One of the last articles we published explained the basics of Mississippi River cruises. We explained, first of all, that there are such things as Mississippi River cruises, and we also listed the companies that offer them and the types of cruises you can take with them. Overall, we established that there are a great variety of Mississippi River cruises, and concluded that basically anyone who wants to spend some time on the Mississippi can do so on a cruise because there are so many different types. Perhaps you are now convinced that you want to pursue such an experience, so we are here to explain how to book a Mississippi River cruise.
If you ever booked a cruise, you have probably booked a regular cruise, by which we simply mean a cruise that sails on the ocean to some relatively popular destination (e.g., the Caribbean) and is offered by some well-known cruise line (e.g., Carnival). You might have booked this cruise directly through the cruise line that offers it, or you might have found it on one of the numerous websites that aggregate cruise deals. The process of booking a Mississippi River cruise is a bit different.
Since the cruise deal sites are such a popular way to book a cruise, we’ll start with those, and what we have to say is very simply: you are going to have a lot of trouble finding Mississippi River cruises through one of these sites. You can occasionally find deals for river cruises, but we have yet to come across one for a Mississippi River cruise. Obviously, we don’t know every listing on every site, but in general the deal sites are heavily focused on the popular cruise destinations that are visited by the major cruise lines. Ports along the Mississippi are not popular cruise destinations (at least relatively speaking), nor do major cruise lines visit them. The latter gives rise to another limitation: you won’t be able to work with any of the cruise lines that vacationers generally deal with when booking a Mississippi River cruise. These types of cruises fill a very small niche in an enormous cruise market, and the major cruise lines simply don’t operate in this rather narrow space. There are no Mississippi River cruises offered by, say, Carnival or Royal Caribbean.
Obviously, though, there are companies that offer Mississippi River cruises, and you will almost certainly book your cruise directly with one of them. Which company you book with will entirely depend on what type of cruise you are looking for. If you are looking for a cruise that will last several days, you will likely work with American Queen Steamboat Company or American Cruise Lines, both of which offer trips that are up to a week long (or even longer in the case of American Queen Steamboat Company). If you are looking for a short trip on the river, a trip that doesn’t really count as a “cruise,” you might go with a company like Creole Queen, which operates out of New Orleans and offers trips on the river that take only a few hours. In short, you have to first search for the type of cruise you want to take, and then see which companies offer them. (There aren’t that many.) Once you determine this, you’ll likely work directly with the company offering the cruise, unless you are dealing with some sort of third party, like a travel agency or some sort of tourism company.
As is hopefully clear by now, booking a Mississippi River cruise isn’t exactly like booking a regular cruise. Of course, similar actions are required (searching for info, calling or emailing around, etc.), but you can’t go through the avenues you might be accustomed to. Be this as it may, it certainly isn’t difficult to book a cruise on the Mississippi River, and this is especially true now that you have read this article.