North America river cruises

North America River Cruising

North America's mighty rivers and lakes are among its greatest natural wonders, and river cruises offer a more personal way to experience the many sides of the USA and Canada than isolated city breaks.
From the glacial landscapes of Alaska and the Canadian Rockies to the subtropical swamps of Florida, river cruises cover the major sights, the quaint river towns and the scenic landscapes in-between.
Explore the heartland of the United States with a Mississippi cruise aboard a traditional paddle steamer, travel to New York on a Hudson River cruise or cross the border to Canada on a tour of the Great Lakes.

Destination Overview

  • Currency - the United States Dollar and Canadian Dollar are the official currencies of their respective countries, though US dollars can be widely exchanged in Canada and are accepted as a second currency by some establishments.
  • Population - the USA is the most populous country in North America with 529 million people, compared to 35 million in Canada. Both countries are melting pots of cultures from all over the world.
  • Language - English is the most widely spoken language in the United States and Canada, though French is the dominant language in Canada's Quebec province and is prominent in other parts of the continent too.
  • Time Zone - from Alaska in the west to Newfoundland in the east, the continent spans multiple time zones ranging from UTC-9 to UTC-3:30. Most states and provinces follow Daylight Saving Time (DST), advancing by 1 hour in the spring and moving back 1 hour in the autumn.
  • Weather - the North American continent is home to a multitude of climates and weather patterns, from subarctic conditions in Northern Canada and Alaska to the deserts of the western United States. The majority of regions enjoy a temperate climate with four distinct seasons.

Did you know..?

The Mississippi River passes through 10 US states, namely Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, where it enters the Gulf of Mexico. Its watershed is significantly larger, encompassing 31 states and two Canadian provinces.

Who goes there?

Local cruise lines offer tours of all the major rivers suited to a range of budgets and preferences, with Un-Cruise Adventures specialising in value cruises of the Columbia, Snake and Willamette Rivers.
The American Queen Steamboat Company is based in the Mississippi region and operates the world's largest paddlewheel steamboat. Travellers with an interest in American history can listen to informative talks on American Cruise Lines’ river cruises of the southern states.

Best time to go?

Spring, summer and autumn all offer comfortable cruise conditions, depending on the type of cruise you are taking.
To see beautiful autumnal scenery on river cruises of Canada, New England and New York, high season is September and October, while springtime river cruises offer the chance to see trees and flowers coming into bloom.
For Alaska cruises, the ideal snow season is between March and May and the aurora borealis can be seen from November to February.


  • Mississippi - step back in time to Mark Twain's America with a cruise on the mighty Mississippi aboard a paddle steamer. The Mississippi River re-opened to cruise boats in 2011, with routes north and south of St Louis incorporating the Arkansas, Ohio and Tennessee tributaries.
  • Columbia and Snake River - follow the route of pioneers Lewis and Clark two centuries on, from the Rocky Mountains through Washington State to Oregon on a traditional paddlewheel steamboat. Columbia and Snake River cruises showcase the natural beauty of the region, and wine lovers will have the chance to sample a number of local varieties with stops at vineyards.
  • Chesapeake Bay - tour significant sites of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars from America's largest estuary, sharing ports with historic lighthouses and shipyards. Visit the living museum of Colonial Williamsburg to walk among buildings dating back as far as 1674, including the original Courthouse and Parish Church.

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