Civil War Battlefields Cruise

35 Days/34 Nights
|
May 3, 2024 –  June 6, 2024
New For 2024
  • 35 Days
  • 13 States
  • 3 Ships
May 3, 2024 –  June 6, 2024

Be a part of history on our comprehensive Civil War Battlefields cruise, the first and only cruise of its kind. Walk in the footsteps of Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln, and more.

Led by a dedicated onboard Civil War historian, you will travel from the banks of the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers to the hallowed grounds of the East Coast, exploring America’s major Civil War battlefields, places of remembrance and reflection. Along your journey, recognized authorities will share in-depth, untold stories of the people, places, and events that took place during this historic time when our nation was divided.

Cruise Fare Includes:

  • 35-Day exploration of America's Civil War Battlefields
  • Pre-Cruise hotel stay in New Orleans
  • Daily excursions and entertainment
  • All meals and beverages
  • WiFi powered by Starlink
  • All transportation between cruise segments
  • All hotels between cruise segments
  • All tips, gratuities, and port charges

Prices start at $24,700

Itinerary Overview

Cruise from New Orleans, LA to Memphis, TN aboard American Melody

Cruise from Nashville, TN to Chattanooga, TN aboard American Symphony

Days 16 to 17

Scorched Earth

Land Package following General Sherman’s March to the Sea

Cruise from Jacksonville, FL to Norfolk, VA aboard American Eagle

Cruise from Norfolk, VA to Baltimore, MD aboard American Eagle. Upon disembarkation, travel from Baltimore to Sharpsburg, MD, for Antietam exploration

Days 33 to 35

Battle of Gettysburg: The Turning Point for the North

Land Package to Gettysburg, PA

View Itinerary Details

Your day by day itinerary.

  • Day 1 New Orleans, LA
    Day 1 – New Orleans, LA

    Settle into your hotel and enjoy a feast for your senses as you explore this magical city, renowned for its delicious cuisine, vibrant music scene, and rich culture with an international flair. Stroll the tree-lined avenues, take a carriage ride through the French Quarter, hop aboard a streetcar to the gorgeous Garden District, or visit the renowned National World War II Museum. 

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    Hotel Stay

    Each Mississippi itinerary comes complete with a Hotel Stay where you can enjoy the city at your leisure, before beginning your cruise.

    On the morning of the cruise, meet in the hotel lobby and we will transport you to the ship to begin your cruise. All luggage will be brought directly from the hotel and placed in your stateroom aboard the ship.

     

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  • Day 2 Capture of New Orleans | New Orleans, LA
    Day 2 – Capture of New Orleans | New Orleans, LA

    As you board the ship in New Orleans, you will also begin your journey to the important battlefields in the Western Theater. The Battle of New Orleans was a critical victory for the Union Navy April 1862.  It completed the Union blockade from North Carolina to the mouth of the Mississippi River and opened the way for the Mississippi River Campaign. Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip, near the mouth of the Mississippi River, were both taken by Union Flag-Officer David G. Farragut, with his squadron. Realizing that resistance was futile, Confederate General Mansfield Lovell withdrew his 3,000 troops northward and the city surrendered to Union forces on April 28, 1862. New Orleans, considered an international city and the largest in the Confederacy, had fallen.

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  • Day 3 Houmas House, LA
    Day 3 – Houmas House, LA

    Step off your ship docked right at Houmas House and explore one of the most elaborately renovated of the grand homes along the river, once a private home and a thriving historical agricultural enterprise. Entertaining and knowledgeable guides will escort you through the magnificently restored home’s unmatched collection of stunning period furnishings and artwork. The ornately landscaped grounds include 38 acres of gardens, fountains, and majestic live oak trees.

    Later, experience the opulence and natural wonder of the Oak Alley estate with its breathtaking parallel row of 28 ancient and massive live oak trees. Here, you can savor a complimentary taste of one of the best mint juleps in the South.

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  • Day 4 Baton Rouge, LA
    Day 4 – Baton Rouge, LA

    Stand on the hallowed grounds of where the Battle of Baton Rouge, a land and naval conflict, took place on August 5, 1862. 


    During this battle, Union troops were positioned in the center of Baton Rouge, while the Confederates lined up north of the city. Bitter fighting took place, especially around Magnolia Cemetery. Commander, Thomas W. Cahill led a retreat back to the prepared defensive lines protected by Union warships which began firing at Confederate troops. Not long after, the Confederate ironclad CSS Arkansas arrived to provide support against Union ironclad USS Essex, but her engines failed just four miles above the city.  The Union victory halted Confederate attempts to recapture the capital city of Louisiana. 
     

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  • Day 5 Battle of Port Gibson | Natchez, MS
    Day 5 – Battle of Port Gibson | Natchez, MS

    In small groups, explore Natchez, once a trading center and home to many of the wealthiest people in Mississippi. 


    When the Union fleet approached, there was a great fear of losing this wealth. After several shots in the fall of 1862, the town elected to surrender, rather than be destroyed by Union cannon fire. Today, Natchez is an intact example of the antebellum city that existed before the conflict, with many descendants of Civil War soldiers still living in the town.    


    Nearby Port Gibson, however, was the site of several conflicts during the Civil War and was significant to Ulysses S. Grant's Vicksburg Campaign. Because Grant believed the city was "too pretty to burn,” many of Port Gibson's historic buildings also survived the Civil War. 

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  • Day 6 Siege of Vicksburg | Vicksburg, MS
    Day 6 – Siege of Vicksburg | Vicksburg, MS

    In the spring of 1862, Vicksburg became the remaining point of Union defense of the Mississippi River. During the siege, which lasted about one year, Union forces controlled all approaches to Vicksburg and by early June 1863 the Confederate garrison was on the brink of starvation and desperately low on ammunition. On July 4, 1863, Vicksburg’s commander, Gen. John C. Pemberton surrendered the city. 


    At Vicksburg Military Park Battlefield, walk the grounds that the Union and Confederate forces occupied during the 47-day siege as your guide leads you through the events and people who fought here. Visit some of the structures that survived the siege and learn about the people who lived in the historic neighborhood at that time.  
     

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  • Day 7 The Anaconda Plan | Day of River Cruising
    Day 7 – The Anaconda Plan | Day of River Cruising

    As you enjoy a day of cruising, your onboard historian will explain the significance of The Anaconda Plan.


    Early on in the Civil War, Union General Winfield Scott proposed a military strategy to achieve Northern victory. It was named The Anaconda Plan, as it would “strangle” the Confederacy by blockading their ports in order to cut off cotton exports and prevent the import of manufactured goods. The plan would also use ground and naval forces to divide the Confederacy into three distinct theaters. Although the Union Army suffered repeated defeats in the East, victories in the western theater undermined the hopes for Confederate independence and the strategy ultimately proved successful.
     

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  • Day 8 Memphis Naval Battle | Memphis, TN
    Day 8 – Memphis Naval Battle | Memphis, TN

     The battle of Memphis, which took less than two hours in the early morning hours of June 6, 1862, resulted in the immediate surrender of the city of Memphis to federal authority by noon that day.  This was one of the first brown water naval battles that demonstrated the power of the Union fleet, shocking Confederate forces and opening the upper Mississippi for the Union attacks on Vicksburg.  


    As you travel the riverfront, you can understand the magnitude of the battle and the concern of civilians who lined the bluffs to watch the combat, which ended with all, but one Confederate vessel destroyed and approximately 100 Confederate casualties and another 150 taken prisoner.  
     

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  • Day 9 Battle of Stones River | Nashville, TN
    Day 9 – Battle of Stones River | Nashville, TN

    As we travel from Memphis to Nashville, we will tour the Stones River Battlefield.  Although not mentioned as one of the major battles, it was key in the Union’s strategy to occupy Tennessee.  This most bloody battle, which occurred from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863, resulted in the highest percentage of casualties in the Civil War on both sides. An uncoordinated attack by the Confederate Army of the Tennessee worked to the advantage of the Union Army of the Cumberland. The Union was victorious, by a margin, which improved morale in the North and gave the Federals control of central Tennessee. However, Union soldiers were so battered they would not campaign for another six months.


    One of the best-preserved battlefields of the war, exploration of this historic site also known as 
    “Hell’s Half Acre” will demonstrate the impact of this battle, ending with devastating Union cannon fire on the Confederate charge. 
     

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  • Day 10 – Grand Rivers, KY
  • Day 11 Paducah, KY
    Day 11 – Paducah, KY

    Residing at the confluence of the Tennessee River and the Ohio River, Paducah will make you feel as if you stepped back in time. Founded by William Clark (of Lewis and Clark), Paducah is known as a National Heritage Destination with many talented culinary artists, painters, potters, and jewelers creating and displaying their works there. Also known as “Quilt City,” there is plenty to do in Paducah from shopping to visiting one the many fine museums, to participating in a hands-on creative workshop at a local art gallery. Be sure to visit the Railroad Museum, featuring equipment and memorabilia from the romantic past of America’s railroads.

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  • Day 12 Battle of Shiloh | Savannah, TN
    Day 12 – Battle of Shiloh | Savannah, TN

    Led by your historian explore the site of this infamous battle which resulted in more than 23,000 casualties.


    The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, occurred on April 6-7, 1862. The engagement was the largest in the Mississippi Valley, with the human toll being the greatest of any war on the American continent up to that date. The South’s defeat at Shiloh allowed Union troops to infiltrate the Confederate interior and doomed their military initiative in the West. With the loss of their commander in battle, Confederate morale plummeted.


    Your guide will lead you through the three-day history of this critical battle which brought in over 80,000 troops and was the first to report over 20,000 dead and wounded.  
     

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  • Day 13 Florence, AL
    Day 13 – Florence, AL

    Although no major battles were fought here, this was a critical river crossing for both Union and Confederates. It was crossroad that would change hands several times during the war.

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  • Day 14 Decatur, AL
    Day 14 – Decatur, AL

    Southern charm abounds in the Old Decatur Historic District. Admire houses built from the 1800s to the present, ranging in style from the French-influenced Empire period to Edwardian Cottage and beyond. On your way, peruse the many unique shops found along Bank Street and 2nd Avenue. Visit the fascinating area museums, including the Cook Museum of Natural Science, the Carnegie Visual Art Center, and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

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  • Day 15 The Battles for Chattanooga | Chattanooga, TN
    Day 15 – The Battles for Chattanooga | Chattanooga, TN

    Learn about the Battle of Chattanooga from your onboard historian. This conflict consisted of three separate battles: Battle of Orchard Knob, The Battle of Lookout Mountain, and the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Occurring over the course of three days in November of 1863, the battles resulted in a Union victory.  The rivers, rails, and roads of Chattanooga came under Federal control and the city was eventually transformed into a supply and communications base for Sherman's 1864 March to the Sea.

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  • Day 16 Battle of Chickamauga | Atlanta, GA
    Day 16 – Battle of Chickamauga | Atlanta, GA

    As you tour this battlefield, learn about one of the few Confederate victories of the Tennessee Campaign. This battle was a victory for the South but came at a cost, with a loss of 20 percent of its force. It also brought the full attention of the Union to reestablish their offense and just two months later, the reinforced Federals propelled the Army of Tennessee from their positions around Chattanooga, permanently securing Union control of the city.   

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  • Day 17 Sherman's March to the Sea | Atlanta to Jacksonville
    Day 17 – Sherman's March to the Sea | Atlanta to Jacksonville

    On our journey from Atlanta to Jacksonville, we will be close to Sherman’s route on his March to the Sea.  From November 15 until December 21, 1864, Sherman led some 60,000 soldiers on a 285-mile march from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia. Sherman’s March to the Sea would frighten Georgia’s civilian population into abandoning the Confederate cause as Sherman’s soldiers destroyed everything in their path. They stole food and livestock and burned the houses and barns of people who tried to fight back.  


    Sherman wrote: “You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.”
     

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  • Day 18 Battle of Olustee | Jacksonville, FL
    Day 18 – Battle of Olustee | Jacksonville, FL

    On our journey to Jacksonville, visit the little known, but very pivotal battlefield at Olustee, the largest in Florida. 


    On February 7 of 1864, General Quincy Gilmore, commander of the Union’s Department of the South, sent General Truman A. Seymour to Jacksonville to secure the town, which he did with little opposition.  John Hay, a private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln, began issuing loyalty oaths to residents in an effort to form a new, Republican state government to support Lincoln’s election.  Seymour began moving towards Lake City, west of Jacksonville, to destroy a railroad bridge and secure northern Florida.  


    Confederate General Joseph Finegan sent forces to meet Seymour's advance units and lure them into the Confederate entrenchments, but this plan failed. Instead, the opposing forces met at Ocean Pond and the battle began with about 5,000 troops on each side.  Throughout the day on February 20, a pitched battle raged. The Confederates were close to breaking the Yankee lines when they ran low on ammunition.  When more cartridges arrived, the attack continued.  By late afternoon, Seymour realized the fight was lost and he began to retreat.

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  • Day 19 Brunswick, GA
    Day 19 – Brunswick, GA

    Your onboard historian will bring to life how the Union Navy took control of the St. Simons Jekyll Island fortifications.

    On March 10, 1862, almost a year after the attack on Fort Sumter, Union ships arrived just south of St. Simons Island, after leaving Fernandina, FL.  The next day, they crossed the St. Simons Island bar and anchored just short of the Confederate forts defending the channel, one on St. Simons and one on Jekyll Island. But they found nothing, as the batteries had been abandoned. 

    On St. Simon's Island were two batteries, consisting of strong fortifications and twelve ports.  Stronger munitions were found on Jekyll Island, including a bomb-proof bunker constructed of palmetto logs, sandbags and railroad iron.  Both of these had been deserted.  The Union soldiers moved through the sound and came to shore near what is now Mary Ross Waterfront Park in Brunswick. After hoisting Old Glory over the Oglethorpe House, soldiers realized Brunswick residents had left and taken everything with them.

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  • Day 20 Day of Cruising
    Day 20 – Day of Cruising

    Enjoy a leisurely day of cruising as you continue on your journey through the East Coast Inland Passage. This classic water way is known as the highway for north and southbound East Coast cruisers, and an east-west path along the outskirts of the Gulf of Mexico.

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  • Day 21 Savannah, GA
    Day 21 – Savannah, GA

    Savannah is as it was during the Civil War because it was saved by Sherman in 1864 and offered as a Christmas gift to Lincoln.  As you walk the streets and explore the squares, you can imagine what life was like in 19th-century southern city and can also envision what other towns and cities may have looked like before being destroyed during the war.   

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  • Day 22 Hilton Head, SC
    Day 22 – Hilton Head, SC

    Fort Walker on Port Royal Sound was built by Confederate soldiers in 1861 to help protect the critical southern ports of Charleston, Beaufort and Savannah. Union forces successfully attacked and captured the fort during the Battle of Port Royal Sound, thus gaining a strategic foothold to aid the Union blockade of the ports.  This would be the largest amphibious landing with 12,000 Union troops landing on the island.  The Union continued to occupy the Island for the remainder of the war though there is not much remaining of the old encampments that ultimately housed over 50,000 Union troops. Hilton Head would house a large hospital for the reminder of the war.  Today, all that remains are earthworks and numerous interpretive markers in Port Royal Plantation. 

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  • Day 23 Battle of Port Royal | Beaufort, SC
    Day 23 – Battle of Port Royal | Beaufort, SC

    Learn about the amphibious attack on November 7, 1861, known as The Battle of Port Royal, which was the beginning of the end of the Old South. Beaufort was the first southern city captured by Union forces, remaining in its control for the remainder of the war. Though there were many incidents of arson and looting, much of the town was spared from physical destruction, having been completely abandoned by its white citizens by the time Union forces arrived.

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  • Day 24 Fort Sumter | Charleston, SC
    Day 24 – Fort Sumter | Charleston, SC

    Visit Fort Sumter where the Confederate shelling signaled the beginning of the American Civil War, a war that lasted four years, took the lives of more than 620,000 Americans, and emancipated over 3 million enslaved people. Learn about the battles for Fort Wagner in 1863 and the attempt to recapture Fort Sumter, a bombardment which continued on and off for 587 days and destroyed much of the city.   As we tour Charleston, you will again see one the cities that was sieged and rebuilt after the war.   

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  • Day 25 Charleston, SC
    Day 25 – Charleston, SC

    The port city of Charleston is known for its cobblestone streets, gas-lit lamps, and pastel antebellum houses. The scene of Revolutionary War naval battles, legendary pirate tales, and Civil War sieges, the city is considered by many to be a living museum. Visit historic Fort Sumter National Monument, where the first shots of the Civil War rang out. Learn how Charleston’s African-American heritage has contributed to the city’s history and unique culture. Enjoy the beauty of the area with a stroll through its magnificent parks and gardens.

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  • Day 26 Wilmington, NC
    Day 26 – Wilmington, NC

    Founded in 1739, Wilmington prospered during its early years as a major port and ship-building center. Today, the city continues to flourish and boasts an outstanding reputation as a leader in preservation efforts. Explore Georgian, Victorian, and antebellum-style homes restored to their original grandeur. Stroll through beautiful gardens and city streets lined with shopping venues and seafood eateries.

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  • Day 27 Beaufort, NC
    Day 27 – Beaufort, NC

    Visit the meticulously restored town of Beaufort, NC, the third oldest town in North Carolina.  Though most of North Carolina was held by Southern forces during the Civil War, Beaufort was held by the Union and was a destination for all those seeking refuge from the war. By the fall of 1863, the little seaside town along the East Coast was overflowing with escaped and liberated slaves as well as Confederate deserters.  Hospitals here were crowded with sick and wounded Union sailors and soldiers.

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  • Day 28 Kitty Hawk, NC
    Day 28 – Kitty Hawk, NC

    Learn about the birth of flight in Kitty Hawk, where the Wright Brothers successfully piloted sustained powered flights in the first incarnations of modern airplanes.

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  • Day 29 Battle of the "Monitor" and the "Merrimac" | Norfolk, VA
    Day 29 – Battle of the "Monitor" and the "Merrimac" | Norfolk, VA

    Led by your dedicated guide, learn about the significant role this battle and the city of Norfolk played during the Civil War. 


    On March 9, 1862, the Battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac, would ring in a new era of naval warfare as the first duel between ironclad warships. Salvaged by the Confederates, the Northern-built Merrimack, a steam frigate covered in heavy armor plating, was rechristened the CSS Virginia. The USS Monitor sailed into Chesapeake Bay to defend the Union’s wooden fleet.  For four hours, the vessels circled one another, competing for position. Both sides fired their guns to no avail, as the cannon balls simply deflected off of the iron ships. 


    By the early afternoon, the Virginia pulled back to Norfolk. Neither ship was gravely damaged, but the Monitor effectively ended the threat that the Virginia had posed to the Union fleet and played a major role in maintaining Union control over this significant southern port. This battle had brought into question a reliance on wooden warships and by the end of the Civil War, the Confederates and Union launched over 70 ironclads. 

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  • Day 30 St. Michaels, MD
    Day 30 – St. Michaels, MD

    Stroll along the waterfront of St. Michaels, or peruse the charming gift shops and boutiques on tree-lined Talbot Street. Dock at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, once a famed shipbuilding village, and now dedicated to preserving and exploring the history, environment, and people of the Chesapeake Bay.

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  • Day 31 First Blood of the Civil War | Baltimore, MD
    Day 31 – First Blood of the Civil War | Baltimore, MD

    Visit Baltimore and learn of the violent outbreak on the streets On April 19, 1861, which would be considered the first land battle of the Civil War.


    President Lincoln, who realized early that Maryland was a key state and must remain part of the Union, sends troops to secure Baltimore. This act angered the local population, many of whom were not in support of the Union, and even some northern sympathizers who were reluctant to go against the southern supporters. The crowd attacked the approaching troops, which led to several soldiers firing at the crowd and resulted in the first bloodshed of the Civil War.

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  • Day 32 Baltimore, MD
    Day 32 – Baltimore, MD

    Traverse Baltimore, a great maritime city, alive with excitement, Colonial history, and a busy harbor scene. Explore the decks of legendary ships and the cobblestone streets of the charming waterfront Inner Harbor. Cruise past Fort McHenry, where the battle that inspired Francis Scott Key‘s "Star-Spangled Banner" was fought.

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  • Day 33 Antietam | Sharpsburg, MD
    Day 33 – Antietam | Sharpsburg, MD

    You will be guided through the Antietam Battlefield to learn about on September 17th, 1862 the single bloodiest day in American History.  Hear about the events that lead to this location and see the many places where the battle’s momentum changed within an hour. As you travel from the cornfield to the sunken road, experience the events of that day. Although the battle ended in a draw, and General Lee did escape, the event ended the South’s hope of an offensive to the North from which they would not recover. Despite massive losses on both sides, President Lincoln claimed strategic victory and used this opportunity to issue his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

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  • Day 34 Battle of Gettysburg | Gettysburg, PA
    Day 34 – Battle of Gettysburg | Gettysburg, PA

    On an exploration of Gettysburg National Park, the history of the battle that defined the Civil War comes alive.  As you view the expanses of the battlefield, you realize the scope of this three-day battle resulting more than 50,000 estimated casualties. From the first day when a small Union force held on to high ground against the Confederate army to the famous Pickets’ Charge, learn about with the many fascinating events of this battle. So many aspects of the war were brought together on this sacred ground: strategy, bravery, bad timing, courage, miscalculation, and defeat.  

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  • Day 35 Transfer to Airport from Gettysburg
    Day 35 – Transfer to Airport from Gettysburg

    After breakfast, American Cruise Lines will transfer you to the  Harrisburg International Airport (MDT)
     to begin your travels home.

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Ships

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American Melody

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American Symphony

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American Eagle

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Call a Cruise Specialist at 800-460-4518