a fun thing to do in new orleans is to take a mississippi riverboat cruise. there are several replica riverboats docked near the east end of canal street and next to the riverwalk shopping center. there a number of tour operators and several cruise options. see the attached web site for more information.
The Mississippi is such a huge piece of the NOLA story that climbing aboard some kind of river-going vessel is a must. The Canal Street Ferry leaves every 15 minutes from the foot of Canal Street and carries bikers, cars and pedestrians to Algiers Point on the other side. From there you can disembark to explore the neighborhood's wealth of historic homes or just ride it back. From Algiers Point, you get an interesting panorama of the city from new (downtown) to old (French Quarter) so it's a great spot for pictures. It's also a good activity to do with kids.
The entire round trip only takes a 1/2 hour and it's free for walk-ons (cars are $1.00). The upper cabin is closed and air conditioned but it's much more fun to go below with the cars, lean over a railing and catch the breeze. One little warning - the departure horn is deafening so be ready to cover your ears! Ferry schedules could change so check at the dock for updates, and "to go" cups (regretfully) have to stay on shore - no food or beverages allowed.
Touring the Mississippi river on steam boat! Some may consider it as a tourist trap but we enjoyed and yes we thought it was romantic. Natchez is the last one with a real steam engine so we tried to cruise with it. It’s 265ft long and has a capacity of 1600 people.
We did the evening cruise of course but you can choose the tour during the day. Before boarding it was a nice surprise listening to the distinctive whistle of a steam calliope(pic 3)! Some other tourist think it’s annoying!
After boarding we went to the lower deck where we had the good but not special buffet food (see my restaurant tips), at least worth the price we payed.
The 3 hour dinner/jazz cruise cost $35 + $25 if you choose the option to have dinner too. The Harbor cruises during the day (at 11:30am and 14:30) last 2 hours and cost $24.50(cruise only) and $34.50(cruise & lunch)
There’s a small gift shop with a very friendly lady working there. If you don’t pay for the dinner you will be on board but you have to wait on the deck for the first hours as the people taking their dinner. Then the boat departs.
We enjoyed the jazz band (Dukes of Dixieland) and we went down to the engine room (it was really hot downthere) where you can see how the steam boat works.
There’s not really much to see on the river, big boats move slowly here and there, there is a small narration from the speakers pointing at some parts of the (industrial) area (no one really cares, don’t forget New Orleans isn’t very attractive right by the river)
But it’s the feeling, we just grab two chairs on the upper deck and we were enjoying the full moon as the boat was leaving New Orleans back for the next 2 hours
And the skyline of the city was amazing too! Check pics 4-5
Directions:departs daily from the Toulouse Street Wharf, 3’ from Jackson square
Take a ride down the Mighty Mississip on the Steamboat Natchez! There is a narrator that talks about the history of New Orleans & the river along the way. Relax in the dining room & listen to fabulous jazz music while eating fine Southern cuisine.
The Steamboat Natchez takes you back to the early-middle 1800s when men would travel to New Orleans down the Mississippi River looking for liquor and lovin'. Take a two hour cruise on the Mississippi stepping away from the busy streets and enjoying nice weather and the sound of the River. Get a bite to eat and listen to some good, authentic jazz music. Time travel for under $30 :)
My friend really wanted to ride a steamboat, so we tried it out. Honestly, the area is so industrial that there's nothing much interesting to see during the majority of the ride. But near the end of the ride, the sun set when we were heading back to the dock, and we got some amazing pictures.
This was our first cruise on a Paddlewheel boat! It was well worth it. This was a Battlefield lunch cruise. The food was authentic Cajun food, just what we were looking for on our first New Orleans trip. The cruise took us to the Chalmette Battlefield grounds where we learned a lot about the culture and history of New Orleans. Very fun and informative adventure.
The SS Natchez is a real steamboat, like the Belle of Louisville. She plies the Mississippi River, travelling from her dock on the New Orleans waterfront to points downstream, then returning. This affords the visitor a view of what New Orleans really is--not just a tourist city but a major seaport and hub of the oil and gas industry.
Of course, these are not what most tourists come to see. But these narrated cruises teach a great deal about the real New Orleans. And the Natchez herself is interesting. Take a peek at her engine room. It's not often that one gets to see a real steam engine in operation.
Boarding for the Battlefield Tour on a paddlewheel boat called the Creole Queen started at 1:30. There was no food or drink allowed on the boat (except what they sell on board). The tour was $20 each. They insisted on taking our pictures as we boarded and afterwards it was suggested that was in case there was an accident so they could ID the bodies. Probably though it was just another thing that they could sell to us.
The Creole Queen is run by a diesel engine - the Natchez is run by a steam engine, but we didn't take that one. The captain told us about the things on the waterfront as we passed, and we could also have had lunch on board for another $7 each. Then we got to the Battle of New Orleans site. We were a little early because we had the current/tide with us.
This tour is fairly cheap because the main talk is given by the park ranger and he gives it for free to anyone who happens to be there at 2:45.
The boat blew the whistle that we had to be back aboard at 3:15 (he actually started whistling at 3:14) to leave at 3:20 because we'd be battling the current. We saw a tug and barge going through the bascule bridge (like the Gilmerton RR bridge in Norfolk) to the locks, and the captain told us about the Chinese grain ship that ran into the Riverwalk shopping mall.
We got back a little before 4:30.
The Mississippi is the raison d'etre of real life in New Orleans. My opinion is that a visitor ought to get out on the river at least once during their trip.
The four main ways to do this are:
a) Take the free passenger ferry across to Algiers
b) Take a journey down the Mississippi River aboard the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen to the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans.
c) Take the one Hour Harbor Cruise
d) Do the Dinner Jazz Cruise
We did both a and b.
The journey down to Chalmette where the Battle of New Orleans was fought was cheaper than a lot of the other excursions that we went on, and we found the narrative about what was on the shore (like the lock) and the boating information kept our attention. Some people will not find that as interesting.
The ferry ride is free, but you have to supply your own narrative.
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