The Mississippi is the largest river system in North America, approximately 2,320 miles (3,730 km) ranking fourth longest and tenth largest in the world. At its widest point, the Mississippi River stretches out over 7 miles (11 km) in width. Flowing entirely in the United States, it rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards to the Mississippi river delta in the Gulf of Mexico, The Mississippi consists of some 50 rivers and tributaries.
The Mississippi River has had strong historical significance in the USA from Native American tribes through to European explorers, the American Civil War, the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and its modern commercial uses. The first bridge built across the Mississippi River was in 1855 with the first railroad bridge finished a year later in 1856.
The Lower Mississippi River is an incredible waterway with huge sweeping bends, giant islands and endless miles of sandy beaches where everything is big, including the towns. New Orleans is the main embarkation port and terminus for most Lower Mississippi River cruises. By contrast, the Upper Mississippi is much older, featuring various natural and artificial lakes. Towns along the upper Mississippi River are easy to access from a boat and most embrace their river heritage. A Mississippi cruise is a journey to the heart and soul of America, stepping back to a time when life moved a little slower and riverboats slowly churned the waters.