From aboard a steam driven paddle wheeler
Mark Twain said “The Mississippi is well worth reading about. It is not a commonplace river, but on the contrary is in all ways remarkable” which mirrors our own sentiments about America’s storied river. One of the world’s most important commercial waterways and one of North America’s great migration routes for both birds and fishes, the history of the south is written along its banks. Once claimed in the name of France and eventually included in the largest real estate transaction in human history, The Louisiana Purchase, the Mississippi helped forge the settlement of the central United States. In the early 1800s, steamboats plied its waters, carrying goods and travelers along the river. One of the steamboat pilots who navigated the river was none other than Samuel Clemens who assumed the name of Mark Twain when he traded the wheel for a pen. Mark Twain immortalized the river with the literary adventures of Huck Finn, igniting the wanderlust and imaginations of countless travelers then and now, Tauck included.
Long enamored with the idea of steamboating down the Mississippi River, our tour architects did the research, road trips and river boating before we officially launched Life on the Mississippi, a nostalgic 11-day journey between New Orleans and Memphis, highlighted by 7 nights aboard the elegant paddle wheeler, American Duchess. The ship was created from a 1995 hull and completely reconstructed in 2017 to become the first all-suite paddle wheeler on US rivers. Luxuriously styled from bow to stern, this particular Duchess boasts 83 staterooms, some two-story loft suites 550 sq. ft. big, as well as 200 sq. ft. veranda suites, all with private balconies and premier amenities. Onboard, guests enjoy a choice of two dining venues inviting with ever-changing views of the riverscapes and a library with a private bar and grand piano ideal for intimate entertainment.
But it’s not just the paddle wheeler that turns heads on this trip. It’s also the iconic places we visit – and the experiences we share – that is the stuff of stories perfect for the retelling. They include a private cooking demonstration and lunch at the New Orleans School of Cooking, plus a private jazz performance in the city’s famous Preservation Hall; a Blues-themed sightseeing excursion in Memphis with a professional musician; a very special after-hours visit to Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland, and an overnight stay at the Guest House designed by Priscilla Presley; a boat ride in the Louisiana bayous with an expert naturalist who tells tales of swamp life; an insider tour of Vicksburg National Battlefield and the special exhibit of the Civil War gunboat Cairo led by a national park guide, plus a tour of some pretty fantastic private homes; and more.
We asked Tour Architect Sara Kosyk for her insights about this trip and her response made us want to start packing our bags now!
“What I love most about this tour is the storytelling. You can learn the history of the US through the sites along this stretch of river, and much of it can be told through music and food! This river has been such an important site of transport and trade (and eventually tourism) for hundreds of years, and we are now following in those footsteps. It feels special when we are welcomed to the communities along the river by the people who live there today.”