Caribbean carnival by the sea

Image by jonworth

Dancing women in beautiful bejewelled costumes twist and turn and shake. The bright and lively rhythms of calypso music fill the humid night air. A street performer sashays by with a feathered plume headdress three feet high.

A troupe of musicians wearing colourful masks parades down the street. You are lost in the sights, sounds, and excitement of a traditional Caribbean Carnival.

If you are travelling to this part of the world on a Caribbean cruise, celebrating Carnival is an unforgettable cultural experience. It is an incredibly exciting party, where everyone is invited!

The traditional Caribbean carnival celebrates local folklore and tradition, and includes band competitions, parades, dancing and so much more. This guide will give you some helpful information for joining in the party and experiencing a Carnival on your last minute Caribbean cruise.

When to Go

Most of the biggest and best Carnivals in the Caribbean occur just before Lent, around the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday which is 46 days before Easter. These are the celebrations on the islands of Aruba, Curacao, Trinidad, Martinique, Montserrat, St. Barts, and St. Martin and Guadeloupe.

There are also Carnivals held in July and early August in St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, and The Grenadines.  If you want to be a part of the celebrations on one of these islands, you will need to book a cruise which stops at one of these ports at the right time for the Carnival.

You can save some money by booking a last minute Caribbean cruise, but if you are inflexible with your dates it might be a good idea to book in advance to make sure that you get one at the right time.

Tips for Attending a Carnival

Ok, so you have booked your Caribbean cruise and you are very excited because you have timed it just right so that you can attend the Carnival festivities. Now, here are some helpful tips to remember when you are at the party:

  • Wear comfortable clothing and footwear to the Carnival. You will probably be on your feet for a long time and dancing for hours, so you will want to be comfortable.
  • Wear some bright and vibrant colours so that you match the happy spirit of the performers on parade!
  • Carry with you a bottle of water and some extra sunscreen, and don’t forget to reapply frequently. You can be having so much fun that you forget to protect yourself from the sun, and end up with a painful sunburn the next day!
  • Bring a friend with you. When the sun goes down, the carnival atmosphere can get quite chaotic, and it is nice to have someone with you in case you get lost.
  • Learn about what is happening around you. Every mask, song and dancing will have a traditional cultural meaning, so don’t be afraid to ask questions about the performances that you see. The Carnival is even more interesting when you understand what each of its elements represents.

Have fun, and enjoy discovering the magic of a Carnival on your last minute Caribbean cruises.