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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 These days, steamboats have long since been replaced by more economical diesel vessels, but a few remain in use, providing passengers with a firsthand experience of steamboat life on the mighty Mississippi. Two of these are the Steamboat Natchez and Creole Queen, which both offer nightly Mississippi dinner and jazz cruises. The Creole Queen also offers a cruise by the Chalmette Battlefield, with a stop at the site of the Battle of 1815, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, and the Malus-Beauregard House.

Steamboat Natchez Riverboat Cruise

Steamboat Natchez River Cruise

The Steamboat Natchez cruise is a great way to enjoy three attractions in one: New Orleans food, great music, and a scenic cruise down the Mississippi. Since the Natchez is a real steamboat, you'll hear the beautiful tones of its calliope (a musical instrument atop the boat, powered by steam) as you stroll through the French Quarter--just follow the sounds to the river! Choose from a daytime cruise, or a dinner/jazz cruise featuring the Dukes of Dixieland (coupons available at
Advanced Check In

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

Ocean Cruises From New Orleans

  • Carnival Cruise Lines
    Carnival Inspiration has New Orleans as its home port, and the Sensation arrives every Friday morning.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
    Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas depart New Orleans every Saturday.