American River Cruises  

River cruises are available in North America, South America and Central America. In North America, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular river cruises in the U.S. and Canada for overnight cruises and list some rivers that feature day and evening cruises.

Then we’ll explore some rivers in Belize and Costa Rica as well as another popular river in South America – the Amazon.

North America - U.S. & Canada

Mississippi River Cruises

The most popular U.S. river cruise is on the Mississippi. It is the 2nd longest river in the United States connecting several lakes in northern Minnesota where it originates. The river flows through 10 states before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.

Most itineraries on the Mississippi River will be combined with the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers. A trip on this river will include some combination of these three rivers.

Destinations: Chattanooga, TN; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Memphis, TN; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; Pittsburgh, PA; St. Louis, MO & St. Paul, MN

Mississippi River in Minneapolis Minnesota

Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota

By Photograph by William Wesen.Appraiser at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Columbia River Cruises

The Columbia River flows along the Washington & Oregon border. It’s over 1,200 miles long and extends from the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia to Astoria, Oregon. Over 40% of it is contained in Canada. We will concentrate on Columbia River cruises in the United States. Most American river cruises on the Columbia will also include the Snake River, which it joins in Tri-Cities, Washington.

Destinations: Clarkston, WA & Portland, WA

Columbia River Gorge in Washington State

Columbia River Gorge in Washington State

By Cacophony (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Erie Canal & Hudson River Cruises

Erie Canal River Cruises originate in New York. The Erie Canal extends 363 miles in New York from Albany to Buffalo joining the Hudson River and Lake Erie.

You will probably travel from the Erie Canal to the Hudson River. Most cruise line itineraries follow the waterways to Canada along the St. Lawrence River. The beginning of this river is considered to be at the outflow of Lake Ontario near Kingston, Ontario and Cape Vincent, New York – beginning the journey northward to Montreal & Quebec City in Canada.

Destinations:  Boston, MA; East Kingston, Ontario; Montreal, Quebec; New York City, NY; Providence, RI & Quebec City, Quebec

Erie Canal in North Tonawanda New York

Erie Canal in North Tonawanda, New York

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

Other Rivers in the U.S. for Day & Evening Cruises

Overnight cruises are only one option for exploring rivers in the U.S. Day, evening, and scenic cruises are another option. You'll find cruises on many other rivers in the United States. Some of the rivers are listed below by region.

East Coast States

Massachusetts - Boston Harbor in Boston, Charles River in Boston

New York - Niagara River in Niagara Falls 

Pennsylvania - Delaware River in Philadelphia, Patapsco River in Pittsburgh, Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, and Susquehanna River in Harrisburg

Virginia - Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg

Washington D.C. - Potomac River

Midwest and Northern States

Illinois - Chicago River in Chicago, Illinois River in Peoria, Mississippi River in Peoria

Iowa - Mississippi River in Dubuque and Le Claire

Indiana - White River in Indianapolis

Wisconsin - Milwaukee River in Milwaukee, Mississippi River in Praire du Chien, Wisconsin River in Rhinelander and Wisconsin Dells 

Chicago River, Milwaukee River, Missouri River, White River, Wisconsin River

Southern States

Arkansas - Arkansas River in Little Rock

Florida - Crystal River, New River in Fort Lauderdale, Peace River in Punta Gorda, Withlacoochee River in Dunnellon

North Carolina - Cape Fear River in Wilmington

Oklahoma - Oklahoma River in Oklahoma City

Texas - San Antonio River in San Antonio

Western States

Arizona - Colorado River in Yuma

California - Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers

Nevada - Colorado River in Laughlin

Oregon - Williamette River in Portland

HawaiiWailua River in Kauai


St. Lawrence River cruises are available from Kingston, Ontario to Quebec City. There are itineraries that combine other waterways, such as the Hudson River and the Erie Canal. 

The Niagara River is located in the United States and Canada. Cruises on the Niagara are available on both sides of the border.

The Boldt Castle along the St. Lawrence River

The Boldt Castle along the St. Lawrence River

Central & South American Cruises

Central American river cruises are typically day cruises. We’ll explore a few. In Belize – a Lamanai River trip will take you to visit the Mayan Ruins.  And in Costa Rica –  you'll experience a jungle cruise along the Tarcole River or river safari float on the Corobici River. Some companies offer adventure rafting along the Corobici, too.

River Cruises in Costa Rica

Tarcoles River in Costa Rica

Tarcoles River in Costa Rica

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

Amazon River in South America

The Amazon River is the 2nd longest river in the world flowing through Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. Larger cruise ships are only to sail along the Amazon in Brazil. Smaller ships can navigate the waters of Ecuador and Peru.

Amazon Rainforest

Amazon Rainforest

Cruise Lines on the Amazon River

Ambercrombie & Kent, Aqua Expeditions, G Adventures, Gate 1, General Tours, Lindblad Expeditions, Nat Hab, Princess Cruises and Rainforest Cruises

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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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