Nov 14-22, 2021 – AMERICAN DUCHESS


VACAYA makes history yet again with an exciting and innovative CLOSE-TO-HOME vacation option for North Americans – an 8-night adventure roundtrip from easy-to-get-to and seductively gay-friendly New Orleans up the Mississippi River! This fresh new getaway from VACAYA is the first US-based river cruise in LGBT+ travel history!

Spacious luxury awaits aboard the floating masterpiece that is American Duchess. This uniquely American, boutique-style paddlewheeler offers exquisite dining, beautiful decks, fun entertainment venues, and exceptional amenities. Her spacious suites reach up to 550 square feet, providing you with the largest accommodations on the rivers. An included pre-night hotel stay at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside affords us the luxury of a short walk from the hotel to the French Quarter and to our ship.


River cruising has taken Europe by storm and now you can sail the rivers of America with VACAYA. Come find out for yourself why river cruising has become passionate adventurers’ new “favorite way to travel!” Book your 2021 U.S. cruise today!

trip highlights





Day 1 | SUN, NOV 14 | NEW ORLEANS | Check In 3pm
Day 2 | MON, NOV 15 | NEW ORLEANS | Boarding 1pm | Depart 5pm
Day 4 | WED, NOV 17 | ST. FRANCISVILLE | Arrive 8am | Depart 1pm
Day 5 | THU, NOV 18 | NATCHEZ | Arrive 8am | Depart 5pm

Day 6 | FRI, NOV 19 | VICKSBURG | Arrive 8am | Depart 5pm
Day 7 | SAT, NOV 20 | BATON ROUGE | Arrive 12pm | Depart 5pm
Day 8 | SUN, NOV 21 | NOTTOWAY | Arrive 8am | Depart 6pm
Day 9 | MON, NOV 22 | NEW ORLEANS | Disembark 9am


Let VACAYA co-founder Randle Roper show you his hometown favorites! After a little solo exploration and dinner on your own, meet up with Randle and the team to hit some of the city’s most famous gay bars along Bourbon Street. Head back at your leisure to enjoy your included stay at Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Our Hospitality Desk at the hotel can assist with everything from general questions about your upcoming voyage to reserving premium experiences. VACAYA, American Queen Steamboat Company, and local representatives will all be readily available to provide you with dining, entertainment, and sightseeing options to maximize your time here.


Enjoy an easy morning with your included breakfast at the hotel or use our amazingly central location as the jumping off point for exploring The Crescent City. New Orleans’s Creole, Cajun, and other diverse residents blended to develop art, cuisine, music, and general culture unlike any other in the United States. Uncover the treasures of the city as you explore the unique sites and attractions lining New Orleans’ historic streets. A bon voyage departure like you’ve never seen will take place on the River Club Terrace and the top Deck, so grab your parasol and make your way to witness how authentic steam power can propel us back in time as we get to know our traveling companions for the next few days. Dinner and an evening of entertainment await!


There’s always plenty to do between dawn and dusk on the river and today is the perfect day to enjoy the many public spaces and activities that are available to you onboard. Gaze at the beautiful landscapes and small river towns as you mingle with fellow guests and discuss the unique aspects of river life. If you fancy a moment for yourself, retreat to The Lincoln Library adorned with ornate bookcases stocked with an imaginative selection. Take hold of a literary classic, curl up on a plush chair in a cozy corner and relish every moment of serenity. Our fitness facility, business center, movie theater, and grand lobby offer a more stimulating day on the river for those who wish to indulge in more energy-infused activities. However you wish to spend your day, make it your own and revel in every moment!


Established in 1809, St. Francisville is the oldest town in the Florida Parishes. Below where St. Francisville is located currently, was a settlement called Bayou Sara in the 1790s. When this settlement was destroyed by flooding and fires, many of the structures and artifacts were hauled up the bluff into St. Francisville where they still stand. With over 140 buildings on the National Register, beautiful homes nestled in the rolling countryside, and bustling Main Street shops, this quaint town situated on the bluffs of the Mississippi River has a style all its own.

Hop-On Hop-Off Included Excursions:

Today, you’ll get your first taste of AQSC’s included Hop-On Hop-Off excursions that begin right from the dock and take you around town to all the main points of interest. We encourage you to hop off the motorcoach whenever the urge catches you, because another one is on its way to pick you up, typically stopping every 15 to 20 minutes.

Royal Street
Guests can hop off here and walk over to The Republic of West Florida Historical Site. Or choose to stroll into Grandmother’s Buttons, a very unique southern boutique that offers jewelry made out of 100-year-old buttons. Inside the store, you can visit the button museum to learn the history of the business and the inspirations of the art. The store is located inside a former historic bank lobby with 16-foot ceilings and a bank vault. Even if jewelry isn’t in your plans, the architecture is beautiful.

Old Market Hall
Become steeped in southern charm and local artistry. Stop at Harrington Gallery to experience one-of-a-kind paintings and beautiful pieces by local artists. Visit the Shanty Too, a quaint boutique featuring artisan jewelry and gifts. The structure was built in 1819 and has a beautiful open layout. Now, the building is used as a market center for the town to host their small businesses.

West Feliciana Historical Society Museum
Learn about St. Francisville and Louisiana’s history and culture. Also, feel free to stop at the West Feliciana Parish Library and relax with a good book or newspaper. This museum is dedicated to the history, people, and architectures of West Feliciana Parish. Built inside a former hardware store built in 1896, the Historical Society Museum displays many artifacts, photos, costumes, and articles all portraying the history of St. Francisville. Just across the street, you can stop in any of the fine boutiques and shops.

Grace Episcopal Church
Originally built in 1827, this restored Gothic structure is one of the oldest Protestant churches in Louisiana. Learn about its significance during the Civil War and its historical Civil War cemetery. Built in 1860 and rebuilt in 1893 after the Union Army caused heavy damage in 1863, Grace Episcopal Church stands tall in St. Francisville. Enjoy a self-guided tour of the church and the grounds and make sure to check out the organ located inside – it dates all the way back to 1860.

Bicycles for Leisurely Use While in Port
The ship offers 10 complimentary bicycles and helmets at each port on your river cruise. Simply sign up at the front desk. With so many picturesque towns along the rivers, cycling is a great way to explore the shops and sites while getting in your daily dose of cardio. Our onboard staff will also provide you with local attraction maps and guides so that you can explore each port as you wish along your river journey.

Premium Excursions:

Redemption & Rehabilitation at Angola Penitentiary
Angola Prison is known today as a model facility and takes great pride in the faith-based rehabilitation of its inmates. Your perception of prison will be changed today. As we wind through Angola’s vast, rich farmland where over five million pounds of produce are harvested by inmates each year, gaze upon the fields that seem to expand forever. Our ride will wind along as we pass inmates harvesting crops, cattle herds, the K-9 training facility, and the Rodeo arena. We will stop in front of the prison’s first and most famous Red Hat Cell Block. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the penitentiary’s first cell block was home to the escape artist Charlie Frazer. At the chapel you’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear the enlightening stories from current inmates and the journey of their transformation into the inspiration and well-rounded people they are today. While here, learn more about the ongoing effort to change prisons in America. Film buffs will recognize Angola Prison from the Oscar-winning film Dead Man Walking, with Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.

Independent Lunch Recommendations (not included):

The Francis Southern Table & Bar: If you’re too enthralled in St. Francisville to make it back to the ship for lunch, consider partaking in local Cajun & Creole delights. Whether you choose Gumbo, a shrimp po’ boy (that’s a sandwich, y’all), frog legs, or a corn grit cake topped with the best shrimp & sauce ever, you’ll savor every bite of your own plate and the person’s next to you! Vegetarian and vegan friendly as well! Website:!

The Francis Southern Table & Bar: Established in November of 2019, The Saint Restaurant & Bar has quickly achieved respect and success within the region, rising to one of the top ten restaurants on OpenTable among all metropolitan Baton Rouge restaurants.  Chef Michael Dardenne and his team have found an ideal balance between Cajun culture, European tradition, and cutting-edge flavors that the public can’t get enough of. Website:


It seems as if history fell asleep and awoke unscathed by the changing times in this magical port. This charming river town was founded in 1716, making it the oldest city on the Mississippi River. It’s known for its elegance, hospitality, and impressive preservation of history – found on every street corner. Enjoy the unique shops, restaurants, museums (including the Afro-American Culture Museum), and historic homes, all of which inspired Hugh Bayless to include Natchez in his book “The 100 Best Towns in America.”

Hop-On Hop-Off Included Excursions:

Rosalie Mansion
In 1716, the French built Fort Rosalie overlooking the Mississippi River. In 1823, a mansion was built by a wealthy cotton planter on land north of the fort. The Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution have since gained ownership and have been maintaining the house and grounds since 1938. On this self-guided tour, discover the history of the house and the artifacts found throughout. Period-dressed docents can be found throughout the home to answer questions and to provide more information. Explore the extensive gardens, gift shop, library, and carriage as well.

Natchez Visitor’s Center
Enjoy a short, 20-minute video in the Visitor’s Center Theater and hear about the history of Natchez. Then, explore the building at your leisure. At the entrance, a scaled display model of the city is showcased. Stop in the office for some general information and questions about the town and its history, including town highlights and points of interest.

William Johnson House Museum
William Johnson was known as the “Barber of Natchez;” he began as a slave and gained his freedom at age eleven. After his freedom, he began to work his way up in society, eventually becoming almost fully accepted. As the town barber, William Johnson was able to hear the stories and gossip of many of the residents, which he documented in his diary for over 16 years. His 3-story brick home was built in 1840 and showcases many original furnishings.

Magnolia Hall
This Greek Revival Mansion was built in 1858. The house was built before the breakout of the Civil War in town but did suffer some damage – a cannon ball was launched into their kitchen! It is now fully restored – the main floor offers a showcase of many antiques and furnishings and the upper floors offer a costume collection located in the Historic Clothing Museum. Tour the house and then stop in the gift shop for souvenirs.

Stanton Hall
Irish Immigrant and cotton merchant Frederick Stanton built this Palatial Greek Revival mansion in 1857. It was appraised at $83,000 during that period (that’s about $2.5 million in today’s dollars), even before it was furnished. Take a 30-minute tour of the house – which takes up the entire block and is fully furnished. Afterwards you can stop for lunch in the Carriage House Restaurant, known for their fine southern cuisine.

Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture Museum
Here, learn the history and culture of African Americans over time. The museum will delve into the 300-year-old African American history, spanning four lifetimes from Colonial and Cotton Kingdom Natchez, to the Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movements. As you explore this creative portrayal of the true African American story, you will unfold history to reveal Natchez in a light that is shown nowhere else around.

Premium Excursions:

Fortunes and Follies: A Glimpse into the Antebellum South
On today’s journey, visit two of the most iconic structures in Natchez: Longwood Mansion and Melrose Mansion. Dive deep into discovery of the antebellum South while touring these historic homes. Expert guides provide new, interesting insights on the period and its architecture.

Independent Lunch Recommendations (not included):

The Guest House Restaurant: Today’s recommendation features authentic Mediterranean & Cajun-inspired cooking and the best outdoor courtyard dining in Natchez. And don’t miss Henry, who greets everyone with what is clearly his trademark, “Welcome to the Deep South” as he serves you their famous Babaganoush (roasted eggplant dip) – delicious! Vegan and Vegetarian friendly too. Website:

The Guest House Restaurant: Directly across the wharf from where the ship will port, get ready for a treat as you grab a cold craft beer and donut burger and watch the river flow by from the casual and festive porch. The Catfish or killer pork BBQ tacos are spectacular as well. Website:


Vicksburg perfectly blends Southern culture and heritage with exciting modern attractions. As a major battle site during the Civil War, this Southern town carries a history unlike any other. Vicksburg is also the place where Coca-Cola was first bottled, a fact that is happily immortalized at the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum. Learn about the historic conflicts of the city, taste its cuisine, visit the many museums, and pick out the perfect souvenir.

Hop-On Hop-Off Included Excursions:

On the Front Lines of the Civil War

Travel the front lines of one the most important battlefields in the country. Cross into enemy territory, hear the stories and hardships suffered by soldiers and discover what makes Vicksburg such an important city in American history. Aptly described by President Lincoln as “the key to victory,” the Siege and Battle at Vicksburg is a landmark in time that shaped our country and how wars would forever be fought.

Set off for the historic Vicksburg National Military Park. Here, we’ll travel the 16-mile road that weaves through the 1,300 monuments and markers. As our luxury motorcoach navigates the bluffs and fields that once served as crucial battlegrounds, we’ll cross both Union and Confederate lines and make a few stops to allow for a close-up experience at some of the key points of interest along the way. Tour the USS Cairo and Museum, an Iron Clad River Boat that was raised from the depths of the Mississippi River and can be boarded and fully explored. Climb the steps at the Illinois State Monument (the largest of the 27 state monuments) and walk the National Cemetery, a peaceful location holding the largest amount of Civil War burials in the country, as well as the Vicksburg Battlefield Visitor’s Center, where an informative fiber-optic display depicts the progression of the siege.

Premium Excursion:

A Round of Golf at the Vicksburg Country Club
It’s time to tee off in Vicksburg! Join us for a fantastic round of 18 holes at the Vicksburg Country Club Golf Course, built in 1929. All cart, clubs, and green fees are included.

Independent Lunch Recommendations (not included):

Anchuca: Anchuca Café offers a casual yet elegant dining experience offering award-winning gourmet southern dishes. Guests consistently say it’s the best steak they’ve ever had. Other specialties include their scrumptious Shrimp & Grits, Panéed Catfish featuring Mississippi farm raised catfish, and the very popular Surf & Turf, a proven people pleaser. Website:

Walnut Hills Restaurant: Respecting tradition, down to the most minute detail, is what keeps the lunches and dinners popular at this Southern mecca. Mismatched rockers on the porch, whiskey bottles of the wonderful homemade hot pepper sauce on each table, and the delicious cayenne-laced fried chicken served by Miss Herdcine Williams makes this award-winnng restaurant a one-of-a kind Southern experience. Some call this chicken the world’s best! Website:


Baton Rouge grants a strikingly different experience from those of the small-town stops throughout our journey. In this energetic port, history-facing museums and landmarks fraternize with forward-looking art and industry to offer a personalized encounter to each visitor. Allow the flowing, carefree words of denizens to dance through the eardrums during a meander through the city streets. Choose to hop on one of our deluxe motorcoaches and explore the diversity this city has to offer, or take a walk down the river path alongside our riverboat.

Hop-On Hop-Off Included Excursions:

USS Kidd
Just a short walk from the dock, guests can explore a Fletcher-Class Destroyer that fought in many battles in U.S. history. Named after Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who died on the bridge of his flagship during Pearl Harbor, the USS Kidd has received eight battle stars for WWII service and four battle stars for Korean War service. This 2,050-ton, 376-foot-long vessel has since been converted into a museum, with exhibits of extensive collections of war artifacts, ship models, memorial hall, real fighter planes and bombers, and memorials.

Capitol Park Museum
This impressive museum showcases collections of visual arts, jazz, costumes, textiles, and artifacts from Louisiana history. It was founded in 1906 and holds over 450,000 artifacts and works of arts. Permanent exhibits include “Experiencing Louisiana: Discovering the Soul of America,” and “Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana.” Rotating exhibits change frequently and can cover a range of different historical events.

Louisiana’s State Capitol
This prime example of Art Deco Architecture was extremely popular in the 1930s and stands 450 feet tall. The building holds 34 floors, making it the tallest state capital in the United States. Guests can admire the uniquely constructed rooms throughout the building or take a ride up to the 34th floor to the observation deck where an impressive panoramic view of the city can be found.

LSU Museum Of Art
Immerse yourself in the history of Louisiana and its culture through art at the LSU Museum of Art. Located on the fifth floor of the Shaw Center for the Arts, the museum hosts a variety of historic and contemporary art exhibits as well as a vast permanent collection spanning the 1700s to present day with over 6,500 artworks on display year round. Paired with a variety of programming and an education space to explore, a visit to LSU MOA is perfect for all interests.

LSU Rural Life Museum
Dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of materials from the cultures of 18th and 19th century rural Louisianans, the LSU Rural Life Museum sends guests back in time to experience the lifestyles and life-ways of these remarkable people. Explore the largest collection of artifacts and architecture from the period, all in a safe, outdoor rural landscape.

Premium Excursions:


Independent Lunch Recommendations (not included):

Louisiana Lagniappe Restaurant: In addition to old-time favorites Seafood Gumbo and Corn and Crab Bisque, they serve many different house-made gumbos, soups, and bisques, including Roasted Red Pepper and Jumbo Lump Crab, Duck and Andouille Gumbo, Shrimp and Artichoke, Crab and Brie, Southwestern Seafood Bisque, Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic with Jumbo Lump Crab, and Lobster Bisque to name a few. Website:

Parrain’s Seafood: This restaurant is committed to bringing guests the freshest and highest quality seafood in town. They have mouth-watering selections that are featured daily on the extensive menu. They offer daily specials for lunch and dinner. Website:


If you’re looking for a little off-the-beaten path fun, one of the best escape rooms in the entire country is located here in Baton Rouge. 13th Gate offers a perfect way to bond with friends over an exciting hour of problem-solving and silliness. Located at 800 St. Philip Street, 13th Gate is an easy walk from the dock!

Day 8

American Queen Steamboat Company features an exclusive port at Nottoway. While the boat is docked, visit the sugarcane estate – the largest standing antebellum mansion in the South. Nottoway is an intricate building with impressive detail. Original furnishings mingle with era-appropriate antiques to create an atmosphere that does justice to the home’s original ambiance. It is a fascinating history and one that provides immense insight that informs today’s racial equality discussions – an experience you won’t want to miss.

Hop-On Hop-Off Included Excursion:

Enjoy an included tour of Nottoway, the South’s largest remaining antebellum mansion. This stunning historical place lies between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The mansion flaunts three floors, 64-bedrooms, and displays an incredible 22 white square columns which contribute to its nickname—“The White Castle of Louisiana.” The most popular room among guests is the White Ballroom, which is painted entirely in white and displays elaborate gold décor throughout. Rooms are trimmed in custom plaster frieze made from Spanish moss, clay, plaster, and mud and are all original to the house. And as if that weren’t enough, this immaculate mansion was constructed with 365 openings—one for each day of the year. Enjoy a guided walking tour of an American Castle as we explore within the pristine walls of Nottoway followed by a stroll through the lush grounds and gardens.

Premium Excursions:


Independent Lunch Recommendations (not included):

The Mansion Restaurant: Nottoway’s Mansion Restaurant offers classic Louisiana Creole-inspired cuisine and outstanding service. This restaurant features a beautifully restored turn-of-the-century dining room with stunning views of centuries-old oak trees. They have outdoor dining available as well, located on the covered 2nd-floor balcony of the Rotunda, offering sweeping views of Nottoway’s beautiful grounds. Website:


We say “so long” today, but it’s never goodbye for long. Another VACAYA adventure lies just around the corner. We’ll see you again soon! If you’re flying out from New Orleans today, we recommend flights at 12pm or later.

Cruising the Mighty Mississippi aboard the 5-star American Duchess!
The Grand Dining Room
The Grand Dining Room
Savor each succulent bite as you swirl and sip amidst the rich ambiance at meals morning, noon, and night in this exquisite venue with sweeping views of the Mighty Mississippi.
River Club & Terrace
River Club & Terrace
Its lofty feel (along with an open-view kitchen and double-sided bar) sets the tone for the splendid dining and delightful cocktails. The outdoor terrace features covered, resort-style seating for both leisurely lounging and relaxed dining.
Duchess Show Lounge
Duchess Show Lounge
We’ll feature a diverse lineup of entertainers and guest historians who take to the stage and transport you to another era. Come back nightly for unmatched entertainment you’ll always remember.
Great Lobby Bar
Great Lobby Bar
This stunning bar takes advantage of the ship’s two-story atrium. It’s a gorgeous space, with a long marble bar and light-colored leather barstools, lit with chandeliers that are reflected in long glass panels.
The Lincoln Library
The Lincoln Library
This beautiful venue hosts lectures by our riverlorians. And with its own bar and grand piano, this comfy space transforms into VACAYA’s nightly Piano Bar. It also boasts a library where you can borrow books (including a collection of Mark Twain) and games.
Sun Deck and Walking Track
Sun Deck and Walking Track
The sun deck has lounging furniture to take in the sweeping views, and cabanas for protection from the sun. A walking track and putting green round out the activities available on the Sun Deck.
Fitness Center
Fitness Center
Maintain your fitness routine with a contemporary gym and range of amenities. Modern cardiovascular equipment like treadmills, static bicycles, workout bench, and free weights help you maintain your healthy lifestyle.


Give Back While On Vacation: One of VACAYA’s main missions is to give back to the communities we visit. The rising popularity of U.S. river cruising has brought tourist dollars into smaller, lesser known U.S. towns from travelers worldwide. AQSC takes great pride in supporting local businesses along the river and VACAYA is honored to continue the tradition, especially in these times of great need. We’ll pinpoint LGBT+ and Black-owned businesses for all of us to patronize in each port. Meet a few of our favorites…

Meet Kathe Hambrick, founder of The River Road African American Museum on our Nottoway port of call. Kathe and her family realized there was no truly accurate interpretation of African American life in the rural parishes along the Mississippi River. So she and her brother opened the RRAAM in 1994 with the purpose of educating visitors about the contributions of Africans and African Americans who lived and worked on the sugarcane and rice farms here in “plantation country.” The museum’s collection is internationally recognized repository for Louisiana’s African American culture.

Do you know where in the world jazz was born? Meet Al Jackson, the founder of Treme’s Petit Jazz Museum, who will tell you the true story of how jazz first started in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans where he grew up. A visit to meet Al at the museum will provide an insider’s glimpse of the influences, legends, and historical events that gave rise to the music that has kept this community’s, and the world’s, feet tapping since 1895.

Meet Henry Watson. Henry lives along the river and has created painted carvings from centuries-old cypress wood since he was 15 years old. Each piece is history – made from reclaimed wood from slave homes and barns. Henry is Louisiana. The art is his heritage, his family. And VACAYA can’t wait to introduce Henry and his art to you.

<p>Happiness Flows on the River</p>

Happiness Flows on the River