Steamboat Natchez: The Last Authentic Steamboat in New Orleans

Take a behind-the scenes look at the majestic Steamboat Natchez, and experience New Orleans hospitality at its best with a cruise down the Mighty Mississippi River.

No visit to The Big Easy is complete without a steamboat ride down the Mississippi River. So whether you’re in the area now or planning for next year’s Mardi Gras, you’ll want to experience a New Orleans riverboat cruise.

Built in 1975, the Steamboat Natchez, owned by The New Orleans Steamboat Company, is the last authentic steamboat on the Mississippi River. It’s currently under renovation, but you can still enjoy the same experience of a grand paddle wheeler on its sister vessel, Riverboat City of New Orleans. Revel in live Jazz, craft cocktails and local cuisine, all while getting beautiful views of the city.

And while we wait for the Steamboat Natchez to set sail again (be sure to check their website for updates), let’s take a look back at a behind-the-scenes video aboard the majestic Steamboat Natchez that was filmed prior to the pandemic. Join us for an amazing time as we cruise down the Mighty Mississippi River. Watch the video above, or read the full transcription below.

Steamboat Natchez
Steamboat Natchez, Photo Credit: Michelle Sigur

Aboard the Steamboat Natchez

Captain Villier, Steamboat Natchez Company (00:50) – Steamboat Natchez #9. So we do three trips a day here in the beautiful Port of New Orleans. The Natchez you’re here looking at today is the ninth Natchez. And she’s named after a tribe of Indians in Natchez, Mississippi. And she was designed just what she’s doing today, to run three trips a day to our cruises.

(01:15) – The Natchez has been doing this same ride up and down the Mississippi since 1975. One of two steamboats left on the inland waters of the United States, she’s a true steam sternwheeler.

(01:32) – The engines aboard the Natchez are actually older than the rest of the vessel. These old engines are 94 years old, that powers the Natchez paddle wheel. The Natchez paddle wheel weighs 33 tons. And it’s built out of white oak and steel.

Steamboat Natchez
Steamboat Natchez paddle wheel, Photo Credit: Michelle Sigur

(01:49) – That big paddle wheel back there is the only means of propulsion through the water. It’s turned by two big steam engines. These engines are horizontal piston-driven engines. That paddle wheel 100% pushes the Natchez through the Mississippi River.

(02:07) – We have no propellers on the Natchez, no props, just that big paddle wheel back there does it all. Underneath that paddle wheel, three big 17 foot rudders. They’re forward of the wheel. Those big rudders is what steers the Natchez up and down the Mississippi.

Steamboat Natchez Calliope
Steamboat Natchez Calliope

Steamboat Natchez Calliope

Debbie Fagnano, Calliope Player (02:34) – We are on the roof of the steamboat Natchez here in New Orleans. The Natchez is one of only a few steam powered vessels left in the United States today, and we are equipped with an authentic steam organ or steam piano, better known as a Calliope.

(03:24) – We play for 15 minutes before people board. And anyone within the French Quarter or within a mile or two can hear it and will come down to the river to see what’s going on.

Captain Villier (03:38) – Next time you’re in New Orleans, come see the Steamboat or one of our other trips.

New Orleans Steamboat Natchez

Two-Hour Jazz Cruises

Are you ready to take a steamboat cruise now and let the good times roll? Dinner Jazz on the Riverboat City of New Orleans includes the cruise, buffet dinner, and entertainment by the Dukes of Dixieland Jazz Band. And depending on your seating time, the decks, engine room, and bars will be open either before or after dinner.

Daily Jazz cruises run Monday – Saturday from 11:30am – 1:30pm. And a Jazz Brunch (or Cruise Only option) is available. This two-hour cruise includes narration, live music, and a delicious brunch with themed cocktails.

Steamboat Natchez
Steamboat Natchez night view, Photo Credit: Tania Krenkel

When you take a two-hour cruise from the heart of the French Quarter, you will see for yourself why New Orleans was founded on the beautiful crescent of the lower Mississippi River.

Cruise tickets are available at the Lighthouse Ticket Office, located behind Jax Brewery in the French Quarter, online or by calling 504-569-1401. Hours of operation are 9am – 7pm.