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Heartland and Mississippi River Cruise 2022

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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. After an initial break in Houston, we fly to St Louis Missouri and focus 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. To conclude the tour with something different, we enjoy time in Las Vegas, an oasis of attractions and entertainment.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

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

  • Houston, Texas (2 nights)
  • St Louis, Missouri (2 nights)
  • Nashville Tennessee (3 nights)
  • Memphis Tennessee (2 nights)
  • New Orleans (2 nights)
  • Las Vegas (3 nights)
  • Los Angeles (2 nights)

MISSISSIPPI RIVER CRUISE (7NIGHTS)

Our home for the 7-night downstream cruise from Memphis to New Orleans is the gracious and elegant “Queen of the Mississippi”. An authentic paddle-steamer only launched in 2015 but built in the style of the grand river ships of years gone by. Its 150 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.

Thursday 02 June                                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.

 

Friday 03 June                                    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.

 

Saturday 04 June                                 Houston – St. Louis Missouri    (B,D)

Later this morning, we return to Houston Airport in time to join our flight to St Louis Missouri for a 2 night stay. On arrival, we are met and transferred to our hotel and the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.

 

Sunday 05 June                                   St Louis       (B)

The largest city in the Great Plains region of midwestern USA, St Louis is an exciting city offering a diverse range of attractions, whether they be historical, cultural, sporting or musical. The city’s iconic Gateway Arch is one of the world’s largest monuments. Our morning city tour will show us the riverfront, Citygarden, the historic neighbourhoods of Soulard and Lafayette Square as well as Forest Park. The afternoon is free – maybe visit the History Museum, Science Centre, or even the Budweiser Brewery.

 

Monday 06 June                                  St. Louis – Nashville Tennessee   (B,D)

After a leisurely breakfast, we hit the road as we travel by coach from Missouri to Tennessee the country music capital of the world, Nashville, for a 3 night stay.

 

Tuesday 07 June                                  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.

 

Wednesday 08 June                            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.

 

Thursday 09 June                                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.

 

Friday 10 June                                    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.

 

Saturday 11 June                     Memphis         (B, D)

Commence Mississippi River Cruise

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 paddlewheel riverboat, “Queen of The Mississippi” for our 7 night downstream cruise to New Orleans. The luxurious and spacious staterooms offer wonderful views of the river from your private balcony. The new ship may look like a grand old lady from the 19th century but levels of comfort and facilities are definitely 21st century. It’s now time to “let the good times roll” as we set sail later this evening.

 

Sunday 12 June                       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.

 

Monday 13 June                      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.

Tuesday 14 June                      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”.

 

Wednesday 15 June                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.

 

Thursday 16 June                    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.

 

Friday 17 June                        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.

 

Saturday 18 June                                 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.

 

Sunday 19 June                                   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.

 

Monday 20 June                                  New Orleans – Las Vegas      (B,D)

Its time to say farewell to New Orleans and the “South” as we move on to a totally different experience. We join our afternoon flight to Las Vegas Nevada, the so-called “Entertainment Capital of The World” where we stay for 3 nights.

 

Tuesday 21 June                                  Las Vegas       (B)

This morning, enjoy an orientation tour of downtown Las Vegas. See all the incredible casinos and establishments that have sprung up in recent years – Bellagios, MGM Grand, Venetian Resort, Circus Circus, Paris Las Vegas, New York New York, Stratosphere and of course the iconic Caesars Palace to name but a few. Many of these are attractions in themselves and you can return to them later in your own time. This evening, why not enjoy one of the fabulous shows for which Las Vegas is famous.

 

Wednesday 22 June                            Las Vegas   (B,D)

Today is a free day for you to choose what you would like to do. If you like to be on the move, there are half day and full day tours available to the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead and the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon or maybe buy a ticket for the Hop On–Hop Off bus so you can spend some time at some of the amazing attractions that are part of many of the casinos. If it’s retail therapy you enjoy, a visit to the Outlet Shopping Mall will appeal – an amazing complex of over 100 stores offering international brands at very competitive prices. Tonight, is our night on the town.  Start with a fabulous group dinner at a local restaurant.  Afterwards, we visit the High Roller at sunset to see the desert be set afire.  As the strip darkens, we set out to experience the lights of the night.  From Luxor’s beam into the sky, to the Mirage’s erupting volcano, the lights of Vegas are legendary.  We stop and walk to the Bellagio fountains, so make sure your shoes are comfy.  Take plenty of time to explore, take some great pictures, and maybe even win a little money.  All the while, we can look up to the electric atrium to see another special light show.

 

Thursday 23 June                                Las Vegas – Los Angeles   (B)

Time to farewell Las Vegas as this morning we board our flight for the short journey to Los Angeles. On arrival, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a 2 night stay.

 

Friday 24 June                                    Los Angeles      (B,D)

Today we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Los Angeles and its surrounds including Beverley Hills and Rodeo Drive, Hollywood, downtown LA, historic Olvera Street and Farmers Market. This evening, the final night of our tour, we enjoy dinner together.

 

Saturday 25 June                                 Los Angeles – Auckland    (B)

After check-out from our hotel at lunchtime, we travel up the coast a little towards Malibu to visit The Getty Villa which forms part of the J Paul Getty Museum complex. The villa is a faithful reproduction of what a Roman villa of 2,000 years ago would look like, modelled after the Villa dei Papiri (Villa of the Papyri), a large country house from the 1st century BC located in Herculaneum. It is believed the villa belonged to Julius Caesar’s father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso, a powerful consul and rich land owner. At the conclusion of our visit, we are transferred to the airport in time to join our overnight flight to Auckland.

 

Monday 27 June                                 Auckland

We arrive into Auckland early this morning.

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