Mardi Gras, voodoo and jazz are all on offer in New Orleans. Credit: Shutterstock

Experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans with Paramount Cruises

Author: Kaye Holland

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The boutique travel agency tells us why a cruise to the Big Easy should be on your radar.

If New Orleans isn’t on your bucket list, chances are it’s because you have already been. Celebrated for its Cajun food, Creole culture, and impromptu parades and parties, New Awlins (as locals pronounce it), is easily one of the States’ most inspiring cities.

But don’t just take our word for it: Just ask playwright Tennessee Williams – who once famously remarked: “America has only three cities, New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.”

And the best time to visit the Big Easy? During Mardi Gras – also known as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, or Carnival – when the city’s legendary celebrations (from parades to carnival balls) are in full swing.

During Mardi Gras, New Orleans' streets come alive with music, art, and costumed revellers. Credit: Shutterstock

Make no mistake: if you’re planning a cruise holiday, then a stop-off in New Orleans during Mardi Gras is a must.

Enter Paramount Cruises’ ‘US music cities and Mardi Gras in New Orleans’ itinerary which includes a three-night stay in the Nola. The icing on the cake? The New Orleans sojourn is preceded by a seven-night all-inclusive Caribbean cruise onboard NCL’s Norwegian Breakaway and bookended by two night’s in Memphis – aka the ​​home city of Elvis – and Nashville, America’s music city.

As they say in New Orleans: “Laissez les bon temps rouler” – “let the good times roll!”

Here are some of the highlights from this eye-catching itinerary

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Search for the best cruises with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

1. An all-inclusive Caribbean cruise
The Caribbean has sunshine when Europe is under the dark blanket of winter. And a cruise is the best way to explore the archipelago as it allows you to see several islands in just one trip. (Inter-island travel in the Caribbean usually involves a series of expensive, and time consuming, flights).

Departing from New Orleans, your cruise aboard NCL’s Norwegian Breakway calls at the sun-lapped and reef-clad Mexican island of Cozumel, and Roatan – an idyllic island off the coast of Honduras. Next up is Harvest Caye, NCL's very own private island in Belize, before a final stop at Costa Maya, from where you'll be able to easily explore some of the Yucatan region's incredible Mayan ruins.

Roatan, a lush island in Honduras, features on Paramount's itinerary. Credit: Shutterstock.

2. All aboard Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Breakaway is ready to whisk you away to your best holiday yet. Music lovers will be in seventh heaven onboard Breakaway, NCL’s third and final Breakaway-plus class ship. ​​Head to Syd Norman's Pour House where gritty brick walls and live rock 'n' roll will make you feel like you're in one of LA's legendary rock clubs, or enjoy a Broadway style show such as Six or Burn the Floor.

Norwegian Breakaway launched the Breakaway Class for NCL. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Spend some time in America’s most extraordinary city
Before you board your all-inclusive Caribbean cruise in New Orleans, you’ll have the opportunity to spend two unforgettable nights in Nola but trust us when we say that one trip is never enough.

Luckily for you, dear reader, Paramount’s unforgettable itinerary factors in a post-cruise, three-night stay in the city that never stops celebrating. Bottom line? You’ll have ample time to partake in all the Mardi Gras – aka the biggest party on earth – festivities; soak up the street life which thrums with musicians, magicians and mystic; have your fortune told in the French Quarter; ride the St Charles Avenue streetcar; and visit Lafayette Cemetery, in the Garden District, where scenes from the movie Interview with the Vampire were famously filmed.

The burial tombs at Lafayette Cemetery were built above ground because of the shallow water. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Walking in Memphis
Memphis is synonymous with Elvis Presley and a visit to Graceland is a must for all fans of ‘the King’. The steamy southern city, where you’ll spend two nights, is also the home of the Blues – head to Beale Street to hear the throb of blues guitars.

Foodies won’t leave disappointed either: from smoky BBQ ribs to melt in the mouth pulled pork, expect Southern cooking made with pure love.

Get all shook up in Memphis. Credit: Paramount Cruises

5. Country strong
End your holiday in Nashville, the home of country music and good times. The Music City, as Nashville is affectionately known, is all about guitars, bars and country music stars. A three-night sojourn here will afford you enough time to discover all the sights, sounds, tastes and sensations of this Deep South city.

Take a live music tour of the Nashville strip, tour the Grand Ole Opry, shop for a pair of cowboy boots in one of the funky, independently-owned boutiques before feasting on Southern delicacies such as Brisket, Fried chicken, Sweet potato pancakes and Pulled pork BBQ. You might leave Nashville heavier – but it will be with happiness.

Get on board
Paramount Cruises’ 18-night ‘US Music Cities and Mardi Gras in New Orleans’ itinerary departs New Orleans on February 2, 2024 with prices starting at £2,999 per person. To find out more and to book, call 0207 947 0275 or visit www.paramountcruises.com

Nashville, the state capital of Tennessee, is the home of country music. Credit: Shutterstock
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About Kaye Holland

Kaye is a London-based wordsmith who has written for a range of publications including The Times, The Independent, The I, Culture Trip, The Sun, and ABTA among others. In June 2022, Kaye joined the Real Response Media where she looks – together with Lucy Abbott – after the World of Cruising website. Want to get in touch? Kaye can be reached at: [email protected]