America's Great River 2023 Viking River Cruise

History and culture unfold as you cross the country from north to south on this enriching voyage. Enjoy relaxing scenic sailing and unparalleled bird-watching as the landscape changes from the bluffs of the North to the bayous of the South. Learn about the American civil rights movement and the Civil War. Along the way, tap your feet to the rhythm of American folk, soul and jazz music—and taste a delicious array of regional cuisine.

Itinerary

Arrive in St. Paul, then transfer to your ship. After boarding, the afternoon is yours to relax or explore the city on your own. The “Twin Cities” boast distinctive neighborhoods; diverse ethnic, traditional and contemporary eateries; and an acclaimed arts scene—all served up with friendly Midwestern manners.

Enjoy the scenic landscape of this portion of the Mississippi as we sail to Red Wing, known for its American-made Red Wing Shoes, which produced footwear for soldiers in both world wars. The city was named after a celebrated Sioux chief whose red-dyed swan wing indicated his rank. The first settlers arrived in the mid-1800s, many from New England. They grew more wheat than any county in the nation. German, Irish and Scandinavian immigrants followed. Today, enjoy a city tour coupled with a visit to the National Eagle Center in nearby Wabasha, where you will learn all about eagle biology, ecology and natural history from one of the center’s resident eagle ambassadors. Optional opportunities include a scenic cruise across Lake Pepin and the “Mighty Mississippi.”

After breakfast on board, explore La Crosse and its numerous sites on the National Register of Historic Places, with a panoramic tour of the city. Its important architectural landmarks, along with the array of engaging statues lining the riverfront, make La Crosse feel like a vast open air museum. Or, consider an optional journey to Decorah, Iowa. Nestled among beautiful rolling hills unscathed by the leveling march of the glaciers, Decorah is a blend of small-town charm and urban convenience, and at its heart is Vesterheim, the national Norwegian American museum and heritage center, the largest museum in the United States dedicated to one single immigrant group. While in town, enjoy the friendliest shopping experience you have ever had in Decorah’s many boutiques and have a delicious lunch in one of the several local restaurants. Decorah is also home to the “second-best brewery in the world”—Toppling Goliath. Sign on for a brewery tour and have an amazing craft-brewed pint with your lunch. Other recreational options abound: a tour of the world-renowned Seed Savers Exchange, or on-your-own trout fishing or cycling adventures on the city’s justly famous biking trails. Tonight, dine on board as you continue sailing.

Arrive in Dubuque, where you will capture the flavor of life along the Mississippi during the great Steamboat Era. As you tour the city known as the “Masterpiece on the Mississippi,” see the Mathias Ham House, which was built by one of Dubuque’s earliest entrepreneurs and exemplifies the opulent Victorian lifestyle of a booming river town before the Civil War. At Cable Car Square, a whimsical area with period-style lampposts in the historic downtown neighborhood, shops in old brownstones offer everything from jewelry to quilting supplies. Down at the river, the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is filled with five large tank displays, plus interactive exhibits and artifacts that tell the stories of the people who discovered, lived upon and celebrated the waterways of the United States. Or you may choose to shop on Galena’s Main Street, lined with more than 100 interesting antique shops, pubs, wine bars and restaurants housed in historic redbrick and stone buildings that date to the mid-1800s. This Americana haven was recognized as one of America’s greatest Main Streets by Travel + Leisure.

Begin your day with a visit to the John Deere Pavilion—created as a celebration of the past, present and future of agribusiness—and the Deere family homes. Then, perhaps take an optional tour of a local family-owned and -operated farm to learn about modern-day farming techniques. You may choose to visit the Quad City Botanical Center to discover the delicious history of chocolate or stroll through the Figge Art Museum.

Continue along the Mississippi this morning. Arrive in Burlington for a guided tour revealing small-town America in its historic downtown. Discover the Des Moines County Heritage Center, Garrett-Phelps House Museum, First Congregational Church, Capitol Theater and many more sites. Enjoy a breathtaking view of the Mississippi from Mosquito Park and take a stroll along Snake Alley, “the crookedest street in the world.” You will have the opportunity to embark on an optional excursion to Nauvoo and Fort Madison. Step back in time at Old Fort Madison and discover military life as it was lived on the rugged frontier of the Louisiana Territory. The fort is an amazingly accurate reconstruction of the first military fort on the Upper Mississippi. Enter the fascinating world of Historic Nauvoo, home of the Illinois Nauvoo Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints since 1839. The restored homes, mercantile establishments and community buildings maintain the charm of what was once a beautiful, industrious city. Today, Nauvoo provides an opportunity to experience the people and times of the past. Back on board, unwind with an afternoon cookout.

This community is best known as the birthplace of author Mark Twain and the setting of his Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Enjoy the stories and sites of Twain’s days in Hannibal as you hear about Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Becky Thatcher and Injun Joe. You may even see firsthand the fence of whitewashing fame. You will also visit the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, with its extensive collection of Twain memorabilia. This walking portion of the tour includes seven museum properties—all located within a two-block area—including the Museum Gallery, where vivid depictions of the author’s stories are displayed in 15 original Norman Rockwell paintings. Twain’s colorful characters are brought to life during a trip through the Mark Twain Cave.

Explore St. Louis today with an included panoramic tour of the city. The “Gateway to the West,” St. Louis is home to a diverse array of celebrated architectural treasures—among them, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, with its 41-million-piece mosaic; the Renaissance Revival City Hall; and the 19th-century Old Courthouse. The Gateway Arch, the world’s tallest, and the Museum at the Gateway Arch round out the Gateway Arch National Park, formerly the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. You may also choose to visit the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, whose grounds include three National Historic Landmarks, and perhaps see the Budweiser Clydesdale stables.

Cruising the serpentine route of the Lower Mississippi, you will witness an astonishing array of picturesque landscapes. Sail past deep-green forests, lush vegetation and a patchwork of fertile farmlands—all hugging the shores and hosting a huge variety of birdlife perched in riverside trees, ready to pluck their next meal from the flowing waters. Around you, bluffs rise over the river’s edge. Silos pierce bucolic landscapes. Sandbars and low islands guide the waters as they have for millennia. Passing numerous tributaries and meandering channels, you may appreciate this massive waterway as an epic river system rather than as a singular river. Immerse yourself in the region’s history and culture by reading a book from the Library, participating in a cooking demonstration or attending a lecture. After dinner, enjoy live music in the Explorers’ Lounge and mingle with fellow guests.

The “Queen City of the South” is the birthplace of Memphis blues, popular in vaudeville shows of the early 20th century. Future president Andrew Jackson cofounded the city in 1819. With its strong trade in agricultural goods and other natural resources, it grew into one of the South’s largest commercial centers. Experience the music, cuisine and character of Beale Street. A straight path stretching nearly two miles from East Street to the Mississippi, Beale Street is renowned as the intersection of American blues, country, gospel and rock ’n’ roll music. This is where Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Memphis Minnie, B. B. King, Rufus Thomas and many other legends helped create a uniquely American and universally beloved musical genre. Explore Beale Street’s music venues, browse its record shops, see its historic monuments or satisfy your cravings for Tennessee’s best barbecue. Today, you will explore the city at leisure and take an included tour to Graceland, where Elvis Presley, “the King of Rock ’n’ Roll,” spent his final days. On an optional tour to the National Civil Rights Museum, learn about civil rights history and see the Lorraine Motel, site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.

Enjoy another full day of scenic cruising along “America’s Great River.” Immerse yourself in the region’s history and culture by reading a book from the Library, participating in a cooking demonstration or attending a lecture. After dinner, enjoy live music in the Explorers’ Lounge and mingle with fellow guests.

Arriving in Vicksburg, you immediately feel the Southern tradition that flows through the city’s veins. It is rich in history—especially Civil War history. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called it “the key to the South.” And it indeed proved to be the site of the conflict’s most pivotal battle, the Battle of Vicksburg, after which the Confederates surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant. Visit Vicksburg National Military Park, which preserves the battlefield and commemorates the greater Vicksburg Campaign that preceded the battle.

Natchez is the perfect location in which to enjoy small-town America. The town is distinguished by more than 500 historic buildings, including over 200 perfectly preserved homes that still grace its broad avenues. Throughout the day, you can explore shops in the historic district and other sites at your leisure. You may choose to visit one of many pre–Civil War mansions here, some of the most beautifully preserved in this area of the South. The city itself is home to more than 1,000 structures that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After dinner, learn about the life of local artisans and enjoy classical music.

Arrive in Baton Rouge, set on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, and take a panoramic city tour of the area. Hear tales of the hardworking, fun-loving Cajun people and their contributions to Louisiana’s history and culture. Your Viking Guest Services staff can help you plan the rest of your day with several optional excursions: a Cajun heritage tour; an exploration of the Atchafalaya Basin by boat or canoe; or a visit to the USS Kidd, the most historically accurate restoration of a World War II vessel in the United States. Tonight, enjoy music in the Explorers’ Lounge.

After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight, or extend your journey with additional nights in New Orleans.

Price Guide

Date Price (pp)
24 June 2023 £9,590
16 September 2023 £9,590
30 September 2023 £9,590
14 October 2023 £9,590
Viking River Cruises Pre or Post Holiday Extensions

Extend Your Holiday

Extend your stay, pre or post cruise, with these great value cruise extensions! Simply give our award winning team a call for full details on 0800 810 8220

  • 1 night pre cruise stay in St. Paul from £199pp
  • 2 night pre cruise stay in St. Paul from £499pp
  • 2 night post cruise stay in New Orleans from £699pp
  • 2 night post cruise stay in Lafayette from £799pp

What's Included

  • Return flights from the UK
  • 7 nights in a river-view stateroom
  • One complimentary shore excursion in every port of call
  • Free Wi-Fi - connection speeds may vary
  • Enrichment lectures & Destination Performances
  • Beer, wine and soft drinks with on board lunch & dinner
  • 24/7 specialty coffees, teas & bottled water
  • Room steward & twice-daily housekeeping service
  • All port taxes & fees