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The Best of the Mississippi River: Voyage Into Southern Heritage

Program Number: 20994RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/21/2014 - 5/31/2014; 3/6/2016 - 3/17/2016; 3/11/2016 - 3/21/2016; 3/25/2016 - 4/4/2016; 4/3/2016 - 4/14/2016; 5/1/2016 - 5/12/2016; 5/13/2016 - 5/23/2016; 5/27/2016 - 6/6/2016; 11/4/2016 - 11/14/2016; 11/18/2016 - 11/28/2016;
Duration: 10 nights
Location: Louisiana/Mississippi/Tennessee/Arkansas
Price starting at: $4,630.00 - 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; Gluten Free    

Spend three days exploring incomparable New Orleans in-depth, then board a magnificent steam-powered paddlewheel riverboat for a classic Mississippi River voyage. Experience the music, food, natural beauty and architectural grandeur of Dixie, in historic Natchez and Vicksburg, and small river towns.

Activity Particulars

Please note that this program may require embarking and disembarking from the boat 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.

Please note: In 2016, the March 6-17, April 3-14, and May 1-12 departures of this program operate in reverse order, from Memphis to New Orleans, and spend one extra night in Memphis.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

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

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

Experience the music, food and architecture of New Orleans with a local expert. Enjoy live jazz performances, including one at Fritzel's Jazz Club and learn about the history and architecture of the city . Lodging: Comfortable downtown hotel.

Day 4: Embark American Queen / on river:

Welcome aboard! Begin a week of savoring gourmet Southern-style cooking and showboat-style entertainment. Absorb the scenery of the Mighty Mississippi and take part in expert presentations on board.

Day 5: Vacherie, La.:

Nowhere else in the south will you find such a spectacular setting like Oak Alley Plantation! The quarter-mile canopy of giant live oak trees, believed to be nearly 300 years old, forms an impressive avenue leading to the classic Greek revival style antebellum home. You will also visit Laura Plantation.

Day 6: St. Francisville, La.:

Walk the historic streets of St. Francisville and visit Rosedown Plantation.

Day 7: Natchez MS

Step into the antebellum South at plantations including Longwood, with its unique octagonal mansion, and grand Stanton Hall. Meet members of the Natchez Gospel Choir and hear a private performance in their church.

Day 8:Vicksburg, MS:

Discover a unique blend of old and new in this historic city. Learn about the Siege of Vicksburg at the Vicksburg National Military Park and visit the Cario.

Day 9: Steam boating on the Mississippi

Absorb the scenery of the Mighty Mississippi and take part in expert-led presentations on board the American Queen.

Days 10 Helena AR

Excursions in Helena are, Helena Museum, Delta Cultural Center and Moore-Hornor House and the Pillow-Thompson House.

Day 11: Memphis, Tenn. / 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
  Cruising on American Queen
Vacherie-Oak Alley
St. Francisville
Natchez, Mississippi
Cruising on American Queen
Helena, Arkansas
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: 188-887-4952 x80
  Room amenities: Varies with category purchased
  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 May 21 is 3:30pm. Registration and orientation is at 3:45pm. You will be staying at Holiday Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Disembarkation occurs at approximately 9:00am. Return to Memphis Airport by 10:30am. Transportation provided. 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 $8 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

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


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



Louis Armstrong Airport (Moisant Field-MSY)


From Airport




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


Per Person/One Way:


$38 round trip per person $20 one way per person
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 minutes 




15 miles



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, May 21)
 Afternoon: Registration and orientation begin at 3:45pm at Holiday Inn. DInner to follow.
 Dinner: Dinner at Hotel this evening so you can meet your fellow travelers.
 Evening: Private Dixieland jazz performance at hotel.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Overview of city.
(Thursday, May 22)

Note: Lecture, field trip

 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.
 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: Lecture:"Paddlewheelers, Floating Palaces and Packets" given by a retired riverboat captain.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Mardi Gras, Mardi Gras Indians, Swamp Tour
(Friday, May 23)

Note: flat terrain

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Lecture:"Mardi Gras" as told by a New Orleans native who actively participates in the celebration and who just happens to be an architect as well. Expert led lecture on Black Culture in New Orleans and the Mardi Gras Indians
 Lunch: Lunch at the Golden Feather Restaurant and museum of Mardi Gras Indians.
 Afternoon: Venture outside the city for wildlife and scenic bayous as you take a fascinating guided Swamp Tour by boat. Bring your cameras. This is must see while in our region.
 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 and Frtizels with voucher provided to attend on your own at your leisure
Accommodations: Holiday Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Brunch at Court of two Sisters, Museums Board American Queen
(Saturday, May 24)

Note: Prepare luggage to be picked up for boat, French Quarter

 Morning: Leisurely morning as you prepare for your departure from New Orleans.
 Brunch: Brunch at Court of Two Sisters in historic French Quarter with Jazz Trio. Still time to use vouchers for museums and last minute visits in the French Quarter..
 Afternoon: New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Gardens. Board American Queen
 Dinner: Your first dinner onboard the American Queen
 Evening: Musical performance as you float down the Mississippi.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Brunch, Dinner

Day 5: Oak Alley and Laura Plantations
(Sunday, May 25)

Note: Walking to around plantations

 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen. American Queen offers several opportunities for breakfast from full sit down served meal to beignets on the Front Porch.
 Morning: Tour the grounds and Oak Alley Plantation, Antebellum Mississippi River Mansion.Originally named Bon Secour, was built in 1837 by George Swainey. Leading up to the house is an alley of 300 year old oak trees. This alley runs between the house and the Mississippi River. Also visit Laura Plantation.
 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: Tour Rosedown PLantation, Downtown St. Francisville.
(Monday, May 26)

Note: Mostly on bus--flat walking

 Breakfast: Breakfast onbard the American Queen
 Morning: This quaint town of St. Francisville 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. Visit Rosedown Plantion.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard the American Queen
 Afternoon: Lecture:"Four 20th Century Views of Slavery" Time to relax and enjoy the boat as you float down the Mississippi River.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the American Queen
 Evening: As always, more entertainment.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Longwood and Stanton Hall Plantations, Natchez Gospel Choir
(Tuesday, May 27)

Note: on bus and walking on flat terrain

 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: Lecture:"Southern Sociology and Plantation Architecture" Step into the plantation lifestyle of the antebellum south in Natchez, site of numerous restored mansions. Lecture"Southern Sociology and Plantation Architecture".Visit Longwood Plantation- a unique unfinished plantation as well as Stanton Hall and much more.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard the American Queen
 Afternoon: Natchez Gospel Choir performs just for you.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the American Queen
 Evening: Entertainment in Grand Saloon
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Vicksburg Battlefield and Military Park, Downtown Vicksburg
(Wednesday, May 28)

Note: mostly bus and flat terrain

 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: Discover a unique blend of old and new in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Lecture: "Flowing Unvexed to the Sea" preceding the visit to the Vicksburg National Military Park and Battlefield.
 Lunch: Lunch onbard the American Queen
 Afternoon: Billed as the “Red Carpet City of the South,” Southern hospitality is alive and well and awaiting your arrival, as you explore the quaint town of Vicksburg. Lecture:"American Civil War Casuality"
 Dinner: Dinner in the J.M. White dining room
 Evening: Entertainment nightly
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Steamboating all day
(Thursday, May 29)

Note: cruising on American Queen

 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the ship.
 Morning: Lecture:"Atlantic Slave Trade"
 Lunch: Lunch onboard
 Afternoon: Lecture:" Four 20th Century Views of Slavery"
 Dinner: Dinner onboard
 Evening: Nightly entertainment
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Explore Helena Arkansas
(Friday, May 30)

Note: bus and walking

 Breakfast: Breakfast on the AmericanQueen
 Morning: Included in your excursion to Helena are Biscuit Row, Helena Museum, Freedom Park (site of Underground Railroad) and much more.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard American Queen
 Afternoon: Lecture:"Free People of Color"
 Dinner: Final dinner onboard American Queen.
 Evening: Farewell performance
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Heading home from Memphis
(Saturday, May 31)
 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen
 Morning: Depart boat at approximately 9am. Transportation provided to Memphis airport by 10:30 am
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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