Steamboat Natchez is NOLA’s only working steamboat offering two-hour riverboat cruises up and down the Mississippi River. This one-of-a-kind attraction is a great option for a daytime activity on the river, and is a popular destination for both visitors and residents alike.
The beautiful steamboat you see today is the last (so far) of a long line of riverboats bearing the same name: her eight ancestors span the timeline back to 1823. The current Steamboat Natchez is therefore sometimes called Natchez IX.
The first Steamboat Natchez was built in New York City and ran between New Orleans and Natchez, Mississippi (the obvious source of the name). She was destroyed by fire just 12 years later in 1835.
The next eight ships were commissioned and owned by Captain Thomas Leathers, a colorful man who not only delivered cotton up and down the Mighty Miss, but he also loved fast boats. Each successive Natchez was improved for capacity and speed. in fact, Natchez VII was involved in, one of the most notorious steamboat races in history against the Robert E. Lee. While the Natchez lost the race, she was caught for prosperity in the famous Currier and Ives lithograph titled ‘The Great Mississippi Steamboat Race.’
The current Steamboat Natchez was built in 1975, and possesses parts from a number of different vessels including the engines and steering system (Steamboat Clariton), a copper bell made up of 250 melted silver dollars (S.S. J.D. Ayres), the bell’s acorn (Belle of Louisville and Delta Queen), whistle (rumored to have been on a ship that sank on the Monongahela). That is a lot of history for just one ship! She is also still known for her speed, having won a number of steamboat races during her lifetime.
Today, Steamboat Natchez offers two-hour harbor and dinner cruises from the Toulouse Street Wharf. Stepping onto her decks is a step back in time – the captain uses a handheld megaphone, and her steam calliope plays a myriad of tunes with her 32-note capability. Harbor cruises include an optional lunch, along with informational narration, full access to the gift shop and steam engine room, and much more. For the love of taking a ride on the Mississippi, you can’t beat the Natchez. While listening to the calliope and going down to see the engine in action is worth the price of admission, we suggest a day cruise over the dinner cruise if food is your thing. They have a nice snack bar for light refreshments, but with so many world-class restaurants on shore, we think dinner on board will be less than memorable. So take a ride on during the day and enjoy “Old Man River” and the view.
Let us make your dinner cruise reservations and give you inside information on these unforgettable cruises during your bed and breakfast stay at our New Orleans inn. We can also suggest other things to do in the Toulouse Street area to assure that you’ll have a great day in our gorgeous and historic town!