Have you ever wished that you could step back in time and travel down the Mississippi like Mark Twain did; on a riverboat? Well, your wish may just have come true! For less money than you might think you can book passage on a Mississippi riverboat cruise and slip back to when time moved a little slower and elegance was not defined by how much money you had.
Over 2,320 miles in length, the Mississippi River flows from the state of Illinois all the way to the Gulf of Mexico; from Alton, Illinois all the way to New Orleans, Louisiana and includes cities as diverse as St. Francisville, Louisiana; Vicksburg, Mississippi; Helena, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri.
Only the longest river in the United States, the Mississippi was the focal point of much history from the French and Indian wars to the Louisiana purchase and for many years marked the western boundary of the US, with everything westward being considered “wilderness.” In fact, towns like St. Louis and Independence Illinois being the jumping off point for many of the wagon trains that made their way out across the plains during the 1800’s.
Riverboat cruises vary in length from simple day cruises that travel up or down the river a few hours in either direction, to full-length cruises that include berthing and three meals a day much like the cruise ships that ply the Caribbean, except with more flair and old time charm.
A full-length riverboat cruise can take up to a week or longer depending on how many stops you make and can include scenic wonders as diverse as rolling plantations in Louisiana and Mississippi to the scenic city of Chattanooga, Tennessee which is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains and outside of which you find Tennessee’s “Grand Canyon” which cuts through a wild mountain pass and rivals anything coastal shorelines have to offer.
Long cruises will usually have multiple ports of call where they make berth, allowing the passengers to explore the city for a specific amount of time before continuing on down the river, and whether you check out the jack Daniels Distillery in Nashville, or stroll down the Cumberland Riverwalk in Clarksville, you’ll find that each and every port has something for everyone.
In fact, some riverboat cruises feature a specific focus; such as musical cruises where you will stop at the towns where different musical genres got their origins, or a historical cruise that will focus on the important spots in history. There are even cruises patterned after Mark Twain himself, with cities and towns he spoke of specifically featured as the ports of call and may even have special nights where the passengers dress up like individuals from the golden days of steam when riverboat was the only way to travel the length of the Mississippi and everyone who was anyone could be found on one of the elegant riverboats that drifted up and down this watery highway, and now you can join them on a cruise through history.