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Steamboat Into Southern Culture: A Louisiana and Mississippi Voyage

Program Number: 20664RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/20/2013 - 3/2/2013;
Duration: 10 nights
Location: Louisiana/Mississippi
Price starting at: $3,863.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats
Meals: 28; 10 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

In enchanting New Orleans, aboard a grand steamboat and in towns along the Mississippi River, immerse yourself in the literature, traditions, music and flavors of the South. Discover the special places that inspired great American authors, gain insight during expert-led field trips and presentations, and enjoy nightly musical performances aboard the majestic American Queen.

Activity Particulars

Please note that this program may require embarking and disembarking from the ship up and down steep embankments. Assistance is available if needed in each port. The ability to stand for up to an hour during field trips may be required.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Arrival New Orleans, La., 3 nights; aboard American Queen, 7 nights.

Days 1-4: Arrival New Orleans, La. / embark American Queen:

Absorb the unique character of the Crescent City, from the historic Southern mansions of the Garden District to beautiful cemeteries with above-ground tombs and more. Learn about the the history and architecture of the city. Attend a jazz performance at Fritzel's on your own. Lodging: Comfortable full-service hotel downtown.

Day 5: Vacherie:

Explore the historic Oak Alley plantation, a National Historic Landmark most famous for its canopy of 300-year-old oak trees and Laura Plantation.

Day 6: St. Francisville:

Experience small-town life on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in St. Francisville, home to beautiful plantation homes and a bustling Main Street.

Day 7: Natchez, Miss.:

Learn about life in the antebellum south in Natchez and enjoy time with a Natchez Gospel Choir and learn more about the African American community in Natchez.

Day 8: Vicksburg:

Discover a unique blend of old and new in Vicksburg. A shore excursion includes Vicksburg National Military Park.

Day 9: Baton Rouge, La.:

Learn about the man who built the soaring Louisiana State Capitol, the bombastic Huey Long. Take a field trip to the Rural Life Museum. On your own you can visit the new State Capitol, Old Governors Mansion or the U.S.S. Kidd

Day 10: White Castle, La:

Venture to Nottoway Plantation House, a grand antebellum estate whose rooms are filled with period antiques and Louisiana artwork.

Day 11: New Orleans / disembark / departure

American Queen

The American Queen is the world’s largest river steamboat, a modern vessel with hardwood details, grand furnishings, comfortable amenities and luxurious staterooms. Public areas include the Mark Twain Gallery library, the Grand Saloon and a lounge. Wine and beer are complimentary with dinner.

Meals and Lodgings
   Holiday Inn
  New Orleans, Louisiana 3 nights
   American Queen
  New Orleans, Louisiana
Vacherie-Oak Alley
St. Francisville
Natchez, Mississippi
Baton Rouge
Houmas House
7 nights
 Holiday Inn
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 330 Loyola Road
New Orleans, LA 70112 USA
phone: 504-581-1600
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 American Queen
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The American Queen Featuring six decks and measuring 418 feet in length, the American Queen is the world’s largest river steamboat. Modern amenities meet classic river ambiance aboard the American Queen. The 222 staterooms and suites are filled with modern appointments and carefully selected furnishings. Finely crafted hardwood fixtures, grand furnishings and gleaming brass detail the ship’s interior. The gazebo-style pilothouse and towering “feathered” stacks are both designed to be lowered to allow passage under bridges. Each stateroom has private facilities and ample storage. Cabins differ in size, amenity and cost. Limited singles are available.
  Ship Information: See above description
  Contact info: Docked at River
New Orleans,, LA 70130 USA
phone: 206-292-9606
  Room amenities: Varies with category purchased AC is available throughout the ship
  Facility amenities: Laundry on board.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check in: Wednesday Feb 20 at 3:30pm If you arrive earlier you can check in if your room is available. Bellmen will store your luggage until your room is ready. Registration is at 3:45 pm You will be staying at Holiday Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Disembarkation occurs after boat docks at approximately 8:30amTransportation provided to airport by 10:30 am You will be staying at American Queen the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Boarding information will be mailed to participants
  Parking availability:
Parking available at Holiday Inn for $7 per night while on the boat.
To Start of Program
  Location:  New Orleans, Louisiana
  Nearest highway: I 10
  Nearest airport:  Louis Armstron International
  From End of Program
  Location:  Departure
Travel Details

Louis Armstrong Airport (Moisant Field-MSY)


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
New Orleans Airport Shuttle
phone: 866-596-2699 xTollFree


Per Person/One Way:


$20 per person one way
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 minutes 




15 miles


Shuttle will be outside of the baggage pickup area. Shuttle may make stops at several hotels before arriving at your hotel.


Louis Armstrong Airport (Moisant Field-MSY)


From Airport




multiple taxis


Per Person/One Way:


$30(approximately) for one or two people
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 minutes 




15 Miles


It is cheaper to take Taxi for 1-2 persons. $30 for 2 plus extra for 3rd and 4th person.


Union Passenger Terminal New Orleans


From Train Station




multiple taxis


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


5-10 minutes 




1 mile

Driving Directions
  Holiday Inn From East 1. Merge onto I-10 west. 2. Follow I-10 west and exit at Canal Street. 3. Turn right on Cleveland Street. 4. Go 7 blocks to the end of Cleveland Street. 5. Turn right on Elk Place. Holiday Inn is located 2 blocks on the left.
  Holiday Inn From West 1. Follow I-10 East 2. Merge onto U S90-W toward the Superdome(it will be on your left-looks like a space ship) 3. Take the Loyola Avenue exit-it will be on your right 4. Veer left as you exit-this will be Earhart Blvd. 5. From Earhart veer to the left onto Loyola Ave- go 3 blocks- you will be at Loyola and Poydras. 6. Cross Poydras and continue straight for 2 more blocks on Loyola-look for the giant clarinet on the side of the building-that will be the Holiday Inn. Turn right into the parking lot.
Elevation Note: Totally flat terrain

Equipment Requirements: No equipment required
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Orientation, dinner, lecture
(Wednesday, February 20)
 Afternoon: Orientation and Introductions begins at 4pm at Holiday Inn.
 Dinner: Dinner at Hotel this evening so you can meet your fellow travelers.
 Evening: Introduction to New Orleans -- "It's a New Orleans Thing"
Accommodations: Holiday Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Overview of city. Museums and Jazz
(Thursday, February 21)

Note: Enjoy real New Orleans Jazz at Preservation Hall.

 Breakfast: Huge breakfast Buffet at hotel
 Morning: Overview of City with instructor. View Lake Pontchartrain, walk in above ground cemetaries with instruction, see and learn about Bayou St. John. Ride down the famous St. Charles Avenue and walk in the Garden District to learn about many architectural styles.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Vouchers for Mardi Gras Museum, Cabildo Museum and Historic New Orleans Collection.
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant
 Evening: Private Jazz performance just for Road Scholar group
Accommodations: Holiday Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Museum of Art, Sculpture garden, Mardi Gras Indians
(Friday, February 22)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Visit the New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden
 Lunch: Lunch at the Golden Feather Restaurant and museum of Mardi Gras Indians.
 Afternoon: Expert led lecture on Black Culture in New Orleans and the Mardi Gras Indians
 Afternoon: Enjoy Cafe au Lait and Beignets
 Dinner: Dinner is on your own this evening so that you might enjoy a restaurant of your own choosing.
 Evening: Jazz performance at Preservation Hall
Accommodations: Holiday Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Steamboat lecture, Court of Two Sisters Brunch
(Saturday, February 23)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at hotel
 Morning: Expert lecture on "Paddlewheelers, Packets and Floating Palaces" by a former Riverboat Captain
 Lunch: Brunch at the famous Court of Two Sisters with a Jazz trio
 Afternoon: Time to use vouchers for museums and last minute visits in the French Quarter..
 Dinner: Dinner onboard the American Queen
 Evening: Evening performance and welcome onboard.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Oak Alley, Laura and Evergreen Plantations
(Sunday, February 24)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen
 Morning: Located in the Saint James Parish, Oak Alley is a much-photographed plantation that combines architectural splendor and the natural wonder of its 300-year-old oak trees. Spend time strolling beneath the canopy of these trees, and learn about the rich history and culture of this southern estate.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard the American Queen
 Afternoon: "The Mississippi River and the Making of a Nation" Enjoy the ralaxing beauty of the River as you roll along.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard the American Queen
 Evening: Enjoy great performances every evening. A special one on this cruise is "The Rat Pack"--you'll swear they are the real deal. Buffet each evening.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Audbon's home--Oakley in St. Francisville
(Monday, February 25)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard American Queen
 Morning: This quaint town of St. Francilville located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River is your window to the past. With over 140 buildings on the National Register, beautiful plantation homes nestled in the rolling countryside, and bustling Main Street shops, you'll find plenty to keep you on the go in St. Francisville. "John James Audubon--the man and his Milieu". Visit Oakley where Audubon lived and worked.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard the American Queen.
 Afternoon: Preparing for our visit to Natchez--"Four 20th Century views of the Plantation Regime"
 Dinner: Dinner onboard the American Queen
 Evening: Evening show followed by buffet--late music each night in the lounge.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Natchez plantations, Gospel choir
(Tuesday, February 26)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onbard the American Queen
 Morning: "Plantation Architecture-- Rural and Urban Expression". Visit Longwood Plantation- a unique unfinished plantation as well as Stanton Hall and much more.
 Morning: Natchez Step into the plantation lifestyle of the antebellum south in Natchez, site of numerous restored mansions.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard the American Queen
 Afternoon: Enjoy time with a Natchez Gospel Choir and learn more about the African American community in Natchez.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the American Queen
 Evening: As always, more entertainment in New Orleans style and, of course, more food.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Vicksburg Battlefield and Cemetery
(Wednesday, February 27)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: Discover a unique blend of old and new in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Take in the diversity from Vicksburg National Military Park to the Waterways Experiment Station. Billed as the “Red Carpet City of the South,” Southern hospitality is alive and well and awaiting your arrival. "Flowing unvexed to the Sea" lecture preceding the visit to the Vicksburg National Military Park.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard the American Queen
 Afternoon: Preparing for our visit to Baton Rouge learn about "Huey Long: Messiah to the Rednecks"--your instructor is an expert on the subject.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the American Queen
 Evening: Entertainment followed by buffet
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Excursion in Baton Rouge, Rural Life Museum
(Thursday, February 28)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: The capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge is the center of all the great things the state has to offer—visitors delight in the seamless blend of past and present experiencing authentic Louisiana at every turn. With its semi-tropical climate, the outdoors is tempting and the attractions abound. No wonder this is one of the south's fastest growing cities. Visit the Louisiana State Capital where Huey Long was shot. Also visit the Louisiana State Museum.
 Lunch: Lunch onbard the American Queen
 Afternoon: Visit the Rural Life Museum and see the Louisiana State University campus.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard the American Queen.
 Evening: Entertainment in Grand Saloon
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Houmas House Plantation and Swamp tour
(Friday, March 1)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the ship.
 Morning: Houmas House Plantation and Gardens is so much more than just a tour of a grand antebellum estate. Experience the southern splendor of "The Sugar Palace" when you step into 16 rooms filled with period antiques and Louisiana artwork.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard American Queen
 Afternoon: Enjoy a swamp tour--alligators included!
 Dinner: Dinner onbard the American Queen
 Evening: Farewell Entertainment tonight
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Depart New Orleans
(Saturday, March 2)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen. Boat in port by 8:30 am. Return to the airport or to the Holiday Inn.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Streetcar Named Desire

Author: Tennessee Williams

Description: Widely considered a landmark play, A Streetcar Named Desire deals with a culture clash between two characters, Blanche DuBois, a relic of the Old South, and Stanley Kowalski, a rising member of the industrial, urban working class. American playwright Tennessee Williams received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948.

All the Kings Men

Author: Robert Penn Warren

Description: All the King's Men traces the rise and fall of demagogue Willie Stark, a fictional character loosely based on Governor Huey ""Kingfish"" Long of Louisiana. Stark begins his political career as an idealistic man of the people but soon becomes corrupted by success and caught between dreams of service and an insatiable lust for power.

Beyond the Bridges - Rediscovering America´s Waterways

Author: Jerry M. Hay

Description: Are you planning to go on your first river cruise on a steamboat? This is the book you have to read! You´re an experienced river cruiser? Read it! Author Jerry M. Hay has spent more than 40 years on the rivers. He travelled the whole Mississippi river in a canoe. He explored the Wabash and White rivers for publishing river guide books. Jerry tried out nearly every kind of watercraft. And he spent a couple of years as a river historian abord the paddlewheel steamboats Delta Queen, Mississippi Queen and American Queen. In this book Jerry does not only share his funny river stories we have listened to on the steamboats over and over always longing for more. Learn more about Gilligan Goose who became famous in a children´s book. Did you ever see a Boeing 727 in a river? What kind of important delivery did the John Deere tractor make during high water? The book also provides loads of valuable information about the history of travelling on the rivers from flatboats to modern towboats, about reading the rivers, about river navigation, about the anatomy of a river or about the language of the rivers. Jerry M. Hay´s favorite quote is, "I don´t make the same mistake twice. I´m too busy making new ones." This book is definitely not one of his mistakes but a wonderful resource of information combined with some of the most funniest river stories.

Confederacy of Dunces

Author: John Kennedy Toole

Description: A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel written by American novelist John Kennedy Toole, published by Louisiana State University Press in 1980, eleven years after the author's suicide. The book, published through the efforts of writer Walker Percy (who also contributed a revealing foreword) and Toole's mother Thelma Toole, quickly became a cult classic, and later a mainstream success. Toole posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. It is now considered a canonical work of modern Southern literature, in the USA. The title derives from the epigraph by Jonathan Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." The story is set in New Orleans in the early 1960s. The central character is Ignatius J. Reilly, an educated but slothful 30-year-old man still living with his mother in the city's Uptown neighborhood, who, due to an incident early in the book, must set out to get a job. In his quest for employment he has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters.

Creole New Orleans Race and Americanization

Author: Arthur Hirsch and John Logsdon

Description: This collection of six original essays explores the peculiar ethnic composition and history of New Orleans, which the authors persuasively argue is unique among American cities. The focus of Creole New Orleans is on the development of a colonial Franco-African culture in the city, the ways that culture was influenced by the arrival of later immigrants, and the processes that led to the eventual dominance of the Anglo-American community.

Life On The Mississippi

Author: Mark Twain

Description: An invaluable companion to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi is Mark Twain's inimitable portrait of 'the great Father of Waters'. Part memoir, part travelogue, it expresses the full range of Twain's literary personality, and remains the most vivid, boisterous and provocative account of the cultural and societal history of the Mississippi Valley, from 'the golden age' of steamboating to the violence wrought by the Civil War.

Rising Tide

Author: John Barry

Description: An American epic of science, politics, race, honor, high society, and the Mississippi River, Rising Tide tells the riveting and nearly forgotten story of the greatest natural disaster this country has ever known -- the Mississippi flood of 1927. The river inundated the homes of nearly one million people, helped elect Huey Long governor and made Herbert Hoover president, drove hundreds of thousands of blacks north, and transformed American society and politics forever.

Steamboating on the Upper Mississippi

Author: William J. Petersen

Description: William J. Petersons book is almost as comprehensive as the one above, but concentrating on the upper Mississippi. It is a doctoral dissertation about steamboats. The authors father was associated with the Diamond Jo Line Steamers in Dubuque, Iowa, so Peterson is familiar with steamboats business from boyhood days. Book was first published in 1937.

Tales of the Mississippi

Author: Ray Samuel, Leonard V. Huber, Warren C. Ogden

Description: This book contains a collection of tales of the Mississippi in 19 chapters and more than 300 illustrations and photographs. The authors tried to write something new about the Great River instead of a conventional history book. So you will find deeper information about the discoverer Hernando DeSoto and the legendary Mike Fink, what made the Rob´t E. Lee and the Natchez race, the river gambler George Devol known as the hardest head on the Mississippi or the answer to the question what made the Mississippi River once flew upstream and a lot more.

The Mississippi Steamboat Era in Historic Photographs

Author: Joan W. and Thomas H. Gandy

Description: Great if you are looking for old pictures - not only of steamboats but also from the steamboat era at all. I like this book very much because it gives you a great overview over this time history.

Upper Mississippi River History: Fact - Fiction -Legend

Author: Captain Ron A. Larson

Description: Captain Ron A.Larson´s book starts with the early French explorers. He covers the history of paddlewheel steamboats from the first one until the last remaining steamboats of today on the Mississippi River. The book provides a lot of information about the upper Mississippi River such as paddlewheel steamboats, railroad bridges, log rafts, wing dams, locks and dams of today, river navigation aids and river towns. Added are river pilot stories about names or landmarks along the upper Mississippi River. You will find more than 200 pictures and illustrations. Captain Ron A. Larson, U.S.M.M. Ret., was working on the upper Mississippi River on towboats between St. Louis and St. Paul with an occasional trip on most of the other navigable rivers. Now during retirement he still does part-time piloting on river excursion boats as the Mississippi Queen, the Delta Queen, the Valley Queen, the Mississippi Bell, the Jubilee and the Mark Twain.

Why New Orleans Matters

Author: Tom Piazza

Description: In the aftermath of Katrina and the disaster that followed, promises were made, forgotten, and renewed. Now what will become of New Orleans in the years ahead? What do this proud, battered city and its people mean to America and the world? Award-winning author and longtime New Orleans resident Tom Piazza illuminates the storied culture and uncertain future of this great and neglected American metropolis by evoking the sensuous rapture of the city that gave us jazz music and Creole cooking; examining its deep undercurrents of corruption, racism, and injustice; and explaining how its people endure and transcend those conditions. And, perhaps most important, he asks us all to consider the spirit of this place and all the things it has shared with the world: its grace and beauty, resilience and soul.

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