A balmy evening on deck taking the air after dinner, listening to the sound of the steamboat’s paddlewheel… river cruises don’t get any more relaxing than a lazy few days on the Mississippi. American Cruise Lines has several eight-day New Orleans round-trips in December on board paddlewheel riverboat Queen of the Mississippi, where you can indulge your Gone with the Wind fantasy among the Victorian-style lounges and bars. The surroundings are elegantly old-fashioned but the service is anything but antebellum. The staterooms are huge, with private balconies and hotel-style bathrooms, room service is complimentary and there is wifi throughout. Many of the excursions are also complimentary, for instance tours of historic plantation houses that line the Great River Road. You can picture Scarlett O’Hara living at Oak Alley Plantation or Rhett Butler striding through the historic district of Natchez, which escaped the devastation of the American Civil War. Among the included guided tours is the Vicksburg National Military Park, where the North and South fought for control of the Mississippi. And there is glorious fun to be had in New Orleans, where the music never stops in the French Quarter and you can indulge in coffee and traditional beignets (superior doughnuts) in the cafés around the French Market.