Best U.S. River Cruise Companies
Do you want to know the best U.S. river cruise companies?
Then kick off your shoes and let us share the list with you.
The U.S. river cruise market has four different types of ships:
- Paddlewheelers: these are ships reminiscent of the early steamships sailing the rivers in the American heartland two hundred years ago. The American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines offer its guests paddlewheel experiences.
- Modern Riverboats: American Cruise Lines has been busy building these more modern and spacious riverboats. They currently have five of these ships with more on the way. In the fall of 2022, Viking River Cruises will enter this space with its brand of European-styled riverboats.
- Coastal Ships: American Cruise Lines and the American Queen Steamboat Company offer ships in this class. While more resembling a traditional ocean cruise experience, these ships are under 250 passengers. With these smaller ships, guests can explore the coastal waters of the East Coast, the Great Lakes, Alaska, and Canada.
- Expedition Ships: UnCruise and Lindblad/National Geographic occupy this space. Here, the guest experience is generally more active with kayaking, hiking, and a greater emphasis on the environment and nature.
America’s River Cruise Brands
To sail the rivers of the United States, cruise ships must be American-owned, American-built, American-flagged, and American-staffed.
While there are very small players that meet this criterion, for purposes of this article, we are going to focus on the best of the best.
Here is the list in alphabetical order:
- American Cruise Lines: ACL offers its guests paddlewheelers, modern riverboats, and coastal cruise ships. They have 7 river cruise ships and 5 coastal cruise ships with quite a few more on the way. American Cruise Lines is America’s largest home-grown cruise line.
- American Queen Steamboat Company: AQSC is uniquely a steamboat company. They currently have 4 paddlewheelers in their fleet and will soon be launching Coastal and Great Lakes cruises with their recent purchase of Victory Cruise Lines.
- Lindblad/National Geographic: While Lindblad is not traditionally defined as a river cruise brand, they do sail the Columbia River in the Northwest, and offer coastal cruises all over the world.
- Uncruise: While more geared toward expeditions and adventure, Uncruise sails the Columbia River as well as a host of coastal cruises in Alaska, the Galapagos, Hawaii, and Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.
- Viking River Cruises: launching in the fall of 2022, this cruising behemoth is certain to bring significant attention to the U.S. river cruising scene. Further, also in 2022, Viking Expeditions will begin sailing the Great Lakes and Canada.
Now that we’ve given you the list of the best U.S. river cruise companies, you might ask about the best way to book one of these cruises.
Carol and I have grown to become one of the largest ocean and river cruise booking agents in the nation. We know these cruise brands well.
And given that there is no price advantage to booking directly with any cruise line (click here), we would invite you to give us a call.
We will help you sort out the best of these cruise lines for you, help you choose the perfect stateroom, and we may well have some complimentary booking perks to share with you to boot! 🙂
For more information or to book a fun U.S river cruise, please call Roaming Boomers Travel Services at (480) 550-1235 or use our convenient online information request (click here) and we’ll reach out to you.
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