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St. Paul Cruise Port Guide

Cold winter weather makes St. Paul a better choice for the summer. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license
Cold winter weather makes St. Paul a better choice for the summer. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Anyone who goes on Caribbean cruises may find it odd to think of St. Paul, Minnesota, as a cruise port. But it is—for Mississippi River cruises.

St. Paul and Minneapolis, known as the Twin Cities, are the northernmost ports among all the stops on a Mississippi River cruise. For two major river cruise lines, St. Paul is either the starting point or the end point for upper Mississippi cruises, which usually go between that city and St. Louis. The same is true for the much longer “complete” Mississippi cruises, which travel between there and more than 1,000 miles south to New Orleans.

Because St. Paul gets so cold in the winter, it is usually an active river cruise port from late spring to fall and much less active in the winter.

Ships for two major river cruise lines—American Cruise Lines and Viking River Cruises—dock at Lower Landing Park.

The 21-acre Lower Landing Park has Lambert’s Landing, a historic dock that saw hundreds of ships per day during its peak. The park has picnic tables, open lawns and the Samuel H. Morgan Regional Trail.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Cruise passengers will find many possible attractions to visit on their own or shore excursions to take in St. Paul before or after their Mississippi cruise.

Major attractions include Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Guthrie Theatre, St. Anthony Falls, and the 53-foot Minnehaha Falls. Others include the Japanese Garden, Como Zoo, Landmark Center, Minnesota State Capitol, Summit Avenue and the Cathedral of St. Paul, the fourth largest cathedral in the United States.

Professional sports teams also are major attractions. They include the Minnesota Vikings, Twins and Timberwolves.

For cruises that end in St. Paul, some companies offer a city tour in combination with a transfer to the airport for about $80 or more per person. City tour sites include some and possibly most of the above attractions expect for the sports teams.


© 2022 Scott S. Bateman

Mississippi River cruises that begin or end in St. Paul are not popular from late fall through early spring simple because it is so blasted cold.

April and October are transition months with almost the same daily temperatures. The average high both months is in the upper 50s Fahrenheit. The average low is about 39 degrees.

Daytime temperatures between October and April plunge to a low point of the mid 20s Fahrenheit in January. Nighttime temperatures drop into the single teens.

So anyone planning a Mississippi River cruise may want avoid St. Paul and the upper Mississippi from November through March.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
June 27, 2022

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