River cruising has exploded over the last few years. We constantly hear about river cruise lines building new ships as fast as possible, and continually adding new itineraries to their offerings, but the focus of these discussions seems to focus exclusively OUTSIDE the United States. European river cruises are hot. River cruising in Asia is an up and coming market. But what about river cruising closer to home?
It is amazing how many travel professionals are unfamiliar with (or just overlook) the river cruise options that they can offer to clients who want to travel closer to home. Here is an abbreviated list of some of the USA river cruise options that might be an excellent fit for your clients wanting to explore their own country. If you want to learn more, reach out to some of these river cruise companies mentioned below.
The Mighty Mississippi
The Mississippi River might be the one river that travel professionals think of most when asked about USA river cruise options. Both American Queen Steamboat Company (link: http://www.americanqueensteamboatcompany.com/) and American Cruise Lines (link: http://www.americancruiselines.com/) offer a variety of itineraries and themed cruises along the Mississippi and its secondary tributaries. Interested in jazz music? There’s a cruise for that. Fascinated by Civil War history? There are several cruises for that. Culinary aficionados? You guessed it; there are themed cruises for them, as well. And the list goes on. Clients can even cruise on the only authentic overnight paddlewheel steamboat in America, the American Queen.
The Columbia and Snake Rivers
The Columbia and Snake Rivers are located in the Northwest USA, with cruise itineraries that reach from the Pacific Ocean to the Washington/Idaho border. The itineraries typically focus on the travels of Lewis & Clark & Sacajawea, experiencing the beauty of this region as it was seen by the explorers, while also taking in the amenities of the diverse wine region found here, as well. Again, both American Cruise Lines and American Queen Steamboat Company operate itineraries along the Columbia and Snake Rivers, as does Lindblad Expeditions (link: www.expeditions.com)
Did you know that you can cruise from New York City to Washington, DC? It’s not solely by river, combining the Hudson River, Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, Potomac River, Delaware River & Bay, Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Seaboard. You can also cruise from Boston to the nation’s capital. Or how about cruising from the Erie Canal to the Saguenay River (okay, that one will require a passport)? This itinerary includes the Hudson River, New York Harbor, Oswego Canal, Lake Ontario, and St Lawrence River. Blount Small Ship Adventures (link: http://www.blountsmallshipadventures.com/) offers this as well as other itineraries in the Northeast. You can also check out the Fall Foliage cruises that American Cruise Lines offer along the Hudson River every September and October.
Yes, river cruising in Florida. This may be one of the best kept river cruising secrets (to anyone outside of Florida). Passengers can cruise the St Johns River round trip out of Jacksonville, going as far south as St Augustine. The St Johns is one of only three rivers in the United States that actually flows north.
So, with the price of airfare to Europe and Asia sometimes preventing clients from experiencing river cruising, have them consider something closer to home. Based on their interests (Civil War, wine, history, etc.), I’m sure you can find the right fit for them.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel (www.shipsntripstravel.com) located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations (www.kickbuttvaations.com) she focuses on travel for 18 to 23 year olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.