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The Best of the Mississippi River: Voyage Into Southern Heritage

Program Number: 20994RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/6/2014 - 12/16/2014; 11/8/2015 - 11/18/2015; 11/12/2015 - 11/22/2015; 11/27/2015 - 12/6/2015; 12/6/2015 - 12/16/2015; 12/10/2015 - 12/20/2015; 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; 12/2/2016 - 12/12/2016;
Duration: 10 nights
Location: Louisiana/Mississippi/Tennessee/Arkansas
Price starting at: $4,530.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats
Meals: 27; 9 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

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 lively Memphis, historic Natchez and Vicksburg and small river towns. Plus spend three days exploring incomparable New Orleans in depth.

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.

The 12/6/2015 and 12/10/2015 dates of this program will be in celebration of the Road Scholar 40th anniversary.

The 11/27/2015 date of this program will spend 2 nights in New Orleans instead of 3.

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

Memphis, Tenn, 1 night; aboard American Queen, 7 nights; New Orleans, La., 3 nights.

Day 1-2: Arrival Memphis, Tenn. / embark American Queen:

Arrive in Memphis, meet your fellow participants, followed by dinner at the hotel. Then begin the week with a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum and the Rock and Soul Museum. Board the Boat and begin a week of savoring gourmet Southern-style cooking and showboat-style entertainment.

Day 3: Greenville, Miss.:

Explore Greenvillle, the "Heart and Soul of the Mississippi Delta." Located right along the Mississippi River, Greenville is a historic city with a vibrant community and rich cultural heritage.

Day 4: Vicksburg, Miss.:

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

Day 5: Natchez:

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 them perform.

Day 6: St. Francisville, La.:

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

Day 7: Baton Rouge:

Learn the fascinating story of Gov. Huey Long, view the Louisiana State Capitol Building and visit the Rural Life Museum.

Day 8: Nottoway Plantation, White Castle, LA

Explore the enchanting Nottoway Plantation and Gardens. Lecture on Mardi Gras.

Days 9-12: New Orleans / disembark / departure:

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.

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
   American Queen
  Memphis, Tenn
Cruising on American Queen
St. Francisville
Baton Rouge
7 nights
   Holiday Inn
  New Orleans, Louisiana 3 nights
 American Queen
Type: Riverboat
  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 in Memphis
Memphis, TN 38103 USA
phone: 888-749-5280
  Room amenities: Varies with category purchased
  Facility amenities: Laundry on board.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Holiday Inn
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 330 Loyola Road
New Orleans, LA 70112 USA
phone: 504-581-1600
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
After arriving at Memphis airport, take taxi to American Queen docked at: Greenbelt Park, North End of Island Drive, Memphis, TN 38103. Meet in Boat Theater (level 3) between 3-4:30pm You will be staying at American Queen that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends in New Orleans on 12/16 after breakfast at 8:30 amYou will be returned to the airport by 10:30 am You will be staying at Holiday Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Boarding information and documents will be mailed to participants.
  Parking availability:
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.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Memphis, Tenn
  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


Program begins on board the American Queen steamboat, which will be docked at: Greenbelt Park North End of Island Drive Memphis, TN 38103

Driving Directions
  Memphis airport If you drive you will not be returned to Memphis. Program begins in Memphis and ends in New Orleans. Airfare provided by Road Scholar.
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: Embark on American Queen docked at: Greenbelt Park, North End of Island Drive, Memphis, TN 38103. Boarding not allowed prior to 3:00pm.
(Saturday, December 6)

Note: Meet in Boat Theater (level 3) between 3-4:30pm.

 Afternoon: Meet in boat theater (level 3) between 3-4:30pm to pick up your informational packet.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard the American Queen at early seating, 5:15pm. Special tables reserved for Road Scholars so that you may mingle with your fellow travelers each evening.
 Evening: Every evening is a special performance in showboat style after dinner. Varied venues for music.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Steamboating all day
(Sunday, December 7)

Note: American Queen

 Breakfast: American Queen offers several opportunities for breakfast from full sit down served meal to beignets on the Front Porch.
 Morning: Prior to your lecture brief orientation and introduction of your fellow participants. "The Mississippi River and the Making of a Nation"
 Lunch: Lunch onboard AQ
 Afternoon: Lecture: "American Civil War:Names and Casualties"
 Dinner: Dinner onboard AQ--you may choose main dining room or go to Grill area for dinner.
 Evening: Every evening includes a special performance after dinner along with piano music in various locations on boat.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Vicksburg Battlefield
(Monday, December 8)

Note: Short stroll in Vicksburg if you wish.

 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: Discover a unique blend of old and new in Vicksburg, Mississippi. 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: Vicksburg National Military Park and Battlefield.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the American Queen
 Evening: Entertainment nightly.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Tour city, visit plantations, gospel choir
(Tuesday, December 9)

Note: Little walking--some standing in plantations

 Breakfast: Breakfast onbard the American Queen
 Morning: Natchez Lecture: "Southern Sociology and Plantation Architecture" Step into the plantation lifestyle of the antebellum south in Natchez, site of numerous restored mansions. Visit Longwood Plantation- a unique unfinished plantation as well as Stanton Hall and much more.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard the American Queen
 Afternoon: Enjoy time with a Natchez Gospel Choir
 Dinner: Dinner on board the American Queen
 Evening: As always, more entertainment
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Visit Rosedown Plantation. Enjoy quaint small town of St. Francisville.
(Wednesday, December 10)

Note: Easy walking on flat land.

 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard American Queen
 Morning: Lecture:"Four 20th Century Views of Slavery" This quaint town of St. Francislville 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.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard the American Queen.
 Afternoon: Visit Rosedown plantation
 Dinner: Dinner onboard the American Queen
 Evening: Evening show and music each night in the lounge.
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: lecture on Huey Long, visit Rural Life Museum
(Thursday, December 11)

Note: Easy walking on flat land

 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen.
 Morning: Lecture: Learn about "Huey Long: Messiah to the Rednecks"--your instructor is well versed 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.
 Lunch: Lunch onbard the American Queen
 Afternoon: L.S.U. Rural Life Museum is located on the 450 acre Burden Center.The museum is home to an extensive collection of tools, farming implements to preserve an important part of the state's and nation's rural heritage. The museum includes many buildings and the main museum. The Louisiana State Museum features state of the art exhibits exploring Louisiana's fascinating culture and history.
 Dinner: Dinner onboard the American Queen.
 Evening: Entertainment in Grand Saloon
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Nottoway Plantation
(Friday, December 12)

Note: Leisure walk at plantation and grounds

 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the AQ.
 Morning: Nottoway, the South's largest remaining antebellum mansion. The home consists of 53,000 sq. ft. of living area. There are a total of 3 floors, 6 staircases, 64 rooms and what was once a 10-pin bowling alley for the children on the first floor.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard American Queen
 Afternoon: Lecture:"Carnival in New Orleans"
 Dinner: Dinner onbard the American Queen
 Evening: Entertainment tonight
Accommodations: American Queen
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: City overview
(Saturday, December 13)

Note: Easy walking on flat land.

 Breakfast: Breakfast onboard AQ
 Morning: Depart boat at 9am. Overview of City with instructor.Visitors information center and lower ninth ward.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculptor Gardens. Check into hotel at 3pm
 Dinner: Dinner at Hotel this evening.
 Evening: New Orleans Jazz played just for you at hotel with local musicians.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Continuation Overview of city. Mardi Gras Indian costume museum
(Sunday, December 14)

Note: Enjoy real New Orleans Jazz on your own at Preservation Hall.

 Breakfast: Huge breakfast Buffet at hotel
 Morning: St. Louis Cemetery, City Park, lake Pontchartrain, 17th St. Canal breach.
 Lunch: Lecture and Lunch:"Treme and Mardi Gras Indians" Golden Feather Gallery and Restaurant. Lunch at Golden Feather-authentic African food.
 Afternoon: Visit on your own Louisiana State Museums which house the Mardi Gras, Katrina Devastation or History exhibits.
 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 Fritzels with vouchers provided on your own to attend at your leisure.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 10: Architecture, Court of Two Sisters, New Orleans School of Cooking, and WWII Museum
(Monday, December 15)

Note: Easy walking on flat land

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Lecture: "Intro to New Orleans Architecture" Ride down the famous St. Charles Avenue and walk in the Garden District to learn about many architectural styles.
 Lunch: Lunch at the Court of Two Sisters with Jazz performance
 Afternoon: Visit the National WWII Museum in New Orleans which opened on June 6, 2000, as The National D-Day Museum. Founded by historian and author, Stephen Ambrose, the Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world — why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today — so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. In 2003, Congress officially designated it as America’s National WWII Museum.
 Dinner: New Orleans School of Cooking-Demonstration and Dinner, Recipes included.
 Evening: Packing for home
Accommodations: Holiday Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Depart New Orleans
(Tuesday, December 16)
 Depart From: After breakfast at hotel, depart from boat at approximately 9:00am. Arrive at airport by 10:30 am-- transportation provided.
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.

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.

Guide to Classic Recorded Jazz

Author: Tom Piazza

Description: A solid introductory guide to classical jazz naming the greats, their influences, and providing neophyte listeners with keys to listening and appreciating this musical genre. Free-lance music critic Piazza explains the science of riffing and the development of bebop and harmonic ensemble thinking.

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.

Louis Armstrong: An American Genius

Author: James Lincoln Collier

Description: Louis Armstrong. "Satchmo." To millions of fans, he was just a great entertainer. But to jazz aficionados, he was one of the most important musicians of our times--not only a key figure in the history of jazz but a formative influence on all of 20th-century popular music. Set against the backdrop of New Orleans, Chicago, and New York during the "jazz age", Collier re-creates the saga of an old-fashioned black man making it in a white world. He chronicles Armstrong's rise as a musician, his scrapes with the law, his relationships with four wives, and his frequent feuds with fellow musicians Earl Hines and Zutty Singleton. He also sheds new light on Armstrong's endless need for approval, his streak of jealousy, and perhaps most important, what some consider his betrayal of his gift as he opted for commercial success and stardom. A unique biography, knowledgeable, insightful, and packed with information, it ends with Armstrong's death in 1971 as one of the best-known figures in American entertainment.

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.

Understanding Jazz: Ways to Listen

Author: Tom Piazza

Description: Much more than just another history of this vital music and those who play it, Understanding Jazz is a multimedia master class and late-night jam session rolled into one–an indispensable guide to a deeper appreciation of jazz. Jazz is America’s greatest indigenous art form, a musical hybrid whose origins are as mysterious, complex, and surprising as its evolution has proved to be. Written by Grammy award-winning author Tom Piazza and produced by the experts at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Understanding Jazz uses simple explanations and analogies to illuminate the basics of listening to a jazz performance: how to discern form, instrumentation, style, and intent. Each of the book’s seven sections focuses on a particular aspect of the jazz vernacular, from the way individual instruments or voices come together yet remain distinct, to the spontaneous miracles of skilled improvisation, to the transcendent rhythmic qualities of swing and the enduring influence of the blues. Specific points in the text are illustrated and reinforced on the accompanying CD in recordings that capture some of jazz’s most gifted musicians: Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Lester Young, Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie, among others. A unique celebration of the influence of jazz on American life, this book and CD are perfect for both jazz enthusiasts and beginning listeners alike, initiating them into the exciting world of this singular style of music.

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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