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River Cruises

The Mississippi River is New Orleans’ lifeblood. Originally settled by Native American hunter-gatherers, the Mississippian settlements had grown to include complex organization and large centers of population by 800 C.E. Meaning “Great River,” the name “Mississippi” comes from a French interpretation of the Objibwe/Algonquin name for the river, “Misi-ziibi.”

The river basin was explored by Joliet and Marquette in the 17th century, and later claimed for Louisiana by Robert de la Salle. In 1718, New Orleans was established along the river’s crescent, giving the settlement its eventual nickname of “Crescent City.”

In the 1830s, steamboat commerce began to replace traditional riverboat vessels as a way to transport both passengers and cargo. Unlike their predecessors, steamboats could travel in shallow waters, as well as against the river’s current: an ability that opened up avenues of trade and travel for New Orleanians and their upriver counterparts. A voyage upriver to the Ohio fork originally took about three weeks by steamboat; as boat technology and navigation improved, however, the travel time was reduced to four days.

The Mississippi remains a pivotal part of New Orleans’ business and tourist economies. These days, steamboats have long since been replaced by more economical diesel vessels, but a few remain in use, providing passengers with a firsthand experience of steamboat life on the mighty Mississippi. Although there are a few riverboat cruises, Steamboat Natchez is our favorite since it is the only one powered by real steam.

Ocean Cruises From New Orleans

  • Carnival Cruise Lines

    Carnival Cruise Lines

    Carnival's DREAM has New Orleans as its home port and cruises Sunday-Sunday, and the ELATION offers 4 & 5 day cruises.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line

    Norwegian Cruise Line

    NCL's DAWN departs out of New Orleans from October - May offering weekly cruises - Sunday-Sunday.
  • Advance Check-In

    With Advance Check-In, travelers flying to New Orleans to board a cruise can check their luggage at the New Orleans airport, and it will be delivered directly to their cruise ship cabins. This service allows travelers to enjoy a free day in the French Quarter, taking in the sights and enjoying the fabulous food for which New Orleans is known.
    Located in Baggage Claim next to Belt #1
  • Machu Picchu Tours

    Machu Picchu Cruise Ship Parking offers a convenient parking solution. Located 5 minutes from the cruise ship terminal. You don't have to worry about walking in the blazing sun or through a tropical rain shower, because they’ll shuttle you to and from the terminal free of charge. Additionally, their parking facility is sheltered, which means your car is protected from both the sun and rain.