SOMETIMES, finds that travel does not always work out as originally planned.

Take a recent trip to the United States to cruise along the Mississippi River from Nashville (Tennessee) to New Orléans (Louisiana). It was time to explore the Deep South on a traditional paddle steamer, but at the last-minute plans had to be changed.

A sighting of the paddle steamer American Queen from the banks of the Mississippi.
A sighting of the traditional paddle steamer American Queen from the banks of the Mississippi.

Instead, we took a coach tour along the same route in America’s Deep South, and were delighted with the experience. Everything we wanted to see, and much more, was included in the Insight Vacations’ itinerary exploring the land of country music, the Blues, and rock ‘n roll from Nashville to New Orléans where jazz rules.

It opened our eyes to how far coach travel has come, and how luxury and comfort are all part of this land experience. OK, we are still cruise crazy,  but will be far more open to taking a different way on some future occasions.

Indeed, many cruise lines are now looking at joint ventures so that travellers can take a cruise, land an in-depth land tour, before or after their voyage. It makes a lot of sense.

But back to that Deep South tour by coach. It offered a musical history, a culinary feast, and took us into recording studios, and  to the Grand Ole Opry where musical greats such as Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, and Keith Urban have been guest artists.

Preserved 19th century cotton plantations with grand colonial mansions, as well as Graceland, the home of the late, great Elvis Presley were other main attractions. And along the way our tour director filled us in on the rich history of the Deep South of the USA.

We closely followed the route of the slow flowing Mississippi River and occasionally spotted iconic paddle steamers making their way up and down the river. Some of our coach party  had added an Insight Vacations extension at the end of the tour and joined the American Queen paddle steamer for a week-long cruise on the Mississippi back to Memphis ,… but sadly we had run out of time.



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