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Connected Cultures: New Orleans and the Caribbean

Program Number: 20409RJ
Start and End Dates:
1/30/2014 - 2/9/2014; 12/1/2016 - 12/11/2016;
Duration: 10 nights
Location: Louisiana/Mexico/Belize/Honduras
Price starting at: $2,960.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Voyages; Independent City Discoveries
Meals: 28; 9 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

New Orleans has been described as a city whose identity is as much Caribbean as it is American. Experience this cultural connection in the pounding drums, exciting flavors and unique celebrations of the Crescent City. Then explore the Caribbean for yourself during a voyage to ancient ruins and modern communities of Mexico, Belize and Honduras.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile per day.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

New Orleans, La., 3 nights; aboard Norwegian Dawn, 7 nights.

Coordinated by Hawaii Pacific University.

Days 1-3:
Arrival New Orleans, La.:

Learn how the melodies of the Caribbean influenced New Orleans jazz and enjoy a performance at famed Preservation Hall. See the amazing costumes worn by “Mardi Gras Indians” at the Golden Feather. Learn about unique traditions including Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest and the Feast of St. Joseph. Delight in Creole cuisine during a demonstration at the New Orleans School of Cooking and meals at Dooky Chase and The Court of Two Sisters.
Lodging: Centrally located hotel.

Days 4-5:
Embark Norwegian Dawn / At Sea:

Begin your voyage by navigating out of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.

Day 6:
Cozumel (Mexico):

Discover the stunning seaside Mayan walled city of Tulum. Enjoy some time to experience the resort city of Playa del Carmen.
Visit a Mayan community to see what the life of a modern-day Mayan family is like and make tortillas for a typical lunch. Explore the ruins of Chacchoben including the great temple pyramid.

Day 7:
Harvest Caye (Belize):

Encounter the fascinating Maya ruins of Nim Li Punit. Learn about the ancient city that flourished during the 5th through 8th century AD during the Maya Classic Period. Observe step-pyramids and carved stelae depicting rulers of the ancient city.

Day 8:
Roatan (Honduras):

On this beautiful bay island, journey to Carambola Botanical Gardens and learn the story of fruit commerce between Roatan and New Orleans. Visit a local butterfly farm.

Day 9:
Costa Maya (Mexico):

Visit a Mayan community to see what the life of a modern-day Mayan family is like and make tortillas for a typical lunch. Explore the ruins of Chacchoben including the great temple pyramid.

Days 10-11:
At Sea / New Orleans / disembark / departure

Norwegian Jewel

Launched in 2005, this 965-foot ocean liner can accommodate up to 2,376 passengers. This floating resort features two swimming pools, six hot tubs, a spa, tennis court and golf driving nets. There are 10 different onboard restaurants including those specializing in French, Italian, Asian and Latin cuisine.

Meals and Lodgings
   Holiday Inn Downtown
  New Orleans, Louisiana, USA 3 nights
   Norwegian Jewel
  New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
At Sea
Cozumel, Mexico
Belize City, Belize
Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras
Costa Maya, Mexico
At Sea
7 nights
 Holiday Inn Downtown
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Ship Information: Norwegian
  Contact info: 330 Loyola Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70112 USA
phone: 504-581-1600
  Room amenities: Coffee makers, hair dryers, iron and ironing board. Request refrigerator for medical purposes only.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: $129 Pre / Post stays usually available at a rate of $129 depending on availability.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM

 Norwegian Jewel
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The Norwegian Jewel launched in August 2005, and continues to refine the Freestyle Cruising concept that is NCL's corporate motto. Freestyle 2.0 was introduced across the fleet in spring 2008, with several enhancements to the menus, new beds throughout and service tweaks at all levels. Combining speed, restaurant options, and family friendly accommodations, the ship also offers guests a wide array of public bars and lounges, extensive sports and fitness activities, and staterooms designed with rich cherry wood finishing.
  Ship Information: NORWEGIAN JEWEL ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Year Built: 2004 Passenger Capacity: 2,376 (double occupancy) Gross Register Tonnage: 93,502 Overall Length: 965 feet Max Beam: 105 feet Draft: 28 feet Engines: Diesel Electric Cruise Speed: 25 knots Crew: 1,100 Registry: Bahamas Class: Jewel
  Contact info: Norwegian Cruise Line
7665 Corporate Center Drive
Miami, FL 33126 USA
phone: 800-327-7030
  Room amenities: Each cabin has air conditioning, wall-to-wall carpeting, a sitting area, flatscreen television,tea/coffee makers, high-speed internet connection, refrigerator, safe, and a private bath with shower and hairdryer. Some have a separate tub or tub/shower combination. There are no irons in the cabins, but can be ordered from housekeeping should it be required. Please note that the ship reserves the right to upgrade cabins which may place participants on a different deck
  Facility amenities: The Jewel class ships such as the Norwegian Jewel have more than a dozen dining alternatives, a variety of entertainment options, enormous spas with thermal suites (additional charge), and expansive areas reserved for children and teens. Pools have waterslides and a plethora of lounge chairs, Other amenities include: ~7 restaurants, 2 dining rooms, buffet, ice cream parlor, pizzeria ~2 pools, children's pool ~Fitness classes, gym, hair salon, 6 hot tubs, spa, steam room ~9 bars, casino, cinema, dance club, library, showroom, video game room ~Dry-cleaning, laundry service
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check in starts at 3:30pm and orientation starts at 4pm. If you arrive earlier you can check in if your room is available. You will be staying at Holiday Inn Downtown that night.
  End of Program:
Breakfast onboard ship. Independent disembarkation by 10:00 am. It is advised that no flight arrangements be made before 12:30 pm. You will be staying at Norwegian Jewel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
425 Parking Spaces. Regular Daily Parking Fee: $15.00 plus tax - special negotiated daily rate for Road Scholar $8 plus tax. Covered, indoor garage attached to hotel. Garage is a self-park and lock facility. Bus and RV parking also available for a fee.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  New Orleans, Louisiana
  Nearest highway: I-10
  Nearest airport:  Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY)
  From End of Program
  Location:  At Sea
Travel Details



From Airport




various names


Per Person/One Way:


$30 for one person or two
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 minutes 




8 miles




From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Airport shuttle
phone: 504-522-3500


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 minutes 




8 miles


New Orleans


From Train Station




various names


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


5 minutes 




1 mile

Driving Directions
  East Take I-10 into New Orleans.Exit at Canal St. Exit. Loop around to Canal St. Take a right on Canal St. Go to Joy Theatre and take a right. Go 5 blocks to Holiday Inn.
  West Take I-10 into New Orelans (do not go left at I-610 split--stay right) Go to Loyola Avenue exit --vear left until you are on Loyola Avenue. Go 6 blocks to Holiday Inn (huge clarinet on side of building).
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/Welcome Dinner/Performance
(Thursday, January 30)
 Afternoon: Orientation and Introductions at 4pm in the hotel. Get a feel for what lies ahead in New Orleans and on your cruise.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner in the hotel. Another opportunity to get to know your fellow travelers.
 Evening: Music of New Orleans and the Caribbean. Learn from experts about the evolution of Caribbean music and New Orleans Jazz.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Downtown
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Morning Lecture/City Excursion/Cooking School
(Friday, January 31)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in hotel--a full buffet of many choices greets you each morning.
 Morning: "It's a New Orleans Thing" Unique New Orleans Traditions and Celebrations--your teacher is a New Orleans native who loves her city--learn more about Mardi Gras,King Cakes, St. Josephs Day, St. Joseph Altars, St. Patricks day parades, Jazz Fest,French Quarter Fest and much much more.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: City excursion with your instructor. See the Garden District, St. Charles Avenue, Lakefront, City Park, Bayou St. John and some of Katrina's damage and recovery.
 Dinner: Dinner at New Orleans School of Cooking. Enjoy the demonstration of unique New Orleans food and then enjoy eating it. Your teacher makes this fun while you learn and eat some really good food--even learn to make Pralines!
 Evening: Voucher to Preservation Hall--one of the most famous places to hear REAL New Orleans Jazz in a place that is determined to save this important art-form.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Downtown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Lecture and Performance/Congo Square/Museums
(Saturday, February 1)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in hotel.
 Morning: Class at the Golden Feather Gallery with class and demonstrations of the Caribbean influences on New Orleans (as represented in song, dance, masking and unique foods). Enjoy the Calinda, stilt dancing. Learn about New Orleans special culture of the Mardi Gras Indians and view the spectacular costumes with one of the creators.
 Lunch: Lunch is at the Golden Feather Gallery and restaurant to experience New Orleans/ Caribbean fare. The chef really knows her stuff and creates a genuine mix of Caribbean and New Orleans cuisine.
 Afternoon: Visit Congo Square--the historic slave gathering place for markets, drumming and dancing. Hear the stories about what made New Orleans unique. Learn about the songs and dances that have carried over to this day in the culture of New Orleans.

Use vouchers to visit museums at Jackson Square. Cabildo for history. Presbytere for Mardi Gras and Katrina. Take your time or go as quickly as you please to enjoy these very special places full of characters that make up New Orleans past and present.
 Dinner: Dinner at the unique and renowned Creole black owned restaurant, Dooky Chase. Also view fabulous art in the restaurant that was saved right before Katrina hit. You may be lucky enough to hear Leah Chase(winner of the Loving Cup in New Orleans--and much beloved chef and lover of New Orleans) share her history and ideas with you after you have eaten her special variety of Creole cuisine.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Downtown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Court of Two Sisters/ French Quarter/Board Ship
(Sunday, February 2)
 Breakfast: Brunch at the famous Court of Two Sisters with a fond musical farewell to New Orleans. Enjoy a display of interesting New Orleans foods such as Grits and Grillades, Duck, --Eggs Benedict and omelettes made to order. Try Boiled Crabs, crayfish and oysters.Taste the local King Cake that is served during Mardi Gras season and Bread Pudding with a unique New Orleans sauce.

Enjoy Jazz while you eat in the courtyard that is quintessential New Orleans.
 Morning: Free time for last minute visits to French Quarter--a walk in Jackson Square another Beignet or buy some pralines to take onto the ship or mail back home. Maybe you would enjoy a carriage ride or visit some of the renowned antique shops and galleries.
 Lunch: Board the ship at 1 p.m.
Light lunch on the ship.
 Afternoon: 4 p.m. - Ship departs New Orleans for your adventure in the Western Caribbean.
 Dinner: Enjoy dinner on board the ship as we navigate the Mississippi River and make our way to the Gulf of Mexico.
 Evening: Enjoy the ship's entertainment this evening and settle into your new home for the next week.
Accommodations: Norwegian Jewel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: At Sea
(Monday, February 3)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Lecture: Cultural and Natural Wonders of the Coast and Caribbean.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy ship amenities.

Visit the ship's Internet Café and check-up on outside news and emails, enjoy the sun deck and the inviting waters of the Tivoli Pool, pamper yourself at the Hair & Beauty Salon or indulge in a relaxing time at the Roman Spa.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
Accommodations: Norwegian Jewel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Cozumel -
Ferry to Playa del Carmen/Tulum Ruins

(Tuesday, February 4)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Disembark in Cozumel and board a ferry to Playa del Carmen.

From Playa del Carmen, transfer to Tulum. Admire and study the ancient Maya ruins of Tulum during walking explorations of the archaeological site.

Although the ruins at Tulum lack the grandeur of Chichén Itzá and Cobá, its setting is breathtaking. Situated on a cliff, overlooking the azure waters of the Caribbean, the Tulum ruins are a popular destination for travelers to the Yucatán.

Despite having been built sometime during the Early Classic Period (250-600), the walled city of Tulum did not gain true importance until the Late Post Classic Period (1200-1530). When the Spaniards arrived in the early sixteenth century, Tulum still operated as an important trading port. It is believed to be one of the last cities of the Mayan world to be abandoned after Spain's conquest.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant at Playa del Carmen.
 Afternoon: Time at leisure to explore Playa del Carmen.

Take the ferry back to Cozumel and board the ship.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
Accommodations: Norwegian Jewel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Belize City -
Belize Zoo & Tropical Education Center/ House of Culture/City Orientation

(Wednesday, February 5)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Disembark in Belize City.

Field trip to the Belize Zoo & Tropical Education Center.

The small zoo was established in the early 1980s with the purpose of saving native animals that had once been used for making documentary films. Deciding that it was important to educate Belizeans about native wildlife, the founders turned the animal shelter into a wildlife education center. The animals are enclosed in reproductions of their natural habitats and many have religious or ceremonial significance in Mayan lore.
 Lunch: Experience Belizean cuisine at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, return to Belize City for a field trip to the House of Culture. The visit will provide an overview of the rich history and culture of the Garifuna that will include exhibits and musical and dance presentations.

On the way back to the pier, acquaint yourself with the architecture and history of Belize City during a short city orientation.

Belize's most populous city, and former colonial capital, is also the nation's most important sea port and commercial and banking center. The coastal city has a Caribbean atmosphere and many locals communicate in Creole. An exploration of Belize City's bustling streets reveals an interesting melting pot of cultures, including Maya, Creole, Garifuna, East Indian, Chinese, European, and others. Historic buildings such as St. John's Anglican Cathedral and the Government House hail back to the days of British Honduras and colonial rule.

Board the ship and take advantage of some free time to freshen-up before dinner.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
Accommodations: Norwegian Jewel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Roatan -
Carambola Botanical Gardens/Butterfly Farm/Reef Snorkeling at West Bay

(Thursday, February 6)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Disembark at Roatan.

Forty miles long and two miles wide, Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands. Once favored by pirates then controlled by the British, the island is now a preferred destination for divers and romantics. It has a mountainous backbone, is surrounded by coral reef, and boasts some of the best snorkeling and diving in the hemisphere.

A short, 20 minute, drive by air conditioned bus will take us to the beautiful Carambola Botanical Gardens. Listen to a lecture on the history of fruit commerce between Roatan and New Orleans before enjoying a guided walk on the botanical garden's trails.

After leaving Carambola's attractive gardens, head to a local butterfly farm. See and study some of Honduras' most colorful species including varieties such as common owl, zebra, helicopter, firecracker, julia's, sunset longwing, monarch, and queen butterflies.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, transfer to West Bay. A lecture on reef ecology, plus an overview of snorkeling procedures, prepares us for a guided exploration of Roatan's beautiful coral reefs.

Return to the ship.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
Accommodations: Norwegian Jewel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Costa Maya -
Chacchoben Archaeological Site/Local Maya Community

(Friday, February 7)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Morning at leisure to enjoy the ship amenities and get ready for today's activities.

Disembark at Costa Maya Port in the town of Mahahual.

Transfer to the Chacchoben Maya community (approximately 50 mins drive). Once there, enjoy some cultural interaction and learn about the life of the modern day Maya. Visit the home of a local family.
 Lunch: Learn about local foods and help to prepare a typical meal--including the making of corn tortillas-- using fresh and wholesome ingredients. Then sit down to enjoy the savory fruits of your labor and watch a demonstration of traditional Maya dances.
 Afternoon: After lunch, transfer to the nearby Chacchoben Archaeological Site.

Most of the ancient Maya buildings at Chacchoben were designed in the Peten style and were constructed during the Classic Period (A.D. 200-700). The complex contains a number of temples and smaller structures that were used for ceremonial purposes. Because some of the buildings still have the remnants of the original stucco and paint, visitors are not allowed to climb the temples.

Late-afternoon return to the ship.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
Accommodations: Norwegian Jewel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: At Sea
(Saturday, February 8)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Lecture: The Mesoamerican Reef and the Caribbean Sea.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the ship's wide range of amenities.

Walk-off the effects of indulging in the ship's culinary delights with a jog or walk on the outdoor track, or perhaps swim a few laps in the jet exercise pool, play a pick-up game of basketball, lift weights at the fitness center or even practice your golf swing at one of two driving nets.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: Celebrate the last night of your cruise with newlyfound friends. Get together for some evening entertainment at the Stardust Theater, socialize and dance the night away at Maharini's Lounge and Nightclub, try your luck at the crap table at Maharajah's Casino, or join in a friendly game of darts at Henry's Pub.
Accommodations: Norwegian Jewel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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

Lonely Plant Honduras & the Bay Islands

Author: Lonely Planet Publications

Description: A practical guide in the popular series.

Lost Cities of the Maya

Author: Claude Baudez, Sydney Picasso

Description: This lavish little pocket encyclopedia of archaeological discovery features hundreds of color photographs and illustrations, including Catherwood's origi-nal engravings.

Mammals of Belize

Author: Fiona Reid

Description: A palm-sized guide to 64 of the larger and most commonly encountered mammals of Belize, each with a full color illustration, paw print and description.

Moon Handbook Belize

Author: Chicki Mallan, Josh Berman

Description: With a chapter on Tikal, photographs, sketch maps, and good recommendations on where to go and what to do by ex-resident Berman.

Moon Handbook Yucatan Peninsula

Author: Lisa and Gary Prado Chandler

Description: A compact, comprehensive travel guide with an excellent overview of the natu-ral history and culture of the region, including Yucatan but also Chiapas, Ta-basco, Campeche and Quintana Roo.

Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life

Author: Paul Humann

Description: Humann's photographs of the fishes, corals, invertebrates and plants of the Caribbean are perfect to take along in the boat or to the beach.

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