On this elegant river cruise, you’ll discover the traditions of the Cajun and Creole cultures and experience what remains of the grand Antebellum South.
About the Tour
Head down the Mississippi River and back in time on this journey into the Old South. Aboard the stately American Duchess riverboat, you’ll visit sprawling former plantations, riverside towns steeped in Southern Hospitality, and New Orleans, the boisterous birthplace of jazz. Become immersed in the rich culture of the American South, and prepare to be swept away by its Antebellum drama.
- Rail transportation on Amtrak's City of New Orleans
- Hotel accommodation for 2 nights
- 7-nights aboard the American Duchess
- All meals onboard the American Duchess
- Complimentary beverages onboard the American Duchess
- Chicago hop-on/hop-off pass
- Shore excursions at each port
- Daily lectures by onboard historian
Day 1 - Arrive in Chicago
Welcome to The City of the Big Shoulders! Visit one of the cities many breweries, or spend the day surrounded by masterpieces in The Art Institute of Chicago. Overnight Chicago.
Day 2 - Depart Chicago for New Orleans
Today's hop-on/hop-off tour will bring you to the doorstep of Chicago's most popular landmarks. This evening, make your way to Union Station for your 8:05 pm departure aboard Amtrak's City of New Orleans. Settle into your comfortable onboard accommodations and look forward to warmer temperatures. Overnight train.
Day 3 - Arrive New Orleans
Take in all the sights and sounds of New Orleans today as you explore the city at leisure. Nosh on beignets at the famous Café du Monde, explore the French Quarter or admire the lights decorating City Park. Overnight New Orleans.
Day 4 - Board the American Duchess
Make the most of your morning in New Orleans walking along the riverfront or riding the streetcar to some of the city's distinctive neighborhoods. In the afternoon, you'll board the American Duchess to begin your voyage. Kick off with a welcome dinner. Overnight vessel. (D)
Day 5 - Oak Alley, LA
Located in the Saint James Parish, Oak Alley is a photogenic plantation-often called the “Grande Dame of the Great River Road”-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. You'll feel like you've wandered onto the set of “Gone With the Wind.” During your visit, enjoy a guided tour of the Big House and explore the magnificent grounds while sipping a Mint Julep, a quintessential southern staple. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)
Day 6 - St. Francisville, LA
St. Francisville is a quaint town located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. 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 see and do. Hop on our deluxe motor coach, and begin your sightseeing tour at Royal Street. Choose to enjoy the park or shop for holiday gifts in Grandmother's Buttons, a unique southern boutique. Next, we will visit the West Feliciana Historical Society Museum on Ferdinand Street and the Grace Episcopal Church, 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!. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)
Day 7 - Natchez, MS
Visit the Natchez Visitors Center for their gift shop, bookstore and exhibits including a film about this historic port. A narrated tour of the city includes admission to the antebellum mansions: Magnolia Hall, Stanton Hall, Rosalie Mansion and the William Johnson House. We make a stop at King's Tavern and Charboneau Distillery where we take an an exclusive tour of the distillery, followed by a guided tour of the bar, located just next door, with a complimentary custom drink. Admission to the Natchez Museum of African-American History and Culture is also included. Don't miss this illuminating look into the hard lives of the people that built the opulent mansions of Natchez. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)
Day 8 - Vicksburg, MS
In the “Key to the South,” Southern hospitality is alive, well, and waiting for your arrival. With sweeping views of the Mississippi River, Vicksburg blends its Southern heritage with exciting modern-day attractions. Our tour today begins in Vicksburg's shopping district. Then, we will stop at the Church of Holy Trinity: a place of spiritual refreshment to Vicksburg for over 125 years. The next stop, Anchuca Mansion, named from the Choctaw word meaning “happy home,” is one of the most significant homes in Vicksburg. As we come back into the downtown area, we will continue to the Old Court House Museum, which showcases thousands of artifacts from pre-Columbian times to Civil War implements. There will be a stop at Washington Street for some more shopping as well as an included admission to Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum. Afterward, enjoy the Lower Mississippi River Museum, where we can find out how different communities, farming families, and the US Army Corps of Engineers have all utilized the river. Finally, visit the Old Depot Museum, a preservation museum run by the Vicksburg Battlefield Museum, which highlights the Siege of Vicksburg. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)
Day 9 - 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. Gaze at the beautiful landscapes and small river towns as you mingle with fellow guests and discuss the unique aspects of river life. If you fancy a moment for yourself, retreat to The Lincoln Library adorned with ornate bookcases stocked with an imaginative selection. Take hold of a literary classic, curl up on a plush chair in a cozy corner and relish every moment of serenity. The fitness facility, business center, movie theater and grand lobby offer a more stimulating day on the river for those who wish to indulge in more energy-infused activity. However you wish to spend your day, make it your own and revel in every moment. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)
Day 10 - Nottoway, LA
Enjoy a tour of Nottoway Plantation, the South's largest remaining Antebellum mansion. The pillared house and sprawling grounds, once maintained by an enormous slave workforce, stand today as the embodiment of the opulent plantation lifestyle. Enjoy a guided tour of an American Castle as we explore within the pristine walls of Nottoway followed by a stroll through the lush grounds and gardens. Overnight vessel. (B, L, D)
Day 11 - New Orleans
Your tour comes to an end today as you tie up near historic Jackson Square in New Orleans and bid your steamboat adieu. Depart New Orleans on your own. You may wish to extend your stay for another couple of nights to indulge in all that the Big Easy has to offer.
Hotel accommodations include the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago and InterContinental New Orleans.
The American Duchess
The American Duchess is the first all-suite paddlewheeler on U.S. rivers, a floating, intimate masterpiece that can carry up to 166 guests through America's heartland. The paddlewheeler, created from a 1995 hull, was completely reconstructed to become one of the most luxurious river cruising vessels in the country, featuring single-seating main dining and entertainment venues, and soaring ceilings. Her suites range from 180 sq. ft to 550 sq. ft., allowing guests to stay in some of the largest accommodations on the rivers. Combining the best of the old and the new, this beautiful lady of the river epitomizes the grace and grandeur that has made River Cruising a cherished American tradition for more than two centuries. One voyage and you’ll see why.
Loft Suites with Private Balcony offer 550 sq. ft with private balcony, queen bed or two single beds, two full bathrooms with tub/shower combination, Furnished Lounge Area with Sofa-bed and Desk, Keurig® Coffee Maker and Mini Refrigerator, In-room Safe, two Flat-screen TVs, Sliding Glass Doors to Balcony, Observation Deck, and Commodore Services including River Butler.
Owners Suites with Private Balcony offer 550 sq. ft with private balcony, queen bed or two single beds, one full bathroom with tub/shower combination, one half bathroom, furnished lounge area with sofa-bed and desk, in-room safe, 2 flat screen tvs, Keurig® Coffee Maker and Mini Refrigerator, Sliding Glass Doors to Balcony, cabin deck and Commodore Services including River Butler.
Deluxe Suites with Private Balcony offer 450 sq. ft with private balcony, queen bed or two single beds, full bathroom with tub/shower combination, half bathroom, furnished lounge area with sofa bed and desk, Keurig® coffee maker and in room safe, two flat-screen tvs, sliding glass doors to balcony, and cabin and observation decks.
Veranda Suites with Private Balcony include 240 sq. ft with Private Balcony, 330 sq. ft. with Private Balcony (ADA),Queen Bed or Two Single Beds, Full Bathroom with Shower, Furnished Lounge Area with Sofa and Desk, Keurig® Coffee Maker and Mini Refrigerator, In-room Safe, Flat-screen TV, Sliding Glass Doors to Balcony, and Cabin and Observation Decks
Interior Staterooms include 180 sq. ft, 200 sq. ft (ADA), Queen Bed or Two Single Beds, Full Bathroom with Shower, Writing Desk with Chair, Keurig® Coffee Maker and Mini Refrigerator, In-room Safe, Flat-screen TV, and Cabin and Observation Decks
Know before you go
Please be aware Amtrak may experience occasional schedule changes and service disruptions. Vacations By Rail recommends visiting the Amtrak web site prior to your departure for the latest information.
Tour Dates & Prices
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