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Mississippi Cruise & Chicago Blues

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(Tour code: AQR18)

Follow the route of the 'Blues Highway' by traditional steamboat and Amtrak rail

Travel from New Orleans Chicago, following the route of the 'Blues Highway' by traditional steamboat and Amtrak rail, on a two-week tour packed with Southern charm, historic towns and the Memphis' musical legacy, from Graceland to Sun Studio and Beale Street.

  • Guided tour of New Orleans
  • 7-night Mississippi cruise on board the American Queen
  • Oak Alley Plantation
  • Francisville
  • Natchez
  • Vicksburg
  • Tour of Graceland and Sun Studio
  • Memphis & live music on Beale Street
  • Chicago with live Chicago blues performance
What’s Included
  • 4 nights’ hotel accommodation
    8 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners
  • Return Scheduled Flights
  • 7-night Mississippi River cruise on board the American Queen

Mississippi Cruise & Chicago Blues 2018Tour Details

Print Itinerary
Day 1 Flights

Fly to New Orleans

Our classic US journey begins at London Heathrow, as we begin our journey to New Orleans. Arriving in the Big Easy, we transfer to our hotel, where we overnight.

Day 2 American Queen
American Queen

Cruising the Mississippi

We begin exploring America today with a guided tour of one of its most musical cities. The hometown of jazz, mardi gras and Creole culture, New Orleans is a fascinating example of the American melting-pot, packed with lively character that we soak up this morning. Explore the world-famous French Quarter, with its 18th century buildings and ornate ironwork balconies, and the grand plantation houses of the Garden District. After free time for lunch, we board our ship, the American Queen. Boasting the title as the world's largest riverboat, this elegant steamboat oozes southern charm, from the stately presence of its six decks, to its friendly staff and the authentic paddle-wheel that powers our voyage. We enjoy modern comforts blended seamlessly with old-world nostalgia during our 7-night cruise along the iconic Mississippi River. Take some time to settle into your cabin, ahead of dinner on board this evening.

Day 3 Oak Alley Plantation
Oak Alley Plantation

Oak Alley Plantation

Today our shore excursion takes us into the south's dark past, as we visit the Oak Alley Plantation, a restored house that stands as testament to both the grand lives of Louisiana land owners and the suffering of those enslaved here. One of the many sugar plantations that once lined the Mississippi River, Oak Alley retains the grandeur of its heyday, aided by restorations taken out after 1925. Featuring typical Greek-revival architecture, the approach to this antebellum property is particularly impressive, shaded by a canopy of bowed oak trees, thought to be 300 years old. Our guided tour reveals the history of the magnificent house, sometimes referred to as the 'Grande Dame of the Great River Road', along with its splendid grounds. Alternatively, you could choose to purchase one of the premium excursions available (payable on board the American Queen). After time to explore, we return to our ship.

Day 4 St Francisville
St Francisville

St Francisville

We dock in historic St Francisville this morning, a riverside town dating back to 1809, which we explore on an included sightseeing bus tour. Our hop-on, hop-off ride allows you to delve deeper into sights that peak your interest, whilst the on-board commentary provides an insight into each attraction. For a slice of southern history as American as apple pie, why not pop into Grandmother's Buttons? This quaint Royal Street boutique specialises in jewellery made from 100-year-old buttons, and features a museum dedicated to the store's past for those looking for the Louisiana of days gone by. For an understanding of St Francisville's role in the Civil War, the restored Grace Episcopal Church is a must-see, whilst the Old Market Hall offers a range of souvenir opportunities from local artisans and craftsmen. Back on board, the American Queen continues cruising smoothly through Mississippi's waters this evening.

Day 5 Natchez Plantation
Natchez Plantation


Our ship across the Mississippi state line today, where we disembark for a shore excursion to Natchez - one of the oldest continuously-inhabited towns along the river, with its original settlements dating back to the 8th century. Our hop-on, hop-off bus allows us to explore the city's highlights at a leisurely pace, with stops at points of interest along the way, should you wish to discover more. The Rosalie Mansion, built in 1823 and used as headquarters for Union soldiers during the Civil War, offers a snapshot of Natchez history from this iconic era, whilst the William Johnson House Museum tells the story of a freed 19th century slave who documented the townsfolk's tales, as told to him in his role as the local barber, for 16 years.

Days 6-8 Vicksburg

Vicksburg, Mississippi and Helena, Arkansas

Our port of call today is Vicksburg, a town steeped in Civil War history and once described by Lincoln as the 'Key to the South.' With a hop-on, hop-off bus tour included, absorbing Vicksburg's long and well-documented past couldn't be easier. Day 7 is spent cruising the Mississippi, and on Day 8 our final shore excursion takes us to Helena, a sleepy town that time seemingly forgot. We enjoy our final dinner on board this evening.

Day 9 Graceland

Graceland and Sun Studio

After breakfast today, we disembark the American Queen in Memphis. Here we are met by a coach, which takes us on a fascinating trip to Graceland, the home and fi nal resting place of the King himself. Our time at the 13.8 acre estate includes a guided tour of the mansion and grounds, seeing sights such as Elvis' grave and collection of vintage automobiles, as well as his two custom-built aeroplanes. After free time to arrange lunch, we then head off to Sun Studio, for a fascinating tour of the celebrated record house, renowned for being not only the 'Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll', but also the 'Home of the Blues'. It was in these small recording booths that history was made as some of the world's most famous musicians, including Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash, began their illustrious careers.

The studio is still in use, providing a new generation of musicians with a legendary recording space, whilst still remaining a popular tourist destination. We then head out on to Beale Street, a stopping point for artists following the blues trail from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago. Nowadays, this historic district pays homage to its melodious beginnings through a range of museums, shops, bars and performance spaces all dedicated to the preservation of blues music. We then transfer to our hotel for the night.

Day 10 Memphis Skyline
Memphis Skyline

At leisure in Memphis

You are free to explore this city nestled on the banks of the mighty Mississippi today, which has played an important part in America's history from being a cornerstone of popular music, to an important site connected with the civil rights movement.

You might like to continue your musical education with a visit to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, or pay your respects to Martin Luther King at the motel where he was assassinated - now the National Civil Rights Museum. Alternatively, why not stop at the Chucalissa Archaeological Museum, whose main attraction is a live archaeological site, used to inform visitors about the early lives of the Native Americans? This evening we depart aboard Amtrak's City of New Orleans overnight service to Chicago.

Days 11-12 Chicago


On arrival in Chicago early this afternoon, we enjoy a sightseeing tour by coach, en-route to our hotel. We spend this evening at a local Blues Club, experiencing some of the finest live blues the USA has to offer. Day 12 is free for you to explore the 'Windy City' at your own pace - perhaps delve into Chicago's mobster history, or delight in the cuisine the city is most famous for - pizza.

Days 13-14 Flights

The journey home

Today we bid the States goodbye. We transfer to the airport for our flight back to London, arriving on Day 14, where our tour concludes on arrival.

Departure Times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

What’s included
What's Included

An escorted experience and all travel arrangements

  • The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish
  • Flights from London to New Orleans and from Chicago to London
  • All rail and coach travel throughout

Comfortable accommodation in your destination

  • 4 nights' hotel accommodation
  • 7-night Mississippi River cruise on board the American Queen
  • 1 overnight Amtrak journey in a two-berth roomette

Delicious meals included

  • 21 meals, including 8 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners

Exciting excursions and free time to explore

  • Guided tours of Chicago, Graceland, Sun Studio and New Orleans
  • A range of exciting shore excursions during our Mississippi River cruise
  • Free time to explore Memphis and Chicago under your own steam
Not Included

Enhancing your tour

  • A range of premium shore excursions are available on request during our American Queen cruise
  • Upgrade to a bedroom with a shower and W.C. facilities on Amtrak overnight journeys from £125 per person

This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.

Lynne Broadley
Julie Pacalon
Helen Laverack
Kathryn Cambridge
Mississippi Cruise & Chicago Blues

Follow the route of the 'Blues Highway' by traditional steamboat and Amtrak rail


Worldwide Holidays by Rail 2018/19

Long haul rail holidays to North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australasia.

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