We thoroughly enjoyed this 7 day cruise down the Mississippi at the end of April. Before joining the cruise we spent two nights in Memphis, staying centrally at the Holiday Inn, Downtown, opposite the Peabody hotel, famous for the parade of ducks in the lobby each day. Nearby we visited the Civil Rights Museum, tastefully built behind the facade of the motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated. We also went to the river museum, took a trolley up and down Main Street, and in the evening spent some time in Beale Street, thronged with people, with the 'Blues' booming out from clubs and restaurants. We could also have visited Graceland, about 10 miles out of town.
We joined the boat mid-morning on Saturday. It is a replica of a traditional Steam/Paddle boat. As it was built in 2012 all the amenities are up to date. There were 150 passengers of which 6 were from the UK, 2 from Australia and 2 from Canada. The rest were American. Dining was open seating, the food was good, with complimentary beer and wine at lunch and dinner. The service from the crew was excellent. There were talks about the river in the afternoon and musical entertainment in the evening.
We set off on our 400 mile cruise on the winding Mississippi at lunchtime. The river is up to a mile wide the whole way, with a tree- lined embankment. In the afternoon we were fascinated to watch the commercial traffic going up- river. The largest we saw consisted of 42 large barges strung together in rows of 6 by 7 and pushed by a boat called a towboat.
The next day we arrived in Vicksburg and toured the famous civil war battlefield. Then it was on to Natchez and St Francisville, where we went past and also visited some beautifully restored antebellum homes as well as a working cotton plantation. After that we came to Baton Rouge, the state capital of Louisiana, where on a tour we went to the fascinating Louisiana State Museum and the old State Capitol. We had expected to pay for some of the tours, but at the end of the cruise they all turned out to be complimentary. The next day we came to what was probably the highlight of the cruise, a visit to Oak Alley Plantation, a former sugar plantation, with an imposing mansion, approached by a quarter-mile canopy of magnificent giant live oak trees, believed to be more than 300 years old. They are called 'live' oaks because they are evergreeen. Finally, before reaching New Orleans, we were able to do some kite flying from the open deck, taking care to avoid approaching bridges and passing barges.
We disembarked in New Orleans at 8.30am on Saturday morning for a two night stay. We went straight to our hotel, where fortunately our room was ready. Suggest staying at either of the two Marriott hotels in Canal Street close to the French Quarter. Then it was out for more sightseeing, first to Jackson Square, the hub of the French Quarter, a carriage tour round the Quarter, went into the cathedral and French Market and had coffee and doughnuts at the renowned Cafe du Monde. Later we took the hop-on-hop-off bus round this vibrant city, which included a stop at the Mardi Gras Museum, where the floats are made for the annual parade, and took a trolley round the Garden District, lined with more beautiful houses. In the evening we found two good restaurants near our hotel, Galatoire's and Dickie Brennan's and joined the crowds walking up and down Bourbon Street, with jazz being played everywhere, both on and off the street.
All in all a wonderful holiday, which we can highly recommend.