Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Hey, your browser is out of date!

We have noticed you're currently using an old insecure version of
Internet Explorer.

To provide you with the best user experience possible, you will need to update your browser to continue using this website.
Contact UsTravel Agent PortalRequest a Brochure
0800 988 3369
4th July 2024
A Journey Down the Lower Mississippi: The Fred. Holidays Family Paddle-Wheeler Adventure
Our recent voyage down the Lower Mississippi River on an American Cruise Lines paddle-wheeler was nothing less than spectacular. This journey wove together classic river cruising with the rich history and vibrant culture of America's Deep South. Here's an in-depth look at our memorable trip.

How We Spent Our Time in New Orleans

The adventure kicked off with a day in New Orleans, which was just enough time for us to have a feel of the city's vibe. We strolled through the French Quarter, enjoying the lively jazz, sampling some beignets at the world-famous Café du Monde, and simply gazing at the historical architecture. It was a nice way to set a tone for New Orleans with its rich tapestry of culture—the journey ahead. However, our time in New Orleans was cut short due to a flight cancellation, so there wasn't that much time to enjoy ourselves. So, we would certainly recommend that guests arrive there early, just in case, or maybe even consider staying in New Orleans pre-cruise.

Setting Sail: A Grand Introduction

When boarding the American Splendor we were immediately taken with her size! What an amazing sight this ship was, it brought to mind visions of the great riverboats of the19th century—in all their grandeur and glory, though with an added layer of modernity to provide that extra comfort. The cabin size was the biggest surprise. It was quite big with everything you need.

Fred. Holiday Family Picture Outside The American Splendor River Cruise Ship

The other outstanding part was the size of the balcony. It was great to sit out in the morning with a cup of coffee before heading down for breakfast.

The Fitness area was small but had great facilities on board, the perfect way to work off all the lovely food we had consumed and make space for more!

ACL’s service was unrivalled – If you’re as lucky as us, find Lopez who was behind the bar serving drinks, he would remember what your favourite drink of choice was, before you even need to speak, he would have the drink you want in his hand ready!

All of our meal times were sit-down service but the one that stood out for me was the last dinner we had on board as the menu had some amazing selections, including surf and turf for the main which was my favourite meal.

Vacherie, Louisiana: A Step Back in Time

Cajun Pride Swamp adventure – we jumped aboard a river boat ride in a 50-acre swamp site home to alligators, raccoons, egrets and herons. It was an incredibly pretty area, a lot of alligators and racoons who seemed to enjoy their daily feed and sweet treat of marshmallows. This tour was ensured to be conducted properly and ethically for the surrounding wildlife and was very well organised.  

In the afternoon, you can visit the Laura Plantation – one of Louisiana’s Creole Heritage sites. The site hosts a French influence plantation house, which displays the local history and it’s connection to the slave trade. We were lucky enough to spend time with a History-Major tour guide with Creole heritage who was fantastic at bringing the history of this period to life.

Baton Rouge: The Capital's Vibrancy

In Baton Rouge, we experienced the vibrant energy of Louisiana’s capital. Highlights included a visit to the Old State Capitol, an architectural gem that houses a museum dedicated to the state’s political history. We also explored the modern State Capitol building, which offers stunning views of the city from its observation deck.

The Allure of Natchez

Next on the itinerary was Natchez, a city famed for its antebellum homes and rich cultural heritage. We toured some of the grandest estates, including the Rosalie Mansion and Stanton Hall, stunning!

We also visited Frogmore, a working cotton plantation that willingly depicts the horrific history of the estate as it relates to its participation in the slave trade. They still grow cotton today and thankfully use more modern means off arming it. We looked around the huts that would house slaves prior to their freedom and also explained the history of after the end of the Civil War when sharecropping took place.

The warm hospitality of the entire city and the scenic views of the Mississippi River have left an impression on all of us.

A Glimpse into History: The Stop at Vicksburg

One of the standout stops on the cruise was Vicksburg, Mississippi. Known for its hefty dose of Civil War history, Vicksburg gave me a most enthralling glimpse into the past.

We chose “Mississippi Made Charcurterie Experience” for our morning tour in Vicksburg.  This was held in a beautiful colonial-style home which now operates as a Bed and Breakfast. The original stylings were very unusual in art nouveau windows and interiors. We learned how to create a charcuterie grazing board. It was an unusual tour but good to do something a little different and the guide was very personable and informative. Vicksburg was hosting Miss Mississippi that weekend and the guest house had been taken over by a family whose daughter was competing!

Next, we visited the Vicksburg National Military Park where, quite literally, these historic battlegrounds and memorials gave a clear image of the 1863 siege of the American Civil War. The park's museum was incredibly interesting, with its extensive collection of artefacts and detailed exhibits. This excursion would be perfect for someone that has limited mobility due to the fact you stay on the coach most of the time with a tour operator telling you about the information over a microphone. There are some stop off points where you can leave the coach and explore certain areas, but many people chose the option to just stay on the coach and relax.

After we got back from the National Military Park we then went on a local loop of Vicksburg. American Cruise Lines have their own coaches that would pick you up and take you around Vicksburg and you could get off the coach and various tops. We visited the Coca-Cola Museum as the first Coca-Cola was bottled in Vicksburg and it was great to see all the old bottles and memorabilia.  

Memphis: To see the King

We were lucky enough to spend a deal of time enjoying the sights of Memphis and would recommend staying longer in this destination post-cruise if possible. My highlights were:


It was great to look around Stax seeing all the history and famous records that are stored here. They had many tv screen around the museum where you could listen to the old blues music that came from Memphis – Great experience! 


Sun Studio

We had a great time looking around sun studio and seeing so many famous items that are stored in this studio the most memorable one being the actual microphone used by the likes of Elvis. The tour guide was great giving us all the information of the studio and even sharing some old recordings of artists making their hit songs! 

Edge Motor Museum

Being a car fan this was a great experience; we got to see some amazing old school cars and even see a few cars the owner of the museum is working on for some famous people. The most memorable experience was the owner of the museum giving us a lift into town where we were meeting Lisa from the Memphis tourism board in one of the old school cars he owns, which was incredibly kind of him to give us that experience. 

Look Out at Pyramid

The Pyramid was a unique experience, inside the pyramid there is a big outdoor shop mainly selling fishing gear as well as small fishing boats. Going up to the lookout was a great experience and the views of Memphis at the top was fantastic! They had a bar at the top also where me and Paul enjoy a nice cold beer with amazing views! 


As a big fan of Elvis’s music this was a great bucket list tour, we were able to see the home of Elvis and learn more about his personal life. We also got the chance to see his collection of cars and planes which we were able to go inside. They also had a nice memorial in the garden for Elvis and his other family members that have sadly passed away. 

Civil Rights Museum

There was so much great information to learn in this museum regarding the history of Civil Rights. We also saw the exact place where Martin Luther King was assassinated and the hotel room he stayed in before it happened which has been left the exact same as it was when he stayed. 

A Culinary Adventure

Throughout the cruise, we indulged in the region’s culinary delights. The ship’s dining experience featured local specialities such as gumbo, jambalaya, and catfish, offering a delicious journey through Southern cuisine. Each meal was a celebration of flavours, reflecting the rich culinary traditions of the Mississippi River region.

Onboard Entertainment and Relaxation

Life onboard the paddle-wheeler has been no less exciting. Nights have been filled with entertainment from live jazz performances to enlightening lectures related to the history, customs, and culture of the Mississippi River. Lavish staterooms have been comfortable retreats, and the deck is simply ideal to spend some leisurely time, doing nothing but river watching, just soaking up the scenery.

Final Reflections

Our journey down the Lower Mississippi was a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, all experienced from the elegance of a classic paddle-wheeler. It was a voyage that not only offered relaxation but also a deal of insight into the rich heritage of America’s South. For anyone seeking a unique but culturally enriching holiday, a cruise down the Mississippi River with American Cruise Lines comes highly recommended.

We would recommend packing light clothing as the heat can be extreme at times especially for us Brits that are not use to it! We would also recommend taking some comfortable trainers as some of the excursions do require you to walk a fair bit so make sure you are as comfortable as possible. We did also have heavy down pours so make sure to bring a waterproof or an umbrella, but if you have forgotten and umbrella then American Cruise Lines and supply one for you.

This trip has left me with countless memories and a deeper appreciation for the history and charm of the Mississippi River. Whether you're a history buff, a lover of Southern culture, or simply in search of a relaxing getaway, this river cruise promises an unforgettable adventure.

The American Splendor - American Cruise Lines

Inspiration & Advice
Our Blogs
Find plenty of tips, advice and news stories in our weekly blog posts.


Contact usTravel agent centreRequest a brochure
0800 988 3369

© Fred. Olsen Travel 2024.
Registered in England and Wales No. 02287241. 2nd Floor, 36 Broadway, London, SW1H 0BH

Bonded by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and by the Civil Aviation Authority's Air Travel Organisers Licensing (ATOL) scheme, you can look forward to your next adventure with the peace of mind that your money is financially protected in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

Reasons to book with us... Financial protection afforded by our ABTA and ATOL industry bonding, giving you complete peace of mind.
Dedicated team of experienced travel advisors waiting to tailor your holiday to your personal requirements.
We can arrange all of your car hire, airport lounges and much more to make your holiday as easy as possible.