There are several reasons we have our eyes on United States River Cruises in 2021.
You're not alone if you've been itching to travel outside your own region for most of 2020. But all this dreaming and planning got us to thinking about why we didn't previously considered a river cruise in our own backyard. Eureka!
Quarantining during a pandemic has allowed us to mull over lots of topics, including river cruises. We have lots of rivers in the United States, after all.
That's when we started to research river cruises in the United States. Our eyes grew wide with possibilities. The more we thought about it and discussed it, the more apparent it became that we would have to set some goals to take a river cruise in America as soon as possible.
1. You Won't Have to Cross an Ocean to Reach the Port of Embarkation for a United States River Cruise
When you go on a river cruise in Europe, you have to first fly to Europe. You likely don't even have to cross an ocean to arrive to a port of embarkation for a river cruise in America.
In fact, if you're someone who would rather not fly (for whatever reason, whether health, cost or fear of flying) you can probably drive to the city you need to be in to board the ship.
Another perk to take advantage of is shorter flight times. This is great if you don't have a lot of time to take a vacation. If you're flying to Europe you spend two days traveling in airports and on flights, alone. Then you need to deal with getting over the hump of jet lag upon return to the US.
With a river cruise in the United States in 2021 and beyond, you can simply focus on the cruise, alone, instead of factoring in lengthy flights or jet lag.
There are tons of ports in the United States that you probably don't know about. Sure, there are obvious ones with huge ocean liners, like the ports of San Diego, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. But then there are ports in places like the Great Lakes in New York and Toronto, or even Chicago and Portland.
2. We Know the News in America Regarding Health Precautions better than Any other Country
Have you ever noticed that you only hear a limited amount of international news these days? When the Coronavirus “shit hit the fan” in March (excuse our language) we had just landed back from Spain the day the President somewhat frantically declared he'd be “closing” borders for travel in from Europe. Back then, it was easier to hear the world news regarding the virus.
But after those spring months you really had to dig for information aside from a number of COVID cases or deaths in another country here or there. We got used to the virus in the news, the states' numbers quickly overtook anything we'd heard about in international health and information about how other countries are dealing with the virus isn't something you readily hear about now.
It's been a lot easier to stay on top of the news of the health situation in America. Which means for 2021, and we suspect beyond into 2022, this will remain true.
Having a full scope of knowledge about the health situation in our own country is comforting. It provides some security (whether real or imagined) about signing up for a river cruise in America. There's just less variables “Close to Home™” (a campaign we adore, coined and trademarked by American Cruise Lines).
Granted, we admit this isn't deterring us from dreaming of (and most likely) planning travel abroad in the future. But it's definitely a consideration we've taken to heart.
3. We Haven't Explored the United States Enough
We haven't explored the United States enough. We get starry-eyed when we have the opportunity to fly to another country. But a pandemic has made us value what's right in front of us even more than before. And the United States of America is pretty spectacular. From sea to shining sea.
The more we started to consider United States River Cruises for 2021 and 2022, the more impressed we were with our options here from sailing itineraries to cruise ship lines.
A river cruise itinerary in the USA, on the Mississippi River for example, would allow us to explore various regions that would take us much longer to visit if we were to drive to all of them. (Besides, we love cruising.) And signing up for a river cruise simply seems more realistic and attainable to us than us going through the motions of planning a trip to all these destinations separately.
River cruises are always high on our travel wish list. Louisiana, perhaps lower. But a river cruise that stops in Louisiana? Divine! We'd love to visit places the American Cruise Lines 8-day Mississippi River Cruise itinerary goes to, including Vicksburg, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Or even an upper Mississippi River cruise itinerary, for example, would allow us to explore several cities in Missouri, Wisconsin and Minnesota, including St. Louis and St. Paul, cities we've never been to. Or ports accessible from the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington, like Portland and Mount St. Helens.
4. We Want to Support our U.S. Economy
It's great to shop local and support local. We whole-heartedly believe in it as travel writers, small business owners, and as the children of parents who both owned and worked for small businesses.
Perhaps some of the cruise line options in the United States are big businesses, however some of them aren't.
Also, consider for a ship to sail US rivers like these ships are doing, they have to have been built here and employ US Citizens as a large percentage of their staff.
That is supporting the businesses that helped build the ships, including outfitting their interiors and such, and also Americans who work onboard.
5. There are Great United States Luxury River Cruise Options
American Cruise Lines is a company we're really excited about. We love that their ships names are patriotic in character, like the American Spirit and American Star. Their new ship, the American Jazz sailing on the Mississippi, just passed sea trials and will be ready for guest boarding before we know it.
We've sailed with Viking before and part of what gave us the idea of looking into a United States river cruise for 2021 and 2022 was that Viking is building the Viking Mississippi (rendering below) to specifically sail the waters of the Mississippi River. It's currently accepting booking and is scheduled to have an inaugural trip in August 2022.
Viking repeatedly wins awards for their ocean and river ships and we know the Viking Mississippi will be in line with their superior service and high standards. The ship will have a guest capacity of 386 and all the staterooms will be outward-facing for great views.
You can still plan to sail in 2021, however. There are great options in the United States, they're just lesser known if you've never looked into US river cruises.
Check out our app recommendations for cruises, for prep, while onboard and in ports.