Tour Louisiana's Rivers on a Paddlewheeler

On a Louisiana Paddlewheeler, learn about the state's culinary history, take in iconic vistas and more. 

There’s nothing quite like rollin’ down the river in Louisiana, watching city skylines and natural areas slowly pass by from the comfort of your floating paradise.

Paddle wheelers and riverboats offer a nostalgic way to explore the area — and one that’s gaining popularity among a new wave of travelers looking to experience a slice of America’s past, when riverboats regularly plied our country’s water carrying both passengers and freight. Today, Louisiana riverboats are all about fun and exploration, but exactly how you choose to cruise is up to you. 

Hop aboard at ports of call in New Orleans and other Louisiana river towns.

Sightseeing River Cruises in Louisiana

See the sights from a different perspective aboard a riverboat cruise offering sweeping views of the water and surrounding landscape.

Daily cruises on the Steamboat Natchez — the only steamboat in New Orleans — provide passengers an up-close look at this bustling port city. The paddle wheeler departs near historic Jackson Square twice daily, letting riders soak up the buzz of the city while listening to live jazz music and digging in to a lunch buffet. 

During this two-hour cruise, you’ll learn why the city was founded on this beautiful crescent of the lower Mississippi River through live narration of the area’s history. Smartphone signs on board direct you on a self-guided tour and the museum-quality Steam Engine Room is open to visitors.

A two-hour weekly Sunday Jazz Brunch Cruise offers the same sightseeing and live music, along with drinks and a mouthwatering brunch featuring local flavors like chicken and sausage gumbo, shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, a waffle station and bananas foster!

American Queen

The American Queen departs from Baton Rouge.

American Duchess

The American Duchess in Baton Rouge.

Creole Queen

New Orleans' deluxe paddle wheeler, Creole Queen.

Dinner & Dancing River Cruises

River cruises take on an even more romantic feel as the sun goes down, with evening dinner and dancing tours that make for a great date night with someone special or a perfect, floating backdrop for a celebration with family and friends.

In New Orleans, the deluxe 800-passenger paddle wheeler Creole Queen offers a daily Mississippi River Dinner Jazz Cruise with live music and a lavish Creole feast. After dinner, you can enjoy a signature Louisiana cocktail and take a stroll on the deck – or a spin on the dance floor. 

The renovated 2,500-passenger Riverboat Louis Armstrong (310 feet long, 70 feet wide and a towering 98 feet tall) operates as a floating jazz club and restaurant, with three interior levels and an open air deck that offers the best views from the river. Fun fact: The boat’s name was inspired by the jazz great’s own life story. Too young to play trumpet in the city's bars, Armstrong instead played on the docks near where steamboats stopped along the Mississippi River, eventually making his way on board.

Holiday River Cruises

Why spend the holidays doing the same ol’, same ol’ when you can celebrate them on a themed river cruise that may just become your new family tradition?

The Riverboat City of New Orleans offers a New Year’s Eve cruise where you can ring in the new year while soaking up the city’s spectacular skyline at night – and seeing it burst to life with fireworks at midnight. Featuring an upscale holiday buffet, premium open bar and a live dance band, you’ll want to dress in your holiday best for this one.

Other holiday cruises on the City of New Orleans and other Louisiana riverboats include Valentine’s, Easter and Thanksgiving dinner cruises, Christmas caroling cruises with Santa and more.

History River Cruises

On the Creole Queen’s Historical River Cruise, sweeping views of the French Quarter, Port of New Orleans and other city landmarks serve as a backdrop while a history narrator offers detailed descriptions that bring these sites to life. You’ll become immersed in the history, culture and river lore as you make your way to Chalmette Battlefield to tour the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans.

Elsewhere Around Louisiana

Although many of Louisiana’s riverboats dock in New Orleans, cruise options await in other parts of the state as well.

In addition to the multiple Louisiana stops mentioned above, the 400-passenger American Queen — billed as the largest steamboat every built — calls on Baton Rouge, as do the 166-passenger American Duchess.

Part of American Cruise Lines, the 187-passenger American Harmony began cruising from New Orleans to Memphis in 2019, making stops in Baton Rouge. Part of a new line of contemporary riverboats, the Harmony features lounges soaring 40 feet above the water with triple the glass of other riverboats to ensure astounding views. What’s more, grand suites with private wraparound balconies will feature complimentary room service as well.

Louisiana's waterways make for perfect sightseeing and themed adventures upon the magestic riverboats and paddle wheelers. Start planning your riverboat trip!