America’s Southern Heartland and Mississippi River Cruise – Departs 15 May 2024

enquire now 19 Days From NZD $18,350 pp twinshare
Small group
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Embark on a breathtaking journey through America’s vibrant Southern heartland aboard a mesmerizing river cruise along the mighty Mississippi. Step aboard a luxurious riverboat, where elegant cabins and panoramic views await. Feel the embrace of warm Southern hospitality as you set sail, greeted by the mesmerizing sight of sprawling plantations, charming river towns, and lush, picturesque landscapes.

America is a large country and at its heart is the Mississippi River. The river has made a unique contribution to the history, literature and music of the country as its meanders virtually the whole length of the country from north to south. Our focus is on the lower Mississippi which for so long was the highway for the renowned steamboats and “palaces on paddle-wheels” that so fired the public imagination and gave rise to the great stories of writers like Mark Twain. In Tennessee we enjoy stays in the home of country music, Nashville, before continuing to Memphis, another mecca for musical pilgrims before embarking on a 7 night luxury cruise down the river to New Orleans.


We enjoy multi-night stays in all of these wonderful cities including a full programme of sightseeing.

    • Houston (2 nights)
    • Nashville Tennessee (3 nights)
    • Memphis Tennessee (2 nights)
    • New Orleans (2 nights)


Our home for the 7-night downstream cruise from Memphis to New Orleans is the gracious and elegant “American Jazz”. Its 190 guests can enjoy spacious staterooms with private balconies, beautiful lounges to enjoy afternoon tea and on-board lectures, first class cuisine in the grand dining room, and a full programme of on-shore sightseeing en-route. A truly luxurious and leisurely way to experience the magic of the Mississippi River.


Wednesday 15 May                            Auckland – Houston                                            (D)

We depart on our overnight flight to Houston. Cross International Dateline en route. On arrival this afternoon, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a 2-night stay. This evening, let’s enjoy dinner together.

Thursday 16 May                                           Houston                                           (B)

We start our sightseeing tour in the city passing landmarks like Hermann Park, City Hall and the renowned Museum District. We then travel to Space Centre Houston to learn all about space travel. A tram will take us on a tour of the Johnson Space Centre and we will see the old and new Mission Control Centres and the Saturn V rocket while watching NASA staff at work. There is time to explore the exhibits including Apollo 17 and a full-size replica of a space shuttle. We return to our hotel later this afternoon. The evening is at leisure.

Friday 17 May                        Houston – Nashville                                            (B,D)

Later this morning, we return to Houston Airport in time to join our flight to Nashville for a 3 night stay. On arrival, we are met and transferred to our hotel and the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.

Saturday 18 May                                Nashville                                           (B)

This morning a local guide shows us the sights and sounds of Nashville.  See the recording studios of Music Row, the historic downtown, State Capitol Parthenon, Fort Nashborough, and Ryman Theatre.  We then visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, to see its collection of costumes, memorabilia instruments and photographs.  Free time in the afternoon to explore on your own.  Feel free to visit the recording studios which are open to visitors and maybe this evening enjoy a show at The Grand Ole’ Opry.

Sunday 19 May                                   Nashville                                           (B,D)

A free day today to soak up the atmosphere of this unique music town. Enjoy the performances of aspiring singers and instrumentalists as they perform in cafes and bars in an effort to be discovered. Tonight enjoy Southern cuisine, live entertainment and even country dance lessons at the world famous Wildhorse Saloon located in the heart of the historic district.

Monday 20 May                                 Nashville – Memphis Tennessee                                           (B,D)

We continue our journey through the state of Tennessee and travel to Memphis for a 2 night stay. Welcome to Memphis! Home to Blues, BBQ, Beale Street, and of course, the King of Rock ‘n Roll – Elvis Presley. This evening, we enjoy some southern hospitality at the famous BB King’s Blues Club & Restaurant on historic Beale Street.

Tuesday 21 May                                             Memphis – Graceland                                            (B)

No trip to Memphis is complete without a trip to the home of the “King of Rock n’ Roll,” Elvis Presley. Before venturing just outside of the city to Graceland, our knowledgeable guide takes us on a brief tour of the historic downtown and riverfront area.  The in-depth experience at Graceland allows us to explore fascinating exhibits such as Elvis’ museum, estate grounds, the jungle and trophy rooms, his gravesite, and much more.

Wednesday 22 May                Memphis – Commence Mississippi River Cruise                                            (B,D)

This morning, after check-out from our hotel, we enjoy a comprehensive tour of Memphis during which we will see the iconic sites such as the National Civil Rights Museum, St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital, the Peabody Hotel – featuring the legendary Peabody ducks, and world famous Sun Studios – the birthplace of Rock n’ Roll.

This afternoon, we board the magnificent “American Jazz” for our 7 night downstream cruise to New Orleans. The luxurious and spacious staterooms offer wonderful views of the river from your private balcony. It’s now time to “let the good times roll” as we set sail later this evening.

Thursday 23 May                   Cruising The Mississippi                                            (B,L,D)

Enjoy the passing scenery of the Mississippi River as we cruise from Memphis to Vicksburg. Relax in one of the many spacious lounges or catch gentle breezes on the sun deck.

Friday 24 May            Cruising  – Vicksburg                                           (B,L,D)

In Vicksburg, you’ll find southern hospitality in its most authentic form. It is a city bursting at the seams with history at some of its most poignant turns.  The city served as a pivotal turning point during the American Civil War and we learn all about this and more as a local historian leads us through the National Military Park which commemorates the campaign, siege, and defence of Vicksburg. Our expert guides and park rangers show us the battlefields, the U.S.S. Cairo gunboat, and the most significant historic places.

Saturday 25 May                    Cruising – Natchez                                           (B,L,D)

Sitting high on the bluff above the mighty Mississippi River rests Natchez, a city 300 years in the making. At first glance, Natchez appears to be frozen in time, with perfectly preserved homes and buildings that remind us of days gone by. In fact, over 1,000 of its historic structures are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and we visit one of them, Longwood which was under construction when the civil war broke out and the work was never completed. See the finished first floor with original family furnishings while the upper five stories are still “work in progress”.

Sunday 26 May                       Cruising – St. Francisville                                            (B,L,D)

This quaint southern town is filled with simple pleasures and unique treasures. Located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River, St. Francisville has been called “one of the 200 most beautiful small towns in America.” Taking a stroll through its historic centre awakens an awareness of history with two centuries of architecture and lifestyles. Nearby plantations beckon you back to a time when coquettish southern belles and their chivalrous suitors sipped mint juleps on the shady porches of these grand estates. Our visit includes a tour to Rosedown Plantation where the resident experts will reveal the secrets of the home and original owners, Daniel and Martha Turnbul.

Monday 27 May                     Cruising – Baton Rouge                                           (B,L,D)

Experience the wonder of Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s capital city, one that is rich in culture and heritage. Known affectionately as the Red Stick, Baton Rouge is home to legendary Louisiana Cajun cuisine, fascinating plantation tours, and a variety of attractions and events. During this morning’s guided tour, we visit the Louisiana Old State Capitol followed by a visit to the Louisiana State Museum, a completely interactive museum with three floors of displays detailing each region of Louisiana.

Tuesday 28 May                     Cruising – Oak Alley                                           (B,L,D)

Located on the Mississippi River between the historic cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Oak Alley Plantation has been called the Grande Dame of the Great River Road. A quarter-mile canopy of giant live oak trees forms an impressive avenue that leads you to this classic Greek-revival style antebellum home. This imposing mansion has been restored to its 19th century glory, a noble tribute to those who left an indelible mark on this rich River Region. After a guided tour by “Southern belles” in period costumes, enjoy mint julips on the west lawn.

Wednesday 29 May                            New Orleans – Disembarkation                                            (B)

Sadly, our river cruise comes to an end this morning as we dock in New Orleans. After breakfast, we disembark and join our coach for the morning sightseeing tour of The Crescent City – so named because of its location on a bend in the Mississippi River. The unique southern and French flavour of the city soon becomes apparent on our tour as we see Jackson Square and St Louis Cathedral, the Garden District, Audubon Park, the St Charles Streetcar and the “Cities of The Dead”. At the conclusion of the tour, we check-in to our hotel for a 2 night stay.

Thursday 30 May                               New Orleans                                           (B,D)

A free day in New Orleans today – why not visit the markets, explore the antique shops in the French quarter, maybe enjoy a coffee and beignet in Café du Monde whilst watching the world go by, or even a tour to the Bayou. This evening, lets enjoy dinner together in one of the many restaurants in the French Quarter.

Friday 31 May                        New Orleans – Auckland                                            (B)

Time to head back to the airport today and join our flight back home to Auckland.

Sunday 02 June                        Auckland  

We arrive home early this morning.



Images Courtesy of Maher Tours 

Maher Tours – 2024