Mardi Gras

There ain’t no party like a Mardi Gras party. And there ain’t no Mardi Gras party like the one in The Big Easy – New Orleans. And now you can add the full Mardi Gras experience to your cruise holiday as Norwegian Cruise Line has launched a cruise for 2014 that will feature New Orleans during the big celebrations. Here’s your CruiseDeals guide to both the festival and the cruise.

What is Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras refers to the same day that we in the UK refer to as Shrove Tuesday. It translates literally from the French as “Fat Tuesday” and is so-called because it is the final day before Lent when traditionally any foodstuffs that are not allowed in Lent are used up – in the same way that we eat rich, fatty pancakes on Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) to use up certain ingredients before Ash Wednesday signals the start of Lent.

As Mardi Gras is fixed by the dates of Easter, in 2014 Mardi Gras will occur on 4th March.

So, what happens in New Orleans?

Mardi Gras

The Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans will run from mid-February to early March, with colourful parades throughout this time, culminating with the big one on 4th March. The whole city gets involved and becomes a sea of purple, green and gold, the traditional colours of Mardi Gras. Roads such as the famous Canal Street are closed as people reclaim the streets to catch up with friends and family over a picnic while traditional music rings out across the city.

Mardi Gras

The parades, each organised by different “krewes”, feature intricately-designed floats from which members of the krewes will toss items into the crowd, often colourful beads or toys. Many of the parades end with a big indoor celebration akin to the private balls that are held across the city, where everyone dresses up formally and enjoys food and entertainment long into the night.

Tell me about the cruise

Norwegian Jewel

The seven-night Western Caribbean from New Orleans cruise by Norwegian Cruise Line departs and ends in New Orleans, giving you two chances to soak up the unique atmosphere of the carnival city. After setting out from the Big Easy, the Norwegian Jewel first takes in the Mexican island of Cozumel. Here you can head to some amazing beaches or take your shopping bag into San Miguel, the largest centre of population on the island.

Next up is Belize City, capital of one of the greenest islands in the world. Spend your day trekking in some of the amazing rainforest that covers the island or snorkel and dive round the Belize Barrier Reef.

From there, it’s on to Roatan in the Bay Islands where more beautiful natural greenery awaits, along with the opportunity for trekking or horse riding on this island that lies around 30 miles off the coast of Honduras.

The port of Costa Maya in the Mexican province of Yucatan is up next. Here you can enjoy a swim in a huge saltwater pool, stick to the sea and get some final snorkelling in or immerse yourself in the history of the region with a visit to the amazing Mayan remains at Chacchoben.

And finally, you head back aboard Norwegain Jewel, and arrive back at the party as you once again dock at New Orleans.

Want to find out more? Head on over to our Pinterest page and check out our pin map of stops on the voyage!

Have you been to the carnival in New Orleans? Let us know all about your experiences in the comments.

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