American River Cruise Destinations

What are some of the different American river cruise destinations? We’ll look at areas in North America, Central America and South America. River cruises are available year-round in Central and South America and for 4 to 8 months of the year in North America.

Some of your options and possible travel destinations throughout the Americas are listed below. We’ll explore each destination in more detail on its own page.

North America


We’ll explore the eastern part of Canada where the St. Lawrence River flows. Some itineraries are limited to the portion of the river located in Canada while others include destinations in the U.S., too. Some of the destinations you might visit in eastern Canada are Montreal, Quebec and Kingston.

Montreal Canada

Montreal, Canada

Gjm130 at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

United States

American river cruise destinations in the U.S. are divided into three regions: central, northeast and northwest.

Central U.S.

The most well-known river in this region is the Mississippi River. It joins several other rivers along its course through ten different states from Minnesota to Louisiana. Several cruise lines feature trips on the Mississippi and some of its tributaries – the Illinois, Tennessee and Ohio Rivers. Some of the destinations you might visit include New Orleans, Chicago, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Nashville and Memphis 

Northeast U.S.

A few of the main waterways in this part of the United States are the St. Lawrence River, the Hudson River, and the Erie Canal, which joins the Hudson and Lake Erie. Travel packages are offered by a couple of different river cruise lines. The itineraries often include the St. Lawrence River in Canada.

Destinations: New York, Rhode Island, Boston, MA

Northwest U.S.

There are a few suppliers that offer packages on the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Destinations on your journey will most likely be in three different states – Oregon, Washington and Idaho.


Wahclella River Gorge on the Columbia River in Oregon

Wahclella River Gorge on the Columbia River in Oregon

Day, Evening & Scenic Cruises in the United States

There are river cruises available in almost all 50 states in the United States. Some cruises are scenic and may provide you with beautiful views of natural landscape and others may take you through a major city where you can enjoy an incredible skyline. 

Major U.S. cities that offer day and evening river cruises include New York City, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Baltimore, Maryland; Chicago, Illinois; Washington D.C.; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Cincinnati, Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee; Little Rock, Arkansas; San Antonio, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Portland, Oregon just to name a few.

Even the Mississippi River has river 1 day cruises in several different cities across the course of the river. Cities where you'll find boat rides on the Mississippi, include Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; New Orleans, Louisiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; Le Claire and Dubuque, Iowa; Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.

Day cruises are a great way to experience river cruising and to experience the destinations you are visiting. Depending on the length of your trip and its theme, a meal may be served or refreshments may be available.

Central America

The two river cruise destinations we'll look at in Central America are Belize and Costa Rica. River cruises in these locations are limited to day cruises and do not feature overnight trips.

In Belize there are river cruises near the Mayan Ruins in Lamanai. A few other cities you might visit include Belize City and San Pedro.

Costa Rica has a few different rivers that offer river cruises – two of them are the Corobici River and the Tarcoles River. Cities that might be included in your trip – San Jose, Puntarenas and Jaco.

River Cruises in Costa Rica

San Jose Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

By Wikipedro (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

South America

The most popular river in South America is the Amazon. It runs through Brazil, Peru and Columbia. There are other rivers that join the Amazon River through its vast rainforest.

About 60% of the Amazon Rainforest in located in Brazil. Several river cruise lines offer trips on the Amazon in Brazil. Cruises depart from Manaus.

Most Amazon River cruises are found in Iquitos, Peru. Nauta is an important port town in Peru and will likely be where your river cruise will begin or end.

Downtown Iquitos Peru

Downtown Iquitos, Peru

By Percy Meza (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

In Ecuador  - along the northwest coast of South America - a cruise through the Amazon Rainforest will be on the Napo River, since the Amazon River does not flow through this country.  The Napo River is a major tributary of the Amazon River.

Nearly one-third of Bolivia is located in the Amazon Basin. The Amazon River does not flow through Bolivia, but one of its major tributaries does - the Mamoré River. A river cruise through the Amazon Rainforest will be on the Mamoré River and the Rio Ibare. 

A couple of cities you might visit in Bolivia are Trinidad and Santa Cruz.

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Lauri Wakefield is a travel writer who specializes in  river cruises in Europe and the U.S. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+.

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