Adding to our things to do in New Orleans, we took a ride on the Steamboat Natchez. Something we didn’t realize until we were on board was that this is only one of two operating steamboats in the United States (the other being in Louisville, KY). So, novelty aside, this was a rare experience and we are excited to have taken it.
We started off queueing up for the boat, which could have been another monotonous time waiting in a line with children, but the Natchez provided some entertainment during the wait.
This was only a snippet of about a half hour set. They played up to the point of boarding, which went fairly smooth. We opted to get lunch as part of our ticket, so we were ushered into the dining area to (a surprise for us) a reserved table by the windows. We really aren’t sure if it was automatically reserved when we purchased our tickets online, or if it was because we had a party of 6, or if it was because we were celebrating a birthday (or two). Whatever the case, we had a great seat to dine and watch the scenery go by.
Lunch consisted of several local favorites, including red beans and rice, fried fish, and cornbread. Bonus that it was an all you can eat buffet. For anyone that has had the pleasure of watching my kids eat, you will know that we definitely got our money’s worth. To add to the atmosphere in the dining area, they had a Dixie jazz band playing and taking requests.
After having our fill, we wandered around the boat. They have a walkway that takes you through the engine room so that you can see the steam pistons moving the paddle wheel. Crew members were on hand to answer any questions. There were three different decks to choose from, all of which had seating all around the boat. The upper deck gave sweeping views of the shoreline surrounding the Mississippi River, while the lower level put you almost right at the water line. As a side note, it is a little odd to be on a boat, and looking out over the roofs of houses, but this is New Orleans, where the river is at a higher elevation than the houses alongside of it.
While traveling up and down river, the crew gave a commentary about different vessels we were passing as well as the industries and businesses directly on the water and served by the port. It was a very informational look into the past and present economy of the region.
We had a very fun day, and the two hour ride seemed to be just right, especially for the kids. I think that the dinner cruise would be fun for a group of adults to enjoy an evening out.