If it's good enough for Mark Twain, it's good enough for us. Follow in the great wordsmith's wake on a paddlewheel cruise down the mighty Mississip', and stop in for ribs in Memphis, a blues concert in the Delta or some jazz in New Orleans. You can also find river cruises on northern rivers like the Ohio, and if carpe diem is what floats your boat, head west to the Columbia and Snake Rivers for some serious scenery.
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The popularity of Mississippi River cruising is seeing a resurgence; three paddlewheelers ply the Big Muddy every summer and Viking River Cruises will bring six modern boats to the river over a three-year period beginning 2017. Cruisers interested in the Mississippi have two main itinerary choices:
Cruises on the Columbia River and its largest tributary, the Snake River, have long focused on the history of the Lewis & Clark expedition through the area and the Pacific Northwest's award-winning wine region. Yet, for those interested in more than history and wine, there's plenty of outdoor fun to be had, and cruise lines are taking notice. For some cruisers (namely on Lindblad Expeditions and UnCruise Adventures sailings), biking, hiking, kayaking and rafting excursions are included as part of the cruise experience. For those on other lines, you'll need to make your own plans (or pay extra for an active excursion offered by your cruise line). The best ports of call for independent arrangements are The Dalles and Astoria, both in Oregon, and Richland and Clarkston, both in Washington. Here are some of the active pursuits you can have on a cruise along the rivers of the Pacific Northwest.