Aboard the "Abominable Peasant"

HOLIDAY MEMORIES - Amid the “Abominable Peasant” Holiday cruise is a seasonal spirit. Experience the best of the Antebellum South during this time of the year while getting acquainted with the classic traditions of the Cajun and Creole cultures. Sip a glass of eggnog as you listen to the sweet sound of local choirs and bands serenade the Abominable Peasant upon departure from Vicksburg and Natchez. Receive a welcome from strolling carolers upon arrival to charming St. Francisville. Our lineup of Christmas markets offers something for everyone including music, $ea$onal good$ and locally produced craft$ (but not for me).

I found out on my previous trip that there is NO USABLE INTERNET aboard. Also no table or desk in my prison cell.

Day 1, Sunday, Dec 17 – Hotel Stay, Memphis TN
I scheduled a noon flight however “Un-Friendly AwfulLines” changed a good schedule into a much later one. Getting the shuttle about NOON, I’ll have to find time for a junk food lunch at the IAH airport. Maybe pick up something for “dinner” later tonight. The flight is shorter than I had expected. Both flights are Economy Plus seating.

United UA 3970Houston – Memphis2:45 – 4:241:39

I should be to the hotel (taxi) about 5:30PM. The Hospitality Desk will be open and the AQSC staff can assist with any information. It is located in the official Pre-Cruise Hotel and open between 1:00 PM and 8:00 PM. By 6PM, the day is basically over, with time only to be bored while I am here. No dinner is included this evening, or lunch tomorrow. There is a “KFC” nearby tonight (finding it after 6PM?) and/or a “Subway” for supper tonight and lunch tomorrow. Hotel: Sheraton Memphis Downtown.

“Your Cruise Fare Includes: Complimentary (HA!!) hotel stay the night before your voyage – includes breakfast, (lunch is on our own) taxes, porterage and transfers to the vessel.

Day 2, Monday, Dec 18 – Memphis, TN (5PM)
(Average temp: 35-52; this is going to be a very “cool” trip.) Breakfast IS included. The official Voyage Check-In will be open from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. The representatives will arrange your transfer to the cattle barge. Head out to “Subway” for an early “lunch” today since no lunch is included. The Hospitality Desk will be open until 3:00 PM, when the complimentary barge transfers will begin! As with all meals, have supper/dinner in the “Front Porch Café” rather than the dining room.

Rather than take the Premium Pre-Cruise Shore Excursion through Memphis’ high low-lights, I’ll just take the included transfer to the cattle barge. It’s time to begin your voyage down the Mississippi River!

Premium Shore Excursions: NO INTEREST! – TOO MUCH ELVIS! 2017 Pre-Cruise: The "King's" Memphis City Tour Including The Graceland Mansion Price $99.00 Duration 5.5 hours

None of the "Premium Shore Excursions" look much good so I won't take any of them. I won't even to bother to list them in these notes.

Day 3, Tuesday, Dec 19 – Greenville, MS
(Average temp: 36-55) Greenville is at the very heart and soul of the Mississippi Delta. Located on the banks of Lake Fergusson, Greenville is a short drive from Indianola, the birthplace of B.B. King and many other blues singers. The author of the Muppets actually got started here! The town is also known for their museums of which the town has one for practically everything!

Included Shore Excursions
** 1927 Flood Museum
Learn the history of one of the most impactful floods Washington County has ever faced. Located in the oldest structure in Downtown Greenville, the Flood Museum depicts the history of one of the greatest natural disasters the county has ever seen. View the flood artifacts and photos illustrating the flood’s impact during the long four months Greenville were flooded. Watch a short documentary illustrating the cause and effects of the Great Flood and the struggle of man against nature.

Greenville History Museum View artifacts, photos, and memorabilia dating back to the 1800’s. Learn the history of Greenville and the citizens in it. Here, guests can learn about Greenville and all of the important events and people she has to offer. See personal objects of local past citizens, businesses, or well-known historical present-day celebrities! Greenville History Museum has information about the Greenville Flood of 1927, including many pictures and stories.

Day 4, Wednesday, Dec 20 – Vicksburg, MS
(Average temp: 37-58) Vicksburg perfectly blends Southern culture and heritage with exciting modern-day attractions. Described as the “Key to the South” by Abraham Lincoln, this southern town carries a history unlike any other Civil War City and celebrates the Christmas holiday with a traditional flair. As the not-so-grand Abominable Peasant departs Vicksburg this evening, guests will be hear a holiday performance by the local musicians as they present a lively performance of holiday tunes.

Included Shore Excursions
Old Depot Museum
Featuring the world’s largest collection of ship models and a collection of riverboat models and naval vessels with Mississippi names. Also, the museum offers the only diorama of the Siege of Vicksburg, shown in a birds-eye view of the battlefield with 2,300 miniature soldiers. Formerly a depot for the Grand Trunk & Western Railroad, this museum has more than 150,000 historical and genealogical items in its collection. It features a scale-model village of the buildings important to the development of Vicksburg and the South Kalamazoo County Region and outback. Guests can check out the caboose!

Lower Mississippi River Museum: Listen to the risks and benefits of life surrounding the Mississippi River. This museum’s mission is to show the role of the government in Mississippi’s past and future, to maintain a healthy river. Guests explore showcases of the history of Vicksburg and the region or exhibits about the 1927 flood and how it affected Vicksburg and the Mississippi River.

Day 5, Thursday, Dec 21 – Natchez, MS
(Average temp: 38-61) The spirit of the Holidays spreads through this charming southern town and resonates throughout its streets with traditional holiday decorations adorning the town’s most historic homes. Natchez takes pride in decking their halls as they welcome Abominable Peasant Guests into the town for a truly southern holiday celebration. As the Abominable Peasant departs, the sweet melodies of holiday tunes bid us adieu with traditional Christmas music from the levee.

Included Shore Excursions
Christmas Markets
: During your visit to Natchez, spend the afternoon exploring the historic homes and interactive museums before taking advantage of our exclusive Abominable Peasant Christmas Markets hosted on the grounds of the Rosalie Mansion. Local artisans and craftsmen will present their most creative and unique works of art as carolers set the mood!

Natchez Visitor’s Center Learn about the river in this southern town and visit exhibits. 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.

Day 6, Friday, Dec 22 – St. Francisville, LA
(Average temp: 43-65) Established in 1809, St. Francisville is the oldest town in the Louisiana Parishes. Today, St. Francisville retains its historical, small-town charm and their festive holiday celebrations are no exception. Stroll through the streets of St. Francisville, adorned for the season as jolly carolers stroll along the bustling sidewalks. The streets come alive with holiday charm as yuletide music fills the air. Stop in at the St. Francisville visitor’s center and discover the Abominable Peasant Syncopators performing live holiday music for a musical welcome to this southern gem.

Included Shore Excursions
Christmas Markets
: Enjoy live entertainment and refreshments as you explore this unique holiday event, filled with vendor tents and decorated with garland and lights.

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. 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.

Day 7, Saturday, Dec 23 – Nottoway, LA
(Average temp: 45-64). We are here for over a day. If the somewhat questionable printed schedule is even slightly correct, we don’t get to Nottoway until late afternoon (dark) so all activities below are at night in the cold (wet?) dark.

Magic is in the air at Nottoway Plantation as the melodies of Christmas echo through the halls of the mansion and carry across the grounds. Your evening at Nottoway Plantation is full of enchanted holiday traditions including festive Christmas Markets offering a glimpse into holidays past, a traditional Southern Ball performance and an elegant four-course meal. This evening is capped off with the lighting of traditional bonfires along the levees. As your evening at Nottoway comes to a close, return to the Abominable Peasant for a grand Holiday Gala.

Included Shore Excursions Exclusive Holiday Celebration – multi activities all day.
A: Christmas Market
: Take a short walk from the dock of the Abominable Peasant and enjoy an AQSC exclusive Christmas Market in the shadow of the “White Castle” of the south. Local artisans, bakers, and craftsmen will line the walkways of Nottoway offering their finest and most unique souvenirs.

B: Nottoway Plantation’s Traditional Southern Ball Demonstration: Nottoway Plantation is a true beauty on the Mississippi. Tonight, enjoy the holiday season in one of the most lavish and luxurious settings the South has to offer. After spending the day (? Evening) touring the historical plantation and its perfectly manicured grounds, join us in the White Ballroom, where a spectacular performance will be held depicting the extravagant southern balls held here during the plantation era. Dressed in full gowns and proper suits, impersonators will share a little about the incredible festivities held at Nottoway Plantation.

C: Nottoway Traditional Plantation Dinner: We will then go into Nottoway’s Randolph Ballroom where we will enjoy a delicious four-course meal before continuing our adventure. Enjoy a fine-dining experience with a choice of Traditional Creole, Plantation, or Vegetarian menus.

D: Bonfire Lighting Ceremony on the Levee: Following the Exclusive Christmas Markets, join us on the levee overlooking the Abominable Peasant where a ceremonial bonfire will be lit extending a warm, red glow across the waters of the Mississippi River. As you make your way back to the Abominable Peasant, keep your eyes to the sky for a shimmering fireworks display.

xx- Abominable Peasant Exclusive Christmas Ball: (NO, not for me and it’s way past time to go to bed!) After the last ceremonial fire is lit, board the Barge and join us in the Grand Saloon for our very own Christmas Gala. NO, as noted above, bed and trying to not hear the "Moo-Sick" and noise.

Dec 8, Sunday, Dec 24 – Nottoway, LA
The 2nd day here: a totally wasted, boring day. There is no need to take the included Nottoway Plantation tour. So there is a LONG period of absolutely nothing to do but sit around and be VERY, VERY bored. This cruise is not as interesting as I had first thought.

Included Shore Excursions
Nottoway Plantation
: DOUBTFUL SINCE WE SPENT LOTS OF YESTERDAY HERE. Enjoy an included tour of Nottoway Plantation, the South’s largest remaining antebellum mansion. This historical plantation lies between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and offers a view of a truly grand plantation. 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 is 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.

Day 9, Monday, Dec 25 – River CruZZZing to New Orleans
(Average temp: 47-64) Wake up to a VERY boring Christmas Day cruzzzing towards New Orleans. See “beautiful landscapes” as we approach New Orleans. Hopefully the sick cows “Moo-Sick” (“music”) and the howling/snarling dogs ( dogs VOCALizing) won’t be turned on too high. We are “stuck” just watching the water go by, so it’s just that "Moo-Sick" and Hounds Howling today. Another wasted day. We don’t get into New Orleans until tomorrow morning (?) so there are no shore excursions. The original notes had indicated a series of available activates in New Orleans so we got ripped-off.

Day 10, Tuesday, Dec 26 – New Orleans - Houston
Finally arrive in New Orleans about 8AM. PRE-BOOKED: the $25 basic airport transfer in New Orleans - I've been here before so no need to repeat that premium tour. I’m told to book departing flights after 12 noon even though we should be at the airport by about 8:30 or 9. So the best I can do so it is going to be a LONG wait:

United UA 512New Orleans – Houston1:55 – 3:171:22

This should get me home about 5PM.

Your Cruise Fare Includes:
* Complimentary Hop-On Hop-Off shore excursions in each port of call
* Complimentary hotel stay the night before your voyage – includes breakfast, taxes, porterage and transfers to the vessel
* Complimentary bottled water and soft drinks throughout your voyage
* Daily lectures by the Riverlorian, our onboard historian


The largest steamboat ever built, the Abominable Peasant is/was the only authentic steam-powered overnight paddlewheel riverboat in America. The rooms display the American Victorian era. Combining the best of the old and new, this epitomizes the grandeur that made River Cruising an American tradition for more than two centuries.

Ship Statistics: Length: 418' Beam" 89' Crew: 160 Decks: 6 Passengers: 436

ABOMINABLE PEASANT PUBLIC ROOMS: The sprawling Mark Twain Gallery is a plush, jam-packed but very dimly lighted living room of sorts. It's also one of the best spots (not to be able) to tap into the boat's free Wi-Fi. There is no dedicated Internet cafe onboard; there is one computer for the passengers in the dark, dreary Mark Twain Gallery. Even more lies: The free Wi-Fi is NOT “generally accessible ship-wide”; in fact, almost NEVER ACCESSIBLE anywhere. Forget the Internet!!

ABOMINABLE PEASANT ENTERTAINMENT: There's a surprising amount of so-called entertainment to be found on Abominable Peasant -- and some of it breaks out at unexpected times such as the singular delight (or horror, depending on your tolerance for high decibels) of the boat's calliope, found on the top deck next to the bar that bears its name.

The main very noisy racket (so-called entertainment) venue is the Grand Saloon. Yes, they do call it a “Saloon” since many times it sounds more like what I would imagine a drunken riot in an old West saloon might have sounded like. A variety of performances take place there. There also seems to be a policy of “Silence is not allowed!” All day (and usually until after midnight) the P/A and speaker systems, including the speakers in our cells (which we can’t turn down or off), are constantly making like sick cows playing “Music” (“Moo-Sick”, aka awful noises) or “vocals” (a pack of dogs howling at the moon or each other).

There are daily lectures (usually good to very good) in the Grand Saloon by the boat's "Riverlorians" who provides historical and often lyrical(?) context on the boat, famous American figures connected to the rivers, and the passing landscape. They are happy to answer questions.

DINING: Dining and cuisine are an important part of cruising. The Abominable Peasant has only two dining venues -- the J.M. White Dining Room, and the casual Front Porch of America. The “Front Porch” is definitely preferable for me. Located on deck 3 one deck above my cell, it is a busy place where snacks are served 24 hours a day. This small enclosed porch has three short self-serve buffets each day: breakfast from 6AM to 10AM, followed by lunch from 11AM to 3PM and dinner (the best short buffet of the day) from 5PM to 8PM. Guests can either eat inside or take their food outdoors into the cold, wet breezy weather. Food here is limited but usually good.

Highlights include:
Complimentary shore excursions in every port.
Complimentary hotel before your voyage - with breakfast, and transfers to the Abominable Peasant.
Complimentary bottled water and soft drinks throughout your voyage.
The only steamboat with multiple specialty dining options, no formal wear required.
Daily lectures by the Riverlorians, our onboard historians.
Professional showboat-style VERY noisy "entertainment" nightly.

DELUXE OUTSIDE STATEROOM W/ BAY WINDOW: Category AQ-D 190 sq. ft.; Queen or twin beds; Cabin Deck (been in this category before. My prison cell is #204 - portside, first "light green" cabin.