Tauck and the award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns have crafted a new 11-day cultural exploration of the Mississippi River that will launch early next year as part of the company’s “Ken Burns American Journeys” collection. The new “Life on the Mississippi” itinerary begins with an overnight stay in Memphis, followed by a 7-night Mississippi River cruise aboard the newly re-launched American Queen paddlewheel steamboat, and it concludes with a two-night stay in New Orleans. Along the way, guests will be treated to a number of unique cultural experiences and a diverse array of Tauck-exclusive shore excursions.
Tauck CEO Dan Mahar explained that Ken Burns and his longtime collaborator Dayton Duncan were instrumental in crafting the new itinerary. “Ken and Dayton have an amazingly broad knowledge of the Mississippi, its influence on American history and culture, and the people and places along its banks,” said Mahar. “With their insights and experience, we’ve been able to craft an itinerary for our guests that is truly unique.”
According to Burns, the Mississippi has helped shape America throughout its history, and accordingly, the river’s influence has been explored in a range of his films. “The Mississippi is a thread that runs through America’s history much as it courses through the heart of our country,” said Burns. “It’s only natural that it’s also a constantly recurring presence in my films, including Jazz, The Civil War, Mark Twain, Huey Long and The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. You can’t tell America’s story without telling the story of the Mississippi.”
Tauck will offer both northbound and southbound versions of the itinerary, with the 7-night cruise on the American Queen bookended by an overnight stay at the famed Peabody in Memphis and two nights at The Roosevelt in New Orleans. Both city stays will be highlighted by Tauck-guided sightseeing, and all of the shore excursions enjoyed by guests during the cruise will also be exclusive to Tauck (and, like the city stays, included in the cruise price).
TAUCK-EXCLUSIVE EXPERIENCES ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI
While in Memphis and New Orleans, and during Tauck-exclusive shore excursions throughout the cruise, Tauck guests will enjoy an array of unique experiences that are unavailable or virtually unknown to the average traveler. In Memphis, Tauck travelers will enjoy a private lecture on the city’s history and culture from a local historian. In Helena, Arkansas, guests will be immersed in local music during a private performance by the Greater First Baptist Church Choir, and during a blues performance at a honky-tonk roadhouse. In Natchez, Tauck travelers will enjoy a fascinating progressive lunch at three unique homes, and they will also tour the city’s historic Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church and its African American History Museum.
Near St. Francisville, Louisiana, Tauck guests will visit Catalpa Plantation, a private home set in a grove of century-old oak trees, and meet a member of the family that has lived on the plantation since the 1800s. Within St. Francisville itself, Tauck travelers will learn about local history and trace the city’s Spanish and English architectural influences during a walking tour. And in New Orleans, guests will learn about the city’s unique geographical setting and the impact of (and recovery from) Hurricane Katrina during a private lecture, while meeting with local relief experts, and during a tour of the Lower Ninth Ward.
Tauck-exclusive experiences are also included aboard the American Queen, from special lectures by local authorities, to a private Bloody Mary cocktail party, to a “behind the scenes” tour of the ship that reveals its inner workings. The preferential treatment begins the moment Tauck guests first board the ship; having registered with the ship in advance, they’ll board without needing to wait in line to check in. Finally, Tauck guests will have their experiences along the Mississippi enhanced by Ken Burns and his longtime collaborator Dayton Duncan, who will share insights on local history and culture in a series of video vignettes that will be shown throughout the Tauck itinerary.
Tauck’s “Life on the Mississippi” is priced from $4,790 per person, double occupancy, plus air. Included in Tauck’s pricing are all shore excursions and sightseeing, lectures by local experts, entertainment, complimentary wine and beer with onboard dinners, airport transfers, gratuities for ship and hotel staff, most meals, and much more. Tauck will operate departures of the new itinerary from February through June, and in November and December with special Christmas and New Years departures as well.