onboard Entertainment & Enrichment
  • Locally Sourced & regionally Inspired Cuisine from land and sea
  • Gourmet Selections of freshly prepared choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Unlimited Beverages including an extensive wine list, choice spirits, local craft beers and specialty coffees
  • Unlimited Guided Tours designed with your comfort in mind aboard private, deluxe motorcoaches
  • 1-night Pre-cruise Hotel Stay with free ground transfers between hotel and vessel
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  • Optional Premium Shore Excursions - highly recommend booking these in advance. If interested, ask us for a detailed list of premium excursions for your cruise as these vary depending on your departure date.
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The 7 best mississippi river cruises for 2024.

Explore the history, culture and cuisine of the U.S. while cruising along the Mighty Mississippi.

The Best Mississippi River Cruises

American Cruise Lines' Serenade ship in Chattanooga.

Courtesy of American Cruise Lines

The more than 2,300-mile Mississippi River invites travelers to discover its multifaceted heritage, with a vast range of deeply rooted culture, music and history. A cruise is a fantastic way to discover many of the riverfront cities on a single trip, from the comfort of your modern riverboat or traditional paddle-wheeler.

The following Mississippi River cruise itineraries can help you choose from cruises of various lengths and options for the Lower and Upper Mississippi. Note that all fares are listed as double occupancy (based on two people per cabin), and that they might not reflect taxes, port fees or gratuities. The itinerary availability listed is also subject to change.

American Cruise Lines

The River Lounge, including plush chairs, coffee tables and a piano in the back.

Courtesy of American Cruise Lines |

American Cruise Lines operates small ships accommodating between 90 and 180 passengers that are built, flagged and crewed in the U.S. – and it's the only company in the world operating a 100% U.S.-flagged fleet of riverboats and cruise ships. ACL's itineraries traverse waterways across 35 states, with 11 itineraries dedicated to the Mississippi River. Cruisers can choose to sail on modern riverboats with a sleek interior design or while away their time aboard classic paddle-wheelers reminiscent of days gone by.

ACL offers variety as well as versatility: This line boasts both the longest and shortest sailings on this list with cruises ranging from eight to 60 days in length, including The Great United States. This inaugural 60-day voyage spans four major rivers and 20 states, making it the longest U.S. river cruise in history.

Complimentary hotel and transportation packages are available from every departure city before your cruise. You can book certain premium packages for added perks, such as two nights spent next door to Graceland in Memphis – with VIP tickets and a city tour included in the price.

Music Cities Cruise

Length: Eight days Price: Starts at $3,610 per person

Spend a week getting lost in the sounds of the Memphis blues, rock 'n' roll and country music legends on the seven-night Music Cities Cruise. A hotel stay the night before your sailing is included, but embarking in Memphis means you also have the chance to splurge on a two-night pre-cruise package near Elvis' former home Graceland .

Ports of call include Paducah, Kentucky; Dover, Tennessee; and Clarksville, Tennessee, with an overnight in Nashville and an included excursion to a show at the Grand Ole Opry. Two scenic sailing days feature picturesque views of America's Heartland along the Mississippi, Ohio and Cumberland rivers as well as Lake Barkley.

2024 dates: In 2024, there are two available itineraries in September and November.

Grand Heartland Cruise: St. Paul to New Orleans

Length: 15 days Price: Starts at $9,455 per person

This 15-day voyage allows you to explore America's rich history in towns along the Upper and Lower Mississippi River. The immersive voyage covers six states and 12 cities including St. Paul, Minnesota ; Dubuque, Iowa; St. Louis, Missouri ; Memphis, Tennessee; Natchez, Mississippi; Baton Rouge, Louisiana ; and more.

Take a step back in time while visiting Mark Twain's boyhood home in Hannibal, exploring stately historic estates in Natchez and Civil War sites in Vicksburg. At the end of a busy day ashore, you'll have plenty to chat about with fellow passengers during the evening cocktail hour.

2024 dates: American Heritage – ACL's traditional paddle-wheeler – and three modern riverboats set off on this journey from August to October in 2024.

Complete Mississippi River Cruise: New Orleans to St. Paul

Length: 22 days Price: Starts at $14,935 per person

If you want to see the entire Mississippi in one shot, check out this multiweek sailing that begins in New Orleans and ends in St. Paul, Minnesota. Along the way, you'll sail 1,393 miles, visit 10 states and experience a staggering 20 ports of call as you tour Louisiana and then head northbound to Minnesota.

In the South, walk the battlefields of the Civil War and sample delicious Southern barbecue before listening to the rhythms of jazz, the blues and rock 'n' roll. Then, explore the small and larger cities along the upper parts of the river. Remember to take time to gaze out at the picturesque scenery and the rolling farmlands of America's Midwest before disembarking in St. Paul.

2024 dates: Three of ACL's modern riverboats sail this itinerary in May, June and August in 2024.

The Great United States

Length: 60 days Price: Starts at $51,000

This two-month long journey – the longest domestic itinerary ever created – will check all the boxes for U.S. history and Civil War buffs, music and nature lovers, culinary enthusiasts, and beer and distilled spirits aficionados alike as the ship traverses America's iconic waterways through 20 states and 50 ports of call.

This epic journey showcases the natural beauty and living history of the U.S. from sea to shining sea. The sailing embarks in Portland, Oregon , on the Pacific Coast before traveling east to the Atlantic shore along four major rivers that highlight some of the country's most stunning coastlines. Upon arrival in New York Harbor, guests will have an unforgettable view of one of the most iconic landmarks in the U.S.: the Statue of Liberty .

Passengers can follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark along the Snake and Columbia rivers; cruise along Ol' Man River in search of Mark Twain and Elvis; see the vibrant colors of fall during peak season on the Hudson River; and take in the coastal breezes (and fresh seafood) along New England's rocky coastline.

This curated adventure also includes two flights: Jackson, Wyoming , to New Orleans as well as St. Paul to Portland, Maine , plus a land package through Glacier , Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. All-inclusive pricing covers the pre-cruise hotel stay, all flights and hotels between cruise segments, an ACL jacket and gear pack, daily excursions, all meals and beverages, gratuities and port charges, entertainment, and Wi-Fi.

2024 dates: The inaugural cruise sets sail on August 16, 2024.

mississippi river cruise minneapolis to new orleans

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Viking River Cruises

Viking cruise ship under a bridge on the Mississippi River.

Courtesy of Viking

Viking is no stranger to sailing Europe's rivers; the brand is synonymous with river cruising worldwide aboard its dozens of ships. However, Viking River Cruises is a newcomer to U.S. rivers, with its purpose-built ship: the 386-passenger Viking Mississippi. Looking to carve out its own niche in the American river cruising category, Viking claims it has the region's "first truly modern cruise ship" with its distinct Scandinavian design and expansive top sun deck with an infinity plunge pool.

Viking's mostly all-inclusive fares include a complimentary excursion in each port, destination lectures and performances, beer and wine at meals, free Wi-Fi, specialty coffees and teas, and more. The line offers five itineraries ranging in length from eight to 22 days along the Mighty Mississippi. Pre- and post-cruise extensions can be added to all voyages for an additional expense.

New Orleans & Southern Charms: Round-trip from New Orleans

Length: Eight days Price: Starts at $3,999 per person

If you don't know which Viking Mississippi itinerary to choose, start here. A round-trip voyage from New Orleans is convenient for booking flights and offers an excellent opportunity to extend your stay in NOLA. Six guided tours are included across eight days, from the historic estates of Natchez to Vicksburg National Military Park. A stop in St. Francisville gives you the chance to marvel at some of the 140-plus buildings it has on the National Register of Historic Places.

If you extend your stay in New Orleans, plan to sample the local Creole cuisine and take in some of the city's nightly jazz entertainment. In the morning, grab a beignet and a steaming cup of chicory coffee au lait at the original Café du Monde in the French Market.

2024 dates: This itinerary is available on select dates in February, November and December.

Heart of the Delta: New Orleans to Memphis

Length: Nine days Price: Starts at $4,299 per person

Similar to its round-trip New Orleans Southern Charms itinerary, the Heart of the Delta cruise begins in New Orleans and calls on the same five ports, before sailing through the Lower Mississippi and disembarking in Memphis. Enjoy scenic views of the serpentine river route – perhaps with expert commentary or a local cooking demonstration – and then take time to explore the birthplace of the Memphis blues, which is also a center of civil rights history.

2024 dates: In 2024, this cruise is available in February, March, April, May, June and November.

America's Great River: St. Paul to New Orleans

Length: 15 days Price: Starts at $12,999 per person

This Viking voyage sails from St. Paul to New Orleans on a two-week trip that calls on 13 ports with one day of scenic sailing. This itinerary combines the best of Viking's other Mississippi sailings for an all-encompassing Midwestern and Southern experience with 12 guided tours.

Included in the fare is a tour of Graceland; a stroll through small-town Burlington, Iowa, to see Snake Alley, deemed the most crooked street in the world; and a visit to the National Eagle Center of Red Wing, among others. For an additional fee, hop on an airboat ride through the Atchafalaya Swamp in Baton Rouge or tour the Anheuser-Busch Brewery of St. Louis.

2024 dates: Viking has availability for this itinerary in July, September and October.

Want to cruise the Mississippi River? See the top cruises on GoToSea , a service of U.S. News.

You may have seen riverboat gambling ships or are at least familiar with riverboat gambling along U.S. waterways. However, while high rolling on the river sounds like an exciting way to spend a night (or two, or more) while on your riverboat cruise, you'll have to jump ship to play the slots, roll the dice, spin the wheel or play a hand of Texas Hold 'em. Gambling on cruise ships sailing on internal waters is prohibited by U.S. law.

Gambling on boats in the U.S. is a complicated matter. While you will find some ships sailing along American waterways that are only set up for gambling, they are not carrying passengers from port to port. Most vessels that feature riverboat gambling are now moored, offering sports betting, table games, entertainment, live music and dancing while tethered to shore.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has sailed on nearly every type of cruise ship built, including the newest megaships, paddle-wheelers on America's waterways, and an 18-stateroom river ship on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. Most recently, she traveled on a small luxury expedition vessel in Antarctica and crossed the notorious Drake Passage twice. She covers the travel and culinary industries, specializing in cruises, for major publications including U.S. News & World Report.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Top River Cruise Lines
  • The Top All-Inclusive Cruises
  • Cruise Packing List Essentials
  • The Top Cruise Insurance Plans

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The Best Mississippi River Cruises to Discover America's Heartland

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

Image may contain Boat Transportation Vehicle Land Nature Outdoors Plant Vegetation Tree Woodland and Water

The luxury ships and historic tours are nice, yes. But the real star of Mississippi River cruises has always been the river. There’s nothing quite so Americana as getting to know the many personalities of this 2,350-mile stretch, flowing from northern Minnesota’s Lake Itasca through 10 states until it reaches Louisiana , where the Mississippi River Delta gives way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The slow, meandering journeys of Mississippi River cruises have long proven an ideal way to discover the distinct stories of America’s heartland. In the words of Mark Twain (which no Mississippi River story would be complete without), the towns and cities located on the mighty river's shores are “cheering to the spirit” and “reposeful as a dreamland,” with “nothing to hang a fret or a worry upon.”

The challenge modern travelers now face is when, where, and how to go about this iconic American voyage . Below, see our answers to these frequently asked questions, plus our favorite Mississippi River cruises to book in 2024.

Which cruise lines do Mississippi River cruises?

After American Queen Voyages shut down in February, only two Mississippi River cruise lines currently remain in operation.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, American Cruise Lines (ACL) is American-built and remains family-owned and American-crewed. ACL offers a Mississippi River fleet of three luxurious 180-passenger modern riverboats– American Melody , American Symphony , and American Serenade —plus two classic paddlewheel ships, the 180-passenger American Splendor and the 150-passenger American Heritage.

The new kid on the Mississippi is the Viking Mississippi, a 386-passenger, five-deck vessel that first set sail in September 2022. The cutting-edge cruise is Viking’s first US-built ship, adding to their fleet of more than 90 ocean, river, and expedition vessels navigating the world’s seven continents.

What is the average cost of a Mississippi River cruise?

For an 8- or 9-day cruise, the average cost of a Mississippi River cruise is around $4,000 per person in a stateroom. Although prices might seem high initially, many of these cruises include extras that aren’t always complimentary on ocean cruises such as free WiFi, at least one free shore excursion in every port, paid port taxes and fees, and a pre-cruise hotel stay. Viking offers complimentary beer, wine, and soft drinks with onboard lunch and dinner. Meanwhile, American Cruise Lines offers complimentary beer, wine, cocktails, and soft drinks. Gratuities are also included in American Cruise Lines fares.

What is the best time of year to go on a river cruise?

Spring (late March through mid-June) and autumn (September through November) are the best times of year to go on a river cruise in the US. Spring blossoms add a colorful touch to the shoreline, and you can never go wrong with autumn foliage. The temperatures are mild, if not pleasantly cool, and passengers are eager to welcome a new spring travel season—or to enjoy one last autumn river adventure before winter arrives.

What month is best for a Mississippi River cruise?

If we had to pick just one, September is the best month for a Mississippi River cruise. The weather is usually mild with less likelihood of rain, and autumn colors are beginning to paint the shoreline. Keep in mind, however, that the Mississippi is the fourth largest river in the world—so temperatures any time of year are not going to be the same in warmer Louisiana as they are in cooler Minnesota.

Below, see our favorite Mississippi River cruises to book in 2024, featuring stops in iconic American cities like Nashville , Memphis , and New Orleans .

Image may contain Architecture Building Cityscape Urban Boat Transportation Vehicle Outdoors Water and Waterfront

22-day Mississippi River Odyssey: New Orleans to Red Wing, Minnesota

Enjoy the charms of America’s great river on a journey aboard the Viking Mississippi from New Orleans to Red Wing, departing September 20. Custom built to sail American waters, the vessel features river-facing staterooms with either French or step-out balconies.

Stops include Baton Rouge and St. Francisville in Louisiana; Natchez, Vicksburg, Greenville, and Rosedale in Mississippi; Memphis in Tennessee; Paducah in Kentucky; Cape Girardeau, St. Louis, and Hannibal in Missouri; Burlington, Quad Cities, and Dubuque in Iowa; La Crosse in Wisconsin; and ending in Red Wing, Minnesota.

With so many fascinating shore excursions to choose from, it’s well worth taking time to tour the St. Louis Arch . Opened in 1965, the monument to America’s westward expansion is far more than just a stunning photo by the riverside. Venture underground between the arch legs for a museum. Climb aboard a tram to be transported 630 feet up to the top of America’s tallest monument for some stunning views.

Image may contain Architecture Building Furniture Indoors Lounge and Chair

12-day Heart of the Delta: Memphis to New Orleans

The 386-guest Viking Mississippi spans five decks, making it one of the largest passenger vessels on the Mississippi. Inaugurated in 2022, the ship features a modern Scandinavian design with an infinity pool and a two-story Explorers’ Lounge observation area similar to its ocean ships. Directly in front of the Explorer’s Lounge is an expanded outdoor seating area known as The Bow. Three restaurants serve both Southern regional cuisine and international favorites.

The cruise starts in Memphis on November 14 and includes stops in Rosedale, Greenville, Vicksburg, and Natchez in Mississippi as well as St. Francisville, Baton Rouge, and Darrow in Louisiana, ending in New Orleans. The “Mississippi Sings the Blues” shore excursion visits iconic sites along the Mississippi Blues Trail such as historic Dockery Farms, considered the “birthplace of the blues.”

The tour stops in Clarksdale, the fabled “Crossroads” where legend says blues great Robert Johnson reputedly sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his guitar prowess. Stops at the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi and the Delta Blues Museum completes this perfect trip for music lovers.

Nashville TN

9-day Music Cities Cruise: Nashville to Memphis

Music is the main focus of this cruise, which begins in Nashville on July 9 with an unforgettable visit to the legendary Grand Ole Opry and ends in Memphis, where passengers will enjoy live music on Beale Street and a tour of Elvis Presley’s Graceland . On board the American Splendor, passengers will enjoy spacious cabins and popular rocking chairs. First inaugurated in 2016 and fully redecorated in 2022, this ship offers the nostalgia of a classic paddlewheeler along with the comfort of modern amenities.

While in Nashville, explore the Johnny Cash Museum, then walk upstairs to The Patsy Cline Museum. Nightly entertainment spotlights the musical heritage of this region as the world’s newest paddlewheeler journeys along the river. The itinerary also includes Clarksville and Dover in Tennessee plus Paducah in Kentucky. In Paducah, stroll along the riverfront with more than 50 life-sized panoramic murals depicting Paducah’s past. Stop by Paducah’s National Quilt Museum, the world’s largest museum devoted to quilt and fiber art.

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23-day Complete Mississippi River Cruise: New Orleans to St. Paul

Sail 1,393 miles through 10 states on a comprehensive exploration of the mighty Mississippi on the new American Serenade . Inaugurated in 2023, the 91-cabin American Serenade won Best New River Cruise Ship of the Year 2023 by Cruise Critic , the first time an American ship has received this prestigious award.

“With extra-large all-balcony staterooms and suites, trendy interior décor, an innovative hydraulic bow and retractable ramp, and one of the most gorgeous sun decks we’ve seen on a river-going ship, American Serenade sets the bar for domestic US river cruising high,” the award notes.

The epic itinerary beginning July 18, 2024 includes 22 ports of call including Oak Alley, Houmas House, Baton Rouge, and St. Francisville in Louisiana; Natchez, Vicksburg, Greenville, and Tunica in Mississippi; Memphis in Tennessee; Cape Girardeau, St. Louis, and Hannibal in Missouri; Muscatine and Dubuque in Iowa; and Winona, Red Wing, and Saint Paul in Minnesota.

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12-day Mississippi River Gateway Cruise: New Orleans to St. Louis

From the French Quarter in New Orleans to the towering Gateway Arch in St. Louis , this American Heritage cruise lives up to its name. Inaugurated in 2015 and totally redecorated in 2022, the 84-cabin American Heritage is the perfect vessel for this interesting itinerary, its design reminiscent of the days when steamboat paddlewheelers plied the Mississippi in the 1800s.

The 12-day voyage departs from New Orleans on July 2. Ports of call along the way include Baton Rouge in Louisiana; Natchez and Vicksburg in Mississippi; Memphis in Tennessee; and Paducah in Kentucky . An onboard expert shares tales of the importance of steam-driven paddlewheels in establishing riverfront communities along the great Mississippi River.

Step ashore in Natchez and enjoy a cold drink at the Under-the-Hill-Saloon, once one of the rowdiest establishments on the Mississippi River in the 1800s. Legend says that Mark Twain stopped here when he was just another riverman named Samuel Clemens.

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9-day Lower Mississippi River Cruise: Memphis to New Orleans

This nine-day American Melody cruise departs Memphis on September 8 and features eight ports of call including Vicksburg and Natchez in Mississippi, and St. Francisville, Baton Rouge, and Houmas House in Louisiana. At Vicksburg Military Park, learn how the 101st Airborne Division got its “Screaming Eagles” nickname, plus the tale of its famous soldier, a young guitar player named Jimi Hendrix. At Houmas House, see the bedroom where Bette Davis stayed to film the 1964 movie Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte . Joan Crawford was the intended co-star but Bette and Joan feuded so Joan quit and Olivia de Havilland replaced her.

Launched in 2021, the five-deck American Melody has 91 staterooms, all with private balconies and full-length sliding glass doors. The ship has several spacious lounges, a fitness center, large dining room, café for casual dining, sun deck, library, and an impressive four-story glass atrium in the center of the ship. The ship’s unusual bow opens and lowers a platform for passengers to easily walk ashore.

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9-day Upper Mississippi River Cruise: St. Louis to St. Paul

Board the American Symphony cruise ship to visit Mark Twain’s hometown and experience the real-life inspiration behind Life on the Mississippi, the classic memoir chronicling the author's days on the river as a steamboat pilot.

The 91-cabin American Symphony, recently inaugurated in 2022, has 100% private balcony accommodations and a unique bow that opens with a retractable gangway that can be extended for landings virtually anywhere. The ship also features lounges soaring 40 feet above the water with triple the glass of other riverboats for spectacular views. Comfy deck chairs welcome passengers to enjoy the undeveloped countryside, picturesque islands, and fascinating dams and navigation locks.

Departing September 27, this itinerary features seven ports of call including Muscatine and Dubuque in Iowa, and Winona and Red Wing in Minnesota. In Hannibal, visit the actual home—with a whitewashed Tom Sawyer fence—where Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) grew up. In Dubuque, see the 1989 “Field of Dreams” movie site known for the famous quote, “If you build it, they will come.”

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Mississippi River Small Ship Cruises

Mississippi River cruises offer travelers a unique and immersive way to experience the heartland of America while exploring historic cities, charming towns, and scenic landscapes along one of the world’s most iconic rivers. Here are some key features and highlights of Mississippi River cruises:

  • Historic River Cities: Mississippi River cruises typically include stops at historic cities such as New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis, and Natchez, among others. Passengers have the opportunity to explore these cities’ rich history, culture, and architecture through guided tours, visits to museums and landmarks, and cultural experiences.
  • Scenic Views: Cruising the Mississippi River provides passengers with scenic views of rolling hills, lush forests, and picturesque river towns. Whether sailing past the bluffs of the Upper Mississippi or the bayous of the Lower Mississippi, passengers can enjoy breathtaking vistas from the comfort of the ship’s deck.
  • Southern Hospitality: Mississippi River cruises offer passengers a taste of Southern hospitality and charm. Onboard amenities often include live music, regional cuisine, and cultural performances that showcase the flavors and traditions of the South. Passengers can also enjoy lectures and presentations that provide insights into the region’s history, music, and cuisine.
  • Antebellum Plantations: Many Mississippi River cruises include visits to antebellum plantations and historic estates that offer a glimpse into the region’s plantation-era past. Passengers can tour beautifully preserved mansions, gardens, and slave quarters while learning about the history of the Old South and the legacy of slavery.
  • Riverboat Experience: Some Mississippi River cruises are conducted aboard authentic paddlewheel riverboats that evoke the nostalgia and romance of a bygone era. These riverboats feature period decor, live entertainment, and outdoor observation decks that allow passengers to soak in the sights and sounds of the river.
  • Culinary Experiences: Mississippi River cruises often highlight the region’s culinary traditions, with onboard dining experiences that showcase Southern cuisine and local specialties. Passengers can enjoy dishes such as gumbo, barbecue, fried catfish, and pecan pie, as well as regional wines and spirits.
  • Themed Cruises: Some Mississippi River cruises offer themed itineraries focused on specific interests such as music, history, or cuisine. These themed cruises may include special events, guest speakers, and curated excursions that cater to passengers’ interests and preferences.
We just completed a Memphis to New Orleans cruise on the American Duchess. This company is top notch! Food was excellent, the hop-on/hop-off guides and drivers were all excellent, and the premium tours were all great! I truly loved every minute of this trip. Nottoway Plantation was outstanding, loved all the history provided at each stop. I loved the band and singers each night. It truly couldn’t have been any better. —  Mary C.

Mississippi River Cruise Itineraries

Mississippi River cruising

Mississippi River Cruise roundtrip New Orleans

On this 8-day Mississippi River Cruise sailing roundtrip from New Orleans aboard one of several brand new riverboats, celebrate the music, history, and culture of the Lower Mississippi.

Houmas House, Louisiana

Lower Mississippi River Cruise

On this 8-day Lower Mississippi River cruise sailing between New Orleans, Louisiana and Memphis, Tennessee, enjoy customized excursions from iconic ports in Oak Alley and Natchez where you gain an insiders’ perspective of classic antebellum homes and renowned plantations.

Mississippi River cruising

Highlights of the Mississippi River

This 5-day Highlights of the Mississippi River cruise adventure begins and ends in New Orleans, a melting pot of French, African, and American culture. Here you can enjoy exclusive access to its vibrant music scene and the best in Cajun and Creole cuisine.

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Heart of the Delta

On this 12-day Heart of the Delta Mississippi River cruise between New Orleans to Memphis aboard the 386-guest Viking Mississippi , immerse yourself in history and heritage on this journey from New Orleans to Memphis.

Viking Mississippi in New Orleans

New Orleans & Southern Charms

On this 8-day New Orleans & Southern Charms Mississippi River cruise roundtrip New Orleans aboard 386-guest Viking Mississippi , explore historic estates, and visit notable Civil War sites.

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Lower Mississippi River Cruise-American Symphony

Embark on a unique riverboat adventure along the Lower Mississippi River between New Orleans, Louisiana and Memphis, Tennessee. Savor a week aboard our intimate and relaxed modern riverboat with 180 guests or fewer. Our enthusiastic all-American crew is ready to share with you a wonderful journey filled with historical tales, culinary delights, vibrant music, and new friends.   Dynamic presentations by your onboard speaker connect you to the region’s culture and history, while local guides share insights to illuminate your shore excursions. New Orleans reverberates with the sounds of jazz, while Memphis offers savory barbecue, rich music history museums, and an amazing exploration of Elvis’ Graceland. Discover why the Mississippi River and the port of Vicksburg were so important during the Civil War and enjoy the beautiful architecture, antiques, and gardens of grand estates alongside the river, including Houmas House, and Rosedown. Perhaps sip and savor a tasty mint julep while strolling under the canopy of 300-year-old trees at Oak Alley or peruse the local shops and museums of quaint and cozy towns like St. Francisville and Natchez.

Ports of Call: Memphis |  Vicksburg | Natchez | St. Francisville | Baton Rouge | Houmas House | New Orleans

Cruise Details

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*Per person/double occupancy. Special single rates apply where listed. Excludes port fees. Itineraries may operate in reverse.

Your Itinerary

1 Memphis, TN On our Lower Mississippi River cruise itineraries, we offer a variety of convenient Pre-Cruise options, providing you will a seamless way to board the ship and explore the local area. Choose from our 2-Night Graceland Pre-Cruise Package or our Complimentary 1-Night Pre-Cruise Hotel Stay.

2 Memphis, TN Welcome to Memphis, a historic city which rises picturesquely up the hillside from the river, adorned with grand oak trees, lush parks, and historic sites that commemorate everything from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement. Immerse yourself in its rich musical legacy as you stroll along legendary Beale Street, where music flows from every doorway, and savor the rich flavors and aromas of the city’s famous BBQ. Choose from an array of customized excursions. Perhaps take a narrated motorcoach excursion to get an overview of this dramatic city. Or indulge in the glamour of the Peabody Hotel. Explore the home, life, and career of Elvis Presley or make your pilgrimage to Sun Studio, where he recorded his earliest smash-hits.The comfort of your ship awaits at the nearby Beale Street Landing, docked along an impressive, recently renovated city park. Be entertained on board by local musicians as you savor a nightcap.

3 Day of River Cruising Today is a day to truly relax without a care in the world. Revel in the bliss of floating along the current of the mighty Mississippi River, framed by a forest of cottonwood trees dotted with majestic blue herons. Enjoy fascinating enrichment presentations and festive onboard activities. Savor fine meals and cocktails. Relax in one of the many spacious lounges or enjoy a gentle breeze on the sun deck as you read a book or chat with new friends. Mark Twain described the experience as having “nothing to hang a worry or a fret upon.”

4 Vicksburg, MS Vicksburg is a place of drama. During the Civil War, the struggle to control Vicksburg proved to be a major turning point. The well-fortified connection between river and rail transportation was known as “The Gibraltar of the West.” A narrated exploration of the well-preserved National Military Park battlefield enlivens this powerful story and highlights its significance. President Abraham Lincoln summarized Vicksburg’s importance clearly when he said, “Vicksburg is the key. The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket… They can defy us from Vicksburg… As valuable as New Orleans will be to us, Vicksburg will be more so.” Several other excursion options are available, including exploring museums and historic sites with local expert guides or on your own. Walk aboard an enormous Army Corps of Engineers towboat. Stroll along the charming series of murals painted along the adjacent floodwall and read panels detailing the Vicksburg stories they illustrate.

5 Natchez, MS Day 4 - Natchez, MS In Natchez, grand homes sparkle like jewels, adorning the bluffs that tower above the river. Since 1716, when the French first built a fort here among the Natchez Indians, the town has grown to boast elaborate mansions built by planters in the 1800s to flaunt their wealth. With no Civil War fighting here, Natchez still features hundreds of antebellum homes and buildings. Each of these architectural treasures has its own story to tell, creating a charming downtown that embodies the essence of southern charm and hospitality. Explore on your own or enjoy an array of curated, guided explorations. Tour the elaborate townhomes, visit a working cotton farm to learn about the crop’s importance in history and today, and discover the historic Under-The-Hill Saloon. Drift through quaint shops, nibble on local delights, and enjoy the expansive views of the majestic river valley from the bluff-top park.

6 St. Francisville, LA As the bow-ramp from the ship opens and stretches to the shore, you will be welcomed into the historic cotton port of St. Francisville. Overlooking the river from atop a high, St. Francisville began as a part of Spanish West Florida in the early 1800s until American settlers overthrew the Spanish governing forces, and the region later became part of the United States. Experience this town’s rich history on your own or with a variety of guided excursions. As you explore, discover the Historic District which boasts magnificent mansions and unique boutique shops and admire cottonwood trees which transition to stately oaks adorned with Spanish moss.

7 Baton Rouge, LA Meaning “red stick,” Baton Rouge’s 1699 French name references an ancient geographical marker and reflects the city’s long history. As Louisiana’s state capital, the city still echoes with tales of the characters who lived here, most notably Governor and Senator Huey P. Long. Learn about his dramatic career at the magnificent 1852 Old State Capitol Museum and visit Long’s 1932 State Capitol building, an architectural marvel of granite and marble. Explore many of the well-known downtown neighborhoods, while embracing the rich art, architecture, and nature along the route. If you feel adventurous, take a narrated boat ride through a Louisiana swamp.

8 Houmas House, LA Step off your ship docked right at Houmas House and explore one of the most elaborately renovated of the grand homes along the river, once a private home and a thriving historical agricultural enterprise. Entertaining and knowledgeable guides will escort you through the magnificently restored home’s unmatched collection of stunning period furnishings and artwork. The ornately landscaped grounds include 38 acres of gardens, fountains, and majestic live oak trees. Later, experience the opulence and natural wonder of the Oak Alley estate with its breathtaking parallel row of 28 ancient and massive live oak trees. Here, you can savor a complimentary taste of one of the best mint juleps in the South.

9 New Orleans, LA New Orleans is worth some extra time. Enjoy a feast for your senses if you linger in this magical city, renowned for its delicious cuisine, vibrant music scene, and rich culture with an international flair. Stroll the tree-lined avenues, take a carriage ride through the French Quarter, hop aboard a streetcar to the gorgeous Garden District, or visit the renowned National World War II Museum. If departing the ship in New Orleans, enjoy available city excursions and motorcoach transfers to the airport. Or extend your stay to further explore the delights of the Big Easy.


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America’s Great River Map

Map of America's Great River itinerary

Span the length of the Mississippi

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History and culture unfold as you traverse the Mississippi on this enriching voyage. Enjoy relaxing scenic sailing and unparalleled bird-watching as the landscape changes between the bluffs of the North and the bayous of the South. Learn about the American civil rights movement and the Civil War. Along the way, tap your feet to the rhythm of American folk, soul and jazz music—and taste a delicious array of regional cuisine.


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To learn more about each port of call and our included as well as optional excursions, click on the individual days below.

Itinerary and shore excursions are subject to change and may vary by departure.

More features, services and excursions included

One complimentary shore excursion in every port of call

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*All amenities on board Viking Longships; amenities vary on other ships.

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Mississippi River Cruise from New Orleans to Memphis Review and Photos

By: Sherry Laskin · Updated On: May 20, 2023

My first “Mississippi river cruise” was a silly 20-minute boat ride aboard Liberty Belle at Disney World. I was finally going to experience the real deal. 

Based on my Huck Finn Disney ride, I really didn’t know what to expect on a real Mississippi river cruise. When I stepped onboard American Cruise Line’s American Heritage (formerly Queen of the Mississippi) , the only similarity was the traditional big red paddle wheel.

Our week on the Mississippi would cruise through U.S. territory I’ve never explored. The cities and towns were totally new to me.

This post takes you along on my Mississippi River journey from New Orleans to Memphis. I hope to inspire you to get onboard and experience the controversial history, regional culture and delicious cuisine in this part of America.

Queen of the Mississippi River Ship in New Orleans

Mississippi River Cruise from New Orleans to Memphis

In This Post...

It would be a week of grisly Civil War battlefield sights and stories, tours of opulent plantations with their costumed glamour and turbulent past. There were strolls through some of America’s cities that grew up along the river. 

In addition, we’d have a chance to indulge in regional southern food that included its French and subsequent Creole and Cajun influence.

Step Aboard American Heritage

Before beginning its 2022 season , American Heritage had a bow to stern remodel and refurbishment. The rivership now looks modern yet still cozy. Muted tones of beige and aqua, plus accents in navy and deep red are found throughout the new fabrics and décor.

American Heritage Lounge

All 150 passengers were mostly seniors and mostly Americans, with a few Brits and Australians. Everyone joined in the 1800’s spirit. 

A few men and women were wearing straw or ribboned hats and other small bits of wearable nostalgia. At embarkation, crew members were dressed as though they were sent from Central Casting. It’s a Mississippi river cruise thing. 

READ NEXT:  Mississippi River Cruise Embarkation Day and Ship Photos  

Mississippi River Cruise Itinerary

  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie, Louisiana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Natchez, mississippi, vicksburg, mississippi, memphis, tennessee.

The river cruise price tag included a one-night pre-cruise stay at The Whitney Hotel in New Orleans. This was very convenient for the cruise line to pick up almost all of their guests from one location in town to go to the port. 

It also assured that everyone would be on board and checked in well before sailaway time.

En Route to Oak Alley, Louisiana

American Heritage left New Orleans well before dinner chimes were heard. We were heading upstream for an evening port visit. Oak Alley, Louisiana.

River cruising on the Mississippi at Oak Alley Plantation

Only a few hours into our Mississippi river cruise was our first port town; Vacherie, Louisiana for a stop at Oak Alley Plantation. Aglow at sunset, the plantation was quite a spectacular sight.

Maybe it was the 300-year old canopy of live oaks or the warm glow from the porch lights.

An evening stroll along the 1/4 mile path from the ship’s gangway to the double-door plantation house entrance was a good way to walk off dinner. Set Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine to the year 1837. 

Once a wealthy sugar plantation, Oak Alley was built on the backbone of slavery. Between 110 and 120 men, women and children lived in bondage at the plantation. Almost all Mississippi river cruises stop at Oak Alley. 

Oak Alley Plantation front entrance with oak trees

Next morning, any apparitions disappeared with the light of day, or so I hoped. Tour guides in period costume guided us through many of the rooms, chatting up the history and events from the plantation’s nearly 200-year old existence.

After the tour, and roasting in the heat and humidity, everyone slowly sauntered back towards the Mississippi river. Our awaiting air-conditioned ship was a welcome sight. 

As we neared Baton Rouge in the early evening, it was a strange juxtaposition of a contemporary skyline with an Antebellum mood. A light drizzle curtailed our plans to walk the river’s wide promenade. 

I liked the idea of a walk in the evening mist along the river bank but no one else seemed interested to go. 

It was also just a little too far to walk for a peek at the USS Kidd Naval Destroyer permanently docked on the Mississippi. Instead, many guests stayed onboard and relaxed on rocking chairs beneath the awning on the Sun Deck.

Baton Rouge Old State Capitol Building

The second full day of our river cruise began with motor coach tour of Baton Rouge. Tour guides in these old buildings seem to love a good ghost story. First stop was a tour of the castle-like Old State Capitol Building.

An Antebellum-costumed woman eagerly recanted the “Ghost of Sarah Morgan” story with tales of the Capitol’s Civil War history and ghostly past. Then onto the new and hopefully not haunted State Capitol Building (also known as Huey P. Long’s monument).

Magnolia Mound Plantation at Baton Rouge

A beautifully preserved French Creole plantation house, Magnolia Mound dates from 1791. Several buildings, including an outdoor open-hearth kitchen, slave quarters, the Overseer’s house and an unusual three-seater outhouse comprise the 900-acre grounds.

Natchez, Mississippi, our third stop, began with a city motor coach tour that wound through the tree-lined thoroughfares and riverfront drives.

Longwood Mansion in Natchez on a Mississippi river cruise

First stop was Longwood, a sprawling and elegant six-story mansion. The building of this unique octagonal-shaped building began in 1859. 

The completion of Longwood would never happen. With the start of the Civil War in 1861, all the construction workers had to abandon the job and march off to war. 

Glen Auburn House Natchez Mississippi

Back to American Heritage  for lunch as was routine. Shuttle buses ran continuously to and from the sleepy downtown Natchez.

River cruising the Mississippi docked near downtown Natchez

The next morning, the Mississippi river took us to Vicksburg, Mississippi. A major location for civil war battles, archeologists are still finding artifacts buried in the muddy waters. 

Vicksburg National Military Park Tour

A visit to the Vicksburg National Military Park was a sobering reminder of the Battle of Vicksburg and the 47-day siege in 1863.

Civil War battlefields, monuments and memorials dominated the day’s theme in Vicksburg. Once we reached the National Military Park entrance, a park guide narrated the scenes and explained what happened where and why.

Iron Clad gun boat from the Yazoo River on our Mississippi river cruise.

We stopped to view the U.S.S.Cairo , an iron clad gunboat sunk in battle in 1862. The antique gunboat was discovered in the nearby Yazoo river in 1956, buried in silt and mud. 

The gunboat was salvaged 8 years later, along with hundreds of incredibly well-preserved artifacts. Who knew?

Like many of the small town treasures along the Mississippi river, Vicksburg is high on my list of places on this river cruise that I’d love to see again. The town’s Civil War history was almost totally unknown to me. 

In fact, almost all Civil War history that took place along the Mississippi was news to me. 

Vicksburg riverfront murals

Vicksburg’s Riverfront Murals depict the history of Vicksburg, Mississippi and the role the city played in the building of America. 

Downtown Vicksburg Old Railway Station

There was time back at the dock to explore the beautiful Yazoo and Mississippi R.R. Station building, now the Old Depot Museum. 

I would have liked a little more time to view all the murals but they’re seemingly endless. Painted by Robert Dafford, the murals were unveiled to the public in April 2002.

After your busy day touring much of Vicksburg, remember to leave time to stroll and sightsee along the riverfront. It’s worth it.

River cruising on the Mississippi aboard Queen of the Mississippi in Natchez

An overnight in Memphis allowed plenty of time to tour, taste and listen to Memphis blues.

A Visit to Graceland

I decided to take the Graceland tour even though I was not an Elvis fan (he was a few years before I discovered the transistor radio!) That’s his house, very unimposing and looking more like a suburban home in a northern city than what I imagined.

The guided and narrated tour only allowed 8 guests at a time. 

graceland mansion in Memphis TN

Graceland seemed frozen in time. You can tour all of the downstairs rooms but the upstairs, where Elvis died, is off-limits.

While the house isn’t exactly huge, it’s the extensive adjacent grounds and out-buildings that give Graceland its estate-like quality.

Our Mississippi River Cruise Comes to an End

I would have been happy to do a southbound turn-around cruise and revisit all the places we saw on the journey north. 


As on all seven-night cruises, whether ocean or river, the days went by too fast. Our Mississippi river cruise covered a lot of territory. 

We traveled a total of over 453 miles on the Mississippi River. Next time, I’d like to do a repeat of this trip and continue north on the river all the way to St. Paul, Minnesota. Or reverse.

Amtrak City of New Orleans Train Back to New Orleans

Unlike everyone else on this cruise who flew home, I chose to ride overnight aboard Amtrak’s famed City of New Orleans train from Memphis to New Orleans. 

I reserved my roomette, and looked forward to a relaxing overnight, eating in the dining car (or my room) and of course, a piping hot cup of train coffee. 

Rather than a rush to the airport, this was a fabulous finale to a memorable week. Once we arrived in New Orleans, I spent an overnight and picked up a rental car for the drive back to Florida the next day. 

Cruises on the Mississippi River

Launched in 2015, American Cruise Lines 150-passenger American Heritage  is dedicated to Mississippi river cruises.

The most traveled Mississippi river cruises are between New Orleans and Memphis or St. Louis. There are also a few full-length New Orleans to St. Paul, Minnesota or reverse cruise each summer. 

You can also journey east of the Mississippi river and cruise the Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee rivers.

If you’re wondering if Mississippi river cruise ships have a casino, the answer is no. Overnight Mississippi river cruise ships do not have a casino. 

However, an option would be to take a taxi from the ship if the port that you are at has a nearby casino. Just don’t miss the boat!

Disclosure:  I was a guest of American Cruise Lines aboard American Heritage . As always, all opinions are my own. It was a wonderful week and I heartily recommend this cruise.

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About Sherry Laskin

I'm the editor and creator of, a solo traveler cruising the world without flying. I hope my articles and photos entertain, advise and inspire you to travel the world without flying. Take a breath...stop for a local meal and a glass of wine along the way.

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American Symphony docked in Natchez, Mississippi

February 25, 2023 at 10:55 pm

Hi Denise, Thank you for reading my Mississippi river cruise article. As for “best side” of the ship, leaving New Orleans it’s nice to be port side as that’s the most scenic for the first two – three days. Then the right side (starboard) becomes the scenic side. It also depends on your itinerary, too. Either side is as good as the other, in my opinion. Enjoy the cruise…I really did and hope to go again this year! Thanks again for your comment and question. Happy cruising!

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January 18, 2023 at 11:01 pm

I enjoyed reading your review. I and some friends are looking at a cruise in June, New Orleans to Memphis. Is there a better side of the boat to choose your cabin? That is in regard to sun and sightseeing.

September 8, 2022 at 9:03 am

Hi Angela, Thank you so much for your question. I think a February Mississippi river cruise would be unique when it comes to the weather. It’s always cooler on the water, too, so be prepared. As for the food with American Cruise Lines…I thought everything served was very good. I really like when there are regional specials on the menu, too. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. If you have a chance to have lunch in a port town, that’s always one of my favorite things to do! Have a wonderful river cruise and thank you again for taking the time to read my article!

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September 5, 2022 at 3:53 am

We are going on this cruise next February.Hoping the weather will be suitable. very informative review. Could you let me know what you thought of the meals on board the cruise please

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American Cruise Lines Christens New Mississippi Riverboat

mississippi river cruise minneapolis to new orleans

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America’s Most Scenic Small-Ship and River Cruises

Columbia and snake rivers.

T hese nine-day American river cruises on the American Queen Steamboat Company's American Empress sail from Vancouver, Washinton to Portland, Oregon and show you a glimpse at some of the most gorgeous scenery in the Pacific Northwest. From the paddle wheeler, you'll get to see the dramatic waterfalls at the Columbia River Gorge, the pioneer town The Dalles, and sea lions and filming sites from the hit 1980s film, The Goonies in Astoria.

Rivers of Wine Theme Cruise on the Columbia and Snake Rivers

These seven-night American river cruises on the UnCruise Adventure's S.S. Legacy sail round trip out of Portland, Oregon cruising a similar route to American Empress but focusing on wine. A sommelier and guest wine expert sail with passengers for the week, serving as an onboard resource and hosting tastings. There are also wine tastings, vineyard tours, and wine cave tours in Columbia Gorge, Walla Walla, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, and the Willamette Valley and guests get to taste old-vine varietals and wines from eco-cultivated vineyards. River cruises are also popular across the pond.

Adventure Theme Cruise on the Olympic Peninsula

Sailing round-trip out of Seattle through Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands on an elegant little yacht, this seven-night cruise on UnCruise Adventure's Safari Quest includes kayaking, paddle boarding, and plenty of hikes. There are also opportunities to spot bald eagles, sea lions, and whales and to enjoy local seafood, including oysters and clams.

Upper Mississippi American Heartland Theme Cruise

This river cruise from Chicago to St. Louis is on American Queen Steamboat Company's newest ship, the American Duchess , a paddle wheeler as majestic as her older sisters, with the same iconic red paddlewheel. You'll see the towering skyscrapers of Chicago and get the perfect photo op of St. Louis's famed arch. The focus of this cruise is American history, and you can see towns that were settled as trading posts by French explorers, visit the site of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate in Ottowa, Illinois, and check out places from Mark Twain's writings in his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. Want to learn even more of America's backstory? Start with these 16 best cities for American history buffs .

Ohio River Cruise

These 11-day cruise tours on American Cruise Line's Queen of the Mississippi travel from St. Louis to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania visiting Louisville, Kentucky and Cincinnati (among other towns) along the way. You'll get a behind-the-scenes tour of Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, and tour the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. In Cape Girardeau, you'll see everything from Trail of Tears sites to Civil War battlefields. Best of all, expect plenty of bluegrass music and mint juleps along the way.

Music Cruise on the Cumberland River

These seven-night American river cruises from Nashville to St. Louis also on American Cruise Line's Queen of the Mississippi will take you to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Johnny Cash Museum and then heads on to St. Louis for a celebration of blues music.

Mississippi River Bourbon Theme Cruise

Cruise up the Mississippi River from Memphis to Louisville on the American Queen Steamboat Company's American Queen, with private tastings and cooking demos along the way, as well as lectures by historians. This special sailing, offered annually in July, also includes the opportunity to sample rare and vintage bourbons as well.

Lake Michigan

On this eight-day cruise roundtrip out of Chicago on Blount Small Ship Adventures's Grande Mariner , you'll visit Mackinac Island, Michigan, home to historic homes and plenty of rocking chairs as well as Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin's Door County, where you'll see lighthouses and plenty of yachts.

Lower Mississippi from New Orleans to New Orleans

See—and eat—the highlights of New Orleans—from beignets to po' boys—before setting sail on American Cruise Line's America Song . You'll head to Natchez and Vicksburg in Missouri for Civil War sites and St. Francisville and Houmas House, Louisiana for historic plantations with a stop in the middle in Baton Rouge to see the Louisiana State Museum and the capital buildings. Occasionally, the line also offers a food-themed cruise out of New Orleans, too.

Maine Coastal Cruises

Maine Windjammer Association's Lewis R. French is a dramatic 21-passenger schooner that offers two- to six-night cruises in the summer and through the month of September out of the town of Camden, Maine. The schooner, which dates back to 1871 and is a National Historic Landmark, has no engine, and powers through Penobscot Bay just with the wind in its sails. You can help out with the sails, and watch for porpoises and eagles.

Newport, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard Cruise

This sailing yacht, the Arabella , may winter in the Caribbean, but it summers in the northeast, home of lobster rolls, lighthouses, and clambakes. The five-night sailings in July, August, and September let you travel to the area's loveliest beaches under billowing white sails.

Chesapeake Bay Cruise

This seven-night cruise on American Cruise Line's Independence sails round-trip out of Baltimore to Oxford, St. Michael's, and Annapolis, Maryland as well as Yorktown and Williamsburg, Virginia. You'll visit coastal fishing villages and eat plenty of hard-shell blue crabs, and get to visit Baltimore's famed aquarium.

Hudson River Valley Fall Foliage Theme Cruise

This eight-day American river cruise on American Cruise Line's American Constitution sails round-trip out of New York City before taking you to Hyde Park, the Catskills, and West Point as well as Sleepy Hollow, all in upstate New York. But in addition to the history in the region, the highlight of the cruise is easily the changing colors of the autumnal leaves.

Savannah to Baltimore

Cruise one of our favorite 12-day American river cruises in the Southeast on Blount Small Ship Adventures's Grand Mariner and you'll spend your days exploring Beaufort by horse-drawn carriage and wander the cobblestone streets of Charleston, South Carolina as the port town of Annapolis. Read on to discover the best cruise to take every month of the year .

The post America’s Most Scenic Small-Ship and River Cruises appeared first on Reader's Digest .

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Who Is John Goodman’s Wife? All About Anna Beth Goodman

John Goodman and Anna Beth Goodman have been married since 1989

mississippi river cruise minneapolis to new orleans


John Goodman and his wife, Anna Beth Goodman (née Hartzog), have a long history with New Orleans.

Though the prolific actor, known for his roles in The Big Lebowski and Roseanne (and its current spinoff, The Connors ), is from Missouri, he says the city has always felt like home.

“I used to come down here every time I’d get a couple of dimes to rub together, and it just felt like I was missing something every time I was here,” he told Today in 2023.

It was on one of these trips that he met his wife, Anna Beth — who is a native of Bogalusa, Louisiana — while filming the movie Everybody’s All-American in the late 1980s.

John told Entertainment Weekly in 1992 that Anna Beth approached him while they were in a bar. “I thought, ‘What could this lovely young woman possibly want with me?’ ” he told the outlet.

The couple married in New Orleans in 1989 and raised their daughter, Molly Evangeline Goodman, there after she was born in 1990. All told, John and Anna Beth have lived in New Orleans for three decades, splitting their time between the South and Los Angeles.

While the two keep their relationship private, John doesn’t shy away from talking about his wife in the media, from their history together to her role in helping him recover from alcoholism.

So who is John Goodman’s wife? Here’s everything to know about Anna Beth Goodman and her relationship with the actor.

They met at a party

Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty 

John and Anna Beth met at a Halloween party at Tipitina’s, a well-known music venue in New Orleans, in the late 1980s. John was taking a break from filming Everybody’s All-American , and Anna Beth was a fine-arts student at the University of New Orleans — just 19 years old to John’s mid-30s, per The New York Times .

“I went to this Halloween party, and she walked up to me and said, ‘Hi,’ ” John told Elle in 2012. “I couldn't figure out why anyone that pretty was talking to me.”

Though the two met that night, it took some time for them to become an official couple.

“She kind of thought I was a zombie,” John said on Late Night with Seth Meyers in 2021, presumably referring to his shyness in speaking to her. “I had a buddy of mine keep track of her, and we started dating a year later.”

He proposed on the Mississippi River

Ted Dayton/WWD/Penske Media/Getty

John and Anna Beth got engaged in April 1988 on the banks of the Mississippi River in New Orleans' French Quarter.

John shared the story of his engagement to Anna Beth while on Live with Kelly and Ryan in 2018, on the eve of their 29-year anniversary.

He told hosts Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest that the engagement wasn’t a surprise. “We knew it was coming for a while,” he said. “We actually went to the jewelry store to get the ring before we went down to the river.”

They married in 1989

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty

John and Anna Beth married at New Orleans’ Saint Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church in November 1989, PEOPLE reported.

The pair tied the knot in front of 650 guests in the church ceremony — where Anna Beth was escorted down the aisle by her father, Seymon, a real estate developer from her hometown of Bogalusa — according to PEOPLE.

After their vows, the newlyweds and guests went on a three-hour cruise on a Mississippi riverboat, the Creole Queen .

The star-studded celebration was attended by the likes of John’s Roseanne costar Roseanne Barr , as well as then-couple Bruce Willis and Demi Moore .

They have a daughter together

Jim Smeal/Shutterstock 

John and Anna Beth welcomed their daughter, Molly Evangeline, in 1990.

Anna Beth was pregnant with Molly while John was filming the 1991 comedy/thriller Barton Fink . John described filming the movie’s iconic hallway scene — during which his character chases two police officers with a shotgun while the hallway around him erupts in flames — to Vanity Fair in 2022.

“My wife, nine months pregnant, showed up one day and this was what I was doing and she really didn’t take kindly to it,” he told the outlet, adding that he wore fire protection.

After Molly was born, John and Anna Beth decided to raise her in New Orleans — closer to Anna Beth’s family — rather than Los Angeles, as a result of the fame and recognition John was receiving for his roles in projects including Roseanne and Raising Arizona .

“I don’t want to say this to disparage Los Angeles because it’s a great city, I just didn’t want [Molly] growing up in a show business environment,” John said on Off Camera with Sam Jones in 2021. “I had enough. So we found a secluded part of New Orleans and moved there. She went to a great school, and she loved it.”

Regardless, it seems show business runs in Molly’s blood. John told CBS News in 2012 that at the time, she was an aspiring filmmaker. “She just does stuff that I’d be too lazy or wouldn’t have the imagination to do,” he said.

Molly has since gone on to work as a set dresser and production assistant on multiple shows including The Conners and New Girl .

She helped him during a difficult time in his life

Kirstin Sinclair/Getty

John has long discussed his struggles with alcohol addiction, and his recovery and sobriety for more than 15 years.

In 2018, John told Sunday Today host Willie Geist that his recovery began with encouragement and help from Anna Beth a decade prior. He knew he had hit rock bottom after a weekend of playing golf with friends. He woke up Sunday morning shaking, but continued to drink.

“I called my wife, which was like turning myself into the Gestapo,” he said. “She made some phone calls, we got me into a treatment center and I detoxed there and decided I liked the feeling.”

On Off Camera with Sam Jones in 2021, John also talked about Anna Beth’s role in raising Molly when he wasn’t a present father due to his addiction. He credited his wife for being a strong support system for both him and their daughter.

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Mississippi River Ports Offer Assistance After Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Mary Kennedy

Mayors of towns and cities along the Mississippi River hosted several national organizations at a news teleconference on March 28, 2024, to offer insights on plans and options for keeping the U.S. supply chain open, the possible increases in shipping traffic and the related capacity requirements of the Mississippi River and the ports servicing the river.

"Our thoughts and support extend to our friends and colleagues in Baltimore, and we stand ready to assist as needed," said La Crosse, Wisconsin, Mayor Mitch Reynolds.

Reynolds, co-chair of the of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI) added, "Since 2015, the Mayors of MRCTI have been steadily working with industry and federal partners to increase the capacity of Mississippi River port and intermodal infrastructure across the corridor, contributing to nearly $100 million in new investment into Mississippi River supply chain capacity."

"The question is how can we assist in receiving Baltimore diversions and can we intermodal that freight to the rest of the country efficiently? The Port of New Orleans is the Mississippi River's gateway port to the world, generating more than $100 million in revenue annually. Port NOLA is exceeding the 500,000 TEU threshold year after year six times in a row," said Belinda Constant, mayor of Gretna, Louisiana and MRCTI Louisiana State Chair.

Janine Mansour, head of key accounts at Port NOLA, said, "From the perspective of offering freight and vessel solutions to shippers that are using Baltimore, we recognize that neighboring East Coast ports are first ports of call and 18 vessels scheduled to Baltimore between the crisis and Tuesday were already diverted." She added that using the East Coast infrastructure will be the first and most logical option from a logistics standpoint.

"Looking at how we can offer solutions in New Orleans and up the Mississippi River, we certainly have the intermodal rail capacity as well as capacity on the river to present solutions for noncontainerized freight," she added.


"The tragedy in Baltimore has shined light on the interconnected nature of the nation's transportation and port infrastructure. As funds from the transformative Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continue to make their way to states and communities, this event highlights the need to build with resilience and redundancy in mind," said Norma Jean Mattei, PhD, PE, and past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). "Our nation's infrastructure received a C- in its 2021 Report Card for America's Infrastructure, and the way we manage, operate and modify these systems over the decades plays just as crucial a role in improving this grade as the physical structures we build."

Mattei said during the call that when barges do hit bridges on the river, traffic is stopped to assess damage and remove sunken barges. "Barges are not at all the same type of vessel as a large container vessel or large bulker, so it's a different amount of energy that the bridge pier would absorb."

Probably the most recent scare to commerce on the Mississippi River came on May 11, 2021, when an inspection discovered a partially fractured beam on the Hernando de Soto Bridge crossing the Mississippi River at Memphis, Tennessee. Given the beam was one of a pair of load-bearing tension members critical to the structural integrity of the bridge's design, the bridge was structurally unsound, at risk of collapse and was shut down. River traffic was immediately halted until engineers could inspect the entire bridge. River traffic was able to restart three days later as initial repairs were being made that would not affect barge movements below.

Upriver from Memphis is the Vicksburg Bridge, the northernmost crossing of the Mississippi River in Louisiana open to motor vehicles. In 2013 state officials announced projects to improve the stability of the bridge, and to install underwater radar to assist barge captains in avoiding the bridge, which had been struck by barges repeatedly since its construction.

"Vicksburg hosts the only bridge across the Mississippi River in a 156-mile stretch from Greenville to Natchez. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $40 billion in dedicated funding for bridges prioritizing resilience and protection. Along the Mississippi River, the top three states for bridge formula allocation are Illinois, Louisiana and Iowa in that order. Resilience is a priority in this spending and cities are working with their states to ensure we improve our ability to better sustain impacts," stated Mayor George Flaggs of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and MRCTI co-chair.


-- What is TEU?…

-- ASCE Infrastructure report card:…

Mary Kennedy can be reached at [email protected]

Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, @MaryCKenn

(c) Copyright 2024 DTN, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Do You Know the Places Mentioned in These Poems?

By J. D. Biersdorfer April 1, 2024

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A green and white illustration of an open book in the grass.

A strong sense of place can deeply influence a story, and in some cases, the setting can even feel like a character itself. In a nod to the start of National Poetry Month, this week’s literary geography quiz celebrates poems about places. Even if you don’t know the poem, each question offers a hint about the location.

To play, just make your selection in the multiple-choice list and the correct answer will be revealed. Links to the poetry collections will be listed at the end of the quiz if you’d like to do further reading.

In 1914, Carl Sandburg published a poem that began:

Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler; Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders: What is the name of the city in the poem? (Hint: Despite having sports-team mascots that include Bulls and Bears, this city is not the high-finance capital of New York.)

Joy Harjo, a member of Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the 23rd poet laureate of the United States, reflects upon the tribal history of the Creek people and the impacts of colonialism on their former territory in a 1983 poem. That Creek land is now a major city along the Mississippi River and its name is the title of the poem. What is it? (Hint: The location is known for jazz and a fondness for pre-Easter parades.)

Minneapolis-St. Paul

New Orleans

Mary Oliver wrote many poems about the wooded areas and pond around her home in this East Coast community that has attracted creative people for decades. What is the name of the place, which is mentioned in “Coming Home,” a popular Oliver poem? (Hint: Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner were among the artists who also hung out here.)

Fire Island



A 1922 poem published in the collection “Harlem Shadows,” by Claude McKay, begins:

About me young careless feet Linger along the garish street;

Which garish New York City street is the poet talking about? (Hint: The name is also part of the poem’s title and yes, the street does get quite bright at night.)

42nd Street

125th Street

In this poem, Ada Limón — the current U.S. poet laureate — writes of two friends living in Brooklyn, but imagining:

and how sometimes it would be nice to see more sky than just this little square between the bridges and buildings, but then we’d miss Brooklyn and each other, and we ordered another beer. They talk of moving to which specific Western state? (Hint: Its name is included in the title of the poem; one of the state’s unofficial nicknames is “Big Sky Country.”)

North Dakota

Explore More in Books

Want to know about the best books to read and the latest news start here..

James McBride’s novel sold a million copies, and he isn’t sure how he feels about that, as he considers the critical and commercial success  of “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store.”

How did gender become a scary word? Judith Butler, the theorist who got us talking about the subject , has answers.

You never know what’s going to go wrong in these graphic novels, where Circus tigers, giant spiders, shifting borders and motherhood all threaten to end life as we know it .

When the author Tommy Orange received an impassioned email from a teacher in the Bronx, he dropped everything to visit the students  who inspired it.

Do you want to be a better reader?   Here’s some helpful advice to show you how to get the most out of your literary endeavor .

Each week, top authors and critics join the Book Review’s podcast to talk about the latest news in the literary world. Listen here .

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Building a new Key Bridge could take years and cost at least $400 million, experts say

Crews were set to begin removing the wreckage of a collapsed highway bridge in Baltimore on Friday. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said a large crane, which can lift up to 1,000 tons, would be one of at least two used to clear the channel of the twisted metal and concrete remains of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, and the cargo ship that collided with it this week.

A container ship rests against the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Thursday, March 28, 2024, in Baltimore, Md. After days of searching through murky water for the workers missing after the bridge collapsed, officials are turning their attention Thursday to what promises to be a massive salvage operation. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A container ship rests against the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Thursday, March 28, 2024, in Baltimore, Md. After days of searching through murky water for the workers missing after the bridge collapsed, officials are turning their attention Thursday to what promises to be a massive salvage operation. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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In this image released by the National Transportation and Safety Board, a NTSB investigator is seen on the cargo vessel Dali, which struck and collapsed the Francis Scott Key Bridge, Wednesday, March 27, 2024 in Baltimore. (Peter Knudson/NTSB via AP)

FILE - A section of the new I-35 bridge is raised from a barge in the foaming Mississippi River at Minneapolis, June 24, 2008. The I-35W bridge was rebuilt in less than 14 months. Experts say the rebuilding of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge likely will take longer, with estimates ranging from 18 months to several years. (AP Photo/Andy King, File)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Rebuilding Baltimore’s collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge could take anywhere from 18 months to several years, experts say, while the cost could be at least $400 million — or more than twice that.

It all depends on factors that are still mostly unknown. They range from the design of the new bridge to how swiftly government officials can navigate the bureaucracy of approving permits and awarding contracts.

Realistically, the project could take five to seven years, according to Ben Schafer, an engineering professor at Johns Hopkins University.

The Baltimore bridge collapse today:

  • The latest: Cranes arriving to start removing wreckage from deadly Baltimore bridge collapse
  • Cost : Building a new Key Bridge could take years and cost at least $400 million, experts say
  • Environment : Activists watch for potential impact on environment as Key Bridge cleanup unfolds

“The lead time on air conditioning equipment right now for a home renovation is like 16 months, right?” Schafer said. He continued: “So it’s like you’re telling me they’re going to build a whole bridge in two years? I want it to be true, but I think empirically it doesn’t feel right to me.”

Others are more optimistic about the potential timeline: Sameh Badie, an engineering professor at George Washington University, said the project could take as little as 18 months to two years.

The Key Bridge collapsed Tuesday, killing six members of a crew that was working on the span, after the Dali cargo ship plowed into one its supports . Officials are scrambling to clean up and rebuild after the accident, which has shuttered the city’s busy port and a portion of the Baltimore beltway.

A container ship rests against the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Thursday, March 28, 2024, in Baltimore, Md. After days of searching through murky water for the workers missing after the bridge collapsed, officials are turning their attention Thursday to what promises to be a massive salvage operation. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The disaster is in some ways similar to the deadly collapse of Florida’s Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which was was struck by a freighter in Tampa Bay in 1980. The new bridge took five years to build, was 19 months late and ran $20 million over budget when it opened in 1987.

But experts say it’s better to look to more recent bridge disasters for a sense of how quickly reconstruction may happen.

Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, cited the case of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minnesota, which collapsed into the Mississippi River in 2007. The new span was up in less than 14 months.

“It’s the best comparison that we have for a project like this,” Tymon said. “They did outstanding work in being able to get the approvals necessary to be able to rebuild that as quickly as possible.”

Tymon expects various government agencies to work together to push through permits, environmental and otherwise.

“It doesn’t mean that all of the right boxes won’t get checked — they will,” Tymon said. “It’ll just be done more efficiently because everybody will know that this has to get done as quickly as possible.”

One looming issue is the source of funding. President Joe Biden has repeatedly said the federal government will pay for the new bridge, but that remains to be seen.

In this image released by the National Transportation and Safety Board, a NTSB investigator is seen on the cargo vessel Dali, which struck and collapsed the Francis Scott Key Bridge, Wednesday, March 27, 2024 in Baltimore. (Peter Knudson/NTSB via AP)

“Hopefully, Congress will be able to come together to provide those resources as soon as possible so that that does not become a source of delay,” Tymon said.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar helped to obtain funding quickly to rebuild the I-35W bridge in her state. But she said replacing the Baltimore span could be more complicated.

She noted that the I-35W bridge, a federal interstate highway, was a much busier roadway with about 140,000 vehicle crossings a day, compared with about 31,000 for the Maryland bridge.

“But where there’s a will there’s a way, and you can get the emergency funding,” Klobuchar said. “It’s happened all over the country when disasters hit. And the fact that this is such a major port also makes it deserving of making sure that this all gets taken care of.”

Badie, of George Washington University, said the cost could be between $500 million and $1 billion, with the largest variable being the design.

For example a suspension bridge like San Francisco’s Golden Gate will cost more, while a cable-stayed span, like Florida’s Skyway Sunshine Bridge, which handles weight using cables and towers, would be less expensive.

Whatever is built, steel is expensive these days and there is a backlog for I-beams, Badie said. Plus, the limited number of construction companies that can tackle such a project are already busy on other jobs.

“A project like this is going to be expedited, so everything is going to cost a lot more,” Badie said.

Hota GangaRao, a West Virginia University engineering professor, said the project could cost as little as $400 million. But that’s only if the old bridge’s pier foundations are used; designers may want to locate the new supports farther away from the shipping channels to avoid another collision.

“That’s going to be more steel, more complicated construction and more checks and balances,” GangaRao said. “It all adds up.”

Norma Jean Mattei, an emeritus engineering professor at The University of New Orleans, said replacing the Key Bridge likely will take several years. Even if it’s a priority, the process of designing the span, getting permits and hiring contractors takes a lot of time. And then you have to build it.

“It’s quite a process to actually get a bridge of this type into operation,” she said.

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  1. Mississippi River Small Ship Adventure Cruises

    mississippi river cruise minneapolis to new orleans

  2. Queen of the Mississippi Tours New Orleans, Nova Orleans, New Orleans

    mississippi river cruise minneapolis to new orleans

  3. Mississippi River Small Ship Adventure Cruises

    mississippi river cruise minneapolis to new orleans

  4. Mississippi River Natchez Steamboat Cruise New Orleans USA

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  5. Paddlewheeler Creole Queen Historic Mississippi River Cruise New Orleans

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  6. Viking River Cruise Sails the Mississippi Between New Orleans and St

    mississippi river cruise minneapolis to new orleans


  1. American Cruise Lines


  1. 16-Day Mississippi River cruise from Minneapolis to New Orleans aboard

    Talk with an expert. Build your ideal Mississippi River trip. Call 1.406.541.2677. Start Planning My Trip. Watch landscapes, cultures and even language transform as you cruise along the Mississippi river from Minneapolis to New Orleans aboard the American Duchess. Board this 16-day cruise to sail nearly the full length of the mighty Mississippi.

  2. Grand Heartland River Cruise from St. Paul

    Day 1 - St. Paul, MN. The Twin Cities offer world-class art galleries, museums, and live performances. St. Paul's Summit Avenue showcases gorgeous historic mansions built in the late 1800s. The enormous Mall of America includes more than 500 stores and an indoor waterpark and theme park. View gorgeous panoramas of the city from Mounds Park ...

  3. 16-Day Mississippi River cruise from Minneapolis to New Orleans aboard

    Call 1.406.541.2677. As you sail the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans aboard the American Countess, observe how landscapes, cultures, and even language change. Sail nearly the whole length of the mighty Mississippi on this 16-day voyage. Visit ancient port cities and sleepy small towns along the way to get a sense of the ...

  4. America's Great River

    1-800-304-9616. *Free airfare on select departures of Grand European Tour, Capitals of Eastern Europe, Lyon Provence & the Rhineland and European Sojourn, plus select China, Panama Canal, Hawaii, Canada, Mississippi River, Great Lakes and Antarctica itineraries. History and culture unfold as you traverse the Mississippi on this enriching voyage.

  5. 5 Things to Know Before Cruising the Mississippi River

    The Mississippi snakes its way from northern Minnesota to New Orleans for 2,340 miles. Cruises on the Mississippi River usually include one section -- either Upper or Lower of the Mississippi-- of ...

  6. Mississippi River Cruises

    The Mississippi River is navigable from New Orleans, Louisiana to the Twin Cities of Minnesota, and forms a maritime corridor through the U.S. heartland. American Cruise Lines' modern fleet of brand new contemporary riverboats and traditional paddlewheelers go even further, with cruises exploring the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers ...

  7. Complete Mississippi River Experience

    Enjoy our 23-Day Complete Mississippi River Cruise from New Orleans Cruise Port to St. Paul. Visit Civil War Landmarks & Southern Plantations on Riverboat Cruise Ships. ... visiting new ports of call each day before concluding in Minneapolis. ... St. Paul is an exciting place to end your riverboat cruise adventure on the Mississippi River ...

  8. America's Great River

    Get available dates and pricing for America's Great River river cruises. Book your 2024 St. Paul, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana river cruise through Viking Cruises.

  9. Grand Mississippi Voyage

    Revel in the charm of "America's Great River" as you set sail along the Mississippi. Admire the historic mansions and grand homes atop its bluffs, and delve into America's Civil War history. Delight in the region's famed Southern cuisine and sample Memphis's renowned barbecue, alongside artisan beers. Birthplace of American music—blues, jazz and soul—the Mississippi celebrates ...

  10. Best Mississippi River cruises for seniors, history buffs and Americana

    Two major cruise lines sail the Mississippi, which stretches 2,340 miles from New Orleans to Minneapolis-St. Paul: American Cruise Lines and Viking. Each line offers several similar itineraries ranging from eight to 22 days, but the ships themselves differ. Some are retro-inspired paddlewheelers, others sleek modern riverboats.

  11. 15 Night Minneapolis (Red Wing) to New Orleans Cruise and Land Tour

    See details and pricing for the American Duchess 15 Night Minneapolis (Red Wing) to New Orleans Cruise and Land Tour sailing September 24, 2022 from Minneapolis. Book American Queen Voyages online or call 1-800-427-8473 - ... Victorian meets bohemian in this ever-growing Mississippi River gem that's sure to leave dazzling memories ...

  12. 16-Day Mississippi River cruise from Minneapolis to New Orleans aboard

    Build your ideal Mississippi River trip. Call 1.406.541.2677. Start Planning My Trip. Watch landscapes, cultures and even language transform as you cruise along the Mississippi river from Minneapolis to New Orleans aboard the American Queen. Board this 16-day cruise to sail nearly the full length of the mighty Mississippi.

  13. The 7 Best Mississippi River Cruises for 2024

    Complete Mississippi River Cruise: New Orleans to St. Paul. Length: 22 days. Price: Starts at $14,935 per person. If you want to see the entire Mississippi in one shot, check out this multiweek ...

  14. The Best Mississippi River Cruises to Discover America's Heartland

    23-day Complete Mississippi River Cruise: New Orleans to St. Paul. Sail 1,393 miles through 10 states on a comprehensive exploration of the mighty Mississippi on the new American Serenade.

  15. Mississippi River Small Ship Cruises

    New Orleans & Southern Charms. On this 8-day New Orleans & Southern Charms Mississippi River cruise roundtrip New Orleans aboard 386-guest Viking Mississippi, explore historic estates, and visit notable Civil War sites. View cruise details …. Experience the history and culture of the Mississippi River and its tributaries abaord a riverboat ...

  16. Lower Mississippi River Cruise-American Symphony

    Embark on a unique riverboat adventure along the Lower Mississippi River between New Orleans, Louisiana and Memphis, Tennessee. Savor a week aboard our intimate and relaxed modern riverboat with 180 guests or fewer. ... Lower Mississippi River Cruise-American Symphony Book Now Request More Info. or call 800.578.1479. Resources. Best of the ...

  17. America's Great River

    138 747. History and culture unfold as you traverse the Mississippi on this enriching voyage. Enjoy relaxing scenic sailing and unparalleled bird-watching as the landscape changes between the bluffs of the North and the bayous of the South. Learn about the American civil rights movement and the Civil War. Along the way, tap your feet to the ...

  18. New Orleans Mississippi River Cruise

    Day By Day Itinerary. Day 1 New Orleans, LA. Day 2 Cruising the Mississippi River. Day 3 Oak Alley, LA / Houmas House, LA. Day 4 Baton Rouge, LA. Day 5 Natchez, MS. Day 6 Natchez/Vicksburg, MS. Day 7 St. Francisville, LA. Day 8 New Orleans, LA.

  19. Mississippi River Cruise New Orleans to Memphis

    Launched in 2015, American Cruise Lines 150-passenger American Heritage is dedicated to Mississippi river cruises. The most traveled Mississippi river cruises are between New Orleans and Memphis or St. Louis. There are also a few full-length New Orleans to St. Paul, Minnesota or reverse cruise each summer.

  20. The Best River Cruises In North America You Have To Try

    An eight-day cruise between Memphis and New Orleans, Viking's Heart of the Delta cruise takes in the Mississippi's best bits, including many listed monuments and buildings. For history buffs ...

  21. America's Most Scenic Small-Ship and River Cruises

    Ohio River Cruise. These 11-day cruise tours on American Cruise Line's Queen of the Mississippi travel from St. Louis to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania visiting Louisville, Kentucky and Cincinnati ...

  22. NEW! Mississippi River Odyssey

    Revel in the charm of "America's Great River" as you set sail along the Mississippi. Admire the historic mansions and grand homes atop its bluffs, and delve into America's Civil War history. Delight in the region's famed Southern cuisine and sample Memphis's renowned barbecue, alongside artisan beers. Birthplace of American music—blues, jazz and soul—the Mississippi celebrates ...

  23. Who Is John Goodman's Wife? All About Anna Beth Goodman

    The couple married in New Orleans in 1989 and raised their daughter, Molly Evangeline Goodman, there after she was born in 1990. ... in April 1988 on the banks of the Mississippi River in New ...

  24. Mississippi River Ports Offer Assistance After Baltimore Bridge Collapse

    The Mississippi River is home to not only barge traffic, but from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, down to the New Orleans Gulf, bulk cargo ships share the river with the tow boats that push the barges.

  25. Do You Recognize the Locations Described in These Poems?

    That Creek land is now a major city along the Mississippi River and its name is the title of the poem. What is it? (Hint: The location is known for jazz and a fondness for pre-Easter parades.)

  26. NEW! Mississippi Delta Explorer

    Cruise NEW! Mississippi Delta Explorer Discover Darrow, the gateway to the grand homes of the Lower Mississippi, and explore the fascinating towns along the banks of the Mississippi that preserve the memory of the American South's early history. Learn about Natchez's French and Acadian heritage and pay your respects at the Vicksburg battlefield. Savor delicious Cajun and Creole cuisine, as ...

  27. Memphis to New Orleans River Cruise

    Cruise Overview. Embark on a unique riverboat adventure along the Lower Mississippi River between New Orleans, Louisiana and Memphis, Tennessee. Savor a week aboard our intimate and relaxed modern riverboat with 180 guests or fewer. Our enthusiastic all-American crew is ready to share with you a wonderful journey filled with historical tales ...

  28. Baltimore Bridge collapse: New bridge could cost at least $400 million

    FILE - A section of the new I-35 bridge is raised from a barge in the foaming Mississippi River at Minneapolis, June 24, 2008. The I-35W bridge was rebuilt in less than 14 months. Experts say the rebuilding of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge likely will take longer, with estimates ranging from 18 months to several years.