Day 1 - New Orleans
Embark your ship and settle into your stateroom. The birthplace of American jazz, New Orleans exudes a festive atmosphere along the balcony-lined Bourbon Street. Here, in the heart of the French Quarter, soulful rhythms lift the spirit, especially during the city’s Mardi Gras celebration. Founded by French colonists in 1718, New Orleans served as a territorial capital before the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Its distinctive St. Louis Cathedral—named for King Louis IX of France—is the oldest cathedral in the country. The city’s French, African and other influences flavor its vibrant culture and tantalizing Creole cuisine.
Day 2 - Darrow
The Lower Mississippi region is dotted with historic mansions; Darrow is the gateway to these grand homes, meticulously kept to preserve the memory of early Southern American history. Here, imposing houses share the riverscape with moss-draped oak trees and farm fields. It is easy to imagine steamboats and other vessels delivering supplies and materials to these stately front doors. Today, several properties are designated National Historic Landmarks for their architecture, their landscaping, and the contributions of those who maintained the houses and the lands.
Day 3 - St. Francisville
Boasting more than 140 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, St. Francisville is set along one of the most historic bluffs of the Mississippi. The town is said to be “two miles long and two yards wide” because it was originally built on a narrow ridge overlooking the river. Founded in 1809, it is the oldest town in Louisiana’s Florida Parishes. Remarkably, many of St. Francisville’s structures are not its own; rather, they were moved upriver from Bayou Sara in the 1920s after the small settlement was destroyed by years of flooding.
Day 4 - Natchez
Natchez has one of the highest concentrations of historic Southern estates in the country. More than 200 perfectly preserved homes line its avenues. It is the oldest city on the Mississippi, established in 1716 by French colonists and named for the Natchez tribe who once called it home. With its ideal locale, the city became a crossroads among Native American and European cultures. Famously, Natchez was the southern terminus of the Natchez Trace, the overland route to Nashville that allowed traders to bypass the strong upriver currents. Today, it evokes small-town America.
Day 5 - Vicksburg
Located on a high bluff where the Yazoo River flows into the Mississippi, Vicksburg is the epitome of Southern heritage and charm. It was incorporated in 1825 and, with its prime locale on the Mississippi, grew into an important port. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called it “the key to the South.” And it indeed proved to be the site of the conflict’s most pivotal battle, the Battle of Vicksburg, after which the Confederates surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant. The Vicksburg National Military Park preserves the battle site’s rolling green fields and grand monuments.
Day 6 - Baton Rouge
The capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge paints a historic picture on the eastern bank of the Mississippi. Its early success was due to its flood-free location upon the first natural bluff north of The Delta. French explorer Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, named the city after a red-hued pole that marked the area’s tribal hunting grounds. Its cultural diversity—from its Cajun and Creole music and cuisine to its arts offerings—reflects the European immigrant settlers and the African people brought as enslaved people. The city boasts the tallest capitol building in the United States.
Day 7 - New Orleans
Often referred to as “The Big Easy,” the city of New Orleans radiates charm and is renowned for its Southern hospitality. Steeped in a proud musical tradition, some of the finest jazz and blues musicians can be seen performing each night at the many historic venues found throughout the city. New Orleans is also home to the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world, and its four classic lines offer a convenient way to explore the city’s historic homes, parks and museums, which include the New Orleans Museum of Art and the National WWII Museum.
Day 8 - New Orleans
The celebrated cuisine of New Orleans is a melting pot of culinary traditions, combining African, Native American, European and Cajun influences. Its hearty dishes are renowned for their bold flavors and creative use of spices and seafood. Regional favorites include gumbo, a thick stew made with okra, seafood and sausage; and the po’boy, a sandwich filled with fried seafood or meat. The city is also famous for its spicy Creole fare, which features mouthwatering dishes such as shrimp Creole, crawfish étouffée and jambalaya, a rice dish with sausage, chicken and seafood. After breakfast, check out of your hotel and journey home.