Immerse yourself in history and heritage on this journey from New Orleans to Memphis on this 8 day Mississippi River Cruise with Viking River Cruises. Soak up the rich French and Acadian cultures that infuse the Lower Mississippi, and be inspired by the stories of famed musicians and civil rights heroes. Savor delicious Cajun and Creole cuisine, as well as Memphis’s famous BBQ. And stir your soul with the rhythms of Dixieland jazz, Delta blues and gospel. This cruise is NOT escorted by Brian & Shelly Rippy.
Day 1 New Orleans, Louisiana
Arrive in New Orleans and embark your ship.* After check-in, the afternoon is yours to independently explore the city, where its French, African and other influences flavor not only its vibrant culture, but also its tantalizing Creole cuisine. The beloved birthplace of American jazz, historic New Orleans famously exudes a festive atmosphere along the balcony-lined Bourbon Street. Here, in the heart of the famed French Quarter, soulful rhythms lift the spirit, particularly during the city’s world-renowned Mardi Gras. To see how its floats are made and learn the history of this famous yearly celebration, perhaps visit Mardi Gras World, just a short walk from your ship. On board, enjoy an informative lecture on the history and development of New Orleans while you take in a lively musical performance.
Day 2 Darrow, Louisiana
After breakfast, the day is yours to experience the Lower Mississippi—a region dotted with historic mansions, several of which are designated National Historic Landmarks for their architecture, their landscaping, and the contributions of the people who maintained the houses and the lands. Today, you may choose to explore one or several of the historic estates in the area. You may also journey to the famous Manchac Swamp, a wetlands area adorned with hundreds of acres of cypress trees and freshwater marshes. Complete your afternoon with a music presentation.
Day 3 Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Arrive in Baton Rouge, set on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, and take a panoramic city tour of the area. Hear tales of the hardworking, fun-loving Cajun people and their contributions to Louisiana’s history and culture. Your Viking Guest Services staff can help you plan the rest of your day with several optional excursions: a Cajun heritage tour; an exploration of the Atchafalaya Basin by boat or canoe; or a visit to the USS Kidd, the most historically accurate restoration of a World War II vessel in the United States. Tonight, enjoy music in the Explorers’ Lounge.
Day 4 St. Francisville, Louisiana
We continue north on the Mississippi to 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 to serve the commercial and cultural needs of surrounding landowners, 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. Today, we explore this area and visit the historic Rosedown Plantation and ornamental gardens.
Day 5 Natchez, Mississippi
Natchez is the perfect location in which to enjoy small-town America. The town is distinguished by more than 500 historic buildings, including over 200 perfectly preserved homes that still grace its broad avenues. Throughout the day, you can explore shops in the historic district and other sites at your leisure. You may choose to visit one of many pre–Civil War mansions here, some of the most beautifully preserved in this area of the South. The city itself is home to more than 1,000 structures that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After dinner, learn about the life of local artisans and enjoy classical music.
Day 6 Vicksburg, Mississippi
Arriving in Vicksburg, you immediately feel the Southern tradition that flows through the city’s veins. It is rich in history—especially Civil War history. 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. Visit Vicksburg National Military Park, which preserves the battlefield and commemorates the greater Vicksburg Campaign that preceded the battle.
Day 7 Scenic Cruising: Lower Mississippi
Cruising the serpentine route of the Lower Mississippi, you will witness an astonishing array of picturesque landscapes. Sail past deep-green forests, lush vegetation and a patchwork of fertile farmlands—all hugging the shores and hosting a huge variety of birdlife perched in riverside trees, ready to pluck their next meal from the flowing waters. Around you, bluffs rise over the river’s edge. Silos pierce bucolic landscapes. Sandbars and low islands guide the waters as they have for millennia. Passing numerous tributaries and meandering channels, you may appreciate this massive waterway as an epic river system rather than as a singular river. Immerse yourself in the region’s history and culture by reading a book from the Library, participating in a cooking demonstration or attending a lecture. After dinner, enjoy live music in the Explorers’ Lounge and mingle with fellow guests.
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight, or extend your journey with additional nights in Memphis or Nashville.
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