Mississippi River cruises provide a glimpse of the way pioneers travel when planes and cars were still but a figment of the imagination of the visionaries of our time. The paddlewheel riverboat itself is an engineering marvel, even in its most basic sense. It’s proof of man’s indomitable spirit to master the elements and rise above all the challenges that nature has to offer.
Why is it Brown? Is the Mississippi River Dirty?
There’s a reason why it’s called the ‘Ol Muddy because of the soil runoff and sediment that makes the river brownish in color. Documentary and historical accounts have always pointed to the different shades of brown of the great river. Minerals and algae can change the color of the river, and so do floods from the mountains and the murky water end up in the tributaries which drain into the delta.
But can you swim in it? That one is not as easy to answer. Water quality tests are constantly conducted on the river. It’s still the second largest drainage system in the country so there would be areas where pollutants may not make some areas hygienic to swim in.
How long is the Mississippi River?
The Mississippi River is approximately 3,734 kilometers from end to end, beginning in Lake Itasca and emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. That number is not constant, however, as erosion and siltation do change the length and scope of the delta.
The better question is how long would the Mississippi River boat cruises be?
The American Queen Steamboat Company offers several options of travel time. You can choose between the relatively short five day-voyage and a 23-day adventure. Of course, it stands to reason that you are not expected to suffer the miserable conditions that your forefathers endured when they made their way across the delta.
Choosing Mississippi River Cruises 2018
As far as US river cruises go, the Mississippi is the benchmark. Imagine that if you combine the Mississippi and its tributary, the great Missouri River, they would be the fourth longest body of water in the world. The only ones more impressive are the Great Nile, the Amazon, and the Yangtze.
There are too many options to choose from when you go on delta cruises. For instance, the Grand Heartland Cruise from the American Queen Steamboat Company will take you from St. Paul in Minnesota to New Orleans on a 14-night, 15-day luxury cruise. The one common misconception regarding these tours is that you stay on the steamboat or paddlewheel boat for the duration of the cruise. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In the Grand Heartland Cruise, you will have the chance to visit the hometown of Mark Twain. There’s actually the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal where you can get a glimpse into the early days of the literary giant. You will also visit plantations and get insight on the dark spot in the American history, as well as historic Civil War memorials and sites. In New Orleans, you can then let your hair down as you party on jazz music and sample the famed Creole cuisine.
What’s the Best Time to Take the Mississippi River Cruise?
It really depends on the type of option you take. For instance, most American Cruise Line boats in the Upper Mississippi River route don’t start in July because it becomes too high during the summer and spring. During the summer season, humidity and mosquitoes can also be an issue. For Lower Mississippi River runs, you can take any of the delta cruises from November to December or starting in April until June.
Expect Small Town Layovers
Of course, American cruise lines make the obvious stops in major areas like Memphis, St. Louis, St. Paul, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge. But you would really love the rustic feel and the charm of small towns that are steep with historical significance. These towns are the clay and shay that make the bricks from where the country is built.
Also, the river itself is slow-going. One of the highlights of the journey is when you make your way upstream and against the current. The drawback is that your trip becomes much slower as a result. You can get your own brochures, but it’s always a good tip to listen to the tour guide (who is actually called a riverlorian). A riverlorian is derived from three adjunct words: the “river,” the “lore,” and “historian.”
As expected, you will be living on a lap of luxury while you are on one of these Mississippi River cruises on a steamboat or paddlewheel vessel from the American Queen Steamboat Company. You get free Wi-Fi on board, music, food that represents the unique local cuisines of each place visited, and luxurious accommodations.