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New to USA River Cruising

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My wife and I have many RCL cruises under our belt (sails) but we're seriously considering a Lower Mississippi Cruise this fall. I'm starting the research on ships, staterooms, itiniery, on-board 'stuff', excursions/tours. We're pretty healthy and enjoy meeting new people when we travel. I have some basic questions about ships (are the paddle wheelers 'different' from other ships in the fleet? Better/worse? I'm adventurous when it comes to food - but i have my favorites; my spouse - not so much and fortunately the menues I've seen would be OK with her.


SO I don't know what I don't know and would welcome input, feedback, hints, etc. This is my FIRST post on Cruise Critic in a long long time sooooo really looking for sage words about ACL and the Lower MISS adventure!

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Posted (edited)

I recently went on the Lower Mississippi cruise on the Serenade.  It's a completely different experience than RCL ocean cruises (and I've been on three of them).  I have no experience with the paddle wheel ships but I was very pleased with the Serenade, which is only a year old.  The food on our cruise was good but the lunch and dinner menus often included shellfish, which I don't eat (though my wife loved it).  However alternatives are always available, including vegetarian dishes.  We enjoyed the cruise.  The service was great and the excursions were excellent. But it's very low key, which if you're used to ocean cruises you might find somewhat boring.

Edited by MOcruiserman
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We're also Loyal to Royal cruisers (16 cruises) for decades now, but decided to give river cruises a try, booked next fall (2025) on Serenade for the Great Heartland Cruise (St Paul to NOLA) after doing a LOT of reading and YouTubing to learn about it.


Wanted to try the Paddlewheelers, but while nostalgic, they seem to be too small and are sold out far into the future. Settled on Serenade as a better option for us. The midship gangway (when usable) looks much easier to navigate than the bow gangway for DW who has major mobility issues. 


I did a lot of research on rooms/decks and applied my "big ship" rules and moved up to a deck 3 cabin to get away from the crew/gangway areas which I suspect might be noisy at times we'd want/need quiet.


Following this thread to see what others will contribute 🙂


We did NCL's Pride of America in 2018 as the only "good" way to see Hawaii and understand the US flagged/crewed difference and we're excited to see how that works on these boats (ships?).

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We have been looking into the Snake River cruise.  My concerns include:


1.  Very old demographic - lots of wheelchairs and walkers

2.  Very limited entertainment

3.  Inexperienced help that turns over

4.  I can go on three non-USA cruises for what this costs


But my wife is interested in a river cruise in the USA.  

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Most of the passengers are older but very few require wheelchairs and walkers.


Entertainment is limited compared to the ocean going cruise ships but the quality is very good. We had a excellent pianist/singer and guitar player as well as a fine female singer.


The staff may be inexperienced but I thought they did a fine job.  They were also very considerate.


It's an expensive cruise but keep in mind that everything is included and there are less than 200 passengers.

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