In This Issue:
FEATURED TRIP: American Adventure
CRUISE OF THE MONTH: Blue Currents
JOURNEY OF THE MONTH: Grand Canyon National Park
BEHIND THE SCENES: A Restful Haven Amidst Comforting Surroundings
THE WAY IT WAS: The Greatest Generation on the Rails
PHOTO OF THE MONTH: The Louisiane’s Crescent Room
DID YOU KNOW? A Blend of Southern and Continental Cuisine
HISTORIC SNAPSHOT: Union Station in St. Louis
A TASTE FOR TRAVEL: Crêpes Suzette
TRAVEL TIPS: Return from Vacation with Many Memories and No Extra Inches
NATIONAL PARK TRIVIA: Should We Thank AAA for Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
LIMITED TIME OFFER!
To celebrate the launch of French America Line, a brand new cruise line offering deluxe voyages on America’s waterways, we are delighted to provide FREE PRE-PAID GRATUITIES ON ALL SAILINGS, which is up to $420 in value per stateroom. This offer is valid for any 2016 sailing booked before June 30. Please call 1-800-323-5893 or visit www.frenchamericaline.com for more details on this offer and to learn more about this unique and elegant new travel opportunity.
As part of the introduction of French America Line, Uncommon Journeys' new partner offering deluxe voyages on America’s waterways, we are pleased to feature their American Adventure cruise. The quaint towns of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia are the focus of this remarkable journey between the arts district and vibrant downtown of Louisville, KY, and the formidable skyline of Pittsburgh, PA, once the epicenter of steel baron society. You can start this 8-day voyage from either Louisville on August 29 or from Pittsburgh on September 4. But don’t worry, you will be able to explore both cities as the itineraries are identical and simply sailed in reverse.
To start your journey off on the best possible note, you will arrive at your embarkation city and check in to French America Line’s deluxe hotel partner, either the grand Seelbach Hotel in Louisville or the glamorous Omni William Penn in Pittsburgh, both among the most storied and lavish historic hotels in America. Happily, all fares on French America Line cruises include breakfast at the hotel and porterage as well as a transfer to the luxuriously appointed Louisiane, French America Line’s flagship vessel.
In Louisville, you will delight in the town named after King Louis XVI of France as you sip a mint julep and stroll the glittering waterfront. Be sure to head to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, Churchill Downs or learn about a boxing legend at the Muhammad Ali Center. In Pittsburgh you will undoubtedly enjoy the sweeping city vistas from up high on Mount Washington and become transported by the kaleidoscopic stained glass at Heinz Memorial Chapel, mere minutes away from esteemed Carnegie Mellon University.
Along the way, you’ll visit Madison, IN, and stroll among the numerous buildings on the National Register of Historic Places nestled in this scenic valley village. Be part of enduring tradition as you arrive by river to Cincinnati, OH, the town Longfellow dubbed "Queen City of the West", and indulge in sophisticated sightseeing at the art deco Union Terminal, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and of course the much-praised local chili. Breathe in the fresh air in Wellsburg, WV, a peaceful hamlet nestled in the green hills rolling into the Ohio river, and absorb the history of picturesque Maysville, KY through the stunning large-scale murals painted against the downtown floodwall. In Marietta, OH, recall George Washington's musing that he knew "no other country where I should rather fix my habitation" when you visit this idyllic town, the site of Ohio's first settlement.
Beginning at just $3,595 per person, these 8-day American Adventure cruises departing August 29 and September 4 will be in high demand given the excitement surrounding the French America Line launch, so call 1-800-323-5893or visit www.frenchamericaline.com for more details and to secure your place onboard.
>BACK TO NEWSLETTER
This 9-day glorious vacation beginning August 22 will sail along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and provide an expansive view into the majestic River Crossroads region. While you may be enchanted by the blues, barbecue and beauty of Memphis with a special overnight stay on the Louisiane, Uncommon Journeys' new partner French America Line’s stunning flagship vessel, you'll also discover blues of a different kind as you sail past the point where the blue waters of the Ohio River meet the brown waters of the mighty Mississippi.
In Memphis, your free deluxe hotel stay will be at the opulent Peabody Hotel, where for generations the charming March of the Ducks from their enclosure to the ornate lobby fountain has captured guests’ imaginations. Be sure to take in the sounds of Memphis, where a stroll on soulful Beale Street, a tour of Graceland, or a visit to the Stax Museum of Soul Music and the Rock 'n' Soul Museum will have you feeling the beat.
As with all French America Line’s cruises, fares include breakfast at the hotel as well as a transfer to the Louisiane and all porterage. After settling into the stateroom or suite, you can enjoy all the luxuriously appointed amenities on the ship before returning ashore for another night in electric Memphis.
The pleasures of the Louisiane become apparent as you start each day with a made-to-order beignet and cafe au lait in The Veranda, the ship’s alternative casual dining venue, which like all onboard meals is included in the cruise fare. Read a book, talk to the Illuminator, our onboard historian, and then enjoy made-to-order crêpes for lunch. Spend the afternoon with new friends and sip a pre-dinner aperitif in the Bar Royale. Then indulge in the Southern and Continental cuisine of The Crescent Room followed by stimulating entertainment before retiring to your suite or stateroom for a restful night’s sleep.
Among our many compelling ports of call, you will visit New Madrid, MO, which was flattened in 1811 by North America's strongest recorded earthquake, and later further shaken up by 1862's Battle of Island Number Ten. In Paducah, KY, picture 42,000 Union soldiers boarding 185 ships on their way upriver, and spend some time at the surprising National Quilt Museum. You’ll be sure to find the 19th century swashbuckling past of Cave-In-Rock, IL, rather intriguing as from their base in a natural cave along the river armed river pirates used to hide where they could easily row out and rob passing steamboats. Seek inspiration in Henderson and visit unequaled naturalist John James Audubon’s local museum, which displays the world's largest collection of his art and artifacts. When you disembark in Louisville, bid adieu to the Louisiane and discover this exceptional town, where highlights include the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, Churchill Downs and the Muhammad Ali Center.
With prices starting at just $3,999 per person, the 9-day Blue Currents cruise departing August 22 has limited availability given the buzz around French America Line’s launch, so call 1-888-387-1140 or visit www.frenchamericaline.com for more details and to be counted amongst the privileged guests.
>BACK TO NEWSLETTER
Grand Canyon National Park
Uncommon Journeys and brand new purveyor of deluxe voyages on America’s waterways French America Line are proud to have forged a special relationship, which will provide each of our guests several opportunities to marry a luxurious passage on America’s rivers with an exciting private-car rail trip through one of America’s natural wonders.
Some places must be seen at least once in a lifetime, and a few are so magnificent they call for subsequent visits. The Grand Canyon is one such place, particularly as experienced through one of Uncommon Journeys’ meticulously planned tours coupled with one of French America Line’s refined river cruises. Let America whisk by the broad windows of the Southwest Chief train as plains, mountains, small towns and big cities add their threads to the fabric of your time on the rails. Upon arrival to your lodging on the coveted South Rim of the Grand Canyon, you’ll hear no sound but the echo of a hawk riding the wind currents and the wind rustling through the scrub trees. Far below, watch the Colorado River cut its timeless path through the rock and a geological layer cake of ochre, rose, mustard, taupe and amber flows across the canyon walls like the water across the canyon floor. From high above, the Grand Canyon will leave you utterly spellbound.
On cruise tours ending in St. Louis, French America Line has planned a special 6-day Encore Package to the Grand Canyon that includes two nights at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, Arizona, a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway to the edge of the canyon, and a night at the Grand Canyon South Rim Hotel. Guests can then continue on to Los Angeles or head east back to St. Louis or on to Chicago on the Southwest Chief.
This unforgettable journey is available following the French America Line Sep. 10, 2016 8-day Bluegrass Grandeur cruise tour and the Sep 24, 2016 and Oct 8, 2016 8-day Midwestern Majesty cruise tours disembarking in St. Louis. Beginning at just $1,295 (in addition to the cruise price) per person our Grand Canyon tours are expected to sell quickly so call 1-888-387-1140 or visit www.frenchamericaline.com for more details.
A Restful Haven Amidst Comforting Surroundings
French America Line, Uncommon Journeys' new partner providing deluxe voyages on America’s waterways, wants to invite you aboard its flagship vessel Louisiane, which features some of the most elegant suites and staterooms on any river vessel. Imagine sinking into a sea of luxurious linens and a fluffy duvet as you recollect your day exploring a quaint town or grand city along one of America’s mighty rivers. Or linger at one of the French balconies and verandas that line many of the staterooms and take in the passing scenery from the comfort of your beautifully appointed haven.
Although the décor is classically beautiful, with a soothing color palette and harmonious architecture, you won’t be without the modern conveniences we have all come to rely on, such as satellite television, direct-dial telephones and complimentary Wi-Fi. Closets are very spacious, so you’ll have no trouble storing your belongings, and you’re sure to love the plush spa-quality bathrobes and slippers found within. The pampering continues in the bathrooms, which have been stocked with L'Occitane en Provence® bath amenities in staterooms and Hermès® bath products in suites.
But the sophisticated touches don’t stop there. In every suite and stateroom you’ll find an iPad® loaded with with e-books and articles illuminating the area you are traversing, plus menus and daily programs. Your sweet tooth will also be gratified with Vosges Haut-Chocolat® indulgent chocolate petites gracing your pillow every evening, and with gourmet Parisian macarons from the House of Ladurée® as a thoughtful welcome when you first step into your suite or stateroom.
Need something else? Feel free to summon a gracious attendant at any time you require assistance, or order from the complimentary 24-hour select menu, the ultimate indulgence.
Please visit www.frenchamericaline.com to take a peek at all of the suites and staterooms, and if you can imagine yourself gliding down America’s rivers in one of these charming cabins, then be sure to book your passage today.
The Greatest Generation on the Rails
We sometimes hear about the Golden Age of Train Travel and about the Hollywood stars who traveled the iron horse, and have a glossy image of train travel from classic movies, but the truth this that when train travel was most popular and most essential during the 1940s, it was also not nearly as enjoyable.
Keep in mind that the first half of the 1940s encompassed World War II and the second half relocation of millions of people as the nation returned to civilian life. Any advances in train design and comfort from then 1930s had been frozen when war broke out along with most maintenance, cleaning and upgrading. To travel by train in the America of the 1940s was to be in very crowded conditions. We might complain today about a full airline flight, but that was nothing compared to a full railcar where every seat was filled and soldiers and civilians were standing in aisles and crowded into corners. In fact, the trains were so full that moving from car to car was almost impossible unless you waited until the train pulled into the next station, got off, walked to another car on the platform, and re-boarded.
Also remember that many trains back then were not diesel but coal fired and the cinders would travel the length of the train so attempts to escape crowded cars to fresh air often was met with a cinder in the eye. In the confusion, the conductors couldn’t always get through the cars to advise of the next stop so it wasn’t uncommon for travelers to miss their station entirely.
Dining aboard wasn’t what it was cracked up to be, though there were moments of elegance on less-crowded trains. But back when GIs were moving across the country, the dining cars were always full and the lines to enter so long that you could go an entire trip without a hot meal. Thankfully, porters sold sandwiches as they moved from car to car although supplies were limited. One traveler of the time noted that for a boy from the farm to get a bottle of milk and a ham and cheese sandwich was quite a luxury. Most travelers survived on Hershey bars and Baby Ruths.
When the war finally ended and the crowds riding the rails dissipated (helped in part by the rise of air travel in the 1950s), the onboard experience began to resemble more closely the elegance that Uncommon Journeys recreates today in its private domed railcars such as the Great Western Limited.
You would enter a train and be led to your sleeping accommodations as the porter explained the nuances of the lights and the location of showers and powder rooms. A lounge area would provide fantastic views and a full bar with attentive waiters refilling glasses as needed. Names were learned and drink preferences memorized. At dinner, white table cloths were set with fine china, heavy silver, roses in bud vases. A printed menu was presented to travelers. Dinner was served course by course with traditional train specialties such as pickled watermelon in a relish tray and rolls anchoring the meal. Wine flowed freely and tender steaks and perfectly broiled fish were the order of the day. Dessert could range from mousses to warm cookies. Savvy travelers always stashed away a couple extra cookies for a midnight snack.
And all this took place in stylized stainless steel railcars with broad windows, domed roofs and curved glass. Plush over-cushioned banquettes and chairs were the perfect spot to sink into and enjoy the view as American unfolded, mile by mile, outside the windows. To travel by train, especially in first class, in the 1950s was to glide through another era in supreme comfort, luxury and style.
We use our private Great Western Limited train and several other private trains for a number of trips each year. If you’d like to experience history but do so in a way that offers additional improvements upon what are fathers and grandfathers once enjoyed, then select one of the following trips featuring the Great Western Limited:
Fresh from a multi-million dollar refurbishment, the Louisiane has been meticulously designed for boutique cruises along America’s waterways. From her open decks, you can watch charming towns slip past as you relax with a mint julep. But fine dining is the Louisiane’s hallmark and nowhere is this more evident than in The Crescent Room, the glittering stage for acclaimed Chef de Cuisine Regina Charboneau's Southern and Continental creations. Fine linens, gleaming cutlery and European-inspired china are the backdrop for white-gloved servers who anticipate your every need with remarkable prescience. This plush jewel box is inset with sparkling chandeliers and is the center stage for each day's culinary stars. Visualize epicurean wonders ranging from chicken with roasted squash stuffing or classic escargot to a perfectly-prepared chateaubriand or fresh Gulf shrimp with cheese grits, a delicate French vanilla bean soufflé or a decadent slice of bourbon pecan pie. Dining is always open seating, meaning you may dine when you choose with whomever you wish.
Then a remarkable transformation occurs, as The Crescent Room shifts into a cabaret each evening offering unique and remarkable entertainment. Talented performers hold court, and will surely have you tapping your toes in no time to traditional big band numbers, standards from the great American songbook or even contemporary hits performed in the classic style of the 1950s.
If you’d like to see a photo from one of your own Uncommon Journeys trips featured in our newsletter, just email it to us at email@example.com and be sure to note in your email that we can use it for marketing purposes.
A renowned chef and author, Regina Charboneau studied in Paris before opening celebrated restaurants to worldwide acclaim. She now brings her boundless creativity and stunning flavor pairings to French America Line, Uncommon Journeys' new partner offering deluxe cruises, to craft cuisine unmatched on America's waterways.
A resident of Natchez, one of our most charming antebellum destinations, she got her start in San Francisco where she launched Regina's at the Regis and later the award-winning Biscuits & Blues nightclub.
She returned to Natchez in 2001 and opened the Twin Oaks Bed and Breakfast in a historic antebellum home dating to 1832, where she teaches cooking classes as well as serves as a warm, ebullient host. Her latest venture is King's Tavern in Natchez, specializing in fresh farm-to-table selections. Under her deft touch, the dining experience on French America Line’s flagship vessel the Louisiane is elevated to an apogee of gastronomic pleasure.
One of the added bonuses of taking a cruise tour with French America Line, Uncommon Journeys' new partner providing deluxe voyages on America’s waterways, is an included one-night pre-cruise deluxe hotel stay in each embarkation city with includes breakfast, porterage and transfers to the riverboat on sailing day. These hotels have been carefully chosen amongst America's most attractive and storied properties.
One prime example is the architectural masterpiece The Doubletree at Union Station in St. Louis, MO. Set in the center of this lively city, the historic Union Station features a beautiful lobby and lounge occupying the station’s former head house, which originally held the ticket offices and waiting rooms. It boasts soaring Romanesque arches, inspired frescoes and delicate gold leaf detailing, as well as beautiful stained glass art such as the “Allegorical Window” and the delightful “Whispering Arch” containing it.
The station originally opened September 1, 1894 from a design by German-born Theodore Link, who would later go on to work on the spectacular but long-gone Palace of Mines & Metallurgy for the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, as well as many buildings still standing at LSU, among many other successful projects. The train shed, the covered area where the tracks and boarding platforms are located, was a whopping 11.5 acres and accommodated 42 tracks, and the stately clock tower, which still stands today, rose to 280 feet. The remainder of the handsome edifice, also surviving in excellent shape, was constructed from Indian limestone.
On the day it opened, it was the largest railroad station in the world, its train shed had the largest roof span of any building anywhere, and more passengers passed through it than any other station the world round. When the 1904 World Fair was announced, the station was expanded even further, and its new Grand Hall completed at a cost of $6.5 million suitably impressed visitors to the city with its beauty and grandeur.
As the 1940s rolled around, up to 100,000 souls used the station every day. A notable anecdote from the era is that the famous picture of Harry S. Truman holding up the mistaken Chicago Tribune issue splashed with “Dewey Defeats Truman” was taken here as Truman traveled from Independence, MO back to Washington.
1978 brought an end to Union Station’s use as an active train terminal, but after a few dormant years it was reopened in 1985 as a multi-use facility. The current $30 million renovation is ensuring that Union Station continues to captivate visitors for generations to come.
Two itineraries with French America Line will give you an opportunity to overnight at this beautiful hotel:
Please follow the links to learn more about these voyages and to book your passage as availability is extremely limited.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad
In keeping with this issue’s focus on French America Line and her flagship vessel Louisiane, here is another recipe by the Louisiane’s wonderful chef de cuisine Regina Charboneau. This scrumptious recipe serves 8.
Return from Vacation with Many Memories and No Extra Inches
One of the perks and downfalls of taking an all-inclusive cruise vacation such as those offered by Uncommon Journeys' newest partner French America Line, offering deluxe cruises on America’s waterways, is the availability of food at almost any time of the day along with the corresponding weight gain that invariably follows. The temptation may be even greater with the variety of alluring selections served up by noted chef Regina Charboneau on French America Line’s ships.
One potential option is attempting to severely limit making eye or nose contact with any of the dining venues on board, which may only be possible by sequestering yourself in your cabin. The other is to spend every other moment not dining marathoning around the ship’s deck. Neither of these are particularly desirable choices.
Fortunately for the health-conscious among you, chef Regina has kept your best interests in mind and come up with a special menu under the moniker Currents Cuisine™ that offers a range of tantalizing options under 400 calories for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Crafted to acknowledge the importance of a wholesome lifestyle, each dish features a light touch and fresh ingredients that are both satisfying and delicate.
If you take a look through all of our trips during the course of a year, you’ll see that the vast majority of them either involve train travel to an embarkation port for a voyage on an ocean liner or a train odyssey through America’s national parks. You’ll see that those national parks are almost all out West and include Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Tetons, Glacier, the Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, the Painted Desert and others.
But if you look carefully, you’ll see a few departures featuring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Interestingly it’s the most-visited national park in America and, as you might expect, Uncommon Journeys takes our guests there in grand style. On our 10-day Journey to the Great Smoky Mountains departing October 8, you will see the beauty of the region in ways you never imagined. Another way to visit is to book a special Prelude Package with French America Line, which will give you a comprehensive land tour of the park followed by the fabulous 9-day Southern Rhythms cruise sailing the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers from Nashville to Memphis.
Creating Great Smoky National Park was far more challenging than you would expect. The parks that were established out West were done so by carving out lands that were already owned by the government, and they were frequently in remote and inhospitable places. But the land the Great Smokies sit on was fairly densely populated by several substantial timber and paper companies as well as hundreds of small farmers.
As far back as the 1890s, the Appalachians had established a reputation for providing harried city dwellers with cool, clean, and healthy air amidst beautiful surroundings, and a few vociferous citizens began a campaign to make some of these lands public. An attempt was made to push a bill through the North Carolina Legislature, but it fizzled due to lack of support. However, the momentum increased over the years and by the early 20th century there was significant lobbying in Washington supporting the creation of a public park.
These efforts came to a head in the mid-1920s, with the multiplying supporters hailing primarily from Asheville, NC and Knoxville, TN. The rise of the automobile played an important role, because members of newly-formed auto clubs, AAA chief among them, wanted access to the beauty of the Appalachians on well-paved roads that wouldn’t wreck the undercarriages of their beloved vehicles. Success seemed to arrive in 1926 when Calvin Coolidge signed a bill establishing Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park. But this was only the first step, for now the government had the arduous task of purchasing 150,000 acres of land from a patchwork of owners.
After many years of intensive fund raising to buy out or wait out the businesses and residents housed on the land, the park was formally dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt in September, 1940. Speaking from the Rockefeller Memorial at Newfound Gap, where Tennessee and North Carolina meet, he dedicated the new park to the people of the nation and even the world—a new National Park for all to enjoy.
As always, visit us at the Uncommon Journeys Facebook page for the latest news, photos and lively discussions about luxury train travel, our itineraries and the fantastic places we take you. You’ll be among the very first to hear about new trips, new offers and future sweepstakes.
*Offer expires June 30, 2016 and is for new bookings only. All fares are per person in US dollars based on double occupancy (unless specifically noted otherwise). Offer is capacity-controlled and may be withdrawn or altered at any time. Offer of Free Pre-Paid Gratuities includes onboard gratuities of $16 per person per day for onboard service staff (excluding Currents Spa™ personnel) and $5 per person per day for included Traveler Collection™ shore excursions. Offer value of up to $420 per stateroom is based on double occupancy for a 10-day cruise tour. Some cruise tours are shorter and corresponding offer value will be less. Offer has no actual cash value and cannot be redeemed or exchanged for any other product or service. Offer is applied automatically at time of booking and applies only to bookings made on or before June 30, 2016 for any cruise tour departing prior to December 31, 2016. French America Line reserves the right to correct any errors or omissions and to change any and all fares, fees, surcharges and offers at any time. Per person pricing shown does not include applicable port charges and fees of up to $275 per person (amount varies based on cruise tour length). Per person pricing shown above is for double occupancy of a Superior Stateroom category on the November 9, 2016, 5-day cruise tour departure. Ship’s Registry: United States of America.