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Steamboat Into Southern Culture: A Louisiana and Mississippi Voyage

Program Number: 20664RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/13/2013 - 11/23/2013; 2/25/2015 - 3/7/2015; 3/4/2015 - 3/14/2015;
Duration: 10 nights
Location: Louisiana/Mississippi
Price starting at: $3,963.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats
Meals: 27; 9 Breakfasts, 1 Brunch, 8 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. Find the places that inspired William Faulkner, Harper Lee and Mark Twain. Providing the onboard soundtrack are the New Orleans Jazz All-Stars, musical masters with a strong understanding of jazz history.

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 Mardi Gras Indians. 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.:

Take a field trip to the soaring Louisiana State Capitol Building and learn about the man who built it, the bombastic Huey Long, or visit the Old 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 largest steamboat ever built, the American Queen is a recreation of a classic Mississippi riverboat featuring a steam-powered paddlewheel, lacy filigree and, inside, glistening woodwork and antiques. 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 Hair dryers are available in all cabins
  Facility amenities: Laundry on board.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Upon arrival take a taxi to hotel-you will be reimbursed when program begins. Hotel check in on November 13 is 3:30pm. Registration is at 3:45pm followed by orientation. You will be staying at Holiday Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Disembarkation occurs after boat docks at approximately 8:30am Arrive at airport by 10:30 am You will be staying at American Queen the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety 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




multiple taxis


Per Person/One Way:


$33 for one or two passengers-$14 for passenger for 3 or more
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 minutes 




15 Miles


Driving Directions
  From the East Take I-10 to Canal St. exit. Take a right on Canal and then a right on Loyola Ave. The hotel is 2 blocks up on the left.
  From the West I-10 E to Loyola Avenue exit. Go 6 blocks and the hotel is on your right.
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, music performance
(Wednesday, November 13)
 Afternoon: Registration is at 3:45pm followed by orientation at hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at Hotel this evening so you can meet your fellow travelers.
 Evening: Music performance at hotel
Accommodations: Holiday Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Overview of city. Museums and Jazz
(Thursday, November 14)

Note: Enjoy real New Orleans Jazz at Preservation Hall.

 Breakfast: 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.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Ride down the famous St. Charles Avenue and walk in the Garden District to learn about many architectural styles.
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant
 Evening: Expert lecture on "Paddlewheelers, Packets and Floating Palaces" by a former Riverboat Captain
Accommodations: Holiday Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture garden. Mardi Gras Indians
(Friday, November 15)

Note: Short walk in garden. Some standing in museum.

 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.Vouchers for Presbytere Museum, Cabildo Museum.
 Dinner: Dinner is on your own this evening so that you might enjoy a restaurant of your own choosing.
 Evening: Voucher for Jazz Performances at Preservation Hall and Fritzel's Jazz Club to be used at your leisure on your own.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Brunch at historic Court of Two Sisters
(Saturday, November 16)
 Morning: Preparing to leave hotel
 Brunch: Jazz Brunch at historic Court of Two Sisters in the French Quarter with
 Afternoon: Time to use vouchers for museums and last minute visits in the French Quarter..
 Afternoon: Board American Queen
 Dinner: Dinner onboard the American Queen
 Evening: Evening performance and welcome onboard.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Brunch, Dinner

Day 5: Oak Alley, Laura and Evergreen Plantations, Lecture
(Sunday, November 17)

Note: Some walking and standing at Plantations

 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.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Audubon's home at Oakley Plantation, Lecture
(Monday, November 18)
 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. Music each night in the lounge.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Natchez Plantations and Gospel Choir, Lecture
(Tuesday, November 19)
 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 in Natchez.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the American Queen
 Evening: As always, more entertainment
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Vicksburg Battlefield and Cemetery, Lecture
(Wednesday, November 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: Discover a unique blend of old and new in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg National Military Park . Lecture: "Flowing unvexed to the Sea" preceding the visit to the Vicksburg National Military Park.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard the American Queen
 Afternoon: Visit downtown Vicksburg, billed as the “Red Carpet City of the South,” Southern hospitality is alive and well and awaiting your arrival.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the American Queen
 Evening: Entertainment
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Excursion in Baton Rouge, LA state Museums and Rural Life Museum,Lecture
(Thursday, November 21)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: Lecture: "Huey Long: Messiah to the Rednecks", your instructor is an expert on the subject. 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. Also visit the Louisiana State Museum.
 Lunch: Lunch onbard the American Queen
 Afternoon: Visit the Rural Life Museum.
 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 a Swamp tour, Lecture
(Friday, November 22)
 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-wildlife included. Lecture: "Carnival in New Orleans"
 Dinner: Dinner onbard the American Queen
 Evening: Farewell Entertainment tonight
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Depart from New Orleans
(Saturday, November 23)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen. Depart boat at 9am. Return to the airport at 10:30am 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.

A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley House (The Hill Collection: Holdings of the Lsu Libraries)

Author: Danny Heitman

Description: As the summer of 1821 began, John James Audubon's ambition to create a comprehensive pictorial record of American birds was still largely a dream. Then, out of economic necessity, Audubon came to Oakley Plantation, a sprawling estate in Louisiana's West Feliciana Parish. Teeming with an abundance of birds, the woods of Oakley galvanized Audubon's sense of possibility for one of the most audacious undertakings in the annals of art. In A Summer of Birds, journalist and essayist Danny Heitman sorts through the facts and romance of Audubon's summer at Oakley, a season that clearly shaped the destiny of the world's most famous bird artist. Heitman draws from a rich variety of sources--including Audubon's own extensive journals, more recent Audubon scholarship, and Robert Penn Warren's poetry--to create a stimulating excursion across time, linking the historical man Audubon to the present-day civic and cultural icon. He considers the financial straits that led to Audubon's employment at Oakley as a private tutor to fifteen-year-old Eliza Pirrie, Audubon's family history, his flamboyance as a master of self-invention, his naturalist and artistic techniques, and the possible reasons for his dismissal. Illustrations include photographs of Oakley House--now a state historic site--Audubon's paintings from his Oakley period, and portraits of the Pirrie family members.

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.

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.

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