20994
Louisiana/Mississippi/Tennessee

The Best of the Mississippi River: Voyage Into Southern Heritage

Explore the Mississippi River aboard a paddlewheel riverboat, attending jazz performances, learning about Civil War history and enjoying three nights in New Orleans!
Rating (5)
Program No. 20994RJ
Length
11 days
Starts at
4,999
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Flights start at
FREE
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11 days
10 nights
27 meals
9 B 1BR 8 L 9 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
New Orleans, Louisiana
D
Hotel Monteleone

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration & Orientation: 4:30 p.m. After you have your room assignment, check the message board for the location to register with the Road Scholar program staff, which is also where the Orientation session will take place. You will receive a welcome packet containing your nametag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Ground travel and transfers will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. In addition to Road Scholar exclusive lectures and field trips, you are welcome to enjoy activities and events separate from the Road Scholar program during free time aboard the American Duchess. The vessel’s daily program will be delivered to cabins each evening with a schedule of the next day’s activities. Breakfast, lunch and dinner aboard the boat in the Grand Dining Room feature cuisine that blends local flavors and fine culinary traditions. There is a more casual atmosphere in The River Club & Terrace for breakfast and lunch. Dinners aboard include complimentary house wines, house-select beers, coffees, teas, soft drinks. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. As a special bonus, you will have vouchers to use at a popular jazz club and the Louisiana State Museum. you for understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a lovely plated and served dinner with coffee, tea, water included, other beverages available for purchase. During dinner, we will have for a private performance of Dixieland jazz just for our Road Scholar group.

Evening: Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. < br>

DAY
2
City Overview Trip, Garden District, Cooking School
New Orleans, Louisiana
B,L,D
Hotel Monteleone

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 26 miles, approximately 4 hours total. Walking approximately 8 blocks and standing during field trip; city street and sidewalks.

Breakfast: At the hotel, choose what you like from the extensive breakfast buffet.

Morning: We’ll take a field trip via motorcoach with expert on-board commentary for an overview of the city. We’ll make stops at highlights such as Lake Pontchartrain, Bayou St. John, City Park with its magnificent oak trees and Sculpture Garden, and one of the famed and mysterious above-ground cemeteries where the departed — from pirates to voodoo queens — are interred.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we will order from a select menu with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our field trip with our local expert and ride down famous St. Charles Avenue, under beautiful old oak trees. We’ll then go on a walking field trip in the aptly named Garden District, one of the loveliest neighborhoods in the country. It was laid out in 1832 for incoming, well-to-do Americans who were not interested in mingling with native New Orleanians. The feeling was mutual! Grand houses were built on large lots.

Dinner: At the world-renowned New Orleans School of Cooking, an expert local chef will teach us how to cook Creole and Cajun and explain the difference. We’ll see the preparation of traditional dishes, then have them for dinner. For dessert, we’ll sample the best pralines in town and other surprises. Recipes are included.

Evening: At leisure. Use your voucher for Fritzel’s or take a walk through the Quarter and watch the people parade, where tourists can be more exotic than natives.

DAY
3
WW2 Museum,
New Orleans, Louisiana
B,L
Hotel Monteleone

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking and standing WW2 Museum; walking according to personal preference during free time.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll ride to the National World War II Museum. Formerly known as the D-Day Museum, the National World War II Museum was founded by eminent historian Dr. Stephen Ambrose, author “Band of Brothers” and other best-sellers. A self directed exploration will takes us through three buildings that house exhibits highlighting the role of participants from world leaders to the everyday men and women whose contributions helped to win the war, as well as those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Many items in the vast collection — such as uniforms, weaponry, vehicles, medals, diaries, letters, artwork, photographs, and other mementos — are on display while thousands of records and archives are available to scholars for ongoing research. We’ll also see the film “Beyond All Boundaries” narrated by Tom Hanks. Through first person accounts and amazing special effects, we’ll take a self-directed journey through the war that changed the world.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. You can use vouchers we’ve provided to explore the Cabildo and Presbytère — key components of the Louisiana State Museum — flanking St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. All were constructed during the Spanish period (1795-1799). The Cabildo displays artifacts of American history as well as rarities such as Napoleon’s death mask. The Presbytère’s interactive exhibit on Mardi Gras traces our annual celebration from its origins to the present day with an exquisite collection of artifacts and memorabilia. Another exhibit expresses Louisiana’s saga of resilience in the face of disasters. You might also like to stroll along Royal Street with its antique shops, visit the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, sit back and have café au lait and beignets at the 24-hour Café du Monde, or any of the many other opportunities to experience our people, cultures, and celebrations.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. From fresh seafood to Po’ Boys, our city is justly famous for its eats.

Evening: At leisure. Returning to the hotel, prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow. Have luggage ready for pick-up and transport to the American Queen in the morning.

DAY
4
Court of Two Sisters, Mardi Gras World, Riverboat Captain
New Orleans, Louisiana
BR,D
American Queen Steamboat Company's American Queen

Activity note: Walking approximately 4.5 blocks to/from restaurant. Getting on/off motorcoach, on/off riverboat.

Morning: We will have luggage ready for pick-up and transport to the American Queen before walking to brunch.

Brunch: At the celebrated Court of Two Sisters, we’ll settle in for a true New Orleans delight, the Jazz brunch. The elaborate buffet offers tasty hot and cold New Orleans favorites from eggs any style to Creole jambalaya, grits and grillades, gumbo, classic desserts, and much more; coffee, tea, water included, other beverages available for purchase. Tap your toes to the music of the restaurant’s resident Jazz trio. We’ll then walk back to the hotel, where a retired riverboat captain will join us for a lecture on Paddlewheelers, Packets, and Floating Palaces. Our Captain has probably seen more of the Mississippi River system than any other living boatman, having worked on nine rivers in seventeen states.

Afternoon: We will get our carry-on luggage, and check out and walk 1 block to the motorcoach and ride to the Mardi Gras World, beginning with a film that documents the making of floats. A local expert will introduce some of the amazing floats that have appeared in Mardi Gras parades and some the artists are working on for the next year. We’ll also time to explore independently and take photographs. We will depart Mardi Gras world, ride to the Port of New Orleans, and board the American Queen. After completing boarding procedures and getting your cabin, take some time to freshen up and relax. We will participate in the mandatory safety briefing with everyone on board when announced.

Dinner: Our first dinner aboard the American Queen will be at 5:15 p.m. in the J. M. White Dining room. Meals aboard ship feature cuisine that blends local flavors and fine culinary traditions. Shipboard dinners include complimentary house wines, house-select beers, coffees, teas, and soft drinks. We will have our own tables for Road Scholar, so we can get to know our fellow adventurers better.

Evening: Each evening, the American Queen presents professional entertainment in the Grand Saloon. Later, enjoy music and dancing in the Engine Room Bar or a piano sing-a-long in the Main Deck Lounge.

DAY
5
Nottoway Plantation, Lecture
White Castle, LA
B,L,D
American Queen Steamboat Company's American Queen

Activity note: Golf carts available from boat across levee; walking to plantation through gardens and standing during field trip; 3-story house with elevator.

Breakfast: Early riser coffee available in the Front Porch Café. In the J. M. White Dining Room, we can choose between a traditional plated breakfast and the extensive buffet.

Morning: We’ll gather for a Road Scholar exclusive lecture. The remainder of the afternoon is free to enjoy the relaxing beauty of the river as we roll along.

Lunch: Aboard the American Queen, choose between a traditional plated luncheon or the buffet in the dining room or dine alfresco at the Front Porch Café.

Afternoon: We will have an expert led exploration of Nottoway — a literal “white castle” — with opportunities for taking pictures. Completed in 1859, it is the largest surviving antebellum mansion in the South and one of the most elegant. Its 64 rooms cover 53,000 square feet. Sugar planter John Hampden Randolph intended his home to be the finest anywhere and no expense was spared. Randolph filled Nottoway with extravagant features including running water, modern bathrooms, and gas lighting. The mansion sits about 200 feet from the Mississippi River levee surrounded by oaks, magnolias, and pecan trees. At a time when Greek Revival was considered the ultimate architectural style, Nottoway is distinguished by Italianate features, with square columns that reach all three levels yet look delicate from a distance. The east front of the house with its grand balconies faces the river, while the adjacent north front with its semi-circular portico overlooks gardens. The ballroom, accented by Corinthian columns and marble mantels, is all white including the floor. We’ll gather for a Road Scholar exclusive lecture on lovely, historic St. Francisville. The remainder of the afternoon is free to enjoy the relaxing beauty of the river as we roll along.

Dinner: Aboard the American Queen

Evening: Enjoy great performances every evening.

DAY
6
Louisiana State Prison Field Trip, lecture
St. Francisville
B,L,D
American Queen Steamboat Company's American Queen

Activity note: Golf carts available from boat to the steamboat company’s motorcoach, driving approximately 1/2 hour, getting on/off motorcoach several times.

Breakfast: Aboard the American Queen.

Morning: We will visit the Louisiana State Penitentiary, the state’s maximum-security prison on 18,000 acres in Angola, widely known as The Farm. We’ll be joined by a local expert who will tell us about this penitentiary that was once a plantation, its troubled history, and how it operates today. Aboard our motorcoach, we will ride through farmland where inmates harvest more than 4 million pounds of produce annually in addition to enterprises including a license tag plant, printing services, a mattress/broom/mop shop (including suicide prevention mattresses), and a herd of 1,600 cattle. Led by a warden, we will explore the prison museum, the Red Hat cellblock, and the largest chapel where we will have an opportunity to hear the enlightening stories from current inmates. The museum was the brainchild of a warden whose stated goal was to document the history of Louisiana’s prisons and not repeat the horrors of the past. After more than a century of terrible conditions, abuses, corruption, and real attempts at reform, Angola achieved accreditation in 1994 from the American Correctional Association. ACA accreditation acknowledges “policies and procedures necessary for the operation of correctional programs that safeguard life, health and safety of the personnel who work in juvenile and adult facilities and programs; as well as the offenders who are a part of the correctional system.” Angola has partnerships with the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Ashland University, and the Louisiana Department of Education that offer opportunities for inmates to participate in educational programs. Since 1965, the prison has held a professional rodeo to entertain its inmates, employees, and the public. A portion of the proceeds support the Louisiana Penitentiary Inmate Welfare Fund. Angola also has its own magazine and radio station.

Lunch: Aboard the American Queen.

Afternoon: We’ll have another Road Scholar exclusive lecture. Then take advantage of the on-board amenities, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, or simply relax and observe the passing scene.

Dinner: Aboard the American Queen

Evening: As always, more entertainment.

DAY
7
Natchez-MS, Longwood, Choctaw Mansion, Gospel Choir
Natchez, Mississippi
B,L,D
American Queen Steamboat Company's American Queen

Activity note: From the landing at Natchez-Under-the-Hill, there is a ramp up to the street; golf carts are available if needed. Short walks from motorcoach to mansions; standing inside, stairs and no elevators.

Breakfast: Aboard the American Queen.

Morning: The numerous antebellum mansions of Natchez recall a bygone era. With a local expert, we’ll take a field trip to Longwood Plantation and try to imagine the lifestyles of that earlier time. Longwood was an exotic departure from typical homes of the period, octagonal and in Oriental Revival style. Begun in 1860 but interrupted by the Civil War, only nine of its 32 rooms were finished. Those who wish to return to the ship after Longwood may do so. We’ll then ride to Choctaw, listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Neibert-Fisk House, was constructed in 1836. You will be guided through the house by the current owners. Choctaw was designed and built by Natchez builder James Hardie, a Scottish immigrant who supposedly came to Natchez to work for Neibert in the early 1830s. Choctaw has been home to several families throughout the years including a brief period from 1909-1915, it housed Stanton College, a girls school formed in 1894 at nearby Stanton Hall. In March of 1978, fire damaged the ground and first level of the portico façade. Don dePriest purchased the mansion and employed artisans to correct problems and restored it to its original beauty. After climbing Choctaw’s mirrored staircase, which frames stately Roman columns, the grandeur continues inside. The rooms lavishly display generations’ worth of custom-made curtains, table settings, artwork and more. The mansion also features an elliptical staircase, that showcases an unbroken handrail and leads you to the top floor.

Lunch: Aboard the American Queen.

Afternoon: We will have an exclusive Road Scholar lecture on the 1863 Battle of Vicksburg. As President Abraham Lincoln surmised, “Vicksburg is the key, the war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket.” We’ll ride to Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, where their gospel choir will perform just for our Road Scholar group. As they sing some of their favorite songs for us, get ready to join them in their love of music.

Dinner: Aboard the American Queen.

Evening: Nightly entertainment.

DAY
8
Vicksburg-MS, Vicksburg Nat. Military Park, Civil War Causes
Vicksburg
B,L,D
American Queen Steamboat Company's American Queen

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach at several stops.

Breakfast: Aboard the American Queen.

Morning: We’ll take a field trip to Vicksburg National Military Park. The Vicksburg campaign was waged from March 29 to July 4, 1863. The Union victory was one of the decisive moments in the Civil War. Congress commemorated the battlefield as a national military park in 1899. There are 1,325 historic monuments and markers, 20 miles of reconstructed trenches and earthworks, 144 emplaced cannon, the restored Union gunboat USS Cairo and its museum, and the Vicksburg National Cemetery. Led by a local expert, we’ll make three stops: at the Visitor Center, where Park Rangers are ready to answer questions, one of the larger monuments; and the Cairo, sunk in 1862, raised from the depths of the Mississippi in 1964, and later reconstructed. Its museum displays artifacts including weapons, munitions, naval stores, and personal gear of the sailors who served on board.

Lunch: Aboard the American Queen.

Afternoon: Our lecture this afternoon will be Causes of the Civil. The remainder of the afternoon is free to engage in the activities of your choice.

Dinner: Aboard the American Queen.

Evening: Nightly entertainment.

DAY
9
Greenville-MS
Greenville, MS
B,L,D
American Queen Steamboat Company's American Queen

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach.

Breakfast: Aboard the American Queen.

Morning: This morning’s Road Scholar exclusive lecture will provide details about the Flood of 1927. Then enjoy the river vistas.

Lunch: Aboard the America Queen.

Afternoon: In Greenville, we’ll have an opportunity to take advantage of the steamboat company’s hop-on/hop-off bus to see the town. Significant sites include the Greenville History Museum; the Hebrew Union Temple, built in 1906, with its original stained glass windows and organ; and the Flood of 1927 Museum that presents the history of one of the country’s greatest natural disasters when the Mississippi flooded the Delta for four months.

Dinner: Aboard the American Queen.

Evening: Nightly entertainment.

DAY
10
Cruising on the Queen
Cruising on the Mississippi River
B,L,D
American Queen Steamboat Company's American Queen

Breakfast: Aboard the American Queen.

Morning: We’ll gather for another Road Scholar exclusive lecture. Then engage in the activities of your choice.

Lunch: Aboard the American Queen.

Afternoon: Our final lecture of the program will be wrap up discussions and Questions. This is the last afternoon of our program on the mighty Mississippi as we head to Memphis.

Dinner: Aboard the American Queen. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: One more evening of great entertainment. Then prepare for disembarkation after our arrival in Memphis, Tennessee, and final transfer in the morning.

DAY
11
Arrive Memphis-TN, Disembarkation, Program Concludes
Departure
B

Activity note: Check-out and disembarkation by 9:00 a.m., followed by motorcoach transfer to the Memphis Airport.

Breakfast: Aboard the American Queen

Morning: After disembarking, we’ll board a motorcoach and transfer to Memphis International Airport with arrival expected by approximately 10:30 a.m. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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