On the Longest-Ever U.S. River Cruise, Visit 20 States in 60 Days

The grandiose river journey combines sailings along the Columbia River in the West, the Mississippi River through the heart of the country, and the Eastern Seaboard.

A river ship at sunset

The American Jazz is one of the three ships that passengers will stay on during this two-month cruise.

Courtesy of American Cruise Lines

If you have two months to spare and an itch to see nearly two dozen U.S. states from the vantage point of some of the country’s most storied waterways, American Cruise Lines’ newest river cruise itinerary might be for you.

The Connecticut-based cruise company recently unveiled a 60-day river cruise that will span 20 states and four major rivers (the Columbia, Snake, Mississippi, and Hudson rivers), plus a handful of prominent New England coastal cities, as part of its new “The Great United States” itinerary.

Where the cruise goes

The voyage will begin on August 14, 2024, in Portland, Oregon. For the first eight days, guests will sail along the Columbia and Snake rivers, making stops in cities like Kalama, Washington (where they will be able to see Mount St. Helens) and Stevenson, Washington (to get a close look at Multnomah Falls).

The following five days are an entirely land-based tour. Guests will spend time in Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks before flying from Jackson, Wyoming, to New Orleans, Louisiana, for the Mississippi River portion. For 23 days, the vessel will then sail the complete length of the Mississippi River (just under 1,400 miles) and stop in 19 cities along the way, including Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Greenville, Mississippi; Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis, Missouri; and Dubuque, Iowa, before finishing in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The final flight of the trip will take guests from the Twin Cities to Portland, Maine, to spend two weeks cruising down the coast of New England to Boston, Massachusetts, and then onward to New York City. The last six days will be spent sailing to Albany and back on the Hudson River. The epic itinerary ends in New York Harbor, just after passing by the Statue of Liberty.

Along the way, travelers will stay on three of American Cruise Lines’ ships: the 180-passenger American Jazz (for the Columbia and Snake rivers leg), the 180-passenger American Symphony (for the Mississippi portion), and the 90-passenger American Independence (for the East Coast stretch). Each ship features a range of cabins from 250-square-feet single-person rooms to 650-square-feet suites with private balconies. Public areas include a main dining room, a handful of lounge areas, a library, a gym, and at least one sun deck for watching the river scenery roll on by.

Not every passenger will be on board for all the legs of the journey—technically, it’s a handful of regularly scheduled sailings that American Cruise Lines has joined together to make one super itinerary. It wouldn’t be possible to keep the same guest list for the entire 60-day sailing, considering the American Jazz has the capacity for 180 guests, while the American Independence can only host 90 passengers.

Cruise cost and rates

For those who do the whole shebang, fares start at $51,060 per person (and go as high as $77,945, depending on stateroom selection). The rate includes all meals, drinks (alcoholic and non), excursions, Wi-Fi, connecting flights, hotels between cruise segments, crew tips, and port charges.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at AFAR. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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