The Mississippi River is the country's most iconic. It twists its way from Northern Minnesota to New Orleans through the heartland, growing considerably wider and appering browner the farther south you go.

Because it is so long the Mississippi River is usually divided into three parts. Each segment typically takes a week or you can combine them for a three-week cruise. The scenery along the river is generally prettier and the wildlife more prevalent the farther north you are on the river. All segments can be done in either direction.

Keep in mind that sailing against the current slows the boat and generally means fewer ports or less time in port, but you'll have more time to relax on board.

Lower Mississippi - New Orleans to Memphis

A week-long sailing, which can run in either direction, this stretch of the river can include port stops like Oak Alley and Nottoway plantations, Baton Rouge and St. Francisville in Louisiana; Natchez, Vicksburg and Greenville in Mississippi; and Helena, Arkansas. The occasional New Orleans round trip cruise, which can run from five to seven days, typically visits the same ports, minus Memphis.

Middle Mississippi - Memphis to St. Louis

Also week-long itineraries that can run in either direction, these sailings typically feature stops at New Madrid and Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Paducah, Kentucky; and Chester, Illinois. Memphis to St. Louis sailings feature more scenic sailing and fewer port stops than other Mississippi itineraries, and, as such, fewer of these itineraries are offered.

Upper Mississippi - St. Louis to St. Paul

Considered the most scenic stretch of Mississippi, these week-long sailings stop at ports that include Hannibal, Missouri; Davenport, Clinton and Dubuque, Iowa; La Crosse, Wisconsin; and Red Wing, Minnesota. You might also find the occasional St. Louis round trip or St. Paul round trip sailing, each of which features an extra stop in either Illinois, Minnesota or Wisconsin.

Mississippi bridgeMississippi bridgeMississippi bridge