Photo Courtesy of USA River Cruises

USA River Cruises Modern Boats Versus Paddlewheels

USA River Cruises has a large fleet of river cruise ships, including a variety of modern boats and classic paddlewheels. To help you pick which river cruise is best for you when planning a cruise, it is helpful to know more about the differences between modern boats and paddlewheels, as well as the different amenities and experiences available with each ship.

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Paddlewheels Versus Modern Boats

USA River Cruises has a number of paddlewheel boats in their fleet that bring the ambiance, nostalgia, and experience of cruising on a traditional, paddlewheel maneuvered ship. They also have modern boats that deliver elegance, class, and state-of-the-art design with luxurious, modern features. The main difference between paddlewheels and modern boats is the presence of a paddlewheel on the back of the boat. Another difference is classic paddlewheels preserve the older historical riverboat design and ambiance, while still using modern technology to ensure a safe and smooth cruising experience. Modern boats take on a more modern design, lacking the paddlewheel, and often have newer features and luxurious amenities, and more options on the boat.

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Cruising on the Lower and Upper Mississippi River on a paddlewheel boat can be especially exciting if you are nautically passionate as paddlewheels played a large part in the evolution of boats and water transportation and in the development of trade and tourism on the Mississippi. Many people prefer to cruise on paddlewheel boats because of the presence of a real paddlewheel at the back of the boat, as it adds to the pure Mississippi River feel of the experience. But many of the paddlewheels, though authentic, are actually not maneuvering the boat, rather they run on steam or diesel. However, the paddlewheel steamers make up for it by recreating the grandeur of historical riverboats with the traditional look of a riverboat, inside and out.

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Modern Boats

The modern boats in USA River Cruises’ fleet feature unprecedented luxury both in the modern, sleek design of the boat itself and the interior layout, décor, and amenities. For example, some of the newer modern boats offer guests wraparound private balconies, extra rooms for private dinners and parties, luxury common areas, pools on the upper decks, more entertainment options, and more. The modern design of some of the newer boats has also been perfected to offer some of the best views of the Mississippi, from the guests’ private rooms and balconies to the larger common areas.

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Modern Boat and Paddlewheel Cruises

When deciding which USA River Cruise on the Upper and Lower Mississippi River is right for you, it depends on what experience you are interested in having. If you enjoy the traditional design and ambiance of a paddlewheel, then some options for you might include cruising on the Lower Mississippi on the Queen of the Mississippi (the only paddlewheel steamer in the fleet with a working paddlewheel) or a trip in the Upper Mississippi on the newer American Countess. For those who enjoy the more luxurious features and amenities of the modern boats, the Viking Mississippi and the American Melody are two modern ships that offer cruises on the Lower and Upper Mississippi River.

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Don’t just take anyone’s advice as to what your river cruise should look like. The cruise agents at USA River Cruises have over 25 years of experience (and take a lot of cruises themselves). Not only do they take care of your entire travel experience, but they will help match you with the cruise that best suits your needs. Plus, USA River Cruises purchases in volume, and helps you get the best price.


USA River Cruises
10000 NE 7th Ave Suite 125,
Vancouver, WA 98685