Red Wing (Minneapolis) to New Orleans

Fares from $4,399
Zoom map

Cruise Summary

AUTHENTIC AMERICA ON THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI - Have you ever wondered what this country looked like to its early explorers and pioneers? Traveling on the Mississippi and its tributaries, you will be transported back in time to an era of leisurely and romantic travel. Storybook American towns and vibrant, bustling cities combine with the sweeping panoramas that inspired the works of Mark Twain. Authentic America is out there just waiting to be explored, and after three fabulous weeks of historic discovery, you will forever be changed. This voyage is packed with special events, such as blues by Memphis legend Joyce Cobb and her band, songs from the deep South with Bobby Durham, and a homespun show by Dave Para and Cathy Barton featuring a variety of stringed instruments. Beloved author Mark Twain comes to life through expert tribute artist Lewis Hankins, and Bobby Horton revisits the Civil War through songs and stories. Guest favorite Michaelyn Oby puts her own spin on songs by Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughn, and others, while the music of Broadway gets its due in a musical tribute from the American Queen Ensemble and The Steamboat Syncopators. If you love classic pop, be sure to catch Phil Westbrook’s musical tribute to Frank Sinatra, “Come Fly With Me.” That’s just a sampling of the many gems to be enjoyed on this amazing journey, where the past meets the present and the river provides the perfect backdrop for friends old and new to celebrate this beautiful land. 
 
Included Tours:
• See ports of call below for information on included tours.

Pre-Cruise City Stay Package:
• Begin your journey with an unforgettable visit to Lake Itasca, glacier-created birthplace of the Mississippi River. Click Here for full details and package pricing.

Post-Cruise City Stay Package:
• Extend your journey with an unforgettable 3-day/2-night city stay package. Click Here for full details and package pricing.

*All themed entertainment, events and tours are subject to change without notice.

Itinerary

Vessel: American Queen



Day 1: Hotel Stay - Minneapolis, MN

Hotel Stay - Minneapolis, MN

Enjoy your complimentary stay at Radisson Blu Mall of America. The evening is yours to get self-acquainted with the local attractions of Minneapolis. 

Our Hospitality Desk will be located in the hotel for your convenience between 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. It is here that our friendly staff can assist with everything from general questions about your upcoming voyage to reserving Premium Shore Excursions. An American Queen Steamboat Company representative, as well as a local representative, will be readily available to provide you with dining, entertainment, and sight-seeing suggestions so that you may maximize your time in Minneapolis.

Day 2: Red Wing, MN

Departure 5:00 PM
Red Wing, MN

Explore nearby Minneapolis at your leisure or consider a Pre-Cruise Premium Shore Excursion with afternoon transfer to the American Queen.

Pre-Cruise: St. Paul City Tour

Today, discover the rich history of Minnesota’s bustling, energetic capital, St. Paul. Uncover some of the city’s many mysteries as you learn why the city has been divided into two cities, rather than one, why the state capital rooted its home here, and the reasons behind the names “Minneapolis” and “St. Paul.”

At Minnehaha Falls, breathe in the fresh air as the breeze blows a shimmering mist across your cheeks. Watch the fresh water pour off the slick sheets of rock at the top of the cliffs, powerfully funneling into the small body of water located below. At the Minneapolis Stone Arch Bridge admire the beauty of the architectural link that contrasts the metallic structures of the urbane city with the natural glimmer of the Mississippi waters. Watch as the Mississippi rapids channel towards Saint Anthony Falls downstream before visiting the restored Harriet Island Regional Park with its paddlewheel riverboats.

Watch the city unfold through the windows of the motorcoach as we pass some of the most historical treasures of the city including Fort Snelling, St. Paul Cathedral, the Minnesota State Capitol building, the new Guthrie Theater, and Historic Summit Avenue lined in pristine Victorian architecture.

Note: This tour includes an hour and a half lunch stop at West 7th Street where guests can enjoy lunch on their own at one of the many local St. Paul eateries.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
6.5 hours

Day 3: River Cruising

River Cruising

Relax on deck with a copy of Huckleberry Finn or another imaginative selection borrowed from our revered Mark Twain Gallery, enjoy some quiet time in the Ladies' Tea Parlor, or recruit your fellow guests for an exciting board game in our Gentlemen's Card Room. For a remarkable one-of-a-kind experience, take a guided tour of the American Queen's Engine Room to explore the inner workings of our classic, steam-powered vessel. There is always plenty to do between dawn and dusk on the river! 

Day 4: Dubuque, IA

Dubuque, IA

One of the few large cities in Iowa with hills, Dubuque is an extremely popular tourist destination, featuring unique architecture and desirable river location. From the America’s River Project in the Port of Dubuque that transformed the riverfront, to the revitalization of the historic Main Street, the ongoing evolution of the Historic Millwork District downtown, and the impressive and expansive westward growth, Dubuque remains a remarkable city along the Mississippi. Intelligent Community Forum named Dubuque as one of just five U.S. cities as a “Smart21 Community” in 2015 and the National Civic League has named Dubuque as a top All-American City three times in just six years! Guests will surely enjoy exploring this beautiful and unique city as they uncover the history and advancements held within.

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church
This beautiful Romanesque style church is characterized by thick walls, heavy columns and round arches for windows and doors. On foundations 32 inches thick, the walls are built of enduring Bedford limestone from Indiana. Each stone was cut by hand and if one looks carefully, imbedded fossils may be seen. Inside, the original organ from 1897 has been restored and is once again functioning, murals are displayed, and impressive wood-work. The church is most noted for its large collection of Tiffany stained glass windows, which have been called, “one of the five finest Religious Tiffany Collections in the world.” Explore the history and art of the church as an expert guide leads guests through the expansive church explaining some of the most interesting facts.

Dubuque Museum of Art
The Dubuque Museum of Art is the oldest cultural institution in the State of Iowa and was founded over 140 years ago as the Dubuque Art Association. Inside is a permanent collection of over 2,200 works concentrating on 20th-century American art with an emphasis on American Regionalism and artists connected to the Tri-State area. This includes works by Grant Wood, Arthur Geisert, and the complete collection of Edward S. Curtis’ The North American Indian, which is also part of a traveling exhibition program.

The Fenelon Place Elevator
The Fenelon Place Elevator is described as the world’s shortest, steepest scenic railway, 296 feet in length, elevating passengers 189 feet from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place. The railway was constructed in 1882 for the private use by a wealthy local banker and former state senator, J.K. Graves. See a view of the historic Dubuque business district, the river and three states.

Hotel Julien Dubuque
The original structure, four stories high, was called the Waples House and was named after its owner, Peter Waples, a wealthy Dubuque merchant. It was the first building visible to the travelers entering Dubuque from across the Mississippi. The Waples House was furnished extravagantly and was known far and wide for its gourmet cuisine. Now, over 100 years later, after a $33 plus million interior renovation and exterior restoration, Hotel Julien Dubuque has redefined elegance through the blending of its rich history with modern luxury and style.

Grand Opera House
Dubuque’s historic Grand Opera House is the oldest and grandest of more than 16 legitimate theaters that served the community prior to 1900. In 1889, W.L. Bradley, Jr. and other local businessmen invested $100,000 to create this iconic landmark. The architect, Willoughby Edbrooke, selected the Richardsonian Romanesque style and chose red sandstone and Dubuque brick for construction. The 1,100 seat auditorium included 2 balconies, 8 boxes and stalls, and a proscenium large enough to host major theatrical productions. Today, the theater is still used by the community and the productions continue to amaze guests.

Galena, Illinois Including the Home of General Ulysses S. Grant

Unwind as we travel to the beautiful town of Galena, nestled in the rolling hills of Northwest Illinois, enchanting visitors with incredible historic sites and attractions, wonderful specialty shops and unlimited dining options. As you lounge in the comfort of the motorcoach, gaze out on some of Galena’s hidden treasures as they fill the frames of your windows. Admire the pristine architecture of the historical Desoto House Hotel, a functioning hotel constructed in 1855 and named the “Largest Hotel in the West,” as we pass the Old Market House, discover Galena’s community life dating back to 1845, and stare in awe at the pristine 1857 Italianate architecture visible at Galena’s Belvedere Mansion. As our ride comes to a stop, look out the window to see another Italianate-styled brick house – the home of General Ulysses S. Grant! During the Civil War, Galena gave the Union Army nine generals including Ulysses S. Grant, who later became the 18th President of the United States. Admire this fully restored historical home in its authentic 1868 glory as you explore original Grant family furnishings and memorabilia!

The rest of your day in Galena is spent at your leisure. Take all the time needed exploring the remarkable exhibits that dig further into the stories of historical legend, Ulysses S. Grant at the U.S. Grant Museum. After you have seen everything that interests you, use the remaining time to take a short walk to Downtown Galena, a must-stop for shopping lovers. The shopping district offers some of the most quirky and unique boutiques and shops that you can explore, making sure to pick up a memento of your time in this historic town. Downtown Galena harbors many distinctive handcrafted souvenirs, cafés with their own spin on a “cup of joe,” and antique shops creating an atmosphere reminiscent of “Main Street USA.” You will not want to miss out on this exciting adventure through the streets of Galena!

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
4.5 hours

Day 5: Bettendorf, IA (Quad Cities)

Bettendorf, IA (Quad Cities)

Bettendorf, Iowa, is the starting point of historic exploration where you will set off to uncover the intriguing evolution of five individual, yet unified, communities known as the Quad Cities. During the Civil War, the nearby river towns of Davenport, Iowa, Rock Island, Illinois. and Moline, Illinois, thoughtful planning and strong leaders helped them to flourish while other settlements began to fail. It was during this same time period that the three towns began to refer to themselves as the “Tri-Cities.” Today, despite the name “Quad Cities,” the area is comprised of five towns in total with the addition of East Moline, Illinois, and Bettendorf, Iowa. Enjoy the diverse culture of this “melting-pot” city and uncover the stories of Quad Cities’ past in the many museums, boutiques, and eateries!

Isabel Bloom Studio
Isabel Rose Scherer was raised in the city of Davenport and began her artistic lifestyle early. In the early 1930s Isabel attended Grant Wood’s Stone City Art Colony where she learned how to carve limestone sculptures flawlessly. Her legacy lives on in the city of Davenport as her art pieces and influences are seen throughout the city, as well as her protégé, Donna Young, who works to help preserve Bloom’s legacy. During the one-hour-and-fifteen-minute guided tour, enjoy behind-the-scenes access to every step in the making of each Isabel Bloom sculpture. During the tour, discover how this company maintains the legacy of artist Isabel Bloom. Get a glimpse of some of her original art and photos and learn how her innovations still influence what we do today. As a remembrance of the tour, shop the gift shop where you can purchase exclusive sculptures available only to tour guests.

Figge Art Museum
This gigantic glass building on the banks of the Mississippi, designed by British architect David Chipperfield, is home to one of the Midwest’s finest art collections, and hosts world-class traveling exhibitions. Its studios, auditorium and spacious lobby are alive with art classes, lectures and special events that attract visitors of all ages. Tour the facility touching in nearly every style of art, spanning across the world, from classical to modern.

River Music Experience
Founded in 2004, the River Music Experience began primarily as a museum celebrating the roots of music and the Quad-Cities’ musical heritage. The program was so successful that the museum now hosts more live music and offers more opportunities for local musicians to perform. Explore the history of music in the Quad Cities and then stop in the Redstone Room to listen to live music as you snack on a delicious treat offered from the restaurant and bar inside. (Located half a block down West 2nd Street from the Figge Art Museum, then make a right onto Main Street). (Shows will run every hour beginning at 9:30 AM, will the exclusion of 12:30 PM, where no show will be running)

German-American Heritage Center
Founded on August 1, 1994 as a private, not-for-profit organization, the German American Heritage Center (GAHC) seeks to preserve the heritage of German speaking ancestors for present and future generations and to enrich the knowledge of the German immigrant experience. Today, the heritage center has evolved into a museum that includes a large permanent exhibit and two rotating special exhibits. Within the permanent exhibit, visitors enjoy an orientation theater, six education stations, and two restored hotel rooms. Guests enjoy an interactive experience as they learn about immigrants’ journey by sea, train and foot, to their final destination at the German American Heritage Center building, which was originally a very busy hotel for thousands of immigrants in the 1860s.

Quad City Botanicals Center
Explore this award-winning Sun Garden with blooms of exotic tropical flowers, a 14-foot waterfall, and reflecting pools. Outdoor gardens feature magnificent conifer collections, thousands of spring bulbs, colorful and rare perennials. This stunning botanical center hosts extravagent festivals, parties, and events. Be certain to explore the gift shop before you depart.

The John Deere Experience

Discover a true American success story as you learn the legacy behind one of America’s Agricultural giants. We will begin the tour with a trip to the John Deere Harvester Work Factory. This experience will be a favorite for guests of all interests! Learn how John Deere has adapted to the agricultural and economical changes to remain a main producer in the industry. Gaze in awe at the gargantuan machinery as a guide explains each one’s purpose and its evolution while navigating through the factory in the comfort of a tram.

Conclude the day at the John Deere Pavilion where we will see both modern-day and concept machines displayed in their working environments, hear stories about owners and operators as they describe a typical workday and learn about how John Deere equipment has changed their work and helped shape the land. Explore the innovative and refreshing displays on how the industry is pushing for cleaner, more efficient machinery and production. The best part – guests actually have the chance to climb into the seats of the massive machinery and discover the changes and features of both old and new tractors on a hands-on experience unlike ever before! You will have the opportunity to feel the power of a John Deere in action as excavators crawl through simulators in this full sensory tour experience.

All guests must wear long pants and full shoes that cover both the toes and heel. Sandals and open toe shoes are not permitted.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Note: Please keep in mind that due to changes in the factory’s schedules, tours are subject to change which might result in cancellation.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
4.5 hours
Uncovering the Hidden Treasures of LeClaire, Iowa

Perfectly situated along the bend of the Mighty Mississippi River, the city of LeClaire is one of Iowa’s most beautiful hidden treasures. Begin with a journey through the charming streets of this river town and uncover the history and culture intertwined as our local expert sheds light on the most iconic buildings and attractions LeClaire has to offer.

Prepare to begin a fascinating day of exploration as we uncover one of LeClaire’s most prized possessions, the Lone Star Wooden Hull Steam-Powered Paddle Wheel, the very first licensed riverboat pilot on the Mississippi which has been dry docked and displayed directly in the center of a two-story museum for guests to explore from the inside out! Then, explore even more hidden treasures held within the Buffalo Bill Museum, featuring the life of local and nationwide frontiersmen, pilots, engineers, and musicians and their valuable contributions to the evolution of America!

If you have spare time, head across the street and explore LeClaire’s more than ideal downtown shopping district! Weave your way in and out of unique boutiques and shops offering anything from antiques or home décor to trendy clothing and eccentric souvenirs! Grab a quick bite at one of the many eateries before heading to our final destination!

Continue the adventure at the Antique Archeology Shop located just downtown, better known as the home base location for History Channel sensation, “American Pickers.” Browse the impressive selection of quirky and original merchandise and even make an offer!

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
3.75 hours
The Man Behind the Title: The Life and Presidency of Herbert Hoover

In the fall of 1929, America was on the brink of a devastating economic disaster the likes of which have never been replicated to this day. Stock markets crashed, unemployment began to skyrocket and moral was steadily declining, The Great Depression was upon us. It was within this environment that the United States welcomed its 31st president, President Herbert Hoover, into an unrelenting period of hardship in this country’s history.

Born within the walls of a meager two-room home, Herbert Hoover was orphaned at the age of nine and lived his adolescence and early adulthood on uncertain terms. In the small town of West Branch, Iowa President Hoover’s humble beginnings sit, largely untouched as a testament to hard work and dedication in America.

Enjoy a narrated tour of the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site including Hoover’s birthplace and the remaining buildings from his time in West Branch including President and Mrs. Hoover’s grave site and the Presidential Library and Museum. After witnessing his quaint beginnings, step into the grand entryway of the Library and Museum built in his honor to discover the many aspects of the man behind the title. Enjoy a self-guided tour that weaves through his history, ideals, and highlights his great humanitarian efforts overseas. Sit and listen to stories of lives he touched from across the world and view historic footage of the day he was sworn into office.

The story of Herbert Hoover goes beyond his presidency. It’s a true American experience that tells how one man, through family, faith, education and hard work brought himself beyond his simple beginnings.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
4.25 hours

Day 6: Burlington, IA

Burlington, IA

Explored in 1673 by Pere Jaques Marquette and Louis Joliet, the land that is now Des Moines County changed hands from France to Spain, back to France and finally to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. After Lt. Zebulon Pike’s expedition landed at what is now Crapo Park in 1805, it was part of several territories – Louisiana, Indiana, Missouri, and Michigan. In 1834, residents named the land “Burlington” after trader John Gray’s Vermont hometown. When Iowa was named a territory in 1838, Burlington remained the capital. Today, visitors enjoy the sights and attractions of the town as the hills and valleys, prairies, and the Mississippi River create the perfect scenic backdrop.

Des Moines County Heritage Center
The Museum opened in 2009 in the former Burlington Public Library, which was built in 1898. There are nine galleries on three levels in the Museum, each one addressing a different aspect of county history. The 19th Century Gallery illustrates the growth of the small frontier territory into a lively and bustling city of the gaslight era. The 20th Century Gallery on the upper level displays changing exhibits that address the events and social changes of the 1900s. Military, agriculture, and music are all also showcased throughout the museum, as they are all very influential and important aspects of the county’s history.

Garrett-Phelps House Museum
William Garrett, an early Burlington merchant, built a home at the top of the hill overlooking downtown Burlington and the river in 1851. As his family grew and his business became successful, Mr. Garrett enlarged and remodeled the house in 1870. Three generations of his family lived in this home through many tragedies and triumphs. The interior showcases the furnishings and belongings of the Garrett and Phelps families who lived here for more than 100 years. The ballroom on the third floor features Medical Memories, which highlights the years this home served as the first Protestant Hospital. Walk around this exclusive gallery to view the unique medical instruments, uniforms, and photos of that time.

Burlington Capitol Theatre
A grand and beautiful asset to the city. Burlington, Iowa’s 1937 movie theater was once the center of activity in a bustling downtown. The Capitol Theater shut its doors in 1977 and faced the wrecking ball within the next decade. Luckily, it was spared and fully restored to its opulent form. Today, films and live performances are still being offered here, and visitors can admire the beauty of this historical piece of Burlington.

Port of Burlington Welcome Center
The Port of Burlington Welcome Center has vast amounts of information on this area as well as the rest of the state. A scenic plaza area on the east side of the Port showcases the Mississippi riverfront. An outdoor stage located at the south end of the building is the site of Burlington Steamboat Days American Music Festival, which attracts crowds in excess of thousands of visitors every third week in June. Explore the unique gift shop, The Iowa Store, to pick out the perfect souvenir of Burlington. The store offers a wide selection of one-of-a-kind trinkets, jewelry, and art pieces handcrafted by local artists!

Live Cabaret Show in the Bart Howard Room

Songwriter Bart Howard, a Burlington native, has been described as “elegant, urbane and smart in business matters.” “Lena Horne” included Howard's “Let Me Love You” in her repertoire. When Frank Sinatra turned 50, he asked Howard to write a song for him, and Howard composed “The Man in the Looking Glass,” which Sinatra included in his 1965 September of My Years album. “Fly Me to the Moon” became widely known to all generations when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and NASA essentially adopted the song. Nearly all of the greats from Tony Bennett to Johnny Mathis have recorded his songs.

Bart Howard began his career at the age of 16 as a pianist for a touring dance band that toured with the specialty act, Daisy and Violet Hilton – conjoined twins. Shortly after this, Howard entered the US Army for four years. He returned to his passion in 1951, when he began playing regular gigs at Tony’s West Side Club in New York City, eventually becoming the M.C. and accompanist at the Blue Angel in Manhattan. His career took off, but Howard always managed to stay true to the music.

Howard was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1999 (for “Fly Me to the Moon” – the Towering Song Award, given to creators of a song that uniquely influenced the culture over the years) and at the end of his life saw his music regaining popularity. Today we can enjoy a live cabaret show of his music and other cabaret standards in the room named in his honor. This hour long show will take you back in time when Sinatra, Martin, Horn and others ruled the airwaves. Because of the intimacy of this room space is limited to 40 persons.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
2 hours

Day 7: Hannibal, MO

Hannibal, MO

Hannibal, Missouri has a rich history, diverse industrial economy, and truly remarkable arts. The city was founded in 1819 by Moses D. Bates and became a popular stop along the river for many steamboats traveling up the Mississippi River. Hannibal offers more parks per citizens than most towns in the Midwest and was included in the famous “50 Miles of Art.” Today, the most popular draw of this quirky town is Hannibal’s very own Samuel Langhorne Clemens, recognized world-wide as Mark Twain. Many of the popular characters featured in Twain’s novels were based on people Clemens had known while growing up in Hannibal. Many of the characters and influences of this American icon are weaved into the streets, shops, restaurants, and museums of Hannibal waiting to be uncovered.

Big River Train Town
This Hannibal gem is packed with more toy trains than you have probably ever seen. Enjoy authentic replicas as they move swiftly along the tracks or learn the history of the models and the trains they are made after. As you walk around, relive your childhood and learn the stories of the railways’ past as you view some authentic memorabilia.

The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum
This included tour visits seven buildings, five of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and two that are highly interactive museums showcasing fifteen original Norman Rockwell paintings! Learn about the Hannibal of Samuel Clemens’s childhood and explore the stories created through the powerful imagination of American icon, Mark Twain. Building 1: Interpretive Center – Here, explore interactive exhibits highlighting the stories and life of Samuel Clemens. Building 2: Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home & Garden – See the home where Clemens was raised, and where the adventures of Tom Sawyer took place, along with the home’s lovely gardens. Building 3: Boyhood Home Gift Shop – The original museum, which was built in 1937, now houses a gift shop offering Twain’s books. Building 4: Huckleberry Finn House – The childhood home of Tom Blankenship, the model for Huck Finn. Building 5: Becky Thatcher House – The home of Laura Hawkins, the inspiration for Becky. Building 6: J.M. Clemens Justice of the Peace Office – The location where Sam’s father held court. Building 7: Mark Twain Museum Gallery – This lovely two-story building features interactive exhibits, the Norman Rockwell Gallery, and treasured Clemens family artifacts. Live performances occur throughout the day at specific times. Tom & Huck Statue – Located at the foot of Cardiff Hill and offering a perfect location for a photo!

Trinity Episcopal Church
For more than 150 years, the Sanctuary of Trinity Episcopal Church, designed by architect Joseph A. Miller, has stood the test of time. With an interior consisting of a deeply arched heavy wooden beamed ceiling, beautiful bronze lanterns and side wall lamps, an impressive pipe organ and 18 illustriously conceived stained glass windows, Trinity Church is truly a historic marvel. As you step into the church, you are immediately transported back into time and enveloped by Hannibal’s past. Early church members commissioned well-known artists to design the Sanctuary’s beautiful stained glass windows. With signature designs by Charles Booth, Emil Frei, Jr. and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Glass Company, these windows are truly remarkable in their diverse artistic style, thematic construction and conceptual execution.

Cave Hollow West Winery
A fun place to meet other people and relax while enjoying local wine, beer and light snacks such as cheese and crackers! 

Karlocks Kars and Pop Culture Museum
Take a self-guided tour through Hannibal’s newest attraction! There is over 10,000 Square feet of artifacts which allow you to relive historic, pop culture moments. This museum also features over a dozen vintage cars, arcade games, 100’s of signs & posters, movie props jukeboxes and so much more! 

Hannibal History Museum 
Through interactive exhibits, artifacts and historic photos, the Hannibal History Museum tells the story of Hannibal’s remarkable past with exhibits including the founding of Hannibal which showcases how the New Madrid Earthquake and the failed settlement of Marion City affected the fledgling river town of Hannibal. Other exhibits include Antebellum Hannibal, Hannibal’s Civil War,  the Lumber Barons, The 20th Century Industry, The Art of Architecture, the Prominent Hannibalians and so much more!

Mississippi Mud...A Hands-on Experience

Prepare yourself for a day of creativity and expression as we set out for the working studio at Ayer’s Pottery. As you enter this quaint and quirky shop, take in the organic, earthy aroma that radiates from each rustic brick lining the walls of the gallery. Walk the perimeter of the gallery, appreciating unique, hand-crafted pottery pieces ranging in different sizes, shapes, and textures.

Admire the delicate and fragile ceramic shapes that were created by the molding and forming of professional potter, Steve Ayers. His unique and absolutely stunning pieces are recognized nationwide for their particularly rich colored glazes. Get a personal demonstration of this artisan as he works his hands into the clay and produce one-of-a-kind art, look around at all of Ayer’s masterpieces – all of which are fully functional and contain no lead and is both dishwasher and microwave safe!

Then, get ready to suit up and give it a try for yourself! Head down to the workshop, and become an artist, spinning your very own potter’s wheel as you try out some of the techniques you watched during the demonstration. Feel your mind drift into serenity as you press your thumbs into the cool, damp clay, molding a piece of art into your very own souvenir. Project your creative mind and personality into a masterpiece that will then be fired up and shipped to your home as a perfect and unique keepsake of your Hannibal adventure! Protective apron/suit will be provided, but keep in mind that creativity can be messy business! Let your creative juices flow! Please note in advance that in order to proceed to the workshop, guests will need to be able to travel down a 16-step flight of steps comfortably.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
1.5 hours
Muddy River Radio's Live Rendition of "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

In the early 1900s, a groundbreaking invention changed household entertainment. Step back in time to an era before television, the internet and social media – the Golden Age of Radio. With the invention of the radio, for the first time in history, Americans could receive timely information, sometimes up to the minute, an unfathomable concept at the time.

With the introduction of radios in most households around the country, the entertainment industry began to explode like an uncontainable, vibrant wildfire which swept across the nation, enticing listeners from coast to coast. Sounds of swing music, smooth jazz, presidential addresses, and globalized news reports became the anthem of our country. Perhaps the most popular and captivating, though, were the contemporary sounds of live radio theatre productions, which prompted families to gather around the radio and, for a moment, forget the worries of everyday live in the early 1900s.

Join us as we journey into the heart of Hannibal, Missouri, hometown of American icon Mark Twain. Arrive at the Mark Twain Museum Gallery, where, surrounded by artifacts from Twain’s illustrious career, you will experience one of Twain’s novels brought to life by the talented actors of the Muddy River Radio Theater group. From moving monologues to sound effects, everything will be performed live, right in front of your eyes! See for yourself how live radio would have been recorded in the Golden Age of Radio and be swept away by one of Twain’s most beloved stories.

The group will take the stage and offer a nostalgic present for our guests with their rendition of America’s famous novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This entirely acoustic performance will showcase the power of sound to recreate a story near and dear to the Mississippi region. Enjoy Muddy River Radio’s masterful interpretation, alluring your imagination to run wild as Tom and his gang are brought to life!

Do not miss out on this exclusive opportunity to celebrate the Mississippi region and an era that has faded into our history books!

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
1.75 hours

Day 8: St. Louis, MO

St. Louis, MO

St. Louis, Missouri, famously referred to as the “Gateway City,” is known for its diverse neighborhoods and the different cultures and traditions each one brings forth. The iconic city was founded in 1764 by French explorers who settled on the east side of the Mississippi, claiming the land as their fur trading post. In 1803, the city’s name began to spread as the beginning point for the famous Louis and Clark Expedition. The city is typically associated with its 630-foot stainless steel monument, the Gateway Arch, which stands proud on the banks of the Mississippi River to symbolize the westward expansion of the United States.

Driving Tour of St. Louis
Enjoy a narrated Driving tour of St. Louis that will include all the major sights including a stop to take a photo of the Gateway Arch!

The Lewis and Clark Gateway to the West St. Louis City Tour

Begin your day of historic exploration in the city known as “The Gateway to the West.” Renowned as an important location during the iconic Lewis and Clark exploration in 1804, today’s excursion weaves through the streets of St. Louis and follows the footsteps of the intrepid explorers in the days leading up to their momentous departure.

A local historian leads this city tour and narrates the story of how St. Louis became one of America’s most beloved cities. Uncover the city’s deep-rooted history and see iconic sights throughout St. Louis, including the beautiful Forest Park, Cathedral Basilica, and the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, as well as Downtown St. Louis.

Perched on the eastern edge of Forest Park and over a century old, the chic Central West End is full of charming sidewalk cafés, galleries, antique shops, restaurants, boutiques, and pubs. It’s a little European, a little New York, and totally St. Louis. Here, guests can stroll the tree-lined streets and enjoy lunch on their own at one of the area’s many eateries.

Departing the Central West End, one of America’s most prominent landmarks comes into view. The Gateway Arch rises high over the Mississippi River marking the heroic and intrepid journey of Lewis and Clark. Stand in the shadow of this massive monument for a picture-perfect photo stop before heading to Hartford, Illinois to uncover little-known facts of how the Corps of Discovery started its journey.

At the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower monument, two identical and strategically placed towers mark a significant moment in the formation of the Corps of Discovery. Rising 180 feet into the sky, one tower points toward the Mississippi River and the other, the Missouri River, marking the confluence where Lewis and Clark converged to set off on their journey. Take a short ride up to the top of the towers to admire the breathtaking view of the Midwestern countryside below.

Our final stop brings us to the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site, an incredible museum dedicated to sharing the stories of the explorers. The guided tour of this 14,000 square-foot facility delves into stories rarely heard, weaving through extraordinary exhibits and galleries, which include a replica of the 55-foot keelboat used by the Corps to navigate the waters of the Missouri River. Enter a dream-like realm in the state-of-the-art theater, where a high-definition interpretive video will be shown. Throughout the museum, spend time admiring the journals of Lewis and Clark in which they transcribed the events and experiences they encountered on their journey.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
5.5 hours

Day 9: River Cruising

River Cruising

There is always plenty to do between dawn and dusk on the river and today is the perfect day to enjoy the many public spaces and activities that are available to you onboard. Consider booking an indulgent, stress-relieving massage in the American Queen's spa. Browse The Emporium gift shop for that perfect keepsake, or take the time to mingle with fellow guests. 

Day 10: Memphis, TN

Memphis, TN

Memphis is a city built on melody from the jazz dives and blues clubs of Beale Street to the Memphis Rock 'N' Soul Museum, Gibson Guitar factory, Sun Studio and the famous Stax Museum of American Soul Music. In a city of contrasts, the tragic but uplifting stories of the National Civil Rights Museum are balanced by the frivolity of the twice-daily march of the ducks at the Peabody Hotel.

National Civil Rights Museum
Located at the Lorraine Motel, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., chronicles key episodes of the American Civil and human rights efforts globally, through collections, exhibitions, and educational programs (Admission Additional)

Memphis Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum
See the complete story of Memphis music history, as researched by the Smithsonian Institution. This museum tells of the musical pioneers and legends of all racial and socioeconomical backgrounds who, for the love of music, overcame obstacles to create musical sound that changed the world.

Beale Street
Beale Street is a significant location in the city’s history as well as in the history of the blues. Step into the center for Southern Folklore, a non-profit organization that show cases and celebrates the culture - the foods, the music, the arts, the traditions, and the stories of the South.

Auto Zone Park & Peabody Hotel
AutoZone Park is home of the minor league baseball team, the Memphis Redbirds. The Peabody Hotel is a luxury hotel in Downtown Memphis. Well known for the famous “Peabody Ducks” the hotel rooftop, but make a daily trek at 11:00 AM to the hotel’s lobby in a “March of Ducks” celebration.

Memphis Music Hall of Fame
More than a century ago, music began pouring into Memphis, Tennessee. Musicians of all races and backgrounds came together and, for the love of music, created a sound that changed the cultural complexion of the world forever. America’s music exploded out of Memphis. Today, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame honors many of the greatest musicians of all time, who created this city’s musical legacy, and who shook our planet to the core!

The Elvis Experience

Includes an all-access pass to Graceland, a guided tour through Memphis and a walk on Beale Street!

Enhance Mississippi River journey with a special tour throughout the streets of Memphis and on to the home of the King himself - Graceland Mansion!

Enter through “The King's” front door where the presence of Elvis can still be felt within the walls as you walk through the same rooms as he did after a long day's performance. Custom crafted and state-of-the art iPads will help guide your way through each room, providing thoughtful narration by actor and Elvis enthusiast, John Stamos as well as personal commentary by Elvis' daughter, Lisa Marie Presley.

At this musical mecca, discover distinctly “Elvis” rooms such as the famous “Jungle Room,” an homage to “The King's” love for Hawaii, featuring green shagged carpets, exotically carved woodwork, and a Polynesian feel. View “Vernon's Office,” where Elvis' father, Vernon Presley, managed his career, as well as the Trophy Building and Racquetball Building, where you will find hundreds of awards and accolades, received throughout his career as well as those awarded posthumously. Just outside the mansion, a short stroll through the Meditation Garden, where “The King's” final resting place is located alongside other members of his family. Pay your respects to Elvis and his contributions to American music and entertainment, knowing his legacy resonates throughout the world and spans multiple generations.

But the adventure doesn't end there! This Elvis experience continues with exclusive exhibits including: 

• Graceland Mansion Audio-Guided Tour with New Orientation Film 

• Full Access to State-of-the-Art Visitor Entertainment Complex - NEW! 

• Elvis' Two Custom Airplanes 

• Elvis Presley Car Museum - NEW! 

• Elvis: The Entertainer Career Showcase Museum - NEW! 

• Elvis Discover Exhibits - NEW!

The journey continues with Graceland in our rearview and Memphis's heart and soul - Beale Street ahead. Oozing with the gritty feeling of the blues and rock `n' roll, Beale Street's musical history is alive in every store front lining the road, street band performing on the corner, and brick paving our way. A larger-than-life iconic brass statue of Elvis marks the starting point of the “Walking in Memphis” portion of this exclusive excursion. Here, we will experience the most famous street in Memphis as our local guide leads us through the vibrant city he calls home. Our personal and exclusive guide shares his infectious enthusiasm and love for this southern city as he narrates stories of his favorite attractions as we walk past. A stroll along Beale Street is littered with music, history, culture and the sweet smell of smoky barbeque wafting through the alleys.

You will not want to miss this exclusive experience through the Music City!

Transportation
Provided
Duration
6.25 hours

Day 11: Helena, AR

Helena, AR

Founded in 1833 as an industrious port city, Helena is now experiencing a rebirth with a blend of thriving entrepreneurship and Southern hospitality. Helena’s successful marriage of old world culture and urban revival can be attributed in part to the many young professionals that now call Helena home. In the 1940s and 1950s, blues music became extremely popular and Helena was the center of it all. King Biscuit Time is the longest running blues radio show in the entire country and it has served as an inspiration for many famous musicians. The show started in 1941 and was the only radio show in the entire country to feature African American musicians. The year it began, a group of African American blues musicians were given one hour on the radio on the condition that they sign a sponsor, which King Biscuit Flour agreed to do.

Helena Museum
The Helena Museum has its earliest beginnings in 1874 as part of a volunteer fire company. This company, named the Hook and Ladder, began lending books and newspapers to the public. After several incarnations, the library, the original component of the museum, began acquiring donations of historic artifacts, and in 1929 a new museum wing was completed to showcase the collection. The Helena Museum has the distinction of being the oldest purpose-built museum in the state of Arkansas, and features an impressive collection of Thomas Edison memorabilia, works by Mark Twain, Civil War artifacts, and Native American collections.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church
Built in 1934 and designed by architect Charles Eames, St. Mary’s Catholic Church has the distinction of being Eames first large commission. Charles Eames is widely known for his modern furniture designs and his work on St. Mary’s Catholic Church reflected a departure from traditional architectural design employed in church building. During the early 20th century, people were accustomed to Renaissance-style churches. This church however is a modern interpretation of medieval-esque design. The church is designed to resemble the world-half in light and half in dark. Admire the qualities about this church that make it stand out from the rest of its time. Notice features such as the large wall space contrasted with very little window space, dark ceilings showcasing the exposed beams, painted brick walls, and unique light fixtures that all contribute to a genuine medieval atmosphere.

Freedom Park
This beautiful park, the location of a Civil War camp of “contraband” (former slaves), encourages contemplation. Five interpretive stations explore the experiences of these Freedom Seekers who followed the Union Army into Helena in 1862. The many interpretive panels discuss the courage and hardships encountered by African Americans as they moved from fugitive slave, to freedom, and for some, enlistment in the Union Army. This park is the first site in Arkansas to be designated as a “Network to Freedom” site through the National Park Service Underground Railroad Program.

Fort Curtis
The original Fort Curtis was built soon after Union forces occupied Helena in 1862 and served in the Union defense during the Battle of Helena in July of 1863. This replica, named after the Union General in command - Samuel R. Curtis, allows visitors to experience an earthen fort, including the massive 24-pounder guns. Exhibit panels and costumed interpreters portray the story of the original fort, its unique construction, and role the fort played in Civil War era Helena.

Pillow-Thompson House
Built in 1896 by Jerome B. Pillow, the historic Pillow- Thompson House has been beautifully restored to offer visitors a look at one of the finest examples of Queen Anne Architecture in the South. The home features many original furnishings and showcases the quality and high degree of Victorian embellishments that were utilized in the construction of many finer homes in Helena during the Gilded Age.

Delta Cultural Center
Experience the history of Helena through two interactive museums the Visitor’s Center and the Depot. The Visitor’s Center, located just one block north of the Depot, features “Delta Sounds” music exhibit, a live radio studio, and the Museum Store. The Depot features the exhibit “A Heritage of Determination” which depicts the history of the Delta from its earliest inhabitants through settlement and subsequent Mississippi River Floods. Upstairs there is an exhibit called “Civil War in the Delta” which explains the Battle of Helena.

Mississippi Delta Gospel and the Birthplace of the Blues

Experience the Blues, un-filtered and un-refined, as we set off on the Blues Trail to the place where it all began. This experience begins with a visit to the Greater First Baptist Church, where a rousing gospel choir performance is sure to inspire. As we funnel into the warm and cozy church and into the rustic, wooden pews, listen as Reverend Hughes welcomes us to the heart of the Delta, where gospel was born. Renditions of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” will have you swaying back and forth and clapping along before making our way to Clarksdale, Mississippi – known as the “Birthplace of the Blues!”

Soak in this quintessential southern town on a narrated tour – explore all of the highlights landing it on the Blues Trail. Clarksdale is so passionate about its Blues roots that the buildings and sidewalks ooze that gritty feeling evoked by the music of the region. From the weathered store fronts, guarded by well-used furniture and covered in faded paint—this town is proudly displaying its culture. Then, experience the blues in its’ pure and raw excellence at the Delta Blues Museum, where exhibits captivate the history and heritage of the Blues made by legends such as Sam Cooke, Muddy Waters, and Tennessee Williams.

Just a short walk across the street will bring us to Ground Zero Blues Club. This iconic juke joint, owned by Golden Globe winning actor Morgan Freeman, accurately showcases the nuances of the Blues. This dimly lit musical haven truly captures the authenticity in every inch of the building. From the mismatched furniture, to the artwork and artifacts adorning the already too cluttered walls lit only by strings of lights hung from the exposed beams—feel completely cultural immersed. See, hear, and taste the culture that is the Blues. Grab a chair and belly up to the table as a sampling of traditionally Southern snacks are offered for your enjoyment. While delving into fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, fried green beans, and sweet potato fries, enjoy an exclusive live musical performance by a local Blues legend offering a unique cultural experience to complete your cultural experience of the birthplace of the Blues.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
4.75 hours

Day 12: Vicksburg, MS

Vicksburg, MS

Vicksburg perfectly blends Southern culture and heritage with exciting modern-day attractions. Described as the “Key to the South” by Abraham Lincoln, this southern town carries a history unlike any other Civil War city. Vicksburg was founded in 1811 and grew as a vital river port city. It was a major component to the Civil War and carries much of the history within the town. Today, Vicksburg is a popular spot for tourists to learn about the battles of the city, taste the cuisine, visit the many museums, and pick out the perfect souvenir.

Church of the Holy Trinity
This incredible church spans over 125 feet long, 52 feet wide, and reaches 61 feet high to the apex of the roof. The church was constructed in Romanesque Revival style, finished in red brick, though it showcases zigzag tracery, which was highly unique to the style at the time. The stained-glass windows may be the main draw – there are 26. They were given as memorials and six of them were created by Tiffany Studios in New York under the supervision of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Anchuca Mansion
The word Anchuca derives from an Indian word meaning, “happy home”, which is the exact vibe this home gives off. Built in 1830 by politician J.W. Mauldin, Anchuca is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the war, the house was used as a shelter for those who had suffered. Tour the home and its beautiful furnishings.

Old Court House Museum
Now a National Historic Landmark, construction for this colossal courthouse began in 1858 and was completed in just two years in 1860 for $100,000. It survived Union shelling, a direct hit from a tornado in 1953, and is now home to the largest collection of Vicksburg’s history. The museum is filled with countless artifacts, including confederate flags, portraits, the trophy antlers won by steamboat Robert E. Lee in an 1870 race, an original Teddy Bear given by Theodore Roosevelt, and many more!

Biedenharn Coca-Cola™ Museum
At the Biedenharn Coca-Cola™ Museum, enjoy the wide variety of Coca-Cola™ memorabilia in an authentic candy store and soda fountain setting. This building is where Coca-Cola™ was bottled for the first time anywhere in the world in 1894.

Lower Mississippi River Museum
This museum’s mission is to show the federal government’s role in the Mississippi’s past as well as future efforts to maintain a healthy river. Guests can explore showcases of the history of Vicksburg and the region or exhibits about the 1927 flood and how it affected Vicksburg and the Mississippi River. Learn about the fish of the river up close in the museum’s 1,515-gallon aquarium or choose your own adventure on the river with the Mississippi Trail Interactive exhibit!

Old Depot Museum
This museum has a 250-sq ft diorama of the Vicksburg Battlefield. It also houses 250 ship models, model railroads with railroading artifacts, 150 model cars cover the development of the automobile, an architectural display with models depicting the different styles of architecture in Vicksburg, and more than 40 original paintings of war on the river and Civil War artifacts.

On the Front Lines of the Civil War

Travel the front lines of one the most important battlefields in the country. Cross into enemy territory, hear the stories and hardships suffered by soldiers and discover what makes Vicksburg such an important city in American history. Aptly described by President Lincoln as “the key to victory,” the Siege and Battle at Vicksburg is a landmark in time that shaped our country and how wars would forever be fought.

Set off for the historic Vicksburg National Military Park. Here, we will travel the 16-mile road that weaves through the 1,300 monuments and markers. As our luxury motorcoach navigates the bluffs and fields that once served as crucial battlegrounds, we’ll cross both Union and Confederate lines and make a few stops to allow for a close-up experience at some of the key points of interest along the way. Tour the USS Cairo and Museum, an Iron Clad River Boat that was raised from the depths of the Mississippi River and can be boarded and fully explored. Climb the steps at the Illinois State Monument, the largest of the 27 state monuments and walk the National Cemetery, a peaceful location holding the largest amount of Civil War burials in the country, as well as the Vicksburg Battlefield Visitor’s Center where an informative fiber-optic display depicts the progression of the siege.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
4.5 hours

Day 13: Natchez, MS

Natchez, MS

This charming river town was first inhabited by Natchez Indians and French explorers who shared the land. It was founded in 1716, making it the oldest city on the Mississippi. The city is known for its elegance, hospitality, and impressive preservation of history – found on every street corner throughout Natchez. Guests will enjoy the unique shops, restaurants, museums, and historical houses located in Natchez, as they explore the beautiful downtown areas.

Rosalie Mansion
In 1716, the French built Fort Rosalie overlooking the Mississippi River. In 1823, a mansion was built by a wealthy cotton planter on land north of the fort. The Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution have since gained ownership and have been maintaining the house and grounds since 1938. On this self-guided tour, discover the history of the house and the artifacts found throughout. Period-dressed docents can be found throughout the home to answer questions and to provide more information! Guests can explore the extensive gardens, gift shop, library, and carriage as well.

Natchez Visitor’s Center
Enjoy a short, 20-minute video in the Visitor’s Center Theater and hear about the history of Natchez. Then, explore the building at your leisure. At the entrance, a scaled display model of the city is showcased. Stop in the office for some general information and questions about the town and its history, including town highlights and points of interest.

William Johnson House Museum
William Johnson was known as the “Barber of Natchez”; he began as a slave and gained his freedom at age eleven. After his freedom, he began to work his way up in society, eventually becoming almost fully accepted within society. As the town barber, William Johnson was able to hear the stories and gossip of many of the residents, which he documented in his diary for over 16 years. His 3-story brick home was built in 1840 and showcases many original furnishings.

Magnolia Hall
This Greek Revival Mansion was built in 1858. The house was built before the breakout of the Civil War in town but did suffer some damage – a cannon ball was launched into their kitchen! It is now fully restored – the main floor offers a showcase of many antiques and furnishings and the upper floors offer a costume collection located in the Historic Clothing Museum. Tour the house and then stop in the gift shop for some souvenirs.

Stanton Hall
Irish Immigrant and cotton merchant Frederick Stanton built this Palatial Greek Revival mansion in 1857. It was appraised at $83,000 during that period, even before it was furnished. Take a 30-minute tour of the house – which takes up the entire block and is fully furnished. Afterwards you can stop for lunch in the Carriage House Restaurant, known for their fine southern cuisine.

King’s Tavern and Charboneau Distillery
Step off the motorcoach and walk through the front gate leading to the second-floor porch of this 1789 building – the oldest structure in the city of Natchez. Join us for an American Queen exclusive tour of the King’s Tavern – a newly opened restaurant and bar, owned by Regina Charboneau, a nationally known chef, and her husband Doug. Enjoy an exclusive tour of the distillery, followed by a guided tour of the bar, located just next door, with a custom drink on the house.

Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture Museum
Here, learn the history and culture of the African Americans over time. The museum will delve into the 300-year-old African American history, spanning four lifetimes from Colonial and Cotton Kingdom Natchez, to the Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movements. As you explore this creative portrayal of the true African American story, you will unfold history to reveal Natchez in a light that is shown nowhere else around.

Home Hosted Visit with Ginger and James

The words “Southern hospitality” evoke images of ornate mansions flanked by arched porches and charming ladies offering warm smiles and stories of southern grandeur. Today, we will experience nothing less on this exclusive home-hosted visit to The Towers, one of Mississippi’s grandest and most elegant privately owned antebellum homes. Here, we will be welcomed like old friends by owners Ginger and James Hyland and guided through their personal home. Set on five manicured acres among ancient oaks, The Towers is a stunning estate of exceptional Italianate design with a rich past. 

Silks, antique lace sheers, and magnificent draperies adorn the walls of The Towers, but unlike most historical homes, there are no roped-off rooms here. This is a one-of-a-kind experience where we’ll be free to explore the home as if we were members of the Hyland family. As we relax on the mansion’s back porch, sipping refreshing mint-infused champagne and soaking in the beauty of the perfectly maintained gardens, Ginger will share stories of her star-studded past. Ginger—the daughter of Lawrence A. Hyland, president of Hughes Aircraft Company and one of the men credited with the invention of radar—will share impressive tales of her past growing up in California, including accompanying her parents to Hollywood parties with Howard Hughes, Walter Matthau, and Jack Lemmon. As an adult, Ginger was able to create her own legacy as the first female president of the American Quarter Horse Association.

Ginger is a charismatic host, and will give us an intimate tour of her house, including rare and stunning glimpses of her trinkets and Victorian-era treasures hidden throughout the mansion. Each piece’s story is more interesting than the last. For instance, the set of goblets elegantly placed atop her antique tables were crafted by Ludwig Moser, famous glassware manufacturer for European royalty, while the place mats they rest upon were hand-crafted for Princess Grace. The intricate, original Carrickmacross lace wedding veil on display is an antique version of the one Kate Middleton wore during her extravagant wedding. Ginger and James’ passion for collecting is obvious, as they can recite the history of every piece on display, and welcome all questions with enthusiasm for the stories of the past.

Our tour ends in the sunny, enclosed back gallery, where will enjoy a delightful taste of southern comfort food during a casual, private visit hosted by the Hylands. We’ll get an exclusive taste of Southern flare as we indulge in scrumptious snacks, as we are introduced to Ginger and James’s dear friend Rene Adams (who also happens to be a renowned local chef). Chef Rene will entertain us with stories of the history of food in the Natchez area, including culinary secrets and authentic recipes.

After a champagne toast, our visit will come to an end, as we bid farewell to our new southern friends. Until next time!

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
2.5 hours
The Story of Cotton in the Antebellum South

Cross the river to Louisiana and visit historic Frogmore Plantation, designated a “Must See Site” by Rand McNally. Frogmore is the only historic & modern, 1800-acre working cotton plantation in the South. Take a seat on an original pew in an 1800s African American plantation church, as the mistress of Frogmore takes the audience back in time. Music fills the air as the “secret songs” are performed by local musicians. Enjoy the gospel songs and hear the narration about life on a cotton plantation.

Continue the experience exploring authentic slave cabins and cotton fields. Take a walk up to the fields and feel free to pick some cotton for a glimpse of the essence of life on a plantation. We encourage all to explore the historic steam engine cotton gin which the Smithsonian Institute states is the rarest of its kind in existence. After a complimentary beverage in the “Sharecropper Plantation Store,” contrast historical methods. On your return to Natchez, your guide will enlighten you with unusual cotton trivia and answer questions.

A visit to Longwood will complete the “Story of Cotton,” with a glimpse into the devastation caused by war and a changing America. This historic antebellum octagonal mansion is the largest of its shape in America. Also known as “Nutt’s Folly,” this unique mansion remains beautifully unfinished and stands symbolically in representation of the last burst of Southern opulence. A reminder of a time before war brought the cotton baron’s dominance to an end. After surviving decades of neglect and abandonment, Longwood stands strong today and is a can’t miss stop when visiting Natchez.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
4 hours
Inside Regina's Kitchen with Celebrity Chef Regina Charboneau

During our visit to Natchez, Mississippi, we will be welcomed into Twin Oaks, a beautiful, southern-style mansion and the personal home of award-winning chef Regina Charboneau. Regina is the author of numerous well-received cookbooks, and is recognized in the culinary world as the personification of southern hospitality. (In fact, she is often complimented for this by none other than Andrew Zimmern.) Regina never ceases to look forward to opening her front door to a limited number of American Queen Steamboat Company guests for intimate culinary experiences around her own dining room table.

Built in 1832, the historic Twin Oaks is a relic of the Antebellum Age of the South. Upon arrival, you'll get a taste of true, down-home hospitality as you're served up delicious southern libations to get nice and cozy before Chef Regina gives a tour of her home, all the while weaving in personal stories of her family and frequent visitors --friends, business colleagues, and celebrities who simply can't get enough of her cooking.

Regina's claim to fame is her much-coveted recipe for picture-perfect, buttery, flaky biscuits. She will share her secrets with you during this very intimate experience. If her southern-style biscuits weren't already enticing enough, Regina serves them on top of her homemade, creamy chicken pot pie. Her ability to take a seemingly simple, traditional dish and elevate it with such finesse never fails to amaze her guests. Not one to be content simply playing the hostess, Regina then invites you into her personal kitchen to get hands-on. You will work with your own dough right alongside her, following this expert's step-by-step instructions to recreate her mouthwatering masterpiece. But it's not all comfort food; you'll get a glimpse into some of Chef Regina's other dishes while at Twin Oaks.

You've never experienced a true southern experience until you spend some time here in Regina's kitchen. There is something about the relaxed atmosphere of Twin Oaks that makes cooking these dishes for yourself, with your own two hands, all the sweeter. Soon, you'll be ready to sample these incredible recipes straight from the oven, fresh, warm, and crispy! Our group of new friends will share some drinks, some pot pie, some laughs --and perhaps even a few surprises --around Regina's dining room table. Not only will you learn Chef Charboneau's inside secrets, but you won't leave her house empty-handed. Regina provides an American Queen Steamboat Company exclusive custom CDs loaded with your new recipes and even a few extras.

Chef Regina Charboneau was born and raised in Natchez, Mississippi. Her culinary success followed the talented chef from Mississippi, to San Francisco, where Regina birthed the idea of “Biscuits & Blues,” which became wildly successful and featured the flavors of her hometown. The nightclub has won multiple WC Handy awards for the Best Blues Club in America. Regina didn't stop there - in 2001, she returned home, where she purchased the historic Twin Oaks Mansion, where she currently resides and continues making strides in the industry. Whether Regina was collaborating as Chef De Cuisine and Culinary Director, sharing her knowledge in her cookbooks, managing and creating menus for her restaurants - including her newest - King's Tavern, or dabbling in the art of rum production with her family at Charboneau Rum Distillery, Regina is sure to bring a piece of the South to the table!

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
2.5 hours

Day 14: St. Francisville, LA

St. Francisville, LA

Established in 1809, St. Francisville is the oldest town in the Florida Parishes. Below where St. Francisville is located currently, was a settlement called Bayou Sara in the 1790’s. When this settlement was destroyed by flooding and fires, many of the structures and artifacts were hauled up the bluff into St. Francisville, where they are still standing. The town is referred to as “two miles long and two yards wide,” but that definitely doesn’t mean they have nothing to offer! Stop in at one of the unique shops, historical homes, beautiful churches, or breathtaking parks and you will agree with that! Spanish moss trees grow throughout the town, lending a beautiful southern comfort to the atmosphere.

Royal Street
Take a stroll down Royal Street at any of the shops or just to admire the beautiful trees and homes. Or stop into Grandmother’s Buttons – a unique boutique that offers jewelry made of 100-year-old buttons. Inside the store, you can visit the button museum to learn the history of the business and the inspirations of the art. The store is located inside of a former historic bank lobby with 16-foot ceilings and a bank vault, even if jewelry is not in your plans – the architecture is beautiful!

Old Market Hall
The structure was built in 1819 and has a beautiful open layout. Now, the building is used as a market center for the towns’ local artisans and craftsmen to showcase their products and host their small businesses. Every day is different, you may see anything from jewelry and makeup, scarves and dresses, or snacks and produce!

West Feliciana Historical Society Museum
This museum is dedicated to the history, people, and architectures of West Feliciana Parish. Inside a former hardware store, built in 1896, the Historical Society Museum displays many artifacts, photos, costumes, and articles all portraying the history of St. Francisville. Just across the street, you can stop in one of the fine boutiques and shops!

Grace Episcopal Church
Built in 1860 and rebuilt in 1893 after the Union caused heavy damage in 1863, Grace Episcopal Church stands tall in St. Francisville. Enjoy a self-guided tour of the church and the grounds and make sure to check out the organ located inside – it dates all the way back to 1860! The church is one of the state’s oldest Protestant churches that still stand today.

Redemption & Rehabilitation at Angola Penitentiary

Recognized by the international travel community during the 2014 Seatrade Convention in Barcelona as one of the three most innovative experiences in the world, we embark on a trip full of second chances, rehabilitation, and redemption. Angola Prison—formerly America’s most dangerous penitentiary is known today as a model facility and takes great pride in the faith-based rehabilitation of its inmates, most of whom will never regain their freedom.

Based on your previous perception of prison, you can’t help but get butterflies as you turn to see the yellow gates and barbed wire of Angola Prison. That perception will be changed today. As we wind through Angola’s vast, rich farmland where over five million pounds of produce are harvested by inmates each year, gaze upon the fields that seem to expand forever. Our ride will wind along the tight roads paved through the grounds as we pass inmates hard at work harvesting crops. We push on, passing inmate housing, cattle herds, the K-9 training facility, and the Rodeo arena. Discover the history of this plantation turned penitentiary, made famous for its troubling history and it’s truly inspirational turn-around, annual Rodeo, and numerous sightings in movies including the blockbuster; “Dead Man Walking.”

We will stop in front of the prison’s first and most famous cell block, stepping off the bus for an exclusive tour of the Red Hat Cell Block. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the penitentiary’s first cell block was home to the escape artist Charlie Frazer and was the site of 11 executions by electric chair. Hear the history of the dark places the prison had been to before its unbelievable transformation.

The journey continues, arriving at the penitentiary’s largest chapel where guests will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear the enlightening stories from current inmates and the journey of their transformation into the inspiration and well-rounded people they are today. Our exclusive excursion ends with a stop at the penitentiary’s on-site museum. While here, learn more about the ongoing effort to change prisons in America, the history of Angola and pick up a unique souvenir as a reminder of the ongoing effort to ensure public safety.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
4 hours
Plantations of the Back Roads: St. Francisville

Today’s experience goes beyond the expectations of a “traditional” southern plantation and offers guided tours of two plantations with a more personal touch. Experience two southern plantations that have deep ancestral ties. Pay close attention to each home during the guided tour – see if the family portrait displayed in both plantations can be found!

We will begin at Rosedown Plantation, one of the most intact documented examples of a domestic plantation complex in the South. It embodies the lifestyle of the antebellum South’s wealthiest planters in a way very few other surviving properties can. The plantation’s landscape is a laboratory for the study and interpretation of the cultural traditions of slavery, the life style of the gentry, and long-standing scientific experiments in agriculture and horticulture. Rosedown was established in the 1830s by Daniel and Martha Barrow Turnbull, and remained in the hands of their descendants until the 1950s. Explore the elaborate home and sprawling gardens and visit the gift shop to search for souvenir reminders of your day exploring the “Plantations of the Back Roads.”

Then, travel to nearby Catalpa, a charming private home that has remained in the same family since the early 1800’s. Owner Mary Thompson, a descendant of the estate’s original family, is a gracious hostess who delights in sharing her grand home, its history and its connection with Rosedown Plantation. In every room of Catalpa, evidence of the family’s rich history lives on. The home is filled with furniture original to Catalpa in addition to china, crystal, silver and portraits that were once at Rosedown Plantation. At the conclusion of your visit, Mary invites all of her guests for a traditional southern farewell on the front porch with a complimentary glass of Sherry.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
4 hours

Day 15: Nottoway Plantation, LA

Nottoway Plantation, LA

Nottoway is the South’s largest, most glorious remaining Antebellum mansion with a rich history dating back to 1859. In a fabulous location along the great River Road overlooking the grand Mississippi River, this “White Castle” of the South transports visitors back to an era of glory and grandeur. Set amongst a natural backdrop of vibrant gardens and two hundred-year-old oak trees, Nottoway Plantation captivates all with a brilliant blend of  true Southern hospitality, history and mystery.

Enjoy an included tour of Nottoway Plantation, the South’s largest remaining antebellum mansion. This stunning historical plantation lies between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and offers a view of a truly grand plantation. The mansion flaunts three-floors, 64-bedrooms, and displays an incredible 22 white square columns which contribute to its’ nickname—“The White Castle of Louisiana.” The most popular room among guests is the White Ballroom, which is painted entirely in white and displays elaborate gold décor throughout. Rooms are trimmed in custom plaster frieze made from Spanish moss, clay, plaster, and mud and are all original to the house. And as if that weren’t enough, this immaculate mansion was constructed with 365 openings—one for each day of the year. Enjoy a guided walking tour of an American Castle as we explore within the pristine walls of Nottoway followed by a stroll through the lush grounds and gardens.

Life in the Bayou Cajun Swamp Tour: Nottoway

Today we explore a true Cajun Experience in the back bayous and swamps of Louisiana. Just down the historical River Road that beautiful Nottoway Plantation resides on, lays an oasis. Flanked by cypress and lush greens, Manchac Swamp offers a glimpse into what settlers of this area found upon arrival to southern Louisiana.

Travel through plantation country as our local guide enlightens us on the affluent southern Louisiana lifestyle during the era when sugar cane was king. After our 45-minute narrated tour of the river, we will arrive in La Place, Louisiana; home to the 250-acre ecosphere called Manchac Swamp.

For the next hour and a half we will be guided through this ecological environment by our knowable Cajun Captain. Enjoy the picturesque sights of moss-draped cypress trees and lush, exotic vegetation cover the wetlands as our tour boat navigates the swamp.

Because our boats are exclusive to this river, the swamp critters have even learned to recognize them as part of their own habitat. At the beckon of the Captain’s call, they emerge from the draping mossy Cypress trees to greet us. This ecosphere harbors American alligators, nutria, ibis, turtle, herons, raccoons, egrets, and species unique to Southern Louisiana. Get up close and personal with baby alligators as they come aboard the boat.

*While Louisiana’s Manchac Swamp is uniquely beautiful year-round, it is possible that alligators and other native wildlife may not be as active throughout these colder months. Please take this into consideration while booking this tour on dates October through December, as well as, February through March.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
4.5 hours
Grand Southern Plantation Tour: Nottoway

Embark on a journey from the capital city through the fields of southern Louisiana towards some of the South’s most prestigious, picturesque and historical plantations. Begin the adventure as we weave through the streets of Baton Rouge on our way to one of the south’s most stunning pieces of history, the Houmas House.

As we come to a stop in front of the Houmas House, its beauty confirms exactly why it is known as, “The Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road.” Beyond its stunning architecture and perfectly manicured gardens, the Houmas House also offers its guests an incredible opportunity to delve into a deep, rooted history. Uncover history of the home, beginning with the indigenous Houmas Indians, the first owners of the plantation, who were given a land grant to occupy the land. Our personal guide, dressed in authentic period clothing will continue escorting us through the home, tracing the history to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, when the property was established as a sugar plantation. After exploring the home’s unique artwork, antique artifacts, and immaculate gardens and grounds, experience culinary traditions of the region in a southern-style buffet lunch followed by free time to explore the home one last time at your leisure or to visit the gift shop.

Then, we head south through the sugarcane fields that helped build Louisiana and visit Oak Alley Plantation. A powerful testimony to the rich history of the antebellum south, Oak Alley invites visitors to explore all facets of her plantation past. The Slavery at Oak Alley exhibit, Civil War exhibit and Big House offer an experience as compelling as the plantation’s 25 historic acres and 300 year old ally of oaks. Then, enjoy the unique and exquisite gift shop at your leisure as we await our luxury motorcoach to continue our plantation journey.

On their own, each location offers the lavish luxuries of true Southern wealth, featuring awe-inspiring mansions, lush gardens, and the quintessential Southern experience—but combined—this tour offers a tri-fecta of Southern opulence and prestige. Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity!

Transportation
Provided
Duration
6.5 hours

Day 16: New Orleans, LA

Arrival 8:00 AM
New Orleans, LA

Thank you for cruising with us! We hope that you had a memorable experience and look forward to welcoming you aboard in the future. Enjoy New Orleans at your leisure or consider a Post-Cruise Premium Shore Excursion with airport transfer.

Post-Cruise: New Orleans Highlights Tour

Embark on an adventure through a city radiating an eccentric and authentic atmosphere and filled to the brim with history and culture close to the heart of America. Explore the history of New Orleans including the first settlers, religion, culture and Mardi Gras. On an exclusive New Orleans narrated driving tour, you will experience the city from an intimate first-person perspective. Relax in the comfort of our motorcoach as we glide past some of the most iconic attractions in the city including the French Quarter, Jackson Square and the Garden District, where elegant mansions stand as a testament to Greek revival, Italianate and Queen Anne Victorian styles. Then, we will travel down St. Charles Avenue, along the famous street car line, where New Orleans’ most prestigious and beautiful colleges, Tulane University and Loyola University are located.

Continue the day in New Orleans’ breathtaking City Park, a 400-acre park located in uptown between St. Charles Avenue and the Mississippi River, built on the site of the 1884 World's Fair. Here, we will take a short break to relax and soak in the awe inspiring scenery of “The Big Easy,” as you are treated to a complimentary coffee and a New Orleans’ signature Morning Call beignet. No trip to New Orleans would be complete without a stop at St. Louis Cemetery # 3, known better as the “The City of the Dead,” which is where we will conclude our exclusive journey through the city of New Orleans!

Note: Our Experience ends at New Orleans International Airport at 12:30 PM or at the official Post-Cruise City Stay Hotel at 1:00 PM.

All shore excursions, prices, and information are subject to change without notice.

Transportation
Provided
Duration
4 hours