Combining some of the most fascinating Southern States of the USA, Southern Belle and the Caribbean showcases the nest features of this region. For music lovers, few stones are left unturned with musical genres covered including Rock 'n' Roll, Jazz, Blues, Soul, Pop and Country. Browse extensive collections of memorabilia at several halls of fame, and see where the magic happened at Sun Records and RCA Recording Studios. Visit the birthplace of legends and some of the places they performed including the famous Grand Ole’ Opry. Experience life as it was in the hay days of the sugar plantations with a guided tour through one of the nest antebellum plantation estates. Walk in the footsteps of history makers on the legendary civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery lead by Martin Luther King, and see the worst of mankind revealed at the American Civil War site at Vicksburg, Mississippi. Walk along iconic streets such as Bourbon Street in New Orleans and Beale Street in Memphis, glide across the sawgrass on our private airboat in the Everglades, and cap it off with a seven night cruise to some of the most idyllic Islands in the Caribbean on our ship in the comfort of your Balcony Stateroom. A fitting end to an exceptional journey.
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware ” - Martin Buber
9 JUNE - 1 JULY • 23 DAYS
NEW ZEALAND – HOUSTON – NEW ORLEANS three nights New Orleans
Day 1 Today the adventure begins, starting with our Air New Zealand flight to Houston, and connecting flight to New Orleans. On arrival we’ll be transferred to our hotel where we’ll enjoy a leisurely welcome dinner this evening. Afterwards, for the night owls, we’ll take a stroll along the famous Bourbon Street.
Day 2 Our local guide will meet us at the hotel this morning to show us around some of the more notable sights of this great city including the French Quarter, legendary Café du Monde and the 18th century St Louis Cathedral. We’ll give you time to wander the expansive French Market, and stroll through Louis Armstrong Park. Our guide will also show us something of the more macabre as we visit a cemetery with a difference. This evening we’re off to a local restaurant for dinner, Jazz, and some southern hospitality!
Day 3 Today’s yours to do as you please. Perhaps re-visit Bourbon Street, or explore the extensive WWll Museum, touted as the best in the USA and easily reached by tramcar, which we suggest is the best way to get you around the city. From Canal Street you can reach the river and do a paddle-wheeler cruise, or shopping at the outlet shops. A change of tram will take you to the French Market, or you can take a stroll around Jackson Square and pop your head into the Jax Brewery Shopping Mall.
NEW ORLEANS – BATON ROUGE – NATCHEZ one night Natchez
Day 4 Our touring coach meets us this morning and we make our way north following the mighty Mississippi. Our first stop is the beautiful Oak Alley Plantation, the ‘Grande Dame’ of river road plantations. There’ll be an opportunity to look around the out-buildings where ‘the help’ lived, followed by an informative guided tour of the ‘Big House’. We’ll have lunch here before continuing on to Baton Rouge, then to our destination on the banks of the Mississippi River, Natchez. Tonight we rest our heads in our very own antebellum homestead, dating back to the early 19th century.
NATCHEZ – VICKSBURG – TUPELO one night Tupelo
Day 5 Leaving Natchez this morning we’ll be travelling via the Natchez Trace Parkway as much as possible, stopping at Vicksburg for a guided tour with a park ranger of the site of one of the Union’s most significant victories in the American Civil War. We’ll also see the well preserved remains of one of the famous Union gunships, Cairo, permanently on display.
TUPELO – MEMPHIS two nights Memphis
Day 6 Before leaving Tupelo today we make a brief stop at the original home of one of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s biggest stars, Elvis Presley. The humble family home built by Vernon Presley, Elvis’s father, stands as it did when first constructed back in 1934.
On arrival in Memphis we visit a recording studio credited with making some of the biggest Rock ‘n’ Roll artists household names and often referred to as the ‘Birthplace’ of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Sun Studio. Our guided tour takes us behind the scenes of the studio and our knowledgeable guide might just reveal a few unknown secrets of the stars.
Our next stop is the incredible, and moving, National Civil Rights Museum, located in the Lorraine Motel, the very motel Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in. The display houses over 260 artifacts telling the story of the African American struggle from the resistance to slavery, to the role played in the American Civil War and de ant acts such as the ‘Montgomery Bus Boycott’ and ‘Freedom Rides’ amongst others.
Day 7 This morning after a leisurely breakfast there’s an optional tour to Graceland, Elvis Presley’s mansion featuring many incredible exhibits including his private planes, car and motorbike collection and including entry to the mansion itself and grounds. For those choosing not to do this, the time is yours to explore more of Memphis from our perfectly positioned hotel. After lunch we’ll enjoy a fascinating self- guided audio tour through the golden age of music at the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.
MEMPHIS – NASHVILLE three nights Nashville
Day 8 We exchange the home of Rock ‘n' Roll today, for what is widely regarded as the ‘Home of Country Music’, Nashville, Tennessee. In the afternoon we’ll meet our local guide who’ll show us some of the highlights of this great city including the Ryman Auditorium, which opened in 1892 and home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1974, also Nashville’s answer to the Greek Parthenon amongst other things.
Day 9 After a great breakfast this morning we make our way to the Country Music Hall of Fame where accompanied by an audio guide, you’re free to wander at your leisure until we gather again late morning and visit the famous recording studios of RCA Studio B, where top selling artists recorded over 35,000 songs and produced over 1,000 hit records.
Day 10 It’s a free day today for you to spend how you please. That might entail more time on Music Row, perhaps some retail therapy, lunch at one of the dozens of top muso’ clubs, or maybe some general sightseeing on foot. Mid afternoon we’re off to the very popular and extensive Opry Mills Mall, where we’ll also have dinner before being guests at one of the most iconic live music shows in the US, the Grand Ole Opry!
NASHVILLE – BIRMINGHAM one night Birmingham
Day 11 It’s time to hit the road again, and what better way to enjoy the natural beauty of Tennessee and Alabama than by driving the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway for the first part of our journey, stopping at Muscle Shoals (home of the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studio) for lunch, before continuing to Birmingham.
BIRMINGHAM – SELMA – MONTGOMERY – ATLANTA two nights Atlanta
Day 12 Our guide joins us this morning to enlighten us on some of the history, intrinsically woven into every mile of our journey today. The first stop is Selma, recently the subject of a blockbuster movie documenting the civil rights movement and struggle against segregation, culminating in the famous march from Selma to Montgomery headed by civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King Jr. What ensued was a brutal assault against the marchers by state troopers and local police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We’ll walk over the same bridge and try to imagine the events of 7 March 1965, a date that thereafter would be known as Bloody Sunday.
Day 13 After a big day yesterday we thought it would be good to let you do as you please today. Within a very short walk of our hotel you’ll find yourself in Centennial Olympic Park. From there it’s another easy walk to the intriguing and worthwhile World of Coca Cola, and virtually next door the incredible Georgia Aquarium. Also in the vicinity you can take a look behind the scenes at CNN, then wander back to the park and take a ride on the giant ferris wheel known as Skyview Atlanta. If art's more your thing, Atlanta boasts one of the state’s best at the High Museum of Art.
ATLANTA – MIAMI
Day 14 We bid farewell to Georgia this morning as we make our way to the airport for our flight to Miami. On arrival we’ll be taken by coach to the cruise ship terminal to join our floating resort, the MSC Armonia.
MSC ARMONIA seven nights MSC
Days 14-21 We board our luxurious ship this afternoon and around 7pm we’ll be casting off to begin our exploration of some of the most fascinating Caribbean ports o’ call over the following eight days. MSC Armonia is a Premium class ship, accommodating up to 2,600 passengers over 13 decks, with every whim attended to by her 765 dedicated crew. MSC Armonia has a classic ambience, luxurious features and beautifully appointed Balcony Staterooms, which you’ll enjoy for the duration of our cruise. On board, the list of amenities is extensive and impressive. There’s an elegant bathing complex with outdoor pools, jacuzzis and for those wanting to maintain a level of fitness after a few guilty pleasures from dinner the night before, a state-of-the-art gym. There’s also shuffleboard, mini golf and for a little pampering treat yourself at the exotic Aurea Spa. After a sumptuous dinner with wonderful company in any one of the four gourmet restaurants, what better way to round off the evening than with a dazzling performance by talented dancers, singers, musicians and guest artists in the exquisite La Fenice theatre. Speaking of fine cuisine, there’s an excellent selection of designer themed bars and lounges providing the perfect atmosphere for every mood. Grab a beer at the ‘pucka’ English-style pub or sip specialty coffee at the authentic Italian café serving freshly baked pastries and real Italian espresso drinks at all hours.
Day 15 Today you can put your feet up and relax or explore the many fine guest amenities on offer around the ship, as today is a full day at sea.
ISLE DE ROATAN, HONDURAS
Day 16 Only approximately 50km long and on average only 2-4km wide. Surrounded by beautiful beaches it’s a snorkeler’s paradise. Still largely in its natural condition with a mountainous pine forested interior, but with clear evidence of intensifying development. One of the features of Roatan is the Iguana sanctuary, where in addition to dozens of Iguana you are also likely to see Macaws and Monkeys.
COSTA MAYA, MEXICO
Day 17 The two towns in the area, Mahahual and the smaller Xcalak, were hit hard by Hurricane Dean in 2007. Mahahual was rebuilt, but Xcalak is still quite battered. Costa Maya is known as the landing point for access to some of the most incredible reminders of Mayan occupation. In particular we recommend a visit to Kohunlich. The ruins, seldom visited by anyone other than enormous butterflies and wild parrots, are beautifully situated, peering out above the treetops. The buildings date from the late pre-Classic to the Classic periods (100–900 AD). Foliage has reclaimed most of them, except for the Templo de los Mascarones, which is named after the five 2m-high stucco masks that decorate its facade. These wide-eyed, open-mouthed images of the sun god, Kinich Ahau, once stared out from a background of smooth, bright-red-painted stucco. Kinichná’s hulking pyramid, built in metre-high stones, layer upon layer by successive leaders, barely clears the trees, but the view out over the surrounding terrain is breathtaking.
ISLAND OF COZUMEL, MEXICO
Day18 A little further north along the Yucatan Peninsular we arrive at Cozumel. Such is the clarity of the water and abundance of marine life that Cozumel is a mecca for divers and snorkelers. Further evidence of Mayan occupation is also to be found here. Not surprisingly white sandy beaches abound and sun lovers won’t want to leave! There’s also more than one producer of chocolate on the Island.
Days 19-20 Over the following two days we will be cruising the beautiful azure blue waters of the Caribbean. Due to reasons beyond our control at this point in time, details of port visits during this time have yet to be confirmed.
Day 21 Cruising through the night, we arrive back at the Port of Miami early this morning where our coach and guide will be waiting to take us to downtown Miami, for a short tour of some of the cities highlights, many mirroring life in Cuba. There’ll also be an opportunity to grab a bite to eat and have a wander at your leisure before re-joining our coach for our short trip to Miami airport to begin our flights homewards.
MIAMI – HOUSTON – NEW ZEALAND
Days 21-23 Flying through the night and losing a day crossing the international dateline, we arrive back in New Zealand, heads filled with memories of incredible sights and many wonderful experiences shared in the company of likeminded travellers and new found friends.
Extension Travel: For anyone wishing to visit other places within North America, Canada or perhaps further afield, this is all very possible and not overly expensive to add on from this point. Please speak to us when you make your bookings so we can look into the best way to make this possible for you.