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.
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.
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.
I took a late afternoon (1 hour) cruise on the Cajun Queen. The cruise was OK, but it really depends on what other traffic is on the river as to how interesting it is. The section we cruised down and back was not that interesting. There were a few good picture opportunities and it was interesting to see the Cathedral and the city scape from the cruise ship.
One of the nicest things we did (and only just made the last cruise of the afternoon on our last day) was the one hour harbour cruise. There are several types - a battlefield/lunch cruise, dinner jazz cruise, a gospel brunch cruise or just a one hour cruise that we did.
The weather was lovely late afternoon and the boat uncrowded so that you could walk around and sit anywhere at your leisure while listening to the Captains narration of points of interest. You will cruise past the French Quarter and through part of the Port of New Orleans. Last one hour cruise departs at 4.00pm (or luckily for us - 4.02pm).
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.
Steamboat Cruise on the Mississippi River
a wonderful way to spend a few hours
New Orleans Steamboat Company
Definitely go for a ride on a Mississippi river boat while you're in New Orleans. It'll give you a feel for what made the city what it is today.
If you want to see the city from the River you have to take a river cruise. Or if you prefer to see the city/river by land take the Riverfront Trolley. Either one or even both are great fun.