The last thing you need is to plan your vacation meticulously then all your toil goes to waste due to poor cruise selection.
If you tried searching for the best river cruises in USA while scrutinizing every detail, you know how challenging it is.
There are many river cruises in the USA like Colorado River cruises. But, the best cruise in USA is America’s Great River Tour by Viking River Cruises.
Also, the most popular river cruises are by Vikings, amidst several competitors. On the other hand, the cleanest cruise line is Celebrity Cruises.
What River Cruises Are in the USA?
There are many navigable US rivers used by cruise ships. Below, we include a list of navigable waterways both with or without locks.
- Portland/Columbia Gorge
- Sacramento River
- St Lawrence Seaway
- Mississippi River
- Ohio & Erie Canal
- Missouri River
- Colorado River
- Arkansas River
- Tennessee River
- Savannah River
- Mobile River
- Susquehanna River
- Niagara River and Falls
- Saint John’s River
- Connecticut Rivers
- Cape Fear River
- James River
Despite the many rivers available for cruising, it’s essential to analyze the routes critically. After all, you aren’t simply going cruising, but you want the most scenic views, right?
Hence, check out our best cruises below.
Best River Cruises in USA
USA cruises can cost quite a bit depending on where you go and what kind of experience you get.
To help you pick a cruise that offers value for your money, we list the best cruise lines in the USA. Moreover, we include some of their most famous expeditions.
After all, an excellent cruising experience requires you to pick a reputable company.
Which Cruise Is Best in USA?
Viking River Cruises are one of the most popular because they offer an authentic vacation worth your money.
The company’s CEO Torstein Hagen wanted to create something different from competitors. He also had a passion for history, so he combined his interests into one trip.
The result is Viking River Cruises, which started operating its ships in 1997. Today they have 76 river vessels, an immense fleet to give you versatility when picking which one to board.
Their largest vessels feature some of the classiest staterooms, including suites and penthouses.
Many dining options are also available. There are specialty restaurants like AmphorA and casual eateries like Stella Bistro.
Entertainment includes live music performances from local musicians plus comedy and magic shows.
There are plenty of activities onboard each vessel ranging from art classes to cooking demonstrations.
Guests enjoy guided tours around cities which also include complimentary drink tastings.
Guests can choose from several departure dates throughout the year. But if you want to save money, consider booking during off-season months when rates tend to drop significantly.
If you have a small budget, the New Orleans and Southern Charms Tour is an excellent consideration.
For starters, it’s the most affordable Misssissipi cruise by the cruise line. Nevertheless, it is excellent.
In fact, there are pricier but similar-duration expeditions. Examples are Heart of Delta and Mississippi Holiday Tours.
Besides, it lasts for more than half the time spent on their America’s Great River Tour, yet is almost thrice as affordable.
What Are the Most Popular River Cruises?
Besides Viking River Cruises, there are several popular cruises like those by American Cruise Lines.
We discuss the most loved cruises by USA’s most popular cruises and why they are so likable.
1. American Cruise Lines
American Cruise Lines is a fantastic brand to consider if you like luxurious vessels.
The company began operation in 1991 and now has 13 vessels with a passenger capacity ranging from 100 to 190.
Their fourth, the American Star, debuted in 2007, offering luxurious accommodations. Also, the American Star is their first vessel to hold over 100 passengers.
Amongst the things we find appealing are their hospitality and attention to detail. Their staff takes pride in providing excellent customer service.
They go above and beyond to ensure everyone enjoys themselves during their trip.
Guests can choose from over 30 itineraries ranging from 5 to 22 days. Each voyage includes three delicious gourmet meals per day.
Additionally, unlimited beverages get served throughout the entire journey.
Onboard entertainment includes elements like:
- Broadway musicals
- Comedy acts
- Piano recitals
- Cabaret singers
- Dancing exhibitions
If you want to know some history, then this company is a worthwhile consideration. It offers tours around various cities with expert guides giving fascinating insights.
Some of their most exciting cruises are the eight-day cruises from:
- Memphis to New Orleans
- New Orleans Round Trip
- St. Louis to St. Paul
But, if you wish to spend more time aboard, the 11-day Boston round trip or the 22-day New Orleans to St. Paul voyage are ideal options.
2. American Queen Steamboat Company
The American Queen Steamboat Company boasts some of the largest steamboats in the world. You can book any of their majestic boats.
They have the American Queen, American Duchess, American Countess, and American Empress.
Irrespective of your vessel preference, you still enjoy a memorable cruising time.
All these steamboats have great technology. Passengers can watch movies on large screens while enjoying dinner at one of the various restaurants.
The company started cruising expeditions in 1995 and currently operates four passenger vessels.
Each of their ships accommodates over 200 passengers except the American Countess.
If you like the Mississippi, then consider opting for their Minneapolis to New Orleans cruise.
Not only does it last the most days, but it also has the most stops and covers an extensive stretch of the river.
On the other hand, journeys like Louisville to Nashville or St Louis to Cincinnati are superb if you have less vacation time.
Aboard their vessels, you get to enjoy breathtaking views of the Mississippi on spacious relaxation decks.
Their food selection is fantastic too, designed to suit both the sweet and the savory tooth.
3. Avalon Waterways
This company specializes in small luxury ships, which makes them perfect for those who prefer smaller groups.
Avalon Waterways has various vessels like the Avalon Impression, Avalon View, and Avalon Envision.
Their fleet features elegant and spacious interiors. Furthermore, they offer several dining venues. There are main restaurants, specialty restaurants, and lounges.
What we like most is that they have plenty of entertainment options onboard. From Broadway shows to live music performances, there is something for everyone.
We also liked their menu options since they give all an opportunity to get something they can enjoy.
Avalon Waterways cruises feature various stops where you get to treat yourself to local cuisine and culture.
Additionally, they have excellent tour guides who know a lot about their various cruise options. Their knowledgeable staff members ensure that guests get their needs.
Besides, they offer shore excursions during certain ports of call. These tours usually cost extra, but they are worth paying for.
Amongst their best cruises is the Nashville to New Orleans tour. This visit begins by touring Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame.
There are various stops to see monuments and ancient buildings like the Antebellum plantation house.
Which Is the Cleanest Cruise Line?
Celebrity Cruises is famous for its luxury ships with a keen interest in neatness.
In fact, as of the latest CDC inspection, it was third-best amongst all cruises and top when it comes to USA river cruises.
The company offers guests all sorts of amenities, including:
- Fine dining
- Spa treatments
- Fitness centers
- Swimming pools
- Casinos, theaters
- Bowling alleys
Celebrity Cruises is not just famous for being lavish; they also provide great value for money.
They operate 15 ships from their debut vessel, the Celebrity Millennium, to their most recent, the Celebrity Beyond. All of them boast impressive capacities and outstanding facilities.
There are many reasons why people love Celebrity Cruises. Firstly, plenty of activities are available, such as sports tournaments, swimming, and much more.
Also, they have a friendly crew who treat guests with immense hospitality. They ensure that everything goes smoothly so that you don’t feel stressed out.
The food is excellent too. Guests get to eat in two main venues – the formal restaurant and the casual buffet area.
You may opt for either breakfast, lunch, or both depending on what suits you best. Additionally, there are several specialty menus offered during certain times of the year.
When it comes to river cruises, Mississippi excursions are amongst their best.
A three-hour ride on the Natchez steamboat can be a great way to spend your Saturday afternoon as you enjoy the provided lunch.
Still, you can opt for the Creole Queen Jazz Cruise in the evening as you eat dinner, all at about $139.
While they have superb cruising options, our only issue is the limited cruise durations.
Why Are American River Cruises So Expensive?
American river cruises are expensive because of numerous reasons. Below, we comprehensively discuss six factors behind this.
a) High Maintenance Costs
These vessels require constant maintenance. They need regular cleaning, new paint jobs every few years, plus special attention during hurricane season.
Besides the maintenance tools and materials, there is also the personnel involved. Hence, you have to cater for two costs.
b) Crewing Costs
Typically, American river cruises pay their crew better than ocean cruises.
So, the higher the amount crew members take home, the higher the returns should be to maintain a steady profit.
Moreover, the crew members deliver high standards of service.
For instance, you may find a boat with 200 guests has 70 crew members to ensure prompt attendance to needs.
Hence, the superb service quality demands that the prices are higher.
c) Food and Beverage Costs
Food and beverages are usually included in most river cruises. On a one-day cruise, it may not be the wisest thing to indulge while following a tiny budget.
For example, food on a boat might run about $20-30 per person per meal, while dining out could easily set you back by over $40 per person.
If you want specialty restaurants such as steak houses, sushi bars, fine dining options, and more, then you’re looking at an extra fee.
These meals tend to range between $35 – $60 per person per night.
d) Entertainment Costs
You won’t find many free activities on board any of these ships. You’ll probably pay around $15 -$25 per hour for live music, movies, and shows.
Even when you enjoy music, shows, the pool, or using the gym without spending more, the costs are within your ticket acquisition expenses.
Most countries charge taxes on top of all other expenses, and the USA is no exemption. Some places include things like VAT and GST.
In turn, tax expenses affect the ship’s service acquisition.
For example, the cruise line may aim for a particular profit percentage to sustain its activities.
Still, some cruise lines don’t remit federal tax. Hence, those distressed during the coronavirus did not get a bailout. In effect, they had to consider loan acquisition.
Remember, there are also sanitization standards besides the loans. Thus, it isn’t surprising why you are spending more to unwind on an American cruise.
f) Other Fees
There are often other hidden charges that don’t get listed online. Examples include:
- Wi-Fi access
- Laundry service
- Spa services
- Dry bags
- Bottled water
There are plenty of extras that come along with being on vacation. So, be aware of them ahead of time and plan smartly to have a great time yet affordably.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does an American River Cruise Cost?
An American cruise costs around $450 a night per individual. That said, this price varies based on things like the cruise distance and how early you book.
Some other factors that may influence the price include:
Number of people traveling together
Type of cabin
Port call locations
Prices fluctuate seasonally. So, be sure to check for affordable cruises before making reservations.
How Much Does a Mississippi River Cruise Cost?
A Mississippi river cruise costs about $1,299 per person for a four-day trip. But, if you want a one-day Mississippi river cruise, expect to spend under $400.
Some cruise lines even offer four-hour cruises under $100.
If you want to spend sparingly, you can scout for such deals.
But if you’re looking for something unique or luxurious, then we choose from among the best river cruise companies above.
Are American River Cruises Worth It?
With some research, you’ll find that American river cruises are worth it. The best river cruise lines offer great amenities and service for their guests.
They also journey areas that expose you to some of the most beautiful sceneries.
American cruises allow you to see many amazing sceneries along the way, unlike flying. Plus, they provide more room so you won’t feel cramped like when you fly.
Having seen our best river cruises in USA list, we hope you now have what you were searching for. If you are yet to select a suitable cruise, look at the itinerary and pricing.
Also, consider the reviews and ratings, and you should be ready to sail.