When in New Orleans, there's no better, more classic way to experience the mighty Mississippi than on a river tour aboard the Steamboat Natchez. The historic stern-wheeled steamboat makes its home on the riverfront next to the French Quarter, and slowly and gracefully plies the river for brunch, lunch, or dinner cruises with live traditional jazz on board.
The Natchez—New Orleans’ only steamboat—heads out for daytime and evening cruises year-round, all with traditional jazz music and optional meals. Enjoy an indulgent Sunday brunch cruise with local specialties, including Creole and Cajun dishes; have a more casual buffet lunch replete with a calliope concert; or opt for a romantic dinner cruise. You can upgrade your experience to include a private tour of the historic steam-engine room.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Cruises are two hours long.
- Be at the dock at least 30 minutes before departure time.
- The recommended attire for daytime cruises is casual, though the Natchez suggests “dressy casual” for the dinner cruises.
- Advance reservations are strongly recommended.
How to Get There
The Steamboat Natchez is docked at the Toulouse Street Wharf on the Mississippi River, adjacent to the French Quarter near Jackson Square. Tour buses stop near the dock and there are some streetcar stops nearby, but it's also easy to reach on foot.
When to Get There
The Steamboat Natchez operates year-round. The boat undergoes maintenance work every January or February and these dates vary, so check the cruising schedule in advance. Cruises are canceled only when the Coast Guard raises an alert about particularly bad weather. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, so diners stay warm and dry even in inclement conditions.
Cruise Music: Live Jazz and Steam Calliope
True to New Orleans' love of music, live jazz accompanies every Steamboat Natchez cruise. Dinner cruise guests, for instance, often enjoy the Dukes of Dixieland, a Grammy-nominated jazz band playing old favorites. But music lovers don't even need to board the boat to hear its famous steam calliope: The historic steam-pipe organ is played when the boat is docked, once or twice every day. Walk over to the dock to see the columns of steam that the calliope produces as it's played. Daytime harbor cruises include a calliope concert as well.