Mississippi River
The Best of the Mississippi River: Voyage Into Southern Heritage
Explore the Mississippi River aboard a steam-powered paddlewheel riverboat, attending jazz performances, learning about Civil War history and enjoying three nights in New Orleans!
Rating (5)
Program No. 20994RJ
11 days
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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
Holiday Inn New Orleans Downtown Superdome

Activity note: Walking in the hotel

Afternoon: Program Registration & Orientation: 4:30 p.m. After you have your room assignment, check the Lobby message board for the location to register with the Road Scholar program staff, which is also where the Orientation session will take place. You’ll receive a welcome packet with your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: 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 any questions you may have. Meals aboard the American Queen feature traditional Southern recipes. We will have reserved tables exclusively for our Road Scholar group for dinner in the J.M.White Dining Room. Breakfast and lunch on the Front Porch offer casual dining or you may dine in the J.M. White Dining room. Shipboard dinners only, include complimentary house wines, house-select beers, coffees, teas and soft drinks. Ground travel and transfers will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise.Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet dinner with choice of entrée and coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Private Dixieland jazz performance at hotel.

Katrina, Lake Pontchartrain, City Park
New Orleans, Louisiana
Holiday Inn New Orleans Downtown Superdome

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: At the hotel in the Holiday Streetcar Restaurant, the breakfast buffet offers hot and cold choices such as eggs, bacon, pancakes, cereals, yogurt, fruit, milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll take a field trip via motor coach with expert 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 one of the famed and mysterious above-ground cemeteries where the departed 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 that encouraged the development of beautiful gardens.

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. 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
Holiday Inn New Orleans Downtown Superdome

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. Cooking School Demonstration and dinner in the French Quarter.

Breakfast: Buffet 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 the a local restaurat

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. Or use provided vouchers 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.

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.

Brunch Court of two Sisters, WWII Museum Board the AQ
New Orleans, Louisiana
American Queen

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: Jazz Brunch at famous Court of Two Sisters in historic French Quarter. enjoy a wonderful buffet with everything from turtle soup to Bananas Foster and everything in between. While you relax and visit with your fellow participants, listen to the jazz that will be playing while we eat.

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: Your first dinner onboard the American Queen will beat 5:15 pm in the Main Dining room, We will have our own tables, so that we may get to know our fellow participanst better.

Evening: Musical performance as you float down the Mississippi.

Oak Alley and Laura Plantations, Vacherie, LA
Vacherie-Oak Alley
American Queen

Activity note: You will have to walk 6 blocks from the boat to the front of the Oak Alley Plantation (golf carts not allowed on the brick path) There are stairs to the second floor and a video of it if you are not able to climb stairs. We will take a bus to Laura Plantation from Oak Alley, The grounds are grass and gravel.There is a second floor, also.

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: Located in the Saint James Parish, Oak Alley is a much-photographed plantation that combines architectural splendor and the natural wonder of its 300-year-old oak trees. Spend time strolling beneath the canopy of these trees, and learn about the rich history and culture of this southern estate. The plantation is 2 stories, but there is a video of the second floor if steps are a problem. Laura is a 2 story sugar plantation built in 1805. This is a story of the fascinating world of the Creoles who, lived here for over 200 years.

Lunch: Lunch onboard the American Queen

Afternoon: Lecture:"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.

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

Activity note: There are golf carts to take you to the bus up on the levee if needed. Rosedown Plantations is a 2 story building. The grounds have grass and paths where you are allowed to explore after your experience in the house, before we return to the boat. Also, you will have time to explore the quaint little town of St. Francisville if you care to.

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 Plantation and Gardens built in 1835. This was a cotton plantation and consisted of 3,500 acres and at its height, 450 slaves worked at this and three other plantations.

Lunch: Lunch onboard the American Queen

Afternoon: Lecture:"Southern Sociology and Plantation Architecture" 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.

Natchez MS Tour city, visit plantations, gospel choir
Cruising on American Queen
American Queen

Activity note: There are golf carts to take you to the bus if needed. We have a native from Natchez as our instructor. Longwood and Stanton Hall plantations are short walks from the bus. There is standing in the plantations. We are dropped off right in front of the church and listen to the choir in the afternoon.

Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen.

Morning: Our local expert will take us on a brief city tour with a visit to Longwood Plantation. Step into the plantation lifestyle of the antebellum south in Natchez, site of numerous restored mansions. Longwood Plantation began construction in 1860 and is very unique looking. Octagonal, multistory, Oriental Revival style. As the house was near completion, the Civil War broke out and construction was halted. The house has 32 rooms and only 9 were finished. Our second lovely plantation home was built in 1857, by an Irish Immigrant and cotton merchant, Frederick Stanton . It is a palatial Greek Revival Style residence in the heart of downtown Natchez.

Lunch: Lunch onboard the American Queen

Afternoon: The Natchez Antioch Missionary Baptist Gospel Choir performs just for you. We will drive to this small church in Natchez and listen to a local choir sing some of their favorite songs for us. Get ready to join them in their love of music.

Dinner: Dinner on board the American Queen

Evening: Entertainment in Grand Saloon

Vicksburg Battlefield and Military Park, Vicksburg, MS
American Queen

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 onboard the American Queen.

Morning: We’ll board the motorcoach for a field trip to the 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 onbard the American Queen

Afternoon: Lecture:"American Civil War Casuality" Enjoy activities on the boat or just watch the river go by.

Dinner: Dinner in the J.M. White dining room

Evening: Entertainment nightly

Steamboating all day
Cruising on American Queen
American Queen

Activity note: Cruising on American Queen

Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the ship.

Morning: Lecture:"Atlantic Slave Trade" Relax and maybe take time and go to the Engine Room and visit with the people that keep the boat rolling.

Lunch: Lunch onboard

Afternoon: Lecture "Four 20th Views of Slavery" Enjoy the river as we head to Helena Arkansas The riverlorian is always available for some unanswered questions you may have about the river.

Dinner: Dinner onboard

Evening: Nightly entertainment

Our port of call is Helena, Arkansas
Helena, Arkansas
American Queen

Activity note: Excursions in Helena are , Helena Museum, Delta Cultural Museum, Moore-Hornor House and Pillow-Thompson

Breakfast: Breakfast on the AmericanQueen

Morning: A drive through Cherry Street Historic District with a guide. An area so picturesque it was used in several scenes of "Walk the Line", a 2005 Johnny Cash biopic. Discover museums that beautifully represent the heritage of the region of eastern Arkansas at the Delta Cultural Center

Lunch: Lunch onboard American Queen

Afternoon: Lecture:"Free People of Color" The last day to enjoy the beautiful American Queen.

Dinner: Final dinner onboard American Queen.

Evening: Farewell performance

Disembark, program concludes.

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

Breakfast: Breakfast onboard the American Queen

Morning: We’ll leave the ship for the last time on this program and transfer to the Memphis 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!