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 (4.9)
Program No. 20994RJ
11 days
Starts at
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11 days
10 nights
27 meals
9 B 1BR 8 L 9 D
Getting There
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Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
New Orleans, Louisiana
Hotel Monteleone

Activity note: Walking in the hotel

Afternoon: Program Registration & Orientation: 4:45 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 name-tag, 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. Meals 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. 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 two popular jazz clubs and the Louisiana State Museum. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank 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.

Evening: We’ll gather at the hotel for a private performance of Dixieland jazz just for our Road Scholar group.

Katrina, Lake Pontchartrain, City Park
New Orleans, Louisiana
Hotel Monteleone

Activity note: Over view of the city and above ground cemetery, some walking on grass. Ride down the famous St. Charles Avenue and walk in the Garden District. The walk will be approximately 8 blocks in the garden district (walking and standing).

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

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. We’ll also drive into the Ninth Ward where devastation from Hurricane Katrina (August 29, 2005) is still apparent. While the rest of the city has largely recovered, the Ninth Ward is a different story.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll order from a select menu.

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. If you haven’t done so already, use your voucher for Fritzel’s or Maison Bourbon, or take a walk through the Quarter and watch the people parade, where tourists can be more exotic than natives.

Riverboat Captain lecture. Mardi Gras World, Cooking School
New Orleans, Louisiana
Hotel Monteleone

Activity note: Lecture is in the hotel. Getting on/off the coach. Some walking and standing at Mardi Gras World. Coach will bring you to the French Quarter for free time walking at your own pace.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: A retired riverboat captain will join us at the hotel 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. We’ll then depart on a field trip to 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.

Lunch: 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 might like to sit back and have café au lait and beignets at the Café du Monde. You can also 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 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 or visit the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. There are so many opportunities to experience our people, cultures, and celebrations. After exploring the French Quarter, we will re-group at a designated spot, board the motorcoach, ride to the dock, and board the American Duchess.

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.

Brunch Court of two Sisters, WWII Museum Board the boat.
New Orleans, Louisiana
American Duchess

Activity note: Prepare for check out in the morning and have luggage ready for transfer to the boat. After checking out of the hotel, we’ll board the motor coach with our carry-on bags. Luggage will be loaded on the motor coach at this time.

Morning: This morning we check out of the hotel and board the motor coach with our carry-on bags and luggage. We are dropped off in the French Quarter and walk to the Court of Two Sisters ( 3 block Walk). After our brunch, we will be picked up in the French Quarter and brought to the WWII Museum

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.

Afternoon: We’ll walk 3 blocks and ride to the National World War II Museum and see the film “Beyond All Boundaries” narrated by Tom Hanks. Then we’ll then take a self-directed journey through the war that changed the world with first person accounts and amazing special effects. 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. Its three buildings 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.

Dinner: Our first dinner aboard the American Duchess will be in the Grand 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.

Evening: Musical performance as you float down the Mississippi.

Nottoway Plantation
White Castle, LA
American Duchess

Activity note: The Plantation is across the levee from where we are docked and there are golf carts to bring anyone who needs help across. There is some walking to the plantation through the gardens and standing during the tour. This is a 3 story plantation. There is an elevator.

Breakfast: Aboard the American Duchess. Your choice of a traditional plated and served breakfast in the Grand Dining Room or a buffet in the River Club & Terrace.

Morning: Nottoway — a literal “white castle” — is the largest surviving antebellum mansion in the South and one of the most elegant. Its 64 rooms cover 53,000 square feet. It was intended by its builder, sugar planter John Hampden Randolph, to be the finest home anywhere. No expense was spared. Randolph filled his home, completed in 1859, 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 its 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 will have an expert led exploration with opportunities for taking pictures.

Lunch: Aboard the American Duchess. Your choice of a traditional plated and served luncheon in the Grand Dining Room or a buffet in the River Club & Terrace.

Afternoon: We’ll gather for a 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 Duchess in your choice of the Grand Dining Room or the River Club & Terrace that transforms into a reservation-only, specialty restaurant in the evening.

Evening: Enjoy great performances every evening.

Visit Rosedown Plantation, Downtown St. Francisville, LA.
St. Francisville
American Duchess

Activity note: Golf carts available from the ship to the bus, that is up on the levee if needed. Rosedown plantation house is a 2-story building; climbing interior stairs. Grounds with gravel pathways and grass. Walking in St. Francisville according to personal preference.

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the American Duchess

Morning: We’ll visit Rosedown Plantation, built in 1835 by Daniel and Martha Turnbull, for an expert-led exploration. This was one of the richest cotton plantations in the country, comprising nearly 3,500 acres at its height. Its wealth resulted from the labor of as many as 450 slaves. Mrs. Turnbull patterned the formal gardens on those she saw during their honeymoon in Europe. Rosedown remained in the Turnbull family until the 1950s, when it was purchased by Catherine Underwood, an enthusiastic amateur horticulturist who began an historic restoration of the house and gardens. Now a National Historic Landmark, preserved by the state of Louisiana to illustrate plantation life in the 1800s, Rosedown has 13 historic buildings and gardens on its remaining 371 acres. At the end of the field trip, those who wish can return to the American Duchess aboard our motorcoach. Those who would like to explore St. Francisville can take advantage of the steamboat company’s hop-on/hop-off bus before returning. The quaint town of St. Francisville on the bluffs of the Mississippi River is a window to the past with more than 140 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, beautiful plantation homes nestled in the rolling countryside, and bustling Main Street shops.

Lunch: Lunch on board the American Duchess

Afternoon: Our lecture this afternoon will focus on the city of Natchez and plantation architecture. Then take advantage of the on-board amenities, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, or simply relax and observe the passing scene.

Dinner: Dinner on board the American Duchess

Evening: As always, more entertainment.

Natchez MS Tour city, visit plantations, gospel choir
Natchez, Mississippi
American Duchess

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.

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the American Duchess.

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 Stanton Hall where docents will lead our exploration. Built in 1858 by Irish immigrant and cotton merchant Frederick Station, it is now a National Historic Landmark that provides a look into the domestic life of a wealthy Natchez family. The mansion, covering a city block, is the quintessence of elegant Greek Revival splendor with Carrera marble, mahogany doors, massive Corinthian columns, and delicate cast iron railings adorning the façade. The Pilgrimage Garden Club of Natchez purchased Stanton Hall in 1938, restoring it to its former antebellum splendor.

Lunch: Lunch on board the American Duchess

Afternoon: 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: Dinner on board the American Duchess

Evening: Entertainment in Grand Dining Room

Vicksburg Battlefield and Military Park, Vicksburg, MS
American Duchess

Activity note: We will drive to the park and make 3 stops during our drive with instructor in the park. Very little walking

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the American Duchess

Morning: We’ll have another Road Scholar exclusive 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 then 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: Lunch on board the American Duchess

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

Dinner: Dinner in the Grand Dining Room or The Grill

Evening: Entertainment nightly

Greenville MS
Greenville, MS
American Duchess

Activity note: You will be riding on the steamboat company's motor coaches and we will visit the town of Greenville, MS. It was founded in 1824, named after Nathanael Greene. The town was destroyed during the Civil War.

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the boat

Morning: 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.

Lunch: Lunch on board

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

Dinner: Dinner on board

Evening: Nightly entertainment

Cruising on the Duchess
Cruising on the Mississippi River
American Duchess

Activity note: Today, take the time to just watch the river and relax. Walking on board the boat.

Breakfast: Breakfast on the American Queen

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

Lunch: Lunch on board American Duchess

Afternoon: Our final lecture of the program will be on free people of color. This is the last afternoon of our program on the mighty Mississippi as we head to Memphis.

Dinner: Aboard the American Duchess. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program 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.

Arrive Memphis – TN, Disembarkation, Program Concludes

Activity note: Check Out and disembarkation by 9:00 a.m., followed by motor coach transfer to the Memphis Airport.

Breakfast: Breakfast on board the American Duchess

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. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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