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Treasures of the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast

Program Number: 21074RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/28/2013 - 4/8/2013;
Duration: 11 nights
Location: Louisiana/Florida/Alabama/Mississippi
Price starting at: $5,230.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Small Ship Cruising Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 32; 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Gluten Free; Low Salt; Vegetarian; Low Fat    

On this voyage along the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River, explores the magnificent old plantations, charming cities, and natural beauty of the American South.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day; some uneven and hilly terrain. Small boats used for disembarkation and re-embarkation.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

New Orleans, La., 1 night; aboard Yorktown, 10 nights.

Days 1-3: Arrival New Orleans, La. / embark Yorktown:

Experience colorful New Orleans on city excursions led by local experts. Admire the old architecture that lines the French Quarter’s narrow streets and passageways. Enjoy some free time to explore on your own. Lodging: Comfortable hotel.

Day 4: Laura and Oak Alley Plantations:

From New Orleans, explore the slave cabins of Laura Plantation then continue to Oak Alley Plantation with its canopy of live oaks leading from the Mississippi to the front door.

Days 5-7: At Sea / Mobile Ala.:

Visit two of Mobile’s grand antebellum homes: Bragg-Mitchell Mansion and the Bellingrath Gardens and Home, beautifully set along the Fowl River.

Day 8: Pensacola, Fla.:

Discover the “City of Five Flags,” so called because it has been governed by Spain, France, England, the Confederacy and the U.S.

Day 9: Port St. Joe, Fla.:

Explore the wildlife on nearby St. Vincent Island, home to red wolves, sea turtles, and peregrine falcons.

Days 10-12: At sea / Tampa, Fla. / disembark / departure:

Ybor City is one of Tampa's most vibrant and historic neighborhoods. Discover this neighborhood's gems and then continue on a guided excursion of Tampa's highlights.


Built and registered in America and staffed by American officers and crew, the Yorktown is the perfect vessel for exploring America’s great coastal waterways. With a draft of only nine feet, it can sail where larger vessels cannot go, and its American registry allows it to operate domestic itineraries unavailable to foreign-flag ships. Passengers enjoy an informal onboard atmosphere and tend to spend much of their time underway enjoying lectures and concerts in the lounge or reading and relaxing on the sun deck.

Meals and Lodgings
   Hilton New Orleans Riverside
  New Orleans 1 night
  Aboard Yorktown 10 nights
 Hilton New Orleans Riverside
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Hilton New Orleans Riverside hotel is in downtown New Orleans. Enjoy a prime location on the banks of the Mississippi, adjacent to New Orleans Convention Center and steps from the business district. This hotel is located only four short blocks from the city’s colorful French Quarter.
  Contact info: 2 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70130 USA
phone: 504-561-0500
  Room amenities: Each room includes a television, air conditioning, telephone, coffee and tea making facilities, hair dryer, personal safe, iron with ironing board, complimentary newspaper, and Internet access (wired and wireless) for a fee.
  Facility amenities: This downtown New Orleans hotel offers 90,000 sq. ft. of full-service health and fitness facilities including exercise classes, and indoor tennis, squash and racquetball courts. There are also two outdoor swimming pools, a Jacuzzi, a bar, a restaurant, cafe, and small marketplace selling snacks, quick meals, local specialties, and souvenirs. There is complimentary wireless Internet access in the cafe and hotel lobby.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: N/A Please contact Road Scholar in Amherst, MA if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights 413-253-9736.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The Yorktown is the perfect vessel for relaxed and convivial exploration of America’s great coastal waterways. Built in Florida in 1988 specifically for coastal cruising and certified by the U. S. Coast Guard, the Yorktown flies the American flag and is staffed by friendly and experienced American officers and crew. With a draft of only 9 feet, the Yorktown is able to maneuver in secluded waterways and visit small ports that are inaccessible to larger vessels. And Yorktown’s American registry makes it possible to operate domestic itineraries unavailable to foreign-flag ships. The ship’s cuisine, served in a dining room large enough to accommodate all guests at once, emphasizes American regional culinary traditions. Accommodating only 130 guests in 65 exterior cabins, the Yorktown enjoys an atmosphere of warm and relaxed informality that endears it to repeat and new guests alike.
  Ship Information: Length: 257 feet Beam: 43 feet Draft: 8 feet Cabins: 69 Flag: American
  Contact info: Travel Dynamics International
132 East 70th Street
New York, NY 10021 USA
phone: 800-257-5767
  Room amenities: Most cabins have large picture windows, and each is furnished with comfortable beds, a writing desk, ample storage, a clock/radio/CD player, and has a private bathroom. Your cabin is the perfect place for peace and quiet and for private rest and reflection.
  Facility amenities: The ship offers a dining room, spacious observation lounge, large sun deck, library, and swimming platform. Both the lounge and dining room are surrounded by large picture windows that afford unobstructed views of the passing scenery. The water aboard ship is safe to drink, and bottled water will be provided on group excursions. Cash (USD) and credit cards are the preferred forms of payment aboard ship. For telephone communication onboard, you may use the ship's Maritime service satellite system which will be charged to a credit card. Email access on board: Internet-ready laptop computers will be available for use on board from which personal emails can be received and sent by accessing your own web-based email account. A fee will be charged for each 30 minutes of use. There is also wireless Internet access available for a fee.
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
New Orleans, LA. Welcome Orientation at 5:30 PM in the Bridge Room at the hotel. You will be staying at Hilton New Orleans Riverside that night.
  End of Program:
New Orleans, LA. After breakfast on the last day. You will be staying at Yorktown the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. The TDI Traveler Information Form is required. All participants are required to have a government issued ID (driver's license, passport, etc.) in order to embark the Yorktown.
  Parking availability:
The program begins and ends in New Orleans. No parking will be available.
To Start of Program
  Location:  New Orleans
  From End of Program
  Location:  Departure
Travel Details

From New Orleans International Airport (Moisant Field) to the New Orleans Riverside Hotel


From Airport






Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


25 minutes 




13 miles


For participants NOT taking the group transfer.

Driving Directions
  From the East to the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Follow Interstate-10 Downtown/West, exiting at Canal St./Superdome. Follow signage to Superdome/Poydras St., turning left onto Poydras St. Follow Poydras St. south to its end at the hotel's front circle drive entrance.
  From the West to the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Follow Interstate-10 to Downtown/East/Slidell, exiting at Poydras St. Off-ramp becomes Poydras St., following Poydras south to its end at the hotel's front circle drive entrance.
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: Welcome Orientation
(Thursday, March 28)
 Arrive To: Arrive in New Orleans and transfer to the hotel. Welcome Orientation at 5:30 PM with the Group Leader in the Bridge Room at the hotel.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hilton New Orleans Riverside
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: New Orleans, Louisiana / Embark Yorktown
(Friday, March 29)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the Bridge Room.
 Morning: Take in a lecture by a local Jazz Historian.
 Lunch: Welcome to the Fun, Food, & Folklore of the New Orleans School of Cooking! The entertaining classes and the Louisiana General Store are located in a renovated molasses warehouse built in the early 1800s in the Heart of the French Quarter. The chefs specialize in Creole/Cajun food and will teach us the culture of food as well as show us how it is prepared. We will even get the recipes to try out at home and will have some time to shop for those traditional ingredients in the store after our lunch.
 Afternoon: The Garden District, or the 'City of Lafayette', as it was once known, is just a 10 minute streetcar ride from the French Quarter, but it feels like a world apart. Excluded from early 19th Century Creole society, newly arrived Yankees got to work creating their own city. The result is one of New Orleans's most desired neighborhoods and one of the nation's most beautifully preserved city districts known for its marvelous examples of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture. This area is a National Historic Landmark, developed between 1832 and 1900. The 19th century origins of the Garden District illustrate wealthy newcomers building opulent structures based upon the prosperity of New Orleans in that era. Transfer to the Yorktown for 4:00 PM embarkation. Welcome and orientation to the ship.
 Dinner: Welcome Dinner onboard and Road Scholar Champagne toast.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: New Orleans, Louisiana
(Saturday, March 30)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Spend the morning on a walking excursion of New Orleans’ French Quarter, or Vieux Carré, the 80-block area that is the geographical and spiritual heart of the city. Admire the old architecture that lines the Quarter’s narrow streets and passageways.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: At sea. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Mobile, Alabama
(Sunday, March 31)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: At sea. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: Sailing the spacious Mobile Bay, Yorktown will dock in the graceful city of Mobile. Explore Mobile’s historic landmarks and sites, which include Fort Condé, originally built in 1711, the Condé-Charlotte Museum, the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, one of the city’s finest antebellum homes. On an optional excursion, you may also wish to explore the Bellingrath Gardens, beautifully set along the Fowl River.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture about the history of Mardi Gras in Mobile, AL. See a replica of the King of the Carnival costume.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Pensacola, Florida
(Monday, April 1)

Note: The excursion to the Pensacola lighthouse includes 177 steps. Please allow for 30 minutes of steady climbing.

 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Depart by bus for a panoramic tour of Pensacola followed by free time to explore the 19th-century buildings of historic Pensacola Village, where costumed interpreters provide insights into the history of the buildings and people of Pensacola. This is a living museum, featuring the European influences that have informed Pensacola’s culture, architecture and history for more than 450 years since the founding of the original Spanish colony in 1559.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, explore the National Naval Aviation Museum for an excursion by retired military volunteers of more than 150 restored aircraft and over 4,000 artifacts. Continue to Fort San Carlos de Barrancas; situated on a bluff and commanding spectacular views of the bay, it is one of a system of forts built in the 16th and 17th centuries to protect the highly valued anchorage at Pensacola. Passengers who wish may visit the Pensacola Lighthouse to climb the 177 steps to the top for panoramic views of the city and the sea. Alternatively, explore Fort Pickens, the largest of four forts built to guard Pensacola Bay and one of the few forts in the south held by the Union throughout the Civil War. The fort is situated at the tip of Santa Rosa Island and maintained by the National Park Service as part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Stop at the one of the pristine beaches before returning to the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard Jazz performance.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: At sea.
(Tuesday, April 2)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: At sea. Attend a shipboard guest lecture. Enjoy the views from the spacious sun deck.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: At sea. Attend a shipboard guest lecture. Trade stories with fellow passengers over afternoon tea.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Laura Plantation / Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana
(Wednesday, April 3)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Arrive at Oak Alley Plantation, with its breathtaking one-quarter-mile canopy of live oaks that lead from the Mississippi to the entrance of the elaborate Greek-Revival mansion.
 Lunch: Enjoy a traditional Louisiana meal at the Oak Alley Plantation.
 Afternoon: After lunch, discover the Laura Plantation. Explore the home and grounds of this unique plantation through the memoirs of its last owner, Laura Locoul Gore. The site offers a large collection of family artifacts including clothing, toiletries, Mardi Gras and mourning heirlooms, and twelve buildings listed on the National Register. Re-board the Yorktown and sail in the late afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard Jazz performance.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Baton Rouge / St. Francisville, Louisiana
(Thursday, April 4)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Disembark and drive to St. Francisville, the 19th-century capital city of the Republic of West Florida. Explore two of the most spectacular examples of the city’s antebellum plantations, Rosedown and the Audubon State Historic Oakley House.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: Return to Baton Rouge for a field trip to the Old State Capital. Now a museum, the 160 year old statehouse, built in a gothic style, is dedicated to the often raucous political history of Louisiana.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Natchez, Mississippi
(Friday, April 5)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Situated on a strategic bluff above the river, Natchez is one of the oldest cities on the Mississippi. Depart in the morning for an excursion of the stately plantation homes of Rosalie and Melrose House and a guided walk through the historic district to view the Governor Holmes House.
 Lunch: Late lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: Enjoy some free time to explore Natchez on your own.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture and a Jazz performance as the ship makes its way to Vicksburg.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Vicksburg, Mississippi
(Saturday, April 6)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: As Yorktown continues along the Mississippi, we will explore historic Vicksburg. Its position on a bend in the Mississippi River made Vicksburg a bustling trade port and a prime target during the Civil War. This morning, explore the Vicksburg National Military Park and see the USS Cairo, the first of the City class ironclad gunboats from the Civil War. Take your time in the Vicksburg National Cemetery.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: Enjoy some free time and a walk in historic Vicksburg.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: At sea.
(Sunday, April 7)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: At sea. Enjoy a relaxing day on the Mississippi. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard
 Afternoon: At sea. Attend a shipboard guest lecture and an onboard Jazz performance.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard.
Accommodations: Yorktown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: New Orleans, Louisiana / Disembarkation
(Monday, April 8)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard.
 Morning: Disembark in the morning for transfers to the airport.
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 Confederacy of Dunces

Author: John Kennedy Toole

Description: The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, drenched in New Orleans color and culture. Its sharp humor, combined with vivid local detail, makes it great reading for any visitor to New Orleans.


Author: Beverly Mount-Douds

Description: Once the third-largest port on the Gulf of Mexico, Apalachicola's historic homes and eras of industry (seafood, lumber, cotton, turpentine) come to life through restored photographs and historical anecdote in this volume in the Images of America series.

Bayou, Farewell

Author: Mike Tidwell

Description: Tidwell introduces us to the food and the language, the shrimp fisherman, the Houma Indians, and the rich cultural history that makes Louisian's Cajun Coast unlike any other place.

Deep South, Mississippi Valley, Gulf of Mexico Map

Author: Hallwag

Description: A map of the southern Mississippi Valley region.

Eyewitness Guide New Orleans

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: This thorough, gorgeously illustrated guidebook provides a terrific introduction to the city and its many highlights

Fabulous New Orleans

Author: Lyle Saxon

Description: First published in the 1920s, this charming book by local journalist and literary personality Lyle Saxon is a lovely, impressionistic chronicle of the city, its people and its culture.

Flash for Freedom

Author: George MacDonald Fraser

Description: In this fifth installment in the rollicking series, set largely in New Orleans, our self-serving, cowardly Victorian hero meets up with Abraham Lincoln (who saves his neck), runs a slave plantation, cheats at cards, escapes on a slave ship and helps out in Underground Railroad.

Jazz, A History of America's Music

Author: Geoffrey C. Ward, Ken Burns

Description: Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns vividly bring to life the story of the quintessential American music -- jazz. Born in the black community of turn-of-the-century New Orleans and quickly embraced in urban centers throughout the nation, jazz celebrates American individualism and creativity at its best.

Life on the Mississippi

Author: Mark Twain

Description: Twains return to the days of his youth spent on the Mississippi in this classic. Full of historical information, anecdotes, character sketches and fond memories, it's at once a romantic history of a mighty river and an autobiographical account of Twain's early steamboat days.

Lonely Planet New Orleans Encounter

Author: Lonely Planet

Description: With a section of not-to-missed highlights and a calendar of annual events, this lively pocket guide organized by neighborhood includes suggested side trips, along what to see and where to shop, eat, drink and play. With a double-sided pullout map.

New Orleans Streets

Author: Stephanie Bruno

Description: The best of the New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Stephanie Bruno's City Streets.

New Orleans, A Cultural History

Author: Louise Mckinney

Description: One in a growing series of well-informed histories, this book, organized by neighborhood, is perfect for travelers interested in the social and cultural foundation of the Big Easy.

Saratoga Trunk

Author: Edna Ferber

Description: Set during the 1880s, this is the story of the scheming vixen Clio Dulaine who returns to New Orleans to blackmail her father's aristocratic family.

Satchmo, My Life in New Orleans

Author: Louis Armstrong, Dan Morgenstern (Illustrator)

Description: Jazz great Louis Armstrong regales with tales of his youth in Louisiana.

The Awakening

Author: Kate Chopin, Marilynne Robinson (Introduction)

Description: The 1899 novel that forever vanquished "feminine propriety." Chopin's exhilarating, tragic feminist novella sings with the Cajun and Creole cadences of her native New Orleans.

The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Author: Douglas Brinkley

Description: In his New York Time Bestseller, Brinkley allows the survivors of Hurricane Katrina to tell their story in compelling detail. He documents the tragedy and its aftermath for the city and surrounding 150 miles of coastline, government mismanagement and the heroes who emerged.

The Heaven of Mercury

Author: Brad Watson

Description: Set in the fictional town of Mercury, Mississippi native Watson's compelling first novel follows the life and unrequited love of local newspaper editor Finus Bates, evoking changes along the Gulf Coast over the course of the 20th century.

The House on First Street, My New Orleans Story

Author: Julia Reed

Description: Reed describes with self-deprecating wit her return to New Orleans and a Garden District home just prior to Katrina and her shared efforts with locals to recover and rebuild.

The Keepers of the House

Author: Shirley Ann Grau

Description: Winner of the 1965 Pulitzer Prize, Gau's searing novel exposes the hypocrisy and racism of New Orleans society.

The Majesty of Natchez

Author: Steven Brooke (Photographer)

Description: This lively introduction to Natchez's well-preserved antebellum architecture includes a useful map, anecdotal histories and a number of excellent color photographs.

The Moviegoer

Author: Walker Percy

Description: Walker Percy won the 1961 National Book Award for this novel, his masterpiece, which unfolds in New Orleans during a momentous Carnival week. It's a great book that we can recommend as much for its sheer readability as for its palpable sense of place.

Wicked River, The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild

Author: Lee Sandlin

Description: Sandlin composes a lively portrait of the Mississippi River before it was domesticated as a shipping channel. He draws on firsthand accounts to depict a 19th century society that gave rise to presidents and river pirates.

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