The history and culture of New Orleans is inextricably intertwined with the great Mississippi River. New Orleans itself is located approximately one hundred miles upriver from the Caribbean Sea but lightyears away in atmosphere. It would be a cryin' shame to miss experiencing the Mississippi River and see New Orleans from the river, as Mark Twain might have. Step across the gangplank of any number of distinctive river boats and you will be transported literally & figuratively. Take River Jazz cruise for a nifty way to get to the zoo, or for a lunch or dinner Jazz cruise. Many options are available.
All will offer live narration of historical facts and highlights. Below are a few options to choose from:
1. "Steamboat Natchez"~ The Steamboat Natchez, New Orleans' Only authentic steamboat, will take you on a 2 hr. cruise featuring Calliope concerts and Jazz bands to add even more to that New Orleans ambience you'll grow to love.
Cruise Only: ages 2-5 free; ages 6-12 $9.25; adults $18.50
Lunch: ages 2-5 $7.50; ages 6-12 $16.75; adults $26.00. Coupons are widely available for discounts. Cruises depart from Toulouse Street Wharf behind JAX Brewery. WEBSITE: www.steamboatnatchez.com.
2. "Creole Queen Paddlewheeler"and the Riverboat Cajun Queen~ My choice would be the BATTLEFIELD CRUISE on the 1,000 passenger Creole Queen which stops at Chalmette Battlefield, sight of the 1814 Battle of New Orleans!! U.S. Park Rangers conduct tours of the grounds for your edification. A tasty Creole lunch can be part of the deal if you choose.
Cruise & Lunch: Children 6-12 $17; Adults $27; Cruise only: Children 6-12 $20; Adults $27. Cruises leave from Riverwalk/Canal Street Dock.
3. A one-hour cruise aboard the late-18th century replica vessel, the Cajun Queen, viewing the sights and landmarks of the French Quarter from the Mississippi:
Child 6-12 $10; Adults $15. Cruises depart from Aquarium of the Americas Dock.
WEBSITE: Creol & Cajun Queens tours: www.neworleanspaddlewheels.co
The Cajun Queen is a small river boat docked just outside of the Audubon Aquarium. For a small fee ($15 adults, $10 kids--kids 5 and under are free) you can take a relaxing and scenic 1 hour cruise of the Mississippi. It's great way to see some things from a different perspective and it gives you a chance to rest your feet after walking all day. I really enjoyed it. The boat has a bar (of course) as well as a cute gift shop.
The paddle wheeler Creole Queen (and her sister riverboat the Cajun Queen) cruise the Mississippi daily, passing the French Quarter, plantations, battlefields and other attractions. You can enjoy dinner/jazz with a Creole buffet. Really pleasant vibe.
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.
I did not personally take a cruise on the steamboat Natchez. Two friends who traveled with us on this trip did take the cruise. They had lunch on board the boat also. They said the cruise was nice but not exceptional. They also the the lunch was alright but not great. I took this picture from the Riverwalk as the Natchez was going up the river. Altough not something I felt compelled to do, a ride on the Mississippi River is another unique thing you can do in New Orleans. I did enjoy walking along the water front and watching the boats pass.
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
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 River is an important part of New Orleans. The water looks brown but this is due to the silt coming from the Mississippi Delta. In New Orleans you can enjoy this river by taking a paddlewheel boat or just walk on the boardwalk along the river.
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 :)
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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