Airboat Rides and Tickets in New Orleans

New Orleans is not just swamps and plantations, you'd be amazed at what you can see aboard a ship.

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

11 min read

Airboat Rides and Tickets in New Orleans

New Orleans Pier | Olga Muller

I personally love boat rides in New Orleans, that's why I want to recommend you some of my favorite boat rides in New Orleans. This is one of the activities that you can not fail to include among the things to see and do in New Orleans, especially if you go with your partner.

Of course this kind of tours are also suitable to go with the whole family and even with children. When you travel by boat, other services are usually included on board to make your tour an even more enjoyable experience. Let me tell you more about the options you can choose from.

1. Two-hour morning cruise with jazz on board

Jazz on board| ©Chris Bair
Jazz on board| ©Chris Bair

This is an experience aboard one of the most popular boats in New Orleans, to cruise the Mississippi in the morning hours and see the bustling port of New Orleans from a different point of view.

The boat is a steamboat and paddlewheeler, which makes this New Orleans cruise a more than traditional and fun experience. On board you will listen to jazz symphonies produced by the organ, while listening to the captain's narration and hearing a bit of New Orleans history. You will enjoy a Creole lunch of your choice.

Details of interest

  • Price: The approximate price per person for this experience can be 35 euros.
  • Duration: The duration of the tour from the time you get on the boat until you get off can be about two hours approximately.
  • Means of transportation: To get to the port and get on board you must go on your own, then the rest of the tour is done aboard the steamboat.
  • Advantages of this tour: City taxes are included. You can enjoy live music and narration on board. You could also try a Creole lunch if you include it in the tour. It is wheelchair friendly, although not all of it.
  • Disadvantages of this tour: There are prices for children only if they do not occupy a seat inside the boat.

Book your two-hour morning cruise with jazz included

2. Historic cruise down the Mississippi with optional lunch

Lunch on board| ©Reynier Carl
Lunch on board| ©Reynier Carl

A journey back in time to learn about the history of one of the most famous battles of the Anglo-American War, which was precisely the Battle of New Orleans. During this historical cruise you will have the opportunity to learn in detail what happened during this last battle of 1815.

While having this historical and storytelling experience, you will also be able to taste different flavors of the local cuisine and see the activity of the port of New Orleans, as well as relax during the leisurely steamboat ride.

Details of interest

  • Price: This steamboat cruise can be had for approximately 39 euros per person.
  • Duration: It will take you about two and a half hours to do the whole tour.
  • Means of transportation: To get to the port and board the boat, you will have to get around on your own, and my recommendation is that you do it walking. Once you board the boat, the tour is done on board.
  • Advantages of this tour: One of the best advantages of this tour is that the guide will always be available to answer all the questions you have for him. A guided tour of the Chalmette battlefield is included in the price. This tour is conducted by the park rangers who are on site. A buffet lunch of Creole food is included if you choose this option.
  • Disadvantages of this tour: This tour may be cancelled if there is bad weather or conditions are not favorable for the boat to sail. Schedules may also be changed unexpectedly due to unforeseen weather changes in the locality. Transportation to and from the boat boarding location is not included. Drinks are not included in the price of the boat trip.

3. Sunset cruise with optional dinner and musical ambiance

Sunset on deck| ©Scott May
Sunset on deck| ©Scott May

For two hours you can cruise the tranquil waters of the Mississippi River while enjoying a delicious dinner and live jazz music on the ship. This tour is usually taken on the Natchez Steamboat.

This is one of those boat tours that you can not miss in your itinerary of what to see and do in New Orleans in 3 days, and its route takes you to know the landscape around you and of course inside the boat, giving you access to the four decks with spectacular views, including the top deck where you can eat dinner.

Details of interest

  • Price: The price is per person and you can get a place on the boat for an approximate price of 44 euros.
  • Duration: This tour has an approximate duration of 2 to 3 hours.
  • Means of transportation: You must arrive on your own at the port, and then board the boat that will take you on the river tour. The best option to reach the place is on foot, taking into account that the port is really close to all the hotels in the area.
  • Advantages of this tour: Live entertainment by well-known bands is included. Also included is the live jazz concert on board. If you want to choose the dinner option you can do it with previous notice. Tickets to Steamboat Natchez and Gray Line New Orleans are included in the price. It is wheelchair friendly in most areas. Baby carriages and assistance animals are allowed.
  • Disadvantages of this tour: Not in all cases the boat is wheelchair accessible because many spaces are often very narrow. Prices for children only apply if the child does not occupy a seat on the boat.

Book your dinner and jazz cruise on the Mississippi River

4. Two-hour luxury yacht cruise on the Pontchartrain

Luxury Yacht| ©Danilo Capece
Luxury Yacht| ©Danilo Capece

This is a completely private and luxurious experience around Lake Pontchartrain, aboard a luxurious yacht with all the amenities for a wonderful evening. It is an experience that you can live both during the day and at sunset to enjoy the sunset. I recommend the latter as an activity to see and do in New Orleans at night.

This is a VIP tour that also includes the driving of an experienced captain who will take you around the place in the safest way. Inside the boat you will be able to enjoy some snacks and refreshing drinks of your choice.

Details of interest

  • Price: To live this experience you will have to pay around 200 euros per person.
  • Duration: This tour has an approximate duration of two hours from the time it starts until you dock the yacht back.
  • Means of transportation: To get to the place of embarkation you will have to move on your own, once you set sail the tour is completed aboard the yacht.
  • Advantages of this tour: You will have an experienced captain at the helm. You will have access to complimentary local beer and white wine. Also included in the price are other packaged snacks that may vary according to the occasion.
  • Disadvantages of this tour: Pets and assistance animals are not allowed. This is an experience that requires good weather and may be cancelled if there are unfavorable weather changes.

5. Dinner cruise on a steamboat and private tour of the ship and its engine room

Steamboat| ©Aykut Aktas
Steamboat| ©Aykut Aktas

This is a VIP plan that you definitely can't pass up. It is a luxurious steamboat tour where you will have the opportunity not only to see the inside of the ship, but also the engine room and share with the first mate.

It is a premium cruise where you will be greeted with champagne to start the evening. After the tour of the interior of the ship you will be able to sit at the place arranged for you, listen to live jazz and taste a buffet dinner of different dishes of the local cuisine.

Details of interest

  • Price: This experience has an approximate cost of 142 euros per person.
  • Duration: It is a short two-hour tour, which will be enough for a great evening.
  • Means of transportation: To board the boat you will have to get there on your own, and you can even do it walking, given the proximity of the hotels to the port. After boarding, the tour will be by boat.
  • Advantages of this tour: It is a private tour with all the amenities to be considered premium. It includes dinner and live jazz that you will hear throughout the evening. It also includes the boat tour and narration by the first mate. It is partially wheelchair friendly. Strollers are welcome and it is suitable for all ages.
  • Disadvantages of this tour: On some decks the ship is not wheelchair accessible.

Book your VIP tour of the Natchez ship and engine room

6. Cajun Country Day Boat Experience: Plantations and Swamps

Crocodile the Swamp| ©chris ipadzwo
Crocodile the Swamp| ©chris ipadzwo

If there's one boat experience you definitely have to do when you visit New Orleans, it's to sign up for one of the best plantation and swamp tours along the banks of the Mississippi. On this experience you will get to see the mansions and plantations that have been here since before the Civil War.

It is also an incredibly interesting experience if you are a lover of nature and animal life, as you will be able to see the lifestyle of species that inhabit these muddy swamps of the Mississippi's branches. In addition to this, you will taste the real Cajun food, it is a tour without waste.

Details of interest

  • Price: You can find this one-day experience for approximately 220 euros per person.
  • Duration: This full day tour has a duration of 9 hours.
  • Means of transportation: From the pick up at the hotel to the place where you will embark the hydrofoil, the transportation will be in a bus conditioned for the trip. After that, the tour will be done by hydrofoil.
  • Advantages of this tour: You will be able to see the most significant plantations of New Orleans, you will also be able to see the common fauna in the swamps of the area and you will taste the authentic Cajun food. Assistance animals are allowed with prior notice. Child seats are available. This tour operates in all weather conditions.
  • Disadvantages of this tour: Pregnant women and people with back problems, as well as children under 5 years old are not eligible for the airboat experience.

Book your day tour in Cajun Country

How to book a boat tour in New Orleans?

Cruise tour| ©Ben O'bro
Cruise tour| ©Ben O'bro

To book a boat tour from New Orleans, the first thing you need to know is whether you want to take part in one of the best tours of the New Orleans bayous, or if you prefer a more leisurely tour of the river areas of this city.

You have the possibility to choose between steamboats, luxury yachts, boats and hydrofoils, each of them aiming to introduce you to different landscapes and promising to make you live different experiences. In both cases you have the option to choose group or private tours.

To make a reservation, you need to be aware of the reservation and cancellation policies, whether the tour may be cancelled due to bad weather or other similar factors.

Once you have ascertained the necessary information before making the reservation, you must be sure to provide all your details and those of the people who will participate with you, as well as the limitations of each one, if they have any.

It is necessary that you take into account all possible reasons why you or your companions could not participate in the experience, to avoid booking and then canceling due to personal limitations.

Duration of the boat tours in New Orleans

Bayous| ©CTGTravelLLC,
Bayous| ©CTGTravelLLC,

The duration of this type of tour depends on the amount of bayous and bayous you will visit during your tour, but generally it is an excursion that does not exceed three hours of travel time.

These types of experiences are designed to give you a fun tour of some of New Orleans' waterways and waterways, but in the case of some bayous tours, a visit to the plantations may be included, which makes the experience take even longer to complete.

In case you don't want to get on a boat to visit the swamps, but instead want a more leisurely steamboat tour on the Mississippi, the duration will depend on the type of tour you choose and the time of day you want to take the tour.

Generally the latter type of tour tends to last a little longer when done during the day. If it is a night tour, it will probably not exceed two hours on board. On weekends the duration of the steamboat ride is usually about four hours or a little more, enlivened with musical ambience.

For boat rides and private yacht rides, the tour is usually a little shorter but the stay on the boat is usually more personalized. The duration of the tour in this case can be from an hour and a half to two hours.

Tips for a boat trip in New Orleans

View from the cruise ship| ©Sheila Jellison
View from the cruise ship| ©Sheila Jellison
  • Dress in layers, since the weather in New Orleans tends to be very changeable, so you can be cold one moment, and hot the next.
  • Depending on the type of boat ride, you can wear closed-toe shoes or light shoes.
  • In the case of boat trips to see the marshes, I recommend that you protect your electronic devices such as your phone and camera from getting splashed with mud or water.
  • If you go on a steamboat or yacht trip on the Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain, I recommend wearing sunglasses to protect yourself from the wind as well.
  • If you are taking children with you, always remember to adjust their water protection gear as a precaution.

Why is it advisable to take a boat tour in New Orleans?

Night Cruise| ©Justin Wilkens
Night Cruise| ©Justin Wilkens

If you are inveterate for sailing and all similar practices then this activity is for you. I recommend you to take a boat tour on some of New Orleans' waterways to see all that these places have to offer.

From wildlife marshes to leisurely tours of New Orleans history, boating is definitely a must do if you are visiting the city.

The Mississippi leaves you with plenty of special places to take lots of pictures, while several of the boats, ships and yachts that make tours in this area will make you taste the flavors that stand out in the city 's gastronomy through its buffet service.

During these experiences on board you will also learn part of the history of the city of New Orleans told by captains and expert tour guides. These are simply must-see tours of the city.