Voodoo, Steamboats, Bayous and Beads

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Gray Line New Orleans

 

In a place where French culture meets Southern lifestyle, New Orleans offers enough to thrill any soul, from laid-back harbor cruising to streetside jazzy jam sessions, with a bit of spirits and voodoo thrown in, too.

Gray Line Tours, a staple sightseeing tour operator in the Big Easy, offers a variety of tours to introduce your clients to the various cultural aspects that the city presents. Through Oct. 31, the company offers 19 tours per day, every day. Here at Recommend, we went wild at the thought of a cultural outing in New Orleans and put together a list of our favorite tours—all of which can be packed into a single day of fun.

• 9–11 a.m. Cemetery & Voodoo ($26 adults; $15 children; $23.50 group) On this walking tour, guests visit St. Louis Cemetery #1, visiting the tombs of famous—and infamous—people buried there. They’ll discover the history of voodoo, which is still practiced today, and visit the tomb of Marie Laveau, who is known as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. Guests on this tour will also learn what “gris-gris” is, and they’ll each get a souvenir “gris-gris” bag of their own.

• 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Natchez Lunch Harbor Cruise ($37 adults; $20.25 children ages 6-12; $8 for children ages 2-5) Your clients will enjoy a freshly prepared Creole lunch during this 2-hour cruise along the Mississippi River aboard The Steamboat Natchez, New Orlean’s only authentic steamboat. As the steamboat leaves New Orleans’ historic French Quarter, voyagers learn what life was like amidst the area’s cotton plantations through a narration of historical facts and port highlights. Shipboard amenities also include a Steamboat Gift Shop and museum quality steam engine room, with a pre-boarding Calliope concert available at 10:45 a.m. Rates are also available for those opting to cruise without lunch.

• 3–5:30 p.m. Katrina/City ($46 adults; $21 children; $41.50 group) An extension of Gray Line’s 2-hour Super City tour, the Katrina/City itinerary visits a wealth of neighborhoods, adding an informative overview of the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The tour begins in New Orleans’ center, the French Quarter, traveling as far as the Ninth Ward—one of many neighborhoods devastated by the hurricane. In addition to traveling through the many neighborhoods of New Orleans, highlights of the tour include stopping by the home of rock and roll pianist Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino; an above-ground cemetery; Xavier, Tulane and Loyola universities; City and Audubon parks, and the Garden District.

• 7–9:30 p.m. Big Easy Jazz ($49 adults; $44 group) Your clients will want to drop the kids off at the hotel for this one—especially since participants must be at least 21 years old. Guests on this tour will don their complimentary Mardi Gras Beads as they arrive at the infamous Bourbon Street in time to call on one of the city’s best jazz clubs. Following a rhythmic set or two, they’ll continue on to Musical Legends Park, where they’ll hear the beats of a traditional jazz band from VIP seating. Guides will explain the history of Bourbon Street, how it came to be an international destination, and how it got its name as “the birthplace of jazz.” Guests will also enjoy a complimentary cocktail at the start and end of the tour—though the night won’t end til your clients want it to.

Group rates apply for a minimum of 10 adults or more. All of the above tours are offered daily at the specified rates, through Oct. 31. For more information, call (800) 233-2628 or visit graylineneworleans.com.

Hyatt Free Time
After a day packed with Gray Line Tours itineraries, your clients are going to need time to catch some Z’s. Hyatt Regency New Orleans will take care of them with its Hyatt Free Time package, which gets them a third night free when they stay for two. Plus, the package includes complimentary breakfast for two daily, so your clients will step out into the city every morning full of energy.

The Hyatt Regency New Orleans recently reopened after a $275 million redesign. The property features 1,193 guestrooms and suites in downtown New Orleans, situated between the French Quarter and the Arts & Entertainment district. Amenities include three restaurants, lounge, 24-hour fitness center and outdoor heated pool.

Current advertised rates start at $109 per night. The Hyatt Free Time package must be booked with offer code FRTIME by Nov. 30 for stays through Dec. 30. For more information, call (800) 233-1234 or visit neworleans.hyatt.com.