3 Great River Cruises in the U.S

River cruising is a great way to combine the ease and luxury of cruising with visits to smaller inland destinations. While many travelers may be familiar with European river cruises along the waterways in France or Germany, there are many river cruises that sail along waterways here in the United States.

Blount Small Ship Adventures is a company that specializes in American river cruising, with some international destinations as well. They own and operate the ships, they’re not just a booking agency. Here are three great American river cruises:

Southern Antebellum
This tour aboard the Grande Mariner, takes travelers along the inland waterways and rivers of America’s Southeast. From Jacksonville, Florida, up through Amelia Island, Jekyll Island and Savannah, Georgia. Then up through Georgia to Beaufort and eventually Charleston, South Carolina.

I’ve traveled throughout this area and the people are great, they live and offer true Southern Hospitality to travelers and visitors. The cruise is along rivers, canals and waterways and is for eight days and seven nights. The Southern Antebellum tour prices start at $2,299 per person for a basic cabin. The 184′ ship only holds 96 people in 48 cabins, all of which has an outside view.

Great American Waterways
This is a trip that would be great for kids learning about the U.S. The cruise takes travelers along some of America’s greatest and most important rivers. Starting off in Chicago, the cruise goes up to Michigan into Lake Michigan. Cruise next to Cleveland, Ohio, then onto Erie, Pennsylvania for a look at the rust belt, former industrial areas of the country. Next its off to Buffalo, New York, then Rochester and Troy, New York. A stop in West Point, NY along the Hudson River, then the tour ends in Warren, Rhode Island. Travelers will experience the Erie Canal, as well as entire days cruising on Lake Ontario.

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The Great American Waterways cruise lasts for 16 days and 15 nights and rates start at $4,999 per person, double occupancy.

Southern Traces
This cruise also shows the heart of America, taking cruisers from New Orleans to Nashville mainly along the mighty Mississippi. Starting in New Orleans, the cruise head to Mobile, Alabama, then to Columbus, Mississippi. From there it’s up through rural Tennessee, then into Nashville. I’m imagining this cruise would have both wonderful food and wonderful music.

The Southern Traces cruise is 12 days and 11 nights with cabins starting at $3,699 per person.

All the cruises include food, three meals a day and the ships offer a restaurant and lounges with 24 hour service. The atmosphere is casual, no formal dinners and it’s more about the adventure and learning about the destinations than fancy food and wine. The dinner seating is open seating and the cruise line allows and encourages cruisers to BYOB (bring your own booze) they do not sell alcohol. The specially designed ships are low, to fit under bridges and allow them access to more areas. The ships are flagged and based in the U.S. which means they are subject to stringent annual Coast Guard safety inspections.

(The author has no material connection to Blount Small Ship Adventures, nor is he an employee or stockholder.)

Freddy Sherman is a world traveler and editor of the travel blog travel4people.com. You can follow him on twitter, @thefredsherman

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