Best River And Lake Cruises In The United States

Of all the ways a person can travel and go on vacation nowadays, taking a luxurious cruise has been rapidly growing in popularity. After all, it’s exciting to see new, unfamiliar places. But if you wish to remain within US borders, you can take a river or lake cruise instead.

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There are a number of benefits when you choose to sail on a US river or lake cruise liner. Because you’re not traveling on an international course, the total price for your getaway is usually much cheaper. Plus, you’ll be much closer to home, so if anything happens that requires you to cut your trip short and get off at the nearest port, you’ll be able to do so. You’ll also get to experience the natural beauty of various US regions and states that can only truly be appreciated on the vast lakes and rivers, and you may learn a great deal of history about those regions that you were previously unaware of.

Additionally, these US regions have some of their own traditional cuisine, and traveling on US river cruises will provide you the opportunity to taste it, along with top quality entertainment throughout the journey that you will cherish for years to come.

These are the best river and lake cruises currently sailing all across the US.


American Cruise Lines

American Cruise Lines sails exclusively on the rivers and coastlines of the United States. Their most popular cruises stop at a number of destinations along the Mississippi River, the Hudson River, throughout New England, along with the lining of the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest.

American Cruise Lines operates 15 new smaller ships and river vessels, ranging from modern upscale riverboats to small coastal ships. The vessels can carry between 100 to 190 passengers. Comfortable and luxurious cabins can accommodate up to three people per room, with a number of single staterooms specially reserved for solo travelers. Each room features picture windows, a pleasant, spacious bathroom and, depending on the ship, you may even get to enjoy a private balcony as well. In the ships’ public areas, cruisers get to enjoy daily onboard entertainment, such as jazz and blues performances, as well as presentations by historians and regional experts.

ACL promises an all-American experience, in which you will be greeted by American staff aboard the American-built ships. You will be served delicious meals that pay due homage to the destinations you will visit, from New Orleans-style andouille sausage gumbo to New England-inspired seafood boils.
Complimentary cocktails and other beverages are served every evening shortly before dinner. Plus, all meals, snacks, wine and beer are included in the booked fare. Better yet, you’ll also get a selection of shore excursions and shoreside transportation, as well as complimentary pre-cruise hotel stays and flat-rate domestic airfare.

Sailings range from 8 to 25 days and cost anywhere between $2,000 and $23,000 per person, depending on your booked itinerary details.

American Queen Voyages

In fall 2021, American Queen Steamboat Company decided to merge with Victory Cruise Lines, forming American Queen Voyages. Based in North America, American Queen Voyages sails quite a few routes in the U.S – including the Mississippi River; the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, along with the Columbia and Snake rivers.

This river cruise line operates four modern yet classy paddle-wheeler ships that hold between 150 and 400 passengers. All sailings include unlimited onboard Wi-Fi, all you can drink beverages, unlimited guided tours and more. On board, there’s a lavish main dining room, an entertainment hall, a spacious sun deck, card rooms and lounges. Each cruise serves up tasty local cuisine that varies, depending on your desired itinerary. Staterooms feature plush linens, coffee makers, minifridges, TVs, private balconies in select accommodations and more.

American Queen Voyage cruises last from 5 to 20 days and cost between $1,300 and $6,000 per person. The line is especially friendly for those with disabilities, thanks to its abundance of accessibility options.

Viking River Cruises

Recognized worldwide for its top notch river cruises overseas, Viking‘s river cruises travel down the Mississippi River and stop at each of its 5 ports. The Viking Mississippi is an upscale modern river cruise ship that can carry up to 386 guests in 193 staterooms that face the beautiful outdoors. Even the ship’s smallest staterooms measure in at a comfortable 268 square feet, including a private verandah.

Each of Viking’s Mississippi river cruises include one complimentary shore excursion in every port, open and unlimited Wi-Fi, a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and enrichment activities are all included. Viking’s U.S. river cruises start at $3,999 per person.

Avalon Waterways

The 20 riverboats of Avalon Waterways begin their journey in North America, then go off to Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, porting along popular thoroughfares like the Danube, the Rhone, the Seine, the Nile, the Rhine, the Moselle, the Mekong, the Ganges and more.

Avalon stands out from the crowd due to its super large Suite Ships, which feature some of the grandest rooms in the river cruise industry, along with beds that face wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows, all of which provide unbeatable panoramic views. Additional stateroom perks include: complimentary breakfast in bed, L’Occitane toiletries, cozy height-adjustable sitting areas and generous storage space. You even get your choice of a soft, medium or firm mattress.

Across the ship, guests can enjoy amenities like a sun deck with lounge chairs, whirlpools and a game area, as well as a great variety of restaurants, bars and a 24-hour self-serve coffee station. You will also have your pick of Classic, Active or Discovery shore excursions, ranging from standard tours with a local guide to hiking outings along hilltop castles.

Avalon’s river cruises usually last between 4 and 15 days, and prices range from around $1,100 up to $11,000 per person.

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