The First California River Cruise in Decades Sets Sail Next Month — and Includes 2 Days in Napa

It's wine o'clock somewhere.

You might've done Napa by rental car, bus tour, or perhaps even train, but have you done it by river cruise?

American River Cruise Song Ship exterior going down scenic river way

Courtesy of American Cruise Lines

It's unlikely, because river cruises are a rarity in California, an unfortunate result of limited waterways and intermittent droughts. In fact, according to American Cruise Lines, there haven't been any river cruises in California in 80 years. But that all changes next month.

Lounge chairs on sundeck of American River Cruise line on a sunny day

Courtesy of American Cruise Lines

The cruise line is operating its first-ever California river cruise out of San Francisco, exploring the San Francisco Bay, Napa, the Sacramento River, and the San Joaquin River over an eight-day itinerary. Excursion highlights include a visit to the Haggin Museum in Stockton, a honey tasting in Sacramento, and, of course, plenty of wine tastings throughout Napa.

"American Cruise Lines has had San Francisco and wine country in mind for many years," Charles B. Robertson, president and CEO of American Cruise Lines, told Travel + Leisure. "The California Delta is one of the most beautiful areas in the U.S. to explore by riverboat. Many have visited wine country, but few can say they have cruised it. "

Veranda Stateroom in biege and blue decor onboard American River Cruise line

Courtesy of American Cruise Lines

To sail this itinerary, American Cruise Lines is currently repositioning its ship American Jazz from the Mississippi River, sailing it through the Panama Canal and up the west coast of Central and North America. The new ship, which was inaugurated in 2021, can accommodate 99 passengers in all-balcony accommodations.

American River Cruise Harmony Ship docked in scenic mountain landscape during summer

Courtesy of American Cruise Lines

"American has doubled our fleet in the past few years, and with 17 small ships and riverboats exploring the country this year, we have been able to create more new itineraries and operate in more new regions of the country than ever before," Robertson said. American Cruise Lines now operates in 35 states.

The first California sailing on American Jazz departs on Feb. 24, with additional departures throughout the spring. After a brief summer break, the sailings will resume in the fall. Rates for an eight-day San Francisco Bay and California river cruise start at $5,990 per person, and you can book here.

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