A riverboat is a specialized watercraft (vessel) intended for operating on inland waterways. While a ferryboat is often used to cross a river, a riverboat is used to traverse it, while carrying passengers as well as goods for returns.
Rivers present particular hazards to vessels. They usually have varying water flows that alternately direct to high speed water flows or protruding rock hazards. Changing siltation patterns may cause the rapid manifestation of shoal waters, and often floating or sunken logs and trees (called snags) can endanger the hulls and propulsion of riverboats. Riverboats are usually of thin draft, being wide of beam and rather square in plan, with a short freeboard and high topsides. Riverboats can continue to exist with this type of design as they do not have to survive the high winds or large waves that are seen on large lakes, seas or oceans.
In most nations, riverboats are for tourist attraction. In a few countries, such as China, riverboats offer authentic traveler and consignment transport — something a traveler (as opposed to a tourist) would think about for transport.