New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville and the Mississippi
This wonderful journey through the American South combines seven nights cruising the mighty Mississippi aboard a classic paddlewheel steamer with two-night stays in New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville. Discover some of "Ol' Man River's" most enthralling and historic settlements, as you enjoy the luxury of life on board.
Fly to Atlanta, meet your Tour Manager and transfer by coach to your hotel in the Alabama state capital, Montgomery. Rest and relax, and enjoy your first taste of Southern hospitality this evening.
Today you'll cross the sleepy countryside of Harper Lee's Alabama into Louisiana, and head along the Gulf Coast to New Orleans. Check in to your second hotel then make the most of your first evening in this intoxicating place.
This morning's included guided tour is the perfect introduction to the Big Easy. See the iron balconies and covered sidewalks of the French Quarter, and Treme's colourful clapboard houses.
Later, join our optional Louisiana swampland excursion for a glimpse of the city's surrounding countryside and a taste of Creole life, then head back to the 'Quarter', to immerse yourself in the atmosphere.
Head to the quayside, this afternoon, and board American Queen. Settle into your cabin, or enjoy your first evening on board as the stern-mounted paddlewheel of your magnificent floating home makes its first turns through the waters of the mighty Mississippi.
American Queen's first stop is Oak Alley, one of the finest examples of an antebellum plantation mansion in the USA, and named for the 800-foot avenue of southern live oak that runs from the river to the main house.
Back on board, you'll enjoy a wonderful lunch and have ample time to relax and enjoy your luxurious surroundings.
Today American Queen calls at St Francisville, the oldest town in the Florida Parishes. Explore the town (which boasts 140 register historic buildings), and perhaps head to forbidding Angola Penitentiary for a remarkable encounter with tales of redemption and rehabilitation on an award-winning optional premium excursion.
Natchez, the Mississippi's oldest permanent settlement, welcomes us today. Stroll around "the prettiest town in the south", and perhaps stop in one of the riverside cafes and restaurants in notorious Natchez-Under-the-Hill - once a haunt of highwaymen and river pirates!
Vicksburg, described by Abraham Lincoln as "the key to the South", was the site of one of the American Civil War's most significant turning points. Learn about the siege and the subsequent Confederate surrender, then explore the historic port or join an optional premium excursion for a tour of the battlefield and National Cemetery.
Make the most of American Queen's wonderful amenities as you spend a day on board. Visit the gym or the spa, listen to a lecture or simply curl up with a good book in a comfortable lounge or on-deck rocking chair.
Don't miss the chance to visit the Captain's Pilot House or the Engine Room Viewing Area, next to the giant paddlewheel, to see how the wonderful ship operates.
American Queen's last call is pretty Helena on the Mississippi Delta - home of the King Biscuit Time KFFA daily radio show that first broadcast Delta Blues to the world, and that still runs over 60 years later. Step ashore, perhaps listen to the lunchtime show, and wander the streets this, one of Mark Twain's favourite spots.
Bid farewell to your floating palace as you disembark in Memphis early this morning. The King's hometown boasts musical heritage to match anywhere in the world, and you'll have the chance to explore it as we visit Sun Studio, where rock 'n' roll was born, and the preserved majesty of Graceland.
Later head to Beale Street for an evening of barbecue, blues and rock 'n' roll.
Today's optional tour includes more musical high notes at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, as well as a visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel - which stands on the site where Martin Luther King was shot.
We'll head east today, stopping in Tupelo for the chance to take a tour of the 'shotgun shack' where Elvis was born, as we make our way to Nashville.
Nashville's place in country music history is unrivalled. The historic Ryman Auditorium, was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, the Ernest Tubb Record Shop still stands at 417 Broadway, and you'll be able to follow the footsteps of greats around legendary Studio B and explore the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Later, make the most of your final evening with a visit to one of the city's 150-plus live venues.
Enjoy a scenic drive through the wooded hills of Tennessee, calling at Chattanooga (of "Choo Choo" fame!), as we make our way to Atlanta airport where you'll board your overnight flight home.
Arrive back in the UK, after a wonderful holiday.