New Orleans Cruises & boat tours

Our most recommended New Orleans Cruises & boat tours

New Orleans: Evening Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

1. New Orleans: Evening Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

Journey back in time aboard the newly renovated Riverboat City of New Orleans. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the New Orleans atmosphere as the smooth jazz of the Dukes Trio fills your ears on this two-hour cruise on the mighty Mississippi, enjoying craft cocktails, and the sites. Depart from the heart of the French Quarter and experience breathtaking views of New Orleans as the city skyline slips away. Seating is available indoors and on the outdoor decks for the very best views of the Mississippi River and New Orleans. Make sure you check out all four decks as the top deck view is a sight to see.  Choose the dinner buffet option for a dinner menu including: Tossed salad, chicken and sausage gumbo, baked chicken with a mushroom ragout, Bayou seafood pasta, Creole vegetarian jambalaya, herb-garlic fingerling potatoes, pasta primavera, green beans, white chocolate bread pudding, Bananas Foster dessert, and garlic rolls. 

New Orleans: Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

2. New Orleans: Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

Savor the beauty and romance of New Orleans on a cruise aboard the Sternwheeler Steamboat Natchez, the only authentic steamboat in New Orleans. Cruise along the Mississippi River, listen to live jazz music, and enjoy an optional lunch of local fare. Your cruise from the heart of the French Quarter and takes you back to a time when life was as slow and graceful as the current on the Mississippi. Set out to see New Orleans from the Mississippi River, one of the world's most active ports. While on board, visit the museum-quality engine room to learn how steam powers this magnificent boat through the "Mighty Mississippi." Add an optional Creole lunch to your cruise, prepared fresh on board and served with your choice of coffee and iced tea. Savor the tastes of New Orleans before docking back where you started the tour. Sample Menu Lunch (subject to season and availability) • Southern fried fish• Red beans and rice• Jambalaya• Salad du jour

New Orleans: Creole Queen History Cruise with Optional Lunch

3. New Orleans: Creole Queen History Cruise with Optional Lunch

Sit back and enjoy the views or a drink at the bar while journeying down the Mississippi river. Learn about New Orleans' complex, but interesting story, focusing on the critical Battle of New Orleans. Join a cruise narrated by a local guide and embark on a journey into the past as you head downriver to the Chalmette Battlefield at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. As you travel to the battlefield, learn about the settlement of New Orleans, its river, and the historical landmarks that line the banks of the Mississippi River. As you cruise, treat yourself to a traditional lunch on board. (If relevant option selected.) Stop at the battlefield and hear about the legacy of the area on a 1-hour guided tour along the shore with a talk by National Park Rangers. After, return to the starting point where your tour will end. SAMPLE MENU LUNCH: • New Orleans Style Shrimp Pasta • 10” Roast Beef Po-Boy • Creole Jambalaya • Crawfish Bread • Caesar Salad • Red Beans & Rice • Fresh Baked Cookies • Zapps Potato Chips (Menu items are subject to change by season and availability)

New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation & Airboat Swamp Combo Tour

4. New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation & Airboat Swamp Combo Tour

Discover Louisiana on a guided day trip from New Orleans to the historical Oak Alley Plantation, with entry tickets included, and a bayou airboat ride. Benefit from round-trip transportation from your New Orleans hotel. Start your experience with hotel pickup, and relax on the drive to Oak Alley Plantation. Enjoy a guided tour of the plantation home by guides in period dress while you hear and learn about the times of slavery.  Take in the house's Greek Revival architecture, the antique farm equipment exhibits, and walk around the grounds where 28 evenly spaced, huge oak trees grow. Browse the blacksmith shop and souvenir shop, or stop for a snack (at your own expense) in the restaurant. Continue onto Barataria Basin for an airboat tour of the bayou swamplands, where your local captain will guide you through the swamps, marshes, and lakes. Travel at high speeds for an exciting ride, then slow down to spot local wildlife on this exciting airboat experience. Look out for alligators, birds, and other animals. Every airboat tour is unique, so you never know what you’ll see. Even in winter — when alligators hibernate — you’ll have a good chance of spotting these reptiles.  Back on dry land, return to the bus for the drive back to New Orleans, where you’ll finish off your trip with a convenient drop-off back at your hotel.

New Orleans: Sunday Jazz Cruise Aboard a Steamboat

5. New Orleans: Sunday Jazz Cruise Aboard a Steamboat

Journey back in time aboard the Sternwheeler Steamboat Natchez, the only surviving authentic steamboat in New Orleans. Sit back, relax and soak up the New Orleans atmosphere as smooth jazz fills your ears. Set sail from the heart of the French Quarter with seating available indoors and on deck for the very best views of the river and city. The indoor areas are climate-controlled and the outdoor space allows for tours of all levels of the boat. Experience a charming afternoon on Steamboat Natchez. Choose to simply relax and take in the sights or enhance your cruise with brunch served on board. Sunday Brunch Menu Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, made with a traditional Louisiana roux and served with rice Natchez Tossed Salad, mixed greens, tomato, cucumbers, red onions and croutons with a sugar cane vinaigrette Shrimp and Grits, shrimp sautéed with onion, bell pepper, and garlic served alongside hot butter grits Grillades and Grits "Gree-yahds", a traditional Creole dish with braised beef and homemade brown gravy, over stone-ground "corn" cooked to a smooth texture Crescent City Eggs, baked egg casserole with spinach, red onion, tomatoes, mushrooms, andouille sausage, green onions and cheese Turkey Sausage Patties Pain Perdu Thick Cut Bread, slices soaked in sweet custard mix, cinnamon swirl, and whipped cream topping, the French cousin of America's "French Toast" O' Brien Potatoes, served with peppers and onions Creole Creamed Spinach, spinach with mozzarella, parmesan, and cream cheese Mini Croissants and Biscuits, served with jellies and preserves Fruit Salad Bananas Foster, a New Orleans original! Fresh sliced bananas sautéed in butter, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and rum. Served warm atop vanilla ice cream.  White Chocolate Bread Pudding, a soufflé of local Leidenheimer French bread in rich custard with a decadent white chocolate sauce Community Coffee and Iced Tea included *Menu items are subject to change

New Orleans: Evening Jazz Boat Cruise with Optional Dinner

6. New Orleans: Evening Jazz Boat Cruise with Optional Dinner

Step back into the glamour and romance of the riverboat era with a cruise on the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen boat. Tuck into a delicious dinner or simply sit back and relax with a cocktail in your hand, marveling at the views and enjoying the live jazz music. On this river cruise, experience the vibrant and lively jazz notes of the amazing Sullivan Dabney Jr. and the Muzik Jazz Band while enjoying a Creole-style dinner (if the option is selected). There will be some time to dance to the music after dinner in the gorgeous dining hall.  After dinner, enjoy a classic New Orleans cocktail on the promenade deck looking out over the Mississippi River as the city slips past. On the way back to dock where you began your tour, pass by Jackson Square and see the city lights under a starry sky.  SAMPLE DINNER MENU: • Cajun Caesar Salad • Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo • Louisiana Creole Jambalaya • Cajun Baked Chicken • Roast Beef Debris • Garlic Mashed Potatoes • Cajun Seafood Pasta • Red Beans & Rice • Corn Mac Choux • Fresh Roasted Vegetables • Paddlewheeler White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce (best in New Orleans!) • French Bread Rolls & Cornbread (Menu items are subject to change by season and availability)

New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation & Swamp Cruise Day Trip

7. New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation & Swamp Cruise Day Trip

Experience 2 typical Louisiana features—plantation homes and bayous—on a guided day trip from New Orleans with hotel pickup. Tour Oak Alley Plantation, with entry tickets, included, and look out for wildlife on a boat trip through the swamplands. Start with a pickup from your French Quarter hotel. Head out of New Orleans and travel to Oak Alley Plantation, one of the best-known in the area. Built in 1837-39, the plantation is famous for its alley of 28 evenly spaced live oak trees. Take a guided tour of the historical plantation and gain an educational insight into the times of slavery. Afterward, enjoy a fully narrated boat tour of the swamps. Keep a lookout for alligators, turtles, water birds, and other local wildlife. Listen as your captain tells stories of local Cajun and Creole history, and the people who live in the Bayou area. Finish your tour with the return journey to New Orleans, where you’ll be dropped off at your French Quarter hotel.

New Orleans: High Speed 6-9 Passenger Airboat Tour

8. New Orleans: High Speed 6-9 Passenger Airboat Tour

Experience the best of both a swamp tour and an airboat ride. Travel at high speeds in the airboat then slow down and stop for pictures. Along the way, enjoy a personal tour by your local captain. The airboats have stadium seating so every airboat seat is great for experiencing the tour and viewing wildlife. Yes, gators will get close, real close. So close that you will be able to look into those reptilian eyes. Alligators do hibernate in the colder months, but your experienced captains know where to look for them. On average, during the winter, you have better than a 50/50 chance of seeing a gator. In the warmer months, you will see a gator. Every New Orleans Airboat Tour is unique and you never know what could be around the next corner. Tour an area that is a combination of swamp, marsh, and lake, spotting anything from a Bald Eagle to a Pelican, from an Osprey to an Owl. The airboats are driven by a 454 Chevy engine that will produce speeds of up to 35 miles an hour. They are propelled by a huge fan that will blow air from the back of the boat in excess of 200 miles an hour. These tours are truly a blast. They ride in inches of water and go where traditional boats can't. The boats were designed to take you to inaccessible areas of the swamp, places that you cannot reach by foot or car, ensuring a unique experience.

New Orleans: Manchac Bayou Swamp Cruise with Optional Pickup

9. New Orleans: Manchac Bayou Swamp Cruise with Optional Pickup

Join this tour in the Manchac Swamp on a real life adventure for the whole family. Your local captains will take you on an exciting journey to explore Louisiana's abundant wildlife in the bayous of Cajun Country. Journey by boat, Cajun-style, for a tour through the heart of Southern Louisiana's swamplands. Your swamp boat will take you into the meandering bayous where you'll see moss-draped cypress trees, fascinating plant life, and the creatures who make their homes here. Listen to informative commentary as you sail into the bayou. Swamp creatures are used to seeing the tour boats, so you'll likely catch a glimpse of various birds, snakes, deer, and fish, and possibly even an alligator. As your boat drifts through the waterways, you will learn about the Louisiana Wetlands, the inhabitants of the swamp–particularly the life and habits of the American Alligator–as well as the unique history of the local Cajun town of Frenier.

New Orleans: High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Ride

10. New Orleans: High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Ride

Embark on a high-speed adventure through the swamps and marshes just 35 minutes from New Orleans and experience the amazing scenery by airboat. Slow down or stop to take pictures and get a personal tour from your local captain. Avail of airboats with stadium-style seating so that the person in front does not obstruct your view. Be amazed as alligators come so close to the boat that you can stare into their reptilian eyes! Encounter magnificent birdlife, including bald eagles, pelicans, ospreys and owls. Every tour is unique and you never know what will be around the next corner! Reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, propelled by a huge fan that blows air from the back of the boat in excess of 200 miles per hour. Ride in shallow water and access areas where traditional boats cannot go.

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Frequently asked questions about New Orleans

What top attractions are a must-see in New Orleans?

The must-see attractions in New Orleans are:

What are the best day trips and excursions from New Orleans?

The best day trips and excursions from New Orleans are:

Mississippi River


Boat tours in New Orleans: Everything you need to know

You could probably come up with some popular songs and works of American literature in which the Mississippi river was the setting (and sometimes the character). While in New Orleans, don’t miss your chance to cruise down the second largest river in the United States. See the city from a typical paddlewheeler and discover what inspired Mark Twain or Johnny Cash on a New Orleans river cruise.

Sightseeing boat tours in New Orleans

Whether you’re a first-timer or a returning visitor, embark on the ultimate sightseeing experience in New Orleans. Board a genuine steamboat and cruise down the Mississippi River. See the French Quarter from the river on this two-hour cruise to the sounds of Jazz. This activity includes live narration, so you’ll learn all there is to know about the Big Easy.

For a well-rounded NOLA experience, add the Creole lunch option to your river cruise. Feast on local delicacies like the chicken and sausage gumbo, green beans almondine, and white chocolate bread pudding.

New Orleans dinner and cocktail cruises

If you don’t feel like checking out the party scene on Bourbon Street, take the New Orleans’ night in on a dinner cruise. Aboard the Creole Queen, a typical Mississippi paddlewheeler boat, enjoy Creole cuisine while listening to the resident Jazz band.

Head to the promenade deck for a cocktail and raise a glass to historic Jackson Square. Or, if you feel like it, there’s still time to dance after dinner on this two-hour cruise.

Choose a dinner cruise aboard the Steamboat Natchez if you prefer the option to eat outdoors. You’ll also listen to the sounds of Dixieland-style Jazz as the city's skyline unfolds before your eyes.

New Orleans bayou boat tours

Home of alligators and other swamp species, the bayous in the Mississippi River Delta are must-sees if you’re interested in visiting beyond New Orleans. You can choose from many swamp boats tours. All of them allow travelers to get close (but not too close!) to local bayou residents.

If you’re visiting on a tight schedule, choose a guided tour that takes you to the bayou at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Reserve. This is the closest swamp to downtown, so you’ll get there in about 25 minutes. For convenience, the tour includes pick up and drop off at your hotel.

After spotting the bayou wildlife with an experienced local guide, travelers can enjoy a Cajun lunch at a local restaurant.

If you’re staying for a few days and want to combine two-day trips into one, choose a swamp tour that includes visits to former plantations. You can choose, for example, The Oak Alley and swamp tour boat combo, a one-day tour with pick up and drop off included. You get to visit the plantation in the morning and take the swamp tour in the afternoon.

New Orleans airboat tours

Want to travel to places in the bayou that other boats can’t reach, and you don’t mind a little speed? Consider an airboat tour. These fast boats with a giant fan in the back can reach smaller canals that bigger riverboats can't. Some boats take small groups of up to six people, while others can accommodate close to 30 passengers. Choose tours on smaller airboats if you'd like a more personal experience. Follow the tips of your local guide to spot Flour and Sugar, the bayou's albino alligators. In addition to the bayou’s most famous residents, peel your eyes for turtles, frogs, raccoons, cranes, and wild pigs.

Good tips and things to know for New Orleans boat tours

  • Check if the boat company allows passengers to bring food and drinks from outside. Do so especially if you’re not planning to eat aboard one of the cruises with optional lunch or dinner.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, appropriate for traveling on a boat. Prepare for splashes on open boats. If you’re opting for an airboat tour, choose one that provides hearing protection.
  • If you’re traveling with small children, look for a boat with onboard bathroom facilities for convenience.
  • For travelers choosing a swamp tour, follow the local guide’s recommendations when it comes to feeding or approaching the resident wildlife.

Other Sightseeing Options in New Orleans

Want to discover all there is to do in New Orleans? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about New Orleans

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 857 reviews

Charles is the BEST guide/historical storyteller I have ever encountered, anywhere in the world, and I've been on quite a few tours, many which I left prematurely because reading plaques was more thrilling than listening to the boring guide. Charles is not boring! He got me interested in a battle that I didn't care one bit about before showing up to the cruise. When we arrived at the battlefield, I saw little kids running behind a hill as their parents reminded them that Andrew Jackson used kids to run messages during the battle (a factoid Charles told us, explaining the details of how that was perfectly safe). My 16 year old daughter and I went on the 2 p.m. cruise - not sure if they have other guides, but aim for Charles - she got irked if I tried to talk to her and we were both chuckling at his retelling of the story of Hurricane Katrina....an unbiased account that, nonetheless, made clear the sheer incompetence of Louisiana's politicians handling the crisis.

For a romantic evening, this was perfect. The food was great. Atmosphere was even better. Highly recommend this cruise and a stroll around Jackson square before.

Trip ran very smoothly with a transfer where they gave lots of tips! great swamp tour with lots of info and gators- would recommend

The music was fabulous. Very informative commentary. Lunch was fabulous!!!!

Liver everything about this experience. Highly recommend.