On this Mississippi cruise vacation, you’ll enjoy some of the South’s grand cities and historical towns along the river. Begin your trip in Nashville with visits to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, where you’ll have reserved seats. In Memphis, board the paddlewheel steamboat American Queen to set sail for your Mississippi cruise. But first, visit Sun Studios, which launched the careers of Elvis, Johnny Cash, and many more, and choose between an excursion to Elvis’ Graceland or a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in the former Lorraine Hotel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.As you cruise along the Mississippi River, stop to see beautifully restored antebellum plantation homes, sample marvelous American and Southern cuisine, and feel like you’ve stepped right into the pages of a Mark Twain adventure. You’ll stop in Helena, a town full of Civil War history and antebellum homes; Vicksburg, where you’ll visit the Vicksburg National Military Park, which preserves the site of the important Civil War battle; Natchez, a town with more antebellum homes than any other city in the United States; St. Francisville, a quaint river town with historic sites, charming restaurants, and fantastic shopping; Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s capital; and Houmas House, a quintessential Southern plantation. The cruise ends in exciting New Orleans, where you’ll enjoy a sightseeing tour and visit to the National World War II Museum.From the exciting cities to the quant river towns, this cruise vacation along the Mississippi River is sure to delight.
Day #1 Arrive in Nashville. Welcome to “Music City!” At 6 pm, meet your fellow traveling companions for a welcome drink. Your Tour Director will prepare you for your upcoming adventure.
Day #2 Nashville. This morning, a Local Guide shows you the sights and sounds of Nashville. See the recording studios of Music Row, the historic downtown, State Capitol, Parthenon, Fort Nashborough, and Ryman Theater. We then visit the COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME to see its collection of costumes, memorabilia, instruments, and photographs. Free time this afternoon to explore on your own. Tonight, enjoy reserved seats for an unforgettable show at the world-famous GRAND OLE OPRY, the mecca for country musicians. (B)NOTE: On departures March 6, November 6, and December 4, the Grand Ole Opry is not available. A private show by one of “Music City’s” most accomplished songwriters will be substituted. This intimate showcase gives you the rare opportunity to hear hit songs in their original form, and from the perspective of the writer who created it. Hear the fascinating stories about the life experiences that motivated the writing of some of the biggest hits of the past 30 years. The performance will conclude with a meet & greet with the writer, where you’ll have a chance to get autographs and photographs.
Day #3 Nashville–Memphis. Today, journey to Memphis, “Home of the Blues.” Upon arrival, visit SUN STUDIO, probably the world’s most famous recording studio and where Rock ’n’ Roll was first recorded. This historic studio launched the careers of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more. This afternoon, see Memphis’ celebrated landmarks with a Local Guide who will play and sing selections from the city’s rich musical heritage, along with generous amounts of comedy and interaction. This evening, enjoy dinner and live music at blues legend B.B. King’s restaurant, located on world-famous Beale Street. (B,D)
Day #4 Memphis (Embarkation)–Cruise Along the Mississippi River. This morning, the choice is yours. You may decide to take an included excursion to GRACELAND, where you can tour Elvis Presley’s fascinating mansion, his private jets, the racquetball building that houses a collection of his ornate jumpsuits and capes, plus the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and members of his family have been laid to rest. Alternately, you can visit the NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM in the former Lorraine Hotel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The museum chronicles key episodes of the American Civil Rights Movement and its legacy to inspire civil and human rights globally through its fascinating exhibits, photos, narratives, and collections. Later this afternoon, board the American Queen and begin your voyage on the mighty Mississippi. (B,D)
Day #5 Cruising: Helena. Helena became a major port shortly after steamboats began traveling the river. Full of Civil War history and beautiful antebellum and Victorian homes, Helena also played an important role in the development of blues music. (B,L,D)
Day #6 Cruising: Vicksburg. Time today to visit Vicksburg National Military Park, which preserves the site of the important Civil War battle. Explore the forts, trenches, and cannons, two antebellum homes, Union gunboat exhibit, and cemetery with the graves of more than 17,000 Civil War soldiers. (B,L,D)
Day #7 Cruising: Natchez. Older than New Orleans and boasting more antebellum homes than any other city in the United States, Natchez is a pure delight. An AVALON EXCLUSIVE: this morning, enjoy a private visit to famed chef Regina Charboneau’s home. Regina is the Culinary Director of the American Queen, as well as a cookbook author. She will welcome you into her home and treat you to some true Southern hospitality. Tour her 1830s home, Twin Oaks, while enjoying savory creations—a morning which is sure to delight. (B,L,D)
Day #8 Cruising: St. Francisville. Experience true Southern hospitality as you explore this quaint river town filled with historic sites, charming restaurants, and fantastic shopping. (B,L,D)
Day #9 Cruising: Baton Rouge. Named by a French explorer for the “red stick” that marked the boundary between tribal hunting grounds along the Mississippi River bluff, Baton Rouge is the capital of Louisiana and one of the largest cities on the river. During your time here, you may want to visit the Lousiana State Museum, the Louisiana State Capitol Building, or the Old Governor’s Mansion. (B,L,D)
Day #10 Cruising: Houmas House. Just over the levee is this quintessential Southern plantation that reveals the opulent lifestyle of 1800s sugar cane farmers. Known as the “Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road,” you’ll enjoy a tour of the grand ANTEBELLUM ESTATE, with plenty of time to wander the 38 lush acres of gardens, ponds, and majestic Live Oak Alley. (B,L,D)
Day #11 New Orleans (Disembarkation). Arrive in the “Big Easy” and enjoy a sightseeing tour with a Local Guide. Explore the French Quarter, including Jackson Square and Pirate’s Alley, then stop at a typical New Orleans above-ground cemetery and learn about the city’s unique burial customs. Drive along tree-lined St. Charles Avenue to see the stately homes boarding the historic Garden District. This afternoon is dedicated to visiting the NATIONAL WORLD WAR II MUSEUM, the war that changed the world. From the beaches of Normandy to the sands of Iwo Jima, the stories of the thousands of the men and women who made Allied victory in World War II possible are told through its fascinating exhibits. Tonight, celebrate your journey with a festive farewell dinner at one of New Orleans’ oldest and most prestigious restaurants. (B,D)
Day #12 New Orleans. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. Transfers are provided to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. (B)