At 2,350 miles long, the Mighty Mississippi, making its way from northern Minnesota to New Orleans, is the fourth-longest river in the world. Cruisers usually pick a section (Upper, Middle or Lower -- all seen here on the Mississippi River cruise map) for weeklong cruises, but it's possible to book a three-week cruise to take in as much of America's heartland as possible. Whether you're looking to see where Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) was born, explore Civil War sites or take in the music, food and culture of the South, you'll find a Mississippi cruise an ideal way to do it.

Itinerary options typically include New Orleans to Memphis (or vice versa), Memphis to St. Louis (in either direction) or St. Louis to St. Paul, though there are variations. Each section holds its own appeal, so your particular interests will help you narrow down which itinerary sounds best to you. Regardless of the route, you'll be sailing with either American Cruise Lines or American Steamboat Company, the two main lines operating on the river.

Countries Visited:

  • United States

Standout Ports:

  • New Orleans
  • Vicksburg
  • Baton Rouge
  • Memphis
  • St. Louis

Image: Maps of the Upper and Lower Mississippi River - Maps provided by American Queen Steamboat Company

Reason(s) to Go: You can take a deep dive into America's past on a Mississippi cruise, with visits to a variety of important landmarks, battlefields and river towns, but that’s not all there is to this river. Lively ports like New Orleans and Memphis offer plenty of charm and activities for all types of cruisers.

Who Would Love It: Anyone interested in U.S. history, especially the Civil War, will enjoy cruising the Mississippi, as will music fans and Southern food lovers. Theme cruises covering all these areas are a common and popular offering.

Who Wouldn't: If the above topics don't appeal to you, a Mississippi cruise might not be a good fit.

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