Upon considering famous North American river cruises you may be confronted with an unnerving image of Meryl Streep riding the rapids of the Kootenai River in a 90’s baseball cap, with Kevin Bacon wielding a gun from a rubber dinghy behind. No? Well now you probably will be (sorry).
Luckily Meryl is joined by a host of more credible characters in making a journey along North America’s wealth of rivers. Huckleberry Finn, for example, is a great advert for a voyage along the Mississippi (albeit on a dodgy raft.) And what’s that one where Brad Pitt has a ponytail and a gambling habit?
Anyway, such musings are beside the point. North American river cruises have built up a reputation for themselves, due to the simple appeal of the landscape and sights they cover, without needing the world of film and literature to give them too much of a helping hand (thankfully). There are an abundance of options all vying to be best renowned, each with their own awe and adventure to offer.
This one has to be the classic, doesn’t it? Think Paddlewheel Steamboats, mud pie and tricksy spelling. A trip along the Lower Mississippi fights to be the best known river cruise option, where you can take in the impressive estates funded by the sugar trade to the tune of New Orleans jazz and the taste of Cajun spice.
Sea lions, whales and bears, oh my! (doesn’t quite have the same ominous effect does it?) If you are a lover of wildlife, or have any kind of basic appreciation for beauty, then one of the true gems of North American river cruising is a journey through the Alaska inland passage, a unique area of fjords, waterways and channels with numerous islands between. Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight on these cruises, packed full of wildlife, and, surprisingly, glaciers. Nowhere else on the continent boasts such an expanse of pristine wilderness, with a river cruise enabling passengers to view areas of Alaska which are un-navigable by land at a pace which seems to best suit the landscape.
Another contender is the Colombia River cruise, navigating the historic waterway which was the route of the first ever expedition to the Pacific Coast across the USA. The epic journey can be relived on a river cruise, with much of the scenery looking as it did when the expedition was made in the earth nineteenth century.
For something a bit different, a New England river cruise provides stunning scenery, the region being famous for its ‘fall foliage’ which ignites the landscape in varying tones of copper, gold and all shades fiery. This autumn display is truly stunning (Google some pictures if you need convincing), with a river cruise offering a leisurely, immersed way of enjoying it. Historic towns and landmarks en-route hark back to the times of the colonial travellers who chose New England as their settlement when first arriving on the USA’s shores.