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Best Times to Take Mississippi River Cruise

Best times for Mississippi River cruises depend on weather. Pixabay Creative Commons license
Best times for Mississippi River cruises depend on weather. Pixabay Creative Commons license
The best time to take a Mississippi River cruise depends on passengers who don't mind big swings in temperatures during their trips.

That's because the longest cruises go from Minneapolis in the far north of the United States to New Orleans, which is more than 1,000 miles away in the far south.

There are three types of these cruises: complete, lower and upper Mississippi.

But in general, the best time of year to take a Mississippi river cruise is September and October when the risk of rain is lowest and temperatures are warm but moderate. The worst times are November through May because of colder temperatures and higher risk of rain.

Some of the larger river cruise companies have Mississippi cruises every month of the year. But for obvious reasons, Minneapolis with an average daytime temperature of 23 degrees in January is not a popular place to begin or end a cruise. New Orleans with an average daytime temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit in January has much more appeal.

So the month of the year is a major factor for when cruise planners should take a complete, lower or upper Mississippi River cruise.

Lower Mississippi

Winter, spring and fall are the best times to take a lower Mississippi cruise, which often goes between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Memphis, Tennessee.

Daytime temperatures in New Orleans hover around 60 Fahrenheit from December through February, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. They reach into the mid to upper 70s in early spring and late fall.

Summer is not a good time to cruise the lower Mississippi because of extreme heat and humidity in New Orleans. The average daytime temperature reaches 90 degrees.

Upper Mississippi

Upper Mississippi cruises often travel between Minneapolis and St. Louis. Summer is the best time to take an upper Mississippi cruise because of comfortable temperatures.

Temperatures peak in the low 80s Fahrenheit in Minneapolis in the summer. But rainfall is highest in the summer. Late spring and early fall are good times to go for a combination of mild temperatures and lower risk of rain.

Complete Mississippi

Complete Mississippi cruises are ideal for late spring and early fall. They avoid the hot and humid weather of New Orleans during the summer and the cold weather of Minneapolis during the winter.

The average high temperature for New Orleans in April and May is in the upper 70s to mid 80s Fahrenheit. It is in the upper 50s in Minneapolis. Daytime temperatures in Minneapolis climb into the high 60s to low 70s in May.

Likewise, the average high temperatures in Minneapolis are in the low 70s in September and high 50s in October. In New Orleans, they are in the mid 80s in September and high 70s in October.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

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March 16, 2021