insights from the ultimate cruising team

Hot tips for cruising the Mississippi

Hot tips for cruising the Mississippi

Stretching an impressive 3,778 kilometres from Lake Itasca, northern Minnesota, to the Gulf of Mexico, the magnificent Mississippi weaves a tale of resplendent southern antebellum plantations, civil war history, music and festivities and so much more. It’s the stomping ground of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, the backdrop to The Help and home to the romantic paddle steamers.

Cruising on the Mississippi River gives you a generous helping of good old southern hospitality mixed with a dose of history, culture and joie-de-vivre! Relaxing on board these beautiful ships, you can take a step back in time and imagine the colourful gatherings of yesteryear, sprawling over perfectly manicured lawns beneath the pillared plantation mansions. You’ll learn about the conflicted history of the slave era and see important sites of the Civil War. And you’ll experience first-hand the irrepressible spirit of the south with the toe-tapping music, fun-loving festivals and rich Creole and Cajun culture.

Today we’ve got some tips on how to get the most out of your river cruise on the Mississippi River:

North or South?

Your first decision is whether you would prefer to cruise Upper or Lower Mississippi. Upper Mississippi river cruises takes you deep into Huckleberry Finn territory with peaceful fields, bustling towns and cities and dramatic landscapes. Lower Mississippi river cruises showcase the elegant antebellum plantations, civil war memorials and the unique rhythm of New Orleans.


Don’t expect the action-packed daily activities list that you receive on ocean voyages. Cruising the Mississippi is a lot more laid back with time to soak in the scenery, relax and enjoy! It’s all about connecting with the river and moving to its mesmerising tempo.

Get out and explore!

There’s a lot to see along the river so when your vessel docks, be sure to get off and take a look. Shore excursions have been designed to show you the best of each port so that you really get an appreciation of the river and the people who live beside it.

Stay a little longer

If your package doesn’t already include extra nights, be sure to add some on. Once you get there, you’ll realise how much more there is to see. Since you’ve already travelled the distance, why not add a couple of nights and see it properly!

Layer up!

When it comes to packing, the best tip we can give you is to layer! Weather can be unpredictable on the river so mix, match and layer!


It’s always beneficial to read up about a destination before you get there. If you’ve done a bit of research you’ll have a far greater appreciation of what you’re seeing when you get there.

What’s included?

Check what is included in your cruise before you book so you can allow for any added extras. E.g. What excursions are included? Are drinks included? What pre/post cruise inclusions are included?

Choose your cabin

Things to think about here are: Is there a verandah? And if so, is it private or part of a promenade deck? Is it close to the paddlewheel? Some people like the sound of the paddlewheel, others find it too noisy. Is it an inside stateroom? And if so, would you prefer to upgrade, so that you can watch the scenery from your own stateroom?

Book ahead

We say this a lot and it’s so important. The best deals come out first and, because there are limited cabins, they often sell out well in advance. It really does pay to get in early!

We have a number of Mississippi River Cruises available, whether you prefer Upper or Lower Mississippi, a regular or themed cruise, or a river cruise within a bigger American package. We also have a fantastic itinerary combining two river cruises, a train tip and stays in 5 cities with loads of value adds – it’s a fantastic US experience! Check the details here or to speak to one of our Ultimate Cruising experts, click here to request a call.