Tennessee River Cruises 

Overnight cruises in Tennessee are available on a few different rivers. One of the rivers is the actual Tennessee River, which flows between Knoxville and Chattanooga. Then there’s the Cumberland River in Nashville. And on the west coast of Tennessee, the city of Memphis is located on the Mississippi River. For this article, we’re going to focus on the Tennessee River.

While you’ll find some overnight cruises that include Chattanooga, the itinerary will also include the city of Nashville on the Cumberland River or the city of Memphis on the Mississippi River. 

Tennessee River in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Tennessee River in Chattanooga, Tennessee

By Imilious (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re just looking for a one-day cruise, you’ll find several options for day, evening, scenic and special event cruises on the Tennessee River in both Knoxville and Chattanooga. Cruises range in length from an hour to several hours. 

Chattanooga is about 120 miles southwest of Knoxville. Surprisingly, there are not any cruises available between the two cities. And overnight cruises depart from Chattanooga but not from Knoxville.

Tennessee River Facts

The Tennessee River begins near Knoxville at the confluence of the French Broad and Holston Rivers. It flows for 652 miles through four states – Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky and is the largest tributary of the Ohio River.

In Paducah, Kentucky, a confluence is formed between the the Tennessee, Cumberland and Ohio Rivers. The Tennessee River is indirectly connected to the Mississippi River through the Ohio River.

Tennessee River Cruise Destinations

A river cruise between Nashville and Chattanooga will include the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. And a river cruise between Chattanooga and Memphis will include the Mississippi, Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. Nashville is located on the Cumberland River and Memphis is located on the Mississippi.

Some of the cities you’ll visit along the Tennessee River include Chattanooga and Savannah, Tennessee; Decatur and Florence, Alabama; and Paducah, Kentucky.

In Paducah you’ll have a chance to explore the town. You can visit the River Heritage Museum. Or you can just stroll through the city and observe its many buildings that were built in the 19th century. If you love military history, Paducah has a Civil War Museum that you can also visit along the way.

Savannah, Tennessee is a rather small town with a population of about 7,000 and it covers less than 6 square miles. The highlight of this city is probably the Shiloh National Military Park.

Tennessee River in Florence, Alabama

O’Neal Bridge Over the Tennessee River in Florence, Alabama

By Tyler Ross (English Wikipedia) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

In Alabama the city of Florence has several museums to visit and historical sites to see, such as the Pope’s Tavern Museum, the Rosenbaum House and the Indian Mound Museum. 

And in the city of Decatur, Alabama, you can tour the Carnegie Visual Arts Center. You’ll also have a chance to see another Civil War museum called the Blue and Gray Museum.

The American Queen Steamboat Company has itineraries during the months of October and November that travel between Nashville and Chattanooga and between Nashville and Memphis.

If you’re visiting either Knoxville or Chattanooga and would like to take a one-day cruise, there are several companies that offer day, evening, scenic and special event cruises along the Tennessee River.

Tennessee River Gorge

By Blueway (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

If you'd like to take a scenic cruise on the Tennessee River, you can take a boat ride along the Tennessee River Gorge. The Tennessee Aquarium offers a cruise that departs from Chattanooga.  Read what others have to say about the River Gorge Explorer.

Blue Moon Cruises also has tours through the Tennessee River Gorge. And for those who just want to see Chattanooga from the river, the Southern Belle has day and evening cruises year-round.

The Tennessee River Boat Company and Volunteer Princess offer cruises along the Tennessee River in Knoxville. The cruising season is from March through November.

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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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